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.
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.
I grew up working at a Drive-In, B-Movies are in my blood, cyborgs, ninjas, Charles Bronson flicks, gritty Italian giallos about unstoppable yet sleazy tough guys, careening through life like human car crashes, goofy monsters and the inept heroes floundering after them. My brother was a huge fan of Mack Bolan books, I used to collect them for him. So with that grindhouse sensibility, how could I not love the crazed stylings of I.D. Russell. I first ran across him running a table at a local comic convention, and I quickly became a fan of his altar ego, the demented, unstoppable cop, Frank, from River City, a human engine of destruction, whether he’s facing off against Robot Mounties, Japanese Ninjas, Colombian Drug Lords or the entre at a Red Lobster. Firmly tongue in cheek, his work is full of inspired, hyperviolent lunacy. So check him out, it’s worth it…
I have a compulsion.
I need to be doing something creative.
I’ve made two feature films and have a dozen scripts that I’d like to produce next. I’ve written over thirty novels and published seven. I’ve got lots more story ideas swirling around in my head or illegibly written in point form on scraps of paper all over the house. I run two youtube channels: one a sock puppet movie review parody show and the other an outlet for whatever random short film or goofy sketch idea that crosses my mind.
But I also actively train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and previously studied Hapkido (where I received a black belt). I’ve dabbled in boxing, tae kwon do, yoga, karate, judo, and aikido. I’ve competed in tournaments, done demonstrations at schools and folklorama and while I’v3 engaged in some pretty intense sparring in class, I’ve never been in a fight. (I’d like to keep it that way.)
So I’m busy. Real busy. The thing is, I can’t sit back on my laurels, (not that I have many in any scheme of things.) There’s always another project to work on, another corner to turn, another thing to try.
Never say die. So what have I got lined up for 2021? Four, maybe six new Ebooks, a hardcore quest to find an Agent and break through with a Traditional publisher, more contest, awards submissions, workshops, panels, convention appearances, and a major effort at marketing and promotion. So, let me tell you about what I’ve got in the pipeline:
Lexx Unauthorized: Series Four, Little Blue Marble – the final volume of the chronicles of the LEXX television series, the end of the series, the fall of Salter Street Films, and the decline of Canadian production in a new era of corporate profiteering. LEXX was a unique creation, a Canadian produced, written and starring Space Opera from Halifax, Nova Scotia by an upstart B-movie and regional television programming company. The show had amazing visuals and a sense of surrealism, as much influenced by Jodorowski and Barberella as by Star Trek and Star Wars. Back when the show was in production, I was invited by the creator, Paul Donovan, to write a book. I jumped on that, spending three years and thousands of dollars on the project, travelling across the country repeatedly interviewing everyone in sight. It was a labour of love. Ultimately the book deal fell through back then. Frustrated, I just wrote the book anyway, the way I wanted to… without any consideration of actual publication or publishers demands. Years later, after a flood, a marital breakdown, three major moves, two hard drive crashes, a career change I rediscovered the original manuscript on an unmarked floppy disk. I figured that the traditional publishing marketplace has zero interest in a book about an obscure cult TV series over a decade old. So I decided to upload it as a series of ebooks, one for each series. It’s a huge work – all four volumes together come close to 400,000 words. This is the end of the series, the final volume. I’m happy with it.
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!
I was recently on an alternate history panel for the World Fantasy Convention. Technically, it was about alternate history and fantasy, to wit…
“Alternate history has long been the domain of science-fiction writers, but it is now being enthusiastically colonized by writers of fantasy, who are bringing in magic, dragons, and the full panoply of the uncanny into what used to be an orderly and rational sub-genre. Who’s doing this and what’s going on?”
Actually, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. A lot of alternate history has had or assumes magical elements. It goes all the way back to Robert Heinlein and his story, Magic Inc. I’m not one of these guys who draws hard and fast lines between fantasy and science fiction, or fantasy and magical realism, or whatever. All of Speculative Fiction simply assumes that at least one thing, and sometimes many things, goes unnatural and you take it from there.
I just want to talk about one thing that struck me during the panel, that I never got a chance to talk about.
Steampunk. I find it interesting, but the entire steampunk genre seems to be in the process of being colonized by, or is entirely colonized by Fantasy. Blame it on Kim Newman and his Anno Dracula perhaps, or the novels Gail Carriger, or the Weird West subgenre. But as often as not, when you’re reading steampunk, there’s strong fantasy elements – ghosts, vampires, goblins, weird creatures, magic, etc.
I think part of that is that when you’re writing in this genre, you’re reaching back into the literary traditions of the ‘weird tales’ of the day, and it all starts to melt together.
But there’s another element to consider.
Victorian, England was a pretty horrific place.