Can-Con, mostly.

I had a pretty full schedule at Can-Con on Saturday. Normally, I would have written it up on Sunday Morning, but that was November First, and I sacrificed my blogging hours at the altar of National Novel Writing Month.

More on NaNoWriMo later, but first Can-Con 2015, for anyone who is interested.

Remember, during any hour, there are half a dozen things going on, and I’m only going to write about the ones I attended.

Ten AM: Ask a Doctor Anything for Your Writing. Okay, none of the four had much experience with victims of vacuum trauma or oxygen toxicity. I got some useful information on hyperthermia and heat-stroke before the horror writers took us into their dark and scary basements.

Eleven AM: played hooky to fit in my morning walk on the Rideau Canal.

Noon: NaNoWriMo Strategies. I got two good take-homes from this. One: don’t stop. If you get stuck, jump ahead to something else, but keep writing. Two: if you make a mistake, or need to check something out, don’t stop. Mark the bad passage with dollar signs or square brackets and keep typing.

One PM: would have gone to The Role of Editorial Voice in Acquiring Stories, but I had a Blue Pencil with Dr. Robert Runte. As an acquisition editor, I wanted his take on the opening pages of Avians. If there’s stuff in there that’s likely to turn agents, editors or publishers off, I figured he’d be a good guy to spot it and explain how it could be fixed. This notion took a slightly deeper turn since I had basically pitched him the novel at the Bundoran Press party, but I figured it was still fair to run it by him for any signs of trouble. Overall, he liked it. He spotted two things. Vagueness in the opening paragraph, and some awkward dialogue on the third page. The first was no surprise, I have never got those opening lines to do what I want. I will have to find a way to have my main character look at something she would normally take for granted, and really think about it so the reader gets what it is. The dialogue thing was a surprise. Robert pointed out that a mother and daughter who have been at loggerheads over something for weeks would not outline the issue. He suggested leaving that for a later conversation with someone else. I was happy with his suggestions, and he was happy with my willingness to listen and brainstorm changes, so that was a good meeting.

Bought some books on the way through the Dealer’s Room. Notably, Second Contacts from Bundoran Press, because I liked Blood & Water so much. Also Brave New Girls, an anthology aimed at empowering girls and aiming them at Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Because, see previous sentence.

Two PM: played hooky for lunch. Sat with Brandon, Gabrielle, Fanny and Leah. Gabrielle amazed us with a reading from her slush pile. It would have been a pretty good effort from a nine-year-old, but not a nine-year-old with a future as a writer. It would make a marvelous teaching tool, because it had bad action, inane dialogue, tired tropes and more gaping holes than actual plot. It was uproariously funny, entirely by accident. I had to take small bites so that I would not choke. If I gained nothing else from this conference, I got this: I will never again fear my work being the worst thing an editor has seen.

Three PM: I had been torn between Writing… for Analog and The Frontiers of Young Adult Fiction. Both are relevant to me. Chose the latter, no regrets.

Four PM: Authors and Editors in Dialog. Two writers with two of their editors, and I knew three out of the four. A fascinating look at when the relationship works well.

Five PM: Naming Exoworlds. I love learning about Exoplanets, and it was very timely because the International Astronomical Union was letting people vote on names for some forty planets during October. Also some fun discussion on naming planets in fiction.

Six PM: Advice to Aspiring Writers on the Craft. Beautifully moderated by Robin Riopelle, and Amal El-Mohtar turned out to be the life of the party.

Seven PM: Would have gone to Getting Noticed in the… Slush Pile, but I needed dinner and I went to the similar panel last year.

Went for dinner with Caroline at The Buzz, and we’re going back. Combined Dinner Debriefing to follow.

Nine PM: the Chi-Zine Press Halloween Party. Brett and Sandra, the Chi-Zine team, were sick and could not attend, but the party went on with help from the Can-Con folks. I mixed. I told true stories about playing with dynamite, a long time ago. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere, for that matter. These disclaimers usually go on to point out that these people are trained professionals, etc. etc. Pfff. Not!

Sunday: Got up before dawn on November First and wrote the first 1837 words of Bandits of Celadon. This scene went well, as I have rehearsed it a couple of times. Not stopping to fix an out of character mistake was incredibly liberating. As was not opening the previous novel to refresh my memory as to whether Corby has a desk or a table. Marked both passages with $signs$ and wrote on, not losing the scene in my head. If I can do that for a whole month, I believe I really can write a draft in thirty days.

Ten AM: How to Get Traditionally Published. Liked this panel, because all the authors had gone about it in rather different ways, and achieved rather different things.

Eleven AM: Would have gone to Writer-Editor-Publisher etiquette, but I had a Pitch to Elizabeth Hirst from Pop Seagull. She listened all the way through, and said Avians sounded interesting, but not right for them.

Noon: Had to choose between How to Build a Sustainable Critique Group and Contracts, Contracts, Contracts. I’m the new kid at my critique group, so although I thought it might be nice to gain some insights, I wasn’t sure if I should be taking that advice home. The contracts panel was interesting, and I did get an answer to one of my naive questions. If I let a publisher have the movie rights, do I have any defense against my book being made into a cheap, bad, or horribly different movie. Short answer, no. Slightly longer answer, a bad movie doesn’t really hurt the author, and many writers accept that a movie will be intrinsically different. Dissenting opinion from someone I repeated this answer to, not always.

One PM: Might have gone to Reviewers and Reviewing, but I had a Blue Pencil with Marie Bilodeau. By the way, I filled in first through fourth choices for Blue Pencils, in the hope of getting one or maybe two. I got three of the four. I’m glad Marie came last, because a) contagious manic energy and b) she writes Space Opera. Showed her a short story along those lines that was narrowly rejected by a pro publisher, to see if she could spot why. I think she did- it needs more insight into the main character and the MC’s motivation and desires. I can see that this would bring it to life.

Two PM: Two Academics Talk the History of Canadian SF. Actually there were three, and they got a late start due to technical difficulties. Did you know that Canadian SF can trace its roots all the way back to the 1800’s? Me either. Also, an examination of what makes Canadian SF distinct.

Three PM: desperate for lunch, I missed the feedback session, but I did catch up to Marie as they wrapped it up. Backpats all around to the terrific crew of Ottawa writers and volunteers who work hard to make Can-Con fun. I renewed and strengthened some friendships, and made a bunch of new ones. I hope to be back.

NaNoWriMo

That’s National Novel Writing Month, if you didn’t know. It’s a huge affair, with thousands of writers pledging to write a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days. This year, I’m one.

For a while now, I’ve been holding off on writing the sequel to my novel, Avians of Celadon. Avians is unsold, and it seemed to me that any agent or publisher that took an interest in it would likely want me to change stuff. Hey, it’s my first novel- I’m sure there’s ample room to improve it. I let this get in the way of the sequel. If I had to make major changes to Avians, those changes would have to follow through in Bandits of Celadon (yes, I’m going alphabetical. Sorry, Sue Grafton. By the time I get to Zombies of Celadon, I’ll be either stinking rich or heavily medicated.) The idea of revising two books seemed daunting.

Aanywaay. No more procrastination. I’m actively outlining. I’ve laid out the bones of the plot, I know how it will begin and end, and I’m crafting scenes in my head. I go for long walks and use the voice recorder on my smartphone to make sure I don’t forget my best ideas. I have half a deck of file cards tacked to my Scrivener board.

Can I really do it? On the plus side, I have ample time to write. On the minus side, I’m a slow writer. I can type like the wind, but I agonize over every sentence. NaNoWriMo may be just what I need to think less and pound the keyboard more. We will see.

I’m fortunate to have found an in-person critique group. Lindsay Kitson, a self-described dieselpunk author and fellow writer of aviation-themed SF brought one of her group’s members to my recent reading at the Winnipeg Chi-Series. A bunch of us went for food and drink following the readings, and soon afterwards, I was offered a chance to attend a group meeting in Winnipeg. Best of all, at least two of the five are also NanoWri-ming, and have buddied me. That means I will get encouragement. Or nagging. I will probably need both. By the way, the group gets some of the credit for my new ambition. They collectively urged me to write and let the chips fall where they may. Massive revisions? Suck it up- it’s part of the process.

Speaking of the Chi-Series reading, one of the other readers that evening was Kate Heartfield, and I see on her Twitter feed that she’ll be moderating a couple of panels at Can-Con in Ottawa. I’m stunned by how many people I will know there this time around- last year I knew only one before the con began. I’m looking forward to seeing chair (and author) Derek Künsken, Can-Con afficionado (and author) Brandon Crilly, publishers (and authors) Hayden Trenholm, Gabrielle Harbowy, and Sandra Kasturi, and authors Fanny Darling and Rob Sawyer, to name a few.

I won’t be doing a lot of pitching this year, because I have already pitched and/or submitted to most of the relevant parties. I will not be getting drunk and whining “But why?” to the publishers that declined. Two reasons: One: they might tell me the truth. Two: I plan to get rejected by everyone before I quit, and I’d like to have some friends left over!

What I Read in 2014

I’ll be taking an online writing course next month, from Odyssey. On the pre-course questionnaire, which made me feel guilty about how much more writing I should be doing, I had to say how many books I read in a year. I didn’t know, so I guessed ten or fifteen books and about three hundred short stories. After I sent that form off, I started thinking about my answer. What did I read last year?

My focus was on Young Adult books, but I read as young as Middle Grade, up through the range of YA and into New Adult, and when I read adult books, I preferred those with young protagonists. As always, I leaned towards Science Fiction, with a smattering of Fantasy.

I did a fair bit of reading this year. Some stuff because it was recommended to me, some because I met the author and wanted to see what they had done. I chose some of my first books for 2014 at Cons, or because of them.

At the C4 Lit Fest, I met Julie Kagawa and bought autographed copies of the first two books of her Blood of Eden series for my wife, because Vampires. I had no real intention of reading them myself, but Julie’s take on vampires in dystopia is crazy and original, and her protagonist is a street kid who has to become what she hates the most. The final novel of the trilogy came out just as I was finishing the second, so I bought it (in hardcover!) for myself.

I also picked up a few other books from local authors at the C4 LIt Fest dealer room. I think that’s where I bought a couple of Ronald J. Hore‘s books: Housetrap and Dial M for Mudder. These are tongue in cheek detective noir stories set in a universe (or at least a solar system) populated by fantastic creatures and characters. Points for calling a spaceship The Rat Queen. Ronald’s more recent work is more serious fantasy, I think, but I haven’t read The Dark Lady yet. This is also where I got Sierra Dean‘s Something Secret This Way Comes, the first of her Secret McQueen series. It’s also vampires, but I enjoyed it for it’s sassy style and occasional puns, like, “Your Secret’s safe with me”. There was a strong teaser for the second book, but I just wasn’t looking to read a whole series of New Adult vampire-slayer stories.

I read Robert J. Sawyer‘s “WWW” series: Wake, Watch, and Wonder. I’ve read a handful of his other books, (and taken a workshop by him), and these have my favourite characters so far, so it was Wake that I got autographed at KeyCon. I told him that Caitlin really was “made of awesome”. Part of the appeal of this series for me was that it is as close as Rob comes to writing Young Adult, although it’s more of an adult book with a youthful protagonist.

Naturally, I headed into the dealer room at KeyCon to say hi to Samantha Beiko, who is my freelance editor. I had already read her The Lake and the Library as an e-book to size up her skills before hiring her. Her skills are fine; I don’t think she knew yet, but she was short-listed for an Aurora award for it. I should have bought a print copy and had her autograph it. It’s kind of a ghost story, but it’s the deft handling of her protagonist’s muddled teenage feelings and behavior that makes the book.

Sam was sharing a table with Clare C. Marshall, so I picked her Stars in Her Eyes, which is a cool story about a bright young student who gets into an exclusive university run by people with an agenda of their own. Alien people.

Round the corner from them I bought LT Getty‘s Tower of Obsidian. It’s got dragons, but in a very original way. Not were-dragons, exactly, but cursed shape-shifters. Some wonderful strong female characters, too.

This may have also been where I bought Brandon Sanderson‘s The Rithmatist. I was actively seeking some Middle-Grade books to see if my own work belongs on that shelf. The Rithmatist is a hoot, and I love how the protagonist is an utter underdog in a school full of magical prodigies.

Around this time, I also picked up Soman Chainani‘s The School for Good and Evil. This book takes the most subversive look at fairy tales I have ever seen; gender stereotyping comes under heavy fire. Applause, please.

Because I knew some of the authors, I took a look at this years Prix Aurora Award Nominees. In addition to the previously mentioned The Lake and the Library, I read Robert J. Sawyer’s Red Planet Blues, a noir detective story set on Mars. He had fun writing it, you can tell. Enjoyed Amanda Sun‘s Ink, too. Paranormal Romance is usually wasted on me, but the view of Japan through the eyes of an exchange student is brimming with verisimilitude. It feels like you are there, and even like you are her. Out of Time is by D. G. Laderoute, who is from Thunder Bay, which makes him practically a neighbour. I liked his cleverly crafted story about a disaffected modern boy who slips into a past populated only by Native North Americans – and spirits.

I think it was this year that I read David Weber‘s A Beautiful Friendship and Fire Season, on my brother’s recommendation. Mr. Weber is best known for his Honor Harrington series, and this is his Young Adult series set in the same universe. Loved his eleven-year-old protagonist Stephanie Harrington, but not her use of handguns.

Sometime during the summer, my brother also recommended John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War, and the sequels: The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale. Usually, Military SF just makes me shake my head. John Scalzi’s makes me shake my head and chuckle. Best thing about this series is the voice of John Perry. Mr. Scalzi sees some of the same potential for nanite medicine that I do, which startled me. Given the publication dates, he thought of it first.

Sherry Peter‘s Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf came out in August. An axe-throwing bearded protagonist that just happens to be female. Fantasy feminism, yay! I met Sherry through her huge behind the scenes role in KeyCon 30.

Once I decided to attend Can-Con in Ottawa in the fall, I wanted to read something by Jo Walton, the author Guest of Honour. I chose her Among Others, partly because of all the awards and acclaim, but also because it has her youngest protagonist. Once I read it, attending Jo’s workshop at the con became a priority.

I read Veronica Roth‘s Divergent and Insurgent. For me, the strength of these novels is in how Beatrice rebuilds herself into the daring Tris. I lost interest halfway through Allegiant because the focus seemed to be shifting away from that.

Speaking of sequels, my last book of the year was Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil #2: A World Without Princes. Wow. If the first one was about gender stereotyping, the second is about gender issues. This book will probably ruffle some feathers, but I hope it gets very widely read.

Scanning back through this post, I see that rather than the ten or fifteen novels I thought I might have read, I read twenty eight, give or take a couple. One or two might have been read in 2013, and I might have missed something.

On top of these novels, I read hundreds and hundreds of short stories, always with a special interest in opening lines. I read old anthologies from my local used  bookstore, plus Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Antipodean SF and much more.

While it’s good for a writer to read, I think I need to do more writing and perhaps less reading. With that in mind, I will be focusing on my Odyssey course in January and there will be no new posts on this blog until February. If you want something to read, check out some of the authors and titles listed above!

What Have I Wrought?

Time for a little author’s angst. Pitching my novel at Can-Con was a rush: I was nervous, excited, pumped. I presented to two publishers I respect, and got two invitations to submit.

Now the hangover of doubt: what if they don’t like it, etc. etc.

Leaving aside the worst uncertainties, because I’m reasonably confident it’s a good story, what about the whole, “It’s not right for us,” aspect? It may not be for them. Because my protagonist is young, both editors asked whether this was an adult novel or a book for young readers. I have trouble with this question. There’s no adult content – I would let my friend’s kids read my book without hesitation. But that doesn’t make it a kid’s book. When Hayden Trenholm asked this question, I must have looked uncertain. After all, in one sense, I wrote the book for me. It turns out the way I want. Does that make it an adult book? Although my characters often have their own ideas about how to get there. They’re young. Does that make it kid lit?

Mr. Trenholm clarified it for me. In his view, a Young Adult novel deals with a young protagonist deciding what kind of person they will be. In an Adult novel, the protagonist’s character is firm, and the issues are about how that person will deal with the situation. This was food for thought, and I’ve been relating this idea to books I have read, to see how it fits.

Not long ago, I read Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden trilogy. In a nutshell, it’s about a street kid who hates vampires, and has to become one. This is a wonderful coming-of-age story, because if you substitute the word adult for the word vampire… well, it couldn’t be much clearer. Will she be a moral, honorable vampire adult? Or a cruel and corrupt one? For the insight into that series alone, Hayden’s explanation was magic.

But if I look at Harry Potter, it’s not so clear to me. I don’t think any reader expects Harry to join Slytherin House or side with Lord Voldemort. He’s not choosing between good and evil; he’s trying to figure out how to stay alive. Perhaps this is the mark of a more straight-forward adventure story. Teenage anxiety plays less of a role. It could be argued that Harry Potter is for middle-grade readers. But I know a lot of adults that read and enjoyed it, myself included.

Another series I admire is Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. If that doesn’t ring a bell, I’m talking about The Golden Compass and it’s sequels. Girl rescues boy. Yay! Girl turns out to be secretly princess of the Gyptians. Umm. I’d rather she made it on her own merit. Lyra does face a number of moral challenges, and she comes of age in more ways than one. But there are some pretty adult themes: can a weak God be a bad thing? That’s not especially meaningful to me, but it’s hardly kid stuff.

More clearly an adult novel with a young protagonist is Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW series. Wake, Watch and Wonder are about Caitlin, who is fifteen. It’s not a kid’s book. Her parents are fully developed characters, too. There is a question of good vs. evil, but it revolves around a computer. Well, the internet as a synthetic person, actually, but Caitlin’s role is as a guide as much as an actor.

Then there’s The Hunger Games. All kinds of survival and adventure there, but also a love triangle, some family issues and a dystopian future. Dystopias are great for young adults. They know the world is whack. They may have just come to realize how whack. Themes of how to cope with that are highly relevant to teenagers. It’s their life. Divergent, too.

So I’m a little clearer on one thing. My book is not aimed squarely at teenagers. Now I just need to know if my target readership is pre-teen or post. My beta readers were adults, and they liked it. I have sent my MS to a tween I know. He reviews books, and is extraordinarily well-read. If anyone can tell me whether I should be barking up the kid tree or the grown-up tree, I think he can.

Of course, I may get an answer from one or both of those publishers. They may say, “It’s not for us, it’s too young.” Or they may like it as an adult book. Or hate it for some other reason entirely. “Too many characters.” “Not enough male characters.” “The protagonists goals and obstacles are all over the map.”

It’s hard to sleep with a monster under my bed. His name is Doubt.

 

Can-Con Sunday

Like many SF Conventions, Can-Con does not run a hectic schedule on Sunday. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good stuff, and Derek didn’t hesitate to start with a bang. The first thing on my schedule was a one-hour character workshop with Jo Walton. A dozen of us sat in a circle and wrote out some character traits, and after a little magic, we all had to describe how to combine three of those traits into a coherent character for a novel. Funny thing: with two or three characters, a world began to emerge, and with five or six characters we saw the first sign of opposition and the beginnings of a premise or a plot. This was Jo’s point. Characters can drive a whole book. It was fun, too, working out how to integrate tattooed professors and whimsical warriors. In sixty minutes, we sketched a world where a trend for genetically driven body-modification had worked for a generation or two, but was breaking down to produce a rebellious underclass of the malformed. I repeat. In sixty minutes. This exercise is something Jo usually runs in a ninety minute session, so we had to wrap up in a hurry, but what a hoot!

My choice for the next time-slot was to follow Jo up to the hospitality suite for coffee and a chat. She was gracious and thoughtful, warning about the perils of generalized advice. Yes, she says, you don’t want too many characters. It’s a truism, though. Just because you have ten, doesn’t mean you must cut it down to seven. Ten may be just right. She did caution that too many POV characters can quickly become unwieldy. Create them, and you have to keep them busy. She took time to seriously consider questions from each of us, and to really think about our situations as writers. Also, she keeps tabs on mentions of her name on the internet, and had seen my previous posts about her in this blog. She must have a formidable memory, because she had absorbed that I had not travelled further than Winnipeg for a convention before. Hi Jo!

After that, I wanted to touch base with both Gabrielle Harbowy and Hayden Trenholm to make sure it was okay to blog about my pitch sessions with them. See the post previous to this one if you are curious, because they both said that was fine. I held off on uploading it until I was sure that neither of them felt that the meetings were their private business discussions, which is why the Saturday wrap-up didn’t appear until Sunday suppertime. (Chadwick, I’m squinting at you!) I also checked with Jo Walton that it would be okay to discuss her character workshop here, and we worked out a way to do that without spoiling the fun for someone down the road.

Had to give up lunch so I could sit in on Gabrielle’s reading, which came with a bonus helping of Mark Leslie Lefebvre. Anything nice I say about Gabrielle’s upcoming novel with a wonderful gnome character will sound like self-serving flattery, so I’ll just say that Mark’s was an amazingly versatile presentation!

Last but not least, the convention finished with a feedback session. The Sheraton got high marks as a venue, with the right kind of rooms and excellent transit connections. People want swag and time to go to the bathroom. Denied! Okay, maybe next year they might have a swagmaster. Swagmistress, whatever.

I’d like to conclude by saying thanks before I say goodbye. Everyone at Can-Con 2014 was great to be around, and the whole committee obviously worked hard to pull it all off with style. Special thanks to Elizabeth Buchan-Kimmerly, who was good company at one of the evening events, and my most personal gratitude to Derek Künsken, the Chair, who found time for me even when he was besieged. Well done, everyone!

Can-Con Saturday: A Tale of Two Pitches

If you were hoping for a well-rounded overview of the con as a whole, today’s post may disappoint. I did get to a few rooms, but my selfish focus was on pitching my novel. With that in mind, my first must-have event was the How to Pitch Your Novel panel with all four of the relevant editors: Gabrielle Harbowy for DragonMoon, Sandra Kasturi from Chi-Zine, Caroline Frechette from Renaissance, and Hayden Trenholm of Bundoran. The stand-out comment for me was Hayden’s desire to hear a single sentence describing what the book is about. This is harder for a writer than you might understand. I had to put myself outside my work to describe it as a reader might, if he were mentioning it to a co-worker.

This novel is about the uneasy symbiotic relationship between two human cultures; spacefarers that can live forever and pre-industrial planetary colonists that can reproduce.

That sentence was hard to write, because while it is my premise in a nutshell, it drifts into inaccuracy in two places. For forever, read indefinitely. For pre-industrial, read non-industrial or agrarian. Anyway, armed with this new sentence and a short page of key points about the protagonist and the relevant world-building, I felt ready to attempt my first pitches ever. Of course, they were still hours away.

I took a lunch break and missed the 13:00 hour panels. This is a fact of life at Cons. Unless you want to go all day on coffee and snack food you have to sacrifice some sessions to eat.

I made it back in time to sit in on The Engaging Author Reading. Marie Bilodeau talked about trying to do a reading on a day she had no voice above a whisper, and Erik Buchanan spoke about how to handle a readings with different sizes of audience, and what to do if turnout is disappointing. A recurring theme at this con has been Don’t Be a Dick. If people are making time in their lives for you, make them glad they did.

Three o’clock came, time for my appointment to meet Gabrielle Harbowy in one of the conference rooms. Ms. Harbowy was accompanied by her assistant, Fanny Darling, who never spoke, but she did take notes and help to project a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The room was way larger than needed for three people to meet, but I was seated with my back to the empty space, so it was comfortable enough. I performed better than my own expectations. I remembered to include my premise, managed to stick to the rough script of my notes, and included my Elevator Pitch: “It’s Windhaven meets Old Man’s War – without the war.” I did not try to talk non-stop, I made time for questions and feedback. It went well, and I was invited to submit my manuscript for consideration. 116,000 words was not a length that bothered Dragonmoon. In my own mind, I was effective, persuasive and as cool as James Bond. More about that later.

To wind down for the remainder of the hour, I chatted to some of the other writers waiting their turn to pitch and then Nicole Lavigne dragged me off to the Can-Con Chocolate Fountain for a little time free of pressure.

Next hour I went to the panel on Let’s Stop Counting Adjectives, a discussion on the current expectation that writing should be lean and clean makes it too bare. My favourite part was a question from the audience: What mainstream literary author would you like to see writing genre fiction? The panelists were not expecting that one, but responded gamely. Thomas Hardy was mentioned, I think, and some other classic writers. I had more time to think about it, and wished for cyberpunk written by Elmore Leonard.

Time for my meeting with Hayden Trenholm. It did not go as smoothly. Mr. Trenholm is polite, but businesslike. Remember, he owns Bundoran, so the unspoken question in the room is not “can you tell a story,” but “can you improve my bottom line?” We were interrupted twice, I think. Once by someone poking their head in, and again by someone who actually entered the room and had to be told by Mr. Trenholm that he was in the wrong place. I’d like to believe that I would have done better without the distractions, but I suspect that my nerves were showing already. Mr. Trenholm was a gentleman, and kept me moving with questions. I fumbled my short explanation of what the book is about and forgot my Elevator Pitch completely. Bundoran is less enthusiastic about the length of my manuscript, seeing it as nearly fifteen thousand words too long. Even so, I was invited to submit the first three chapters as a sample.

Later, I had chance to catch up with Gabrielle and Fanny in a less formal environment, and they told me I had been visibly nervous at their presentation, too. I’m glad I didn’t know that until after the second session!

Two pitches of variable quality, two invitations. This is as much as I would have dared to hope for, and certainly more than I expected.

Somewhere in here, I went to a reading by Andrew Barton, one of the contributing authors in Bundoran’s Strange Bedfellows. Attendance was modest, but the reading was intriguing and I had a chance to chat with Andrew afterwards.

Last event of the day for me was the popular Getting Noticed… In the Slush Pile. The good intentions of the panelists to be helpful were soon overwhelmed by humorous tales of epic fails.

Supper break, and then back for an hour or two of the evenings publisher party hosted by ChiZine Publications. Book prizes from the hosts, and good conversation all around. It was a long day, and I still missed so many things! I didn’t get to go to the paper airplane contest, the Worst Readings, the Feminist Exploration of Female Villains (packed), Face-Palms of World-Building, or Exploring the Solar System, just to name some things I had highlighted on my schedule.