I have returned, triumphantly, from the Chanticleer International Book Awards Conference, where my second novel, Suburban Vampire Ragnarok, received First in Category for the 2018 CIBA Supernatural/Paranormal Fiction awards. This is, of course, big news, and I fully intend on allowing this to go to my head (for a short time, at least). It is vindication for me, after struggling for so many years and ignoring my calling as an author (it’s one thing for friends and family to tell you you’re a good writer — they’re just being supportive, you know — but for total strangers to tell you that you have something worthwhile is on another level entirely).
So, now what? There’s no resting on my laurels, which relates one of the big messages I heard at the various workshops and panels I attended at the conference — keep writing. Write every day. Write as often as you can, wherever you can (which reminds me, I need a laptop. Buy more of my books!). The classes and workshops were all great and I probably got more from this conference than any other conference I’ve attended (Not that I’ve attended many). There was plenty of one-on-one time with other authors, including the headliner, J.D. Barker, bestselling author of The Fourth Monkey, Forsaken, The Fifth to Die, and (with Dacre Stoker) Dracul (a copy of which I bought and had autographed at the conference!). All of them were approachable and more than willing to offer their knowledge of the craft and the industry. Hopefully some of that will sink through my thick noggin!
The other highlight for me was sitting on my first discussion panel, which I did on Sunday afternoon. The panel, hosted by J.D. Barker, was about paranormal and horror novels, and we discussed our interest in the topics and our motivations and inspirations for writing in those particular genres. I had a blast, and I can’t even remember what I said. I hope it was something intelligible!
On top of it all, the location (the Bellwether Hotel, located right alongside Bellingham Bay) was beautiful, the weather was beautiful (mostly sunny, and, while not exactly warm, was comfortable), and the food was good. On top of it all, I met a ton of great people from all over North America and from as far away as Australia and the UK. I had a wonderful time at this conference, and whether or not I submit my work again this year, I’d still like to attend the CIBA conference next year. If you’re an independent author, consider attending next year. Maybe I’ll see you there next year!