Can*Con was one of those weekends that, in the moment, was jam-packed and intense. Even so, when Sunday arrived I still blinked and thought, Where did the last two days go? That isn’t to say that the final day of the conference was any less fun.
I had the pleasure of starting my day with the launch of Cursed: Black Swan, the newest book from my fellow Friday panelist Ryan McFadden. I only caught the tail end of the actual reading – tea and coffee were needed – but the informal Q&A afterward was great. Cursed is a fast-paced fantasy novel centering on Nathaniel, a “fixer” who “specializes in the strange, the weird, and the dangerous.” He finds himself on the run from several rival gangs after a job gone bad, and the only way to set things right is to “find the woman of his dreams … and kill her.” I was sold just from the blurb on the back cover, and I can’t wait to crack this one open. Incidentally, if you know Ryan or his work and missed the launch, he’s launched a promotional campaign on Thunderclap to get the word out about Cursed. You can check it out here.
On the topic of new releases, I wanted to make another shout-out to Lisa Toohey, who was marketing the anthology Brave New Girls at Can*Con. This anthology features eighteen stories by Lisa and a bunch of other talented writers, focusing “brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day.” Even better, the proceeds for the book are going toward supporting female students who want to study engineering. Interested? There’s a more detailed review available here.
There was another panel discussion that morning, featuring some familiar faces: Gabrielle Harbowy, Hayden Trenholm, Ed Willett, and Leah Bobet. They were discussing etiquette between writers, editors and publishers, which is something I’ve always tried to be conscious of since I started writing. It’s easy to forget that the people reading your submissions and correcting your work are actual people, and that you can’t just badger them because you’re in a temperamental mood. Leah made an excellent point that writers understand their work inside and out, but because it “lives in your head” others might not understand it in the same way – which is the value of an editor, since they can see things that you can’t. The best quote from the panel actually didn’t come from the panelists (sorry) but was a point that Fanny Darling made to me in the audience: “Just because you have a maid doesn’t mean you get to pee on the floor.” In other words, just because you have an editor doesn’t mean you can send them a manuscript and say, “Oh, just fix these things for me, I’m too busy.” An editor is there to finesse and make suggestions – not do the writing for you!
I had another Blue Pencil Cafe on Sunday, this time going over the first few pages of my novel WIP with Marie Bilodeau. Lots of great insight, including a few comments about where she would expect the novel to be going, which, combined with my discussions with a few other writers, has confirmed my suspicion that I need to go back and edit before I continue writing new chapters. I can’t speak highly enough about Marie – reading pages and offering feedback in a few short minutes is tough, but she gave me some excellent advice to work with. (Thanks again, Marie!)
My final panel at Can*Con was a discussion of comic book writing with Jay Odjick and Dominic Bercier. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get into comics; I was there to pick up some knowledge for my students who may want to get into the field, and because I hadn’t made it to any of Jay’s panels yet. As usual, Jay was both entertaining and down-to-earth informative, and his banter back and forth with Dominic was so engaging that the hour pretty much flew by. If you want a taste for how a discussion involving Jay tends to develop (though admittedly this panel was a little tame by comparison) check out Planet X Podcast, which Jay hosts every week with Marie and Ken Bonnie.
And that was it. After saying farewell and enjoying one more meal with a couple of my new favorite people, it was back to my little domicile to put my newfound knowledge into practice. Actually, it was back home to drink tea and let exhaustion finally take hold. Can*Con was easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, but when you actually get involved and socialize with people, it’s friggin’ tiring. That said, it’s so worth it I don’t even know where to start. Case and point, I’m already looking at budgeting for both Norwescon in March and Ad Astra in April, so I can hang out with some of these people again.
Before I sign off, I wanted to give a massive thank you to Can*Con’s organizers: Derek Kunsken, Marie Bilodeau, and Nicole Lavigne, as well as the volunteers who kept things running smoothly. And to the panelists and experts who imparted their knowledge, and the amazing writers, publishers, editors and enthusiasts that make Can*Con a vibrant and hugely entertaining event.
Is it October 2016 yet?
Shit. How about now?