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Category Archives: Conventions

The school summer holidays always impacts my productivity, this year has been no different. The good news however is it allows me to connect with others at the various events and conventions happening around the country. I get to down tools and spend time with my family, read, and generally pretend the internet doesn’t exist.

The other reason it’s been rather quiet is a number of new projects have landed.

A new SFF based site focusing on the written word aspect of the genre, covering events, reviews, interviews and potentially anything summoned at the crossroads of SF and SFF.

A new SFF based site focusing on the written word aspect of the genre, covering events, reviews, interviews and potentially anything summoned at the crossroads of SF and SFF.

I am now contributing to House on the Borderland  and most of my free time has been spent on this little side project. While the site offers reviews, it is also a platform to for authors and publishers to reach an audience.  I’ll be focusing on the people behind the words, conducting author interviews as well as those others that work in the Science Fiction and Fantasy industry.  Feel free to contact me if you’ve something you want to share.

As well as that I’m working closely with a local primary school in an after school club putting Minecraft through its paces, in lessons and obviously closer to my heart, in writing.

There is another project I am working on, but that one has to stay hush for a little while longer!


Nine Worlds – Part Three.(Seriously a Duology?  Bah… good things come in threes.)

Where am I?

Geekery Awesomeness must wait til next year

Geekery Awesomeness has ended.


I am no longer at Nine Worlds, sadly. For me it was a little less shiny this year. (Did you over do it this year guys?) I decided to explore outside my usual workshop and panel interests. While it impacted on my experience as a whole I gained other perspectives. Nine Worlds 2015 was still all of the things the convention tries to be.

Best bits:

Very popular show, that there Knightmare Live.

Very popular show, that there Knightmare Live. Not the best of views from the back rows though!

Knightmare Live.

Remember the TV show? Yes, there’s a stage show. Made all the better by the Nine Worlds Crowd.


…moving on…



Elven beauty

This has to be the best way to make sure you get use out of a wedding dress!


I don’t do cosplay, but wow do some people excel, spend hours (or the canny ones, mere moments) it is this mix of panels and cosplay which sets Nine Worlds apart from all other cons I have been to. Furiosa, Agent Carter, Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – and ‘his’ Ghostbuster, Canary, so many that I didn’t know (sorry I can’t watch, read, listen to all the things!)



Lemon Cakes and Courtesy: in defence of Lady Sansa Stark. Yes there are other people out there, real people, that ‘get’ Sansa, who see the Game of Thrones world through the most complex perspective of an 11 year old. Honestly people, it’s so not the same as the wisdom and life-skills you have as an adult. There wasn’t another panel going to come close.


Are books really the best medium? Really, really?

Are books really the best medium? Really, really?

The Creative Writing Track mixed nicely with All of The Books in previous years, for anyone wanting to improve their writing techniques while having fun, you should be here. You should already have 2016 tickets booked.

The generosity and all round niceness of The T-Party, along with the excellence of the Podcasting gang won the day this year, Future Tech filled in perfectly.


As always it’s the people who make Nine Worlds. Not the hotel service, not the niggly lack of air con in the rooms, the little grumbles which only bubble up midst hangover recovery, or on the last day. People who talk, who say hi! And those bloggers, podcasters and illustrious authors who understand “fan” rambles when they strike.

The Morningstar AwardGemmell Awards.

Raven Armoury

Raven Armoury create The Legend Award prize. They also make these stunning skeletons!

I was pleased to see these being presented at Nine Worlds, an award which in many many ways adopts the same ‘we are all equal’ approach as the event itself. Voters do not have to be a member of a group or pay to vote, and are very much a global award. These prizes encapsulate the level work in fantasy, truly exquisite in the crafted quality.


The niggles.*

The vendors area was a disappointment, this year, the kid friendly/tween aspect too, seemed to be a side thought.  Over all? It was good, but last year was better. For the ‘niggly’ me, a lot was missing for an event which is supposed to cater for all the people, no matter who you are. Perhaps Nine Worlds is shifting a little to offer more of a niche?  It must be extraordinarily hard to gather something for everyone, and cover all the things, to balance all the needs of those things. Just don’t wander too far out of orbit Nine Worlds, please, you are port for many people with diverse interests, in a genre with just as much random unique offerings.

After all, the third in the series doesn’t always live up to the first.

*Niggles that did not ruin my weekend.

Will I be there next year? Maybe.

Blog round up:




Geekery Awesomeness is Nigh.

Geekery Awesomeness is nigh.

There are less than two weeks to go, and yes, you’re just a little bit excited.  You have your ticket, (you do, right?) you’ve got your name down for those extra special limited attendance workshops. You’ve memorised the programme by heart, consumed the convention’s anti-harrassment policy, become addicted to the Twitter feed but…now what?

The event itself can be overwhelming if you “don’t do crowds” or you like to know your environment. I wasn’t kidding though, the Nine Worlds organisers think of everything, and what little they miss the panellists and volunteers catch. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time or you this is your third expedition to the vast wonderfulness that is Nine Worlds, there is always something you miss, a costume part you forget, meals, the last train home.

However if you missed part one, don’t panic, it’s here.

At the Convention…

  1. Have a very good breakfast. – Take snacks – Food queues are HUGE or there is a long wait at all the places in and around the hotel. (There’s a Maccy D’s 5 minutes away & a pub too.) Once you start weaving from room to room for panels, workshops and fun, food is a forgotten thing anyhow until you hear an odd growling noise and no, it’s not coming from the passing Ewok.
  2. Bring a bottle of water. – There’s plenty of water available – refill at the tables. Coffee queues are HUGE, water queues are not.
  3. Q. I don’t know what to wear! A.Comfortable Stuff.

    1. Shoes. There will be much walking, and possibly some standing if you’ve decided to go to all the popular panels.
    2. Clothes. Not all cosplay is comfy, and we all make sacrifices to our idols, but the right T-shirt is also an enviable thing.*
    3. Backpack. For the freebies, hand outs, All The Shiny Things from the vendors area, oh and carrying that bottle of water. (Guys, remember, books are heavy.)
  4. Arrive early to register. Did I mention the scale of this convention…?
    Go on, smile!

    Go on, smile!

    No, I don’t keep repeating it to terrify you. It’s a big hotel and you don’t realise just how many people are all in one place. Loads of stuff happens over lots of floors, in lots of places. Random portals pop up all over the place.** Explore the hotel if you don’t like the idea of “I don’t know what I am doing.” Double bonus if you don’t like queues, or being lost in corridors straight out of that odd dream you had after eating the wizened pizza you found at the back of the fridge.

  5. Don’t be afraid of the stairs. Lifts are busy, (slower) and best left for those that need them. Burn those alcohol/cake/Big Mac calories off. Save on gym fees!
  6. Coffee addict? I mentioned the queues, right? I take a flask of tea. But I’m weird and I don’t work without tea. I*need* my tea.
    What’s a little fallout’ indeed!

    What’s a little fallout’ indeed!

    A lot of the panels don’t run for the full allotted time. Plan a sneak attack on the coffee while it’s quieter, or if you booked the hotel, refill in your room.(But don’t forget to pack the instant coffee!) Perhaps some mobile N’grath or Deekin Scalesinger will spring up this year to solve all our caffeine related problems and sell much needed beverages to the queues for refreshment.

    Aladdin's lamp, iddy biddy living space. Very poor coffee.

    Aladdin’s lamp, iddy biddy living space. Very poor coffee.

    Just don’t buy from the guy cosplaying as the Bartertown water merchant. Or. Anyone offering you a tatty looking lamp.

  7. HEED THE COMMUNICATION CODE, COWBOY.  Last year it was badges and lanyards. (Don’t point that camera at me!)  These things are here to help and protect you as well as others. With so many people, from so many different walks of life, it’s obvious that not everyone wants the same thing. The Nine Worlds tokens are the currency of “I love your costume”. You don’t need to say a word and say loads at the same time! Nor do you need to fear being mobbed, unless that’s your thing.
  8. Respect other hotel guests. Yep, whooping from the second floor balcony because the most awesome cosplay has just stole the show is great. But not so much for that chap in room 213 who has a flight at 2am.
  9. Don’t Mob Your Hero.  (Especially uncool in the toilets.) Sqqquuueee!  Look! Mwhahaha! That person whom I have stalked across the internet foreverz. Cosplayer, agent, comic book creator, game designer, podcaster or author, give them space. There are things organised just so you can meet them. There’s also several bars.
  10. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Please please please please… Some panels are about listening, some are about playing a board game, others learning how a thing is done. Don’t be the one to die of shame when your phone rings. More importantly don’t pretend it’s not yours when it does ring. WE KNOW! The shifty-eye thing gives it away. (That and the noise.) If you use the glowy tech to make notes, turn the sound off. Ta-dah!
  11. HAVE LOTS OF FUN.  It’s not hard to do, cosplay competitions, quizzes, Twitter stories, parties, gaming, and the sharing with those that didn’t make it.(Use this, it works! -> #NineWorlds ) You’ll make friends that you might not see ’til next year. That’s what the internet’s for, right?

If you take nothing from this other than “How will I survive without coffee?” then you know just how well organised this event is. The only complaint this tea drinker can find is the queue for coffee.

You are in safe hands. See you at Nine Worlds!


*Also a conversation starter.
**Rumoured to be used by gophers and volunteers with expert precision.

It’s nearly August. That means it’s nearly Nine Worlds – geekery greatness over a whole weekend. Year three of this pangalatic mash of fabulous creativity and fandom and the peeps are already excited. The grand announcements have begun, who’s who on what panel along with the plans for evening frivolity and excitement of the partying style…

Are you going too?Nine Worlds 2015

You don’t have to be a writer to attend Nine Worlds. You don’t need to have made a blockbuster movie. Your resume does not have to list endless gaming productions. All you need to be is you. If you read a bit or watch the Syfy channel, know the script of Alien off by heart or have secret underground cave filled with graphic novels, catch a podcast here and there or happened to have finished Destiny without sleep, it doesn’t matter. You’ll fit right in. From Dr Who to Super Natural, Animie to Steampunk, Game of Thrones to Star Trek, whatever your “geek” is, it’s covered here. Whoever you are, where ever you are from, whatever speculative, SFF genre thing is YOUR thing. It’s here.

Don’t be the one stuck at home following on Twitter, wishing. Plan ahead! Be a part of it. Don’t be put off by the immensity, by the worry of crowds. There are safe spaces too.

So – Part one of the non-pocket sized guide if your thinking about going.

Before July starts…


  1. Buy tickets early. Daft as this sounds…it’s cheaper. (There is another price rise imminent!) I know you don’t know what you’re doing in the next ten minutes, let along the next ten months – but money saved on tickets can be spent on great stuff in the vendor’s area. Oh and MAKE USE OF THE INSTALMENTS OPTION!
  2. Book the hotel. This year they’re in the Raddisson Blu Edwardian, Heathrow.  The inhabitants of Nine Worlds party hard into the night and taxis are expensive.  (Even more expensive when it’s raining!) There are oodles of hotels nearby, including Premier Inn, Ibis and Travelodge. Check sites like Lastminute for cheap options.
  3. Volunteer. If the tickets and hotel refuse to fit the bank balance and you have the skills. Donate your time and help make the event run smooth.
  4. Cosplaying? Get making! I’ve seen groups and individuals have a blast and there’s nothing better than discovering others who love the same film, book, graphic novel, game as you. It’s a great icebreaker.
  5. Keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook and the Nine Worlds website. There are some events that must be booked. These. Sell. Out. Fast. You got that, right? The one-to-ones, the how-tos with your idol. The once in a solar eclipse opportunities sell out very fast. Oh… and each track has it’s own twitter feed. Start here: @London_Geekfest
  6. Download the draft Programme.* (Not yet…soon!) Get excited, but don’t plan anything yet! It’s only a draft.
  7. Get Digital.* (Soon) Use their software that’s there to Keep It Simple. Take time to figure it out. I’m a paper first person, but getting to grips with the event planning software means you won’t accidentally miss that one panel you HAVE to see because you found something else that looked interesting. (What do you mean there are three pages of stuff to do on to Saturday?)
  8. Did you take your eye off the website? Ticket only swordfighting, did you miss it? That make your own shiny-thingy, you missed that too? A chance to meet your very most favouritist person who made that thing you like mostist… not going to miss that are ya?
  9. Clear a shelf. Book hauls & goodie bags, exchanges, prizes, shiny things you buy … you WILL need the space. Do this after following step 1. (And don’t fill it with other stuff you collect between now and August!)

Part Two…coming soon.

(*Knowing my luck they won’t do a draft programme, or a digital planning app thing this time, but there will be something equally as helpful, no-doubt. )

I’ve heard a lot of authors say that you never stop learning. 2014 turned out to be one heck of a hill for me. On the outside, nothing has happened. Yet, those who write (whatever you write) know that that’s possibly the best type of happening.

I put this growth down to tea lack of sleep other people. No they didn’t do all the work, (don’t be silly, they’d want paying.) but they did make my own thinking cogs churn more.

I’m not talking about beta readers, or editors. Though editors do deserve a glass or two of wine for how they can truly polish an author’s work.


If your New Year’s resolution is to write, write more, or finish writing, then there is something you need to do.

Walk away from the writing. Go out and meet people.

Stop crying. Please.

I know going out to a strange place doesn’t appeal. I don’t mean abandon the dream. I mean share time with other dreamers. I’ve talked about the importance of ‘getting out’ before. You really don’t have to listen to the voices in your head all night, share the crazy with other like-minded writers.

Writing groups, workshops, literary festivals, conventions, writing classes, twitter panels, pitch contests, Nano-meets, forums….

You might come away with friends.

(Yes I am aware that some of those things don’t involve the act of “going out of the house.” It does mean you stop churning over ‘that nightmare paragraph’ in your head for a little while though.)

Go with an open mind.

Writing groups are focus on you, your work and others in your group. You might not get opportunity to share every week. Creative writing courses and classes involve learning – and a very different environment to a writing group.

Both – unless tailored to a genre- will have a range of styles, age groups, experience and genres.

Forums are a great source of random interests combined with the one thing everyone has in common. Writing. And in most cases, writing for your chose genre has its own sub-forum. You don’t have to walk up to someone and start a conversation online, you can read everyone else’s chit-chat. Blogs are full of how to articles, and twitter pitch contests turn all of that up a frantic notch.


November. One month of writing chaos.

Nano-meets. (NanoWriMo ( We blame thank the internet for a month of crazy) Despite having a standing invite to the not-so-local group… I have yet to get to one. However, imagine. A collective hive mind of moral boosting, coffee sharing, creative minds all with one goal “I will finish this story.”

Literary Festivals. These events are a celebration of the printed written word. That can be plays, films, books, poetry, games and they all require writing.

Conventions. Well that’s just the best place to be. All of the fun, and meeting those in the industry that are already making and shaking combined with all of the ‘well I didn’t know that.’

All of these things can reveal a plot hole you may have missed, cause you to throw a strop and abandon 60,000 words, show you a technique on how to deal with a grating piece of dialogue. Or just help you feel normal after a bout of “That is nothing like what I planned to write.”

I’ve met unpublished, debut and best-seller writers. (Not just of novels) And regardless of their experience, they are all human (So are agents and publishers too… shhh!) You don’t meet them hiding behind your glowing screen, or scrunched in a corner with your notebook. Sure you can “meet” their words. However, as a writer you already know the power in text not to mention how it can be misused, manipulated and misread.

By far the best use of my time was the Writing Degree with Hull University. Not because it taught me how to imagine – (Sorry they can’t teach ‘what if’ that you get from being who you are.) – but because it forced me to look at the words on the page and make them do more. Would I have gained all I have using only the writing groups, the conventions, workshops and forums?

Probably after years of rejections. No.

No one thing alone would have put me where I am at the start of 2015. But making the friends I have in 2014 has made me a more sane happier person, and I wouldn’t have met those people had I not left the writing at home.

Fun and randomness mixes with the seriousness of debates over which Red Shirt will get it next. Sub forums are there for any SFF writer, publisher, artist…to pick the brains of those in the industry.

If you are not sure whether to head out to your nearest group I’ll be taking part in a Twitter panel on January 11th with some impressive company.

Teresa Edgerton, Anna Dickinson, Bryan Wigmore and Juliana Spink Mills will be bringing their wealth of knowledge to Twitter to chat about the pros and cons of writing groups, educational writing courses, workshops and all that online help. Find us on Twitter on 11th January at 9pm GMT Bring your questions #SFFChrons!