9 Jun 2014

UK Meet 2014 - Bristol (Part 1 of 2)

This weekend was the UK Meet 2014, held in Bristol. I've just got back home to my babies, who were excited to see me after almost 5 days away. I think the girls are ignoring me for a bit though. This is my punishment for leaving them. I've had such a great time at the meet, and I wanted to share with you some of my memories and thoughts. I'll apologise in advance for the lack of pictures. My phone battery was perpetually running flat.

It all started on a train. Three and a half hours of train, actually. I was greeted in Liverpool by a lot of hugging from Poppy Dennison, my head scratcher and second adopted mom, and Val Hughes, the most special awesome editor I've met. After a relaxing evening of food and Val's awesome lemon madeira cake, we retired for the night.

The next morning our road trip party was completed by the addition of Violet Joicey-Cowen. We loaded up the car and began our drive down to Bristol, with the assistance of Gladys, Val's SatNav--not to be confused with GlaDoS, though with some of the directions she was giving us and the tone of her voice after going round the same road for the third time, I'm sure homicidal thoughts were close to the forefront of her CPU.

We managed to make it to the hotel in one piece, and met up with the rest of the early birds. Among them was my first adopted mom Blaine D. Arden, Clare London, Anna Martin, M.J. O'Shea, and many others. One surprising realisation I made that day was Jordan Castillo Price does not look like JCP without her signature hat. I had to do a double take when Clare introduced us. Jordan? No, it can't be. You look different. Wait...  it's because you don't have your hat on!

That night a few of us skipped the meal and went out to an Italian restaurant for food and drinks. We had a good chinwag, and I even mistook a female waiter, who was determined to put pepper on someone's dinner before the end of the night was up, for an emo guy. There was some discussion on the table about this, and apparently I was the only one to make this particular mistake.

After that, I travelled down to Old Market for a tour of the gay bars with Anna Martin. We only stopped for drinks at one, but I got a good look around. For once I got to bed on the Friday night before midnight, and even woke up on the Saturday without a hangover.  I bet Charlie got a surprise there.

Books were already flying off the table before we finished setting up!

The next day we were up early for breakfast, and a fun-filled day of events. The day started with the usual filling of the swag bags and the introduction session, which was followed on by the 'Novel Openings' panel. My admiration goes out to all the authors who volunteered to read the first 150 words of their novel as I certainly wouldn't have had the courage to stand up there in front of all those people and read my work.

After a quick recess, we dove straight back into things with two more panels on demystifying publishing and marketing, the latter led by the awesomesauce Susan Lee, who has given me some great things to think about.

Next up was a lovely lunch, though the fish looked absolutely disgusting. Luckily, I'm not a fish-eater anyway. I have to qive a quick kudos to the hotel here as the food was really good considering the amount of people they were cooking for, and we never found ouselves lacking in drinks.

For once I actually like my picture!
I skipped the first afternoon panel for an impromptu planning session with my co-panelists (TJ Masters and Anna Martin, with Jo Myles presiding) for the BDSM Workshop. Those forty minutes passed so quickly, and next thing I knew I was sat in front of a group of people introducing myself to talk about being safe within the BDSM lifestyle, not just with meeting people, but also during sessions too.

Then I was stood at the front of the room, with TJ Masters pulling out lengths of bright blue rope from his bag of equipment. I was a bag of nerves by that point. But I have to say that I had a lot of fun working do it. TJ was an absolute star, and I'm impressed by the level of quality in his ropework, too. As more and more ropes were wrapped around me, I began to feel more and more secure, and I'm glad to say that it wasn't just me having fun. We got so many comments throughout the rest of that day, and the Sunday too, thanking us for a great experience. I have to say a big thank you to the audience as well. Not only were they very well-behaved, but they were eager to engage with us and ask questions. We even had one person come up to try the wrist cuffs on. Seriously guys, you helped make that workshop the success it was, and I hope we can do something similar next year on a different aspect of the BDSM lifestyle.

The day wound down slowly after that, with the keynote speech from Belinda McBride, and then the book fair. I'm so honoured that people came to buy my books, and I am happy to say I had none left to put back in my suitcase. Thank you to all of you, and I hope my books don't disappoint.

In the interest of not making this post too long, I'm going to pick back up tomorrow for part two where I'll cover the second half of the conference, and also menton a few of the awesome people I've met. Hope you'll be back tomorrow.


Charlie Cochrane said...

You've got me bang to rights. I was slightly surprised at your Saturday sobriety. BTW, did you go to Old Market Tavern. Love that pub!

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