Of Battles and Book-Sniffing – Where I’ll Be at FantasyCon!

Saturday morning at FantasyCon, I’ll be the one belting off the train at high speed and racing straight into the Conference Theatre for the ‘Fighting The Good Fight’ panel – the one where we talk about the battle tactics, the merits of cold steel, and how many Orcs one uber-Barbarian can really take down in a scrap. From the emails that have already been flying around, this promises to be a LOT of fun, and there may just be some propage…

At 2pm, you’ll fine me being rather more sensible, in Suite 2, and talking about book marketing. You know the stuff: social media, what works and what doesn’t, how much is too much and why you should never send a new follower a DM telling them to buy your book.

Or you can find me reading from Ecko Endgame at 4:40pm… plus ther are wicked rumours that Titan Books may have some advance copies, so be very very nice to Lydia, and she might let you sniff the pages.

The one place you won’t find me is behind the booksellers’ table. Because it’s not Forbidden Planet and they’re likely to ask me what in the ever loving fuck I think I’m doing monkeying with their till.

Find the rest of the gleefully awesome FantasyCon programme here!

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BristolCon

#squaresbygeeksAfter so many years of trading, being free to roam at BristolCon was a very odd feeling indeed. It was slightly nebulous, somehow, almost as if I’d missed something or there was something I should have been doing… for the first couple of hours, sitting chatting and drinking tea, I kept fidgeting, as if there was something I’d forgotten.

But no! After a while (and a very fine sarnie at the St. Mary Redcliffe just up the road), it finally dawned on me that I didn’t actually have to do anything, and if I wanted to sit on my arse, play with Lego and admire Emma’s sewing and crocheting skills (and all those lovely NERF guns, Ben!) then that was – actually – all fine.

Jen's DragonBut there was a reading (from the screen of my mobile phone as my iPad, dutifully lugged with me all the way from The Smoke, decided it wasn’t having any of it, thank you), a group signing (and actual people bringing actual books to be signed – even ones with my name on them), a book launch, (well done Jo on the almighty sales of Spark and Carousel), and the attending of the panels and the readings (including a very funny conjured-on-the-spot short story from Jasper Fforde featuring a wall of death and a pet lion in a sidecar, all good and blackly-oily fun).

Jasper FfordeAnd the best thing about not being nailed by my knees as usual? Proper time to catch up with people I don’t see nearly enough of, particularly old Vike buddy Ken, who’s now featured in Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. And yes, I did buy a copy and he did sign it for me!

Well done to all involved for a fantastic event – a real family atmosphere and all very welcoming and laid-back. And, next stop FantasyCon, another event where I shall be a free and unbound creature, roaming widely and signing books and stickering unsuspecting passers-by!

Who knows, I could get used to this…

 

 

 

BristolCon

No Tables! Well, fuck me ragged, it’s a miracle – I will be at a Con, and without those firmly hammered-in nails that attach me to the FP table.

Yes, I will be at BristolCon on Saturday 26th, and will be giving a quick’n’dirty (no, not one of those) reading from Ecko Endgame in the Summit Suite at 13:50 – which will leave plenty of time for all you lovely people to get to Jo Hall’s Spark and Carousel book launch at 14:00.

No idea how it will feel being at an event without my table to hide behind – kind of feels like being bereft of both armour and safe retreat – but this is BristolCon, after all, so it’s all good.

Plus, Des will be there flying the FP flag, so I guess I’m sort of on range patrol…

May also be signing Endgame at the Bristol FP, but more news on that to come!

Full BristolCon schedule is here…

EasterCon Program – or, Books, Monsters and Popping my KaffleKlatsch Cherry

dysprosium_final-01_200Just to be difficult, my schedule at EasterCon is going to differ from that listed by the program.

As ever, you can find me nailed by my knees to the Forbidden Planet stall, safely secure behind our groaning tables of titles, and drinking lots of tea. Please come and say hello, buy books, sign books (your own by preference, but, you know…) and keep us entertained.

On Saturday evening, you will find me in Armstrong at 21:15, with wine, and reading one of my favourite scenes from Ecko Endgame. No spoilers (promise) but action-packed and definitely worth tearing yourself away from the bar to enjoy. With me will be Tej Turner, reading from The Janus Cycle.

And on Sunday you’ll find me popping my Kaffeeklatsche cherry at 13:45, also in Armstrong, along with the Mighty Jim Butcher, Gareth L Powell, and Caroline Mullan.

Posted with thanks to a thoroughly stressed Judi!

LonCon 3: Madhouse!!

Hula DalekThere are some unwritten rules to bring a bookseller at a Con. For example: you’ll hear the following phrases many times over the course of a weekend: ‘I’ve got too many books at home, I can’t buy any more’, ‘I can’t buy books, there’s no space in my luggage’, or the slightly more extreme, ‘If I buy any more books, I’ll need a new house!’

Apparently, there are a lot of SF/F readers with money to burn, not only on books and luggage space, but on the inevitable new house when they try to squeeze one more Kingkiller Chronicle into their already bulbous bookshelves.

IMG_2485Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. Not the bulbous shelves, (though our stall was buckling under the weight of fantastical literature), but the willingness of people to buy books. Those from over the water must’ve come with empty flightcases, because there were no concerned comments about luggage space. People were picking up five and ten and fifteen books at a time, hardcovers and signed books, books to enable them to meet their favourite authors, books to take home to friends, books that just looked interesting…  In a world where bookshops close faster than you can list them, something in me was jumping with childish glee at so much pleasure taken in the printed page.

Titan Books!One American fan commented that you only get a 20% – 30% crossover of SF/F books between the UK and the US. It hadn’t occurred to me before – but of course that’s why. If you go to a WorldCon, then the opportunity to broaden your horizons (and collection) is tremendous. Not only books, but authors and friends – no wonder you travel with only a clean pants and a Visa.

Slenderman Vs. MarkAnyway. More unwritten rules: usually, at Cons, we have time to escape our shackles and explore. Not this time! The sheer mass of fans might have been deceptively diluted by the size of ExCel – but all of them came to see us, sooner or later. I escaped for my couple of panels, and a slightly leftfield 40-minute session in the basement with the cleaning team, going through bin bags and looking for my wallet (thrown away earlier in the day, and fortunately retrieved). Even from behind the stall, though, the whole experience was intense, exhilarating, exhausting and wondrous, all in equal measure.

My Sigismund SistersMore than anything, it was fantastic to see so many people, so many friends, all together in one place. Friends from my twitter days, met in the flesh for the first time; friends from my Norwich past, back in the present as our lives rotate towards each other, friends from fandom, all over the world.

@ksonney and @ursulavAll-in-all, it was quite overwhelming. And after Nine Worlds and the Week of Madness between, its no wonder everyone came home saying, ‘Look, I love you all. But leave me the fuck alone ’til at least next Thursday.’

Free Universe!Well done, LonCon. That was tremendous!

 

 

 

 

 

The AudioMo Challenge

AudioMoNext month, I’ll be taking part in the AudioMo challenge, posting a short recording from AudioBoo every day through July.

This may well include sneaky excerpts from forthcoming Ecko novels, novels I happen to be reading, random commentary on cub antics, cycling (though I promise to keep both hands on the handlebars), and/or wacky shenanigans happening at Forbidden Planet.

I can promise it won’t include quotes from the FP Customer Services answering machine. You can find those anytime you like.

Recordings will be posted on Twitter and tagged #AudioMo. And that’s me joining the shooting-your-mouth-off fun!

The SF Weekender

sci-fiweekender_506eaac9f294fTake a long drive via the scenic route, the rising slopes and rearing rocks of Snowdonia, the sheep in the road, the tumbledown stone cots and the villages on the edge of nowhere.

Take a holiday caravan with a choice of old VHS tapes. Take giant deckchairs and cawing rooks and strange chainsaw-carved creatures that looked like something out of Spirited Away. Something waiting.

IMG_1036Take twelve-hour days on our feet, selling copies of Avengers Vs. X-Men and Assassin’s Creed cosplay stealth blades (so was there that game of Dancefloor Hitman in the end?). Take many friends, old and new; take a very different kind of stock, and a very different kind of fan.

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Take a plethora of authors at the Forbidden Planet table. Take notes on how appearing on a panel can affect a subsequent signing. Take nineteen copies of Ecko signed and sold – and take an interesting lesson in authordom from, at various points, David Moody, Stacia Kane and Peter V Brett. Take time to wonder: just how much of an author’s persona is donned?

IMG_1021Take costumes (of course) – take a cardboard Blood Angel and five fans dressed as a game of Pac-Man. Take every kind cleavage, every pattern of waistcoat, every steampunk cog and goggle; take every lightsaber, every sword and bow and zap-gun. Take every plastic and pointy ear.

Take a breath, and go outside.

P1050250And finally, take a walk in the early morning, down to a beautiful little beach and great shadows of mountains – take a moment of tranquillity that makes the high energy madness of the Con all wonderfully surreal.

And take a consensus?

A subtly different event – very much a con for cosplayers. In some ways, it felt more like Expo than EasterCon. The facilities were better than previous years and the business was very good, but perhaps a little bit warmer, next year?

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Westward Ho – a Weekend at BristolCon


Bristol is one of those places that’s always drawn me back – friends there, and events, and FP. A slightly more hip Norwich, a slightly less smug Brighton, it’s a city that has a geek magnetism all of its own.

And nowhere is this magnetism stronger than at BristolCon.

This year, the Con seemed to be all readings and beer – thank you to those who braved the Big Hill and came up to the Megastore to the Ecko Rising signing, and to those who loitered after the Women in Sensible Armour panel for the hit’n’run five-minuter that was fluffing for Guest of Honour Gareth Powell. The panel itself was half-fun and half-serious – thank you to Philip Reeve for elegant and flawless moderation, and to fellow panelists Jonathan L Howard, Jo Hall and Foz Meadows and for getting a serious message across with a laugh.

Back in the dealers’ room, a big cheer for FP’s Dez who was a star at the trading table, and for Terry Martin and his uke (who knew?) Was good to meet Ben Galley in the flesh (nice stall, Ben) as well as to foist copies of Ecko onto some old friends (Ken and Nick, always unchanged) and some newer ones (Marc and Cheryl, be gentle with me!)

It was also a weekend of artwork – another painting by Jennie Gyllblad, featuring a lemur no less!, and I was fortunate enough to be given a piece of art by Tom and Nimue Brown – both of which are now in my front room and looking very fine indeed.

Finally, the event can’t pass without a mention of Colin Harvey, Ghost of Honour – someone I only really knew in passing, but well enough to spend my last hour at the Con listening to readings from his work, and to the voices of those who knew him far better than I did. It was a touching thing – and carried across the very strong sense of community that BristolCon is all about. You can find the Colinthology here.

So well done to Jo and her crew – may it get bigger and better with every passing year!

(And yes, David. I did have a hangover. Curse you and your pub-crawling!)

BristolCon Schedule

If you’re at a loose end in Bristol, this weekend, BristolCon has perhaps the best sense of family you’ll find at a Con all year – it’s a small outfit but a rapidly growing one, and has a wonderfully welcoming warmth.

Before Con kick-off, I’ll be reading and signing up at Forbidden Planet Bristol on Friday lunchtime, from 1 – 2pm. Please come and point and laugh and throw things; I’m sure Tim won’t mind clearing up the eggs and flour.

At the Con itself, you can find me behind the FP stall as usual, sneaking out to participate in the Women In Sensible Armour panel in Room 1 at 3pm, along with Philip Reeve (mod), Jonathan L Howard, Joanne Hall and Foz Meadows – after which they’ve got me giving another (very short!) reading at 3:50pm.

Can’t promise I’ll be in armour for it, though, sensible or otherwise. Bit far to lug the plate on the train…

FantasyCon Schedule

FRIDAY

From 11:00am we’ll be setting up the Forbidden Planet stall in the usual place. Please bring coffee and biscuits!

1:00 – 2:00pm panel – ‘ How Important Are Blogs? The Relationship between Bloggers and Publishers’.

8.00 – 8.30pm I’ll be reading from Ecko Rising in Room 134. Come and watch and listen and throw things!

 

SATURDAY

10:00 – 11:00am Forbidden Planet will be selling books at Robin Hardy’s book launch in the Regency Lounge

11:00 – 12:00pm Still in the Regency Lounge, I’ll be miraculously changing hats to be ‘author’ Danie at the Titan Books launch, drinking wine and eating Sophie’s awesome cupcakes – plus Forbidden Planet will be trading there as well.

12:00 – 1:00pm Forbidden Planet will be staying the Regency Lounge for the James Herbert signing.

3:00 – 5:00pm More Forbidden Planet trading for the two Robinson ‘Mammoth’ signings.

9:00 – 10:00pm – Forbidden Planet’s last event of the evening – we’ll be at Jo Fletcher’s book party in Bar Rogue!

This is the first event I’ve done in both hats. Nothing can possibly go wrong…