Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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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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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Hi, my name’s Russell and I’m a live (action) roleplayer. This hobby of mine sees me dress in a bunch of costumes, battle friends of mine (who often become better friends for it), figure/blunder my way through a serious of socially precarious situations, make decisions which affect many, many people and sometimes save the world—or break it.

I also write books under the name R.A. Smith, as most of you reading this will likely already know. My involvement with L(A)RP puts me in a number of situations which help me think/reason/bludgeon my way through, often inspiring creative writing, the planning of worlds, designing heroes and villains and coming up with increasingly outlandish plots in which to save or break the world.

I gave a talk over the weekend at the LARP Awareness Party in Leicester. In its own way, it was about just that. LARP awareness. I thought it might be nice for them to know what some of the people who walked amongst them on a treacherous Saturday afternoon battlefield did for a day job.

It wasn’t all about the namedropping either. Initially, I wanted to say something to counter some high-profile and unfounded negative publicity around my pastime. But when I did a little research, I ran a Google search under ‘famous LARPers’. I’m not going to lie to you, some of the results returned weren’t very nice. Read for yourself if you feel the need, but I’m sure as hell not linking them up here.

So I took a step back after that and looked at what it was I was actually trying to find. It raised one big question with me:  how exactly am I defining ‘famous’ here? What *is* fame within the context of this query? And once I’d done that, I found myself well on the way to an answer.

Let me tell you, there is a wealth of talent in this pool. Here’s one for you that I didn’t know until the organiser of the LARP Awareness Party, Ian Knope, told me about: Bertie Carvel. Check him out and his IMDB entry. That’s right—Star Wars: The Old Republic. The most recent Les Misérables film release. Primeval. Dr Who. And he’s LARPed too. He said himself:

“It was clear I would make a committed actor when I took the Tube and train to Chislehurst and back dressed, bearded and armoured as a dwarf, aged 14. “

There are some other people you might know who have at the very least dabbled, such as Paul Ross, Ben Elton and Dara O’Briain, who fellow LARPers may well know did a wonderful stand-up comedy routine, quite tailor made, a while ago. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

Roleplaying, whether pencil and paper on a tabletop or donning a suit of plate, involves a certain amount of ‘getting into character’. Certainly a relation of acting then, in which you may have more of a script, but very much have that same challenge to face. I like, then, to think of it as a ‘gateway’ hobby. A computer gamer may find their RPG leads to dabbling in tabletop gaming, wargaming and/or LARPing, with the reverse also true.

There are plenty of people out there who know much more about cosplay than me, but if you’re anywhere near the Internet at all, even if not a participant, you’ll be aware of its popularity. There’s a clear connection with LARP in that character and attire bear importance, though the costume onus is to provide an interpretation (not necessarily a replica), of a known character from another medium, such as a film or animation.

Now this brings me back to that question on how to define fame. Constant interest from the media likely confers a person a degree of fame in the more traditional sense. But surely the rise and rise of social media confers fame in very much the same way? I mentioned Jenna Marbles as a good example of social media celebrity power. Within the hobby, we have Tabitha Lyons. As well as creating some magnificent props, armour and armaments with Artyfakes, Tabitha is a cosplayer of some renown, being not far off a quarter of a million likes on her Facebook page at the time of writing. All that, and she can occasionally be found in a faction or nation somewhere amongst us.

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If you’ve ever read my bio, you may have seen that I’ve had a few stints as a Tudor. Pay a visit to certain places of interest and you will find historical interpreters quite literally bringing history to life. Playing the roles of either well-known figures from the past, or lesser-known characters from a specific era, they will take you there with their performances, providing a balanced blend of entertainment and education. Dan Osbaldeston has played many parts, including a number of King Henrys and other famous and infamous figures at the Tower of London, Dover Castle and Sherwood Forest, amongst others. Be sure to catch History’s Maid as well. Kate, the director, has been working hard with the BBC of late during the Great War centenary activities planned for this year.

And last but not least, writers. There is of course, Jim Butcher, of the Dresden Files amongst others. It’s in his bios and everything. Another is Adrian Tchaikovsky, of the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, a number of shorts and about to take the sci-fi world by storm. There’s Craig Hallam, a Steampunk Market veteran like myself and author of Greaveburn, and K.T. Davies, author of The Red Knight (which you should read if you haven’t already), who  I have had the honour of fighting alongside in the past. And I believe Steven Erikson belongs on this list too, at the least because of a tabletop RPG campaign or two certainly helping with the writing.

[EDIT:] You see how a bit of sleep helps? I’m going to let you into a not so secret secret organisation who readers of my novels may have noticed popping up in the credits: the ‘Tea Society’. Amongst them, Ninfa Hayes and D.A. Lascelles. Now, I’ve had a strong enough response to put up a second part – more authors, occupations and the like that I already have names for! Drop me a message if you think I’ve missed anyone.

So there you have it. That’s quite some list, eh? I don’t think that even scratches the surface of who we have amongst our ranks, and I’m sure some of you will be able to mention even more people worthy of honourable mentions. A hobby to be proud of, for sure.

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Once again, I inevitably find myself apologising for the length of time between my previous post and now. There are many reasons, mostly the length of time it’s taking me to get my final edits together, but also the emergence of a new day job at the end of August. All good things, as it turns out, but they are proper time-eaters. And unfortunately, have turned out to be at the neglect of aspects of my social media.

Now, there have been some good things too. For a start, I’ve been getting out and seeing people buying my books live (and indeed signing some of them!) This, in turn, has generated some rather nice photo albums. If you’d like to have a look for yourself, I’ve put links on here and here, for example.

The other part of this has been a few bits of novel news that others may know about, but I haven’t put up here yet. So first of all, the fact there’s a second edition of Oblivion Storm now [for those interested in such things, it’s a different ISBN as well, of course]. Have a look for yourself on the links, and whilst you’re there, I’ve got a few reviews too. Maybe I’ll have a few more after this!

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News the second: the follow-up to Oblivion Storm is currently on schedule for a JANUARY 24, 2014 release, so mark it in your diaries! It has the title, Primal Storm, and takes you on around a year after the first adventure. I’m busting a gut putting finishing touches on this, and hope you like what I’ve done with the place! Some familiar characters will be there, with new hobbies and fresh challenges. Parkour, for example. It’d be great to see you all on board. 

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Now, a goal for early next year is to ensure I have a website up and running for my writing work too. I’m very happy with initial talks getting it organised, so that’ll be something else to look forward to, on my part at least.

As I can’t guarantee I’ll get another post up before Christmas, I should also like to take this time out to wish all readers a merry Christmas, whatever they may be doing, and hope you all have a wonderful 2014. I’m certainly looking to make it another big one!

Nerd East 2013

Posted: May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

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!