Posts Tagged ‘conventions’

It’s funny how the lightest of gestures can become something much bigger whether by accident or design.

For me, the last two years have felt somewhat lost to me for the most part, with personal circumstances meaning at times anything beyond getting through the week in one piece was pretty much off the table. Things remain off-track, but have at least settled enough to take a few deep breaths and work out where to swim to next.

In the last few months, some pretty good things have turned up, including a chance to portray a fascinating historical figure in front of a museum audience, but that is a story I shall revisit another time. Earlier this week, I had something crop up I could only consider a massive opportunity, but of course it was then that the weight of self-doubt landed on my head. So I decided to do what any person with such reservations would do. I took to my personal Facebook page, of course.

The response was…pretty good. And further to that, I’ve seen several friends ready to Do The Thing, or already doing it, this week. So it felt like something I should probably at least partially look after, or champion for the time being. Here goes!

First of all, I would like to thank Emily’s Diary, for bringing this wonderful and encouraging tiny potato into my life. It’s always handy to remember when one forgets.

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Secondly, I should probably stick down the list of known planned attendances this year, and also planned activities which might affect the year’s movements. Should there be anything you readers see that you either think I should probably be at, or would perhaps like to see me at, you need but let me know and I’ll add/check the diary/tell you I’m double booked at earliest convenience. And of course, some of these will be subject to change or cancellation on my part.

Current Writing plans:

  • Finish and release Winter Storm. This is a priority task, having not managed in 2015 or 2016 for enough reasons to cover a very personal blog post which I’m not going to be doing. However, know that words are happening again, which is the start you always need with stuff like this. I am also doing my damnedest to make sure it’s worth the wait for you all.
  • Should that succeed, I do have the first of a new series to draft. I won’t be done with the Grenshall Manor Chronicles by any means, but this thing is something I’ve been talking about and sketching ideas for when I’ve had five minutes of late. It’s a very different setting from what I’ve done so far, and it needs to happen (at least for me). I won’t get ahead of myself, but if I got this far, I’d be very happy.
  • There is a possibility of short stories in and around this time. No promises to myself or others, but if the opportunity presents itself, both in terms of my time and a place to put it/them, then activity shall happen.

Provisional planned convention attendances:

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  • LarpCon –3-5 March 2017, Leicestershire
  • Eastercon– 14-17 April 2017, Birmingham
  • Nerd East July 3 2017, Durham
  • Nine Worlds—4-6 August 2017, London
  • Worldcon 75 –9-13 August 2017, Helsinki
  • Sandbach Author Signing Event 23 September 2017, Sandbach, Cheshire
  • FantasyCon 29 September—1 October 2017, Peterborough
  • Octocon—6-8 October 2017, Dublin

Third, and finally, as previously stated, my task appears to be to wave and encourage people to Do The Thing wherever appropriate and/or possible. I shall start here. And know that of course the definition of Doing The Thing is an intentionally broad one. It doesn’t have to be rulership of a global power. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes there are days when making it out of bed should be celebrated as the triumph they are. Only you yourself will know what you can do, and want to get done, on a given day. But know this: I’m going to do my best to be there for you in spirit, and if you want to tell us about The Thing you are doing, please feel free to comment away below!

I’ll also designate this post as a permitted spot for getting hold of me and checking on progress with the things I have listed above for myself. Know that this isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list of missions I happen to have for the year, but it’s an important enough list for me all the same.

To those of you out there who are going for it, I wish you the very best of luck, and look forward to hearing tales of your victories and your valiant deeds.  I’m keen to have some to share with you, and also hopeful of adding more cool stuff to the list in future posts, should the year allow it.

Good luck, all! Go out there and shine. You’ve got this, one and all!

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P.S. If you got here already, you probably know about my other social media outlets, but in case you don’t:

Find me on Facebook as R A Smith

On Twitter: @RASmithPSL

Also Xchyler Publishing website:

And their Facebook page!

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It bee-gins…

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For those of you attending, I’ll be on the following panels, by way of reminder:

Dealing with Anxiety in Fandom

Friday 14:30 – 15:30, Room 7 (Hilton Deansgate)

Many fans experience anxiety, whether as part of their daily life, in recurring bouts or just for one period in their life. However often a fan experiences anxiety, managing this at conventions and in online communities is a major skill. In this session people who have found their own ways through the difficult process open up about their own experiences.

 

Manchester in Speculative Fiction

Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Deansgate 2 (Hilton Deansgate)

We’re surrounded by the bricks and mortar of the city itself, but what about all the alternate, futuristic, fantastical, or not-quite there Manchesters we know from SF and fantasy?

Place, Identity, Story

Monday 13:00 – 14:00, Room 6 (Hilton Deansgate)

A story does not exist in a vacuum. Stories are shaped by (among other things) the people they happen to, and characters are shaped by (among other things) the places they inhabit. How do SF and fantasy explore the inter-relationship of place, identity, and story? Which SF protagonists are uniquely tied to their places, and which SF places only make sense when seen by specific protagonists?

If you’re terribly lucky, you might catch me helping out elsewhere. More likely though, you’ll catch me just wandering around the event. In which case, come say hi! I’ll be carrying those lovely business cards around, should you like one, and also will hopefully have a few copies of Oblivion Storm and Primal Storm available on the Newcon Press stand. They have a 5:30 pm book launch you should get to as well!

There is a readings open mic on Sunday at 17:30 that I can be at if people would like to hear me do a reading of one of the two books, but you’d have to let me know first!

And now, I shall begin the journey in to actually start doing these things! Enjoy whatever you are doing this weekend, and if you’re joining me, I won’t say no to a drink if you’re offering 🙂

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I’ve spent just about the entirety of 2015 in a perpetual state of turbulence. Some seismic shifts have occurred on a personal basis and obviously, this has, as a thing, been rather time intensive.

So here’s the thing. This month is the start of a promise to myself that I’m going to get back on track with what I want to be doing in life, and by necessity, changing up a bunch of less positive matters that have been going on around me.

Day job is an enforced all change. My geographical location has a good chance of changing. A fresh start is due. And if you’re reading this, the odds are that you’ll follow my writing in some capacity. This is an important thing to me which has rather brutally stalled as a bunch of hard work has led me up blind alleys elsewhere. That needs putting right too.

Those of you who have read bios of mine in the past will know that I rather like my cars; a trait that at least one of my novel characters has thoroughly inherited. This featured vehicle is not as it may first seem in its iconic shaping, and is in fact not exactly a Porsche. Some of you will already know this is in fact a RUF CTR, known as ‘Yellowbird’ due to the famous colour and model.  It is this that I have named a list of personal objectives after, for reasons that I’ll tell you in person if you ask me. Think of it as my own personal Mockingjay.

The start of this operation is well marked with a concerted effort to get back on with blogging proper. And to make some important appearance updates. Thanks to the kindness of several people, including Con or Bust, I am getting to Nine Worlds this weekend, a convention I have not previously been able to attend due to a regular clash with one of my two trips to Atlantis in a year. Only three to go ever, so I want to make them count. I’ll be speaking on three panels in the Race and Culture track, about videogames, about dystopias and one called ‘I Don’t See Race’. I will also be joining my pals at Radio Book Worm, which I of course guest present from time to time, and The Missing Monkey Geek Podcast Quiz, which I have competed on and will again!  Have a look on the panel info if you want to know more! And incidentally, I’d love to see most of you there.

At month end, I shall be attending Mancstercon, and the panel I shall be sat on there will discuss Irony In Fantasy.

In between times, as well as working out where this tornado lands, I will of course be catching up with the third instalment of The Grenshall Manor Chronicles. I’ve been looking forward to this project for a while, though up to now there have been disruptions like none I’ve known since I picked up this writing business.

Finally, I just wanted to offer my gratitude to you all for bearing with me. I’m not going to say ‘normal service will be resumed shortly,’ because that simply won’t be true. New service begins now. Those of you who have been along for the ride thus far, thank you for hanging on!

Since before the turn of the year, I meant to get a post up on here again other than a share or re-blog. Though I haven’t been around much, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes pretty much everywhere. Bear with me, especially as I won’t be back with just one post in the upcoming days, but several. Try not to get too excited, will you all? Also, I can be found on Facebook quite a bit, I should probably remind you, and occasionally on Twitter nattering with richer authors than I. Usually all updates happen on the same day, but not always. You may be missing out on things…

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Great news though—conventions and the like appear to be filling up fast! I’ll endeavour to keep this updated with my likely whereabouts, though if this month is anything to go by, things shall be, to some extent, subject to change as a result of real life and all that.

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  • This very week, I shall be at Dysprosium, or EasterCon if you prefer, with the hope of bumping into Jim Butcher at some stage. I’m down for a panel on Unseen London, likely as no great surprise to anyone if you’re this far. Revision on my historical Underground knowledge, and a couple of other fun things I’ve discovered, is underway! WBN 2015 Logo
  • April 23 is World Book Night, of course. This year, that will see me at Fab Café in Manchester, whereby I should have some books with me and will certainly be partaking in some form of fun activity, as well as possibly having some remaining copies from the rest of the day of Street Cat Bob, if you want one.
  • Just arranged, I shall be appearing at Nerd East 2015 in Durham on 30 May for general socialising and to do a talk, subject currently to be confirmed. Might even have some books with me if we’re all lucky!
  • 7-9 August–I’ve been asked very nicely to go to Nine Worlds this year, which I shall as it doesn’t clash with an event I never miss for once!
  • 29 August – I’m heading to MancsterCon. Another panel awaits, expect a fantasy-related conversation there.

Some unconfirmed plans I’m holding out hope for reaching:

  • 11 July Edge-Lit in Derby, probably just as a nice day trip, but come and say hi, it’d be great!
  • [Edit] Almost forgot Octocon, but being regularly asked to go…
  • 23-25 October—FantasyCon
  • Various–Leeds Steampunk Market. I am quite frequently at these as some of you will know! Dates as I confirm them.

As I say, the first of several posts I have in the pipeline. And if you’d like to read some guest posts I have done of late, stop by D.A. Lascelles‘ page. I finally got an invite to the prestigious Vampire Month club, in which you can catch an interview with me and a bit of geekery on my part in relation to the fanged fiends. It was an awful lot of fun.  There are actually 9 or 10 posts up there in total, with some other authors I know, Elizabeth Morgan, A.J. Campbell and Jen Ponce. It was Vampire Month, after all.

Primal Storm front

Catch you soon I hope! You now have a number of opportunities, and there will be more. . .

*Which needs a cool name.

Only a week after the event, here’s my event report. Just like back in school. The short version: a great time was had and lots of new and interesting people were met, including some heroes of mine in within fiction writing. Can’t say fairer than that…

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So I arrived on Wednesday evening, and stayed through to Sunday evening. We managed to get in early on the whole registration thing, which was good because it got kind of lively when the convention proper commenced. All told, this one had 10,000 guests which makes it the biggest World Science Fiction Convention held yet! So it is just as well the ExCel Centre in which it was held happens to be HUGE. Seriously, this thing is so big, it has TWO Docklands Light Railway stations for access.

Now, I’ve never been to this particular type of convention before, and discovered rapidly that having that word in the title can mean many different things. I looked at the event and thought it looked interesting, but got a nudge to do some stuff for it several months back by some good friends in Emma and Esther and said, ‘sure, I’ll happily do a panel or two’ (having never done panels before). By the time I reached the event, I had signed up for six, and a book signing spot. I approached initially with a fine combo of eager excitement and a degree of terror, but actually found the sheer scale of fixtures a great help on this one. I spent more time on the Wednesday night finding my way around a wonderful iPad app, which essentially provided a scheduler for me, choosing which other events and panels I was provisionally interested in attending, that I kind of forgot about the pre-panel prep.

Well, apart from the first one, for which I needed to source good examples and stories behind fiction and film which ‘got London wrong’. I had a little chat over a tea with Michael, (who was kind enough to put us up for the duration, even lending us his bedroom. Hero!) and between him, Joy  and myself, we managed to add a couple of examples to the reserve. For the record, I now need to watch the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes at least twice, so I can finally get round to watching it, and to spot everything we cited both at home and at the panel . Thor’s rather curious London Underground travel route in Thor: The Dark World I knew about already.

The first panel I attended was amusingly titled, ‘LOLcats in Space: Social Media, Humour and SF Narratives’, and had a frankly brilliant line-up, including Jean Johnson as moderator and Charles Stross on bass guitar (the instrument part may or may not be an untruth).  Energetic, insightful and packed, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to have got started on my little tour.

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Then, very relevant to my current chosen path and equally entertaining, The Changing Face of the Urban Fantastic. Another cracking panel team including none other than Paul Cornell and Robin Hobb, moderated by the excellent Liz Bourke. Good as this panel was, migration started quite early, though I soon remembered why. Straight after this, A Conversation with George R.R.Martin, Connie Willis and Paul Cornell. Yep—that did mean Mr Cornell needed to run, or figure out how to co-locate. He chose the former. Luckily, that meant he could go straight in, whereas when I left at the end, I got into the first very large queue to get into the double suite that this popular fixture hosted. That was a lot of people. Paul did a great job keeping the conversation and the questions flowing, and a good time was had by all. I finally got to my panel that evening and for a first one, I was happy enough with it. I did discover a thing though; being on panels with other authors often just helps you part with money as you seek out their work. Mike Shevdon was on this one with me, and I am now the proud owner of a copy of Sixty-One Nails, following a fascinating conversation about some of London’s more interesting traditions still kept today. The source of that book title is one…

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Two readings concluded the day, catching some from Frances Hardinge, as usual sporting her trademark stylish hat, and Adrian Tchaikovsky, reading cool new things.

And that was only Thursday!

On Friday, I arrived to be overwhelmed with panels I wanted to attend, and ended up not making either of the 10ams I wanted to see. I will keep checking for transcripts. However, this was because I was queueing for a Peter V.Brett signing with Joy. Well worth it, and got Sixty-One Nails signed by Mike Shevdon in the same hour. Being there got us a chance to catch Paul Cornell just before his signing and say hi too.

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 I really enjoyed a swordplay for writers workshop, of which I was sure to take photos and odd notes here and there. Definitely educational. I sat on two panels, Developing LARPs—World vs. Character and got plenty of interest out of that, then Urban Fantasy: London, which I enjoyed immensely. There was a lot to talk about in an hour, including the obvious question of ‘why London’? and mentioning a bunch of other cities, with Manchester coming up too thanks to certain questions and myself and Tony Ballantyne being resident there at present. Learned a lot, talked even more, both after the panel and throughout the con. I also managed to get to the Titan/Tor party thanks to Tony, and enjoy a beer and a chat with a bunch of people in the publishing world. Finally met artist Sarah Anne Langton thanks to Ian Whates and a natter with Peter V.Brett, to name a few. Also, got a bit of tasty birthday cake.

Saturday, I went wandering around the gallery section and chatted to Ade Brown after seeing some tremendous artwork. He has the Where Angels Fall website currently under development, but I’ll be sure to check in once it is done. There were many other incredible exhibits, but no photos of course from me. However a chance wander helped me bump into none other than Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Peter Grant series [Rivers of London/Midnight Riot in US) being the first]. We ended up going for a coffee and effectively a small kaffeeklatsch, which was about as pleasant a way to spend a morning as I could ask for.

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I sat on two panels, Race and British Speculative Fiction, which may have run from 13:30 to 15:00 on the programme, but I was still talking with panellists and guests two hours later on that one. And enjoyed every minute of it. Then LARP Safe: Building Inclusive Worlds in the evening. Perhaps my smallest-attended panel of the con, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Also, I collected a surprise moderator badge for this one due to the original not being able to make it. I would like to say now that this wasn’t anything to do with me seizing an opportunity and bundling the original moderator into a cupboard for an hour. That’s not how I roll.

Finished up the day with a top-quality 80s Night Dance. No, really. It had exactly the right level of cheese for my tastes, though they almost killed this poor chap by seguing several 80s wolf-themed or mentioning songs in. Go on. Think about it. There were a quite a few. In fact, perhaps a competition is worth thinking about…

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Though the con did run to Monday, Sunday was my last day there, regretfully.

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The morning schedule proved relentless, with a signing first thing, sharing a table with the delightful Melinda Snodgrass, straight into a kaffeeklatsch with Adrian Tchaikovsky,  great fun, and then a rush out to my final panel, Representation, Whitewashing and Internationalism in Fandom. My last panel, and a superb one, thanks to a brilliant audience and a top panel in Zen Cho, Mark Oshiro, Eylul Dogruel and Andrea Horbinski. I felt we all had something different to bring to that table, and we again had a long chat afterwards. Sadly couldn’t get into the Charles Stross reading because I’d been beaten to it, and my final official thing was getting along to the Robin Hobb signing.

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A note on that signing. I thought I was mostly going along to help Joy carry some books at first, but over the panels and events attended where Robin was present, she very much sold me on reading her books. So by the time I got into this photo, I was very definitely a fan!

I didn’t attend the Hugo Awards, just because we had a long drive back that evening, so had to content myself with reading the results. But we did stop to quickly chill before we left, reminding me that I hadn’t mentioned any of the many parties going on in the evening. As well as advertising future events in the Fan Village, some other entertainments were laid on including the Tolkien Society running a big quiz, bidders for future WorldCon events giving us a flavour of their nation and city, quite literally in most cases. I’ve tried a salty liquorice liqueur courtesy of Helsinki’s bid for 2017, Kansas fed us several times some delicious pulled pork, and Japan introduced us to several fine whiskies and the wondrous green tea flavoured Kit-Kat, to name but a few.

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Overall, this was a truly amazing experience in which I got firmly bitten by the convention bug. I’m already setting plans in motion for next year! Next up this year, an entirely different affair by way of the Labyrinth Literary Festival up in Stockton, where I shall have a reading and be happily to sell you and/or sign books. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

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Nerd East 2013

Posted: May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This time, it’s personal.

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Well, not really, but that always seems to be a good tagline, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

Anyhoo, following last year’s fun at the ever-growing Nerd East con, I’ve signed up to do it all again. This time, my writing talk is on the wide topic of characters, so I’m planning to focus on a couple of aspects and hope for the best.

I love the challenge that comes with the Nerd East talk; trying to combine gaming and writing and spotting the crossover. Also, I’m aware I’m still pretty new to this business, so even the research I’ve done from this has taught me a lot. I’m hoping it all comes across well, and am planning to bring some relevant visuals to the party this time.

I’m going to be bringing some freebies along, both from myself and one of my writing buddies D.A. Lascelles. 

As an added surprise since I signed up (to me!), I’m going to be involved in another talk as well, as you can see from this here schedule. So come along, have a laugh, and optimistically on my part, bring along books for me to sign!

I look forward to seeing some of you there!