Wednesday, April 18

Ad Astra 2012

This past weekend (Friday April 13, - Sunday April 15) I attended the 31st annual Ad Astra convention.  It's at an annual Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, that heavily focuses on books and writing  (and some other things related to Sci Fi/Fantasy). This was my second year attending the convention, and my first year as a panelist as well as a behind the scenes organizer of information for the book launches. I plan on helping out with the convention more next year, with book launches and programming (assuming they  want me of course.) Knowing what it takes, to do all that stuff, I know how much time to prepare, and it's a great convention, I want to make sure it stays alive.

 I had a great at convention, and one of the very few in my area that focuses on books. I was unable to attend on the Sunday, as I wasn't feeling well at all, I had a horrible headache that wouldn't go away, starting Saturday afternoon, so I stayed home to rest. But, the two days I did attend were fantastic!
Panels and more Panels!

There are far too many I wanted to go to, and far too many at the same time I wanted to attend - it doesn't matter the convention, this is unavoidable. There always seems to be multiple panels, author readings and other events at the same time. Unless you know how to make yourself be in two places at one. All the author readings I wanted to attend were at times I was busy in a panel.

But I did manage to get into a couple of panels on Friday, I was a little late, because of traffic and finding the rooms (or hotel double booked on us, so we ended up losing half the rooms and things were a bit of a mess). But the first one I went to was "What are You reading?" (everything for me). It was a good panel, and ended up being a lot less formal and more chatting about what we liked, have read last year and our current reads, I even grabbed a few recommendations. I didn't clue into actually writing the recommendations  down until near the end (in my defence, it was Friday after a long week at work, and a long sitting in GTA traffic, I was brain dead ;)). So I barely remembered most of them. Oh well. My TBR List is already so high, I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed.  The program description of the panel suggested we bring some of our  favourite/current reads. I didn't as I'd need a bigger car and a team of book carriers to do so.
 Another panel I sat in on was  Urban Fantasies -
(Faerie, Werewolves and Vampires are just a few of the otherworldy folk that are moving into cities, blending in, using he system and working within it. What makes a successful urban fantasy? How do you keep it 'real' when you are writing about a faerie princess that is the girl next door - with Rob St. Martin, Leah Bobet, Rebecca Simkin, Max Turner - from the program).

This was an interesting panel on how fantasy focus is changing from the traditional fantasy of medieval, forests, small villages etc, to urban centers. How fantasy books and characters affect the setting and vise versa. Interesting panel and a lot of debate on what defines urban fantasy and how long it's been around.  What makes up the components of urban fantasy and how it affects readers and brings them in.


RIP Hogworts: The Harry Potter Post Mortem The books are done, the films are done. How do you feel about the conclusion of Harry’s adventures? Are you happy with the resolution, do you feel like the last movie did the books justice?

 I was supposed to be a panelist on this - it was a last minute thing Thursday/Friday, that if I was able to make it that I'd go up and be panelist. Unfortunately it being 10am panel and living a good 40 minutes away made it hard to get there. I did make it for most of the panel, but missed out on being on the panel - I still put my two cents in though. I mentioned to the panelists and panel goers, that Pottermore is now open - which will of course help keep Harry Potter alive in all our hearts. I believe Harry Potter will be well alive (much like star wars is), as long as we the fans make it remembered! But I had fun talking, reminiscing about one of my favourite book series of all time.

“Ye Olde Bookes for Beginners: A Book Historian’s Guide to Ancient Tablets, Scrolls, and CodicesJoin Helen Marshall for presentation on historical story telling forms. What the written word was ecorded on before books and modern publishing.

This was one of my favourite panels.  Leaning about the history of books, how they were made and what was used to make them. Parchment for example was made from animal skin, briefly talked about books made of human skin (eww). Learned about wax books, which is where people used to write on the wax, and later scrape off what they didn't want.  How ink was made using different stones and other earthly products. The origin of book worms (when they used animal skin to make parchment paper, they would have parasites in them that would later hatch into worms, and eat through the book! Gross but neat at the same time!) I was also told about The Auchinleck Manuscript and have decided a trip to the National Library of Scotland is a must! I promise not to drool on it. There was also a little verse the panelist shared with us, which is a message of sorts, meant to prevent people stealing books. I wanted to share it with you, and debated having it inserted into all my own books but was to amused with the idea of having it inserted into all my own books, that I forgot to write it down. Doh! Either way, it was a very interesting panel.

Criticism and Critique in the 21st Century Developments in social media and web 2.0 technology continue to blur the line between amateur and professional critics. As North American colleges and universities produce record numbers of graduates, the media consuming public is transforming itself into something that feels it ought to be included in larger critical conversations. The purpose of this panel would be to explore how professionals and amateurs work together to evaluate genre media be it television, movies.

 This was a popular panel, with some fantastic panelists and panel goers. It was interesting to hear what they had to say about criticism and critique in the online world and how it has changed. How the panelists, and the audience take in online reviews of media. It was a good discussion, I wish I could give more details on exactly what we talked, but I ended up being very involved in it, that I didn't get to take any notes. The panelists and audience had some great things to say, but too busy listening to those who had similar ideas to me on the subject to write anything down. Another panel that is up there in my favourites.

Book Binding Workshop John Morgan returns from his highly touted practical bookbinding workshop last year at the CNSE for an encore! Join John as he leads you through the process of preparing your own hand-stitched notebook, with all materials for a takeaway booklet provided. Space may be limited! First come first serve.

This was all about binding your own books. This focused on non-adhesive book binding, so in the end we got to stitch together our own little notebooks. Or in my case attempt. I think I need to practice a little.... okay a lot to do it. I'm pretty sure I did it wrong. But, it was a fun panel, even if I sucked at it. Snd I learned about some of the details and tools to do book binding. I have to say this is a lot more fun than the book binding I do at work with our manual binding machine and the combs. Although if I had to stitch together a book of legal cases that was a 100 pages long, I would cry. I plan on reattempting my little note book until I get it right!

A Cover Story Do you have a passion for book covers? What makes a quality cover? How much does a book’s cover influence your literary choices?  What does a cover have to convey? (Panelists - Beverley Bambury, Adrienne Kress, Kent Allan Rees, Caro Soles, Shelly Shapiro)

This was an interesting panel I sat in on. Where we talked about covers. What is liked, disliked, how a cover influences buyers and how changing it can affect them. I also learned on how much or little an author input an author may have on a book cover. Another case where I didn't take a lot of notes, because I was engaged in the panel, and in the enthusiasm of some of the panellists.  

Writing for Young Adults/YA Fantasy: Using Magic and Fantasy to Grip Teen Readers  (The formally two different panels combined into one)
Did you notice the YA section the last time you went to the bookstore? There are a lot of books being written for young adults. How is writing for that demographic different, how do you write a book that they want to read. Join our panelists as they discuss what makes good fiction for Young Adults.- Did you notice the YA section the last time you went to the bookstore? There are a lot of books being written for young adults. How is writing for that demographic different, how do you write a book that they want to read. Join our panelists as they discuss what makes good fiction for Young Adults. / Teens aren't always avid readers.  Weaving magic or fantasy into a story can intrigue readers and pull them into a world that isn't their own
 Panelists Adrienne Kress(m), Timothy Carter, Max Turner, Lesley Livingston, Rob St. Martin / Cheryl Rainfield, Julie Dobson (me)

My friend was a programmer for the con and needed someone to help out for the YA Fantasy panel so I volunteered to give my viewpoint from a bloggers view. I may not read a lot of YA but it is everywhere, and the community has exploded in it - so I said I'd give my two cents on the subject. Later I found out one of the panelsits couldn't make it, so I was more than happy to sit in on it. Before the panel started, Lesley Livingston came buy and suggested we combine the two panels together. They were side by side, and very close in subject. So we did. First of all, it was great sitting on a panel with these authors. I've met Max Turner at two previous cons, and have read one of his books, the other is on the TBR list. Lesley Livingston is an author I've seen showcased a lot in the blog vers. I'd had seen Cheryl Rainields book, Scars, a few times in the blog verse. And because of the con and friends I've heard/seen Adrianne Kress. I wish I could tell you all about what we talked about, but I was far too involved in the panel. And trying not to ramble when I was speaking, and moderating it and it was good fun. All the panelists rocked this one, but both Lesley and Adrienne blew the panel away. They were both two of the most enthusiastic panelists I'd seen at the whole con. PS I for all you YA fans out there, I suggest you check out the authors, some of them have books coming out later this year, and I know there are a lot of YA readers out there who would love them. So be sure to check them out!

Books to Movies, the panel Some succeed, some fail… some make us want to kill the producer and everyone at the studio-  The past few years have seen some pretty big print to screen transitions. Who did it right, who screwed up. This was a good discussion, although we did keep getting sidetracked and talking about other things  it ended up being a good conversation. Rio Youers was the panelist on this one.

Book Launches
I helped with some o the preliminary book launch stuff - mainly helping organize all the information. Next year I hope to do it again, and now that I have an idea what I'm getting into, I'll be better at all of it. Not to mention I doubt I'll have the big move in the middle of all the planning and may be able to balance out work commitments better. I didn't get a chance to go to all the book launches, or pick up all the books - although quite a few books erm.... followed me home, purely on their own. The wallet/bank account being lighter is pure coincidence. It was probably trolls or a leprechaun. Anyway, the book launches!

I stopped by quickly the book launch hosted by Stephen Pearl for his book new book Nukekubi, I wasn't able to stay long, but it looked liked things were going well, and I hope he had a successful launch.  He's also the author of Tinker's Plague.  (Click here to go to the authors site.)

Leah Bobet also had a launch for her new book, Above, and I think a lot of people out there would enjoy her book. I didn't get a chance to attend her launch, but I hope she had an awesome launch.   (Click here to go to her site)

Dragonmoon Press had a launch, where I ended up buying three books. Two books by the authors at the launch, and a anthology launched at Polaris last year I meant to get, but ran out of money so I bought it while I was scooping up the other two books there. The two books at this launch were Destiny's Fall - Marie Bilodeau and FightingGravity - Leah Petersen.

(ChiZine publishing had a launch but by that point, I was exhausted. And the hunt for the car keys ensued to my BFs car. Luckily they were found (still in the lock for the trunk) and turned into the hotel desk. Thank you whoever you were! But I wish I could have stopped by at the launch, some of the publishers and authors were on the panels I sat in on, so it would have been nice to see them again and what their books had to offer.

The Books

Because you can't go to a bookish con, without having books follow you home right?
·         Destiny's Fall - Marie Bilodeau
·         Survival - Julie Czerneda
·         Sailing to Sarantium - Guy Gavriel Kay
·         Lord of Emperors - Guy Gavriel Kay
·         The Floating Islands - Rachel Neumeier
·         Fighting Gravity - Leah Petersen
·         Watch - Robert J. Sawyer
·         When the Hero Comes Home
·         Evolve Two - Vampire Stories of the Future Undead


  1. This sounds like a fantastic event, and I am so thrilled that you got the chance to be on panels and to participate as well! I always seem to have the same problem when I go to these events; I want to split myself in two so that I can be everywhere at once! Glad that you had such an amazing time!

    1. It was a fantastic event. Can't wait to see what next year will bring. If you find the secret to splitting oneself into two let me know.

  2. You're right: it would have been a sad day, indeed, had several books NOT followed you home after such an event. I'm sure your TBR list is waaaay longer than it was before you went, but that's a good thing too, right?!

    1. Indeed it is a good thing, don't want to run out of books to read now do I? And yes, it would have been a sad day if the book didn't follow me home - very sad.