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With three new books to launch at Natcon, and with a new and exciting announcement for our 20th title, we wanted to make a bit of a splash. We were able to secure a really great timeslot at the beginning of the con and we wanted to throw a party to celebrate Twelfth Planet Press.

Terri came up with the awesome idea of making cupcakes, decorated for each of the TPP books, especially the Twelve Planets. She spent a week baking and freezing cupcakes beforehand and lugged 10kg of cakes in her suitcase to the con. Not only did she decorate the cupcake to suit the book, but she matched the the cake flavour to the book as well! They all sounded delicious and she’s going to do more on that at a later date, stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, we arrived on Thursday night and unpacked. Terri was up first thing on Friday morning to go out for supplies and after I had breakfast, I did a second run for her for all the other bits and pieces. Terri spent the entire day in our room icing cupcakes. She turned our room into what I thought looked like an edible art studio and the air was thick with sugar. The sugary smell hung around all weekend too.

I like this photo here with all Terri’s cake decorating paraphernalia – it looks so much like art paints and scrapers and things.

Terri baked something like 400 cupcakes. And whilst they didn’t all quite make it over, that was really quite an achievement in itself. Having done it myself for previous book launches I know how long it takes and how sore your feet get. I’m very sorry too that I didn’t get to taste the salted caramel cupcakes for Margo’s Cracklescape inspired ones. Or the blue ones for Deb’s Bad Power – the cake and the icing were blue!

And there was the decorating. Terri sat down and planned the topping for each of the books inspired by Amanda’s covers. In some cases she bought new moulds to make chocolates to place on top, for others she made things out of icing and chocolate. We didn’t get the time in the end to photograph each of the finished works nor place them next to the matching book as we had wanted.

These are the lemon meringues for Sue’s Nightsiders. Terri made the meringue on the day AND yes that’s a kitchen blowtorch she’s got there thanks to Alex, who Jason and I went and picked up via taxi in the early afternoon.

And for Margo’s Cracklescape, Terri made mirrors – hard boiled lollies melted into hand held mirrors she’s crafted out of icing.

Her creativity is just astounding.

It was not long into the morning that I realised Terri’s efforts were a very real and very beautiful edible art project. There will be more on this project to come, she plans to reenact and take close up photos for her blog. And at TPP, we’re already planning something to celebrate the Twelve Planets project as a whole so we’ll have more to say on that in due course.

More on the party itself next (this photo to the left is courtesy of Cat Sparks) But I was thrown into what felt like the most overwhelming couple of hours of generosity and support that I think I have ever experienced. I was already blown away by the work and care Terri had taken with the cupcakes. But then we needed people and hands on deck to run what became a much bigger than we had expected event.

Tansy and Jason snuck into the back of the panel before ours on the programme to set up the drinks and book display. They even snuck in a table! TPP peeps and friends came up to help bring down all the platters of cupcakes – there were a lot – and as we entered the room to arrange it all in an artistic way, we were bowled over by a party that had already gotten started. And not just a few earlybirds, the room was already packed, cupcakes were whisked off plates before they even made the table and champagne corks had already been popped. We were absorbed by the pulsing crowd and that was it – Twelfth Planet Press Hour was on for young and old! There was already a queue to buy books, there were so many familiar faces to say hi to and catch up with. It was the perfect way to start the con – everyone was catching up with each other and just getting into the groove. (Photo to the right and those below thanks to Tansy and Finchy) And because it was gold coin donation day, people who weren’t going to come to the con were able to come in and say hi and grab a cupcake. (Thanks to all of you who did!)

We’d vaguely planned a schedule for the hour but that just got thrown to the side – this party didn’t need to get warmed up, it arrived raring to go! And it was just what I hoped it would be! We had a roaming juggler from the Women’s Circus wandering around to add a bit of a carnival feel to the event. And friends helped out serving drinks, offering cakes around and selling books. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make this party a success. Thank you to everyone who did.

I got up on a chair at some point in the evening to offer some “remarks”. When I got up there and the crowd quietened down, I looked around at the many people in the room looking back at me and was overwhelmed. I was really touched by the show of support for my press and authors and for me. It’s not often that you have a chance to just take a moment and see it. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things that you do but as I stood there and looked around, I saw friends helping me make the party happen, and my press successful. I saw authors (old and new) proud to be a part of this thing, and I saw the community supporting and encouraging me and the press along the way to just go and see what we can be. I took the moment to readjust my personal perspective on things.

I then got to say basically everything I’d talked over with Jonathan that morning that I wanted to say. I thanked Terri for her ideas and her efforts helping me with the party. I launched the three new books – two are out now Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren, book 6 of The Twelve Planets and Salvage by Jason Nahrung, an Australian gothic novella and Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan, book 7 of The Twelve Planets will be available in August. And then I made a very exciting announcement – the launch of our new crime imprint Deadlines, the first title of which to be our first novel A Trifle Dead by Hobart author Livia Day (out later this year).

And then I got to grab a glass of champagne myself, pose in photos and see a few people. My cousins popped in briefly which meant a lot to me and as  I looked around, I saw so many friends and familiar faces. It was such a great event!

Some more of the cupcakes:

From top left to right:

Thief of Lives inspired perfume bottles; A Stitch in Time Travel inspired knitting related balls of yarn, knitting needles and loops of yarn; cameos for Love and Romanpunk; the hand mirrors for Cracklescape; Lucy Sussex showing she matches the Glitter Rose cupcakes which were a little bit glittery; the table of cupcakes including the TPP logo, police tape on blue for Bad Power and ghosts for Showtime. Other cupcakes had sugared almonds for Through Splintered Walls, trifle for A Trifle Dead and bloody droplets for Deadlines imprint.

And Cat got all the Twelve Planets present ( we had 10!!) and me to pose for photos. These really feel like they’d be appropriate at the end of our movie of the week where we can all reflect back on how keen we looked at the beginning!

This photo is courtesy of Cat Sparks’ Flickr stream. From top left to right: Deborah Biancotti, Kirstyn McDermott, me, Rosaleen Love, Margo Lanagan, Narrelle M Harris. And bottom left to right: Cat Sparks, Lucy Sussex, Kaaron Warren, Deb Kalin and Tansy Rayner Roberts. These (and Sue Isle and Thoraiya Dyer) amazing and talented women took me seriously when I pitched the Twelve Planets at them. What an honour.

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I keep feeling like I should apologise for saying that I had a really great time at Continuum 8. I think it’s because I’m so used to hearing complaints about cons. But I don’t really have any so herein, and to follow, are a bunch of upbeat happy reporting ins of the weekend.

First up, my haul.

The rule when you’re a trader is, if you brought books in your suitcase, you can only buy books if you sell books. It’s a completely different rule to the To Be Read ones as it relates to baggage weight. Luckily. I had sent 4 boxes of Twelfth Planet Press books and table bits and pieces in advance via TNT to Alex’s but they let me down and I realised on Thursday at lunchtime that my books would not be there in time for the con. A quick call to Terri and we worked out we could pack an extra suitcase of books and bring that. Which we did. And discovered that this is probably a better option in future, both for the cost and the reduction in stress. This meant I had an extra suitcase for fitting in any purchases from the con!

So my haul! And I get To Be Read pile points because they were all books I had been intending to get so were technically on my reading list. That’s ok, right?

I had a very busy weekend. For me, most of the con was experienced in terms of the events or commitments I and the press had on. I got to kind of slow down and take in more of the con on Sunday when all that was behind me. I had a really awesome time. I didn’t get to speak to as many people as I wanted and of course I had all those half conversations you have at things like this where you’re constantly in the middle of conversations the whole weekend long – it’s both fantastic and frustrating. But I got to hang out with my friends, get lots of real life hugs and I got to get my groove back. I love fandom and I love the scene and I had a really great time. I’m so overwhelmed and humbled and thankful to everyone who helped me out this weekend and who support the press – both over the weekend and in general. I’ve come home happy and inspired and with oh so much more work to do. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I can’t wait for Conflux 2013!

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