Eastercon highlights

Last weekend I was at Eastercon and I wanted to post a few highlights.

Eastercon eggs 2 Eastercon eggs 1First off, I definitely have to mention the Easter egg display the hotel put on in the reception. Absolutely spectacular. They were beautiful. I have no idea how they did the roses on some of the eggs. Every time you walked past, you’d get this waft of chocolate smell so I hope someone was allowed to eat them afterwards.

This year I was on two panels. One was on LGBT to QUILTBAG, talking about queer representation in sci-fi/fantasy and the importance of representing some of the less known aspects of the queer identity (e.g. having characters who are genderqueer, intersex, asexual, and so on). That yielded some really interesting discussions and was fun for us as a panel, and several people came up to me afterwards saying that they found it really interesting as well, which is great.

The second panel was on the Women of Star Wars, in honour of Carrie Fisher. This was fun as well, but the conversation didn’t seem to flow as much as in the first panel. It jumped around a bit, but we still had some great conversations and the people I was on the panel with were all really nice.

I attended quite a lot of sessions, including the explosive opening ceremony. My photos didn’t come out particularly well of this, but we had gerkin light bulbs, jelly baby fireworks, and exploding fire. There was a definite theme around getting food to blow up. It was put on by the Royal Institution who do these sorts of talks and science displays for kids. So if you want to get a science display set up for a school near you, check them out because it was both entertaining and informative.rope braidbraided hair

I attended a hair braiding workshop and decided that the rope braid was significantly nicer to do than a French braid. I really couldn’t get the hang of a French or Dutch braid at all. I felt like I needed three extra hands to make it work. I did get my hair braided as an example of putting it all together so I walked out of there with braids and rosettes in my hair, which was awesome.

Another panel which was awesome enough to deserve a blog post all to itself was the wheelchair martial arts demonstration by comic book artist and fight choreographer Al Davison. I have some videos of that session that I will be posting soon, so watch this space.

Guardbridge booksAs with other conventions, there was a dealers’ room, in which I spent more money than I should on books. A couple of people worth mentioning were the TTA Press, who ran the indie author table. They took some of my books and did the job of selling them over the weekend, which was really great of them. There were a few other authors who were selling their books there and I bought a few of them, so you might be seeing them reviewed on here soon. There was also a table from Guardbridge Books, who I recently signed a publishing contract with. They will soon be publishing an urban fantasy novel of mine, so keep an eye out for that.

I wore my Queen Madalena cosplay again, which earned me thirteen “nice cosplay” tokens. I don’t know if this is a high number or low, but that was all I could cope with before I had to change back into jeans. Next year, I’m going for a more practical cosplay.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. I definitely had fun participating in the panels rather than just watching them, though watching them was fun too. I went to sessions ranging from presentations on the psychology of living in space to flash fiction writing competitions. Definitely a good convention. Tiring, but good.

Nineworlds Highlights

Last weekend was Nineworlds, a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Hammersmith, which had content around books, movies, games, and more. I wanted to share a few highlights from my experience of the convention.

Indie Author tableFirstly, there was the indie author table. This was in the expo hall and was a place for self-published or small-press-published authors to place their books for sale. I thought this was a fantastic idea, though it could have done with a little more organising. We got an email a couple of days before the event telling us that they needed authors to volunteer to run the table. Five of us did – each taking a four hour stint selling books – but other authors were able to just drop books off to be sold without taking a shift. If this is run in future conventions (which I hope it is) there should be a requirement for all authors to spend at least some time manning the table. After all, it isn’t fair for some people to lose half a day of convention time while others get all the benefits of the table without putting in the same effort.

On the plus side though, one of my books was the first to be sold on this table, so I’m pleased about that.

Geek StitchThis was the first time Nineworlds has run an expo, so the expo hall wasn’t very large, but there were a couple of tables I wanted to highlight. The first was Geek Stitch, who produce a number of cross stitch kits on various geeky themes – from Pokémon to Harry Potter, Steven Universe to Supernatural. Most of these are suitable for beginners.

I was particularly impressed by the cross stitched QR code – which actually works!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m into my cross stitch, and I liked what these guys had on offer. Hodor Doorstop

Another table that interested me was Scorch’s Pyrography. This is the art of using heat to write on wood and other substances. They had a lot of dragons on wooden boxes, some maps from various fantasy worlds (including the map from The Hobbit) but what got people’s interest (and a lot of cries of “too soon” from the Game of Thrones fans) was a doorstop with “Hodor” written on it.

There were a lot of sessions people could go to, from silly fun ones to deep philosophical analyses (my friend/editor presented a paper on the philosophy of being recognised – witnessed – in Mad Max Fury Road). There were several of these sessions that I enjoyed in different ways and for different reasons. There was a session on neurodiversity in fiction which got quite intense and one of the audience members got fairly emotional at one point. This was obviously an issue that hit home for a lot of the people in the room. If you’re on Twitter, check out the hashtag #nineworldsnd for discussions and book recommendations.

Flash fiction panelA much more light-hearted session was a Flash Fiction challenge. A group of writers were given prompts and expected to write something based on them in only five minutes. The audience then cheered for the one they liked them most. This was very entertaining and it reminded me of the writing games we used to play with my old writing group – trying to create something very quickly from some strange prompts. While the writers were scribbling away, Lee Harris, editor at Tor.com, entertained us with a quiz on a range of geeky topics – and I was please to be the first to get the Tad Cooper question (I super believe in you, Tad Cooper).

Swordpunk Laura Swordpunk meI unexpectedly got a ticket to attend a Swordpunk session. This was a hands on introduction to medieval sword fighting that involved us trying very hard not to stab each other or whack the ceiling while practicing moves with real swords. I say this was unexpected, because this was a session that required tickets and the tickets had sold old almost as soon as they’d been made available. I got in because my former kung fu instructor and his partner were attending and they’d managed to get tickets. Alex decided a few days before the event that he would rather go to another session that was taking place at the same time, so they offered me the spare ticket.

In the photos, I’m cosplaying as Abby, one of my own characters from the book Between Yesterdays. Laura is cosplaying as a ghost from a web comic I’d not heard of – complete with hand sewn intestines.

Madalena cosplayOn the subject of cosplay, I got a lot of compliments for my Queen Madalena costume. Wearing an outfit like this makes you appreciate how practical jeans are. I was worried every time I got on an escalator that the dress was going to get caught and either cause a painful accident or just get torn off me, leaving me naked in the hotel. I made it through intact but I was very happy to change into my jeans at the end of the event.

Not a lot of people recognised who I was but I had an amazing moment where I sat next to someone in a panel who turned out to be friends with the costume designer on Galavant. We had an interesting conversation and she was the one who took this photo to send to her friend.

On the subject of cosplay, there were some great ones, though I realised I didn’t get many photos of them. I do have a couple I can share but this is just scratching the surface of the awesome outfits that were there.

Tardis dress Lady Sybil costumeOverall, I had a lot of fun. It was an exhausting weekend but I enjoyed it immensely. Where do I sign up for next year?

Nine Worlds 2016

Nine Worlds logoThis weekend, I will be at Nine Worlds, which means I won’t post my usual Saturday blog post (hence this early post). It should be a fun event with talks, panels, cosplay, and catching up with fellow geeks. The editor who’s working with my on my Codename Omega books will be there, so it will be great to catch up with her (she’s just sent me the edits for the third book in the series).

There is an indie author book stall in the expo hall. Myself and several other authors will be selling our books on this stall. If you want to come and meet me, get a book signed or just chat about books, I will be manning this stall on Friday afternoon in the expo hall. Let me know in the comments if you’re going to be there and want to meet.

I’m sure I will have some great photos and stories to post after the event. I will keep you posted.