Gary Hurtubise

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Top 5 Highlights of the Limestone Genre Expo

I came away from the 3rd annual Limestone Genre Expo this past weekend with plenty of inspiration (for not only writing ideas, but the business of writing too), some great new connections in the sci-fi / fantasy world, and a load of new books to boot!

Here I am, looking pensive with my arms crossed, listening to the panelists at this weekend’s Limestone Genre Expo!

Top 5 Highlights of the Weekend:

  1.   Panel on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Speculative Fiction

Some interesting insight into the state of LGBTQI in science fiction and fantasy by a panel of diverse authors.  Probably the panel I appreciated the most of all the bunch.

  1.   Building Your Readership workshop, with Eve Langlois

I thought a two hour workshop would drag on – especially first thing Sunday morning, but Eve – New York Times bestselling author of ‘romance with a humorous twist’ – is a funny, engaging speaker with a lot of great advice on marketing yourself as an author.  I could have listened to her talk all day.

  1.   World Building workshop with Alyssa Cooper

Alyssa is an author from right here in Kingston, and demonstrates writing wisdom beyond her years.  She truly impressed me during the ‘Fantastic Tales’ panel on Saturday, and so I was ready for an interesting workshop with her on Sunday – she did not disappoint.  Plus I got to flesh out one of my novel ideas in the process!

  1.   Pitch Session with MLR Press Editor in Charge, Kris Jacen

My first ever pitch session, for which I was woefully under-prepared L.  However, Kris was gentle, and asked the right questions to keep me ‘pitching’ in the right direction.  And what do you know – she asked for the full manuscript of Darksea?!?!  Must have been my overwhelming charm and panache.

…and:

  1.   Meeting Tanya Huff!

CanCon 2017 here I come!

            Ok, so if you know me, you know that I don’t get celebrity crushes (except for Patrick Stewart, of course), but meeting Tanya – knowing that she’d chosen my short story to win the genre expo writing contest – had me in a bit of a state.  I quickly introduced myself to her on Saturday, but only built up enough courage to approach her again Sunday afternoon, to ask her a few things about ‘the business’ of writing.  What a relief to find that she is approachable, grounded – not to mention that she very graciously offered to introduce me to some movers-and-shakers at this fall’s Sci-fi / Fantasy convention in Ottawa, CanCon (yep – it’s already on the calendar!).

            Big props to Liz Strange, Delina MacDonald, Marlene Smith and all the volunteers for running such a fun expo.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s!

 

Limestone Genre Expo 2017… and contest winner!

I’m off to Kingston’s third annual 2017 Limestone Genre Expo this weekend – two days of geeking out with like-minded folk, where there’ll be over sixty authors, panel discussions, workshops, readings, pitch sessions, vendors, and chances to rub shoulders with editors and publishers (all while shipping the husband and kids up to the in-laws… what could be better! 😉 ).

This year, the Expo featured a short story contest – 1500 words in the style of either: Sherlock Holmes, Victorian Era Romance, or Steampunk (I chose the latter).  The stories were judged by authors attending the expo – Tanya Huff among them!

  …and guess who won the contest?

(it was me.)

Receiving winning certificate from Limestone Genre Expo organizers Marlene (L) and Delina (R).

I was gifted with a nice certificate during a short ceremony at Kingston City Hall, during the kick-off talk of last week’s Sherlock Holmes festival, plus my story (entitled Cataraqui Crisis) will be featured on the Expo website.

And now I get to attend the expo this weekend with a unique way of introducing myself (Trevor suggested I call myself the “Queen of the Expo”, but I think I might not).

 

Darksea: A Winner at the 2016 Ozma Awards!

So as it turned out, I was unable to make it out to Bellingham, Washington to attend the 2016 Ozma Awards Ceremony and Chanticleer Author’s Conference (life and stuff got in the way, sadly).  As such, I figured that my lack of attendance would negate any chance I had of winning (not being too sure how these types of awards work…).

Glumly, I watched the first weekend of April go by, waving my chance at winning goodbye.

And forgot about the whole thing…

…(Silly me!)

On a whim, I checked out the Chanticleer website tonight and came across this little bit of news:

How about that?!

The First In Category award winners are to receive a complimentary book review from Chanticleer, as well as a bunch of other promotional items.  And now I can say that my (as of yet unpublished) novel is an award winner!  Priceless.  😀

Thank you to Chanticleer Book Reviews for providing a platform for me to have my manuscript reviewed.  I’m feeling that much closer to turning Darksea into a real book – and me into a real author!   (Reject me now, literary agents!!)

Congratulations to Christopher, Elisabeth, Vijay, Raven, Nicole and Murray for their category wins, and especially to Vijay, for also winning the Ozma Grand Prize!

 

UPDATE: Darksea Has been Shortlisted!

When it rains it pours!

Not 48 hours after I discovered that my fantasy novel Darksea was named a finalist for the 2016 OZMA Awards, I received word that it has now made it to the shortlist!

I’m still sort of reeling from the first bit of news.  I think it’ll take a few days for this latest bit to settle in.

Regardless of what comes next, I feel like I have some real writing ‘cred’ now… guess it’s time to get back to some agent queries!

In the meantime, gotta decide if we’ll be making a trip to the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala in Bellingham, Washington at the end of March!

 

 

My Fantasy Novel is a Finalist for the OZMA Awards!

You know when you’re out shopping and you come across the perfect gift for a loved one… but it’s no where close to their birthday, and Christmas is still many months away?  So what do you do?  Well, you buy it, and store it away for that special day.  And then promptly forget about it.

 

Or how about when you take time to book a winter vacation to some balmy, tropical paradise months in advance, briefly imagining the fun and the sun and the <hic>… well, whatever else you imagine might happen as your finger hovers over the ‘Purchase’ button (wincing slightly at what your VISA statement will look like next month)?  Then the cruel weight of the real world descends back onto your shoulders and the warm, gentle glow infusing you from having planned your winter getaway evaporates faster than you can say “I-don’t-want-to-work-I-just-want-to-be-a-famous-full-time-writer!!

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.

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…and then finally, seemingly out of nowhere, the departure date for your tropical vacation arrives.  And you’re like: …oh, yeah.  Oh, YEAH!!!

Yesterday, I was perusing what I call my “Tracker” – a spreadsheet I maintain to track where and when I’ve submitted all my (written) work.  The latest entry for my novel Darksea was: “Sept 2016: submitted to Ozma Awards“.

“Oh,” I thought to myself.  “Forgot all about that one.”

I clicked over to the Ozma Awards website, to find that they had already announced the finalists for the contest.

“Ah well,” I thought, preparing to move on.  Obviously, if I’d been a finalist, I would have heard, right?  Something stopped me, though, and just out of morbid and masochistic curiosity, I scrolled down to see the list.

This is what I saw:

 

…what what what?!?!?!

Could it be?  The novel that I’d essentially forgotten about, having nearly given up on sending it out to agents, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Book Review OZMA Awards?!?!

In all honesty, I had been having difficulty maintaining my confidence and my productivity with my fiction writing up until about Christmas; now, however, with two short stories published and this latest news about my novel Darksea, I’m feeling the muse reawakening inside of me.

Time to (really!) start writing again!

Stay tuned to see if Darksea makes it to the next round of judging for the OZMA award!

 

 

First Short Story Published in Kzine Issue 17!

Well, the day has arrived – my first official published story was released on January 28th 2017!

… albeit in Kindle-reader format 😉    (but hey – published is published!!!)

The 17th issue of KZINE – a British sci-fi / horror / fantasy / crime magazine created specifically for the mobile reader – features seven short stories, including my tale Flesh.

Flesh follows the story of an octogenarian in his final few days of life, trying in vain to leave his past behind him.  Of course, there’s a nasty villain, a space station, a gun fight & a high-speed chase, and — just for good measure — a StarWars-esque fall down a bottomless shaft.

Anyways – I’m very excited, and seeing my name in (electronic) print has been a great boost to my recently lagged productivity at the keyboard.  Nothing like some tangible success to get the muse tapping at the window again!

Please check out KZINE, and consider purchasing a copy of the current issue here or here.  You won’t be disappointed!

 

How to Keep Writing Over the Holidays

Feeling down due to the frantic pressure of institutionalized holiday cheer (aka: the purchase of tawdry commercial goods to exchange with family and friends that you’d normally keep no closer than several hundred kilometers at any other time of the year)?

Overwhelmed by the reams of tasks that always seem to build up at this time of year?

Have you already started your yearly holiday treat binge (can you say: let’s add candy canes to everything)?

Or… most importantly…

Have you lost your will to write?

 

…It’s insidious, the way it happens:

Maybe you’ve come off a month of crazy productive writing (aka: NaNoWriMo), and said to yourself: ‘hey – that wasn’t so bad.  I should keep this up for December too!’  And then you find yourself one week from the 25th of December, not having written a bloody thing…

Or maybe you’ve been in a good, dependable writing routine for months, which has inexplicably trickled down to nothing – without you even ‘noticing’?  (But you did notice it, didn’t you?)

 

So what’s your excuse?

Does your holiday make you see red…rum?

The holidays, of course.  They’re a time to slow down, relax, chill-out, enjoy life—what’s that, you say?  They’re the most stressful time of year?!  There’s no time to do anything, much less writing?!?

Of course there’s no time to write!  Everything else at this time of year is too important, you know?  Your family members or your friends or your employer – they all take precedence over you, don’t they?  Don’t be so selfish as to think you can fit this silly little writing habit into your holiday…

So when will there be time for you?  For your writing?

 

Key #1 to successful holiday writing: SELFISHNESS

Yeah.  It’s an ugly word.  But when’s the last time your kids, or your spouse, or your friends, or your boss said: “hey – why don’t you just take today for you?  Don’t worry about us.  We’ll manage just fine.”

I bet it’s been a while, eh?

Remember: if you were sick, they’d manage, wouldn’t they?

If you were away on a trip, they’d manage too.

And even if you said: “you know what?  I’m NOT cooking tonight”, they’d still somehow manage, wouldn’t they?  (They’d just order out pizza, of course.)

So let’s say you do it: pull back from life, and force in a few hours – hell, even a day! – of writing.  You might be surprised (disappointed, even) to learn that you’re not as critical to the smooth running of the universe as you have come to believe.

The first step to writing over the holidays: TAKE time for yourself.

(Oh, but be prepared for pushback.  In fact, you might have to be a bit of a Grinch about it!)

Alright, you’ve gone all selfish and grinchy, and you’ve bought yourself writing time. Now what?  Does the muse immediately jump right back into your life and send you into a whirling, whizzing frenzy of writing?

No, she does not.

You sit at the computer, aglow from you new-found (albeit temporary) writing block, ready to work the magic.  But hold on!  You haven’t checked Youtube in like, at least an hour, so maybe you should just– No, wait!  IT’S A TRAP!

 

Key #2 to successful holiday writing: ACCOUNTABILITY

This is my weakness.  I’m a classic procrastinator.  I work with hard deadlines.  But self-generated ‘soft’ deadlines?  They just make my monkey laugh. (No, I’m not being gross or weird – check out this TED talk on the inner monkey of a procrastinator).

Me, sitting at my desk, alone, without a deadline…  Well, that’s just a recipe for Zero Productivity.

I’ve tried lots of things to put the evil procrastinator monkey in its place:

-making detailed to-do lists, organized by degree of importance and urgency

-setting small, easily attainable goals

-promising myself rewards for work well-done

-the Pomodoro Technique

-setting up a tickler system of file folders in my desk drawer

-trying to work up enough shame and guilt to drive me to ‘get it done’

They all work at first.  Maybe a few days.  Maybe a few weeks, even.  Then something weasel’s its way into the works (typically resulting in an unavoidable change in schedule, even for just a few days), and I’m back to square one, surfing hours (yes, hours) of the best Youtube has to offer.  Or, very often, the not-so-best.

Why were none of these techniques my holy grail for a no-procrastination writing routine?  Well, for one, I don’t believe in a holy grail for anything (life’s too complicated for a single fix, imho).  Secondly, all of the techniques I tried were monitored and policed by… moi.

I can’t do it.  I wish my will was stronger.  And maybe, at some level, I’m just being a cop-out.

 

Regardless of the why, the who has to change.

(And that’s where I should end this post.  Because I don’t know what else to say.  I haven’t solved this problem yet.  I’m not sure who is… who.

Maybe I need an anti-procrastinator coach – someone to hold me to account for my actions and accomplishments day-to-day or week-to-week?

Maybe a writer’s group is the key (in-person would be better – you can more easily ‘slip away’ from an online forum).

Or maybe I need to be looking for a procrastinators-anonymous group out there somewhere?)

 

Anyways, as Christmas ticks closer and closer, I’ll be fighting my monkey, and looking for the solution to who I need to keep me writing.

 

And that’s it for 2016!  Until next year, I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

NaNoWriMo… here we go again!

nanowrimo_crest

Get involved!                    Get writing!

I’ve been on a two-month hiatus from writing my fiction – life and work getting in the way as they always seem to do…

However, as November approaches, there’s a very good reason to get back into fiction writing – one that many writers find is just what they need to jump start their creative endeavours, as the cold weather settles in: NaNoWriMo!

Writing is a uniquely lonely type of thing.  For an introvert (like myself!) it is a welcome escape from the invasive outside world.  It’s therapeutic, too – a balm to soothe the raw stress from all those… people (said with the utmost disgust) intruding themselves upon me day in, day out.

However, I have found that the private nature of writing is a double-edged sword.  There are times when even this introvert (I cringe to admit) craves contact with other like-minded humans.  Specifically the writing kind of humans.

Now, writing being an activity whereby you are lost in your mind and you stare intently at a screen for hours on end, contact with other such beings can be hard to come by… unless you all share a similar goal.  Say, the writing of a complete novel in the space of one month.

Well, look no further: National Novel Writing Month has you covered!  In fact, they couldn’t make it easier for you to get involved – to whatever degree you feel comfortable with.  You fill out some information on yourself and your prospective novel, you pick the local community you’ll be writing with, and once November rolls around, you start writing!  There’s a nifty little graph that shows you how much you’ve written, and if you are on (or off) your word count goal.  There are weekly activities, both locally and across the world that you (again) can participate in, or not.

This will be my third year participating, though I’ll immediately admit I’ll be cheating just a bit – I’m aiming to complete the same novel that I started last year (an urban sci-fi mystery… thingy) – however many words that ends up being.

Regardless of my insidious plans, NaNoWriMo is just what I need to get my fiction writing kick-started again.

21 days and counting…

…in the meantime?  I’ll be getting another batch of agent queries out, and outlining the next bits of that novel that is going to write itself! 😉

Piggyback Your Writing Retreat onto Someone Else’s Hobby!

nice-pen

How would you love a four-day writing retreat for one?  Can’t see how to fit it in?  Let me tell you how I just did it.

 

I was in Lake Placid NY this past weekend for the Ironman race.  No.  I’m not an Ironman.  Nor do I ever think I will be.  I’m what’s referred to as an Ironman Sherpa.  My job is to help cart the equipment for, drive around, and generally support one of the Ironmen athletes (who just happens to be my husband).ironman

If you don’t live with an Ironman, or a triathlete in general, you might not understand their routine.  It consists of them going out and doing ridiculous amounts of swimming, biking and running for about a year, in preparation for one full day of – you guessed it – swimming, biking and running.  Plus, they generally go to bed early.  Every night.

Now, if you happen to be a writer – one who enjoys writing in relative peace (like me) – then you might already see how this could be beneficial to your craft.  If, on average, someone training for a race like this puts in two hours per day of training, seven days a week, that turns into roughly 730 hours of writing time (not to mention the time you get after they go to sleep at 8:00pm).

730 hours of writing is just under 15 hours per week – basically the equivalent of a part-time job!  Think of what you could achieve, if you had that time set aside exclusively for writing!!

freetime

Unfortunately, I did not make use of those hundreds of free hours my spouse granted me.  No, it’s not because of procrastination (though there’s a fair amount of that in my schedule L ); alas: we have kids.

Ugh.  The bane of a creative mind.  Small humans whose sole purpose in life is to figure out when you most need a few moments to yourself during the day, and seek to fill those moments with needy little whines, self-generated disasters, pointless arguments with siblings and the ever popular throwing of a fit.  We’ve got two of them.  Small humans, that is.  Two boys.  One who loves to bug, and one who loves to shriek incessantly when bugged.

So for me, those hundreds and hundreds of hours when hubby was out training, I was on Daddy-duty.  Don’t get me wrong: I love my boys.  I love writing too, though.

The payoff comes on race weekend.  Finally – a full year of training has gone by, and we’re ready for the big day (whew!!).  Triathlon is an equipment-intensive sport.  More than one person (ie: the athlete) can comfortably handle.  That’s why it’s nice to have someone along for the race – the Sherpa.

We arrived at Lake Placid – amidst the beautiful Adirondacks – on Thursday afternoon, and left Monday morning.  The race was on Sunday (like – all day Sunday – it takes about 12 hours to complete it.  No joke).  Aside from a few administrative tasks (attending briefings, dropping off bikes, driving the course), that leaves most hours of the day free…

By the way, my husband is my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing, and it was he who saw the opportunity for me; he who suggested I accompany him.  So while I’m taking credit for this blog, it’s he who gets credit for the idea.

 

When exactly did I get my writing in?

-on the drive here and back (it took us 3½ hours each way);

-while my husband attended his pre-race briefings;

-while he did his last few workouts;

-while he dropped all of his kit off at the race site;

-while he slept (restlessly, stressing about the race!);

AND

-on race day, of course!  12 hours of uninterrupted ‘me’ time.  It was awesome.

Swim start of the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman.

Swim start of the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman.

So now, I’m on the lookout for a new race for him.  I’m thinking a marathon in the fall – that should be worth a three-day mini writing retreat!

 

Are you a writer-with-kids like me?  What do you do to fit writing into the circus that is parenting?  Drop me a line and let me know!!drop_a_line

Last Outpost Military Anthology – My 2nd Short Story to be Published!

Last_Outpost-banner

       I submitted one of my short stories to the 3rd Flatiron Hyperpowers Anthology several months ago.  It did not get accepted…  However, one of the judges happened to be Bascomb James, editor of the Far Orbit anthologies published by World Weaver Press, and he liked the story enough to include it in his upcoming “Last Outpost” military SF anthology!

Here’s a list of the authors and their short stories, to be included in the anthology (directly from Bascomb’s website):

“Conscripts” by Gary Hurtubise
“Corners and Curves” by Wendy Sparrow
“Deathbeast” by H.E. Roulo
“Hashtag Whitebitch” by Shauna O’Meara
“My Letters” by George Allen Miller
“Names” by Todd C. Wilson
“Ripplers” by John Moralee
“Risk Assessment” by David Tallerman
“Swimming Stars” by Andrew Wilson
“The Copper Queen’s Bazaar” by J.B. Rockwell
“The Quarry” by Marc Ferris
“The Thorne Legacy” by J.D. Brink

I’m very happy and honoured to be included in this list!  Can’t wait to see it in print, sometime in the fall of 2016!

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