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! 🙂

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!

Hal-Con 2011

Alrighty guys! So I’m back in St. John’s after a wonderful weekend at Hal-Con 2011, and let me tell you, it’s hard getting back into the swing of things!

First off, a re-cap of the weekend.

Friday we landed, Matt jetted off to the convention centre and I jetted off to bed. The day had taken a lot out of me before we even left Newfoundland; getting all the last minute details ready, almost being killed by a crazy lady who decided it would be cool beans to cross over three lanes of traffic when she got off the off-ramp and send us peeling out of her way into what would have been oncoming traffic on any other day. Yeesh. Anyway, where were we?

Right, Friday night. I slept, woke up bright and early to Hal-Con Day One! Let me just say, the sheer amount of people at 9 am when doors opened was impressive. Lots of love there.

Matt and I did our staple panel on writing, but thanks to the packed room, it quickly turned into question and answer, which is fine by me seeing as people commented that it was more helpful. At the end of the day, being helpful is my job ;).

Anyway, moving along. Around 5 pm Matt and I jotted out to get ready for the Stargazer Soirée. After a long day of running around and sitting pretty (read: awesome, exciting times!), the bacon wrapped scallops and lamb chops being carted around for our nom-ing pleasure were much appreciated, as was the company and city view from the top of the WTCC. Seriously a stunning little venue.

Day two saw more fun, but unfortunately in an effort to get me home bright and early I had to leave all too soon. I still managed to pack lots in before my flight (read: most hellish experience of my drama queen life). There was lots of fun to be had with Jay and Heidi of Ink’d Well Comics for the What the Wild Things Read launch (one of the highlights of the weekend being able to give back through charity! Kudos to them for getting the ball rolling and putting out such a lovely finished piece!). As well, Hal-Con 2011 marked Engen Books re-launch of Compendium to the international market as well as the launch of Black Womb Book 8: Inner Child.

After all that fun, I still managed to find time to get whisked away for gelato (Italy, if all goes well, I’d like to be back by 2016, fingers crossed!). Seriously the best gelato this side of the pond. Had a scoop of lemon-lime, a scoop of passion-berry and a scoop of rose hip flavoured gelato. The rose hip flavoured gelato was by far the most heavenly thing I have ever tasted. It is damn good I only manage to get by Halifax once a year because I would be so freaking fat living off the stuff.

From gelato, I only got a few more hours at the con, being whisked off for my “early” flight home. I should have gotten home 11:30 NL time. Should have.

It was my first time flying alone, and waiting for my flight left me a jittery mess. I’ve flown plenty of times before, just never without someone else, so naturally I was freaking out like a crazy. By the time we boarded and took off however, I had managed to calm down. Then came mechanical failure.

Seriously folks, when you’re in a swifty little plane directly over the Atlantic, you do not want to hear “we are experiencing mechanical failure and will be turning around at this time”. You panic more than a little.

By the time we were back on solid ground (after a very bumpy landing and some turbulence) I was ready to swim back home rather than get on a plane, especially when we could watch through the window as they yanked all the parts out of the plane one by one. After more than an hour of watching them do this, with no idea of what was going on, the flight crew finally clued us all in that we’d be taking another plane around 11:30, about half an hour after we should have arrived home initially.

Let’s just say, the delay in posting has had a lot to do with catching up on some severely missed sleep, but that it was all worth it, because as usual Hal-Con 2011 was a blast. So, before Matt attempts to kill me for keeping him up any longer, I better sign off. More to come though in the coming days. Look forward to posts about rubber ducks 😉


Compendium goes international

Compendium (Ellen Curtis)Engen Books continues it’s winning streak with it’s international titles by re-releasing it’s most international collection, Compendium.

First released in 2009 at the first West Coast Con, Ellen Curtis’ breakout title Compendium broke Engen sales records for both Chapters and in-person sales in it’s first week, records that remained in place until the release of Ellen’s debut novel, Infinity.

Compendium features three stories by Curtis: The Tourniquet Revival, At Midnight the Dawn and Falling into Fire, and features Engen’s most international cast, with characters from Europe, America, and beyond.

The usage of descriptions [in Compendium] really pulled me into the settings. I think atmospheric would be an appropriate adjective. All well written stories trigger the senses, but sometimes it takes a few pages or even chapters before the brain is able to create a world based around the information provided… In Compendium I found after a few paragraphs I had been whisked away to [other] worlds. – Jay Paulin

Reedited and redesigned, Compendium is ready for it’s upcoming re-release. It will be available on Amazon in early November, but entertains it’s official launch at Hal Con 2, November 13 and 14, 2011.

Compendium Goes International

This post first appeared on on October 3, 2011. 

Engen Books continues it’s winning streak with it’s international titles by re-releasing it’s most international collection,Compendium.

First released in 2009 at the first West Coast Con, Ellen Curtis’ breakout titleCompendium broke Engen sales records for both Chapters and in-person sales in it’s first week, records that remained in place until the release of Ellen’s debut novel, Infinity.

Compendium features three stories by Curtis: The Tourniquet Revival, At Midnight the Dawn and Falling into Fire, and features Engen’s most international cast, with characters from Europe, America, and beyond.

The usage of descriptions [in Compendium] really pulled me into the settings. I think atmospheric would be an appropriate adjective. All well written stories trigger the senses, but sometimes it takes a few pages or even chapters before the brain is able to create a world based around the information provided… In Compendium I found after a few paragraphs I had been whisked away to [other] worlds.” – Jay Paulin

Reedited and redesigned, Compendium is ready for it’s upcoming re-release. It will be available on Amazon in early November, but entertains it’s official launch at Hal Con 2, November 13 and 14, 2011.

Engen Special Report: Hal-Con

Matthew LeDrew @ Hal Con
Matthew LeDrew @ Hal Con

 Sometimes, all the right things come together. Sometimes fate steps in and you get the right people together at the right location and at the right time and creates something magical, like lightning in a bottle.

From October 29th – October 31st 2010, the Engen Books staff was present for such an event during the first ever Hal-Con.

In a convention so huge and successful that it was covered by Haligonian, Inner Space, The Coast, Eastlink TV and several other news outlets and is being praised as the greatest science-fiction convention Canada has ever seen by those in attendance, Engen Books did its best to make its mark and make it as memorable as possible for those in attendance.

Hal-Con: Author’s Corner

Jay Paulin, Heidi Paulin, and  Matthew LeDrew at Hal Con
Jay Paulin, Heidi Paulin, and Matthew LeDrew at Hal Con

Expertly laid out and organized, Hal-Con featured an entire dealer’s room specifically for authors called the Writer’s Corner. This was a convention-long event where fans and fellow writers could come to talk about their work, buy books, and share stories with peers.

From the Engen booth both Matthew LeDrew (author guest of honour at Hal-Con and author of Black Womb and Infinity ) and Ellen Curtis ( Compendium, Infinity) were in attendance. In addition long-time friend Kenneth Tam ( His Majesty’s New World ) and Jacqui Tam ( Standing Tall: A Daughter’s Gift ) were in attendance from Iceberg Publishing.

“I enjoyed an excellent weekend in Halifax,” said Kenneth, in a post to the Hal-Con website. “The HAL-CON: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Comic Convention was a tremendous success for everyone involved, and was an event befitting such a great city.”

Other authors included PJ Haarsma, author of the Softwire series, and Nancy Metzger of Third Person Press.

“The Writer’s Corner was awesome,” said Infinity author Ellen Curtis. “It really gave us a chance to interact with people and fans and press on a real person-to-person basis.

Hal-Con: The Guests

The main guests of the evening though were Denise Crosby ( Star Trek The Next Generation, Dexter ) and Walter Koenig ( Star Trek, Babylon 5).

“Walter and Denise are among the funniest, most approachable people I’ve ever met,” said LeDrew. “Denise joked a lot at the group signing… you don’t expect someone like that to be as fun as she is, but she was having fun. I hope to see her again.”

Other guests included celebrity model Drakaina Muse and Kill Shakespeare author Conor McCreery.

“Conor is one of the most fun people I’ve met at any of these things. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s a celebrity. Kill Shakespeare is one of the best, most inventive comic books in years. Everyone should be reading it, and most people are.”

The Con was so big that some talent made their way there not as guests, but just to attend.

Local comic writer Jay Paulin of Ink’d Well Comics was present in the main dealer’s room and selling copies of he and artist Julie Heffernan’s amazing underground series Messiah.

” Messiah is one of those comics you have to read to believe,” said LeDrew. “Jay Paulin is an amazing writer who pours his soul into this series, and it shows. He and his wife were there, and they’re both so humble about what they do. I’m a comic fan from way back, and to have he and Conor around was just heaven for me.”

Hal-Con: The Panels

Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis at Hal Con
Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis at Hal Con

Ken, Matt and Ellen taught their standard panels ( Get Published, Writer’s Toolkit and Writer’s Circle ) to uncommon results.

“We always get some attendance, but this was incredible,” said LeDrew.

“There was standing room only,” elaborated Curtis. “Every chair was filled and people were standing besides, all just to listen to us and ask us about writing. It was an amazing experience.”

Kill Shakespeare writer Conor McCreery even stepped in half-way through Writer’s Circle to join the discussion.

“That’s what these things are all about, connecting with writer’s,” said Curtis.

Hal-Con: Infinity Launch

Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis at Hal Con
Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis at Hal Con

After two days of build, Infinity launched on Sunday, October 31st. (That’s Halloween, folks!) to much applause.

The launch featured a reading by Ellen Curtis and Matthew LeDrew to the convention hall, followed by a packed reception including comic writer / journalist Mika McKay ( Freaks with Feelings ) author Nina Munteanu and (there’s that name again) comic author Conor McCreery.

“The reception and launch was just a great joy for me,” said LeDrew. “About twenty minutes in it changed from polite conversation to an odd game of tag, and it was wonderful. Just people getting together to have fun and celebrate Infinity. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Hal-Con: The Awesome

R-L: Conor McCreeny, Walter Koenig, Kenneth Tam, Ellen Curtis, Matthew LeDrew, PJ Haarsma, Drakaina Muse.
R-L: Conor McCreeny, Walter Koenig, Kenneth Tam, Ellen Curtis, Matthew LeDrew, PJ Haarsma, Drakaina Muse.

R-L: Conor McCreeny, Walter Koenig, Kenneth Tam, Ellen Curtis, Matthew LeDrew, PJ Haarsma, Drakaina Muse.

There simply isn’t enough space to tell all the wonderful stories and things that happened at Hal-Con. There isn’t even enough space to tell the ones that just happened to our authors.

Robert S. LePine made a giant replica of Hal’s ship from 2010: A Space Odyssey that spun in the entrance to the con to the awe of all.

Engen Books very nearly sold out of every title they had in stock after bringing twice what they normally do to similar conventions.

Kenneth Tam battled for the fate of Geekdom in Geeks vs. Nerds celebrity edition… including a surprise phone call from Nathan Fillion himself!

Hal-Con surpassed all attendance expectations to the point where one could almost not move in the main suite and reception area.

Dr. Who fed Optimus Prime french fries.

And most importantly, Jennifer Lambe, Jen Johnston and Amanda Schreiber put off what was not only the greatest event in recent memory, but also the biggest weekend for Engen Books in its brief history.

“This is a weekend we won’t forget for a long time. Words can’t describe it. This article doesn’t do it justice… nothing can. You’d just have to be there. Come next year,” said LeDrew. “We will be back next year.”

Convention Re-Invention

Ellen Curtis
Ellen Curtis

It’s April, but there’s no fooling around at Engen Books as they come to the end of their drafting quarter and move into what Engen founder Matthew LeDrew refers to as the “hectic half”.

“We have about six months of the year where we’re nonstop, always on tour or editing or trying to get things done. April is the start of that, but I think we’re ready,” said LeDrew.

The “Hectic Half” starts April 17-18th with Sci-Fi on the Rock, where all five Engen staff writers will be in attendance to launch and sign books, as well as host panels for up and coming writers. It lasts until the end of October, with a genuinely hectic weak involving two major cons in two different provinces.

“It’s exciting. It’s my favorite time of year,” said Compendium author Ellen Curtis. “It’s when I get to go out and meet the fans and sell some books. There’s a lot of community with the cons. Everyone’s great, it’s always a fantastic experience.”

Curtis’ first novel, Compendium, was released at the final stop of 2009s Hectic Half, launching at the first West Coast Con in Corner Brook. 2010 will mark her first official tour as a published author, making stops in Ontario, Newfoundland and Halifax.

Despite being busy, it provides an opportunity to get feedback from the fans on the books Engen is publishing; a vital part of the creative process.

If you have any thoughts you would like to share on any Engen series or novel, please email us as . Your comments are important to the work of our authors.