FanExpo 2017 Wrap-Up

For some reason, I always seem to wait until I have the energy of an opiate-addled sloth to get around to these posts.

By my watch, it's nearly 1 am on Friday, September 8th, a full eight days after FanExpo 2017 began. As ever, it came and went like some sort of pop-culture maelstrom, replete with tens of thousands of metaphorical storm chasers descending upon the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in the hopes of basking in the four days of near-chaos that always ensue, and hundreds of celebrities, industry pros, and Artist Alley creators (or artisanerds) looking to offer their own piece of the action to those looking for some.

As with last year, Deanna and I shared a table in Artist Alley with A.A. Jankiewicz, author of the Q-16 books, personal friend, and all-around good egg. Much like our previous forays with this convention, our days were largely relegated to trying to catch the eyes of passersby, in the hopes that we might invoke the Vaudevillian Gods of old, pitching our wares to potential readers. Sometimes it worked, more often than not it didn't. It's a fact of this convention that I came to grasp in or about two years ago: FanExpo, due to its size and the breadth of modern fandom, is not heavily populated by readers. That said, our table was, all in all, far from bereft of people who looked excitedly as they saw that there were authors, selling books. Not all nerds are readers, but most readers (especially genre-heavy readers) are nerds, and often it felt like an errant sock finding its mate amid piles of laundry. We even had a few return readers swing by to pick up Collapse and Lord of the Unfinished Tower, which is always a great feeling.

For her part, Deanna decided to try and branch out from art prints to something a bit more functional. This year she tried a limited run of tote bags featuring some of her original artwork, and suffice it to say we were all pleasantly surprised by the result, so much so that Deanna is now excitedly designing a number of items, and between you and me, expect a Etsy store in the near future.

I seized the opportunity on the Friday to get a meet and greet and photo op with the inimitable nerd icon Felicia Day. I have never really been one for such things, but the fact of the matter is that Felicia's once-production company Geek and Sundry, and by proxy Felicia herself, were hugely influential for me getting serious with writing, and I wanted to tell her as much. I also wanted to give her a copy of Summerlark, and a copy of Dragon for her daughter. I won't bloviate further past saying that she is simply a genuinely lovely person, and that it was two-hundred-percent worth the time spent shuffling through the crowded convention centre and waiting in line.

The evenings after the con had closed for the night were, for the most part, quiet nights filled with Deanna and I procrastinating on getting caught up on Game of Thrones. The exception to this was Saturday night, in which Deanna, myself, Agnes, and her boyfriend Chris were joined by the inimitable Jason Wiseman, Peter Chiykowski, David Daneman, and nearly a dozen other creative professionals in what I can only describe as the most sober bar crawl imaginable. The long and short of it is that the Steamwhistle Brewery does not, contrary to my assumptions, have a restaurant therein, the Amsterdam Brewery is a lost cause during FanExpo for any party larger than two, and it you want some of the best fries in Toronto and a shot called the Burt Reynolds, look up a little place called The Pint. It was there that our quest ended, our merriment found root, and conversations got crazy enough that the DJ started to play the music louder. 13/10, h*ckin' great time with h*ckin' great people.

The Sunday, as it always is, was bittersweet. The feeling was all the more amplified, however, by the fact that Deanna and I won't be there next year. With our wedding at the end of August 2018, FanExpo is going to coincide with our honeymoon, and despite our mutual adoration of the convention and the friends we've made over the years, the choice was a bit of a no-brainer. Weddings are hectic business, and so our conventions schedule for 2018 is pretty well up-in-the-air.

And so with that I bid farewell to this, my fourth convention season as a professional. A huge thanks again to Agnes, to the organizers, and to each and every person who stopped by, even just to take a look. See you all in 2019.

Ad Astra 2017 Wrap-Up

It's 11:30 at night on a Sunday. I have more caffeine in me than any reasonable person would have in them at this hour. There are no fewer than half a dozen things I could ostensibly be working on right now, and yet I'm opting to write this blog post instead.

Ad Astra is, without a doubt, my favourite convention. This year was my third year attending, and my second doing so not only as a vendor, but also as a panelist (more the latter than the former this time around, if I'm being honest, but I'll get to that later). I always refer to it as "the biggest little con in the GTA" whenever I describe it to people. For something that is fan-run out of a single hotel, it draws substantial attendance, and consistently top-notch guests. Frankly, the fact that they allow me to slum it up with the likes of Robert J. Sawyer, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Ed Greenwood is anybody's guess, but I'd be remiss to not jump at the opportunity and be insanely thankful that it exists. Never mind the fact that the top-billed guest of honour for this year was Brandon Sanderson. Sadly I wasn't on any panels with him this year, and thus missed my opportunity to introduce myself as "the Brandon you aren't here to see."

I'll have to save that for the next convention we happen to both be attending, whenever that happens to be.

I get ahead of myself, though. I suppose I ought to start with the traffic. Friday afternoon saw Deanna and I sitting in far more traffic than I anticipated on our way to the Sheraton Parkway in Markham, so much so that I was nearly late to my own book launch party; I was a little bit tense, to say the least.

To my surprise, I had a wonderful turnout for the launch of Collapse of Kingdoms, many of whom were ready and waiting before I was, old friends and new faces alike. Since the launch of Council last year I feel as though I've gotten stronger as an author doing live readings, and the passages I read from the book were, I think, pretty well done.

A particular note: Nicholas Eames, author of my most recent favourite read Kings of the Wyld was awesome enough to stop by the launch before his first panel that night. Nick and I crossed paths a few times that weekend, including a panel we were on with my friend Agnes Jankiewicz, and although I would have already encouraged all of you to buy Nick's book before the con, the fact that he was such a genuine, stand-up guy throughout the weekend means that I'm basically telling you all that Kings of the Wyld is a must-read.

Speaking of must-reads: Saturday saw me attending the launch of the follow-up to Agnes' portal fantasy/sci-fi YA joyride Q16 and the Eye to All Worlds, titled Q16 and the Lord of the Unfinished Tower. Scheduling made it difficult for me to attend the whole event, but I was lucky enough to catch Agnes' reading, and if any of you are fans of Roger Zelazny then believe me when I say that you are doing yourselves a disservice if you aren't reading Agnes' books.

Saturday also saw me at the pre-launch party for Brave New Girls Volume 2: Girls Who Science and Scheme. Again, due to some scheduling hiccups, I was only present for the first half, in which I read a passage from my contribution to the anthology, The Verne Shot, and was lucky enough to hear Agnes read from her story Skyris.

Lisa Tooheyalso had a reading at the event that I unfortunately missed, and so the next time we cross paths I totally owe her a drink.

Every panel I was on over the course of the weekend was a ton of fun, and resulted in my meeting some really great people. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was my reading on the Saturday. Last year saw authors grouped into panels of three or four for readings, but this year each of us was flying solo. To my surprise, I had a really great turnout for mine, including my good friends (and incredible authors in their own rights) Alyx Dellamonica and Kelly Robson. I was, after all was said and done, offered some great advice from Kelly, and when a Hugo-nominated author/colleague/friend offers you advice, you bloody well heed it!

Incidentally, both Deanna and I do regret not being able to hang out with the two of you more that night; we really need to do sushi or something.

Deanna and I tried our best to attend one another's panels, but as it was we maybe spent a total of eight combined hours at out dealers' room table the entire weekend. The panelist/vendor juggling act is a difficult one to manage, and come 2018 we may need to rethink our strategies for how we approach cons where we both have to wear both hats. That said, we had some very awesome people swing by our vendor table, and as always I cannot possibly be thankful enough for each and every individual who did so.

Sunday saw us in the gaming room, playing a session of the tabletop RPG Pugmire. The game plays like an even simpler version of 5e D&D, but in place of elves. dwarves. halflings, and the like, the PCs play different breeds of dogs. It was probably the most rules-light tabletop RPG I've ever run, and it may well have been one of the most fun games I've ever run, in part because of that. If you play RPGs and you haven't given this system I try, I highly recommend it. I think my GMing RPGs on the Sunday of the con might be forming into a tradition, and you can bet that 2018 will be no different.

Among the deluge of awesomeness that went down during the weekend was my opportunity to finally meet Darrell Drake in the flesh. The Toronto native, and author of the historical fantasy A Star Reckoner's Lot, was in the same block of vendor tables as Deanna and I, and much like literally everyone I encounter at Ad Astra, is a very down-to-earth, awesome individual. He is also one of the masterminds behind the Fools of Fantasy, a group of authors adjacent to the /r/Fantasy sub-forum of Reddit, a group to which I now proudly claim membership. (There is not a-one of these authors whom you should not be reading literally right now). Though the collective is somewhat nascent, expect awesome things in the future, possibly beyond the already fantastic library of genre-spanning works already being produced.

Alright, I've waxed poetic for an incredibly long time already about everything that happened last weekend, but not nearly enough about why exactly Ad Astra is great, and why it brings me back into its folds perennially.

If I'm being totally honest, Ad Astra is the one convention I've attended since I first decided to take a crack at this whole writing gig that has consistently left me feeling like I'm actually a capital A Author. At the end of each Ad Astra for the last three years I have felt like more than just someone who has been desperately trying to get people to read the goofy elves and magic books he's published. Rather, by 5 o'clock on the Sunday of each Ad Astra I have felt exponentially more like someone who has a reader base, who has fans, who is a colleague among other authors.

Impostor syndrome is a very real thing, and I am very much of the mind that, among authors who live in the Greater Toronto Area, there is no better cure than Ad Astra, even if the course of the cure is only three days long.

Thank you, truly and earnestly, to the organizers, attendees, and fellow vendors and guests of Ad Astra 2017. I hope to see you all next year.

Ad Astra 2017

Well hey everyone,

It's uh... been a minute or 197,280, hasn't it?

Well, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, which I hope you do, seeing as it's a much more efficient way to keep up with me than this seemingly biennial blog I "keep", then you know that this weekend Deanna and I will both be at Ad Astra in Toronto. If you're going, I'd love if you stopped by to say hi!

If you're looking for either of us, our schedules are as follows:



6-8pm, Suite 1070 - Book Launch for Collapse of Kingdoms


11:30am-12pm, Markham B room - Reading

1-2pm, Oakridges Room - Transitional Media Techniques

2-3pm, Newmarket Room - Starting them Young: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Picture Books

5-6pm, Markham A&B room - Mass Autograph Signing

6-7pm, Suite 1070 - Pre-Launch Event: Brave New Girls vol. 2

7-8pm, Newmarket Room - What is This Play of Role of Which You Speak?


2-3pm, Oakridges Room - Fantasy from Trilogies to Television Series




6-8pm, Suite 1070 - Book Launch for Collapse of Kingdoms


12-1pm, Richmond B Room - The YA Revolution: reinventing Sci-Fi/Fantasy for a new generation

2-3pm, Newmarket Room - Starting them Young: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Picture Books

7-8pm, Newmarket Room - What is This Play of Role of Which You Speak?

8-9pm, Newmarket Room - The Popularity of Board Gaming

A couple of notes:

Any time either Deanna or myself aren't in a panel, we'll be in the Dealers' Room, where you can come get books, bookmarks, or just say hi.

There is going to be some point on Sunday in which I'm going to be running a game of the Pugmire RPG - keep an eye out on Twitter or Facebook for that.

In general I'm going to remain pretty active on social media all weekend, so watch that to see where I'll be during any particular moment this coming weekend.


Hope to see you all there!

Ad Astra 2016

It has been a crazy week here at Dragahold, and we're only at Wednesday!

I have been crazy promoting the guest blogs I've been doing, which, if you're looking for an aggregate for them:

I want to once again offer my sincerest thanks to all those guys for offering up space for me to post on their sites and plug my books - it's a huge honour, and I recommend you go check out their work, too!

I've also been going nuts trying to get all my ducks in a row For Ad Astra this weekend, and I'm thankful that I can finally share my full schedule with you all!

Official Ad Astra 2016 schedule!

This is, of course, only the official programming schedule, and doesn't include the following:

  • Deanna and I will both be at our table in the Dealers' Room all weekend whenever we aren't otherwise predisposed with panels etc. Copies of The Summerlark Elf, The Missing Thane's War, The Council of Tymenthia, and Dragon in the Doghouse will all be available, as well as copies of Wealthy Merchant (The official Four Kingdoms card game), Build Them! (Deanna's all-ages deck-building game), as well as several of Deanna's art prints will be on sale!
  • After-hours, you can expect to find Deanna and I doing all sorts of social industry-type things. I'll keep everyone posted via Twitter or some such.
  • Sunday morning at 10am, I'm going to be DMing a D&D game for Deanna, and our fellow Ad Astra guests Aaron Lenk, Agnes Jankiewicz, and Professor Morbius. Location is TBA for that, but keep an eye on Twitter and/or Facebook and Instagram, and drop by and say hello!

This is going to be, far and away, the biggest con, activity-wise, for both Deanna and myself to date, and we're both so looking forward to it. Please, if you see either of us there, don't hesitate to come up and say hi!

In Which I Actually Update My Blog

"I'll see you in March." I said.

"I figure I can update monthly." I said.

This is why you all have trust issues, I'm sure.

God, has it really been six months? Yes, yes it has. I kept telling myself I would update this blog when I had something worth writing a post about.

I didn't write a post about my reading at Whitchurch-Stoufeville Public library, which went really well.

I didn't write a post about Ad Astra or Atomic Lollipop, both of which which also went really well.

I didn't even write a post about the fact that Realmwalker liked my Legacy submission so much that it was accepted on the spot, coupled with an offer by them to publish the Four Kingdoms Saga, and Dragon in the Doghouse.

Incidentally, I'm now a traditionally published author. And I never blogged about it, surprising no one.

The transition has been kind of weird. I would go into it in detail, but frankly one of my fellow RPG authors, the incredibly talented Graham Austin-King did a perfect job describing it on his own blog, which he manages to actually update.

So, all that said, I guess I'll tell you guys about what's going on for FanExpo. This year, I've upgraded from piggybacking table space off friends, and have moved onto bigger and better things; sharing a smaller (read: less expensive) table with Deanna. We're going to be at booth A75 all four days, where you can get the shiny new RPG editions of The Summerlark Elf, and if you're early/eager enough, the last remaining self-published copies of The Missing Thane's War and Dragon in the Doghouse. Additionally, Deanna will be selling tons of really cool prints, from cubicle-friendly postcards to dorm-appropriate posters, and everything in-between. Long story short, booth A75 is where the coolest stuff is. (Except for everyone else's really cool stuff. Buy all that stuff, too.)

Now, of course, there's always more to these cons than just the dealers' rooms. The Thursday and Sunday nights will be pretty quiet for Deanna and I (unless something REALLY awesome comes up, that is), but Friday and Saturday are for PARTIES!

So to speak.

Friday night, come and join me, Deanna, game designer/writer/artist Corey Reid (Dino Pirates of Ninja Island, Reform School Ninja Girls), my brother Ryan, and whoever else we can drag along as I run them through the latest DnD 5e adventure Harried in Hillsfar. Spoilers: Deanna will play a halfling.

Further spoilers: that's not really a spoiler if you know Deanna at all.

Saturday night you'll be able to find Deanna and I at the RETRO CONSOLE GAMING AFTER PARTY! That's a thing that's actually happening! Specifically at the Loose Moose on Front St.

Alright, everyone, I'm pretty sure I've filled my blog quota for the next six months, I'll catch you all next February.

Just kidding, expect a recap post in a couple weeks.



A Playdate in Someone Else's Sandbox

I was going to make some kind of glib comment about missing a post this month, but then I looked through my blog history and realized that the day I keep a regular blog schedule on this website is the day I'm replaced by a lizardman wearing my skin. As such, should you begin to see a consistent pattern emerge in this blog's schedule, dear readers, I humbly ask that you rise up and exact retribution in my name. Thanks in advance for that.

February has been a super eventful month, you guys. I did an interview with the local radio station of a township not far from me, which was a lot of fun. The interviewer, who hosts a weekly show called Shelf Life, was a librarian at the library I'll be visiting in May, and as soon as the radio station gets their website in ship-shape (it's currently under construction) I'll post a link to the interview over on the Interviews and Other Media page. Past that, I've been trying to get all my ducks in a row for my next Chapters signing next week, as well as Ad Astra in April.

Oh yeah, I guess I've been writing a bit, too.

In truth, I've been writing quite a bit this month. As I told you guys in my last post, I'm working on a submission for Realmwalker Publishing Group's Legacy anthology currently, and man have I been enjoying it. If I'm being honest, I don't think this project could have come at a better time. I certainly don't want you guys to think that I got burned out on Four Kingdoms book three or anything like that, but the fact of the matter is that I have, for roughly the last fourteen months or so, been spending the bulk of my free time working on this series. It has been an amazing, rewarding, enriching experience, to be sure, and I do not regret a single moment up to this point. That being said, it has also been incredibly exhausting.

Maybe it's just the way my brain works, but if I keep doing the same thing for a long period of time, especially something creative, I find my creative well begins to dry up. Motivation withers in favour of mechanization, and frankly I'm not the type who can just go through the motions and fix it up later. Looking back at my old blog Between Two Junkyards is a great example of how dangerous this can be for me as a writer, because as soon as I allowed myself to slip a little, the blog posts that I managed to update on a pretty frequent and consistent basis began to trickle, both in quantity and quality.

Creeping toward 2015, I found that almost every time I sat down to work on book three I was asking myself more questions than I was actually putting words on the page. It wasn't healthy for the progression of this series, and it certainly wasn't healthy for my creative process. I suppose taking a break from writing altogether to allow my batteries to recharge was a possibility, and I'm sure there are writers who are able to do that, but the metaphorical lightbulb that is my mind seems not to be powered by lithium ion, but by one of those kinetic-energy science fair projects that involves an exercise bike.

Enter Legacy. The anthology is pretty interesting in that, rather than having a group of authors write stories set in their own worlds that are all thematically related, those of us submitting stories are working within the world of one of the Realmwalker titles, each of us contributing a story that ties into the history of a prominent family therein. The best part is that, while the submission packet offered the various prompts and necessary rudimentary information, we were more-or-less given carte blanche otherwise. I don't know that I have felt this much raw inspiration while writing since I was working on the first draft of The Summerlark Elf. Though I'm still not cracking out the kind of word counts I was back then (I'd have finished this short story weeks ago if I were), what I am clocking on the page when I write is stuff that I always feel good about.

Best of all? Since working on this short story I have had ideas sprouting like mushrooms in a rainforest for book three. In a perfect world, I'd be juggling the two with ease, but the reality is that I only have so many hours in a given day, and while I'm on a deadline for Legacy, I only have the barest semblance of one for my own novels, giving the former precedence at the moment. Know, though, that once I send this story off to my betas I will be charging back headlong into Olhean with a vengeance.

With any luck, Legacy will open up some new opportunities to do more work like this in the future. I guess sometimes everyone needs a change of scenery. If not, maybe I'll try my hand at the odd Four Kingdoms short story here and there and post them here on the website.

What do you think, guys? Would you be up for the odd 10,000 word story in between novels? Let me know in the comments, and I'll see you all in March.

In Which I Discuss Projects, Writing and Otherwise

It just seems like a good day for a blog post, I suppose.

January has been a slower month than I would have liked. Maybe I can attribute that to a general post-holiday consumer dearth, I guess. Maybe people are too caught up with books received over said holidays. Having not had a prior January with which to compare book sales, it's difficult to say, and as such I can't exactly pay it that much mind, an author's journey being a marathon rather than a sprint, and all that.

If nothing else, January kind of seemed like a setup month for what is looking to be a pretty adventurous year. I updated the Upcoming Appearances Page a couple weeks back, which is confirmed events, and therefore excludes the signings at Chapters locations in Toronto, of which dates are being discussed, as well as cons I haven't yet confirmed (Anime North and FanExpo).

Further, I will be doing a radio interview with the awesome people at the Stouffville Public Library next week, and a Reddit AMA over at /r/Fantasy on the 18th. The interview will be pre-recorded, and I imagine will appear in a digital format that I will link to as soon as I'm able. All whilst working full-time and slowly chipping away at book three.

If this sounds like complaining, it isn't. I enjoy keeping busy. I recently had a conversation with my mom and my sister, musing about the fan-favourite hypothetical of winning the lottery, and when I had offered that I would just quit my job and write, my sister balked at the notion.

"You couldn't do it." she said, assuming that I had meant simply becoming an eccentric millionaire hermit who spent sixteen hours a day weaving tales. "You're the only person I know who does the dishes when he has the flu because he can't just relax."

She's right, of course. Sleeping in past (maybe) 10am, doing nothing all day, spending time in pajamas whilst not sleeping; these things all drive me kind of nuts. I can remember going to Cuba some years ago, and having a hard time coping with the idea of spending a week sitting by a pool. I am, by nature, a borderline frenetic individual. This is why I am looking forward to everything I have on my plate for 2015 so far, on top of taking on an additional writing project.

Yup, a small publisher called Realmwalker Publishing is releasing a multi-author short story anthology called Legacy. Unlike most fantasy anthologies, which have authors writing stories that are thematically similar only, this book centres around the timeline of a family of wizards within one of the Realmwalker series, each story serving as a snapshot of an important event in the family's history. I'll probably have to take a few weeks hiatus from working on the next Four Kingdoms book, but I have to admit that it's going to be interesting, even a little refreshing, to take a step back from Olhean for a while and play in someone else's world.

Oh, that reminds me. Olhean? That's the name of my world. There's actually a good deal more about the world that I plan on posting onto the site at some point. Let me know what you guys might like to see in the comments!

P.S. Don't everyone get excited and congratulate me on the Legacy thing yet - it's an open submission format, and they announce who they've chosen all the way in June. Sending me some positive mojo would be much appreciated, though.

SFContario 2014, or a Study on the Effect of Polar Opposites on the Self-Published Writer

When I first opted to self-publish The Summerlark Elf, I'd like to think that I approached the endeavour with decidedly realistic (read: low) expectations. To be honest, I was expecting to be met with little, if any, attention from the fantasy community, nothing but negative feedback from those who did take a chance on my book (because the internet), and an absolute dearth of opportunities to promote myself and my writing past spamming social networks. What I did not expect was to have several local stores graciously offer to put my books on their shelves, to have been embraced so warmly by the fantasy community (readers and authors alike), to have received several positive reviews, and to have been allowed the opportunity not only to promote my work in Chapters, but at FanExpo. As a little indie guy who decided one year ago to start work on a multi-book fantasy series with zero credentials going into it, I am proud to say that I think I've done decidedly well so far.

So well, in fact, that I think I really needed SFContario this past weekend to make sure I wasn't getting carried away with all this good luck.

I had only ever attended a few different conventions leading up to my working FanExpo, so perhaps my expectations going into this convention were somewhat skewed. I want to be clear before I continue, however, that this post is not meant to dump on SFContario; the show's organizers were friendly and helpful, and truly seemed to have their hearts in the right place. The convention is still young, this being its fifth year, and I believe that with time and perseverance the con is capable of becoming much larger and much more recognizable. All this being said though, I would be lying if I said that my experience this past weekend wasn't a bit... underwhelming.

I arrived at the hotel where the convention was being held on the Friday afternoon. The dealers' room opened at 4pm, so I had thought that arriving at 2:30 seemed like a good idea - plenty of time to find my table, get set up, etc. I was met by what seemed like a somewhat surprised liaison, who accompanied me to the roughly 30" x 20" hotel conference room that would serve as the dealers' room. Seven tables were set up around the room's perimeter, with two more tables set up in the hall outside.

"Well, here we are." the liaison, an older gentleman, announced simply. "Seems you're the first one here, so you an have first pick of the tables." (excepting, of course, those booth spaces where two tables had been secured). I opted for the middle spot along one of the walls perpendicular to the door, and he left me to set up while he no doubt attended to other matters. I had been dealing with an unusually high number of unfortunate happenings in the thirty-six hours leading up to that point, but as I began to set up my books, signage, etc, I began to relax. Sure, the dealers' room was small, but that could only be to mine and Deanna's benefit, as shopping traffic would have a difficult time not passing by our table. Plus, as the other dealers began to arrive, it became clear that I was the only traditional fantasy author there, and that Deanna and I were the only ones with a picture book, so we had both those corners of the genre covered.

The bright outlook Deanna and I had going into the weekend, unfortunately, darkened considerably as the weekend progressed. The dealers' room was vacant more often than not, and the majority of people who did pass through were panelists, friends of dealers, or decidedly disinterested in traditional fantasy and picture books. There were two instances that really capped the whole thing, though:

1. I was talking with an attendee who seemed to get openly offended when I referred to science fiction as "Sci-Fi", and not simply "SF". Her reaction really confused me, and I tried to be polite about it, humourously excusing my faux-pas, though the whole time I was simply baffled. "Sci-Fi" is apparently not a thing you should say. The whole interaction really smacked of a kind of elitism that really gets under my skin, especially as someone who writes the type of fantasy that's generally not considered fashionable right now. I'm sure I'm not the first person to touch on this, but I feel like there are way too many people who want so badly for fantasy and science fiction to be "taken seriously" that they forget that the genres are supposed to be fun. So, I'm sorry that I devalued a genre by using the wrong diminutive for it, I'll be more careful next time.

2. Robin Hobb was the fantasy guest of honour at the con. I am well aware of who she is, and how well-respected her works are in the fantasy community. I didn't have any time to read up on any of her work leading up to the con because my reading time is limited, I was in the middle of the Riyria series, and I genuinely didn't expect to be in the same room as she was at any point that weekend. Wouldn't you know, she decided to saunter into the dealers' room on the Saturday and circuit through the tables, talking to each dealer.

"It figures." I whispered to Deanna, "I made a point of brushing up on Elminster for FanExpo, and never once even saw Ed Greenwood. Now I'm about to meet Robin Hobb, and I haven't read any of her stuff."

"Relax, it's not like she's going to ask if you have." Deanna whispered back "That'd be really snobbish and stupid."

Thankfully, Robin didn't ask me if I had read any of her books. She didn't even talk to me, actually, nor Deanna. After talking to the author at the OnSpec Magazine table to our left, she walked past our table, briefly glancing at the books atop it, and proceeded to stop at the table to our right, where a really nice guy named Chad was selling wind-up steampunk automatons.

Now, I don't want to say that Robin was being intentionally rude, that she spitefully avoided Deanna and I or anything, but at the time, it was a huge, driving all the wind from my sails, slap to the face. it made me feel like the kid from the school newspaper trying to cover a story amid "professional" journalists, like any sense of validation I felt prior was false. It felt like there was a clear message being stated: "Self-publishing does not a real author make", and it really sucked.

Past that, I can't say that there were any more overtly negative experiences that weekend. We didn't sell many books, but we did have one person cold-purchase the picture book, which, as Deanna iterated, was her highlight of the weekend. We also made some pretty cool con buddies in Chad (who goes by "Simon Dalek" on Facebook), and fellow author/artist couple Kit Daven and Sean Chappell, who helped us make the decision to try and make it out to Ad Astra next April. Go google them and buy all their stuff.

All in all, SFContario was an experience worth having, as it gave me some insight into exactly what kind of depth and breadth the convention circuit contains. It was a great networking experience, and although I'm not sure if I'll be back as strictly a dealer for 2015, I wish the organizers all the best in the future.

Wouldn't it be kind of ironic if I would up as a panelist?

On the Glamourous Life of Wordsmithery

So, I concede that I am terrible at keeping a regular blog. I'm sure that I've stated that before, but the fact remains, and the nice, big weeks-long gap between this and my last post made me feel like maybe I ought to point said fact once more. see, the thing is, whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I feel like I ought to have some kind of point I'm trying to get across, some amazing insight or humourous anecdote I can offer to make you, dear readers, feel like your visit to my website was worth your time. Maybe it stems from the days when I furiously blogged away at Between Two Junkyards, when I was trying to write good, print-worthy editorial prose, I'm not really sure.

Fact of the matter is this, guys: my life is, on a day-to-day basis, not terribly exciting, and as such is not often worth blogging about. In truth, October has been such a crazy month, I haven't had much time to think about anything poignant, insightful, or humourous that may have happened in the technicolour whirlwind that has been the last few weeks.

Although, maybe that's not why you read this blog, and maybe it's not the angle I ought to try writing it from. Maybe I should just tell you all what's up, what I have managed to capture within this technicolour whirlwind. Well, here it goes...

My signing at the Brampton Chapters happened. In many ways, it felt very similar to FanExpo, but in many ways it was different. I guess it was kind of like the first time The Ramones performed on a late night talk show... (just follow along with me here). The act of performing in front of an audience would have been nothing new, but David Letterman's studio set held a bit more of an air of mainstream legitimacy than the grimy stage of CBGB. Further, I gather much of Letterman's audience didn't get tickets expecting, never mind anticipating The Ramones, as opposed to CBGB, where the effort needed to get the audience on their side would have been substantially less.

Am I making any sense? I guess the takeaway is that the Chapters event was a really interesting experience, and I look forward to doing more of them, but I found out how much harder it is as a fantasy author to market yourself and your book to a crowd who isn't made up almost entirely of nerds. Not impossible, mind you, but harder.

After the fact, my family had a celebratory dinner, because they are supportive and awesome. There may or may not have been a cake that looked like the cover of The Summerlark Elf, and I may or may not have tweeted pictures of it.

Thanksgiving happened this past weekend here in Canada, and between my family and Deanna's, I spent the weekend more or less with a conveyor belt of food pointed directly at my willing maw. As was the nature of the holiday, I found myself thankful for all those close to me, who have loved and supported me, and would have done so (and did) before I ever got it in my head that I would try and tell stories for a living. I would also like to point out, dear readers, how thankful I am for all of you, as those stories would fall of deaf ears without the lot of you.

Speaking of stories, perhaps it's worth mentioning that Deanna has been burning the midnight oil lately making sure that Dragon in the Doghouse and Missing Thane's War are not only ready for their mid-November releases, but that they look so good my words will pale in comparison. We're hoping to have both sent into the printer for proof-approval this weekend, and we could not be more excited. The buzz we've been getting around both these projects has really been stoking our flames, and you'd better believe we're itching to let them out into the wild come SFContario.

I guess that's it, really. That's all I have to say for now about my crazy, non-stop life. No poignant quip to catchy bit of writing to end on, just a simple, porcine "That's All, Folks!" Maybe I'll loose another mundane update in a week or so - I think this one turned out pretty well.

...Oh, did I mention I started writing Book III?

FanExpo 2014 Recap

Not my most creative title, is it?

Well, FanExpo 2014 has come and gone. Man, it's already been over a week. There is so much that I could talk about, from the enormous beers at the Wayward launch party, to the runaround Jason and I had getting our badges, to casually greeting Neal Adams as I double-fisted slices of pizza on the last day of the con. I sold books, I made some new friends (and saw some old ones), and all in all I had an amazing experience, but of all the possible anecdotes I could share, the memory that will be most indelible to me will be the walk I took on the Saturday evening.

Saturday, for those of you who have never been to a nerd convention, is always the busiest day, and it showed in my end-of-day book sales, every one of which I worked fervently for. I was meeting some friends after the show at a pub about eight blocks or so uptown before we went to the Silver Snail's famous Moonlight Madness sale. I could have taken a ten minute walk to the subway and rode it for three stops, but I was feeling pretty good about myself, and I decided to walk.

No matter what direction you go when you leave the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on the Saturday of FanExpo, you become part of a massive march of the nerds. I may have looked slightly out-of-place with my sport jacket on amid all the cosplayers, but I had my Ninja Turtles t-shirt on underneath it, so maybe not. I listened to Anamanaguchi's latest album Endless Fantasy as I walked, and I was fed by the energy of the crowd, the energy of the music (which I've talked about waxing nostalgic on before), and my own energy from a great day.

It was after about two blocks or so that the crowd gradually dissipated, trickling ever so slowly until I could no longer tell if I was walking amid plainclothes conventioneers or simply everyday non-nerds. I turned onto Younge street and walked north, twilight painting a milky backdrop behind the towering Toronto skyline as music that reminded me of the carelessness daydreamer I was nearly half a lifetime ago provided the soundtrack.

When I was a teenager, I can remember writing little short stories, embarrassing pieces about my friends and I sharing some huge house as adults, and navigating life amid the worst shoujo anime tropes that I couldn't get enough of. They were indulgent and idealistic, and I am so glad that I did not have any ideas to post them online. It had never occurred to me in those silly little stories that I'd end up trying to make a career out of writing, which is ironic in hindsight, but I digress. As I walked up Younge that night, all the feelings I poured into those stories, that bygone sense of wish-fulfillment, all felt real. I was living the kind of dream I would have concocted for myself more than a decade ago, and it felt incredible.

I would go on that night to tell my friends, as I basked in my sense of success and sipped an IPA that was a poor decision the minute it rose a degree above its pouring temperature, that I felt like a king, and that the trip back to reality after the weekend concluded would doubtless be a difficult one. While the latter was certainly true, leaving my skin crawling in withdrawal until my next fix comes in the form of my Chapters signing, the former, not so much. The events of my very first FanExpo were sublime, and left me feeling a lot of things, but I wouldn't say I felt like a king. Rather, I felt like I had unlocked some kind of achievement, reached some kind of milestone. The work I put into my writing is, I would like to believe, very real, and FanExpo was my first real taste of what the payoff of that hard work was. Walking those twilit Toronto streets, I didn't feel like a king, I felt like an author, and that is a feeling I will forever relish.

P.S. Words cannot describe my gratitude to Jason Anarchy, for presenting me with more than just an opportunity, but inviting me to experience the whirlwind life of a professional creator by throwing me headlong into the fray. Everyone reading this (who is of legal drinking age) ought to go to right now and buy everything Jason has to offer, because I cannot think of anyone who better deserves to be rewarded for the fruits of his labour.

FanExpo 2014

In all honesty, I did not think FanExpo was on my radar, not for 2014.

I mean, Deanna and I talked about splitting the cost on a Small Press table, but opted to wait for 2015, so as to assure we'd both have a body of work to make the cost of a table worthwhile. I did not expect to receive an offer from Jason Anarchy like the one I did this past Anime North:

"So, I have a table for FanExpo this year, but I'm also doing some panels. I had a friend who was going to help me run the table, but he's got other obligations. If you give me a hand, I can give you some table space."

I still cannot believe it, doubly so because this isn't just a Small Press table. Jason is a featured Gaming guest, and as such, that is where the table is located. Let's just say I owe him a few pints, at least. This is FanExpo, the biggest con of the year in Canada.

There is a part of me that is sufficiently terrified.

I mean, I know it's just jitters. I know I'll be fine, have a great weekend, and hopefully sell some books, but it's surreal. On top of the con, Jason, Deanna, and myself are attending Jim Zub's launch party for his new comic tomorrow night, and the Cyanide and Happiness Banana Bar Crawl on Saturday. While on the more casual side, these are very much industry events, with industry people, and I will be commingling with them, as an industry person (sort of).

As it stands, I still have to pack (I will be at Deanna's during the con), but I did want to let you all know what my schedule was going to be like, and where you could find me, provided you'll be attending.

I'll be at the con all four days, so you needn't worry if you only plan on making it out for only one. I will be at table 563 (just a couple tables away from the LEGO booth). Keep an eye out for the big Drinking Quest banner. I will more than likely be there constantly over the four days, so come by and say hello, buy a copy of The Summerlark Elf, and a copy of Drinking Quest. If perchance I am not there, there is a good chance I'm attempting to find Ed Greenwood and give him a copy of the book, so you could likely find me there.

Anyway, I have clothes, books, cards, and DnD stuff to try and pack, so I will see you all later (hopefully at the con!)


Hey everybody, time for another episode of "Inane Ramblings to Garner Website Traffic!"

In this episode, our hero embarks on a quest of self-discovery with far-reaching implications, questions the nature of humanity and its place in the universe, and waxes existential whilst enjoying a cup of herbal tea with a special guest (whom you may not expect)!

Just kidding... although that does sound like a really fun idea for a piece of short fiction...

Actually, I'm going to start off with the usual on this blog, that is to say I'm going to rifle off some news from the world of independently-published authorship, maybe talk a little bit about the non-authorial goings-on in my life, and end up on some tangential rant about this, that, or the other. Those of you who have read my editorial stuff (see the other sites posted on the "About" page) should have a good eye for this kind of formula by now. That being said, here's Brandon with the News!

My interview on "The Speculative Soapbox" went live about a week and a half ago. It was a lot of fun, the host, TJ Redig is a really affable guy, and I think that allowed me to act really natural during the interview. Truth be told, this was my first time ever being on the subject end of an interview (I did a couple of interview pieces with some pro skaters back on Between Two Junkyards that garnered mild attention), but from the feedback I've received people seem to think that I did well, which I think bodes well for another interview I have coming up next month, to which I'll post more information when I can.

This year, as in years passed, I'll be attending Anime North in Toronto, which is taking place May 23-25. Had I known when Deanna and I had bought our tickets that I would be in the position I'm currently in, I would have planned ahead and got a table, but hindsight is 20/20, so I'll only be attending as a regular conventioneer. It will be strange, though, in that I'm not going to see the con through such a lens. Rather, I'm probably going to spend more time trying to network with people, try and get my name and the book out there a little bit more. I'll have a load of business cards that I'm going to have on hand, and I know it sounds corny, but if on the off-chance you'll be attending, and you've bought a copy of the book, I wouldn't turn down a request to make it a signed copy. All my hobnobbery aside, though, there are still a number of "regular con-goer" things that I'm looking forward to, and are probably the best chances you'll have to track me down.

- Friday afternoon's Evil Laughter contest. I have a notoriously nefarious-sounding chuckle, so this seemed like a no-brainer.

- Anime Hell Friday night. Even in years when I didn't attend North for the full weekend, I made it out to this, because the only thing better than watching surreal and awful videos from across the globe is watching them in a convention hall with three-hundred other people and a delightfully droll narrator.

- Board Game tournaments all weekend. I figure I might as well try my hand at some competitive King of Tokyo or Takenoko. Last year I ran an impromptu pick-up 4e DnD game that drew in a bigger crowd than I thought, but I'm already planning on running my Neverwinter campaign that Sunday night, and lugging around enough supplies for two sessions would have been more trouble than I was willing to put in.

- Drinking Quest Punk-Rock Business, Saturday afternoon. Jason Anarchy is a friend of mine and Deanna's, a game designer, Deanna's occasional employer, and an all-around good guy. If you see his table in the dealer's room, buy a copy of his game. I imagine this panel is going to be informative and entertaining in equal measure, and I encourage people to check it out as well.

- Totally Lame Anime After Dark, Saturday night. Run by the same guy as Anime Hell, and admittedly with some bleed-over, this is equally as entertaining, if more anime-centric.

- The Mega Man panel, Sunday morning. I love Mega Man. So much. I missed this panel last year out of con fatigue and am not planning on making the same mistake this year.

There are plenty more events, but they simply aren't coming to me right now. End of the day, if you spot a guy looking like Wil Wheaton (beard, button-down short-sleeve shirt, and d20 fez), that's me, so come say hi! I'll probably end up giving you a business card, if only because I'm super proud of them, and because I think Deanna did an awesome job on them.

I was planning on going on a bit more about a few things, the audiobook of Erin M. Evans' Brimstone Angels, my budding Neverwinter campaign, how I'd die if I ever got the chance to write a Forgotten Realms novel, and why I feel like there aren't enough fantasy works with traditional fantasy races in them, but I feel like this post is getting pretty bogged down as it is, so take this little outro for what it is, and don't think that I won't probably end up expanding on these topics in later posts.