Tuesday 29 September 2015

Bristolcon 2015 - another great weekend

Yes, I know I keep saying this, but it's true. Bristolcon is one of the friendliest, best-run cons I've come across. It even has a good venue, with a large bar, all the panel rooms on the ground floor, and a really attractive restaurant - built in a giant brick kiln!

I managed to get there for the Friday evening 'Open Mike' this year. Beginners were invited along early to practise reading their own work, and get some helpful tips on timing, pace, and connecting with an audience. Since they only got five minutes to do so, it was impossible to get too bogged down or too panicked. I noticed that when the same people read for a second time an hour later the result was an immediate improvement.

This is a great idea for anyone who wants - or needs - to learn how to manage standing in front of others, even if it's only at the day job. I went along to warm up before doing a reading from 'Ashamet' on the Saturday.

What else? I started the day running a workshop on self-editing, then managed to hear Jaine Fenn read, always a good experience. Had a look at the art exhibition. Joined in a panel discussion on what made a "good dystopia", which was fun because all the other panellists had obviously thought about the subject in advance [not at all like those times when people seem to think they can 'wing it' we've all seen?]. Then I confess I spent some time in the bar, but I was chatting rather than drinking, honest.

There was a film in the evening, but my other half, who doesn't favour SF, had been sightseeing all day and found a great restaurant only minutes from the hotel. So it seemed only fair to let him take me out. And then it was Sunday and time to go, already thinking about going back next year!

Monday 21 September 2015

Catching up with Life - Yet Again.

'Ashamet' is out in the world now, and while the odd review hates it - mainly, unsurprisingly on 'moral' grounds, most of them like it, or really like it, to the tune of giving it five stars and wanting more! This is of course very gratifying. It's also, to be honest, rather a shock. I hoped for quite good, I seem to have got a lot more. Result: it feels unreal, but then I suspect it always will, I never have quite trusted compliments.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to Bristolcon at the weekend. I finally got there a couple years ago, after being told repeatedly how nice a con it was, to find the advice was dead on, it's a very friendly, and very well run, convention. So off I go again, but this time with books to sell. Do look for them in the dealer room?

This time round I'm doing an editing workshop, a whole 45 minutes of pick up your pen and have a go. Also sitting in on the panel on dystopian fiction. Jan Edwards our moderator asks what hat we'll be wearing; what position we'll be coming from. I guess I'll be 1] reader 2] critiquer/editor and 3] writer. 'Ashamet', it occurs to me, could easily have been a dystopian story but isn't. Which makes me wonder why I wrote it the other way round. Maybe I'm just not pessimistic enough? If you're curious, I'll also be reading a short excerpt at the end of the panel session.

Apart from all that I hope to see old friends, and maybe meet new ones, which is also what a con is all about. And listen to panels, readings... I might even manage someone else's workshop if I'm lucky. I can never get my head around the notion that people only go to cons to sit in the bar. I always want to make the most of what's on offer?

Maybe see you there?

Review: The Death House, Sarah Pinborough 5* :)

Review: The Death House         5*
by Sarah Pinborough
pub Orbit

described in the blurb as "an exceptional, contemporary, heartbreaking novel" and it's all true.

16 year old Toby is in the Death House. Any sign of the dreaded sickness and Matron will move them to the sanitorium, from where no one ever returns. So everyone watches everyone else for any changes. but maybe death isn't the worst thing they need to deal with.

Honestly, I loved every page of this book. It was a spell binder, leaving behind that sense of wonder, that 'wow' factor only the best fantasy can. It's one of the very very few books in recent months I'd totally vote for in an award list.

Do try it out!