Category Archives: D is for Dinosaur

When Words Collide 2017 Recap

What. A. Weekend.

I’m not going to even attempt to give a blow-by-blow accounting of When Words Collide because I couldn’t possibly. Not only would this post be impossibly long but my over-stressed memory is so bad these days that I would absolutely forget something or somebody and that would make me sad.

In fact, even while I was at the con if people asked how my weekend was going I would usually say “Ask me on Tuesday”. This weekend was fantastic, but simultaneously a bit overwhelming (which, really, is kind of my theme for 2017).

Well, it’s Tuesday so let me just say, my weekend was fantastic 🙂

First of all there was this:

"Believe" by Barbara Tomporowski

This year has been hard. I severely over-scheduled myself and the stress of that, coupled with dealing with some non-work things and a slight depression has taken quite a toll on me. I’m not going to go into details about that (that’s a topic for a different blog post) but, yeah, it’s been difficult. So when Barbara gave me a copy of this photograph which she’s entitled “Believe” along with some incredibly encouraging and supportive words I cried. It means more to me than I can put in words to have someone say, “I see what you’re doing. Great job. Keep it up. And also, are you okay?”

I’ll be framing this photo and hanging it over my desk.

Thank you Barbara.


And a special thank you also to Ellen who provided similar but different validation to my work and additional incentive to keep on keepin’ on. With your incredible energy, enthusiasm and propensity for thinking out of the box I can’t wait to see what you create in the years to come.

Ever since I launched Fae at my very first WWC it’s been a sort of tradition for me to launch each new installment of the Magical Menageries there. Equus was no different.

I mean, it was different, but we launched it there just the same 😉

This is what our panel looked like. Well, to be honest Megan looked a wee bit different in person than she does in that photograph. I can’t imagine why…*

We have, from left to right, Hal J. Friesen, Susan MacGregor, C.S. MacCath, M.L.D Curelas , Sandra Wickham, V.F. LeSann (Leslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell, Pat Flewwelling, Chadwick Ginther and Cat McDonald.

In addition to Equus contributors there are two D is for Dinosaur authors included in that rowdy bunch.

The reading was awesome and included flying cellphones, yeehaws, accents galore, laughs and tears. I am so lucky that I get to work with such amazing people.

And then this happened:

I’ve never won a short story contest before, I was pretty stunned and kind of floated through the rest of the day in a weird state of shock.

In Places Between is a short story contest organized by the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association that is dedicated to the memory of Robyn Herrington. In fact, the dedication on the associated anthology which contains all the stories that were finalists in the contest says:

Dedicated to the memory of

Robyn Meta Herrington (1961 – 2004)

Who believed so passionately in paying it forward,

She still is.

I never met Robyn but after winning the contest dedicated to her memory I spent some time with Barb Galler-Smith learning about her. She sounds amazing and I can only hope people speak so highly of me once I’m gone as they do of her. Thank you, Barb, for sharing some of your memories with me.

Before the con was done I had one more panel. This one was with Mark Leslie where we talked about collaborative publishing and how Haunted Hospitals came to be. The panel turned into an interesting discussion between Mark, myself and the audience and was a lovely way to end the programming.

The next day was time to come home, and on the drive back to Edmonton with S.G. Wong she helped me unknot a really annoying characterization problem for a novel that’s been collecting dust on my desk for years. Now, I’m really excited to re-write the thing over the three day novel weekend (I’m not officially registered), which is a much better state of mind than the ‘What am I going to write? What am I going to write?’ one I had been in before that. So yay!

Overall it was an awesome weekend, made so by many, many people (most of which aren’t listed here by name because if I did this blog post would be far too long). If you organised, volunteered or attended When Words Collide thank you for helping make it an amazing weekend.

See you next year!



*Just guessing here but it might be because she’s a brat…

My WWC Schedule

When Words Collide is kinda my jam. Technically apparently it’s a ‘Festival for Readers and Writers’ but I just call it my favourite convention, and I go every year.

There is a ridiculous amount of programming at WWC. I’m not kidding. There are twelve separate programming tracks, and it’s not like there are three real program tracks and a whole bunch of filler. Nope. All of these tracks are packed full of awesomeness so I wanted a bit more time to take it all in. So this year my schedule is a bit more laid back than on previous years 🙂


1pm — Live Action Slush: Early Bird Edition (Fireside)

Bring the 1st page of your short fiction manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and
receive comments from our editors.

This was the first ever panel I was on (at WWC or any convention ever) and it was so much fun I ask to be put on it every year.

5pm — Blue Pencil Session (Heritage)

Bring the first page or two of your manuscript (max 1000 words, typed, double-spaced) for
1-on-1 feedback from an editor.

These are booked ahead of time and I’m fully booked already (though there is usually a wait ist you can get on in case someone cancels). If you are one of the people coming to see me it’s a really good idea to send your work ahead of time so we don’t spend all our time together with me reading.


11am — Equus Book Social (Fireside)

Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through the pages of the Equus anthology span the fantasy spectrum. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom. Join several contributors (and a couple special guests)
as they read short excerpt from their stories.

This is going to be awesome. I’m just sayin’…

12pm — Tyche Books Presents (Fireside)

Tyche Books introduces new books for 2017. Join the editors and attending authors for teaser readings and Q&A.

Okay, so I’m not actually ON this panel, my book from Tyche is a 2018 title, however since this panel immediately follows the Equus panel I can’t see any reason why people shouldn’t just hang around and watch it too 😉

4pm — Edge Publishing Presents (Fireside)

I’ll be talking briefly about the upcoming Tesseracts anthology that Greg Bechtel and I just finished putting together. Mostly, however, there will be readings from Edge authors 🙂

8pm — Autographs

I will be taking part in the mass autograph signing as will many Equus and D is for Dinosaur contributors so if you have a copy of either anthology this is the best place to collect a whole bunch of signatures 🙂


2pm — Featured Author (Edge Publishing booth in the Vendor Room)

I’ll be spending an hour hanging out at the Edge Publishing booth in the vendor room. Last time I was the Featured Author I managed to wrangle two other people (Cat McDonald and Sandra Wickham) into joining me so we had a trifecta of awesome featured authors, so who knows what this year will hold? Swing by to talk about, well, whatever you wanna talk about. It’ll be fun 🙂

4pm — Collaborative Publishing (Fairview)

How HAUNTED HOSPITALS was born, created and developed (inspiration, origin story, how we divided the book up, and tools we used). This workshop provides insights on how to successfully collaborate on a writing project.

Haunted Hospitals wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for When Words Collide. Mark and I talk about it specifically and also more generally about collaboration 🙂

If you’re going to be at When Words Collide I hope to see you there! And please don’t be shy, even if we’ve never met before if you see me, please come up and say hi 🙂

D is for Dinosaur Countdown Sale

D is for Dinosaur is on sale, but it’s not just any kind of sale, it’s a countdown sale! That means, for today and tomorrow the book will be 99 cents. Following that you’ll be able to pick it up for $1.99 for a couple days before it returns to its regular low price of $2.99.

To get the best deal you need to act quickly, but honestly, even at $2.99 this huge anthology is a steal!

Get Your Copy Now!

Writers Learn Everything

Writers Learn Everything

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

I write fantasy, so I have to do more research than those who write real life.

“Wait,” some protest, “there’s a lot of research required for historical, or military thrillers, or other real stories. But in fantasy, you can just make everything up!”

Well, I could, but you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. My job in speculative fiction is to make you believe something could be real, even when it clearly isn’t. That you know of. Yet.

If so much is real, and what is new fits so closely with what we know is real, then maybe, just maybe….? And thus, speculative fiction.

This is why my story about mermaids required research into fox genetics and amazing corpuscles in elephant trunks. And for my D is for Dinosaur entry, I plunged into the following diverse topics:

  • the extremely rare Devils Hole Pupfish, found in a single geothermal pool
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the horrifically destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China

Many of these were reduced in final editing so that the submitted story contains now only a reference or a quirky fact, but they are still the foundation for a more cohesive, structurally sound piece of totally-made-up fiction.

When the apocalypse comes and libraries are burning and you have to choose your team for survival, make sure to include a writer. Their brains are full of hidden and potentially useful information!


Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent‘s “Recommended Reading” list. Her latest novel The Songweaver’s Vow releases February 21 and taught her about ninth century clothing dyes and building construction in Northern Europe. Find her at .

D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!


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The Other Side of the Partition

The Other Side of the Partition

by Lynn Hardaker

When I was growing up in Toronto in the 1970s and ‘80s, one of my favourite haunts was the Royal Ontario Museum. My favourite exhibit was the dinosaurs. I’d walk through a doorway into a darkened passage which would lead past moody dioramas featuring a fossil T-rex, reconstructed Stegosaurus and Triceratops, all nestled within large-leafed plastic plants while at least one Pterodactyl hovered overhead. My little brother and I would amble and gape; imagine sneaking past the barriers – that thin partition between our world and that of the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, parental supervision always prevented that kind of fun. The exhibit was small, old fashioned, and I absolutely loved it. (It stirred my imagination far more than I can imagine the museum’s current dinos-in-a-crystal exhibit could.)

When I was offered the opportunity of writing a dinosaur story for Rhonda’s D is for Dinosaur anthology, I was thrilled. It was a chance to return to a childhood escape, to dive in there, to cross the partition. But when I started, I had no idea how to do it. For a while I brainstormed, but everything I wrote seemed either trite or like rehashed b-horror. So I stepped back from it for a while, and that’s when another memory of Toronto from years back surfaced.

There was a local eccentric who had turned his Victorian mansion into a museum – an oversized cabinet of curiosities – filling it with masks and totems, shrunken heads, the bones and skulls of exotic animals, a live python and Galapagos Island tortoise. I was invited to it once by someone who knew him. It was a magical place. Here was someone who had turned his home into a living exhibit; someone living on the other side of the partition. That experience, however brief, stayed with me. It was only much later that I would read that he’d been charged with, and convicted of, abusing some of the young men he’d offered shelter to over the years.

And that all got me thinking; weaving things together: fact and fiction; inspiration and imagination; an image here, a thought there. I scribbled and eventually the story happened. A dinosaur story.

And, in one of those serendipitous events which so often happen to writers, after having written the story – actually in the course of writing this blog post – I found that one of the displays I hadn’t seen in the home-museum of way-back-when was fossilized elephant-bird eggs. The relevance of which will come to light to any who read the story.


Lynn Hardaker is a Canadian writer and artist currently living in Regensburg, Germany.  Her poems and short stories have appeared in Mythic Delirium, Not One of Us, Scheherezade’s Bequest, The Ghastling, and other journals. She’s currently doing the final round of edits on her YA historical fantasy novel set in a slightly alternative eighteenth century London.

D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!


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C.S. MacCath Reading

We’re going to be launching D is for Dinosaur here in Edmonton this March:

D is for Dinosaur

(Details here)

But because the D is for Dinosaur contributors are spread so far out across the globe (and there are twenty-six of them!) we couldn’t possibly include everyone. So I asked the other contributors if they’d like to record themselves doing a reading from their story and I’d share it on my blog.

C.S. MacCath responded with this reading from her story, “One Who Dies as a God Dies”. The language is beautiful. The reading is like poetry. Listen, and enjoy!



C.S. MacCath is a PhD student of Folklore and a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has been shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and nominated for the Rhysling Award. Her first collection, The Ruin of Beltany Ring, has been called ‘wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing’ and a book of ‘tiny marvels’. Advance reviewers have called her second collection, The Longest Road in the Universe, ‘a vivid, epic and touching journey’, ‘elegant and elegiac’, and ‘packed full of lush worlds, lyrical prose, three-dimensional characters and honest emotions’. She lives in Atlantic Canada, which might just be far enough north for her tastes, unless something opens up in Iceland.

D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!


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For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these stories — set in alternative histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner — dinosaurs whimper and waste away or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!


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Laura VanArendonk Baugh Reading

We’re going to be launching D is for Dinosaur here in Edmonton this March:

D is for Dinosaur

(Details here)

But because the D is for Dinosaur contributors are spread so far out across the globe (and there are twenty-six of them!) we couldn’t possibly include everyone. So I asked the other contributors if they’d like to record themselves doing a reading from their story and I’d share it on my blog.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh responded with a video reading… and she got a little bit more help with it than she’d anticipated. Check it out:


Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star (the highest possible) ratings on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at

Pre-order D IS FOR DINOSAUR for only $0.99!

(prices go up when it’s released tomorrow!)


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Who Doesn’t Love Dinosaurs?

Who Doesn’t Love Dinosaurs?

by Suzanne Willis


Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?  I was so excited to find out that “D is for Dinosaur” – for me, those creatures of distant history have the power to endlessly fire the imagination and to bring back childhood memories.  Like a primary school excursion to the museum and seeing the enormous, time-browned bones of a T-Rex and triceratops, their wickedly sharp horns and teeth and claws reminiscent of dragons.  Those shapes were proof that strange, almost-mythical creatures had existed and it felt as though they gave permission for the creatures of the stories that I loved so much – dragons and mermaids, wood nymphs and chimera – to exist, too.  Then there was the long-ago day outing with family friends, one of whom – a boy around my age, which was seven or eight at the time – was blind.  He brought along his large collection of toy dinosaurs and fascinated me by being able to identify each one just by feeling their shapes.  It was the first time I realised that there were ways of experiencing the world that were so different to my own – the first time my view of life was punctured by someone else’s reality.

And so here was the chance to revisit dinosaurs, which had been a source of fascination and wonder so long ago.  Sparks of possible tales popped up, and I began with notes such as “ghost landscapes”, “opalised bones” and “giants made of rock and rainforest pitted against one another?”.  Then there was brainstorming and research to shape the initial ideas: I spent a glorious afternoon going through “Dinosaurs: a visual encyclopedia” by DK Publishing, making notes about stromatolites, archaeopteryx (the link between avian dinosaurs and modern birds), pterosaurs, placoderms, ammonite fossils, griffinflies, amber.  Other resources that taught me about Mary Anning, who made a huge contribution to palaeontology, and science generally, through her work in Jurassic marine fossils on the coast of Dorset, England, in the 1800s.  Being a woman, she did not receive full credit for her work during her lifetime, but was lauded after her death, into the 20th century and beyond.  Seriously, if you’re not familiar with Mary Anning’s story, take some time to read up on her!

In reacquainting myself with my love of dinosaurs and natural history, I began to think about the connection between past and present, and about all those things that time has eroded away, so will forever remain undiscovered, and how future finds will alter those matters we currently accept as truth about that long-distant past.

And so Pax and his kin, and the gliders who were their enemies, the dinosaurs of the in-between, were born…

Pre-order your copy of D IS FOR DINOSAUR now and get it for only $0.99!


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Not-So-Imaginary Friends

Not-So-Imaginary Friends: A D is for Dinosaur Guest Blog

by Beth Cato

Confession: I am 37 years old, and I still want to believe in magic. I want there to be glorious beings and places that we can’t quite see, and that all of us potentially hold power that is manipulated by the mind, not muscles.

Along those lines, I love the idea of imaginary friends that aren’t imaginary. I want children to see–really see–what is around them. Magical beings. Aliens. Portals to other realms. It’s the stuff of my own childhood wish fulfillment, no doubt, and my writing career gives me the chance to make it all real. In a way.

My D is for Dinosaur story delves into the dark side of not-so-imaginary friends from more of a science fiction angle: the relationship between a brilliant young girl and her mentor, who is invisible to everyone else, but in her eyes is a rainbow-toned velociraptor. The girl knows her dinosaur friend is real. She also knows that, because of her own brain maturation, she will no longer be able to see or hear him soon. And she’s tragically aware that because of that, she’ll begin to doubt that he ever existed at all.

It goes to the very concept of faith. What is “real?” What is imaginary? Can we trust our own memories?

For me, this is a very personal dilemma.

Being a weird, precocious child, I was aware by about age nine that there was a point where other kids stopped playing with toys or looking for fairies hidden among the hedges. To me, it seemed like an ultimate betrayal of self, like these children forgot who they really were. That their imaginations were tossed in shoeboxes along with battered childhood toys, destined for a thrift store shelf at some much-later date.

I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t toss aside my imagination. I’d stay true to myself.

Reality is cruel. We’re told to “grow up.” Stop playing around. That imaginary friends don’t exist, that they never existed. That we need real jobs. That if we make art, it’s not worth anything.

I lost my way for a number of years, caving to pressure that reading and writing fantasy wasn’t “real” writing. But I came back to it because I realized I was incomplete. I still wanted to see hidden magic in the world, and I needed to write it in existence.

My story heroine contends with all of these emotions, too. She’s a kid who has always had an invisible-to-everyone else velociraptor as her dearest friend. She’s going to lose him. She’s going to grow up.

It’s my hope, though, that she grows up in some ways but not others.


Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


Pre-order your copy of D IS FOR DINOSAUR now and get it for only $0.99!


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Jeanne Kramer-Smyth Reading ‘J’

We’re going to be launching D is for Dinosaur here in Edmonton this March:

D is for Dinosaur

(Details here)

But because the D is for Dinosaur contributors are spread so far out across the globe (and there are twenty-six of them!) we couldn’t possibly include everyone. So I asked the other contributors if they’d like to record themselves doing a reading from their story and I’d share it on my blog. In response, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth sent along this recording of part of her story, “J”. Give it a listen — it has one of the best opening lines in the entire anthology 🙂

“J” by Jeanne Kramer-Smyth


Pre-order your copy of D IS FOR DINOSAUR now and get it for only $0.99!


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