Well, there it went. The first and hopefully the last Online Keycon was held over the May long weekend. How was it? A bit wobbly here and there, but on the whole, it worked out just fine.
I think people don’t really realize how demanding a Convention is, and how much work and dedication goes into running it. The people who work on and volunteer for these conventions are really a breed apart, they put a lot of time and energy into it. You have to acknowledge that.
This was a pretty unusual Keycon, due to the Coronaclypse. Last year, Keycon cancelled entirely, hit full bore only two months into the Coronaclypse, and amid a provincial shutdown. There was no way it could go on.
As people adapted to the Coronaclypse, we saw the rise of online Cons, E-Cons including When Words Collide in July, and World Fantasy Convention in October. Unfortunately, Keycon was too early into the pandemic to make that jump. There just wasn’t enough time to revamp and reformat the entire Con, and the list of precedents and innovations that allowed for E-Cons wasn’t there yet. Still, the Keycon organizers set about planning for the next convention in 2021, and they kept their eyes and ears open, learning the ins and outs of E-cons, just in case.
I think by March or April, they’d figured out that things weren’t going to be opening up, and they were able to switch gears and reformat their convention. The revamped online Keycon E-con, or as I like to call it kEycon would be free to anyone who signed up, and considerable thought and effort went into adapting the normal activities of a convention – panels, hospitality rooms, social events, etc., into an online format.
Just a quick update on the writing front.
Last Saturday, I did a World Building Workshop for the Manitoba Writers Guild. Thousands of words of sample world building, tons of reference materials, books, youtube videos, TV-tropes, etc. We got a half dozen attendees, and it went really well, a hard core, pedal to the metal introduction to an interesting area of writing.
This Weekend, I’m doing panels at Keycon. This year, due to the Coronaclypse, Keycon is an online convention. I’m not sure about my panels. So far, I think I’m on, or going to be on….
By the way, go see Keycon’s Website at …. http://www.keycon.org/38/#sched They’d love to have you drop by. Membership is free!
One of the nice things about doing convention panels is the chance to meet and kick back with other writers, talk about writing and share the space. Less pressure, more engagement. And if you’ve got someone on a panel with you, that guarantees there will be at least one other person attending. 😉
Apart from that, following up on the book covers for Aliens and Elves and Axis of Andes. I’ve submitted a raft of short stories to Analog, Asimov’s and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.
And I’m working on a query letter and synopsis for my next stab to searching for an Agent. Last year, I sent out 30 queries for one book, and 10 for second. No joy in mudville. This year, I’m going to try and break 100 and 50.
And geez, I need to sign up for When Words Collide, and maybe try and get on some panels. Get ready for the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal in August. Oh and there’s more workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild. Apart from that, I still have to work on learning marketing and promotions, there’s books to edit and release.
I dunno. Shouldn’t being a writer involve actually writing something. All this other stuff is starting to feel like work. 😉
Axis of Andes, an alternative history of World War II in South America will be released in May, 2021
And I have a book cover! Check it out. Nifty, eh. It’s a little busy, but it’s patterned on the style of history texts. So there’s a dominant image of South America at War, with Soldiers trudging along the bottom, and a collage of war images in right and left hand columns. I’m pretty happy with it. I might ask for a tweak here and there.
In other news, Axis of Andes has been broken into two books – Part 1 and Part 2. Simple reason, it was simply too massive for one volume.
The book opens in 1937, as a delegation from Peru meets with Hitler and his cabinet in Berlin, looking for his assistance. From there, the narrative winds back and forth through the history of the region, through the societies and economies of the various nations, as events set nations on a path to war.
Inspired by an actual war between Peru and Ecuador that lasted less than a month in the 1940’s, this new version of history has this war gaining momentum and force, until literally every country in South America is dragged into the conflict and a continent is in flames.
Part One features the origins and early phases of the conflict to the point where the three countries of the Andes – Ecuador, Peru and Chile are locked in a ferocious death struggle.
Part Two sees the conflict escalate steadily engulfing one country after the other, extending from Bolivia and Argentina, to Colombia and the rain forests of Brazil.
LEXX Unauthorized, the final volume! The amazing behind the scenes chronicle of the most brilliantly surreal sci fi series ever made. Twenty years in the making. Releasing next week! Be sure to get your copy and don’t forget to buy the previous books.
I remember the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.
Forgive me, I’m trying to promote the final book, so that means talking about it and the other books. But I’m coming to the end of my run with LEXX, this thing that’s shadowed me for twenty years, and I think that makes me contemplative.
So… the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.
It was amazing. We kind of forget that sometimes. We are so awash in stories, in film and television, books and games, there’s only so many ways to play something. After a while, we just get used to it, we get jaded, and there’s so much that becomes so predictable. Genuine surprise and wonder eventually gets dulled.
Ever have a moment where you’re watching a film or television show for the first time, and it’s so utterly formulaic, that you can literally shout out the lines before the actors do? Because even though this is the first time you’ve watched it, it is so dull, so much a part of things we’ve seen over and over, that there’s no surprise. Watching it for the first time, you can recite the actor’s dialogue and the story beats.
But what about those times when an actor says something, when the story does something that you didn’t see coming. When it’s honestly new and unexpected. Remember that thrill?
If any of you are writers or artists out there, then take this as a suggestion. Be unexpected, do the unexpected. The most interesting thing for people is not knowing what happens next. That’s what people watch for. Because if they know what’s next… why do they need to bother watching or reading? Maybe there are other reasons, but if there are, you damned well need to deliver something.
I Worship His Shadow? It was absolutely brilliant. Things happened that I wasn’t expecting or anticipating, everything was new. It was that ‘first time’ sense of wonder and excitement. I literally had no idea what was coming next, who was going to live, who was going to die, where the story was going to go, who was even important to the story, what anyone was going to say. I just had to keep watching to see what happens, I was watching without a net.
It’s odd. I’m not really a fan by nature. I liked Star Trek, enjoyed Star Wars, but I’ve never really gone overboard. I’m mostly a take it or leave it kind of guy. I go through life appreciating things, but I generally don’t obsess.
Well, maybe two exceptions. LEXX and Doctor Who. I step up for those. I like the Doctor because he’s good. I like the LEXX because they’re bizarre. Of the two, I think it was LEXX I went overboard for. Almost to the point of obsession. I wrote the book – the LEXX Unauthorized series. Along the way, I wrote fanfics, submitted spec scripts, watched, wrote and researched obsessively, I even edited together my own versions of LEXX episodes.
I make no apologies, LEXX was endlessly fascinating and anarchic, behind the scenes and on screen. There was an energy, a creativity, a sheer imagination and bravado to the show that still amazes me decades later. It wasn’t perfect, there’s a weird stunted sexuality, they suffered from too much ambition and too little money, and sometimes it went off the rails. But it’s best, it was brilliant. And more than brilliant, it was subversive and surreal.
I’m glad to have had had the access and the contacts that allowed me to research and write, LEXX Unauthorized.
Honestly – this post is just shameless self promotion. I’m trying to get you to by the last book – hell, buy all of them.
AUDIOBOOK, Fossil Cove Publishing– ISBN 10 192740097X
To catch a monster, hire a monster. Life is cheap in a primordial city where races from goblins to giants struggle to coexist. But something has crossed the line; a sacred Mermaid has been savagely murdered. The Elders summon an abomination in the eyes of every god, a savage Orc to find the killer. But no one could have guessed where the Orc’s search would take her, or how tenaciously she would cling to her mission. As the city spirals relentlessly into a brutal civil war, the Orc prowls the savage landscape from one kingdom and one race to the next, encountering ruthless shamans, evading the machinations of shadowy powers, she discovers something she never imagined… her own humanity.
This book is violent and brutal and haunting and beautiful. If I could give this a sixth star I would. – Michael Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption
I absolutely loved this book; it’s already one I know I’ll remember for a long time. I would never have thought a book about an orc would be one of the best existential works I’ve ever read. Kindle Reviewer
This book was wonderful. Seriously… What a beautiful story full of feels, violence and loads of good stuff. This novel definitely exceeded my expectations. – Lady Luna, Goodreads Reviewer
“Where’s the line between the animal and the human? What defines us as humans? I felt this book strike the core of this matter. Oh wow, what a read. This book is dark, engaging, a bit annoying, interesting and full of hard life. With a slight touch of light, shining in the horizon, while sitting near the ocean and listening for the Mermaid’s Tale…. What a tale.” – Orient, Goodreads Reviewer.
Great standalone book. It is certainly grim dark but the blunt humor evens it out. But the ending is triumphantly hopeful – Kindle Reviewer
D.G. Valdron’s ‘The Mermaid’s Tale’ was a completely unexpected read. When I began the book, I never thought I’d come to love the lowly Arukh, a kind of female orc. The story had me questioning everything I think I know about life. When I was done the book, I was overwhelmed by emotion. Kindle Reviewer.
“The Mermaid’s Tale is a fable of personhood wrapped in a murder mystery framed by a fantasy setting, peopled by familiar races that are presented in subtly original ways.” – Melanie, Goodreads Reviewer.
Here I am working on the fourth and final book of LEXX, and it’s a bittersweet experience.
I’m going through old notes, re-reading interviews with Lex Gigeroff and John Dunsworth, hearing their voices in my head, the friendliness, the enthusiasm, the sheer joy of life, and it saddens me to know that they’re gone. That now those voices are only in my head, triggered by the words on screen. The world is a little smaller, a little duller.
With the fourth book, I’m coming to the end of my own long journey with LEXX, and that’s also a little sad I suppose. It’s been with me for such a long time, and finishing this book, setting it loose in the world, will mean the end of something personal for me.
I’ll take a moment and be completely honest. I’m doing a bit of huckstering. I’d like to sell a few books. Honestly, I’d like to sell a lot. But I’ll settle for a few. And hell, maybe even interest some of you in some of my other work. I’m a writer, so I figured the best way to do that is to write something. Offer up something to people that they haven’t seen with LEXX, something that’s just not another publicity photo of Eva or a screen cap of Michael. Offer up myself.
You see, I genuinely believe that LEXX really was something special, something unique. That it was visually innovative and startling, that it plumbed depths or surrealism and absurdity. Everyone knows Vadim for Barbarella, or Jodorowsky or Bunel for surrealism, or Ionescu for the Rhinoceros or Ubu Rex. They teach courses in these guys, they have classes, they’re studied, people do Masters degrees and PhD’s, and I honestly think LEXX is that calibre, that innovative, that subversive and ground breaking. That LEXX is that significant, and the story of LEXX is fascinating and important.
So yes! Yes I want to sell books. When I released the first volume, I just wanted it out of my hard drive, and out in the world. But now, years later, putting all the work into it again and again, damned right I want people to read it!
Generally, I get these books out, and then I don’t think about them too much. Nobody else does, so it evens out. But uploading the Latest LEXX Unauthorized, I was startled to discover that I got reviews. So, I thought I’d share them. Apologies to folks if I’m violating someone’s copyright. But really, I’m flattered, and frankly, it’s a lonely thing to be a writer. So here goes…