Books. Tea. Cats. Scribbling.

Tag: CanCon

Back from Can-Con 2022

This year, Mr. BooksandTea and I went to Can-Con for the first time since before the pandemic. Like many things over the past few months since pandemic restrictions have dropped, doing this for real for the first time in a few years felt weird.

This is not Can-Con’s fault. In fact, compared to many other in-person social and professional events that I’ve seen shared on social media, Can-Con had a fairly robust set of safety protocols:

  • They offered both virtual and in-person sessions. The virtual panels were pre-recorded and available on YouTube; the live readings through Zoom.
  • They capped the number of in-person attendees to 250.
  • They required attendees to provide proof of being fully vaccinated when checking in at the registration desk.
  • They required all attendees to wear masks on-site in public except for when eating or drinking.
  • They offered colour-coded wristbands to let attendees indicate what level of physical contact they preferred from others (red meant maintain a social distance of 6 feet; yellow meant limited phyiscal contact; green meant handshakes/hugs were welcome)

Even so, it took some time for me to get comfortable with the idea of socializing again with so many people. In the Before Times, I had no trouble being a social butterfly for a weekend. I’d have a huge crash the day after getting home, of course, but still — I was able to keep that flip switched and stay “on” for a few days while chatting with new people, talking on panels, and trawling the dealers’ room.

This year was not like that. On Friday evening, in particular, after the initial wave of saying hello to people, we holed up in our hotel room and skimmed YouTube and Twitter instead of trying to talk with anyone in person. Eventually we were able to shake this off and get some takeout for dinner, then attend a panel.

It was only when I attended that first panel on Friday night that I felt comfortable getting into that old groove: Oh, this is why I’m here. To hear smart people talk about interesting things.

The rest of the weekend was filled with a similar combination of trepidation and recognition: I forgot how many stores are closed around the hotel over the weekend. Man, there’s some really nice stuff in the dealer room; I need to be careful about what I purchase so I don’t blow all my money at once. There are 2 things happening at the same time that I want to go to, but I don’t know which one to choose. Oh hey, that cool person from that panel on Friday night is sitting right in front of me, I should chat them up! Oh hey, that person is sharing a room with my friend and I saw them speak on a panel about Gothic fiction; I should tell them that I, too, have Lots of Thoughts about “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier.

I bought my fair share of books and trinkets from the dealers’ room in the end. I got some pretty gaming dice. I got a knit headband from Jen and Eric. Also, after attending a reading where Avi Silver described his books as “How to Train Your Dragon meets Princess Mononoke“, I bought both of them.

…And then I came back on Sunday to buy Sienna Tristen’s The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming, because Avi had described it as “no plot, all vibes” and “about a guy learning with his mentor about how to deal with anxiety. I didn’t know I needed this book in my life, but after downloading the free preview from Kobo, I decided that yes, I did, and that I wanted the author to get my money directly, rather than through a third party, even though the eBook was cheaper. So: Avi Silver, you are very good at hand-selling.

Of course, I also visited my favourite tea shop in Ottawa to get more of that good stuff. I was all out of Lao Shan and I wanted more of their Bi Lo Chun to offset the small (and extremely pricy) quantity I bought on my trip to Montreal.

Despite all these lovely interactions, being at Can-Con this year felt different, like the volume was turned down. I took part in fewer spontaneous conversations and I didn’t run myself ragged trying to Attend All The Things. I doubt I was alone in feeling this way. Presumably, this will change as we all get used to attending events in person again, but I’m wistful for how things were before.

Can-Con 2017 Roundup

It’s taken me nearly a week to write about Can-Con 2017, but wow, once I got back from Ottawa late on Sunday night, I was wiped on Monday. I was utterly, utterly pooped and seriously considering a mid-day nap, even while I was working.

Even now I really don’t have the energy to go into everything that happened at Can-Con, but here are a few highlights:

  • Road tripping to and from Ottawa with Jen Albert of Podcastle, filk singer/author Kari Maaren, our friend Todd, and my husband. We learned lots of weird facts about Scandinavia, and also about fairy tales, because that’s how we roll.
  • Sitting on 2 panels, one of which was about activism and SF/F with Violette Malan and Su J. Sokol. It took us a shameful amount of time to get around to mentioning the impact of Octavia Butler, but eventually we came to our senses.
  • Attending the book launch for Ada Hoffman’s debut collection Monsters on My Mind. The funny thing about it all was that the publisher wasn’t able to deliver the books in time for the launch; in an effort to compensate for this, Hoffman bought door prizes to give out, but ultimately forgot them at home. This sounds awful when I describe it here, but when she was telling us all this at the party, the way she was spooling out the information, detail by detail, was great storytelling!

    The best part was that she still held the raffle for the door prize anyway, and I won a plush velociraptor that I’ll get via mail. PLUSH VELOCIRAPTOR. YES. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that Ada Hoffmann is very cool and I’m looking forward to interviewing her on the blog in 2018.

  • On Saturday evening, I asked stormhunter and TV personality Mark Robinson what would happen if a person jumped into a volcano – what exactly would kill them during the plunge? Robinson then proceeded to geek out for TWENTY FULL MINUTES about different types of volcanoes, sulfur dioxide emissions, hanging from the lip of a caldera, and more. I recommended that he read Pen Pal because it discusses the topic in some detail. So yeah. Geeking out about volcanoes is cool.
  • Even later on Saturday, I hung out with Julia Muldoon and Aurabeth Roy in their hotel room – and cajoled Charlotte Ashley into joining us – and we talked about makeup, and cats, and jobs, and books, and tea. Charlotte took a picture partway through that makes it look like I was giving a goddamned lecture about something, and well, yeah, I probably was.

So, yeah. It was a fun weekend. I’m looking forward to similar zaniness in 2018.

CanCon SF convention logo

My Schedule for Can-Con 2017

CanCon SF convention logoCan-Con 2017 is happening from October 13-15 this year — less than two weeks away! I first attended in 2015, and since I missed the convention last year, I’m super excited to be back as a panelist this year. Here’s a quick look at what panels I’ll be taking part in.

Friday, October 13th

Short on Wacky Ideas? Peanut Butter and Chocolate: SF/F Mashups We Wish Existed
You got your Greek mythology in my space opera! No, *you* got *your* space opera in my Greek mythology! Mashups are like mixing peanut butter and chocolate together and realizing they’re awesome. Here’s the panel where we discuss the nerdy peanut butter cups of our dreams. All ideas generated in this room are free for anyone to use, just in time for NaNo!

When: 9-9:50 PM
Where: Salon C
Participants: Cathy Hird, Angela S. Stone, Christina Vasilevski, Sylvain Neuvel, Kaitlin Caul (moderator)

Sunday, October 15th

Wands Up! The Power of SFF Fandom and Activism
From Nerdfighters to Dumbledore’s Army, science fiction and fantasy fans have been channeling their love for the genre into real life social change. This panel will explore how SFF literature enables readers to see themselves as heroines and heroes in their own narratives, and the role that authors play in crafting these stories.

When: 2-2:50 PM
Where: Salon E
Participants: Rebecca Diem, Su J. Sokol, Christina Vasilevski, Violette Malan (moderator)

Note: The times and dates listed above are based on the draft schedule and may change before the convention starts. Go to the convention’s panel page to see the full list of panels and the most up-to-date schedule.

The offerings at Can-Con 2017 look great, and the chance to try out the RPG system for attendees is particularly exciting. The RPG aspect was introduced last year, but it’s new to me.

I can’t wait to attend and see both friends and new faces. I may even be bringing along some tea samples for some lucky guests. If you’re coming, let me know, and if you want me to bring you some tea, definitely let me know so I can pack some samples for you.

Bonus news for authors and other industry professionals

In 2018, I want to focus more on interviewing authors and others involved in the Canadian SF scene and sharing those interviews on Books & Tea. That means that if you’re a Canadian author, publisher, bookseller, editor, or agent, I want to hear from you.

If you’re going to Can-Con 2017, I’m interested in talking to you about scheduling an interview and any launches or publications you may have coming up that I can help promote. Just look for me at the con, or send me a message now so we can connect later on.

CanCon SF convention logo

Special Announcement: I’ll be at CanCon 2015 in Ottawa, Oct 30–Nov 1

CanCon SF convention logoHey there!

I’m going to be a panelist at this year’s CanCon, a convention on Canadian content in speculative fiction. It’s in Ottawa, and it’s going to be happening from October 30th to November 1st.

(Halloween at an SF/F convention? This is going to be so awesome! There’s even going to be a Halloween party with ChiZine Publications, which I’m sure will be epic.)

If you’re in the Ottawa area and want to discuss books, tea, and everything in between with me, hop on over to the Ottawa Sheraton hotel. I’ll be taking part in the following panels:

Friday, October 30th

Why Do We Love Time Travel Stories? Time travel stories are a staple in science fiction and fantasy (and even some romance). Why do we love them and which ones are your favourites? Su Sokol, Cenk Gokce, Agnes Cadieux, Matthew Johnson, Christina Vasilevski (moderator) (8-9 PM)

Here’s a confession: this is the first time I’ll have ever been a panelist at any convention. And I’m moderating! Come on down if you want to talk about time travel paradoxes and (possibly) see me make a damned fool of myself. (I’m only kinda joking, there.)

Saturday, October 31st

The Role of Editorial Voice in Acquiring Stories, with editorial staff from Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, Apex/Dragon Moon Press, Bundoran Press: The assembled editorial staff are pursuing very different stories for their magazines and anthologies. They discuss the alchemy of looking for stories to match their editorial voices. Participants: Trevor Quachri, Nicole Lavigne, Christina Vasilevski, Hayden Trenholm, Gabrielle Harbowy, Derek Künsken (moderator). (1-2 PM)

If you want to learn more about how Lightspeed does its thing, this is the place to be! I’ve been reading slush for them since January 2014. There are some biiig heavy hitters in this panel. Eep!

Naming Exoworlds: Why call a planet “Fomalhaut b” when you could name it “Leisurely Fish” instead? Authors have been naming their planets for decades, but now the IAU is taking online votes to rename some exoplanets. Is this a good way to get people more interested in astronomy, or is it just a sideline? Do you have any ideas for names that should have been considered, but weren’t? Should we really take the chance of naming a pulsar “Rock’n’Roll Star?” What is the best way to name a planet, anyway? Participants: S.M. Carrière, Christina Vasilevski, Andrew Barton (moderator) (5-6 PM)

Andrew Barton is a good friend of mine, so it’s exciting to be able to sit on a panel that he’s moderating. Come! We’ll talk about comics and SF and funny planet names!

Sunday, November 1st

Science Fiction Novels: A Readers’ Panel: Our panelists discuss what works of science fiction they’ve enjoyed and you ought to be reading. Participants: Scott Delahunt, Christina Vasilevski, Ira Nayman (moderator), Evan May, Peter Halasz. (10-11 AM)

I’ve been reading up on a lot of recent science fiction in preparation for this panel. Reviews of the books I’ve been reading to prepare for the panel will be up in the next few weeks.

Reviewers and Reviewing: How much do they shape the dialogue, direct readers to works, and implant positive or negative first impressions? Participants: Jonathan Crowe, Christina Vasilevski, Amal El-Mohtar (moderator), David Hartwell, Amy Sisson. (1-2 PM)

Holy crap, you guys, this is the CanCon panel I’m most excited about. I’ve got this rinky-dink little blog with a tiny readership on a small corner of the internet, and yet they’re letting me sit with Amal El-Mohtar, who reviews books for freaking NPR??! No way. No. Fucking. Way. **glee**

Check out the full schedule and panel right here. I can’t wait to attend, and if any of you readers will be at CanCon too, let me know in the comments!

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