This one's coming in a little late. I really did mean to do it Sunday night after the convention, or at least by Monday. However, two things happened: one, I got fired the week before; and two, I bought Destroy All Humans! 2 and became helplessly addicted. And no, the two are not related - Playstations weren't allowed at work. Basically, I ended up with a lot of free time, and I decided to fill all that time with my newly purchased game. Sometimes people say they admire my discipline as a writer. I hope those people never, ever find out about last week.
It wasn't all wasted time, though. I did manage to finish off my next novel, tentatively titled The Right Hand Of Evil. I'm going to put it away for a couple of months, then get cracking on a rewrite. It's got great potential for controversy, and could launch my career into the stratosphere! But more on that later.
Right now, I want to report on Ad Astra. Let's start with Friday night, when I didn't make it into Sci Fi idol. That was a shame. I'd submitted three stories to it, but no such luck. I enjoyed the event; some stories were quite good, and one was really funny! Basically, it was a personal ad from an oppressive alien race seeking a submissive race to enslave. I believe the author's first name was Madeline. It definitely began with an 'M'.
On Saturday, my editor and good friend Monica Bentz met me at Broadview station with a box of books and a backpack filled with book-selling gear (including my previous two chapbooks, Product Of A Deranged Bottom and The Man-Eating Chipmunks of Brockville). I also had a box of books on hand - 40 copies of Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters. We caught the bus up to the hotel, then got to work setting up our table. I put up my cardboard posters for Soul Hunters and Epoch, and spread out the flyers Violet had made for me the week before. Monica unloaded the buttons, and they were really cool. Very happy with them. And they were a big hit, too. We set up the books, bought hugely overpriced coffee and tea, and settled in to sell.
Our table wasn't in the best spot - far to the back of the room, facing away from everyone - but we were surrounded by good people. To our right was novelist Ann O'Bannon, selling her novel Stardust. To our left was a very nice family selling their collection of used Sci Fi books. Monica and I made the best of it.
In no time, I was off to my first panel. The Afterlife As A Fantasy Setting, moderated by a favourite author of mine, James Alan Gardner (Expendable, Commitment Hour). He happily signed a copy of Vigilant for Violet and me, and the panel got underway. It was well attended - I'd say 40 people - and I felt I added a good deal to the discussion. I traded a copy of Section K for fellow panellist Ian O'Neill's Afterlife, and gave out many buttons. I came back feeling very good.
The afternoon went well, but was fairly slow. The general consensus was that it wasn't nearly well-attended as previous years, which was a bit of bad luck for us. Nevertheless, Monica and I sold a few Section K's and plugged the launch, and ate overpriced convention hot dogs.
In my last post, I mentioned that my second panel, Geopolitics as Entertainment, had me concerned. I wasn't sure if I was knowledgeable enough to contribute to the discussion. And I was right! I basically sat there feeling lost while staring at the other three as they talked way, way over my head. It wasn't wasted, though - a man named Ryan Oakley approached me afterward and offered to review Section K for his blog. You can find that review here:
Sunday was busy. I had an hour with the table, then I had my third panel, Real Issues, Imaginary Worlds. My success there was somewhere between Afterlife and Geopolitics - I added a little, but not a whole lot. I had a good bunch of panelists, one of whom bought a copy of Soul Hunters. I wanted to stay and chat, but I was late for my reading. Violet (who'd come to see me on the panel) and I raced off to find the reading room, and here we come to the title of this post.
Phyllis Gotlieb stole my spot! She's a fantasy writer, and had been scheduled to go on after me. Either she got the time wrong, or she arrived early and saw I wasn't there yet, I don't know. Either way, she took my reading time, which could have meant disaster for my schedule. You see, my reading was to be half an hour, after which I'd have had half an hour to help Monica set up for Section K's launch in Reflections, one of the hotel's lounge areas. Now I had to read after Phyllis, and cut mine short in order to get back in time to help Monica. Although, as it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. I read a scene from Section K, thanked my audience of about seven people and hurried back to the table. Monica, Violet and I packed up the table and carted the books over to Reflections, where an author event was winding down. We waited for them to finish. And waited. And waited. They were signing autographs, and the line was long. To be fair they did notice us, and apologized when they left. We quickly set up the new table, and I prepared for my first ever book launch.
There were five people in the audience. That's it. No more, no less. Luckily Violet joined them, because she was the one who got the questions rolling. I put my best foot forward, and tried not to let my disappointment show. I did another reading from Section K, then I did one from Soul Hunters, then I answered three or four of Violet's questions before the audience got into the groove and asked a few more. My friend from the table next to me, the one with the used sci fi book collection, was one of the five that came. Thank you very much, sir.
Though poorly attended, the launch went well and we sold some more books by the end. We returned to our table and managed to sell a couple more before the convention ended, bringing our grand total to 16 Section K's and 4 Soul Hunters sold. Not great numbers, but not bad considering the low turnout for the convention.
And no, I do not hold a grudge against Phyllis Gotlieb. I just wanted a dynamic title for this post. Section K is out there now, and I am happy.
Now if I could only get another job...
- Timothy Carter