When Words Collide 2011

After a last-minute decision based on “life is short” logic, I went to the First Annual “When Worlds Collide” Convention in Calgary. It was more of a writer-focused con than anything else, and it was fantastic. The organizers did a wonderful job of setting up panels and having a variety of activities throughout the weekend. There were two live-action slush sessions, where anonymous stories were read aloud until the panel of editors raised their hands to indicate where they would stop reading. Both were humbling experiences, but any feedback is good feedback.

Jack Whyte was the guest of honor, and Robert J. Sawyer was the science guest of honor. Jack Whyte is a brilliant scottish author (who described himself as having “The Scotch” speech impediment) of historical fiction whose work I have never read, but based on the sharp intellect and insightful remarks he made during panels and readings, I’m looking forward to jumping into his Camelot series. I hope to glean something to help with the depiction of ancient Egypt in my novel. Anyway, Jack Whyte read us some poems he’d written, with a gift and passion for storytelling. There was a young woman in the audience who then wanted him to read her bedtime stories. He also read some birthday cards he had written for his son, and it was just a very warm and personal talk.

Robert J. Sawyer’s talk focused on consciousness, which has been the main scientific subject of his work for the past ten years. It was a fascinating journey through the research he’s done for his novels, all done off-the-cuff in impressive Sawyer style. He’s a very funny and engaging speaker, mixing science with humor and real-world analogies as seamlessly as he does in his writing.

Lynda Williams was also on several panels, and it’s always a pleasure to hear about her universe and what drives her or her characters. I spoke to her about my ideas for a novella set in the Okal Rel Universe and got the green light! I am very excited to do a more lengthy work of fiction playing in her universe, and I’ll keep you updated as that moves along.

It was great to see many familiar faces and meet some new ones. The con ended on a high note for me with the combination of Jack Whyte’s readings and a Blue Pencil Cafe session where you bring in the first few pages of your manuscript to be examined by an editor. Expecting a tongue-lashing, I waited nervously while the editor read the prologue of my novel. He then asked, “Why haven’t you submitted this for publication?” which was a wonderful comment. He complemented me on my writing and encouraged me to take my novel to a copy or line editor to take care of global issues. It makes me very excited to finish up the novel to a point I’m happy with, and send it trundling off on its own in the world.

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