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One of my favourite greetings at a convention is “How is your con going?” I love the implication that everyone is experiencing the same event differently, from their own perspective. I love that it’s implied that one person can be having a terrible time and that be completely unrelated to someone else’s ie a great convention is one that offers a diverse group of people that which they each need to have a good time. Not such an easy task to complete when you run a con and a very easy thing to attack when you attend. It also means that you can be hearing a lot of complaints about a con being boring or disorganised yet be having the best time yourself.

We just came off of Swancon 2014 (39 for those who talk SwanconGeek). It was the first con I’ve attended with my child in tow. That had its drawbacks – I didn’t manage to get to the Art Show for example, which I really wanted to (I think there was some work there I might have wanted to buy.) I couldn’t have done the con at all without Terri and Shani who did a lot (most) of the baby wrangling. The baby didn’t really want to nap too much, what with all the people and things to look at and process. So we had quite a grumpy baby by the end of each day and yesterday was painful trying to get her back into her routine. My favourite grumpy baby moment was when she just gave up on Friday night and sat in her highchair at a restaurant and squealed over and over and over like she was on total overboard (her daddy removed her from the situation and we went home).

But for me, a good con starts and ends with a good dealers room – decent size space for the traders who will be there, nice mix of traders offering different things, enough chairs for each table, access to power, aircon (that can be adjusted) and a good steady flow of people coming in to see us! This year Margaret was the dealers liaison and she was hands down the best liaison I’ve ever dealt with. She sent out regular but not too often emails ahead of the event with relevant information (and information gathering about our needs). She organised traders to bump in at 15 min intervals allowing only one of us to be unloading and using the hotel trolley at a time. She was hanging around and available to assist us when we arrived. She organised menus and took lunch orders, our money and then sent up the waiters with lunch for us at lunchtime. We DID NOT STARVE. And she did it in a calm, take charge authoritative manner. She made it an enjoyable breeze. The room was a good size and overall pretty pleasant.

Being a trader, my con basically looks like the inside of the dealers room. Hopefully trade is brisk and constant so I have things to do (and I sell my books to enthusiastic readers!). But also, hopefully everyone eventually comes past and says hello. I definitely feel like I got to have good chats with lots of people – new friends I’ve made in the last year on Facebook and old friends too. It’s also a good chance for writers to come past and talk about stuff, pitch projects or touch base on work we’re working on and so on.

We had a small Twelfth Planet Press event. I was quite worried I’d overcatered and that noone would come. Terri spent hours and hours conceiving, making and icing 450 macarons. I helped a bit with some oven management but basically that was all her. She made 9 kinds to match the covers of the Twelve Planets published so far and flavoured them according to themes within. (I’ll be posting more on that over on Pinterest). Shani kindly looked after the baby during this. As usual at Swancon, some lovely people popped in early to help me set up – thank you to all those people, I greatly appreciate your help. And I had Cat there who made sure all the champagne was served and drunk (I definitely was worried I’d overcatered). So many people came along and it turned out to be a really lovely event to celebrate the books we’ve done so far and the four more to come (yep – FOUR!).

And finally, for me, a good con has attracted some of my friends along so I get to catch up and hang out with people I love. That definitely happened this year and I can tell because I got given homework by Stefen, Nick and Jonathan as well as Cat and Bec. Should keep me busy for a while!

When you leave a good con you feel inspired to do something, be it consume or create. I came away with some ideas to mull over and a lot of reading to do. And I think we managed to feed everyone some Twelve Planets coloured and flavoured macarons thanks to Terri’s creativity! So I’m calling it a Good Con.

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Photos taken by Cat Sparks

 



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I’ve been sitting here all day with the intention of writing up a bunch of posts I want to make. There are a few on a bunch of topics, so many in fact I thought, well, I could queue up for the week so as not to deluge the blog. I have though in fact started only this one. Mostly because I couldn’t decide where to start. And that’s been pretty much most of the day and in fact my week. And it’s not even been too much to do, no idea where to start. I have a list, comprehensive lists, breaking things down into bite sized tasks. Any task to suit any mood. Alas my mood has been to flit with no desire to sink my teeth into anything or indeed to sit still long enough to sink at all.

Take today, I’ve half cleaned the kitchen, half started the laundry, cleaned a bit of my desk, folded some laundry, and sorted a bit of my in tray. But I’ve completed nothing, really. And instead I’ve been sort of consumed by my knitting and the internet. And I still don’t feel much like doing anything even though I have TONS to do. I just don’t seem in a settling into anything type of mood.

I made it into Swancon on Friday and Sunday – Friday was unexpected as we foundĀ ourselves with 6 hours to kill between Easter breakfast with C’s parents and Seder night with mine. And I wanted to pop in and see Marianne and drop her in some books. I settled into her interview panel with the beginning of my knitting (above) and thought I’d just stay for that. Zoe interviewed Marianne and I believe it was recorded so perhaps available for listening at some point in time. And it was a really great interview, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I mean, yeah, really lovely things were said about Glitter Rose, and Kendra asked a fantastic question about the book (always so freaking awesome when readers get what you were trying to and/or really think about the work – Marianne described Kendra as a “thoughtful reader” and I instantly decided that’s what I want to be when I grow up and also how lucky I am to have thoughtful readers of the work I publish) but it was just really energising to hear Marianne speak. It’s kinda rare now that I think about it to sit in a big room, for it to be really well packed and for just one woman to speak about her experiences as a writer. An she had so much of interest to say.

After that, I ended up kind of conning – I believe it’s called? I just sort of floated around, got into conversations with people and had not a care in the world. It was great. And C had headed off to the gaming room when we got there and I got a text asking if I was ok and if it was all good to stay and I was happy, he was happy and it was good. I had a brief chat and debrief with Marianne just before we had to head off to dinner and that was that.

Sunday we headed back in – I had two panels on and C played in the magic tournament thingie. I managed to persuade Jonathan to come and join me on my first panel with Helen and Satima on what to do once you’ve finished your manuscript. And then we headed off to lunch with Kathryn and Terri. And after mooching about, I had a second panel which I don’t think went very well and then I headed back to the dealers room where I managed to successfully win the fan art pictured with my knitting above! It’s by Susan Margaret who also painted the Glitter Rose glasses from last year. I think I might love her work :) I’m looking forward to drinking lots of cups of tea whilst knitting and reading in a winter with this cheery set. It was part of a beautiful installation which I would have bought more of but I had no more money on me.

And then I could dodge it no longer. Marianne sat me down and gave me the hard questions to “check I was still on the straight and narrow.” How lucky am I to have such awesome mentors? Something that’s a real struggle is finding publishing mentors in Australia – there’s lots of avenues for how to learn your craft as a writer or editor, all manner of courses and workshops and societies. But so much less, to almost nothing, on how to grow an independent press. I think it would be fair to say in the SF/F scene, most small presses stick around 5 to 10 years. And very few make the leap from small to medium. I’ve been lucky to be introduced to a bunch of people who have been willing to help by answering my questions and to offer guidance. But I’ve been luckier still to have good friends who throw ideas at me and let me bounce off my crazy. Marianne, though, is the one to whom I confess *everything* and who has been keeping me honest and on track so I don’t get too crazy. Or that I at least keep the crazy on the back burner for now. She knows a lot about the business and anyone who had the chance to hear her talk or to talk with her this weekend knows just what an honour that was. I for one am glad I had nothing hidden I had to confess to her face!! I would not have enjoyed that! And it was instead great to talk through with her my plan with the upcoming novels and everything that goes along with trying to make this a real thing.



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