Ad Astra and Interviews, Part One

This weekend, I got a chance to sell some books with Pop Seagull Publishing, recharge with other like-minded peeps, and even do a couple of interviews. Here’s the first of two, for http://www.youtube.com/YAwordnerds. Looks like they’ve got a really good thing going over there, so check ‘em out!

Overall, we had an amazing weekend at Ad Astra 2014. I just want to give a shout out to all the organizers, volunteers and fans that made it such a great weekend!

I’ve got my con reading all stacked up now, and I can’t wait to read it all! I’m nose deep in Sunset Val’s Final Boarding, and you should be too! Seriously… this guy’s good.

Meanwhile, in Canada…

Hey folks!

I just wanted to pop in here to mention that I’ve started a new blog, under my own name, called Meanwhile, in Canada… that will be my main blog from now on. If you stay subscribed to this one, you’ll still get the occasional update relating to Pop Seagull, but if you want to read the bulk of my posts, including a whole bunch of upcoming content that you’d never see here (mostly because I try to keep my posts here pertinent to publishing) I highly suggest that you follow my new blog as well. It’s going to be really good, and you don’t want to miss it. :)

Here’s the link: http://elizabethhirstblog.wordpress.com/

Liz

Spirits of Suburbia Cover Art Sneak Peek

I’m very excited today to unveil the new cover art for Spirits of Suburbia, Pop Seagull’s brand spanking new anthology! I’m even more proud because this cover was designed and illustrated by yours truly. We had a couple of designs floating around, but everyone seemed to respond best to this one, so here it is. There might be a few minor changes made between now and publication, but this is basically the final version.

suburbanspirits_covermockup_04

All images in this post are copyright to Elizabeth McLean and Pop Seagull Publishing, and may be reposted for non-commercial purposes, but the name of the anthology and the publisher must be visible in a prominent location on or near the image. Reposting for profit, without giving credit, or giving improper credit is prohibited.

Spirits of Suburbia Anthology- Coming Soon!

Greetings, Buoys and Gulls!

In a previous blog post, I promised that there would be more blogs, and more books, coming from Pop Seagull Publishing in the near future. Well, guess what? Here’s two for one. Behold, the press release for our new anthology, Spirits of Suburbia!

Pop Seagull Publishing Announces Spirits of Suburbia Anthology

Pop Seagull Publishing is proud to announce the release of Spirits of Suburbia, a new collection of original fantasy and science fiction short stories set in the suburbs of Ontario and beyond. We’ve all read about gritty heroes struggling to cope with supernatural forces invading their city, but what happens when spirits, magical creatures and monsters park their minivans next door?

 Featuring work from Ira Nayman, Elizabeth Hirst and Jennifer Bickley, Spirits of Suburbia offers readers a range of takes on the main theme, from a college girl’s struggle with ghosts in her hair that want to tell all of her secrets, to a comedic take on love, loss and zombies.

 Spirits of Suburbia will be available in print October 5th, 2013, to coincide with Genrecon, in Guelph, Ontario. http://www.genrecon.com More information will be made available in the coming weeks about special promotions which may be offered by Pop Seagull Publishing for the release. E-books will also be available for pre-order on the same date through Smashwords. http://www.smashwords.com

 Founded in 2011 by author and animator Elizabeth McLean, Pop Seagull Publishing aims to publish both up-and-coming and established voices in science fiction, fantasy and horror, with a focus on Canadian authors and original, entertaining content. A company by readers, for readers, Pop Seagull and its contributors stand by the motto: Sleep is temporary. Reading is forever!

Pop Seagull has signed John Scalzi’s Convention Harassment Policy: Here’s the Scoop on Why.

Hi Everybody,

Liz here. Now, I know I like to keep things pretty positive out here on the blog, and hopefully this post is no exception, but I thought that I should just make a brief post letting people know that we, as a business, have signed this document, put forward by John Scalzi, that indicates that we won’t participate, either as guests or as vendors or fans, in any convention that does not have a clearly defined, publicly posted and transparently, accountably enforced harassment policy. This does not just count for sexual harassment, but for any negative or unwanted behaviour that is designed to make other guests uncomfortable.

What does this mean for Pop Seagull as a company, going forward?

Well, not much in terms of the conventions we usually attend as of 2013. For the most part, the conventions we have attended in the past have all worked exceptionally hard to make their guests feel safe and welcomed, and make sure all of the guests know how they can formally deal with harassment and that there is a zero-tolerance policy on such behaviour. It does mean, however, that we will be more active participants in working with the fan community to deal with this issue, that we will make all decisions about new convention appearances with these guidelines in mind, and that we will consider any potential event that we are considering attending that does not yet have such a policy as an opportunity for constructive dialogue, and potential community improvement. We would also ask anyone reading this, be they author, editor, fan, artist, costumer, you name it, that if you or someone you know has been affected by non-consensual, creepy behaviour or harassment in any form at a fan gathering, or you just care about our fan spaces being as welcoming and safe as possible for all members of the community, that you also commit to holding our community events accountable for having and enforcing an effective code of conduct.

Why does Pop Seagull feel the need, as a company, to take a stand on this issue?

The short answer is that I, as the company’s founder and president, have experienced the kind of harassment (and the kind of lack of response and over-consideration of the perpetrator’s little pink feelings to the detriment of my safety) that proper writing, awareness and enforcement of harassment policies on the convention level aims to remedy. As someone who has experienced the problem first-hand, I feel that the proposed solution is the most civil, common-sense and restorative way to deal with harassment as a community. Why do I say restorative? Because I believe that harassers are human beings too, and sometimes nice people in other areas of their lives, and what needs to be done about this is not to picture them as monsters lurking in the bushes, but to realize that they are our friends, lovers and relatives, and that if we say, clearly and without reservation, that inappropriate behaviour in social settings will result in a cool-down period until they are ready to stop harassing people, they may just change, and society may just change along with them.

What happened to me, you ask? Well, I don’t talk about it very much on the internet because I’m one of those people that sincerely believes that dragging people through the mud, even when you are the wronged party, only ever looks bad on you. However, the event at which this incident occurred is now defunct, so I don’t believe it is in bad taste to say that someone that I had met at a previous convention found out I was at the event alone and began following me everywhere in a creepy and covert manner, on the first night going so far as to try and follow me to my room when it would have been reasonable to assume I was drunk (I don’t drink, however, so I saw what he was doing and reported it later). If my friend had not been there, I shudder to think what might have happened. He then proceeded to follow me around for the rest of the weekend and try to corner me alone, to the point that I had to have a security entourage to keep me safe. I do not exaggerate. When security finally caught up to this person, who was actively trying to hide from them in the washrooms and any other place they could think of so that they would not have to receive a warning that they knew could lead to trouble, they claimed that we were friends (we weren’t, we had talked once) and that he had no idea what was going on. After the convention I wrote a detailed account of my experience and called for him to be banned from the event, citing the numerous friends and security guards who could confirm his creepy, possibly dangerous behaviour. I was never asked in to any kind of meeting to discuss the situation, nor was I ever asked or contacted about any of it beyond the letter I chose to send and their short, unapologetic reply that they would not be banning him. The lack of support I felt from the organizers of this event at this time was devastating, due to my level of involvement with it and the fact that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they still treated me like an over-reacting liar. Worse yet, this person still is allowed to attend many conventions, I have heard several other, unsolicited stories of sexual harassment about him, including taking creepy pictures of young teen girls without they or their parents’ permission. I am also forced to bring an entourage to any event where I know he will be, because he still tries to corner me alone, take pictures of me and get my contact information and no amount of coldness or rudeness on my or my friends’ parts seems to convince him to stop.

If any part of this story, or my telling of it, makes you uncomfortable, it should. It made me uncomfortable for a very long time. My point is not to garner sympathy or revisit old issues that, believe me, I have long since dealt with in order to remain part of fandom, but to try and build awareness and make sure that what happened to me does not happen to anybody else.

My point here is that this stuff happens, it’s still happening even in 2013, and people who experience this kind of behaviour shouldn’t have their safety decided by some shadowy cabal who probably only have the PR of the convention in mind. At the very least, we deserve to have an honest, face-to-face chat with administrators and in the case of something minor, have our concerns arbitrated with the parties involved, and in the case of something major, to have someone with a face who is accountable to us and the whole community in administering consequences.

Please remember: we cannot prevent harassers from attending gatherings, but we can be a vehicle for personal growth and social change by sending them a clear message that harassment will not be tolerated, and their presence will not be tolerated in our midst until they do the personal work necessary to amend their behaviour.

Upcoming New Stuff 02/07/2013

Yeah, that’s right, it’s a double post today, because Ive been rarin’ to go on publishing stuff, and I’m finally free to be able to do all the amazing things I’ve been planning while working on my animated film this year!

New Blog Series

As you may have noticed, I’ve been a little bit scarce this year, but that doesn’t mean interesting things haven’t been happening to me. In fact, I had a pretty cool year… I met a Disney director, had my work screened on the big screen, and made a lot of friends and learned a lot of skills along the way. I’m going to be posting periodically about some of the more interesting things that have happened to me and what they meant in the grand scheme of things. Read along, and learn about the mysterious world of animation, and some of the things I learned about myself and about art while toiling through one of the most demanding commercial art programs in the world.

We may also have some new guest bloggers stopping by, casting their two cents, so stay tuned for that. :)

I will also be blogging in lead-up to my…

New Books

These past few years, even before the publication of Flood Waters Rising, I have been working on a new fantasy/horror novel set in Ontario, tentatively titled The Singing Bones. It will be finished within the next ninety days, if all goes well, and we’re aiming for a release date sometime in the new year. Over the next few months, I will be introducing you to my world of Weird Ontario, with related links, essays, and segments from my work in progress.

And since I mentioned Flood Waters Rising, the next novel I’m planning will be a sequel, it is past the outline stage and has several chapters completed, and if all goes well, I would like to be moving to release that one by March.

I’m also looking at works by select other authors, and there is an anthology in the works that I’m hoping to announce around the time that The Singing Bones is released.

Illustrations

As you probably know by now, I love me some art. The new books are going to have all new, original cover art, plentiful illustrations, and maybe even some custom layout, and I will be showcasing plenty of teasers here.

As you can see, it’s going to be an exciting few months around here. I’m delighted to be back, and I think the new stuff coming out is going to be worth the wait.

Faery Fest Weekend and First Taped Reading!

I know it’s been a while, but as I explained in an earlier post, I had a significant obstacle to business-related pursuits because of my final year of animation school, and/or a whole load of personal stuff that just kept me from either producing new work for the company or doing as much promotion as other years. The great news is that the film is done, animation school is done, and I’m now off into the world pursuing new projects. The film will probably end up being posted here  at some point, but, due to the legalities of film distribution, I’m still shopping it around a bit before posting it on the internet for the public.

I do have a fun video to show, though… my first taped reading at Faery Fest 2013 in Guelph Ontario!

Special thanks to Stephen B. Pearl for the video, and the link. :)

I also want to send a big thank-you to the staff and volunteers of Faery Fest, for inviting me as a guest, for treating my editor, Jenn, and I like gold and making sure we had absolutely everything we needed all weekend. Jane, you were wonderful and it was a pleasure to meet you. I loved hanging with my fellow authors, meeting friends both old and new, and scarfing down giant pickles on a stick. Summer fun is pickles on a stick. This is undisputable. :P

And, to anybody out there who loves costumes, puppetry, horses, crafts or participational theatre, especially for families, please go to this charming festival. I really appreciated that Faery Fest was a real, honest-to-goodness all ages festival, with tons of little ones, teens and adults, all having genuine fun together. So many fandom events claim to be family-friendly to convince people not to skip them because they have kids, but in my mind, there is a big difference between an event that merely tolerates children and tries to avoid showing them inappropriate material, and one that is genuinely family-friendly. Faery Fest accomplishes true charm, family-friendliness and inclusiveness, without sacrificing an ounce of fun. Check it out, everybody! You know you want to!

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