Montreal SCBWI Conference Re-Cap

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the SCBWI Canada East Art of Story Conference in Montreal. It was a fabulous experience, where I got to re-connect with old friends, finally interact with online friends in real life, and meet new friends.

Friday night was the Meet and Greet and Illustrator Showcase. I was utterly blown away by the talent on display, and had an awful time choosing my favourite portfolio amidst the different styles.

Saturday morning started early with an amazing keynote speech by the talented Hilary Leung, who detailed his journey to publication, including all the chances he took along the way – some of which paid off, and some of which didn’t (#MakeBooksNotCalendars).

Next, I attended two workshops by Elizabeth Law, an editor with Holiday House, where she gave us a peek behind the desk of an editor, and taught us three different ways to craft an effective hook to pitch our books.

Elizabeth was also the person who did my critique, and she gave me some great advice for how to revise my MG Fantasy (and also re-instilled some of my lost confidence in my writing).

On Sunday we got to hear the editors, agent, and art director react to first pages, giving us insight into their selection process. Following that, they answered questions about the industry.

Overall it was a great weekend. I came home happy and ready to keep writing, and am already looking forward to next year’s conference.

Short but Sweet

Just a quick post today, as the shortened week (Monday was a holiday here in Canada) has left me scrambling to get ready to head to Montreal tomorrow for the SCBWI Canada East conference.

My wonderful health issues have also contributed to this week’s chaos, both by slowing me down and by creating wardrobe issues (apparently if you lose close to 20 lbs, a lot of your clothes don’t fit anymore. Who knew?)

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my symptoms under control enough to get through the weekend.

I’m really looking forward to meeting old and new friends, and learning more about the craft of writing (not to mention getting some time to check out the fabulous city of Montreal).

Think that’s it for this week. Expect a conference re-cap for next week’s post.

What I Learned From Comiccon

Okay, I admit it, part of the purpose of this post is to show off the awesome cosplay Hubs and I spent the last month creating. I am super-proud of how my costume turned out, and wanted an excuse to show it to you all.

But I also want to talk about the reaction I received at Comiccon, and what I think it means to me as a writer (admittedly, maybe these thoughts apply more to movies than books, but I’m still going to post them).

First off, the costume:

For those of you who don’t recognize the character, I went as Doc (“my friends call me Liv”) Ock from Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (in my opinion not just the best animated movie from last year, but also one of the best movies overall from 2018).

I love everything about this character (well, except maybe the fact that she’s evil). She’s smart, strong, driven, and a scientist!

Not to mention how she fulfilled my (medical) necessities for a cosplay: ability to wear prescription sunglasses & flat shoes! (I had previously been toying with the idea of going as The Handler from Umbrella Academy because she wears huge sunglasses, but her heels were a deal breaker – and the costume just wouldn’t have looked right with flats.)

So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, that’s where the reactions of others comes in.

People loved this costume. There was lots of squeeing over the character, and one girl even teared up. Everywhere I went I heard how much people love the Spiderverse‘s Doc Ock.

If you’re not a Spidey fan and wondering why I’m specifying the movie here, it’s because in all the Spiderman movies to date Doc Ock has been a guy. In fact – and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t seen all of the movies – NONE of the villains in previous Spidey movies have been female.

For that matter, the first and only main female villain in a Marvel movie was Hela in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok (the 17th of 21 Marvel films, in case you’re keeping count).

And I can only think of four other Marvel films (not counting Spiderverse) that had minor female villains: Guardians of the Galaxy – Nebula; Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – Nebula, Ayesha; Avengers: Infinity War  – Proxima Midnight [who I don’t think is even named aloud]; & Avengers: Endgame – Proxima Midnight & Nebula [text hidden to avoid spoilers. Highlight to reveal.] (You could maybe *maybe* convince me to add Captain Marvel’s Supreme Intelligence, but as it is technically an intangible entity that appears to Carol as a female, I’m not entirely sure it should count.)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make, is that, based on what I saw at Comiccon, people are hungry for more strong, well-developed, female villains (and, I’d argue, characters in general. We’re not anywhere near balanced on the hero side, except perhaps in Wakanda.)

And it made me even more intent on writing my (female-centric) Adult Urban Fantasy. I have a feeling it’s going to be a hard sell to publishers – it’s not fluffy (or sexy) enough to be considered paranormal romance, but with it’s mostly female cast, I’m worried publishers won’t see it as an Urban Fantasy. And yet, if my Comiccon experience is anything to go by, there is a market for this kind of book.

And I’m going to hang tight to that thought while I finish revising and eventually start querying the book.

So, tell me: are you hungry for stories (in films or books) about strong women? Who’s your favourite female villain of all time?

Let me know in the comments.

Hooray for Productivity Parties!

Recently some of my fellow writers and I have been meeting to work together. Not to critique each others’ work or brainstorm ideas, but simply to sit in silence and write.

While it may seem weird to meet as a group only to ignore each other and do our own thing, I’ve actually found our sessions really helpful.

For one thing, it gives me the incentive to push through my health issues and write, even if I’m not feeling 100% (or even 60%) that day. For another, it helps keep me on task, removing any chance of getting distracted by social media or household chores. When I’m with my other writers all I can do is write.

Not only that but it gives me a chance to get out and talk with other writers/friends (something that is definitely hard to come by as a stay-at-home parent/writer), as we always work in a bit of time to socialise/catch-up.

So, how productive are these parties? Well, in this week’s three-hour session (which included both eating and socializing time) I increased my word count by 1200 words – which, since I also deleted words from my WiP as I revised, meant I actually wrote closer to 1500-1800 words in that stretch. Not bad for a few hours work.

Right now we only meet about every 2-3 weeks, but I’m hoping we can make it a little more frequent…at least until the summer when I’ll have my kids home and be unable to attend. (How are we only six weeks away from that?)

For now, though, productivity parties are definitely helping me plow through this revision and reach my word count goal.


May Check-In

*Insert obligatory “where has the time gone” comment here*

April was a pretty hectic month for me, between planning and preparing for my twins’ birthday and my health (my fibromyalgia, migraines, and stomach issues have been taking turns tormenting me this month, which on the one hand: yay for not having *all* the pain simultaneously! But on the other hand, it’d be really nice to have a single day where I didn’t feel awful.)

That said, I’ve been plugging along on my WiP, adding 10,000 words, and getting me within 4,000 of my word count goal (with lots of story room left). I also hammered out a few plot issues that were tripping me up, and am already eager to move on to my next revision.

My MC remains nameless, but I’m hoping one of these days I’ll be hit with inspiration and something will stick.

Most of my spare time and energy this month has gone into working on a cosplay. Three weeks ago, I (perhaps foolishly) decided I *needed* to make my most intricate costume ever for Ottawa’s Comiccon, happening (checks calendar) next weekend.

*Insert dog in fire “This is fine” meme here*

Seriously, though, so far it seems to be coming together nicely, and I think I will actually get it done in time, assuming I put in some solid work this weekend, and my fibro stays within manageable levels.

And now for April’s Reading Stats:

  • MG Fantasy (1)
  • A Historical Paranormal (3)
  • A Urban Fantasy (6)
  • A Mystery (1)
  • A Sci-Fi (Maybe Fantasy?) (1)

April Total: 12

Year-To-Date: 68 (+22 Re-Reads)


P.S. A note for those of you who follow the news: while my city (Ottawa) has declared a state of emergency due to flooding, my house so far seems to be safe. We’re only a 5-10 minute walk from some of the worst-hit areas, but at a higher elevation than them. The forest near my house where I often walk and take photos (aka my happy place) is closed due to the flooding, and our local dog park, while not technically flooded, is too wet to take the dog to. The biggest threat right now is that our water filtration plant (one of two that serves the city) may be compromised, but unless/until that happens, I think my family will get through this unscathed. (*Knocks on wood*)