This is my first monthly update, and it’s long, because it’s been an action-packed month! I think I might do two posts per month, just because this feels a bit unwieldy.

First up, I attended KW Tri-Con on January 14th.


Here’s my usual Good, Bad, Ugly review:

The Good

They moved the vendors to the main floor this year, so we were centre stage when people came into The Museum. This was a huge improvement over last year, where a lot of vendors had trouble being seen on the second floor.

There were a LOT of cosplayers there. The costumes were fantastic,

He’s no good to me dead.

from Boba Fett to an Ewok, two Judges, Sith and Jedi…

It felt like there was a lightsaber duel going on at least once an hour. While most of them were upstairs, there was one time we were just sitting there at our tables, and suddenly the place shook with combat! Turning in our seats, we saw Jedi and Sith doing battle nearby. I took many more pictures at the con, but can’t share them publicly because my daughter’s in them, and, well, you likely already know why we can’t post them, or you don’t, and I really don’t want to get into that whole can of crazy.

The Bad

It felt a little quiet. Maybe I was spoiled by Kitchener Comic Con being the last con I attended, where they said over 3000 people came in, but other than a sea of cosplayers, there didn’t seem to be that many people there otherwise. Ruistyfles, who shared a table with me, was busy with almost more commissions than she could handle, and she did lovely work. It was fun watching her draw all the figures that people requested. She sold a few prints, too.

And it wasn’t that there wasn’t interest in my books. I had several people approach and talk to me about the books, but there were a few people who talked to me, and then said they wished they had the money to get them and took a card. If past conventions are any indication, taking a card rarely turns over into new readers. And unlike other cons where people say they’ll probably come back to buy my books, and have, that only happened once at Tri-Con, and I’m not sure why. I still sold 6 books (all 3 to one person, 2 to a returning fan, and 1 to another vendor who made some pretty cool chainmail!), so it wasn’t a total bust by any means.

I do feel that $100 for a table for a day is a bit steep for the number of people who come through, though. I ran the numbers, and I had a profit of $39 (after the cost of printing/shipping for books), and the 1/2 table cost $56. So I was down $17 for the day, and another $15 for parking. Certainly not a disaster, but it also marks the first time I haven’t broken even at a convention.

Totally unrelated to the con as a whole, the armour I made my daughter didn’t last much more than an hour. The tape I used to hold it together just couldn’t survive my daughter’s enthusiastic running about! I had hoped she might be able to take part in the masquerade at the end of the convention, but we had no such luck. Even so, she took her crossbow out with her many times, pretending to shoot Jedi during their duels with the Sith. So it wasn’t all bad! I’ve fixed up the armour with packing tape (and lots of it), so it should withstand her enthusiasm better at GenreCon!

The Ugly

I have no major complaints about Tri-Con.

The Great

My. Daughter. Had. A. Blast!

The Museum has a nice vertical layout, and as I knew some of the cosplayers, I felt (mostly) comfortable with giving her run of the convention. We had some rules in place, like she was to check in with me regularly, but otherwise she could check out whatever she wanted. You should’ve seen the look on her face when I told her she was free to explore. Her eyes were like saucers.

Everyone in our market area was smiling at how enthusiastic she was. Every time she’d run back to the table, she’d gush about a new thing or person she saw, and then she’d run off again. Oftentimes I’d see her standing there, watching cosplayers, or chatting their ears off. To all the cosplayers who took the time to talk with her, thank you! She had such an amazing time, and I have no doubt that it’s largely because of the fantastic cosplayer community. At one point she said, “Deadpool uses whatever weapons are handy.” Ummm… thanks, Deadpool, I think? hahaha!

Also, hearing her chant, “Go Sith! Go Sith! Go Sith!” from upstairs during the lightsaber battles was adorable. When she was talking to a group of Jedi and told them her favourite character is Darth Vader, they said, “Wrong group to say that to!” I let them know that my son’s favourite is Luke, so I’ve managed to raise children on both sides of the Force.

She also spent almost all her money at two vendors:

She’s a big fan of tiny things, and she came up with a story of how all these pieces fit together. The cactus was a friend for her baby dragon. The bottle of sushi is the baby dragon’s food, and the “Fire Salts” are to help the baby dragon get its fire breath. She also bought a white dragon for her brother, so they could have a matching pair. Such a sweet big sister!

So even though I walked out with a small loss, I’m pleased to have met new people and not only found a couple new readers, but reconnected with a fan. The con was worth it just to see the joy that my daughter experienced. I would definitely take her again, even if I might think twice about going as a vendor.

Thanks to my Patrons, I got a new cover done for Dawn: A dwarven creation story:

I’m not sure how I feel about it at this point. You see, I went with a different artist this time. When I told Harvey what I wanted, and what my budget was, he said it’d be too much work for the pay. I thought that might have been the case, but I didn’t want to spend more than $50 on the cover for a short story, either. So I sought other options, and Fiverr was suggested. I put together a request and had many responses in short order. I picked someone who had a lot of positive reviews who would do the work for my budget.

What I got was … not exactly what I wanted. Despite sending my own low-quality Paint sketch, she put together her own artistic impression that didn’t fit with what I asked for. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just doesn’t capture what I wrote. On top of that, I had to ask for revisions a couple times, because the first attempt looked pretty bad. I asked her to simplify it, and change the pose on the white giant a bit, and it came out not looking like what I asked for. I put in another request for revision… but in the end, I had to make some alterations myself. I added the strand from the white giant’s hand, and the strand that’s between the shears. The “tree” in the middle wasn’t supposed to be a tree… more of just a tall pillar. “Tree” just doesn’t say “dwarf” to me. And I specifically said achromatic – white to dark grey. No gold.

I’ll chalk this one up to a lesson learned. I just hope readers don’t read that third short story and say, “Well, that cover’s false advertising. That’s nothing like what was described!”

Writing continues. I’ve made progress on A King’s Decree, and also started a new short story that looks at the origin of the Master Monk in Portsmouth (she was mentioned in 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War), and her people will again be seen in A Hero’s Birth). I have up to 8000 words to play with, and am 1500 words in right now, with the first major conflict almost over. There’s still three scenes to go, so I should be able to squeeze it in to the maximum word count.

There’s another Guelph Genre Fiction Writers meeting coming up February 19th, 2pm, at The Round Table. The topic of the day will be Art. Given my latest experience with Fiverr, I feel like I have an even greater appreciation for finding a great artist you love working with.

Also, The Round Table has a bookshelf in their retail section, so genre fiction writers (especially those who focus on sci-fi and fantasy) can sell their books there.

Last but not least, I will be attending GenreCon here in Guelph from February 3rd-5th.

I’ve got a great location near the pool and hope to have fun! If you’re in the Guelph area, come on by and say hi! I have books, posters, mugs, and character cards available. I’m also on 3 panels:

Saturday, Feb 4th: 

12 Self-Publishing: Books, games and more! JM Frey, Thomas Gofton, Brian Clement, Ryan Toxopeus, Sarah WaterRaven MCCRAE 13:00


14 World Building for Film, Literature and Games. Ryan Toxopeus, Thomas Gofton, Sarah WaterRaven BROCK 14:30

Sunday, Feb 5th:

3 I have a story to tell. But where do I begin? Agnes Jankiewicz, Ryan Toxopeus, MJ Moores MCCRAE 11:00

KW Tri-Con 2017 announcement, and a milestone

Looks like I’ll be headed to KW Tri-Con in January!

I told the organizers that I would probably need to get a table just for myself, and they said someone had asked if anyone wanted to split a table. Perfect!

So I’ll be sitting with the wildly talented Ruistyfles (Luisa) who does some pretty amazing artwork. She was my neighbour at Tri-Con 2016 and was busy a lot of the time with commissions. If you like anime and/or Zelda, you owe it to yourself to check out her stuff.

Now that I know I’ll be going for sure, it’s time to work on my daughter’s costume. She wants to go as Eliza Winston from my books. She already has a crossbow, so now I just need to build her a suit of armour. I have no idea what I’m doing, but it should be fun!

50,000 words. That’s a pretty big milestone. The characters are reaching the end of their first major quest, and it’s a fun one. It took me longer to get to this point than I had anticipated, but I’m happy with how it’s turning out.

I might cut out the journey into the Silent Woods (Don’t know that place? Well, that’s because A Hero’s Birth isn’t out yet!). There’s a lot of history there, and while I think it might be interesting for fans to see what happens to the Silent Wood Elves, it’s not really crucial to this story. Although I have an idea of how I could throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing, and cause doubts which would foreshadow future conflicts. Do they need foreshadowing? Well, it wouldn’t hurt. Except it would add probably another 10,000+ words to the story. It’d also make their stop at Lanton’s Hope more interesting, in general.

I think I’ve reached my decision.

Next weekend is the Guelph Genre Fiction Writer’s meeting @ 2pm at Miijidaa Cafe downtown. We’ll be discussing promoting our writing, so feel free to come down and join the chat!

Sometimes I amuse myself

Writing went well this week. I had a couple nights where I sat down and words flowed without too much trouble. Part of this was because there were excellent philosophical discussions between Trai and his cat. The conversation ended with a wonderful/awful turn of phrase that fit Trai’s personality perfectly. I’m usually no good at that sort of thing. Sometimes when I think something’s funny, writers will say, “Don’t do that.”

No, seriously, when I wrote 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War) (about minotaurs), I put in a line about how one of the big males was attempting “to cow” a female. I liked it. Someone else said whether I put it in intentionally or accidentally, it needed to go. Sure, it was corny, but sometimes I like to write corny things, dammit. But as it was part of an anthology, I decided to heed his advice and turf it.

But this time it’s my own work, and I will not apologize.

I talked about Eclipse in last month’s Patreon supporter e-mail (you want in on the scoop? Pledge $2 per month to get these sorts of fascinating feline insights (not to mention your name in the dedication section of my next release, an e-book of your choice, and my eternal gratitude)), but I might just talk about her again next month because I’m so pleased with this joke.

Paperback copies of all my books will be available at The Round Table! I dropped them off this weekend. This is an exciting development, because the game store has a strong fantasy vibe to it, and I feel like “my people” are going to see my books there and be interested.

The next Guelph Genre Fiction meeting will be at Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro, beside The Bookshelf in downtown Guelph. If you’re interested in learning about book promotion, or sharing your own successes and failures, please feel free to come by on Sunday December 4th at 2pm!

Genre Fiction Meeting: Conventions

I’ll be hosting a meeting for genre fiction authors at The Red Brick Cafe in downtown Guelph tomorrow, starting at 1pm. After our first meet & greet during the summer, there was a request to talk about conventions, so I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned to help people sell their books. Additionally, I’m asking any genre fiction authors who are Friends of Vocamus Press if they would be interested in having their books represented under the Vocamus banner at a convention or two this winter. I’m hoping to attend KW Tri-Con, and Kitchener Comic Con, where I had a lot of success this year, and gave a talk on self-publishing. However, the tables are not inexpensive, so if I can share half the table with Friends of Vocamus, and showcase local authors’ work, that’d be great!

book-bash-006Guelph Book Bash was last weekend, and it was a great time! Thanks go Luke Hill of Vocamus Press for all the hard work of putting together the event to celebrate the authors who published a book in the last year. Also thanks to Joanne Guidoccio for taking this picture of Marian Thorpe and me at our table. Congratulations to Avril Borthiry for landing a 3-book deal with a traditional publisher!

Anna Bowen hosted the event, calling up the long list of 30 authors to speak about their new work. She even almost got my last name right, saying ToxopEEus, instead of ToxopAYus. Not bad. I’ve heard much worse!

Live music before and after the author segment was provided by Madison Galloway, who played guitar and harmonica, and showcased great range with her voice. I couldn’t believe she’s only 16 years old! She’ll be going places, for sure.

Last but not least, thank you to all the sponsors and partners who help make Book Bash possible. Without your generous contributions, there would be no event!

It was a pretty light week for writing, but I finished with the editing notes I’ve received so far for A Hero’s Birth. Also, I set up the pre-order for Macimanito Môswa just so I had a link to fire off to promote it. I’m not actively promoting the pre-order, because pre-orders don’t count toward ranking, and I’m hoping enough people I know will be interested in it straight away that it’ll go up the ranks and be noticed by people I don’t know. So I’ll be linking to it on Halloween!

Overloaded October

This is going to be an insane month. You might be saying, “Yeah! Thanksgiving and Halloween is a lot!” That’s true. But there’s more!

October 8th my dad’s coming to visit, then on the 9th we’re heading over to my uncle’s place for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I always love seeing family at Thanksgiving!


October 16th from 1-4pm is Book Bash at the Red Papaya Restaurant! I’m going to be helping with setup, and have my novella Demon Invasion on hand (along with A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1) and A Wizard’s Gambit (Empire’s Foundation Book 2)).

October 23rd I’ll be hosting an official meeting as Genre Fiction Coordinator. The plan is to meet every two months and talk with other authors about a variety of topics. We’ll be meeting at the Red Brick Cafe at 1pm if you’d like to join our discussion on conventions.

October 30th there’s a pre-Halloween party for the kids, followed the next day by Halloween.


In addition to Halloween, there’s a draw taking place. There’s a grand prize of $100 Paypal cash, and lots of individual author prizes. I have three titles being given away to two lucky winners: 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War)Demon Invasion, and Macimanito Môswa.

If you’d like to try your luck, just check out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway