Beat the Block

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Escaping the Genre Ghetto ? Exploring the State of Speculative Fiction at Toronto?s SpecFic Colloquium

Posted by Helen Marshall on September 12, 2010 at 11:36 AM Comments comments (0)

TORONTO, ON (September 7, 2010) – On October 23, 2010 authors, editors and readers will gather to explore the state of speculative fiction in Canada at Toronto’s SpecFic Colloquium (


Canadian speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) has been increasingly recognized internationally for the calibre of its authors and their insight into the nature of social and religious identities, the implications of new technologies, and the relationship between humankind and its environments.  “Our authors are breaking out of the genre ghetto,” says co-organizer Helen Marshall. “Their stories disrupt habits, overcome barriers of cultural perception to make the familiar strange.  They show us the speculative fiction can be an ideal tool for social examination and critique.”


The colloquium, a one-day event to launch the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, will deliver lectures by major names in the field on topics such as urban fantasy, cognitive science, queering the genre, and how Canadian science fiction is taking over the world, nicely.  The lectures will be followed by readings that showcase emergent and experienced Canadian speculative fiction writers.


Guests include Kelley Armstrong, Julie Czerneda, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tony Burgess, Gemma Files, Karl Schroeder, Peter Watts, David Nickle, Michael Rowe, Bob Boyczuk and Claude Lalumière.


Sponsored by ChiZine Publications, an independent publisher of weird, surreal, subtle, and disturbing dark literary fiction, the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will take place on Saturday October 23, 2010 in the Debates Room and Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle.   Register at


For further information about the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, visit For sponsorship partnering, advertizing opportunities or media queries, contact Sandra Kasturi, co-organizer at or Helen Marshall, co-organizer at


Guelph workshop, date and time now set!

Posted by Helen Marshall on June 23, 2010 at 1:23 PM Comments comments (0)

The next Beat the Block workshop will be the eight of August 2010 in the UCG in Guelph. Located on York road it's easily accessible by bus, and has plenty of room available for parking.

It will be a full day workshop with a break for lunch (and writing!) peppered with fun theatre games to help you make you writing flow, as well as writing exercises and discussion to let you put these ideas to work for you right away!

Cost for the day will be $65 dollars, with discounts for Students and some other local organisations available, and spaces will be limited to ten.

Hope to see YOU there! 

New workshop in Guelph!

Posted by Helen Marshall on June 20, 2010 at 9:17 PM Comments comments (0)

On August 8th the next BTB Workshop will be held in Guelph Ontario. Prices and other info will be posted soon!  If you can't wait for the info and want to register now, now, NOW! drop Kevin a line and be one of the first to register!

Ad Astra Report

Posted by Helen Marshall on April 16, 2010 at 12:12 PM Comments comments (0)

Back from Ad Astra and let me tell you it was really something! Friday night had Kevin's VAMPIRES EVOLVE book launch at the World's biggest bookstore.  There was an excellent turn out with a signing line that went halfway across the store!  (...ahem...this may have been the line for YA vampire author Kelley Armstrong put peoples is peoples...)  Still, it was a very vibrant crowd, and there were some excellent readings/talks by Sandra Kasturi, Claude LaLumiere, Nancy Kilpatrick, Sandra Wickham, Rio Youers, and Victoria Fisher.  Great to see some experienced hands at the game and some fresh faces.

Saturday was taken up largely (for my part) with tending to the CZP table, selling books, and making friends.  I was joined by Blocker Kari Maaren (who made up some excellent bookmarks which I'll post about soon).  I've never actually worked a dealer's table before, but it was an interesting exercises.  For those of you who remember the lessons on status, well, I have to say it was wonderful to watch the crowds from that kind of perspective.  In the evening, CZP launched two new books -- Gemma Files' Book of Tongues and Doug Smith's Chimerascope. The former is a weird western that seems to be a combination of magic, Aztec gods and Brokeback Mountain.  The latter is a great collection of SF, fantasy, and horror edited by me!  Again, there was lots of excitement with some brilliant readings by CZP vets and the launchees alike.

On Sunday, Kevin and I ran our two-hour workshop.  Going in, we thought the cards might be stacked against us.  At a con of approximately 100 attendees, there was something like eight concurrent sessions, and it was right at the end, the morning after the dance, the Masquerade, and numerous parties.  Nevertheless, we had an enthusiastic bunch of people!  Kevin covered the basics of offers, accepts, and blocks--with a little bit of character development thrown in--and then I handled the writing segment.  We got some great short stories, one about an ant queen overthrown by a poisoned Twinkie (alas!)!  Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us!  We had a wonderful time.

(The Evolve Book out for Kevin looking dreamily towards the sky!)


Comics by West of Bathurst's Kari Maaren!

Posted by Helen Marshall on March 19, 2010 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

You may have noticed that our webpage is now sporting some awesome and hilarious comics courtesy of Kari Maaren at West of Bathurst.  I first met Kari through my time living at Massey College, and I've gotta say that she is one of the most talented and prolific people I've ever met! I do wonder about the tiny cactus in my new bio picture though...

West of Bathurst is a comic about the Junior Fellows of Davies College, a graduate residence that is, well, in exactly the same geographic spot as Massey and, um, looks quite like it too.   However, the characters are probably not based explicitly on any current or former Masseyites, living or dead. If you've ever wondered what the twisted world of graduate studies like then this long-running comic shows off all its weirdness and wonder.

We're happy to say that Kari will also be attending our March 28th workshop!

Three extra spots available for March 28th Workshop!

Posted by Helen Marshall on March 19, 2010 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

That's right, we've already sold out of registration spots for our March 28th workshop.  But because we love you, we've opened up an extra three spaces for last minute attendees!

We've got a great line-up planned for the day with exercises in narrative building and character development.  You'll laugh!  You'll cry!  You'll write like you've never written before!  And you'll even get a free lunch curtesy of Food for Thought Catering.

So sign up now while spots are still available!

SciFiGuy Review of Vampires Evolve

Posted by Helen Marshall on March 13, 2010 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Picked as one of the favs of the collection, "The Sun Also Shines on the Wicked" is "a somewhat melancholy story but told with style and empathy" by our very own Kevin Nunn.  In this tale, two Victorianesque gentlemen share an evening and some bloodwine with conversation where one reveals to the other his experiments that may allow their kind to experience the sun once again. He enlists his friends aid to assist in the next experiment.  In a collection about the evolution of vampires, this story succeeds in never actually mentioning the word "vampire".

Other shout outs go to Sandra Kasturi whose poem "Let the Night In", a glossa inspired by P. K. Page, is called "evocative and enticing."

SciFiGuy's overall review of this collection is quite strong, calling the writing "almost uniformly excellent, stylish and though provoking" and commenting favourably upon the "strong diversity of stories and world-building that define the malleable nature of what it means to be vampire." 

Look here for the full review!

Vampires Evolve Signing with Kevin Nunn

Posted by Helen Marshall on March 11, 2010 at 8:02 AM Comments comments (0)

Toronto Book Fans to get "First Bite" of All

- Canadian Vampire Anthology - BYOG (Bring your own garlic!)

(Calgary) Toronto book fans will meet some of Canada's top horror writers at the EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead book launch event on April 9th, at the World's Biggest Bookstore.

EVOLVE editor Nancy Kilpatrick along with authors Kelley Armstrong, Rio Youers, Claude Lalumière, Kevin Nunn and others - including Natasha Beaulieu (Montreal), and Jerome Stueart (Whitehorse) - will join Toronto's Gemma Files and Sandra Kasturi for the event. Several authors will be flying in from their appearance at the World Horror Convention in Brighton UK to take part in the Toronto launch.

But what is EVOLVE?

Kelley Armstrong, Tanya Huff and twenty-two other Canadian dark fantasy and horror writers re-imagine the future in EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, the first all-Canadian vampire anthology of original fiction - one of the most unusual and compelling collections ever compiled. EVOLVE is published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Canada's largest genre dedicated publisher, who is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.

"We are really looking forward to this event", says EVOLVE publisher Brian Hades. "We have had some phenomenal coverage of this book, and there is a real buzz for its release right across the country! We are delighted that so many of the authors will be joining us for the party - and it is a great way, as well, to start off our anniversary celebrations!"

Who is in EVOLVE?

EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead includes works by: Kelley Armstrong, Tanya Huff, Claude Lalumière, Mary E. Choo, Sandra Kasturi, Bradley Somer, Kevin Cockle, Rebecca Bradley, Heather Clitheroe, Colleen Anderson, Sandra Wickham, Rhea Rose, Ronald Hore, Bev Vincent, Jennifer Greylyn, Steve Vernon, Michael Skeet, Kevin Nunn, Victoria Fisher, Rio Youers, Gemma Files, Natasha Beaulieu, Claude Bolduc, and Jerome Stueart.

About Editor Nancy Kilpatrick

Editor and author Nancy Kilpatrick has penned 18 novels, more than 200 short stories, 5 collections of stories, and has been the editor for 9 other anthologies. Her body of work involves vampires and dark fantasy fiction. She won an Arthur Ellis Award for the best mystery story, is a three times Bram Stoker finalist and a five times finalist for the Aurora Award.

Launch information

EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead

World's Biggest Bookstore

(7:00 PM)

20 Edward Street (just off Yonge St., North of Dundas),


Book Information

EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead

edited by Nancy Kilpatrick

ISBN: 978-1-894063-33-3

$15.95 USA

$16.95 CDN

Pages: 304

Trade Paperback (5.5" x 8.5")

Websites: (Publisher’s site: sample pdf available) (special limited editions – including coffin edition...see under “Purchase” for details.) (book trailer) (Evolve Facebook group page.


Cut off Date for Early Bird Registration Approaching!

Posted by Helen Marshall on March 8, 2010 at 2:21 PM Comments comments (0)


We are now ONE WEEK away from the EARLY BIRD DEADLINE.

That's right: register at by the end of the week and you can get $15 off the admission price!


We need either an e-mail or website form registration since we all know how unreliable Facebook Event attendance is.

We've gotten a great response so far, so book your spot now while there are still places remaining!

CZP Release: Cities of Night and Thief of Broken Toys

Posted by Helen Marshall on February 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM Comments comments (0)

Want to see what editing work Helen's been doing for ChiZine Publications?  She even got a special mention in the credits from author Phil Nutman.


Just a few more days to order the signed, limited edition hardcover editions of Philp Nutman's Cities of Night and Tim Lebbon's The Thief of Broken Toys, then they're out of print forever.


Tim Lebbon's The Thief of Broken Toys (with an exclusive new short story found only in this edition!):


Philip Nutman's Cities of Night


If you're not sure whether these are going to rock, check out what Publishers Weekly said about our 2009 releases, saying in part that we released the best horror in 2009!

Check it out: