Tag Archives: eastercon

Feb – More events and stuff

Eesh, it’s already been a couple of weeks already since my last post. This is going to be a quick one. So book stuff first, then some event stuff, and then some award stuff.

Book 4

We’ve settled on a title for book 4 (the first in the new Age of Dread trilogy). However, now comes the part where the publisher goes away to check it doesn’t already exist, so unfortunately I can’t reveal it just yet. I’ve also sent in some thoughts for the cover and I’m in the middle of my edits. So book 4 continues to roll forward at a good pace and it will be a real, shiny, physical thing by October of this year. That seems so far away and yet also just around the corner.

Events

I’m doing another one with those lovely people at Waterstones in Birmingham. Only this time it’s not a publishing workshop, it’s just an evening of SFF goodness alongside two other local authors,  James Brogden and Ren Warom. It’s on Friday 10th March at 6.30pm, and you need to get in touch with Waterstones to reserve a seat, but the event is FREE. We’ll be chatting about our work, influences, getting published and whatever else comes into our heads. So come along, get some books signed and enjoy!

Don’t forget I’m also going to be at Eastercon in April, 14-17th, at the Hilton Metropole, in Birmingham, which is basically right next door to the NEC and super easy to get to via train from Birmingham International. I’m hoping to be on some panels but no news yet.

Battlemage shortlisted for Hellfest Inferno Prize

Battlemage has been shortlisted by my French publisher, Bragelonne, for the first Hellfest Inferno Prize! Hellfest Inferno is a readers’ choice award launched by Bragelonne and Hellfest, a very famous French metal music festival. Voting is via the following website where you can win a 3 day free pass to the Hellfest festival and voting closes on March 6th with the winner announced later in the month, so get voting!

That’s it for now, I’m off to do some more editing.

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January – quick update

Happy New Year! Just a few quick things to mention.

Interview

My interview with Mur Lafferty on the I Should Be Writing podcast ep369 is now available on iTunes and also here on her website.

So if you’re an aspiring author and want to hear some good and varied advice from all kinds of authors, then check out the podcast.

Events

In about two weeks time I’m at Birmingham Waterstones for a publishing workshop on How to edit your novel alongside 2 other authors (Gemma Todd and Gillian McAllister) and an editor/agent (Amanda Rutter). The event is free and tickets are still available. Contact the bookshop to reserve a seat.

We’ll be talking about our experiences with editing our novels, the standard steps a novel goes through when you work with an agent and then an editor at a publisher. We’ll also be answering questions from the audience and there will be copies of my books and Gemma’s first awesome book, Defender, if you want signed copies.

Eastercon

This is an annual convention that moves around the country which is organised by a different group of people each year. For 2017 the event is called Innominate and is being held in Birmingham at the Hilton hotel from 14-17th April.

I’ll be attending the event, hopefully on a panel or two, and will be hanging around all weekend so will be signing books and probably chatting in the bar! If you’ve never been to an event like this before then I would recommend it. You could just come along for the day, sit in some talks and panels, meet some authors and just relax with a crowd of people with common interests.

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What happened at Eastercon 2015

This was my first convention of the year and it was a relatively quiet one. Despite that, and coming home before the convention ended, I was still shattered by the end of it. A painful journey down on Friday meant I arrived late but just in time to see the last half of the opening ceremony. As bad as my journey was, the guests of honour coming from America had a much worse trip. This involved having their plane return to the airport as they didn’t have enough fuel to fly around a storm. As a result they arrived late and had been awake for a very long time. At the end of his first panel, when Jim Butcher was asked for any closing thoughts it consisted of ‘I’m very tired’ which was fair enough after being awake for 30 hours!

The rest of the weekend seemed to pass in a blur. I spent it hanging out and catching up with old friends, such as my stalwart convention buddy Adrian Faulkner, plus I had a chance to catch up with Mr Gav Reads, as I like to call him. The always lovely CE Murphy was over from Ireland and it was so great to see her and put the world to rights. I met a couple of likely lads in the form of Rob Adams and Cameron Johnston and we shared writing stories over a pint of real ale from the bar on Friday night. I briefly ran into the award winning Ruth Booth, who picked up a BSFA award for a short story, so many congratulations to her.

Even though we’d met briefly in the past I was properly introduced to Lucy Hounsom by Jen Williams and we had dinner together in the pub with Adrian, my agent-buddy Pete Newman and his good lady wife Milady Emma Newman. They were both nominated for a Hugo don’t you know for their podcast. I’m not going to get into the Hugo controversy as others have done that elsewhere and with more clarity. See George RR Martin’s blog post about it for more info. I also met the friendly Ed Cox and we shared a manly hug, and Catie introduced me to Charlie Stross at one point too. I also ran into the always kind and generous Gillian Redfearn several times over the weekend, in a corridor, in the pub, during a panel, although at one point I’m sure I saw that she’s grown some horns (see her twitter feed for photos).

So a lot of names and faces, old and new to me over the course of the weekend. As ever, this more than the panels and even the guests of honour, are what the conventions are all about for me. Connecting with like-minded, creative and clever people and being able to completely relax and mention something tangentially connected and not receive a blank stare. At one point someone mentioned Star Wars and Spaced, and that set me off quoting Simon Pegg’s character as he berates a small child in a comic shop for wanting some Jar Jar Binks merchandise.

Saturday consisted of more panels and also hearing Jim Butcher speak on a few panels during his first convention in the UK. It was great to meet him in person and get a book signed. As well as being over here for Eastercon, he is also going on a mini signing tour of the UK this week. Saturday night was a fairly late one where myself, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Peter Newman and David Tallerman put the Marvel film universe to rights. I think we got it all sorted out in the end but don’t ask me what we ultimately decided.

Amazingly I only managed to buy two books at the event, but I did receive one in my bag, The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano who I met last year on a panel at Nine Worlds Geekfest. I’m also feeling briefly smug as just after Eastercon they announced the Clarke Award Finalists and I’ve already read two of them and picked up another, Station Eleven, at the weekend. I’ll attempt to read the others but I won’t make a promise as my to read pile is already hideous.

I left just after breakfast on Sunday so I missed Adrian’s talk on storm chasing, but I’ve heard very good things about it. Check out photos from it on his blog. So now there’s a big break for me between events and the next one will be Nine Worlds Geekfest in August. I’m helping out with the Podcasting track again, but don’t expect to be on any panels. In theory, this leaves me with several uninterrupted months where there’s nothing going on and I’m going to focus on chipping away at book 3. That’s the plan anyway so we’ll see how it goes. As ever I came away from the convention tired but also happy and re-energised. Being around those kind of creative people buoys me up and makes me keen to get back to the keyboard and turn out another chapter. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting….now.

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Eastercon – Dysprosium

This bank holiday weekend I’ll be at Eastercon or, Dysprosium, as it is called this year, the 66th annual event where SFF fans gather to drink, I mean, talk about books and stuff.

This year there are some exciting and interesting guests of honour that I’m looking forward to meeting, but I’m actually more excited about meeting up with friends. These are people I only get to see maybe once or twice a year. You can’t choose who you work with and I have often ended up in an environment for my day job where I’m lucky if one person shares even one of my passions and most often the number is zero. At a convention I have something in common with almost everyone and it’s a great place to just geek out, relax in good company and have all of those important conversations like, why Batman is so much cooler than Superman. It means I can get into the nitty gritty on certain characters or novels, and rake over stuff with a fine toothed comb if I want and no one will suddenly switch the conversation to their children, or pensions, or football, because they can’t join in and have no clue what I’m on about. Conventions are a great place to belong and find your tribe. They are a great place to relax where I can be myself and I don’t have to hide what I enjoy as there’s no mockery.

I can’t choose who I work with, but I can choose who I spend my free time with and, geek conversations aside, I find the people at these conventions are always well read, thoughtful and intelligent. Sadly there are always a few bad apples, and the convention organisers work very hard to prevent issues so that everyone can have a good time, but generally the atmosphere is relaxed.

So if you’ve not been to one of these events before I would encourage you to do so, as you’ll probably meet a lot of like-minded people who share your passions, and you’ll come away with some new friends. If you see me at Eastercon at the weekend, come over and say hi and we’ll sort out once and for all which is better, Marvel or DC comics.

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That’s a wrap

Quick general update. This month has been flying by. It’s been super busy in the day job, and I’ve been stacked up at night with various things. Probably the most exciting news is that the proof of Battlemage is done! I spotted a few things, had a few more fed back to me from the publisher and I’ve sent back my comments on them. So that’s it. I’m done. That’s a wrap!

There are some tweaks to be made to the cover, but that’s not up to me and I’ve already sent in my comments. So now book 1 is completely finished for me (there’s still the whole printing and binding thing, but it’s probably not a good idea for me to do that!) and the next time I see it, Battlemage the book will be a thing. A physical artefact that I can hold in my hand. The final sum total of years of work by many people. It’s very scary and also the prospect of seeing the book is one of the most exciting things in my life. It is literally a dream come true.

So now I’m trying to get my head back into book 2, then send that off and I will hopefully have a gap of a few months to sink back into book 3 and make some good progress.

Other stuff, episode 169 of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast is out now which I co-host. We talk about some of the latest geek news, and then in terms of comics we revisit The Fuse, Letter 44 and Southern Bastards. Also episode 18 of Bags of Action is out, part 3 of our trilogy to Arnie and we discuss Predator, a classic film of the late eighties.

The newest comic book project I’ve been working on, and actually the one I can say the least about, is proving to be the most exciting and it is racing ahead. It’s proving to be both incredibly challenging and also very rewarding because of it’s unusual nature and the approach. Hopefully I can share some more details about this soon.

So, in the meantime, it’s back to work on the second draft of book 2, enjoying the current mid-season break of TV shows as I have less to distract me. In April it all kicks off with Eastercon, Dyprosium, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and a bucket load of new Marvel Lego to go with it. Lots of awesome stuff to look forward to.

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Eastercon Report

Eastercon is done for another year. This was my second year at the event and despite only being there for only a couple of days due to family commitments, I had an excellent time and met some wonderful people.

So I attended on Friday and Saturday, took part in one comics related panel on Friday night, where a panel and I recommended some of our favourite comics to demonstrate the diversity of the medium. On the panel were Alys Sterling, CE Murphy, and David Tallerman. Despite the timing of the panel it was fairly well attended and there was a good spread of comics. My recommendations were Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire from Vertigo comics, Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips from Wildstorm, Chew from John Layman and Rob Guillory and Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. I took a little perverse pleasure from the expressions in the crowd whilst describing Chew and I think it was the one title that generated the most questions. After that I could relax and I spent the first evening relaxing in the bar and taking it fairly easy as there was another long day ahead. The snow is still stubbornly sticking to the pavements and piles of it lie around being obstanate, but thankfully the weather did not have any adverse effects on travel to the event.

Earlier in the day on Friday, I also attended two talks where my friend and all round good egg, Adrian Faulker, was a panelist. The first was Games in Fiction, which was interesting, however, because there was another panel on a very similar subject on Saturday, it meant the area of discussion was very narrow so it sort of trundled along. The second panel was probably one of my favourites of the weekend, Debut Authors’ Panel, where Bella Pagan from Tor UK moderated a diverse group of new writers. The panelists included Adrian Faulkner, Emma Newman, Francis Knight, Naomi Foyle and Stephanie Saulter. It was a great panel and each author had a very different story to tell about how they went from aspiring writer to being an author in print. Bella Pagan was an excellent moderator, including everyone, keeping the conversation going and it was also a lot of fun.

Debut Author panel

On Friday I also attended a Clarion Publishing launch in the frosty conservatory and later met up with head honcho, Colin Tate, whom I met at Eastercon last year. This sort of event is always great for catching up with people who I normally only see once or twice a year. At the bar (big surprise!) I also caught up with and chatted to Andrew Reid, Mike Shevdon, Anne Lyle and Ruth Booth. I was also introduced to Gillian Redfearn, of the mighty red pen, at Gollancz. I’m sure I’ve missed someone and am now feeling guilty. It will come to me!

I’m still getting over a nasty bout of man flu that is clinging to my chest, so as well as a cough I also lost my voice in the latter part of my panel. Thankfully I only had one panel, so I called it a night fairly early on Friday and gracefully skated to my car across the ice. Well, what actually happened was I rushed towards my car, slipped on the ice, nearly did the splits, and yet managed to stay upright due to waving my arms about. I took it as a sign that it was definitely time to call it a night.

Saturday went a lot more smoothly. With my voice varying between a squeak and a Barry White’s imitator, I watched several panels including Reinventing Urban Fantasy. This was probably my favourite panel of the weekend. All of the panelists were really engaging, there was a lot of back and forth between them and the time just flew by. They discussed magic, tropes and archetypes in fantasy, Harry Potter, their favourite authors and all sorts of other stuff. It could easily have continued for another hour without anyone noticing.

urban fantasy

Edit: other stuff I forgot to add the first time I posted this. I also attended an excellent reading by Gareth L. Powell, who read from his second Ack Ack Macaque book, and Stephanie Saulter, who read from Gemsigns. Adrian and I visited the art gallery and we were both transfixed by the amazing paintings of Guest of Honour, Anne Sudworth. I’m notoriously picky about art and I know what I like and don’t like. Her landscapes were gorgeous, rich, vibrant and quite remarkable. While an original is out of my price range, a framed print is not and I shall be investing.

Later that evening, whilst everyone was watching Doctor Who in the main hall or were drinking at the bar, a few friends and I snuck off to the secret American style diner for dinner. When we got back we had more drinks and spent time chatting to new and old friends including CE Murphy, Adrian Faulkner, Mike Shevdon and comedian and master magician John Lenahan, who later entertained everyone in the main hall. His act was so funny my sides ached and everyone came away with a smile on their face. After that I spent the rest of the evening chatting with people in the bar and it was a wonderfully relaxing end to my Eastercon weekend. From seeing a few other posts, and from listening to feedback from other people, it seems as if they also had a great event. I’m really looking forward to the next one and also to the next big event on my calendar which is World Fantasy Con in Brighton.

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General Projects Update

For the last few months I’ve been really busy working on various writing projects so now that I’ve overcome some hurdles I thought it was time for another update. A large chunk, perhaps 80% of the work for hire project is done. I emailed the latest version off tonight so now I can take my foot off the pedal with that project slightly and take a little breather. Other people now have to do their part and I hope to see an early version, a prototype if you will, in the next few weeks. I’m still being quite vague but only because I have to at the moment. Once I get the thumbs up I can start showing a lot more and being a lot more specific. On that note actually I’m attending the Eastercon event this year in Heathrow in April and if the stars align I might have a version with me there to show people.

On the comics side the co-writing project with Pete Rogers is going great. As I predicted we ironed out the remaining bumps and kicked the story back and forth several times until we got it to a place where we were both happy with it. I’m still certain that I could not have written this by myself. We’ve both kept pushing each other to do better, to make it work, to not write the obvious or easy option and the story is much stronger for it and I feel much more confident about it now.

The Empyre with Adam is still moving forward slowly. He has been tied up with other projects, but we have kept in touch and I’ve gone back and revisited the material several times in the last few months. I still think it’s a good idea. I was worried that perhaps time away would allow me to look at it with fresh eyes and then realise that it was, in fact, not an idea worth pursuing. I still feel it. A buzz when reading it. It’s very possible that it is just me and when pitched the editors don’t like it, but I can’t go in with something unless I believe in it. I’m prepared for a no thanks and this is not my first time pitching ideas that have been shot down for a variety of reasons.

I’ve also picked up a third project I had previously shelved because I couldn’t work out the end. Ok, not the actual end, but some of the events leading up to that final moment. There again time away has given me fresh eyes and I’ve gone through it with a big sword and cut out whole chunks. I’ve gutted it, added in fresh meat, then done it all over several times more until I’ve ended up with a totally different monster. I also realised in some ways I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, so I’ve just let go of some of the stuff I thought was important or had to be there and now it’s flowing much better. It’s not done yet but it’s getting there.

The last thing I’m working on is a longshot comic book OGN pitch. The actual idea itself, the overview breakdown, the main beats, even the first third of the script, is written and done although it needs another draft. I think it has a lot of potential and is actually my strongest idea after the project with Pete. The longshot part is not the idea, but how to get it to market. It’s going to take something special given the nature of the story and the structure, but I’ve tried. I’ve reached out to someone and there is a good chance this person will say no, but it’s totally worth the risk and I lose nothing by trying. I’m not a person who takes risks. I don’t like them. They’re dangerous. But on this occasion the risk is small and the rewards are great and I’ve come to a point, mentally, where I have to try some things. I have to. Maybe it’s an early mid-life crisis, who knows, but I’m giving it a go. Maybe it’s because my next birthday is just around the corner. Whatever the reason I’m glad that I’ve tried. I’ll probably be weeping and beating my own chest in a few days and be miserable but hey, right now it feels good.

Given all of this writing my reading has slowed down tremendously so in some ways I’m glad I am no longer doing book reviews regularly for a blog. My current choice is a surprise and a delight and I don’t want it to be over. In fact, with a big chunk of the main project out of the way I’m going to stop typing and read some more as it helps fuel my brain. I believe reading is vital for writing. You just have to. More news when I have it.

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