At a break in Adrienne Kerr's (Senior Acquisition Editor, Commercial Fiction, Penguin Canada) day-long workshop at When Words Collide Festival, Calgary, Aug, 2014. L to R: Ron Freidman, Calgary SF author; Connie Penner, Lethbridge author who recently signed with Five Rivers; editor and author Elizabeth McLachlan; Robert Runté; Five Rivers author Susan Forest; Canadian SF author Robert Sawyer; and WWC convention chair, Randy McCharles.
The actual convention was similarly affordable and wonderful. I was on a bunch of panels, ran a blue pencil workshop, a Five Rivers pitch session (the convention is one of the few places we look at submissions outside our Feb reading period), was one of four judges for the Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest; and Five Rivers held a seven-book launch Sunday afternoon. So a full working weekend for me, but a very rewarding one.
One sign of how productive WWC has been for me over the years is that one of the books launched at the Five Rivers launch session this year was "My Life as a Troll", first pitched to me at the very first WWC.
I also enjoyed the keynote speakers and their various presentations. Most impressive was Brandon Sanderson. I frankly had no idea who he was prior to WWC, but I sat with him on the first panel of the convention and I thought, "Hey, this guy is really good! I'm going to have to look up this guy's books." Well, he just seemed like a regular guy; if anything, a bit nicer than usual, the sort of guy you'd really like as a neighbour. No pretensions at all. And then I heard him talk, and well, he'd be a totally awesome neighbour. Am definitely going to have to pay more attention to his books, if his public speaking is any indication of his talent.
I also had opportunity to hang with some of the Five River authors, author/editor friends from across the West, and so on. What makes WWC better than most other similar conventions is the cross-genre nature of the programming. I met so many other interesting writers, including for example, Sarah Kades, a romance writer who I would never have encountered in my normal work week since Romance is one of the genres neither Five Rivers nor I take on. What a positive, upbeat person: she actually convinced me to take a copy of her novel. And similarly, I connected with a bunch of mystery writers (great for Five Rivers new mystery line) and a couple of CanLit people...just marvelous networking opportunities at every turn.
I've already registered for next year, though the dates may conflict with a family obligation that would take priority. Well, the $45 advance membership is worth the risk because the convention sold out well ahead this year, and is likely to again next year in spite of its again moving to a larger venue. I will certainly go if I have any opportunity to do so.
Next up: I'm planning on going to V-Con (Vancouver) in October, the gods willing.