Portland Report

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Thanks to the Canada Council for helping to pay for my trip to Portland, and my promotion of my work to an audience that would not have been accessible otherwise.

This weekend in Portland was exhuasting, stressful, and ultimately invigorating. I had an early morning plane to catch on Friday, so I went into Toronto the day before (met up with Cameron), and stayed overnight at the airport hotel. It's a nice place, but it's hard to appreciate it when you have to get up at 4:45 in the morning.

Friday the 13th lived up to its name, in spite of the best efforts of the workers at Toronto and Calgary International Airports. Thanks to the hardworking security staff, I managed to get through both airports quickly, and made a connection in Calgary within 90 minutes, even while going through US Customs. However, I was almost tripped up when I was notified that my connecting flight to Portland had switched gates and I spotted Air Canada and WestJet flights to Portland -- both leaving at the same time -- on the board. I was flying WestJet. Guess which gate I accidentally came to?

Fortunately, I realized my mistake with enough time to hoof it across the concourse (Calgary's International concourse is big), reaching the WestJet gate just as they were boarding. Phew, I thought, nothing else could go wrong.

And then I got to Portland, after a 90 minute cramped flight (but with nice staff), and I grabbed my carry-on bag and hoofed it off the plane and out through security to grab my LRT to the hotel. It was literally minutes after I went through the automatic doors that said, prominently, "NO RE-ENTRY AFTER THIS POINT" when I realized that I'd left my computer bag behind on the plane. Worse, such were the security protocols that there was no way I could get WestJet to get the bag off the plane and to me somewhere in the airport. I resigned myself to filling out a lost baggage report (even though it wasn't technically lost -- I knew exactly where it was), and I headed into town while my computer went back to Calgary.

It could have been much worse. I had nothing critical in that bag, and nothing irreplaceable either. I still had my passport, my NEXUS card, my cellphone, my sleep apnea machine, and my change of clothes. And all of my computer files are in the cloud. I was mostly upset with myself at my stupidity, and the fact that I was out about $500 if my computer never showed up. Fortunately, there was a happy ending. The WestJet crew called me the next day to tell me the bag was found, and I could pick it up at the WestJet check-in counter on Sunday. It's back in my possession, now (I'm typing on it now), and I don't intend to let it out of my sight.

Well, that's my travel. What about what I travelled to Portland for?

Portland's Rose City Comic Con is as startling and energetic as any of the other major Comic Cons across the continent. Last year, over 40,000 were in attendance, and I'm pretty sure they matched that number. And as is the case with Comic Cons, cosplayers ruled the roost. I saw so many fantastic creations, got permission to snap a photo or two, spotted Daleks, and generally enjoyed watching the people have a good time.

Kisa greeted me at the REUTS Publications Booth on Friday, and I set out to search for the panel room I'd be using the next day. This prep work was vital, because the Oregon Convention Centre is huge, and with it bustling, I doubt I would have found the room in time for my panel if it had been my first go. JetLag haunted me a bit. At 4:00, I was surprised to find myself weak with hunger and wondering why the heck that should be, before realizing my body still thought it was 7:00 p.m. and, moreover, breakfast had been at 5:15 a.m.

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I met up wth fellow panelists Benjamin Gorman and Drew Hayes on Saturday. Fellow panelist Sarina Dorie could not make it, unfortumately. I was most impressed by the turnout for our one-hour discussion, and there was great energy in the room. I moderated things, and Drew and Benjamin offered great insights into all aspects of urban fantasy. We also had great questions from the audience, and a few people who came out to the REUTS booth afterward to received signed copies of our books.

Ah, yes, the book. I was most pleased to clap eyes on the first copies of The Night Girl at the event, to hold it, flip through the pages, and smell it. It looks great, and I'm looking forward to put it on the shelf next to Icarus Down. It was well received.

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Sunday, I helped out at the REUTS booth again, and talked with Kisa, her husband, and Benjamin about writing and books, before retiring at 4 p.m. as the Comic Con was winding down.

In addition to all this, I went on some Portland pilgrimages, heading back to Voodoo Donuts, and visiting Powells City of Books, leaving behind some Night Girl bookmarks for some guerrila marketing. I rode the LRT and Portland's streetcar, and ate some good food. And, with my computer back in my hands, I did some writing as well.

All in all, a successful qeekend, and thanks again to the Canada Council for making it possible.

I've uploaded more photos of my trip to my Facebook timeline here...

Now I'm heading back. Let's hope that the journey home is less eventful than the journey here.

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The Cloud Riders: My Eighth Novel

Yesterday was the official book birthday of The Night Girl. Electronic copies officially went live on Amazon Kindle, and paperback copies should be available to better independent bookstores soon. If you want to order a paperback copy, go to your local indie bookstore and tell them to order The Night Girl, by James Bow, with the ISBN of 978-1942111634.

And if you like what you read, please say so. Leave a review on Goodreads or on Amazon, so that others can hear about this book and read it too.

Anyway, since restarting this blog after a long hiatus, it has been nothing but Night Girl, and I thought I'd change things up a bit by talking about other writing things that happened while I was blog-silent. The biggest news is that I have finished a second draft of my eighth novel, The Cloud Riders.

Cloud-riders-Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image.jpgI actually finished a draft of this story back in March and then, after initial feedback, revised it to fine-tune the culture clash and provide a more satisfying resolution. The third draft has been finished (barring tweaking) since July.

The Cloud Riders takes place in the same universe as The Sun Runners where, in the early part of the 24th century, problems with the Earth's ecology from climate change catch up to and overwhelms the technology that has kept Earth amenable to human civilization. The Earth collapses hard, leaving the colonies on the solar system's inner planets basically on their own. Mercury (in The Sun Runners) is nowhere near self-sufficient when it comes to food, so they face starvation. Venus and Mars, which have the benefit of robot shuttles to maintain a modicum of trade, fare slightly better.

The Cloud Riders focuses on Samantha Dekker, a police cadet working to join the Venusian Police and Rescue Forces on one of the Uber-Zeppelins that circle the planet 55 kilometres above the surface. She has to cope with living in the shadow of her famous police commissioner father. Six years before, she'd started a pen-pal correspondence with a young man from Mars named Pandorian Anastas, and they talked throughout their teenage years before Pandorian suddenly went silent. Then, without warning, Samantha and her fellow students are forced to rescue an incoming ship that's fallen into Venus's atmosphere, and inside is none other than Pandorian.

The Cloud Riders is a lot more light-hearted than The Sun Runners, but I think the story tackles some interseting issues about how loyalty complicates family, friendships, and love, and the whole thing is a Country Mouse/City Mouse exploration of life on Mars and Venus when the Earth isn't around to anchor things.

It's also my longest manuscript to date, clocking in at 116,000 words -- longer even than the Sun Runners' 101,000 words, and I hope to chop that back in subsequent drafts.

In the meantime, I am engaged in rewriting The Sun Runners, and am over 45,000 words into the new draft.

By the way, you can create your own pulp cover like I did, thanks to the Pulp-o-mizer. Just click on the picture, or visit this site here...

The Night Girl Cover Reveal

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Here it is, in all its glory, thanks to Ashley Ruggatello. The Night Girl will be available to order on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. I look forward to signing copies in Portland the following weekend.

Trolls Offer Solution to Toronto Transit Deadlock

Fictionally Speaking, That Is...

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Toronto, ON (September 5, 2019) - For years, Torontonians have suffered through commuter hell. The city was recently ranked the worst in North America for commuting thanks to underfunded public transportation and anemic rapid transit growth. But arguing politicians may have a solution at last: putting trolls to work!

No, not Internet trolls, although their labour may be woefully underused. According to the fictional world of The Night Girl, by award-winning author James Bow, actual trolls - large but docile humanoid beings - can dig tunnels better than tunnel boring machines and have put the city on the cusp of a subway boom.

Fictionally, that is. The map is available in the archive of the Transit Toronto website.

"The Night Girl is the story of a young woman named Perpetua Collins, who comes to Toronto looking for work and finds it as a secretary for an employment agency that finds jobs for goblins and trolls. They want her to be their human face - not literally, of course, as that would be messy and hardly an effective disguise."

"It's an excellent fantasy adventure packed with humour, unforgettable characters and more twists and turns than an underground amusement ride," says author Arthur Slade. "You'll never look at a gargoyle in the same way. Or the city of Toronto. So much fun!"

The Night Girl is an urban fantasy, set in Toronto, featuring faeries, goblins, and trolls living and working beyond the sight of most humans. "Many of them can be found on our rooftops," James explains. "Or in Toronto's PATH Network after hours. It can get spooky down there."

James Bow was born in downtown Toronto. When writing his novel, there was no question that it would be set in his hometown. "As a Canadian author, born in Toronto, I had to speak up for my city. In science fiction and fantasy novels set on Earth, a lot of the attention goes to New York, Los Angeles, or London."

"Toronto has a lot to offer as a setting for fantastic literature," says James. "There are futuristic buildings mixed with older architecture. There's Toronto's PATH Network, which is the world's largest underground city. It has a diverse collection of cultures. People from around the world come calling, so why does it have to be just humans who show up?"

The things Toronto brings to the table as a science fiction or fantasy setting will be discussed at a special author panel discussion held at the Merril Collection of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 2 p.m., at the Lillian H. Smith library at 239 College Street.

James Bow will moderate a discussion with science fiction, fantasy, and urbanist authors including the Toronto Star's Shawn Micallef, J.M. Frey, Phoebe Barton, K.T. Bryski, Ben Berman Ghan, and Mari Ramsawakh. It will be followed by questions from the audience, a reading from The Night Girl, and a chance to have authors sign copies of their books.

"It will be a fun event, and I hope it will help put Toronto on the map when it comes to settings in science fiction and fantasy literature," says James.

The Night Girl is published by REUTS Publications, and is available at better bookstores everywhere, including Bakka-Phoenix Bookstore. More information about the novel can be found at James Bow's website at www.bowjamesbow.ca.

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James Bow is available for interviews and can be reached at (519) 590-9640, or at james.bow@gmail.com

The Night Girl subway map is available at: https://transit.toronto.on.ca/images/toronto-subway-night-girl-map-reduced.pdf

This press release is available as a Word Document and as a PDF.

Perpetua's Underground City

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Perpetua's Toronto is slightly different from the Toronto we live in. For one thing, goblins and trolls live in it. And they both know how to dig down. Somewhere, I've posted a fantasy map of the new Toronto subway network, "if dug by trolls", and I'll post a link to it again once we have our cover reveal. However, the subway isn't the only thing to have seen expansion in this world. Toronto's PATH Network, aka the Underground City (I'm always going to call it that), has seen some expansion as well. Have a look at the map (click to show full size)! There are a few Easter eggs for the Toronto blogosphere...

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