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2017-2018 CAA-AB WiR Consultations: What to Expect

Once again, I am proud to be working alongside Tim Bowling as Writer in Residence for the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Author’s Association for 2017-2018. It’s a tremendous opportunity to work with a broad range of Albertan writers at all levels, and I consider it a privilege. However, I noticed last year that quite a few people I worked with weren’t sure what to expect from their consultation with me, so I thought I should clarify that for anyone who might be feeling apprehensive about making an appointment.

First, know that I see my primary job as a Writer in Residence as helping YOU accomplish YOUR goals in writing. So pretty much the first thing I’ll probably ask you—whether by email or in person—will be what sort of feedback you’re looking for, what sort of writing you do, and what you’re hoping to do with your writing. Since I consult with people at all experience levels, from those just starting out to published authors and everyone in between, I ask these questions because they help me to give the sort of feedback that will be most useful for you.

If, for example, you’re working on a story that you have already workshopped extensively with a critique group, and you’re looking for a careful close-reading for technique and craft, that’s what I’ll give you. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to figure out how well (or if) an early draft of a story—or book-chapter, or other piece of writing—is accomplishing what you’re aiming for, then I’ll probably focus more generally on the concept and structure of the piece, to try to give you a strong sense of what I’m getting out of it as a reader. Then we can see if that matches what you were aiming for, and we can go from there. Or we can do it the other way around, with you telling me what you’re aiming for, and me giving feedback based on that.

Another thing that many people didn’t seem to know is that I’m happy to consult with you even if you don’t have a specific piece of writing that you’re working on. That is, if you’ve got more general questions about writing, local writing communities, where to look for potential publication markets, how to go about finding and/or applying for writing grants—or, for that matter, what writing grants are, how they work, and who is eligible for them—I’m perfectly happy to set up a meeting to talk about any of those things. And while I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to publish your work or get a grant, I can tell you from my own experience how those processes work. (Or at the very least, I can tell you how they’ve worked for me.)

That said, the bulk of what I do is manuscript consultations. For these, you can send me up to fifteen pages (double-spaced) of your work, and we will meet so I can give you feedback, and (crucially) so that you can ask any questions you may have. I find that in-person back and forth invaluable, since it’s useless for you to get a load of “advice” that doesn’t make any sense to you. So feel free to ask questions! I welcome them! Your questions are what help me make sure I’m helping you. As noted in my formal submission guidelines, I can also give feedback via email (or skype, or phone), but my preference is always to meet in person if at all possible.

Of course, before we can do any of this, you need to get yourself in the queue for your consultation. That part’s fairly simple. Just drop me an email at with the subject line CAA-AB WiR Consultation, let me know what sort of feedback you’re looking for, and attach the material you’re looking for feedback on (if any). From there, you can expect an email back from me within a day or two with a few demographic questions and letting you know that you’re in the queue. Then once I’ve had a chance to look at your work (or think about your questions), I’ll email you again to set up a meeting time, location, or medium that works for both of us.

Since I take appointments on a first-come-first-serve basis, it may be a while before we meet, but rest assured, if I’ve responded to your email, you’re definitely in the queue. Canadian Authors’ Association members get priority, since that is one of the benefits of membership, but both non-members and members are welcome to consult. And if you want to bump yourself a bit closer to the front of the line, any Albertan (over the age of 16) is welcome to join the Canadian Authors Association, and the details for how to do that are available here.

Now get writing and send us your work!

(And don’t forget to check the formal submission guidelines, available here.)

Submission Guidelines for CAA-AB WiR Consults

You can book your Writer-in-Residence consultation (free to all Albertans from now until the end of May 2018) by emailing me at or Tim Bowling at with the subject line CAA-AB WiR Consultation. For a more detailed description of what you can expect upon setting up an appointment, you can take a look at my more extensive blog post here.

In the body of your email, please include a brief note mentioning (1) the type of writing you do; (2) the type of feedback you are seeking, including any specific questions; and (3) anything else you would like me to know about yourself or your writing. You can also attach manuscript materials as per the guidelines below, ideally as a Microsoft Word compatible file (including .doc, .docx, or .rtf files), but PDF or other text-format files are also fine, so long as they can be read by either MS Word or Adobe Reader.

Manuscripts and consultations will be addressed on a first-come first-serve basis. You can expect a brief response to your initial email within 2 business days, including more details towards setting a specific meeting time, location, and/or medium. Consultations will be held in person (in Edmonton, typically at a cafe in the Old Strathcona or University of Alberta areas, although other locations may also be possible) or via skype, email, or phone.

The length guidelines for manuscript submissions are as follows:
  • prose fiction or creative nonfiction submissions: maximum 15 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman (or similar), 12-point font
  • poetry submissions: maximum 5 pages, single-spaced, standard manuscript format
  • submissions of material in other genres/forms/formats: maximum of approximately 4500 words

* Please note that while you are welcome to book as many consultations as you like (up until the end of May 2018), you can only book one appointment at a time. Once you have completed a consultation, you are absolutely free to book another one as soon as you like. This is simply to ensure that as many people as possible have a chance to receive consultations on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Pure Speculation Festival (Nov 14-16) – Event Details

And finally, back for the hometown convention. This one’s always lots of fun, and I’m looking forward to spending a bit more time at the con this year than I have in the past. I won’t be doing a reading this time out, but I am honoured to be joining a panel on “Alternative Sexualities and Relationships in Speculative Fiction” along with illustrious co-panellists Candas Jane Dorsey, David Gerrold, and Derek Newman-Stille. (That will be Saturday, Nov 15, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Serenity Room. You know. Just in case you were wondering.)

As the program puts it,

“Panelists will discuss why/how/if it is that so much ‘weird’ sex gets portrayed and/or becomes safe/possible in speculative fiction contexts. How has it changed over time? (From Buffy to True Blood to Samuel Delany to Le Guin to Lost Girl, and more.)”

Oh, and it’s 18+, so there may be some “mature” subject matter.

For more information about this tremendous local festival, check out the Pure Spec website.

World Fantasy Convention (Nov 6-9, 2014) – Event Details

And here we go! Time for the next one. This time, it’s a semi-international trip to Washington, D.C. for the World Fantasy Convention. In some senses this feels like the Big One, and I’m starting to get more than a little excited. Arriving Thursday, and there for the whole thing until Sunday. So then. What will I be doing while I’m there?

Well, aside from attending panels upon panels, there are a few places I know I’ll be. Like the SF Canada gathering on Friday morning. Then on Saturday, there’s my reading in the afternoon, and the mass autograph session that night.* (Oops! See correction below.) As for the rest, I still need to look through the program, the events & exhibits, and the social gatherings lists a bit more thoroughly.

[*Edit: Sigh. Clearly, I need to work on my program-reading skills. The Mass Autograph session is on FRIDAY, not SATURDAY. As corrected below.]

Or to put it differently, here’s where I will definitely be at the con:

  • Fri., 9:00 a.m. – “Wake Up With the Canadians,” SF Canada reception (Regency I, aka Rm 1850)
  • Friday, 8:00 p.m. – Mass Autograph session (Independent Centre)
  • Saturday, 1:30-2:00 p.m. – Reading from Boundary Problems (Fairfax)

Other than that, aside from the banquet—which I will definitely be attending—I suspect I’ll play the rest by ear. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!


Oh right. Almost forgot that snazzy poster for the SF Canada gathering:

UNB Reading Series (Oct 24, 2014) – Event Details

So this one should be particularly… interesting. A time-warp of sorts.

See, I haven’t been back to Fredericton since August 2005, having moved away about a year and a half after I finished my MA in Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick. And what was I doing during that extra year and a half? Oh, you know. Driving cab. Writing. Moving and delivering furniture. Teaching first-year multimedia. It’s a long story. Or could be, anyway. But then I moved here to Alberta, off to pursue fame and fortune in the hallowed halls of academe. (Indeed, as a sessional instructor, I continue to haunt those halls to this very day.)

Anyway, long story short, I’m going back! For a weekend, at least. And while I’m there, I’ll be giving a reading at my old alma mater. (Or wait, is “alma mater” specific to undergrad degrees? Whatever. Today, I’m claiming UNB as an alma mater.) And I’m looking forward to it. Catching up with old friends, seeing how both they and the town have changed (or not), and so on. Oh, and the reading, of course.

Which is to say, all cheekiness aside, it feels like a homecoming of sorts. UNB was a big deal for me. It’s where I went when I finally decided to take this writing thing “seriously.” In some ways, one could say it’s where I first started to think of myself as a “Writer.” To dare to think of myself that way. (Now I tell my students that’s silly. And I believe it. Writers aren’t magical creatures. Just people who devote themselves to a craft, like carpenters or plumbers or any other trade one might care to name.) But you see how nostalgia twists me around, gets me off track. Right. Event details. That’s where I was going with this…

So yes, looks like I’ll be reading on Friday, October 24, at 8 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge, appropriately enough. So if you happen to be around—still or again, or even just now—I’d love to see you there. Old friends to catch up with, an audience of talented young writers, probably a healthy helping of nostalgia (for me, anyway). And what’s not to like about that?

Oh, and I think I’m going to stick around for the whole weekend. Might as well, right? I’ll be giving a talk for a group of librarians on the Saturday, then chilling for the rest of the weekend. Which is to say, lots of time to wander around, see how things have (or haven’t) changed. Like I said. I’m expecting a bit of a time-warp feeling. But in a good way.

Authors Day at Pandora's Boox (Oct 18) – Event Details

Clearly, I’m overdue for a roadtrip. So I think it’s time for a drive down to Olds. Care to come out and join us? I’ll be hanging out at Pandora’s Boox and Tea with a whole passel of Alberta SF authors, most of whom I met at When Words Collide back in August. Thanks to Randy McCharles, we’ve even got this spiffy poster…

As you can see, from the poster, there’s a great big bunch of us, and we’d love to see you there. And just in case you’re having trouble reading the fine print on that poster, here are the details:

Where: Pandora’s Boox & Tea (5009 51 St, Olds, AB)
When: noon – 4 p.m
Who: Greg Bechtel, Eileen Bell, Susan Bohnet, Michelle Browne, Marty Chan, Cheryl Cottreau, Susan Forest, Sagen Jeffries, Axel Howerton, Ed Lukowich, Randy McCharles, Al Onia, Rhonda Parrish. And many more…

If you’re so inclined, you can even let us know you’ll be there by saying so on the Facebook Event Page (here).

C’mon Alberta. Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Single Onion #116 (Sept 18) - Event Details

Sigh. I am SO far behind with the blogging. On the other hand, I’m making some (slow) progress on the novel, so that’s not such a bad trade-off I suppose. That said, I’ve got an event coming up in Calgary in a few weeks, so I really should do my best to publicize it a bit, right? So here goes…

Calgarians! What are you up to on Thursday, September 18, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.? Feel like coming out to a reading at Shelf Life Books? I think you should.

For one thing, this will actually be my first event in Calgary that’s totally free to attend. So in that sense, it’s kind of the local launch for Boundary Problems, right? You know, for those who didn’t feel like springing for the Spur Festival Books & Brunch event back in April or a pass to When Words Collide in August. (Both of which were a blast, by the way. I would highly recommend both festivals to all comers. Entirely worth it. But it’s true, they weren’t free.)

For another, I’ll be reading as a part of the Single Onion series, which I hear is quite the local institution. And even better, I won’t be reading alone! Rather, I’ll be joining acclaimed poets Nikki Reimer (DOWNVERSE and [sic]) and Natalie Simpson (Thrum and accrete or crumble).

All around, it’s going to be a fun night, so come out and enjoy! I hear there’s also a “brief open-mic” to start, so perhaps you’d like to bring something to read yourself? The more the merrier, I say. And thanks so much to the Single Onion for inviting me. I consider it a privilege.

For more details, see the Single Onion upcoming events page, and if you happened to be so inclined, you could even invite your friends via the facebook event page. And that would be fun, wouldn’t it?

EDIT (Sept 6, 2014): Oh look! BeatRoute’s advertising the event! Sweet.

Bad Blogger (Metablog)

Clearly, I’m a recovering grad student. Putting things off for ages, getting things done in a great burst of effort when the procrastination becomes too much. I named this blog what I did in anticipation of precisely this tendency. But I’ve finally cleaned up the website a bit, and posted a whole pile of new material and information to the blog.

Anyway, rather than posting one ridiculously long blog-entry, I figured it would make more sense to put everything up separately, and then let you (dear reader) decide which of these posts you feel like checking out. So here’s the scoop:

Highlights/Lowlights – ReaderCon and Since

This one’s just what it sounds like. Me catching up on a few highlights/lowlights—more of the former than the latter—since ReaderCon. My three favourite highlights? The spontaneous chanting at the start of the Midnight Speakeasy, Sam J. Miller’s Shirley Jackson award win, and the new entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Full blog post on these (and a bit more) here.

Upcoming Event: When Words Collide Festival (August 8-10, Calgary, AB)

Again, just what it sounds like. I’ll be on five panels at the When Words Collide festival in Calgary from August 8-10. Looking forward to it! Details and schedule here.

Upcoming Event: Book Signing (August 23, Edmonton, AB)

Yup, it’s a signing at the Chapters on Whyte. Details here.

More Upcoming Events
I’ve added the full list of upcoming events to the front page (here), and there are three more in addition to the ones listed above. I’ll be posting details of these on the blog as they get nailed down.
  • The Single Onion Reading Series (Sept 18, Calgary, AB)
  • Reading at University of New Brunswick (~Oct 24-27, Fredericton, NB)
  • World Fantasy Convention (November 6-9, Washington, D.C.)
Special Offers

Now you can order a discount ebook of Boundary Problems to supplement your print copy, and if you would like to order a signed copy, just let me know! Details here.

And there you go. All caught up! For now. More… eventually.