jen_qoe: (me)
Wheee! Fantasycon approacheth, and I’m on a panel!  And a rather fabulously titled one at that.  Behold the glory of the Hack ‘n’ Slash panel!


On the Saturday, 11am, in Suite 2:

Hack ‘n’ Slash: Editing Dreams and Editor Nightmares
Editing is a form of surgery: we may not want to go through with it, but we are almost certainly better off for it. But how do you learn this vital skill, and work collaboratively with others in the editing process? A panel of editors, writers, agents & publishers share their experiences.


  • what to look for: how to polish a manuscript

  • working with editors

  • the editing process for self-publishing writers

  • the value of copy-editing

Moderator: James Barclay
Panellists: Jenny Barber, Nicola Budd, Peter Crowther, John Houlihan, Simon Marshall-Jones

Soooo, yes, I’m on a panel with professional type people then! Not at all nervous. Ohhhh no.

Elsewhen, I’ll be lurking at the Alchemy/Shadow Publishing joint launch thingy – 10am on the Saturday – Alchemy’s launching Marion Pitman’s collection Music in the Bone; Shadow’s launching Allen Ashley’s latest anthology Creeping CrawlersIt’ll be awesome, y’all should pop along.

Other than that, I’ll be fervently wishing I could manage some sort of hive mind clone thing as there’s So! Many! Things! I want to go see. All at the same time! Also, karaoke!

Oh, and, also, not forgetting that Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Books are up for allll the awards this year.  Well, most of them.  Which they will win because my publishers are amazeballs.

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

So, yes, this year’s Nineworlds then…  Last year was awesome, having all the things I like about Eastercon – the varied tracks, the cosplay, the fun workshops – but with an extra bit of buzz that made it my favourite con of the year.  This year, excepting the dodgy service in the hotel, exceeded that.

Nineworlds is a very friendly con, and one that actively welcomes as many people as it possibly can; catering to a wide range of needs through communication badges, priority seating and as many other accessibility options as the excellent committee bods can think of.  And if they haven’t already got it covered they’re very open to sorting things out once someone’s drawn their attention to it.  And it’s this attitude, I think, that helps makes the con feel like such a relaxed and cheerful place.

The Radisson hotel, however, was distinctly unfriendly towards con peeps.  This isn’t new – over previous conventions at the hotel there’s been a very noticeable shift in attitude towards con attendees over the weekend, most especially from restaurant and bar staff who will ignore anyone wearing a con badge, yet venture in unbadged and they couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. Which is a shame, because I’m quite fond of the hotel as a place generally. Fortunately Nineworlds has wisely chosen to shift venues next year, so here’s hoping the new hotel has nicer staff.

Another thing I really like about Nineworlds is the programme app. With so many tracks on offer, it can be a bit overwhelming sorting out what you’re doing when, but the app makes everything oodles easier. Especially when it comes to spotting triple bookings.  :-)  Now if they could just include a time-turner facility, I might get to see alllll the things as I missed a ton of things I wanted to do and a ton of people I wanted to see.   Och well.  On the plus side, I saw people I wasn’t expecting to and had all manner of interesting conversations which made up for it.

Panels, then.  Due to overwhelming demand, many of the panels got packed out early, so getting there twenty minutes in advance was essential in some cases.  The Friday myth panel was case in point with people getting booted out due to way too many people sardining in.  Also Joanne Harris talked briefly to me before the panel and I totally did not fangirl.  Honest. (She’s so cool!) Ahem, yes. Annnyhoo.

What was really fun, though, was the genre mashing panel (Dragatha Christie totally has to happen).  Not only fun and highly entertaining, it was one of those panels that managed the perfect combinations of panellists (Zen Cho! Gaie Sebold! Adrian Tchaikovsky! James Oswald! James Smythe!) and if you weren’t a fan of the authors before the panel, you definitely were by the end of it.  (There are now so many books on my kindle wishlist, I’m going to go broke, I swear…)

And then there was the sword fighting! I booked in for the Water Dancing with Syrio Forel workshop thingy as it was one of the things I missed out on last year, and oy, was it fun.  (Not so much fun was having to demonstrate your skills in front of the class at the end. Argh! No.) Apparently I have fire but need to work on my technique… :-)  Definitely a recommended thing to have a go at if you’re around for next year’s con…

Which I’ve already booked in for, because, really, that much awesome, you have to, don’t you.  (Booking open here now!  Doooooo it! You know you want to!)  So huge thanks to the con volunteers for making it such a great weekend and here’s hoping that next year is even better!

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Climbing slowly out of the mire... mostly due to this current and last OU module being the most challenging I've done yet so occupying alllll of my brain since October.  Fortunately I've only got two more assignments left then the course is done, the degree is done, et voila a happy dancing Jen.

Meanwhile, fings wot have happened so far this year -

I had a review of King's The Dark Tower up on the fabulous King for a Year project site thing.  As King is one of my go to genre comfort reads, I was dead chuffed to be involved.  They're doing King books all through the year so go check them out here!

In January I was also a Friday Fiver over at Pornokitsch talking about my five favourite wicked women in comics.  Theme not uncoincidentally tieing in with our fabulous Wicked Women anthology. ;-)  (Wicked Women and Urban Mythic #2 and the stories within are eligible for alll the awards... hint hint nudge nudge... Or just buy yourself a copy or two! Each book comes with awesome stories and bonus epic love from the editors... Who can resist a deal like that?)

And on the Fox Spirit front, at some point this year I've shorts coming out in Fox Pockets Volumes 6, 7 & 8....'In Darkness Dreaming' in Fox Pockets Vol. 6: Things in the Dark, 'The Strongest Conjuration' in Fox Pockets Vol. 7: In an Unknown Country and ' Dead Women's Tales' in Fox Pockets Vol. 8: Piercing the Vale. (Give or take publication schedules...) All three stories are set in the same world and roughly connected both to each other, and to my stories in the earlier Piracy and Shapeshifters Fox Pockets - with the mermaid pirates from Piracy dropping by in two and the fox shifter from Shapeshifters turning up also in two.  With bonus ghost towns, underwater ruins, sea monsters and genderfluid parenting...

Oh! And! Eastercon! I'll be mooching around there this year.  I'll also be around the fabulous Nine Worlds Geekfest and Fantasycon (the original UK one, not that rampant pretender that's emerged in the States ;-)....)   So say hello if you see me!  x

Oh! And! Also! If you tumblr, I'm on tumblr here if you're so inclined.  It's where I indulge my fannish tendencies so that's what you'll be getting there... :-P

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
geekylogo
Short version: OMG!OMG!OMG! That! Was! Awesome!

Longer version:
Well gosh, that was fun. And if ever there was a convention that needs a lot of photos taking during it, it's Geekfest.  Alas, I took none. So you'll just have to take my word for the fact that there were so many cool costumes!  Harley Quinn, Dr Who and Ace, baby in a flying saucer pram, Judge Dredd, assorted manga type people, Daenerys, a Sharknado...!

And panels.  Good lord, were there panels.  About a million of them, with a handy digital programme thing to make it easier to sort personal scheduling out.  Missed a load I wanted to go to because they clashed with other ones I wanted go to a bit more.  I need a Time Turner for next year, I think, so I can see all the things.

But what I did see - well, there was the Urban Fantasy panel, of course, which I live tweeted due to the perplexingly small amount of women being mentioned as having written urban fantasy and/or city based fantasy.  There'll be a blog forthcoming on that shortly, I think, as there's a lot of thinky thoughts bubbling in my head about urban fantasy, cities and visibility of women.  Though, apart from the issue with forgetting women authors, it was a good panel with some intriguing points made and the panellists were excellent.

I also made it to the Time Travel panel; the Mythology and Fairy Tales panel; the Writing LGBTQ+ Characters in SFF talk by Laura Lam; the Rule 63: Gender and subversion in History, Popular Culture and Fandom panel; the 'It's A Man's World...': Where Are The Women In The Creative Industry? panel; the Looking Backwards panel, which was a cool history thing; and the podfic vs podcasts thing - which I somehow managed to not realise would be about fan fic, despite the fact it was in the fanfic track! But it was a fun one, and very interesting.

And I may have gone a bit mad shopping in the dealer room. And that's before the post-con book binge of buying up stuff recommended on panels and mentioned by lovely random people. And talking of people, I saw many, in that ships that pass in the night kind of way, and big hugs to Alasdair and Marguerite and Adrian and Adele and Ian who were particularly lovely and made the con just that bit better!

Definitely need to book up for next year.
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
View from my window - the only bit of Brighton I saw!


Well, except for this bit of Brighton, also seen from my window! If you squint you can see the pier in the distance!

 Phew. World Fantasy Con then. That was a thing. An exhausting thing, for the most part, given the whole working rather than con-ing, but the work was extremely enjoyable.  I'd probably have to say that's the most fun I've had yet working a con.  Most of which is down to the awesome Team Red Coat and the con-com who remained relentlessly cheerful and friendly and efficient throughout.  Lou Morgan especially deserves a whole swimming pool of gin. ;-)

And the mass of people we saw through the doors added heaps to the buzz of the thing.  (Is it weird I actually liked being swamped on the Reg Desk.  Over 1400 people we checked in! 1400!!! Egads! And most of them on Weds & Thurs! I seriously could not even stand up, let alone walk both those nights.)  We'll pass quickly over that thing where I checked in one of the GoHs and completely missed the fact that they were one of the GoHs.  Or the famous SF author of very long standing who I totally didn't recognise at all and who was very amused when I asked him his name and couldn't quite believe I was seriously needing to be told. Or the well known ghost story anthologist who I got chatting to about anthologies without realising who he actually was.  Um, yes. Brain went splat many times.

And one of the perks of Reg Desk duty is getting to say hi to the many-many folks I follow on twitter and facebook and various blogs, though in the rush of the check in, mostly all I could manage by way of conversation was something like 'oh, you're X, brilliant/awesome/excellent!' which possibly saved multiple bouts of fangirling and 'OMG! I loved your story/book/blog post!' followed by the inevitable utter panic that goes with total brain-freeze as I then forget everything I ever knew about why they're awesome.

And I did, amazingly, manage to get out to a couple of actual con-events too.  The Urban Mythic Launch, of course, was the essential go-to event.  And we sold books, many books, and many more than we sold of Ancient Wonders last year, which is very cool. (There may be an Urban Mythic #2 next year, we're in talks...)

I also did the Fearie Tales launch party and brought an actual hardback book (shock! horror! Didn't-wait-for-the-ebook-scandal!) and got it signed by all the peeps that were there.  Which is not a thing I usually do.  (It's a fab anthology, btw, only a couple of stories I wasn't keen on but all the rest rocked!)

And doing the FT party introduced me to the merits of chairs! Which there weren't any of. Which there really needed to be as there was no way I was going to be getting up again if I sat on the floor like many other people did.  Luckily there was this little stage thing that was perfect for perching on... But yes, con organisers of the future -  more chairs please! Many more chairs. Whole rooms of them. Chair-con! That's what we need!

Um. Yes. Right. Anyway. Else?  There were a million free books on offer, which I somehow managed to not get around to getting any of. Got hugs off all my favourite people as well as some shiny new ones! Had to rush off Sunday morning so I missed the awards and wind down parties and sudden appearance of a wibbly-wobbly portal that let loose strange beasties from another dimension that no-one is talking about (conspiracy!) but totally happened, honest...

And if you want to take a gander at what else went on, the inexhaustable Stephen Theaker has compiled a list of pre and post WFC reports on the BFS forum here.

Am now looking forward to not working any cons next year so I can doss around and gossip with allllll the people at Fcon and Nine Worlds, and possible Edge Lit and Bristol Con too...  ;-)
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

O!M!G!  It's not a post about Urban Mythic!  I know, it's been a while, right?

So, what' s been going on? Well now, I'm glad you asked.

Big main thing is the university year has started right back up and with only two modules left to do for my degree it's all very serious and researchy. On the plus side, this year's module is Myth in the Greek and Roman world which is all kinds of awesome. seriously, why did no one tell me classics was so much fun. (Actually I did kind of suspect it, but it's been a bugger to find an actual course that wasn't medieval to modern history.) So, yes, I do classics now. Classics are cool. ;)

So too is accountancy. Though that one is more of a business necessity since some crazy person or persons to go unnamed decided to make the family business a limited company with employee on payroll and proper grown up serious stuff. Oy gevalt. This has made the book keeping a bit more complicated. Well, I say a bit, in the way that the Pacific is a bit wet... Still, I like a challenge, and anything that involves juggling numbers on spreadsheets and I'm definitely your girl. So I'm also working my way towards a professional bookkeeping/accountancy certification thingy. Cos why do things by halves, right? Right!  (Egads, there will be exams. Exams! Gah!)

Ooh, and the fabulous Shapeshifters anthology from Fox Spirit should be out soon, in which discerning readers will find a story by yours truly. Also many other funky peeps.

WFC is of course the hot topic of the season. I will, of course, be on registration duty again so expect plenty of completely forgetting the names of people I've known for years while trying to give sensible answers to random questions.

Ooh and I've booked up for next year's Nine Worlds Geekfest, cos how cool did this year's one sound.  Yes, going to an actual convention that I'm not working at! Stop fainting at the back there.  Might even attempt to do Edge-Lit next year as well.

But that's enough excitement for one day! ;-)

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
So here's the thing - there's been a lot of chatter lately about genre sexism and convention harassment and such like.  Good well reasoned points have been made, useful information has been given, emotions have gotten extremely high on all sides, anti-harassment procedures are becoming more obvious and appearing at more conventions, all of this is a good thing.

But there have been a few comments here and there that keep sticking in my brain and won't stop bugging.

"But it happens in other areas of life..."
Well, yes. That's not the point.  Conventions are our turf. They're supposed to be a safe place where we can hang out with other like minded people, talk about geeky stuff and not worry about extra garbage like getting flack for choosing to wear something fun.  (Corsets are not an excuse to get handsy. Mini skirts are not an excuse to get handsy.  Funky punk gear and tattoos is not an excuse to be rude about a person. Cleavage, no matter the size or coverage, is not an excuse to turn into Benny Hill.)

Other areas of life are not the issue here.  It's our people, those people who should be better than all those other not-our-people, being assholes in our favoured places of socialisation that is hitting the buttons. And unlike many other areas of life, conventions are spaces where we can actually exert some control over our environment and the framework of interactions within it, and expect a reasonable response when the problems crop up.

And, personally, I expect my genre peeps to be evolved civilised respectful human beings as standard.  And most of them are. Even when they've been drinking for six hours straight.  Actually, especially when they've been drinking for six hours straight - it's seems to be one of those convention attendee superpowers.  (Convention bar staff used to always tell us how surprised they were at how nice and quiet most SF convention drunks were. Apparently the corporate conference drunks get really lary... but, I digress...)

"It seems to be more prevalent in US conventions/you don't get that kind of thing in the UK..."
Bollocks. I know women who have experienced problems with gropers and creepers and the like at conventions going back twenty or thirty years when they first got into the fandom thing, and endured it throughout their many years of conventioning afterwards. I know women and men, straight and quiltbag, who experienced dodgy things in the last couple of years.  For some of them it was their first convention, for some of them, it was old news. Some people stop going to certain UK conventions because of it. UK fandom is not a precious paragon of virtue in this stuff.

"I've been going to conventions for XX years and I've never had it happen to me/seen it happen..."
I'm happy for you. Really. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened or that people haven't been affected by these total assholes who keep thinking civilised behaviour doesn't apply to them.  And honestly, in saying this kind of thing, while it may be accurate for the person who got lucky with their con experiences, it still carries an implication that it couldn't possibly be happening to anyone else and kinda dismisses the experiences of those that have had something creepy happen to them and they get enough doubts about that as it is.  (You misinterpreted it. You're overreacting. It's just their/your sense of humour. He/She/Ze/They're lovely really. You're being oversensitive. They only do it when they're really drunk. You smiled too much. They were just flirting. You should have told them to go away. You should have smacked them one. You should have told someone else and they'd have done something.)

These things are difficult to talk about at the best of times.  Hell, they're difficult to think about at the best of times and a standard coping mechanism is to block it out and move on, and make a note of who to avoid and where and when.  And even the slightest hint of dismissive language from someone else can be crushing and stir things up all over again and make you never want to mention it as a thing that actually happened.

"But we shouldn't forget the good men..."
Well yes.  But also no. See, the thing of it is, the decent men and women at conventions and in other genre related things aren't the problem here. They're the majority. They're the ones who'll help out when some creep's trying it on and rescue you.  (And, by the way, why do people need rescuing in the first place? People shouldn't need rescuing from anyone at a convention! How is that a thing we still accept as normal?) The problem is, the other ones. The people no-one talks about in public but, if you're lucky to know someone who knows someone, will be the people you're warned about.  (If you don't know anyone to get the warnings from, then you're left thinking it's just you when they try it on. And wouldn't it be easier to not go to another convention or volunteer in an organisation if this is the thing you're going to get from the people you meet...)

And, look, I get why people are wanting to big up the nice folks, I could share plenty of stories about the men and women in the genre who stepped in to be awesome, that's not the point. We shouldn't need to give cookies to people for not being creeps. Not being a creep should be the standard expectation for a person.  And people aren't talking about the creeps to publicise how generally awful genre people are and bewaaaaare the terrible cesspit environment of the SF convention and that's all you can expect from everyone ever if you dare go to one.

Talking about the bad ones is more a case of saying, look, there's these serial assholes who plenty of people quietly know about but for a variety of reasons, no-one has done anything about them or their dodgy behaviour and that's not right. It has never been right. And now there's enough people talking about what the moronic assholes are doing for people to realise they weren't the only ones being targeted and that, actually, some of the perps behaviour was just a bit shitty so lets make it stop.

And the not being alone in this thing is a strong component in all the talking about it over bloggage and social media. Because that guy that you thought was a bit pervy but didn't make a thing of it, because, obviously, it was a minor thing, or your fault, or whatever... that guy? Turns out he did it to other people too.  And they weren't alright with it either. And they had their doubts, same as you. And it doesn't matter that other people don't see that side of him, or dismiss it for one of the many reasons these things get dismissed for, because there are people who have seen that side of creepy guy and aren't willing to let it slide anymore.

"But men get creeped on too."
Yes, they do. That sucks. No one should have to deal with being harassed by anyone. Transgender people also get harassed at conventions. So do people of colour. And it's not just men who do the shitty things. Women do it too.  And it's not only the women who are targeted. Men are targeted too.  (Yes, I know, binary gender descriptives. Forgive me that one. All-folks get targeted. All-folks do the targeting.)

That being said, there is a higher level of men creeping on women. And there's underlying societal currents related to the concept of men being afraid of women laughing at them and women being afraid of men killing them, and someone did a really good post on this recently which explains it properly, but I can't actually find it now. Argh!  ::headdesk:: But man following woman around has a whole bunch of different connotations to woman following man around.

"But geeks score high on the Autistic/Aspergers spectrum/are naturally socially inept...so you can't really blame them.."
Stop it right now.  The Autism/Aspergers thing was debunked somewhere, but I can't find the link at the mo... (Argh! Total linkfail today!) Read this thing here about the socially inept excuse though.

Also that socially inept thing? Works the other way too. The people that the creeps are targeting are also often socially inept, and thus unable to actually react to the creeps in a way that would stop the harassment, or have them say anything useful about it later to anyone else.  In these cases, the victim's own perception of their shyness/generally being socially rubbish creates a feeling of self-blame as, obviously, their own personality 'defects' were a factor in not stopping things they didn't like when anyone with a bit of nous would have laughed/said something witty and/or rude and generally cut creeper-dude off at the pass.

"It's just good natured flirting."
Subjective. If you know the person you're doing sexy banter with then you'll know how far you can go, and when to stop. Otherwise what's good natured flirting to one person, is awkward and embarassing and oh-god-please-shut-up-and-go-away to another. And even for those of us with a low tolerance for it, flirty conversation can still be fun, just don't be an asshole about it. And please don't be dismissive of the people that don't have the kind of personality/sense of humour to put up with/say anything about a constant unwanted barrage of the X-rated stuff.

So, yeah, talking about con harassment is good, but please just be aware that some of the well meaning comments can be a bit triggery to the people who've experienced these things.
jen_qoe: (Default)
Well, gosh. Wasn't that fun. I might even go so far as to say Best! Eastercon! Ever! (Though it being only my third one, it's a small sample pool to judge by!) Ignoring the fact that the hotel meals had reached new lows and apparently the prices in the downstairs bar were apt to bring about heart attacks, the whole event had a fantastic vibe to it that practically screamed 'this is your clan'.

And, oh, the panels! I do love me some interesting panels! The only one I missed that I really wanted to see was the archery one (looks winsomely at Fcon committee peeps in the hopes they can get an archery thingy in for Fcon this year. Pretty please?) But Saturday had a full day of funky stuff - there was Sufficiently Advanced Magic with Marcus Gipps, Juliet E. McKenna, Stephen Deas, Chris Wooding, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Shana Worthen - talking about magic systems and the developmental comparisons with technology; an utterly fantastic Gender Parity on Panels at Conventions thingy with Kari Sperring, Juliet E. McKenna, Emma Peel, Farah Mendelsohn, Kat Takenaka and Paul Cornell which I could have listened to for much longer as it was both fascinating and educational and left me thinking that maybe it wouldn't be so scary sitting up on a panel at a con; in a similar vein there was How Not to Suppress Women's Writing with Tricia Sullivan, Juliet E. Mckenna (she was busy this convention!), Penny Hill, Amy McCullock and Ian Sales, (and in vaguely related news, check out the all new Fantasy Mistressworks blog that Amanda Rutter has set up!). There was also an extremely interesting panel on A History of Feminist SF in Britain with Roz Kaveney, Lesley Hall, Andy Sawyer, Maureen Kincaid Speller and Kari Sperring which turned out to be one of those ones where I wished I had taken notes of all the names mentioned for later searching out of books.

And, oh, Saturday readings - Anne Lyle with her new book - The Alchemist of Souls - just launched and had sold out in the dealer room by Saturday afternoon. Awesome. Talking of awesome, Tom Pollock, people! Reading from his upcoming book The City's Son (out in June from Jo Fletcher Books) the man is a rock star! Has to be, hands down, the best reading I've ever been to - you don't just want to buy his book, you want to rent him to read it to you as well!

Among other delights, Sunday had Occupy the Metaverse with Tricia Sullivan, Farah Mendlesohn, Adam Roberts and Paul Graham Raven - talking about radicalism and revolution in SF, and almost got a bit heated towards the end when trade unions got mentioned...

Oh, and, I did bar stuff. I never do bar stuff. But Jan and Pete came up for the Newcon launch on Friday (Jan is in the Dark Currents anthology! You'll want to read it. Hers is a fab story of steampunky pirates.) And we plotted mad plots for Ancient Wonders and jumped innocent looking authors for possible contributions. And sat in the bar and chatted with peeps. Which is a thing that usually makes me run away screaming in the opposite direction. But it was quite nice, so I may have to try it for Fcon this year once Reg duties are done...

And there was the Game of Thrones sword-throne. (No, I didn't sit in it. But here's a picture anyway!)


And there was tech! I inherited mum's old Blackberry not long before the con so had a blast facebooking and twittering during the con, just as the gods of tech intended. Which came in handy during the BSFA awards ceremony, as I could witness the horror as it occurred on twitter instead of having to sit through it live. And those genius Eastercon peeps did a guidebook app that updated panel items and gave you the maps and schedule and all sorts. On your phone! How very cool is that? And if that's not enough, the main room stuff was filmed so you can watch some of the panels here.

And the peeps for the Bradford 8-Squared bid got the dubious pleasure of organising Eastercon next year. (That would be Juliet McKenna taking over the universe...) ;-) And apparently Eastercon will be in Glasgow in 2014.

And I didn't get lost on the way there for a change. Nor on the way back. A thing which is listed in hidden tomes somewhere as the definition of a minor miracle. All hail the transport gods!

And all in all, the whole thing was abso fabulous! Can't wait to be let out for Fantasycon in September!

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