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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
I probably should have posted these sooner, but better late than never, right?
Discounted Ebooks from Bitlit
This offer started a while ago, but I kind of forgot to mention it.
Basically, if you already own a print copy of Boundary Problems and would also like to have an electronic copy—say for travelling, convenience, or whatever—you can now purchase a discounted copy of the ebook through BitLit. Right now, “discounted” means $0.99 for the ebook (though I don’t know if that price will change), so it’s a pretty good deal.
Just follow this link to BitLit’s website, check out and download the app, and follow the instructions. Handy, eh?
Want to Order a Signed Copy of Boundary Problems?
Lately, I’ve had a few people ask if they could order signed copies of the book directly from me. And the answer is absolutely YES. In addition to the regular purchase options (here) for unsigned copies, signed copies are entirely doable.
Which is to say, I would be happy—thrilled, even—to sell you a personally inscribed copy of Boundary Problems directly, with free shipping anywhere in Canada. Piece of cake! And if you happen to be outside of Canada, I would also be happy to send you a signed copy, but then I’ll have to ask for a bit extra, just enough to cover the shipping costs.
I haven’t yet set up a Visa/PayPal option for that—though I may do so in the future—but for now, feel free to contact me directly here (or by email, which goes to the same place), and we can work out the details, including your mailing address and any international shipping costs. So far, I’ve been taking cheques, but I imagine money orders would work just as well.
This, from Shira Lipkin (@shadesong) via Twitter (July 11, 2014):
Greg Bechtel: “I could read the carjacking, the blow job, or-”
Crowd: “BLOW JOB BLOW JOB BLOW JOB”
And this, from John Clute, in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (full entry here):
“. . . The title of this collection nicely expresses an essential component in the tales: a transgressively Equipoisal approach to the fractal convolutions of twenty-first century Fantastika. Hard SF tropes are shot through with Magic; reality is seen as a matter of Perception . . .”
So I’ve fallen behind (again) on the blog posts. No surprise there. And while ReaderCon may be slowly turning into a (positive) haze of memory, I still wanted to mention a few memorable moments, both from the con itself and the time since.
- See that tweet above? That was (I’m pretty sure) from during the Midnight Speakeasy reading. And it has become, perhaps, my iconic memory of the con. A full room of people at a midnight, off-program guerrilla reading, chanting. What’s not to love? And though I hadn’t planned on it, yes, I read the blow job scene.
- Also, my co-readers at the Midnight Speakeasy (Brooke Bolander, Ruby Katigbak, Valya Lupescu, Sam J. Miller, Stephen Segal, Brian Staveley, Shveta Thakrar) were absolutely amazing. Some seriously great stuff. As expected.
- Watching Sam J. Miller win the Shirley Jackson Award for his Short Story, “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.” Then reading it (here) and discovering just how very well deserved that was.
- More amazing conversations, panels, and readings than I can easily recall. I could list names upon names upon names, but suffice it to say it was great to see—and in many cases meet—everyone. A mere listing of names couldn’t do it justice.
- Only one: All of the conversations I missed, people I would have loved to catch up with but didn’t get a chance to in the everyone-moving-all-the-time whirlwind of the con.
- Three days after returning, receiving an email from John Clute asking for basic bio information for a “cursory” entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
- The very next day, discovering the SFE entry was already up, and that it actually provided the most concisely insightful summary of Boundary Problems that I’ve seen thus far. And being a bit of a scholarly fanboy of (for?) John Clute’s critical work—this being why I gave him a copy of the book at the con in the first place (not really expecting him to read it)—that totally made my day…
- …which is good, because about twenty minutes later I went outside to find someone had stolen my bike seat. Karmic balance? Perhaps. But still. No fun.
And the Ongoing Challenge
For most of this summer—between bouts of touring and travel—I’ve been trying to get myself back into revising this novel I’ve set aside for the last year. And something about ReaderCon, or being back afterwards, or… something seems to have broken that stasis.
It probably didn’t hurt that I had several conversations with other writers at the con—writers whose work I enjoy and respect—who have also had to revise their novels and novel-openings several times before getting it right. (Thanks to Max Gladstone and Sofia Samatar in particular for that. Turns out, Max has even written a guest blog-post on the topic here.)
And sure, the novel still needs lots of work. But it’s progressing once more. Finally. And all is well with the world. For now. Let the mattress-wrestling continue.*
* Nalo Hopkinson once said, “Writing a novel feels like wrestling a mattress.“
(Others may have said this as well, but I’m pretty sure that’s where I first heard the analogy.)