Monthly Archives: August 2013

Fan Expo – Toronto’s Comic-Con

Get ready to geek out!

This year among the distinguished guests, Fan-Expo played host to the cast of Walking Dead, Nathan Fillion, Carrie Fisher, and Stan Lee just to name a few.

Alas, I was too poor to pay for autograph tickets so I took candid shots (despite the fierce looking staffer holding a no candids sign)

I went on the Sunday which meant less people… sort of…

48 - Crowd Shot

And again, only had enough money for admission, but if I had an extra $25 this is where I would have spent it.

48 - Tee

Either that or Cake Cove’s chocolate that was molded to look like Han Solo frozen in carbonite (see photo gallery 4/5/6)

…Alright, not entirely true. I had $5 worth of change which I gave to Ghostbusters Ontario (you heard me) to suit up, take some photos, and all the money went to charity. (Best $5 I’ve ever spent)

Ghostbusters cropped

It occurs to me that this is the first picture of myself that I’ve posted on this blog. It’s perfect.

For some reason they added a sports section this year which I felt was really odd…

It was also challenging to navigate the Metro Convention Centre as 1) The north and south buildings are very far apart and 2) While schedules were available online, there was nothing to indicate which building each room was in. (Fail)

If you missed Fan-Expo and are looking for the Comic-Con experience, I highly recommend the documentary A Fan’s Hope.

If you’re still looking to geek out, check out The Nerdist for awesome pod-casts.

Next up – screw January! September is my New Year. Find out why next post.

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Pick Up Artist #2: Titles

What does it take for a reader to pick up your book? We’ve talked about covers (which, sadly, you don’t have much say over) but what about your title? What makes a good one?

Gardens of the Moon – You rarely see the word “gardens” in a fantasy title and the “of” not “on” the moon is also very interesting. I’d pick up this book.

Does it make you ask a question?
The Darkness That Comes Before – Before what? What kind of darkness? Are we talking about evil? Just how bad are the badies? I want to know.

The Ruins of Ambrai – A specific place with a specific name. It suggests that another world does exist and that I should look into it.

So what makes for a bad title?

Personally, any fantasy that has the words blood, sword or empire in the title loses my interest. (What fantasy novel doesn’t have an empire with swords that spill blood?) Titles are hard. But if you can’t entice me with your title, how are you going to entice me with your writing?

Be original. Ask a question. Get specific.

I’ll be taking a break from the Pick Up Artist series to blog about Toronto’s Fan Expo and September as the New Year. Look for Pick Up Arist #3: Back of Book Descriptions shortly after.

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Filed under Writing

Pick Up Artist #1: Cover Art

What does it take for a reader to pick up your book?

Admittedly, if I’m browsing in a bookstore it’s a good cover that catches my eye. If it’s original, beautiful, or just plain curious. It’s why publishers pay extra to have their books displayed at the front of the store, cover out.

What’s challenging as a publisher writer is that you don’t have final say when it comes to your art. You can give your option, but you will most likely be over-ruled by the designer and marketing team. You just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. You could end up with a great cover like this

the ocean at

Also equally awesome

the night circus

Or you could be one of these unfortunate books.

Now if you want to hear an AMAZING talk by a book over designer (who you’d definitely be lucky to have), watch TED TALK video.

While you may not design your own cover art, you do submit your own title. A title you should take great care in conceiving. More on that in the Pick Up Artist series article #2.


Filed under Writing

Story Planet

Intergalactic Travel Authority

Picture this… an adorable space themed storefront which opens into a gift shop and café. You can literally buy a black hole in a jar as well as a delicious gluten free cupcake. Which I did. (Cupcake, not black hole) The proceeds fund the space at the back of the store which is reserved for this:

Imagine being a kid with big ideas, but with no way to share them with the world. Or, being a teenager who is struggling in school with writing assignments, feeling like their future is a waste of time… For many kids who struggle with writing, having a visually creative side to the work enables them to launch their imaginations and get their words flowing. Once writing is fun, it is far less daunting… From there, the future looks brighter.

In short, Story Planet’s mission is to get kids and teens excited about writing. To make it fun. It’s organizations like this that make my heart happy. Happy that there are people in the world who come up with these ideas. Happy that they possess the courage to follow through. Happy that kids and teens who may have otherwise struggled with writing are now finding success.

Story Planet. Volunteer. Donate. Have a cupcake.

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Live Plants

Two weeks ago contest participants were asked to write a mini story based on the picture above. Congratulations to James Hall and Arbiter Kitty for their spectacular entries.

James Hall

He needed to get these plants into his little shop quickly. For lack of space, all of his shipments were stacked beside his shop wall. Presentation was everything when running a flower shop, If these flowers weren’t on the shelves, no presentation. Just to the left of his three stacks of boxes, a hobo leaned against the wall where it made a corner, asleep.

“Get out of here! Scram!”

The man stirred and looked at him through dejected eyes.

“Move it!”

“Leave me ‘lone man. I ain’t hurtin’ nothin’.” The groggy bum complained.

“I said get out of here!” He pointed sharply to his left. His face was red.

“I’ll leave when I’m awake.”

“Get out of here you filthy bum!” The shopkeeper kicked him in the side.

The bum, his breath lost, crawled along the brick wall and tried to catch his breath. Nearing a trash can, he tried to pull himself up, but the shopkeeper shoved him from behind, causing the aluminum trashcan to rattle around in a circle on the pavement and the hobo to fall face first into the rough ground. Back to his hands and knees, he crawled away. The angry shopkeeper looked on as the bum got to his feet and, without looking back, disappeared. Presentation was everything.

Arbiter Kitty

“Live Plants. Seriously? That’s really the best name you were able to come up for these?”
A short, chestnut haired woman stood in front of the stacked boxes currently lined up on the side of Redmill Tavern. She eyed the labels with obvious disdain, tactfully ignoring the much taller, much stockier male beside her.

“Shut up,” the man grumbled, scratching her fingers against the short 5’oclock stubble on the underside of his chin. “Wuzzint no time for being all fancy like.”

“And here I was, thinking that remaining inconspicuous was so important,” she deadpanned, finally turning her scrutinizing gaze upon him.

“Goddammit, Tammy. You gotta be so damn picky alla damn time? Nobody but you worried ‘bout all these lil’ details-”

“Nobody but me has a business as strong as I have going for me, now do they?” She snorted when she received silence in response. “That’s what I thought. Trust me, Kardis. The ‘little details’? They’re important. Bring these inside. We’ll keep them in the back storage for now so nobody gets to poking around the ‘Live Plants’.”

It would be some time before all the boxes were brought inside. Tammy tactfully ignored the man’s grumbling as he hauled each box in, feeling like it was his fault that he’d dismissed his workers before bothering to wait and see if they’d be needed for any other manual labor.

When he was done, she gave him a very curt dismissal, smiling a deceptively serene smile as he offered a glare of irritation in return before making himself scarce.

Once alone, she turned back to the boxes, a devious grin tugging at her lips as she peeled open the top flaps of the nearest one. The inside of the box was lined with a thin film of plastic, presumably to keep the moisture of the dirt packed inside from seeping through into the cardboard. The box was filled about halfway with the peaty earth, and at the very center, a tiny, crystalline object poked through its surface.

“I’ve certainly hit the jackpot with these,” Tammy whispered in congratulations to herself, staring at the tiny thing with an expression bordering on awe.

To Kardis and the other workers, she’d made it seem as if these plants were just very rare, very exotic imports from another land. Which, technically speaking, they were. What she failed to mention was in what manner these plants were rare and exotic. Namely the fact that, upon consumption, they could produce a variety of nearly superhuman effects upon the user with variable time frames.

They were Deisticis, Divine seeds that, when cultivated properly, yielded some of the most powerful plants in the world. Not only would she monopolize and make a fortune off of potential buyers, but she would also personally benefit from the plants’ godlike properties.

Live Plants, indeed.

And Tammy managed to score them right from under her biggest competitor’s nose.

“Greater fame and fortune, here I come,” she murmured to herself, her gaze lingering just a few moments longer before she closed the lid on her greatest possession.


Filed under Contests