Archive for the ‘conferences/conventions’ Tag

What I’m Doing At FantasyCon 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This weekend I head for the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough for the annual British celebration of SF/F/horror literature, FantasyCon. FantasyCon was the first con I ever attended, some time in the late 1990s, and I still hold it in fond regard.

On this occasion I am travelling alone, since Hubby is not joining me. He claims to want a quiet weekend at home. I think he’s looking forward to a weekend of being able to play games, make models, watch the documentaries he likes in peace. That’s OK with me as long as he remembers to feed the cats.

Anyway, I shall be at the day job Friday morning, and then boarding a train to the wilds of Yorkshire mid-afternoon. Somewhere I have to change trains. I think it might be York. There’s not a lot of time between the two so I hope the first train doesn’t run late. I am supposed to get to Scarborough about 5:30pm. In plenty of time for the disco – hurrah!

In any case, I do have things to do for this particular convention. I am giving a reading at 3pm on Saturday. The organisers have organised author readings in half-hour slots, with two authors per slot. I rather like this idea. It means you’re less likely to have no one turn up to your reading, since there’s a good chance there’ll be someone there to watch the other author as well. My reading partner is Priya Sharma. I have not met her before, but looking forward to doing so on Saturday.

Then at 8pm I’ve got a panel called ‘Paint It Black’, which is all about why horror permeates so many other genres. My fellow panellists are Simon Bestwick, Jo Thomas, Timothy Jarvis and Phil Sloman, who is moderating. With the exception of Simon, who I’ve met in person, everyone else I only know from the internet so I am looking forward to meeting some new people.

Other than that, I shall be visiting a few panels and spending a lot of time in the bar, where I hope to be able to meet up with the people I only ever get to talk to at Cons. Although I might be tempted by the FantasyCon karaoke.

So if you’re there, come and say hello. If you tell me you’ve bought a copy of any of my books at any point, I might even buy you a drink.

 

 

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Monthly Round-up: August 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

We’re over halfway through August already.  Where is this year going?  This means it’s time for another report on what I’ve been up to writing-wise over the last month.

COMING SOON

I now have release dates for both the forthcoming Shara Summers novels.  DEATH SCENE is to be released on 22 September, and DEAD COOL on 25 November.  Though both books are e-book only, they will be available for pre-order through the MuseItUp website.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS

I’ve made a couple of guest appearances online since the last update. Details below:

13 August – I appeared on Kat Holmes’ blog as part of her Summer Bash, talking about cultural displacement.
20 August – I was on Anne Stenhouse’s blog with Five Fascinating Facts.  Well, I hope they were fascinating…

Con-wise, I went to the fabulous Geekfest, and had a fine old time.  Next up, FantasyCon in York, which will also be the last Con in my calendar.  At least for this year.  I’m already lining up my Con schedule for next year.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I have made a start on what I will hope be the final rewrite of the new horror novel, which is entitled THE WHISPERING DEATH.  I’ve worked out what I need to do with this, and feel happy with the way the rewrite is going so far.

September is looking like a horrendously busy month, with a lot of personal and day-job related stuff going on.  But with the release of DEATH SCENE on the horizon, there’ll be plenty of writing-related stuff going on as well.  Catch you next month!

What Am I Doing at Geekfest?

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s nearly time for the Nineworlds Geekfest con! Last year was the first time this London-based convention – celebrating all things geeky – ran, and it was a fabulous event. This year sees it a bit more streamlined, but with just as packed a schedule, and I have no doubt it will be just as much fun.

Saturday I and other members of the T Party writers’ group will be running an ideas-generating workshop entitled ‘How to Beat Writers’ Block’. This will be a series of exercises designed to trigger story ideas. Don’t really want to say much about it at this stage (spoilers!) but we hope it will inspire people to go away and start writing something. In order for this to work we’ve limited it to 30 people so if you are attending the Con and fancy it, turn up early – it’s on at 3:15 pm in the County A room.

After that I hope I get a chance to catch some panels before I am appearing on one myself – the intriguingly-entitled ‘Noir – the Dirty Streets of Fiction’ panel at 6:15 pm in County C&D. The only description we’ve been given of this is a quote from Raymond Chandler: “it seemed like a nice neighbourhood to have bad habits in”. I’ve been thinking about this since I was asked to do the panel and I’m really looking forward to it. With noir finding its way into so many other genres, I think I can find a lot to say on this subject – assuming I don’t get tongue-tied from the impressive line-up of Serious Writers on this panel (which include John Connolly, Will Hill, Daniel Polansky and Francis Knight).

I am also quite impressed with the Con’s online schedule app, which not only allows each Con-goer to highlight individual sessions to create their own personal programme, but allows participants to see all of their activities all at once (here’s mine).

There’s also going to be a table for independent authors and small presses in the dealer room, so I shall take along a pile of SOUL SCREAMS to (hopefully) sell.

If you’re at Geekfest do come and say hello – it’s going to be a Con to remember.

 

Monthly Round-up: July 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

And I’m back for a look at what’s been going on writing-wise in my world for the past month.

COMING SOON:

Edits continue apace on both DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL – in fact these have been keeping me extremely busy for the last few weeks. DEAD COOL is currently at a more advanced stage than DEATH SCENE.

It is looking likely at this stage that DEATH SCENE will have a mid-September release, and DEAD COOL will follow a month later. The good news is, pre-orders will be able to be placed and logged ahead of release date. The bad news is, I think this facility is only available to people in the US & Canada. My British fans are going to have to hold off until Autumn.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS:

I’ve been rather busy making guest appearances over the Internet over the past month. Here is a list of where you can find me, along with the links.

16 June – Susan A Royal (interview & blog swap)
17 June – Heather Fraser Brainerd & David Fraser (interview)
24 June – Heather Greenis (guest post)
25 June – The Poet’s Fire (interview)
8 July – Helena Fairfax (guest post)
10 July – Mary Waibel (interview)

Convention-wise, I went to the Theakstons Old Peculier crime writing festival in Harrogate earlier this month. I met up with a lot of other crime writers, and handed out postcards with the cover image of DEATH SCENE on. I also left a pile of them on the book swap table, where everyone seemed to be leaving their promotional cards, and I was happy to note that they all disappeared. Whether or not this interest will manifest into sales I don’t know, but I am happy that the cover is attracting people’s interest. That’s the first step, anyway.

Next up is the Nineworlds Geekfest convention in London in August, where the writing group is running a workshop of writing exercises designed to beat writers’ block, and I will be participating in a panel on ‘Noir’ fiction in all its forms.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

I’ve actually got three, and they are all at a bit of an impasse.

1) The Collaboration:

This is the 1960s crime thriller I am working on with hubby. We worked on the plotting together, and I have finished the first draft, which I have since passed to him to read. He is presently working on plot holes that we need to work out how to fix.

2) The horror novel:

I believed this one to be finished, and earlier in the year I was sending it out. But identical comments were coming back with the rejections, which made me realise it needs another polish. I have yet to sit down and redraft it.

3) The third Shara book:

This began life a number of years ago as the second Shara book, and lurched to a halt because I had not plotted it properly. I abandoned it and started writing the novel that would eventually become DEAD COOL. Recently I’ve hauled it out in an attempt to dust it off and give it another go. But I need to fix the plot problems first, and take into account the fact that Shara starts this novel in a different place than she original did, after the events of DEAD COOL. It has been calling out to me to get back to it. But I know that if I start writing it again without working out the plot problems first, I’m going to stall in the same place I did the first time around. I will say that it’s not that I don’t know who the murderer is, because I do. It’s the middle bit that’s giving me problems with this one, and the logistics behind how Shara solves the murder.

I am ashamed to say that in spite of having three works on the go, I haven’t done much work on any of them for nearly three weeks. My excuse is that having two books to edit has been keeping me busy. But that’s not a very good excuse.

I am setting a pledge to myself. By the time I come to you with August’s update, I must have made progress on at least one of these WIPs.

Till next time, then…

One Day To Sci Fi Weekender

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Tomorrow I’m off to my first convention of the year – the fifth Sci Fi Weekender, in North Wales.

It’s the third year I’ve attended this Con, and I always look forward to it.  It’s a Con to celebrate all things geeky in TV, film and books, and it actively encourages Cosplay.  Seeing all the incredible costumes is always a highlight of the Con.

This year I’m looking forward to it all the more as I am on several panels.  As it happens they are all on Saturday afternoon – at least I get them all out of the way at once.  At 2pm I am on a panel called ‘Does Crime Pay’, exploring the concept that ‘crime is the new black’.  Then I’ve got a bit of a break, but can’t go too far as at 3pm I’m moderating the ‘Blurred Lines’ panel discussing cross-genre.  And I still haven’t come up with questions for the panel yet.  So I know what I shall be doing tonight.

And following that I’m on the next panel too, which is exploring what makes science fiction – ‘from Space Opera to Dystopian Futures’, the panel description says.  I suspect it was my public declaration of love for Star Wars that got me on that one.

With only a day to go, the usual dilemma has reared its head – what to wear for a Con?  I’m not organised enough to put a costume together.  The usual fall-back Con wear is jeans and a Geek t-shirt.  However, I have recently realised that I literally have a drawer full of Geek t-shirts, reflecting an array of geeky interests – Star Wars; Buffy; Dr Who.  I’ve even got a Resident Evil 4 t-shirt.  So which ones do I pack?  My favourite Con t-shirt is the girlie pink one with the cartoon grim reaper on that says ‘Horror Writer’.  But I wore that at the last Con.  Can a self-respecting geek be seen in public wearing the same t-shirt at every Con?

If you’re going to be at the convention, do stop by and say hello.  And if you’re not – well, I’ll catch up with you when I return to normal life.

In the meantime, I’m off to go ransack my t-shirt drawer and think up intelligent questions for my panel.

 

Another Promotional Roundup

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and for that I apologise.  We had an unexpected burst of Spring here in London last weekend, and we all went rushing outside to make the most of it.  Sadly it seemed to have been a blip, with normal UK weather restored in time for the working week.  After basking in the garden in a t-shirt on Sunday, I was obliged to get back into my coat and scarf on Monday.  Still, at least the rain has been holding off of late.

And in the meantime I’ve been very busy in cyberspace, with two more guest appearances in the last week or so.

First up, I was interviewed by Pete Sutton for his BRSBKBLOG blog, which is described as ‘Adventures in Publishing’.  We talked a lot about the creation of my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, and the forthcoming re-release of DEATH SCENE, and you can find the interview here.

This week, I’ve been visiting ‘Waibel’s World‘, blog of fellow MuseItUp author Mary Waibel, and talking about how being a writer is both a curse and a blessing.

And finally, it’s just over two weeks until the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales, my first Con of 2014.  This year, not only am I going, I’m on the programme.  I’m very excited to have received preliminary details this week about the panels I’ll be on.  All will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, if you’ll be at the Con, do stop by and say hello.

BristolCon 2013 – Roundup

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I usually follow up a Con with a write-up, and so here is my take on BristolCon, which took place on Saturday 26 October.

Hubby and I travelled down from London by train on Friday afternoon, as soon as I was able to get away from the day job.  It was actually quite a pleasant journey, taking just about two hours on a train we could pre-book seats on.  The hotel, we were pleased to find, was a five-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Station, and was modern and comfortable.  It was also conveniently located for the Town Centre and close to bars and restaurants, for those who want to take a break from the Con.

The Con officially began at 10 am on Saturday morning, running two concurrent threads.  I was on one of the opening panels – the panel on Innovative Deaths, moderated by Anne Lyle.  We discussed ways of killing people for over 45 minutes.  Fortunately we didn’t seem to scare the audience too much – or at least that was how I interpreted it, as nobody ran out screaming.

After that I caught some of the ‘My World is Not Your Sandpit’ panel, about fan fiction, in which a rather energetic debate took place.  I have to say I missed the beginning of this panel, but what I saw clearly defined the two sides of the argument.  One side was that if the fan fiction writer is not making any profit from their writing, and the original creator of the world is done writing books about that world, should they not be flattered by enthusiastic fans wanting to play in their sandpit?  The opposing viewpoint was that anyone other than the creator is not going to get the world right because so much of a created world never makes it into the book, and a writer is never really done with their world.  It was an interesting discussion and I must confess I can see the point of the writers who say they don’t want anybody else playing in their sandpit, because it’s theirs.  Though the chance to be adored enough for someone to want to play in my sandpit would be a fine thing.  It was also pointed out in this panel that fan fiction is an evolutionary stage of the young writer, and this spoke to me as well.  Fortunately my Star Wars fan fiction was written in the days before the Internet and will never be aired in public.

After that I stuck around for the panel on the Evolution of Genre, where among other things the influence of ‘real-world’ problem on genre was discussed.  Apparently zombies do well during periods of high unemployment and financial restraints.  Vampires apparently do well during periods of affluence.  What this says about us I don’t know.

After taking a break from watching panels I joined the other authors for the ‘mass signing’, for which we’d all been encouraged to bring books to sell at the committee table.  A member of the writing group who’d bought a copy of SOUL SCREAMS a while ago came to get it signed, but unfortunately I sold none of the copies I’d brought with me.  Which was a bit crushing, frankly.  Obviously I need to step up my promotional efforts.

My final programme item was to moderate the small press panel at 4pm.   I had done some homework on this, and I already knew I had a fantastic panel.  Cheryl Morgan, who runs Wizards Tower press.  Chrissey Harrison, independent film maker and small press publisher.  Jonathan Wright, journalist and editor.  David R Rodger, self published science fiction writer.  I think we gave the topic a good airing, all my panel members engaged in the conversation and we had a reasonable number of people in the audience.  And to be honest, I quite enjoyed moderating.  I think I’d like to do it again some time.

With my commitments over with I sat back to enjoy a couple more panels, venturing into the larger programme room for the ‘Beyond Arthur’ panel, moderated by Gaie Sebold, and then the panel saying farewell to Iain Banks, moderated by Cheryl Morgan.

And then it was back to the bar, to see out the day with more chat, more food and more wine, and to relax before our train home Sunday morning.

BristolCon is a small local Con, running for a day to be deliberately attractive to people in South West England who can attend without having to book hotel accommodation.  Although small I found it a very well run and friendly Con, especially welcoming to small press and self published writers.

Next year’s Con has been set for 18 October 2014 in the same great location.  I am intending to come back next year.

If you can get to Bristol I thoroughly recommend this Con.  It’s a fantastic experience.

Con Conundrums

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It has come about that my last two Cons of 2013 fall on consecutive weekends.  This weekend I’m at BristolCon, and next weekend is World Fantasy Con in Brighton.  At BristolCon I am a participant – two panels and a book signing – and at World Fantasy Con I am merely a delegate.

The usual Con conundrums apply.  The first is – what to pack?  For Bristol this is more crucial, since I will be performing the role of ‘author’, instead of just watching other people do it.  So what outfit says ‘serious writer’ without saying ‘I’m mad as a box of frogs and you don’t want to come anywhere near me.’  Sometimes the Con involves a formal dinner that obviously involves having to pack an outfit for it.  Sometimes I worry I try too hard with this issue of Con clothing.  Jeans and a t-shirt is probably an acceptable Con outfit for a writer.  It might be appropriate for my ‘horror writer’ t-shirt to get another airing this weekend.

Mode of transportation is also relevant to the first question.  If I’m driving to a Con, I can take more stuff.  But this generally only happens if I can take the day I am travelling off work.  On neither forthcoming Con I have been able to do that – which means it’s easier to take the train from London than travel home, pick up the car, load it up and set off again.  But taking the train directly after work means I have to take all my luggage into London, which is another factor to consider.  Whatever I take has to be transported on a packed commuter train, and sit in the office until I leave.

On Friday I have to be at work for a meeting, so I will be leaving as soon as possible after that’s finished.  It does mean that the smart ‘work clothes’ that will be required for that will have to be my travelling clothes to Bristol.  Unless I take a change of clothing.

When travelling to a Con, the issue of having space for books also must be considered.  It is impossible to leave a Con without having acquired books. Many of them give out freebies in the delegate bags, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll buy some, too.  For BristolCon, I am also taking some copies of SOUL SCREAMS for the author signing session.  But I am really hoping that I will sell at least a couple of them, otherwise I have to cart them all back home with me.

I am looking forward to both Cons, and they will both be very different experiences.  Hopefully they will both give me something to blog about for the next two weeks, too.

And once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, it will be time to plan 2014’s Con schedule…

Farewell to Dot Lumley

I was saddened this week to learn that literary agent Dot Lumley had lost her battle with cancer.  I met Dot on several occasions over the years, and she was a lovely lady, who always had time for writers, be they new or more established ones.

Dot handled many genres of fiction incuding both crime and horror.  I submitted both SUFFER THE CHILDREN and DEATH SCENE to her.  She rejected both, but with personal letters and encouraging words that convinced me she had taken the time to read them through, instead of going down the form rejection route.

Our paths crossed at a variety of conventions – since she dealt with all genres she attended both the crime and the horror/SF/fantasy Cons.  At the St Hilda’s Crime Conference in August 2009, I found myself sitting next to her at dinner on the Saturday night.  The contract for SUFFER THE CHILDREN from Lyrical Press had come to me days before, and I was still trying to decide whether or not to accept it.  I knew that Lyrical Press was an e-book only publisher, and by accepting the contract I was likely to forfeit the opportunity to ever see SUFFER THE CHILDREN in print.  I took the opportunity to ask Dot for her advice.  She told me that if this was a manuscript that was doing the rounds for a while (it had been), and if the e-book contract was for a finite length of time (it was), then I had nothing to lose and I should go for it.  When I returned home at the end of the weekend, I took Dot’s advice and sent an email accepting the contract.

Me and Dot Lumley, January 2011

Me and Dot Lumley, January 2011

The last time I saw Dot was in January 2011.  The T Party Writers’ Group hold a Winter Social in the early months of the year, where we get together for food, drink and chat.  In the last few years we have taken to inviting guests – authors, agents and editors who have come to speak to the group or got involved with us in some other way.  Or sometimes just because we like them.  Dot was attending our social event as a guest that year, and I spent a good part of the evening chatting to her.  In fact, at one point it was just her and me sitting in a corner on our own.  Then my husband started chatting to one of our other guests, Mike Carey – it turns out they have a shared interest in building model kits – and a few minutes later I realised that the rest of the group were pulling chairs up to join us at the table, and we had been hogging the special guests.

This picture was taken on that evening.  Much wine had flowed by that point.

When I heard about Dot’s death I felt compelled to pay homage to her in a blog post.  I had to look back at previous posts to avoid repeating myself, as I was sure I had told at least one of these stories on this blog before, but it turns out that I hadn’t.  Sometimes I think about posting things and then don’t, for whatever reason.  I think in this case I wrote a post about our social event and the famous guests I had been schmoozing with, and was worried it would come across as nothing more than blatant name-dropping so I deleted it.  I also had a reluctance to share this photo, which I considered somewhat unflattering at the time.

But now Dot is gone, and this is the only picture I have of the two of us together – a record of the last conversation I will ever have with her.  Once again I am reminded of how brief and fragile life is.  Now I want to share this photo with the world, and it no longer seems unflattering, because in it we are both alive and well, and smiling.

Dot was an exceptional lady and the publishing world is all the poorer now she has left it.  Jo Fletcher has written a very touching blog post paying tribute to Dot’s courage, and I encourage you to go read it. It’s far more eloquent than what I have written here.

Many literary figures have left us of late – James Herbert, Iain Banks and Ann Crispin are names that immediately spring to mind.  Dot Lumley was not as famous as these other names, but she touched many lives in the publishing world, including mine.  Her absence will be noticed.

Goodbye, Dot.  I shall miss running into you at conventions, but I hope you have found peace.

BristolCon 2013

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This year will see my first attendance at BristolCon, a one-day convention organised by the Bristol Fantasy & SF Society, in its fifth year.

This year’s event takes place on 26 October, and now that the programme has been officially released I am pleased to be able to announce my programme items.  I am going to be quite busy for this one.

I am kicking off at 10:00 am with a panel on innovative deaths.  Lots of scope there for interesting discussion, I am sure.  Between now and then I shall be trying to come up with new and gruesome ways of killing people.  All in the name of research, of course.

At 2:00 pm there will be a mass signing for all authors present, and an opportunity to sell books, and I will be pitching up there with copies of SOUL SCREAMS.  I’ll also be happy to sign anything that contains one of my stories, and I’m putting this out as a challenge to try and find who’s got the oldest publication.  Has anyone out there got an old copy of PEEPING TOM with my story in?  Or, to go even further back, the October 1989 issue of FEAR?  If anyone brings me one of these to sign I’ll give them a free copy of one of my books.

At 4:00 pm I am moderating my first panel – on the pros and cons of small press publishing.  I am really excited about this, as I think it’s a perfect topic for me to be moderating, and there are lots of discussion points on this subject to put to the panel.

There are many other fabulous items on the very full programme, and if you are able to get to Bristol for the day do consider coming along – there aren’t too many Cons that you can do in their entirety in a day, and the membership for this one is a mere £20.  A bargain for the price.

Britain’s most established genre Cons are BFS FantasyCon and EasterCon, but it’s reassuring to see a rise in the number of smaller Cons that start out as small local gatherings and gradually get bigger every year.  The UK may be too small to compete with the US for the number of Cons, but there’s no doubt that the number of SF/Fantasy/Horror fans in this country is on the rise.  And where fans gather, Cons will happen.  The only down side is there are now so many fantastic Cons, I have to decide each year which ones I’m going to do.  I have neither the leave allocation nor the finances to do all of them.  I wish I could.

If you make it to BristolCon, do seek me out – it would be great to see you (if nothing else, as a reassurance that people do actually read this blog).  In the meantime however, I must dash.  I’ve got to go and think up some intelligent questions to ask my panel.