28 August 2016

#Hull FantastiCon 2016 - I'm there!

Guildhall, Kingston-upon-Hull, 19-20 November 2016
It's good to see FantastiCon back in Hull's city centre; and amid the virtual reality experiences, the gaming (digital and old-school analogue), the Cosplay extravaganza (with prizes), traders, stage shows & special guests, live music, panels and book launches... somewhere in there will be little ol' me cowering in a corner until I'm hauled before a microphone. 

Er... what exactly is a NERF war?? Perhaps I shouldn't ask. It sounds as if I should drag out my old fencing mask and rapier. Now there's analogue for you.

FantastiCon 2015 was voted 'Top Rated UK Convention' by Niche magazine, but the idea started life as a multi-book launch event. Long story, but if you're into SF, particularly the game Elite, you'll know that the late (and very great) Robert Holdstock wrote the novella, The Dark Wheel, which stood beside the original game. When Frontier Developments brought out the game Elite: Dangerous it  decided to resurrect the idea and licenced authors, and publishers, to produce novels set in and around the world of Elite. Fantastic Books Publishing was one of those publishers and it produced a clutch of the novels. But, when you've been SF gaming across continents, a straight canapes & fizz book launch hardly fits the criteria, does it? So three years ago FantastiCon was born and has been almost doubling in size year on year. Hence the need this year for Hull's majestic Guildhall.

Sounds good? Even better, tickets are only £10 a day or £17 for the weekend. What, you live in Penzance or Edinburgh, Canberra or Los Angeles and it's just a wee bit of a stretch to attend for the weekend? You can be a part of it for as little as £1 (artwork, a parody album, digital wallpaper). Funding - and tickets - are being sold via Kickstarter and there's just 7 days to claim perks and privileges (don't forget to check the 'Updates' menu).

Me? I've been given dire warnings of what will happen if I don't complete the third in my Fantasy trilogy in time. Better stop slacking then, or I'll need more than just a fencing mask for protection.

20 August 2016

#amwriting: Life-Work Balance

CCommons image of an act similar to witnessed
How apt that in last week’s POST I should be musing on being chained to my laptop instead of recharging my writer’s batteries by enjoying the delights of the summer months. This week I actually took my own advice. Wave the flags!

I went to a circus – my first – and what a revelation. The Rio Olympics are currently in full swing, being caught occasionally on television. As I mentioned on Facebook at the time, the circus people leave the Olympic gymnasts standing-hanging-contorting, with me torn between open-mouthed admiration for their physical prowess and gasped fear for their safety. The clowns made me laugh, the music was thumping, and I left the small big-top with a grin and a lightness of step knowing that with application anything can be achieved.

Since then I have read two chapters of my work-in-progress for criticism to my initial beta readers, Hornsea Writers, to check I’m on the correct route; coffee’d and laughed with friends; indulged in retail therapy (DIY, not diamonds); completed jobs on the Household To Do list; and each afternoon while soaking up some Vitamin D from a sunlounger I’ve watched dragonflies play, heard frogs croak, breathed in the scents of the garden flowers, AND written between 500-800 words on the work-in-progress.

Okay, it’s not the 1,000 words per day self-set target, but it’s more than I was achieving. I have come to accept, rather than merely acknowledge and ignore, that it is possible to focus too hard. All work and no play did make Jack a dull boy, and my own internal spring to wind down to a rusty creak.

If you find yourself to be in a similar position, take note.

13 August 2016

#amwriting - Or Not.

Not exactly Hornsea's beach, but near enough
Across on the website run by Hornsea Writers’ we muse on our use of August, Taking the Summer Off? Er... 
The question posed to members made me consider my own situation a little deeper than my answer admits. I’m well behind with my work-in-progress, the final book in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy, and I have a deadline I doubt I’m going to meet. Fretting about it leads to it becoming a self-fulfilling truth.

Unlike the others in the trilogy, this novel has thrown up structural wobbles that have turned into minor earthquakes. As with most people I’m also running a long normal-life To Do list, items of which have needed to take precedence. Once that occurred all the items started screaming for attention, and in my mind they’ve kept up the sort of raucous chanting more usually heard on a football terrace.

I’m not a minutiae plotter, neither am I a total pantser, but I write atmospheric prose and need to be in the zone so I can get a scene’s tone correct. I write in as near silence as I can manage; distractions and interruptions play havoc with the mood.

It became so bad yesterday my husband came up to tell me to stop fighting it and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. So armed with an iced cordial and an editing pen, I decamped to a lounger and put the current chapter through its fifth incarnation in as many days. And then wrote the following chapter in longhand in two hours flat.

If you, too, are behind schedule, the old adage can hold true: sometimes a change is as good as a rest.