Ad Astra ’10

Had a great, but exhausting, time at Ad Astra this weekend.

Friday

Arrived around 5:30 and got settled in, wandering the lobby and meeting friends I’d not seen since WorldCon in August or Ad Astra ’09.

I kicked off the con at 8, moderating the “Critiquing Groups” panel with old friends David Nickle and Suzanne Church and new friends Megan Crewe and Lorne Kates. This group was a lot of fun, with each panellists bringing a slightly different take on and experience with critiquing groups.

At 10, I moderated the “Grassroots on Virtual Soil” panel about using online tools to market yourself and make connections as a writer with Justine Lewkowicz, Cathy Palmer-Lister and CZP author Douglas Smith. Though it started a little slow (thankfully, I had an agenda to keep us going), we quickly picked up steam, covering different tools and tactics one can use online, and we ran about 10 minutes long—thankfully we were the last panel so no one came to kick us out.

I then retired to the Green Room, where a good chunk of the CZP family had taken over part of the room and stayed up to much too late.

Saturday

The 11 o’clock ChiZine Publications Panel felt a lot earlier than it was, but it was the first time CZP staff and authors have come together in such a large group. Representing CZP was:

  • Brett Alexander Savory
  • Sandra Kasturi
  • Gemma Files
  • David Nickle
  • Claude Lalumière
  • Douglas Smith
  • Helen Marshall
  • Laura Marshall
  • Erik Mohr
  • And yours truly

With Bob Boyczuk out in the audience.

After lunch with friends, I went for a swim with my wife and was then off to the 3 o’clock panel for The East Block Irregulars (Hayden Trenholm, Derek Kunsken, Elizabeth Westbrook-Trenholm, Marie Bilodeau, Peter Atwood and me). It felt a bit self-indulgent, but the EBI has been a strong and effective critiquing group and I think the audience learned a lot from how we’ve run ourselves.

After flaking out for a bit and supper with Doug Smith, the CZP Launch Party started at 7 with readings from David Nickle, Claude Lalumière, Gemma Files and Douglas Smith. I went up to the bar to grab a drink, but ran into the East Block Irregulars and stayed with them for a bit before heading back up to the Green Room, where again I stayed later than I should. But, I got to talk to some people I hadn’t had the chance to like Michael Rowe, Gemma Files and Michael Kelly.

Sunday

I passed the morning in the dealer’s room with Brett Savory, making rude jokes and talking about next steps for CZP (which are not mutually exclusive topics!). At noon, I moderated the “Writing & Time Management” panel with Suzanne Church, Sephera Giron, Eileen Bell and Michael Rowe. This panel, which I had pictured as being about “trying writing while waiting for the laundry to finish in the dryer” or “Set deadlines and stick to them” quickly evolved to something else: The idea that writers do have the time, but the internal critic tells them “This is a waste” and “You’re no good.” It’s hard to capture, but the panellist really got at the heart of what it means to be a writer. You have to want it and be willing to sacrifice other things. If you can do that, writers will find the time. Otherwise, if you don’t truly want to be a writer, you will keep making excuses.

The “Publicity – The Good, The Bad and the Bonkers” panel with Kelley Armstrong, Peter Watts and Carolyn Clink was a bit more upbeat, trading amusing stories of publicity gone wrong and publicity gone right.

When that panel wrapped up, I said some quick good-byes and was back on the road to Ottawa, where I managed to get some much-needed rest.

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Sheraton Hotel
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