Cover photo: Diana, surrounded by her cast of characters, Outlandish Vancouver
I have just returned from SiWC, and it was a great weekend. Highlights for me were: spending time with Diana, spending time with Karmen, conference moments, meeting/seeing old and new friends, and my river cruise with the Outlandish Vancouver folks.
The flight to Vancouver on United was pretty gnarly: delays (onboard) due to weather in Denver, a hot, overcrowded plane, low blood sugar, lots of turbulence, and a chatty seat mate, whom under other circumstances, I would have thoroughly enjoyed. We arrived later than the already planned late arrival time, and my wonderful husband helped me do a hotel switch to Vancouver, vs driving another 45 minutes to Surrey. I stayed in Vancouver an extra night, and explored downtown a bit. I saw the Vancouver public library, built to look like the Coliseum in Rome…
I explored hipster Yaletown,
and saw BC Place stadium.
The next morning, there was a Climate Strike, lead by Greta Thunberg, right near my hotel. I was very tempted to stay for it, but also wanted to get to my workshops at SiWC (Surrey International Writers Conference).
Turns out Ed Speleers and Keith Fleming, who were both in town for Outlandish Vancouver, came in for for the march… (I guess there are no hard feelings about the throat slitting in Ep 401 after all… ?)
Photo: Keith Kikki Fleming, Instagram (@dundlejuice)
Keith also captured Greta in the march…
Photo: Keith Kikki Fleming, Instagram (@dundlejuice)
After going to my first workshop, I went to lunch and ran into Diana on the way to the water station. We said our hello’s and parted ways. I went to my afternoon sessions, and was working in my hotel room, when I realized it was dinner time and rushed downstairs. I saw some people I’d met at lunch, and sat down. When I looked up, Diana was across the table smiling at me, and there was an open spot next to her, so I moved over. We had a nice chat over dinner with each other and with the other people at the table. She went up to present an award, and when she came back, a woman approached and introduced herself and they talked for a while. The woman asked me to take a photo, which I did. I saw later, on twitter, that it was Julia Brannan, whom some of you may know; she is author of The Jacobite Chronicles.
Photo: Julia Brannan, Twitter, Taken by: Courtney Williams
After dinner was a splendid dramatic comedy live radio program, complete with actors, narrators, and special effects, called Shock Theater, which happens every year. This year’s title was The Birds, (Julia was in perfect costume). Diana, who acts and plays the keyboard, played the part of Alice, an aspiring writer married to a not very smart, abusive husband. (She was not very convincing as a downtrodden woman, to be honest! ?). Many of the presenters and organizers play roles. This is my second year to attend the conference, and this fun filled show is one of the highlights.
Later in my room, I figured out my schedule for the next day, and then was off to bed.
Saturday morning I went to a panel on Finding Your Voice as a writer, which was good. Diana was on the panel, and she mentioned that one of her last steps in writing is to go through her entire book, word for word, and ask herself this question: “Is this word, sentence, paragraph, section, chapter absolutely necessary?” If the answer is no, she mercilessly rips it out! I know from previous discussions that she never discards any of her writing, so those parts don’t just go into the trash; they go into a file that may or may not be used in later work. She does this, and has done this with all her books, with the exception of The Fiery Cross. She said her publisher grabbed the manuscript before she could complete that process, so there are an extra 40,000 or so words in there. She was very frustrated about that at the time. I thought that was very interesting.
She also said that her husband is the only one who sees her work as it’s in progress. For those that don’t know, Diana works in the middle of the night, and she will then leave what she’s worked on for him to read. She goes back to bed, and he rises early, reads her night’s work, and occasionally makes comments in the margins. She said one she occasionally gets is “Diana in teacher mode, we get the idea.”
After that session, we sat down and visited for a bit, which was extra nice.
Then we all had lunch, and afternoon sessions. I had a one on one “blue pencil” session with historical detective fiction author Anne Perry, who apparently has the longest sustained crime series by a living writer. I also sat with her at dinner, she’s a very interesting woman. At age 81 (which I just found out via Google), she produces 3 books a year!! She told me she doesn’t have much free time because of her production schedule, and that she writes all of her novels by hand (!) and then dictates them to someone to type.
Photo: Random House
Diana did a book signing in the evening before dinner, and I ran into some of the Outlandish Vancouver crew, who came over for it, including Joan Fader, (hi Joan!).
Photo: by Zee Gloria
I met Karmen for a drink after dinner in the hotel bar. We laughed and laughed, and the only evidence is this pretty lame selfie. Why do we have lines???
Over at Outlandish Vancouver, the fan guests were having photos done with the actor guests, and Cathie of @CatsAndKilts always takes the cake (pun intended!) when it comes to creativity for these photos!
Here are a few: Braeden and John face off in “Shockey…”
And a fan guide book by Cat…
Here’s a closeup of that book, including shot of Sam and Cait with Cathie reading Time Travel for Dummies at… I’m gonna say ECCC 2017?? (based on also being there and photographing that convention!)
Love this one… Watch Ouuuuuuuuut!
Catie is truly all in for her creative photos! The look on all their faces here is priceless!!! Especially Ed.
The next day (Sunday), I prepared my pitch for a new book I’m working on (top secret as of now), after attending a workshop on Friday by the same agent, on crafting book proposals (no pressure!!). Nothing like applying newly acquired knowledge! For this reason, I didn’t make it to Diana’s morning session. The pitch went well, I learned a lot.
SiWC does a fabulous job of making writers in every phase of our careers, from brand new, to very accomplished, feel comfortable. There is truly a place for everyone at this conference.
After my pitch I went out for a walk. Conferences are great, but can be short on fresh air! I saw this beautiful Canadian Maple Leaf tree, and stopped to admire the rich color, and snap a photo.
I ran down for a quick lunch and met longtime Twitter friend and Outlanderbts.com Patron Peggy Anderson, which was wonderful.
Karmen picked me up for the Outlandish Vancouver boat ride, and we continued chatting and laughing in the car, and standing on the dock waiting in line to enter the boat.
Photo: Keith Kikki Felming, Instagram
Diana, the actors, and the organizers boarded first…
All the actors who attended the weekend were present,
except John Bell, who had to be back in the UK for work. I met John at OV last year, and was sorry to miss seeing him again this year.
Photo: Samantha Kraupner
People were asking about John’s shaved head… hmmm… I wonder why that would be…. ?
The rest of us filed onboard at the appointed time. The boat was decorated for Halloween, and we cruised up and down the Fraser River, with First Officer MacKenzie (no joke).
At one point, it was a little scary, because Ed turned into Stephen Bonnet, and hijacked the boat…
Between all of us, we were able to overpower him and throw him overboard!! ?? Right after this picture! ?
and then the rightful NEW captain took over… ????
But seriously, the boat was a party on two full decks, with food and drink service on both floors. People could be inside or out, and as fan conventions go, it was unique, really relaxed, and fun.
Photo: Outlandish Vancouver, guests eat and converse, while Koko gets shit done ?
I connected with Ed Speleers, mostly about his film project to do with boys not being able to express grief. If you want to know more, go here: New Project by Ed Speleers. I contributed to this project, as it is near and dear to my heart, and I look forward to finding out more. He said updates will be out soon. Unfortunately, Gary Lewis had to drop out due to work conflicts.
I had met Ed briefly (at about 1:00AM) at Thru the Stones convention last December, and found him very personable and fun to talk with at OV.
While walking back to the car that night, Karmen said she noticed while Ed and I were talking, that a lot of Bonnet’s mannerisms seem to be Ed’s own mannerisms. (I’ll put this in, especially for Catherine ?)…
I also connected with Braeden Clarke – who slayed us all as Kaheroton in Season 4….
What a doll he is. My impression is he’s a gorgeous young man, inside and out, all personality, with a big, sensitive heart. He reminds me of another young guy I know, who can and will be literally anything he wants to be.
We were not taking photos on the boat, so here are a couple that Outlandish Vancouver got over the weekend, that I think capture Braeden…
It looks like Braeden gives Gary Lewis a run for his money in the hugging department!
Karmen tells Braeden about his corpus callosum, as Sue and others look on. ?
Braeden told me he recently finished work on The First Encounter, with Sera-Lys McArthur, which is about First Nations people and aliens, so we can look forward to that. Here they are on the set of that film.
Photo: Sera-Lys McArthur, Instagram
I spoke with Trevor Carroll (Otter Tooth) briefly; he also seems like a very good guy.
He said it was a privilege to be able to experience Scotland over two seasons of the year during filming. He first appeared in Ep 403, False Bride, which was filmed during winter, and then he returned to film in summer for Episode 413, Man of Worth.
You’ll remember that Carmen Moore, whom I met but didn’t get a chance to talk with, played the warrior who told the story of Otter Tooth to Jamie and Claire in EP 413?
She is really sparkly and beautiful in person, quite the opposite of her stern character in Outlander.
If you need reminding about those scenes or those two characters, just have a listen to this, and it’ll all come back…
Here is a fun shot of Trevor and Carmen with Braeden and Zee Gloria from the convention…
I had a passing hello with Keith (Kikki) Fleming, who played the ill fated Lesley in Seasons 3 and 4, but no chance to talk.
Photo: Keith (Kikki ) Fleming, Twitter
I can say that he’s definitely Scottish! He hails from Edinburgh originally, and guests seem to enjoy their time with him. I hear he sang the lament from Episode 401 at Sunday’s panel.
This couple was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, and Diana read Claire and Jamie’s vows (blood of my blood, bone of my bone) to them while we all looked on, tearing up. It was beautiful.
We toasted them after Diana’s eloquent reading… congratulations Tina and Mark!
We cruised on as the sun set, snacking on meatballs and Thai chicken skewers, drinking delicious cocktails, as the city started to light up around us…
Photo: Ken Hoffman
I had great conversations with Rose, Samantha, Kelly, Karmen, Nicole, Connie, and quick touch bases with Cathie, Karin, Koko, Sher, Tina, Tamela, Leroy Woman ?, and I met Diana’s friend Elva. I talked with others whose names I can’t remember, but it was all great.
Photo by Rosaflower
Toward the end of the boat ride, I had a moment to connect with Diana, and I asked her, “How do you do so much and still look so damn good??” Her answer…”I just do one thing at a time. And… great sex, plenty of sleep, and I eat well.”
So… there you have it. The winning recipe.
Karmen and I giggled all the way home after our fun night. (She talks to the GPS lady while driving, for the record ?). She dropped me off and I had a small dinner, and then hopped into a hot bath and into bed. We may have giggled more on the phone with each other from our respective hotel rooms as well. I love that Karmen. ?
I flew out the next morning, anxious to get home to my wee family….
My hubby picked me up at the airport, and I was greeted by 17 degrees and lots of snow!
Oh! This actor was on my plane home, Nathaniel Arcand, (he works on one of my daughter’s favorite, Canadian based shows, Heartland), who has worked with Sera-Lys in the past.
Photo: Sera-Lys McArthur, Instagram
My heartfelt thanks goes out to the wonderful, hard working organizers, venue workers, presenters, and volunteers of SiWC, what a fabulous conference.
My thanks also goes to the Outlandish Vancouver team, venue workers, actor guests, and other fan guests for a great event!
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I hope you are having a wonderful day. xo