Upcoming: Toronto Pagan Pride Day 2018

At the end of September, my last vendor outing occurs. It’s the last opportunity this year for people to see me in-person and get autographed paperback copies. It’s the TPPD Harvest Festival.

My usual big day of the year has become Ad Astra, which happened back in July. That’s my ideal time to release a new book and have a more narrowed-down/focused audience for my written offerings. When offered a spot at the Harvest Festival, I decided to try it as a second vendor outing of the year. In past years, I tried The Word on the Street with limited success; it’s big and cool and also easy for me to get lost in right now.

I intend to go over what connections my books have with the Pagan community in Toronto, since it’s not really something I focus on during my usual vendor pitch, nor in blog posts.

They’ve supported me from the beginning, and still do

All the first edition book covers and interior artwork (world map) of the Gift-Knight trilogy came from artists who are situated somewhere within the broad umbrella of the Pagan community. They’ve designed banner layout for vending events and background graphics for book trailers/supporting artwork for the original Kickstarter. They’ve been letting me read aloud at their events, allowing me to host nights such as Danced To Life in their space, hosting the website you’re reading this blog post on right now. Their music made it into my writing playlists. They are my friends.

You might not have gleaned from the text that they’ve had a hand in it since the beginning, but this behind-the-scenes information isn’t always spelled out.


No culture, religion or spirituality in the Gift-Knight trilogy is directly based on any non-fiction analogue. At the same time, most of the names and naming conventions in the story come from our world, and it follows that when coming up with cultures and faiths for the different peoples of the Continent I drew from inspirations. I felt better equipped to provide glimpses of their lifestyles inspired by an amalgam of things I had seen and experienced, than to try and fabricate entire religions and cultural practices in intricate detail.

That’s why we have a variety of things on the Continent of the Gift-Knight trilogy. Derek’s people have seasonal festivals of their own, and mythological/legendary notions of what the omnipresent elements they experience every day must mean; Alathea’s people are comparable, their beliefs would be as different as their geography, and the clans to the north of her empire had completely separate gods before her conquest. There are a couple of notable monotheistic cultures presented, because why not?


These faiths and cultural frameworks are how characters view their world. It’s how they make sense of things they can’t immediately explain, like the seemingly convenient circumstances that set Chandra on a throne she couldn’t otherwise have reasonably expected. Magic is a thing constantly implied or hinted to the believer but not directly or definitively measured, which echoes my personal experiences with faith of various kinds.

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 30

Wychwood Barns – 601 Christie Street

11am – 6pm

At my booth: dinged/suitcase copies of The Gift-Knight’s Quest and The Crown Princess’ Voyage available at a discount; a limited number of new copies of The Masked Queen’s Lament

Website: Toronto Pagan Pride Day

Facebook event: TPPD Harvest Festival 2018

Next Appearance At Ad Astra 2017

Hello, folks!

I waited a while to confirm, but I am indeed debuting The Crown Princess’ Voyage at a vendor table at Ad Astra 2017.  You can find my table in the hall outside the main room from May 5-7.

I am far from the main event, with the guests of honour being Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain, S. M. Stirling and Eric Choi; there’s a good lineup of past guests of honour as well. Panels abound. Lots to see.

Ad Astra happens at Sheraton Parkway North Toronto Hotel, 600 HWY-7 E, Richmond Hill, Ontario.

In the meantime, I have one of those eight-hour-a-day jobs to keep me occupied. When I’m back to live streaming and working on manuscripts, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Saturday Roundup: Newmarket Market and Garden Dedication

Bench dedication to Richard A. Jarrell

On Saturday afternoon at the Thornhill Village Library, I gladly stood in the hot sun and watched some speeches. The Jarrells are friends of the family, and the late Dr. Richard A. Jarrell did many things for his community and for the world beyond his work as a professor at York University. One of these ongoing projects was the garden at the Thornhill Village Library–not just maintaining it over the years with the assistance of his wife Martha, but also making sure it ever existed. I did spend my earliest years in the area but my memory of this library is fuzzy; I’m told it was all a bunch of gravel parking lot before someone stepped in and did something. And that someone was Richard. The bench in the Featured Image of this post had already been dedicated to him, but now the rest of the garden is too; there is a more official plaque that I managed not to get a picture of this time, because by the time there wasn’t such a crowd around it, I was being somewhat social, drinking lemonade and eating peanut butter cookies etc. The refreshments were welcome, as in my long morning I was running on a pack of fruit snacks, a Snickers bar, and a single coffee.

Anyway, pictures:

Martha Jarrell speech

Martha gives a speech at the dedication of the Richard A. Jarrell Memorial Garden.

Court Jarrell speech

Court gives a speech at the dedication of the Richard A. Jarrell Memorial Garden.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti speech

Mayor Frank Scarpitti gives a speech at the dedication of the Richard A. Jarrell Memorial Garden.

That was my later afternoon event, where I had the easy tasks of listening and sweating. Court also loaned me Dark Night: A True Batman Story, which I read cover to cover in a single sitting; I was left to wonder if that was really the first graphic novel I had ever read, or whether a picturebook from Brom that I read for Morbid Outlook once counts as a graphic novel. I wouldn’t mind if Dini’s personal story was my first graphic novel, no problem at all.

The morning was actually consumed by a Newmarket’s farmer’s market (with The Bookshelf event running indoors in the community centre). I was a vendor at The Bookshelf that morning, and so was Allison Cosgrove of the Stan Brookshire novels fame. And she drives, and I don’t, so she helped me out, which is wonderful.

Newmarket vendor setup

My book vendor setup in Newmarket.

This was the first event where I set up a monitor to play book trailers on looping playback. The first major upgrade to my vendor setup, so just imagine what a nice real tablecloth would do! A few observations about the video aspect:

  1. I don’t know how to put captions on to the videos as they exist on my hard drive, so that I could just loop trailers without need for internet access. Not all my YouTube videos have captions, but I made sure both trailers do, and new videos tend to; I type them myself, since the automatic captions look rather sad.
  2. Fortunately, I had free internet access at this event (which seemed even faster than my connection at home), so I made a YouTube playlist off my own channel and looped that, full-screen. But then I had to manually click away Swiss Chalet banner ads and skip other video ads after the requisite 5 seconds.
  3. Choosing one of the two trailers and looping that seemed to cut down on the ads.

Captions are important because I didn’t bring speakers, and markets are noisy rooms/spaces anyway; if I turned up my laptop speakers you could hear my echoey lo-fidelity voice to a point, but not even the nice background music from Satie. So captions are already important for accessibility’s sake (which is why I typed my own for YouTube), but if I want anybody to have any idea what I’m saying in these looping trailers, now they’re mandatory for everyone. People told me it was just nice to have the pictures and minimal text, but come on, you don’t get told the trailer’s story at all that way.