Category Archives: Hal-Con

‘The Six Elemental’ launches in two provinces!

The Six Elemental, the breakout novel by author Ali House, launches this week and kicks off the 10th year of Engen Books. If that wasn’t big enough, the launch is happening in two different provinces, on the same weekend.

November 4-6 2016, author Ali House will be at the Halifax World Trade & Convention Center as a part of Hal Con, alongside other great authors such as Kevin Hearne, Maggie Stiefvater, and Christopher Walsh. She will have copies of her book on hand for sale and signing!

At the same time, on November 5 2016, Engen partner Ellen Curtis will be bringing the title, along with many others, to the Fall Craft Fair at the St. John’s Health Care Lions Club. Doors are open from 10am-4pm, and admission is just $2.00.

Whichever Atlantic province you happen to be in this weekend, be sure to check out this amazing new novel that’s sure to excite even the most jaded of readers! 🙂


Kraig Nicol @ Hal Con 2012

Art by Kraig Nicol
Art by Kraig Nicol

This piece is by yet another Ink’d Well Comics alumni, Kraig Nicol, once again proving the deep pool of talent that Ink’d Well has. Kraig’s been working with Jay Paulin on his charity anthologies and he does a great job.

Like all the artists in this series, I gave him the standard pitch and he came back with probably the closest sketch to what’s in my mind for the character of anyone yet. Whereas with others I can look at it and think of specific moments within the series when an image might have been captured from, this image really could have happened anywhere. It is the Womb. Not the Xander-in-control-Womb either, this is the full fledged Black Womb. You can see it in the eyes.

The teeth and the claws are great, as well as that one tendril whipping off the arm. It’s interesting how different artists handled the tendrils. Some ignored it completely, some focused on it, Kraig here has split the difference. It seems like this is right after the transformation has taken place, with the ooze having whipped its way around his whole body and then snapping in the join at the wrist again. Really top notch stuff.

I feel the need to thank all the artists, not just Kraig. It’s been a while since I’ve been actively writing Black Womb (not due to block, but due to the sheer amount of time other writing projects have been taking up). Since I got back from Hal Con I’ve been going mad with it, and in the last two days alone wrote almost 10,000 words. I think it’s because artists like Kraig inspired my thought processes back into the character.

This is a great piece, and it’s bigger than it looks here. It’s going on my wall. I’m glad I asked him to draw it.

Sandy Carruthers @ Hal Con 2012

Art by Sandy Carruthers
Art by Sandy Carruthers

This is the last post in my Artist @ Hal Con 2012 series of posts, and should be one of my last regarding Hal Con 2012 in general. As much as I loved it and as much as I could devote an entire blog just to the awesomeness of this convention and the people that run it, the ride has to end sometime. It’s amazing every year and I can’t wait until 2013, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.

I won’t say I saved the best for last. Art is too subjective to say this is the best or my favorite. There were pieces I loved because they were exactly what I would have had in mind, and pieces I loved because they were the opposite of what I had in mind. But this is definitely my favorite anecdote.

So across from me in the dealers room was this one little table with nothing on it but this cool little drawing table. There weren’t any pictures up around it or posters or flashy ads. Just a cool guy in an orange tee-shirt drawing things. I walked past him like eight times because I wasn’t even sure if he was doing sketches. Finally I stopped and asked him if he was doing sketches and he said yes. He was very personable and polite and came over to the booth to study all the art and prints I had of Black Womb. He asked about the character and the story and got all these great little tidbits, really dug in deep, then walked back to his drawing board and got to going.

A moment later I brought over his money and noticed an old battered graphic novel sitting on the table: Men in Black. There were two agents on the cover, and one looked a lot like Kay. The other was a skinny white guy, clearly not Will Smith. I stopped and kind of looked at it for a moment, then went: “Naw.”

Because it couldn’t be, right?

Well, wikipedia proved me wrong. This nice little guy way Sandy Carruthers, and he basically invented Men in Black. THE Men in Black. He did the art for the first graphic novel, the story that launched the entire franchise.

I couldn’t believe it. It absolutely blew my mind. I walked over to him and was like: “You’re YOU. I went to see a movie with your characters in not three months ago. Like, dude.” And he chuckled and was like, “Yep, I’m me.”

I still can’t get over that people didn’t know who he is. That I didn’t know. I mean there were dozens of fools walking around that convention dressed up as Men in Black for the costume contest, not realizing that one of the creators was right next to them. That they were passing him by without giving him a second look. I mean LORD. That’s like someone dressed as Spider-Man walking by Stan Lee’s table and going “Stan Who?” It boggles my mind. I just don’t get it.

So I was excited for this piece. Really excited. The guy is a legend. I read Captain Canuck, he was great for that too. The man is incredible. I stopped over when the day was winding down and asked him how it was going, and he said the craziest thing: “I’m getting there. Would you mind if I took it home and worked on it?”

I think my jaw just about hit the floor. I mean, that’s a commitment right there. Props to all the other artists on my blog here, but most gave their pic back to me in twenty-minutes or less. Nic and Ariel I know for a fact really gave it their all, but it’s a $20 sketch. They’re not supposed to be painting the Mona Lisa. And here was a professional, a legend, asking to take my sketch home to work on it.

I clearly said yes.

He comes back the nest day with the above sketch. Holy lord. It could not be more perfect. Some of it was his insightful questions (looking back, it’s clear he’s worked with writers before), and some a very happy accident. I mean, that looks like Xander. And then the middle character is a great representation of the Womb when Xander is in control (and kind of superheroic, still) and then the top one is full-on crazy Womb-mode. It’s just amazing. He couldn’t have known there were three stages to the character, and yet here they are. The proportions are perfect. It’s electric and exciting and the tones are perfect. He actually took something that was in my mind and made it better. I could never have thought of this pose and image myself.

Thank you, Sandy Carruthers. You are a true gentleman.

I gave him a copy of Black Womb in thanks. I hope he reads it and gets back to me. He’s such a nice guy.

Great memory.

Ellen Curtis @ Hal Con 2012

Ellen Curtis on the way to Hal-Con 2012
Ellen Curtis on the way to Hal-Con 2012

Another figure at this year’s Hal Con was Ellen Louise Curtis, author of Infinity, Compendium and The Tourniquet Reprisal and is my long-time partner in crime.

She’s also a wonderful foil for me. Where Conor or Jay encourage my insanity, Ellen can often be seen rolling her eyes at me just to one side or telling me to sit down.

I have for years been trying to get her to wear the Engen Books t-shirts to the conventions, but she refuses to. This year I dressed as what can be semi-seriously referred to as “an adult,” and what does she dress in?:

A Kill Shakespeare shirt. I mean my god, that’s just adding insult to injury. I think Conor McCreery planned this. I think it’s his revenge for riding him like a pony.

Everyone’s against me.

Ellen Curtis models a Kill Shakespeare Tee. Traitor.
Ellen Curtis models a Kill Shakespeare Tee. Traitor.

Return of the Hal-Con!

Nelson the Robot
Nelson the Robot

It’s been a year already, somehow, and Hal-Con is back to take the science-fiction world by storm October 26th – 28th at the Halifax World Trade Convention Center!

Engen Books authors will be there for their third year in a row, bringing new novels and merchandise for fans and newcomers to enjoy!

Authors on site include Matthew LeDrew (Black Womb, Gang War) and Ellen Curtis (Compendium, The Tourniquet Reprisal). Also in attendance: Jay Paulin (Gristle while you Work), who will be doubling his efforts as both Engen authors and Ink’d Well Comics creator!

Engen will be hosting and participating in several writing panels throughout the convention, so be sure and make it down to as many as you can if you’re interested in Engen or in writing in general! Panels include:

Writing Good Fiction Workshop
6:15pm – 7:00pm Friday, October 26, 2012
Workshop Room 4

Stargazer Soiree
7:00pm – 9:00pm, Friday, October 26, 2012
Summit Suite

Writing Wrecks
11:30am – 12:15pm, Saturday, October 27, 2012
Workshop Room 2

Young Author Panel
1:15pm – 2:00pm, Saturday, October 27, 2012
Workshop Room 1

The Most Dysfunctional Writing Panel EVER
2:00pm – 2:45pm, Sunday, October 28, 2012
Workshop Room 4

The Tourniquet Reprisal
The Tourniquet Reprisal

Engen also debuts, for the first time ever, The Tourniquet Reprisal: the sequel to 2010’s smash-hit Infinity. Infinity was released at the first Hal-Con and developed a strong fan-base there, who have been eagerly awaiting the sequel for two years.

Also being released in the new, international edition of Black Womb, revised and expanded throughout, the first of the original five Black womb books to be reinvented as such.

New-to-Halifax includes light|dark, an anthology featuring the work of two Halifax natives; Gang War, the ninth book in the much-beloved Black womb series; and The Man with the Hole in his Head, the first book from the newest Engen-author Kevin Woolridge.

Be sure to keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our WordPress to keep track of our up-to-the-minute photos, reports and changes!

See you all there and hope you have a lot of fun!

Today St. John’s, tomorrow Halifax


Another year gone by already, and another blog-post! Bright and early tomorrow morning we get to escape the rain here in St. John’s and hop across the water to Halifax for Hal-Con. It doesn’t really seem like a year since the last convention because we’ve been so busy! Once again we are down to the wire running errands and packing up shop to make the trek to Atlantic Canada’s biggest science fiction convention.

New this year from Engen Books comes The Tourniquet Reprisal, our follow-up to Infinity. Fans of the first are in for a wild ride, following Victor, Abby, Chad, JayCee, Theo and a few new faces as the face of against an old foe. Likewise, fans of Matthew LeDrew’s Black Womb series will be happy to see Engen’s flagship novel in it’s new international format with a bumped-up word count.

Engen Universe’s Halifax fans will also get a chance to buy light|dark in person for the first time since it launched in April, as well as the latest addition to the Black Womb series, Gang War. The third annual Hal-Con will also be the convention debut of The Man with the Hole in his Head, the work of Engen’s newest author, Kevin Woolridge.

Hal-Con will also be the first venue to offer Engen Books prints. All new Black Womb artwork will be available for sale, including Kevin Kendall’s cover art from the international edition of Black Womb.

Look for Engen Books on the second floor of the World Trade and Convention Centre 12:00 Friday. In the mean time, we’ll be packing (I actually haven’t started my suitcase yet. Oops!) and getting all the little last minuted things done before we take flight early tomorrow morning!


So, as promised ages back, today’s post is about my duck collection. I like to think of it as the one admittedly insane thing Matt lets me keep in the apartment. Everything else is pretty nice looking, pretty done up. When I moved in, he bemoaned the fact that we had rubber ducks in the living room, especially since they were one of the things accompanying Esabiel’s massive terrarium. Like Esa, the ducks have luckily grown on Matt, something which I’m sure their move to our window ledges tucked safely behind the curtains for when guests come over had something to do with it.

Either way, my duck collection has grown over the years from some pretty humble beginnings. I’m pretty sure I can blame Sesame Street for my first duck, because really, as a toddler, who doesn’t love the rubber ducky song?

Left, Anna. Right, Ellen. Centre at back of blanket, first ducky. A random white duck makes an appearance.

It would be a while before my duck collection really took off though with the closing of a local dollar store.

Going to the dollar store unaccompanied was one of the few things my sister and I would do together with our friends when we were still pretty young. It just so happened that a closing sale of gummy donuts at $0.25 wasn’t as appealing to me as it was to my sister, and as I spent the time perusing the store for something ‘cooler’ to spend my money on. Evil Ducky answered the call.

Let me just say, Evil Ducky was part of a series of rubber ducks with car friendly bases that I fully intended to purchase more of, but given the fact that as a youngster I had neither a car for more ducks nor a paying job with which to purchase said ducks before the dollar store closed, I sadly lost out. Looking back, the fact that I chose just about the nastiest looking duck out of the set might not have endeared mother into buying more for me either.

Anywho, moving along.

Two ducks wasn’t much of a collection, but then about 6 years ago, a classmate went to Germany and brought back mini-glow-in-the-dark rubber ducks and I began to think of my three little amigos as a collection. And that is probably when I decided, ok, that cool. Some people collect stamps, I could justify ducks…

From there, Mum decided to get a little bit indulgent, partially I think due to the nostalgia trend that’s been on the go. Quickly, flashing ducky keychains, rubber duck head-phones and two flashing rubber ducks joined the ranks of the rubber duckies in my room, and then I went to Italy.

Italy was possibly the best ten days of my life, so after scrimping and saving so I could go with school, I wasn’t eager to blow all my spending money on shoes like some of the other girls. I had priorities. I wanted a Venetian mask, I wanted a parasol made out of Venetian lace, I wanted maybe one new dress, and near the end of the trip when we were on the Island of Capri, I REALLY wanted to spend some more money because it was burning a bloody hole in my pocket. And then I walked into a little beach shop with some friends who were looking for bathing suits and discovered my little keepsake from Capri, my pretty pink duck which I promptly purchased for 4 euros and emblazoned with all the events of the day.

This started my “let’s buy ducks wherever I go” thing, which I’ll get to later.

Anyway, ever since Capri I’ve been on a duck hunt. At some point in between, I decided it would be a good idea to buy up whole collections, like my hippy ducks and Mum thought it would be fun too (most recent being six Halloween ducks, not to mention the punk rock band of ducks she has stashed away that she thinks I’ve forgotten about). Somewhere along the way I also found a flashing duck, a quacking and flashing duck, as well as a pair of normal bath duckies to join the group. When my sister followed my footsteps and made the trans-atlantic flight to Italy, she picked up a second Italian duck for me, one that colour changes between pink and white depending on the temperature water it is in. Eventually, my duck collection outgrew my keepsake shelf where it had been growing and I got the idea that flashing ducks would keep Esa happy. Because every snake needs some ducks.

Matt, as I mentioned, has grown used to the ducks. He went so far as to purchase a glorious “odd duck” to add to the collection. Apparently, his name is Bob.

I imagine that instead of “quack, quack” Bob goes “wack, wack”

As Hal-Con wound down, my collection reached new heights. I had bought a birthday present for my mother but nothing for myself, so armed with a little cash I took a quick jaunt away from my table, fully intending to see if someone was selling corsets or jewellery or hats or something half sensible that was still girlish and a little bit freaky. That’s just how I roll.

As usual, I met my doom walking through the downstairs. Sadly, I did not see any corsets, the jewellery had been picked over so the nicest pieces were already sold and the hats were just too similar to ones I already have, or didn’t match the outfit I was looking to pair them with. Either way, I was getting a little sad when I realized there wasn’t much left. Then I turned a corner.

Right on the end, a nice big booth was set up, covered in  a half gazillion happy little ducks. I might as well have opened my purse up and flung money at the sweet woman there.

As if it wasn’t enough for me to look through the table, she revealed a huge bag of ducks hidden below the table cloth and let me have at them.

I came away with two keychain super hero ducks, a Magneto Duck, Super Girl Duck, mini glowing cat duck, mini glowing mummy duck, Werewolf duck and Mardi Gras/ Venetian mask duck.

Anyway, after I had dropped $20 on ducks (I maintain that, for all those ducks, that’s a damn good price), I trotted back upstairs to share my spoils with Matthew. I imagine what I brought back must have tested his patience for my collection, partly due to the fact that upon lining them up on the table his eyes grew a titch wide and he seemed a bit lost for words. Perhaps the glory overwhelmed him. Something tells me otherwise, but let’s just ignore that.

Christmas brought even more ducks. An entire collection of Christmas themed ducks is now also sitting on the window ledge. Then, for my birthday, Mum and Sis decided it would be wonderful to fill a large bag with rubber ducks. All of them, save for one, were wonderful. A large bath duck with three mini-ducks, a certified bath duck, and a new light-up quaking keychain, as well as a stress squeeze duck all found their place in my ducky collection. The horrendously frightening Saint Patrick’s Day duck however… well, as hell sent as he looked he’s also now on the shelf. They also managed to find me matching duck earrings and a necklace.

Below are some pictures of how these duckies all sit on the window ledge. As you can probably see, I’m running out of room!