My membership badge. Idn't it gonna look cool hanging from my lab coat?-------------------------------------------------------------->
One of the reasons I was happy to move to Calgary (aside from landing an awesome postdoc position) was the constant activity in the writers' community, especially for SF & F. Calgary is home to IFWA (the Imaginitive Fiction Writers' Association), EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy, and for a time my own publisher, Dragon Moon Press (a partner of EDGE). Each August, the Calgary Science Fiction and Fantasy Society hosts Con-Version, which as you may have surmised from the title of this posting, is now in it's 25th year.
This year, the theme of the convention was SteamPunk, which as you can imagine, brought out some very intricate costumes, and was also heavily geared towards the craft of writing. The guests of honour included Tanya Huff (Blood Books), Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara), and Robert J. Sawyer (Neanderthal Parallax).
I'm not familiar with Tanya Huff's work, but was encouraged to see that a writer as prolific as she is has a book out from EDGE, which will also be releasing one by Dave Duncan (The Alchemist's Code). One can't help but be encouraged by seeing one's own publisher going up in the ranks!
Robert J. Sawyer has always been a prolific speaker and teacher, and this year he really impressed me with what I consider to be as great a contribution to Canadian speculative writing as his own works: the way he encourages and nurtures others. In one of his Saturday morning panels, he bolstered the confidence of many budding authors by pointing out in the audience all the new/undiscovered talents sitting there; he knew them all by name and could easily recite their successes from memory. The message was that all of us could make it happen.
He also confirmed something I've been futilely insisting on for years. According to him, too much detail can detract from a story. In his words, the more you over-direct, the less interactive the reading experience is. For example, if a woman is described as beautiful, the reader will fill in his own image of that beauty. If the author gets carried away with the detail, the reader may not find those details in line with his or her own ideals and the impression is ruined. (Thank you!!!)
It was also quite the thrill to actually see Terry Brooks in person - how many of us went nuts over the Shannara series in junior high?
As for us little people, I was very happy to read for the first time in public, an excerpt from my upcoming novel (from Dragon Moon Press), Wicked Initiations. I had a small audience, but considering I'm relatively unknown, it was very encouraging that some complete strangers showed up. When I was done, I received the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life, when Barb Galler-Smith (Druids) said to me, "Jen, you are one sick puppy!" (That was exactly the reaction I was going for!)
My friend Tim Reynolds (Stand Up and Succeed) started off Sunday morning with "Your Con-Version wake-up with Bongo Boy Tim Reynolds: Performance Reading and Live Recording of The Cynglish Beat". Immediately after that, we sat on a panel with childrens' author Simon Rose (The Heretic's Tomb), where we discussed "Promoting your work in the 21st century".
I was also pleased to see several Canuck writers, including Nathalie Mallet (The King's Daughters), Hayden Trenholm (Steel Whispers), Lynda Williams (Okal Rel Universe) and up-and-coming novelist and podcaster Michell Plested.
If all goes well, next year should be even more interesting. I'm hoping to have 4 or 5 things out to promote, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!