Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

November 6, 2017

SFContario 2017!

In a couple of weeks, I will be hobnobbing at my local convention, SFContario 8. I’m not going to glad-hand this one – SFContario is pretty awful about letting people know what is going on ahead of time. There is virtually no information on their website about what you might find upon attending the con, but if you’re considering it, you can piece together some ideas from the posts made by other guests and panelists. A quick round-up (and if you have posted your schedule somewhere, let me know! I’m happy to link it.)

Alyx Dellamonica!

Kelly Robson!

Lawrence M. Schoen!

I will be there too! Here’s my schedule:

Eating and Ethics
Saturday, November 18th, 11 am w/  Alyx Dellamonica, Lawrence Schoen, and Gunnar Wentz

What is the ethical scope of our food choices? Is buying local really better than buying imported food? Are Vegans better for the environment? How do things like socioeconomic status, mental health, and disability intersect with the ethics of food consumption? 

I’ll be moderating this panel and BOY is this in my wheelhouse. I have a degree in this! This exact thing!

Saturday, November 18th, 2-2:30 pm

I’ll be reading (probably) “The Ur-Ring” from my Archipelago world. This story is a good time, funny and crazy in good measure. Hope you’ll come listen!

How to Overthink Your Way Out of Writing
Saturday, November 18th, 3 pm w/ Charlotte Ashley, Matt Mayr, Ira Nayman, and Kelly Robson (moderator)

Theodore Sturgeon famously taught “Ask the next question.” Beginning writers everywhere are advised to ask “What if…?” as they develop their story. With a little research and some extra caffeine you too can come up with such a plethora of possibilities that your story becomes a dense jungle with no clear path–impenetrable and neverending. As denizens of the Digital Age, with its abundance of information and surfeit of attention span, we have never been in a better position to over-complicate our stories–and our lives!

How not to write an encyclopedia when you’re trying to tell a story. This should be vital.

Food in Fiction
Saturday, November 18th, 4 pm w/ Erik Buchanan, Eric Choi, Cathy Hird, and Gunnar Wentz

Stories that make you go, “Nom!” How do you describe food to express mood or set the scene? Join our panelists as they dish on the culinary delights that tantalize us in fiction, from regional teas to kingly feasts. What works? What doesn’t? And what should you know about a food-centric scene. 

I’m moderating this one too – and yes, it will be very different from Food & Ethics! Expect this one to be much tastier and less sociological. 😉

See you guys there!

October 10, 2017

Can-Con 2017!

My first Can-Con! I won’t be too saccharine about it, but this one is pretty exciting for me. When you’re a near-solo parent of two kids, you talk yourself into thinking you are going to be TRAPPED FOREVER by obligation and will never be able to travel for something as self-indulgent as a SFF convention.

But – and you won’t believe this until it happens to you – kids appear to get older and more independent as time passes. All of a sudden, someone says “Hey, you should come to Ottawa for three days” and you realize there’s not much stopping you. Your whole world grows three sizes.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste. My Can-Con schedule is thick.

Friday, October 13th @ 8pm – Alternate History Live Challenge w/ Charlotte Ashley, Anatoly Belilovsky, KT Bryski & Mike Rimar, moderated by Matthew Johnson

Is there anything that can’t be used to build an alternate history story? Our panelists accept the challenge of coming up with obscure or difficult historical events, people, etc., and then lobbing these ideas at each other to see who they can stump from creating a pitch.

Not gonna lie, this is the single biggest thing I am looking forward to at this convention, and I’m including both my PodCastle recording and the afterparty, here. 

Saturday, September 14th @ 10am – The Illusion of History w/ Charlotte Ashley, Cathy Hird, Fiona Patton & Gregory A. Wilson, moderated by Ranylt Richildis

When constructing the history of a fictional world, how much work should a writer do? Panelists will discuss how much history they develop for a single book, whether that history grows as a series develops, how to “fake it” and make it seem like there’s a richly developed history behind the scenes, etc.

Faking it: my best skill! Luckily, research is my second-best skill. Also, I am psyched as anything to meet Ranylt Richildis, editor of Lackington’s. Squee!

Saturday, September 14th @ 12pm – How to Interact with a Bookstore w/ Charlotte Ashley, ‘Nathan Burgoine & Benoit Chartier, moderated by Leah Bobet

What are the best ways for a writer to approach a bookstore about readings or promotional events? What unexpected complications can a writer plan for and avoid?

Doing my professional duty as a veteran bookseller of 14 years.

Saturday, September 14th @ 3pm – Laksa Media Presents: The Stories Behind the Stories

If the mere prospect of hearing me and a dozen other people talk about these kick-ass anthologies is not enough, maybe there will be cookies? [1]

[1] There may not be cookies. COME FIND OUT.

Saturday, September 14th @ 6pm – PodCastle Live! w/ Jennifer Albert & Charlotte Ashley

Join PodCastle co-editor Jen Albert and author Charlotte Ashley for a live-recorded episode of the popular fantasy fiction podcast. Charlotte will be reading “Zilal and the Many-Folded Puzzle Ship,” a new story set in the world of her Archipelago project. The whole panel will air as a special “Live at Can-Con” episode of PodCastle this winter.

I DON’T THINK I NEED TO EXPLAIN THIS. A full and complete reading of my totally-new story, complete with voices and funny noises masquerading as sound effects. Bonus: stay for possibly inappropriate stories about how I came to be inspired to write a story about a genius shipbuilder mobilizing her substantial talents to find a secluded (and dangerous) place to make out with her boyfriend. Totally not autobiographical! Ha ha, just kidding. This story is almost entirely autobiographical.


And that’s it! I get Sunday entirely off, so I’ll be running around listening to all the other geniuses sharing their skills. I’m easy to find and easy to be approach! Come be my buddy.

I will also have copies of all my stories in various forms with me, as well as some INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL Archipelago bookmarks. The former might cost a few dollars, but the latter are free! That’s gotta be worth something.

BONUS ASK: Archipelago is now six months old, and in commemoration of that, we have put together ARCs of the first 6+ episodes of each faction for potential reviewers. Want to give us a read and talk about it? Let me know! We’d be happy to hook you up.

Hope to see some of you this weekend!

November 17, 2016

SFContario This Weekend!

Never one to let a fresh haircut go to waste, I will be reading at SFContario this weekend! This is traditionally Toronto’s “downtown convention,” but this year the organizers decided to take a bit of a breather and scale the event down. “Fannish Stone Soup” is this year’s theme, meaning it’ll be whatever it is, given the ingredients. Think of it as an extended BarCon!

The ingredients are looking pretty great, though. The Con Suite will open at 5pm Friday night for socializing, with most “special guests” booked for Saturday. Saturday’s line up is as follows:

2:00 PM — Tonya Liburd
3:00 PM — Charlotte Ashley (that’s me)
4:00 PM — Herb Kauderer
5:00 PM — Caitlin Sweet and Peter Watts
6:00 PM — Kari Maaren
7:00 PM — Peggi Warner-Lalonde

Earlier in the day, expect a variety of silly and fun activities, including sugary cereal breakfast in the Con Suite, electrifying pickles, and the David Hartwell Memorial Fancy Tie Contest.

For my part, I will be reading some or all of my latest F&SF story, “A Fine Balance,” and talking about ACTION SCENES! I’ll have copies of my stories on hand for sale, and flyers for the next Distant Skies show. For all SFContario-related info, visit http://www.sfcontario.ca/ or follow them @SFContario on Twitter!

October 24, 2016


Okay, DON’T PANIC. It isn’t November yet. We are all still living, physically, in October – scrambling for last-minute Halloween costumes, buying Dollarama Halloween decor for everyday living [mugs and candlesticks AMIRITE] – but my brain has been in November for months now. I’ve got publications, shows, conventions, more shows, and a workshop coming up. The dreary rains of November have never seemed so exciting – for me.

A New Story @ F&SF!

I have a new short story out in a week! “A Fine Balance” is the story of two perfectly-matched legendary duelists who find their rivalry is being meddled with by persons unknown. Chases, escapes, daring duels and miraculous feats! You know, the usual. Over at Tor.com, Haralambi Markov says:

“A Fine Balance” has taken all that made “La Héron” exceptional, perfected it, and distilled it.

The Nov/Dec 2016 issue of F&SF should hit newsstands everywhere on November 1st!

Reading at SFContario 6!

Can’t find a copy of F&SF in time? I will be reading “A Fine Balance” at this year’s “Fannish Stone Soup” iteration of SFContario. I will be there on Saturday, November 19th 2016 as well as, probably, the meet-and-greet on Friday.

In addition to reading, I will be talking a little bit about physicality in SFF literature, exploring how we can use action to talk about broader themes of ableism, militarism, gender roles, bullying, and more. Come on out – this should be an intimate and chatty little gathering. Just some fun.

A New Work – With Music!

I will be debuting a new story, “Distant Skies,” in collaboration with The Junction Trio, on Wednesday, November 16th 2016 at 7:30pm, St. Anne’s Anglican Church (270 Gladstone Ave. Toronto.) I will perform this story live as a dramatic reading and concert, featuring the chamber music of the Junction Trio, a new composition by Ivana Popovic, and a guest theremin player!

Marrit Shaw’s life was promised to others centuries ago. Genetic, heritable contracts called “body promises” haunt every decision she makes. What choices are truly her own, and which were coded into her by her forefathers? Marrit is determined to fight to keep her people free from their genetic obligations, but looming on the horizon is her body promise to a generation ship which has just returned from a 200-year voyage.

Follow the Junction Trio on Facebook for more on them and their work!

And If You Miss The First Show…

We will be performing “Distant Skies” a SECOND TIME! The second performance will be held at CrossFit Lugal (1331 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto) as part of the Festival of House Culture on Saturday, November 26th, 2016 @ 5pm. This performance might just make a little more use of the space, and involve a bit of an acrobatic element. WE WILL SEE. 😉

Writing Workshop + Culture!

And finally… also as part of the Festival of House Culture, I will be running a small writing workshop on Friday, November 25th, 2016 (location TBA.) Here’s the pitch:

Bring your works in progress to this 2h writing workshop hosted by editor, critic, bookseller, and author, Charlotte Ashley!

Your host will read, anonymously, the first 250 words (approximately 1 page) of each manuscript out loud. Participants will then be invited to provide friendly and constructive feedback, led and moderated by the host. Issues of style, craft, and marketability will all be addressed. Come ready to ask questions and share experiences!

We will conclude with a general question and answer session, addressing a writer’s life, from outlining to publication. Writers of all levels, genres, styles, and mediums are encouraged to attend!

The writing workshop will likely be paired with another House Culture performer, so in addition to some writing work & talk, you will get some [probably musical] entertainment as well. I don’t see how this can go wrong!

Phew! Right? Yah, I’m a busy bee. But I like it that way. As ever, I’m always happy to hear from people in the comments or by email. Don’t be shy – I am people people!

April 24, 2016

My Ad Astra Schedule!

This weekend, I will be at Ad Astra 2016 in Richmond Hill, Ontario. This is a really fun local genre con with a focus on literature – busy, family-friendly, and well-run! I will be there the whole weekend, but if you need to nail me down more exactly, here is where I can be found:

The Relationship Between a Self-Publisher and Their Editor
Friday, April 29th @ 8pm, Room Richmond B
With Charlotte Ashley, Beverly Bambury, Jennifer Jaquith, Rob Howell, Vanessa Ricci-Thode

Clockwork Canada: Steampunk Fiction Launch Party
Friday, April 29th @ 9pm, Suite 1086
With Charlotte Ashley, Dominik Parisien, Kate Heartfield, Kate Story, Claire Humphrey

Do Used Books Help or Hurt Authors and Publishers?
Saturday, April 30th @ 11am, Room Richmond B
With Charlotte Ashley, Brett Savory, Jen Frankel, Peter Halasz, Timothy Carter

Crafting a Believable Alternate History
Saturday, April 30th @ 2pm, Room Richmond B
With Charlotte Ashley, Dominik Parisien, Jack Whyte, Kate Story, Stephen Kotowych

Don’t be a stranger – if you see me, say hi!