Category Archives: conventions

Fantasycon 2015: Aftermath

fantasycon2015 Ah, Fantasycon, how do I love thee.  Fantasycon was my first con, and thus the con that raised wee!Jen! in the genre.  It’s also the convention that introduced me to a wild and spendid bunch of utter nutters folks who have become my extended family and like this year’s GoH Jo Fletcher (and many others) are frequently heard to say, I wouldn’t be where I am now without Fantasycon and the BFS.  So Fantasycon has always been my home con.  There’s been ups and downs over the years, great venues, seriously crappy venues, shenanigans and hijinx aplenty, but after a rather excellent time in York last year, I was looking forward to more of the same. In that I was not disappointed as this year by far exceeded it.

So the hotel – from an accommodation standpoint, the De Vere Orchard is one of the better Fcon hotels.  Plentiful free parking, comfy chairs and actual stable free wifi y’all! (What? This is a vital part of any con!)  And yes, many hated the limited menu the hotel decided to shove in the restaurant especially for us, but hey, it was cheap and suited my (admittedly unsophisticated) palate perfectly so I had no problem with it.  Everything with cheese? So in!  (The epically slow service was a whole ‘nother thing though.)

The con itself had an excellent vibe to it – with tons of new people, a generally relaxed and friendly feel and plenty of light spacious rooms to hang about in between things.  And oh so many panels.  In an alternate universe, where hive mind clone systems have been invented, Jen #1 did alllll the panels, Jen #2 did allll the other panels, Jen #3 scooped up the random panels, launches and miscellanea missed by #1 and #2, Jen #4 lurked in the readings and hung around gossiping all day before storming the karaoke and disco, while Jen #5 got on the tram to Nottingham and hasn’t been seen since. At some point later the multi Jen collective merged brains and the full con experience was had by all.

Alas, no hive mind clone club in this universe, so while many panels were seen, many panels were not and conversations were fleeting things that happened as people passed on the way to other stuff.  But the people I did get to see, albeit briefly, were fantastic. (Cheers folks! Big hugs!)  Shout outs to Adrian, Ruth, Alasdair, Marguerite, Pete, Jan, Debs, Mike, Paul, Marie, Steve, Jo, Amanda, Simon, other Simon, other other Simon, Cate, Liz, Gary, Karen, Heidi, Adele, Mr Fox and all those peeps whose names are currently on the edge of m’wossname but who also increased the general loveliness of the con.

The editing panel I was on went well (despite the fact I was on it!).  James Barclay is a stunning moderator, and m’fellow panellists – Pete Crowther, Nicola Budd and Simon Marshall Jones – were both erudite and excellent! (I said not much, and possibly answered questions that hadn’t even been asked. Er. Whoops? Mooooving on.)  The other panels were a wonderfully varied selection including the fun and very educational writing in a franchise panel, the excellent present and future of horror panel, the equally excellent epic fantasy panel, the panel interupptus that was the marketing panel (cut short by fire alarm and ensuing congregation in the car park), and the fascinating future of publishing panel (phone fic, yo!).  The Jo Fletcher interview was also brilliant.  (Jo F. = actual goddess. No question.)

We had to leave early Sunday so missed the last day of fun, but awards can be found here – and are they not a fantastic bunch of winners?   Alchemy picked up Best Collection for Adrian Cole’s Nick Nightmare Investigates (co-published with Airgedlámh Publications), Fox Spirit picked up Best Independent Press, and with Holdfast and Women Destroy SF among the other winners, happy Jen is very happy.  🙂

Massive kudos to the redcoats who kept things running smoothly and huge thanks to Lee and the committee for organising such an amazing con. I had a blast!  (Now go get some sleep, peeps!)

And so onto next year… early news in says that next year Fantasycon will be in Scarborough (23rd – 25th September), organised by Alex Davis of Edge Lit fame, with the lovely Adam Nevill as first guest – so naturally I’ve already booked. (Well, it has to be done!)  Should be fun, so get yourselves signed up already!

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Fantasycon 2015: Where’s Jen?

axe1 picWheee! 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.


*Clip art image by Cliparts.co

Nineworlds Geekfest 2015

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…)

2015-08-08 11.58.46And 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!

Back to Life

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00024]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 Stephen 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… 😛

Nineworlds Geekfest 2014

geekylogoShort 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.

Urban Mythic 2: Cover, Launch, ToC

Darlings! Hello!  We have a launch date for the ever marvellous Urban Mythic 2!
We will be unleashing the Anthology of Awesome at Fantasycon in York, on Saturday 6th September at 2pm.  Hurrah!

Not only that, we have cover!  Well, prelim cover.  Slight changes may be made to the font-y bits, but, hey, look… pretty picture from Edward Miller!UM2 prelm coverAnd! Final order of contents!

The Mermaid  – Tanith Lee
For the Memory of Jane  – K T Davies
Where the Brass Band Plays  – Adrian Tchaikovsky
How to Get  Ahead in Avatising –  James Brogden
 La Vouivre –  Sarah Ash
Trapped in the Web – Pauline E Dungate
 The West Dulwich Horror  – Carl Barker
The Cupboard of Winds  – Marion Pitman
Blood*uckers –  Chico Kidd
High School Mythical: Asgard –  Christine Morgan
Paradise Walk  – Andrew Coulthard
Death and the Weaver – Lou Morgan

Are you excited? I’m excited! 😉

The 2013 Round Up Post

… because why not.  😉

Sooo (as all great blog posts are wont to start…) 2013 then.  That was a year.  Quite a good one for me actually.

I had two short stories published in two very excellent Fox Spirit anthologies:
Past Lives in Piracy – this one being a spin off of the mermaid-pirate stories I keep writing, though it’s more about the human pirate that’s hunting them and how that is a very bad idea…

To Fox Tor Mire in Shapeshifters – this one being a Maddy Cain story where the sins of the mother come back to bite the daughter on the ass… (one day I will finish a novel length urban fantasy thing with my beloved fox-mage trickster girl, until then, there will be many shorts…)

Speaking of – there’s another Maddy Cain story due out at some point from Elektrik Milk Bath Press in their Urban Fantasy anthology – no idea when though, probably sometime in late 2014.

With my editor hat on (it has sparkles and feathers and room for spare red pens) the big one was The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic which I’m well chuffed about. I always have a lot of fun co-editing with Jan Edwards, and Urban Mythic managed to get a fantastic line up and launched quite well too.

In fact, so well did it go, that we’re doing Urban Mythic 2 in 2014!  Full guidelines will be up shortly for that!

Oh, and, Alchemy did a quickie interview with us about the anthology here.

And, not only that, but we’ll also be doing a rather wicked little anthology with Fox Spirit Books towards the end of the year.  More news on that lovely thing another time…

Convention wise, there was, of course, WFC.  Which was all work.  And as mentioned previously, 2014 is going to be convention play year – I’m  definitely going to Nine Worlds Geekfest and Fantasycon (unless next-cousin-to-be-married picks that weekend for the festivities), and am hoping to get to BristolCon and EdgeLit, depending on time and finances.

With my academic hat on (extra pockets for emergency chocolate) I started my penultimate module for the history degree – Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds – which continues to be an awesome course.  Oh, and there’s also the book keeping course thingy I’m doing alongside it as the family business keeps inventing new ways to challenge me and generally drive me insane and someone needs to understand the all new complicated numbers stuff…

Cool fiction read I’ll cover in another post, because the short fiction list will probably go on a bit… and according to Goodreads I read 104 books last year.  ::blinks::

Other than that, there was little sister’s wedding, of which I’m just about over the trauma of wearing a bridesmaid dress, though the psychological scars from being trapped with that many relatives in one go will likely last a while longer…  ;-P