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!

Facebook Author Pages

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What are they? What’re they for? If you’re a high profile figure – you’re one of the GRRMs or the JKRs for the world then fairy nuff, they’re a way to keep your public updated with book news, your page manager in chips and beer, and to save yourself a job when you’ve got important stuff to do. But what if you haven’t had a Theme Park named after you main character? What if you’re a normal mortal who happens to have written some books? All the ‘Author as Brand’ speechifying in the world doesn’t actually answer the question.

You know that your humble Author Page has been cruelly rogered by Facebooks’s algorithm changes. Now, only a few see it, and those few are probably your friends and family who (bless them) are now seeing everything twice. Plus, if you’ve Read your Social Media Handbook you’re now posting this crap on your blog, hoarding pictures on your Pinterest, and posting shit on Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, and Instagram (#authors #authorsofinstagram #books #writing #fucksake), and so on…

With so many channels of noise surrounding us, it’s very easy to saturate your own media – there’s a subtle art is knowing what to post on which stream, and how to differentiate the content so your trusty Uncle Bob isn’t seeing the same updates everywhere he looks…

But when you have the same platform/layout and potential content twice? How does that work?

I’m asking a lot of questions. And Social Media professional that I may be (tooting my own, sorry), I honestly don’t know the answer. I’ve decided, however, to just jump in and give it a go – focus on writing things, on current and new projects, and on doing… not ‘Author as Brand’ (I’ve seen that abused FAR too much) but ‘Author as Friend’, perhaps in the spirit of the old community that used to exist on LiveJournal. It may not work on the platform, I don’t know. People may not see the updates and lose interest, I don’t know. I may vanish up my own backside in a swirl of pretentiousness, or lose interest myself and go back to updating every other bloody site, I don’t know.

But I’m going to give it a try.

If you’re interested, you can find me on Facebook as Danie Ware.

2014 – The Things That Matter

Southwold BeachI’ve tried several times to write that ‘review of the year’ blog post, and just can’t make it make sense. Last year, the plates came crashing down because I couldn’t do it all – this year, I’ve done it all and more, and I’m still not sure how. It’s been a very dark year, but I guess you cope because you have to.

This year has seen the chaos of my work/child schedule get even more insane, if that’s possible. As the calendar of FP events gets busier, and I need to commit more time to being work Danie, Isaac still has a schedule of his own and he still has to get there – here, there, everywhere, at the last minute and at the drop of a whole shopful of hats. Just keeping these two plates spinning is a constant and chaotic headache, and wouldn’t happen without help.

Nine WorldsAdd to that the Summer of Madness – not only Nine Worlds and WorldCon and all the events surrounding, but trying to play Tetris with my furniture to get the decorators into the house. When I came back from ExCel in August, I had psoriasis, eczema, and a cellulitis infection in my ear, all flared up through pure exhaustion. I escaped a stay in hospital by the skin of my teeth and a very smart Doctor.

Unhappy CatAnd then add to that my Mum being diagnosed with terminal cancer in February. I have no words for this – not here, not now, maybe not ever. I haven’t even been with her as much I should have been. She faced three months of chemo, at nearly eighty years old, almost by herself. And I’ve felt so helpless – needing to be there, to do more – and caught in a temporal plate-spinning impossibility that I constantly struggle to control, with no real hope of succeeding. Yet her strength and stubbornness have been beyond measure, and every time I’ve thought ‘I can’t do this anymore, I’m too tired!’ I’ve reminded myself just who is facing what, and shut the fuck up.

Race for LifeIsaac and I have been with her for Christmas, and she has absolutely insisted on doing everything herself. It still isn’t real, to her either I think. I do wonder if these things ever quite stop hiding behind the Pillars of Denial… right up until the end.

Because of all of this, the delay to Ecko Endgame has been rather a blessing. The last part of the MS was rushed when I handed it in, and it’s given me a year to spin it back out and weave it back in again. In many ways, it’s kept me sane – given me both purpose and escape. Somewhere to hide, if you like.

BrightonFinally, this year, I’ve learned a huge lesson – partially from Mum and partially from sheer chaos. That lesson is to take the time when you have it. To lay the worries down, and to go to Brighton for the day. To take the bath in Bath and to look out over the hills and enjoy the moment. To walk along the beach, to play silly games on the Pier, to take the holiday when you can, to wade in the water with bare feet and climb the rocks like you did as a child, with joy and without shame.

Gull RockJon has taught me this too – has been support, sunlight and occasional sanity through a year that’s been very dark, at times. And a year that ends with me knowing that it’s going to get darker before it gets light again.

But knowing, too, that there is a light at the end of the forest, and that I don’t walk the path alone.

Ecko Endgame Cover Art

Ecko Endgame

Ecko Endgame

Cover art is a very special thing. It’s the tipping point between a book being in your head, and the thing being real and breathing and there on the shelf. It’s seeing a concept or a character brought to life. And then, of course, there’s that all-important cover quote – that one-liner that has to sell your glorious vision to the world outside…

As ever, Martin has done a storming job with this one.

With cheers for Natalie at Titan Books, as well!

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 Sci Fi Weekender

BeachOkay, I admit: I went to the Sci Fi Weekender with a certain set of pre-conceptions – and a certain set of thermals. The memories of the previous year’s skull-freezing shower will haunt me ‘til I’m old and grey.

But sometimes, it’s good to be wrong.

One warm caravan; one hot shower. One view of mountains in the morning. Ducks that waddled past our window, in that businesslike way that only ducks can manage. All-in-all, the Weekender turned out to be an excellent event – and the business wasn’t just about the ducks.

IMG_2152Behind the trading table, we saw the most fantastical costumes – from a trio of Deadpools to the gorgeous armour of the Chaos Marine, from Su’s Death of Rats to the beer-drinking, cross-play Leia. It seems the event has become all about the dressing up. Everyone was getting into it, and not just for the Masquerade – I find myself wondering if I can still fit the more interesting end of my wardrobe, but hey, that’s another story.

IMG_2157And on the subject of stories, I thoroughly enjoyed my fiction panels – the books stream had a series of interesting topics, a lot of energy and insight, and a good and positive audience. There was a lot of feedback, people getting involved and asking questions – and that was how it should be. Well done, Sam – that’s never an easy job!

Snapping the SnapperIt was also one of these events where your twitter people come out of the woodwork, introducing themselves and putting faces to @labels. It was lovely to meet so many of you for the first time, and to realise just how far Ecko has reached. Knowing that your book had actually touched people’s lives will never, ever, cease to be amazing.

Louis Spins a TuneOther surprises included Sci Fi London’s Louis Savy spinning a mean seat on the Thursday night, and discovering I can apparently still dance – thought that was to Pat Sharp (who else?) on the Saturday. And might have needed beer.

Simon BisleyAnd props to both Bisley and Fabry, bless them, for being so helpful!

Deadpool's New Reading
All-in-all, the Sci Fi Weekender has taken on a new look – and as cosplay becomes more and more popular, who knows where it will go?

More pictures here.