Ruth Frances Long interview

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adarknessattheendcoverAt EasterCon in April this year I had the pleasure of being on a panel moderated by the fascinating YA fantasy writer, Ruth Frances Long. After spending a lot of the conference talking to her about many various and random things (Irish census data being one bizarre topic) and on hearing she had a book release this month, I invited her to do an interview.

You set your books in Dublin and a fey mirror realm called Dubh Linn, how important is setting to you and how much of your real world experience of Dublin has gone into your world building?

Setting is extremely important to me. I believe that when writing fantasy the more real world, definite details a writer can put in, the more real the world becomes and the fantasy elements become more convincing. I grew up in Dublin and in Dalkey (the town just outside where Izzy comes from) and made a number of research trips to each setting. I have so many photos of the various settings that I think my computer might melt some day soon.

Your Dubh Linn series draws on a lot of Irish mythology. What is your favourite story from these myths?

It’s very hard to pick just one and so many of them have gone into the Dubh Linn books. Many of them are local folklore – which range from stories to tiny details about buildings and places. I love stories about fairy trees and mounds, about not messing with the Sídhe. In the grander mythological sense I’m very fond of the story of Midir and Etain, but didn’t really use it in this story. One that I used is that of the Leanán Sídhe, the fairy lover or muse, who seduces artists and musicians, making them great but draining them of their life force so their lives will be brilliant but short. I combined it with the urban legend of the 27s, musicians who all died when they were 27, which made for a different twist.

Who would win in single combat – Cuchulain or Hercules?

Cuchulain. I’m pretty sure he fights dirty.

As R.F Long you also write paranormal romance. Do you find there is a difference between writing this and your urban fantasy work?

A lot of it is to do with voice and themes rather than anything else, the type of story I’m telling. There is actually a lot of overlap but voice always is a key element in YA.

Do you find that being a romance writer has helped you develop more realistic relationships in your fantasy work or has it been a hindrance?

I think writing is all about capturing emotion – whether that’s love or fear or hate, whatever. I’m not sure if writing romance has helped that but the sense of emotion and the sense of story are key ingredients in romance. I love writing about relationships because of all the emotions relationships throw up. It isn’t just about love.

How has your work as a librarian helped or hindered your career as a writer?

I came to both through a love of books. I don’t think that could ever hinder a writer. Perhaps by putting far too many books easily to hand to procrastinate with. But that also has the advantage of research!

You have obviously been very successful in two genres of fiction. Do you feel you have yet ‘made it’ as a writer or are there still things to achieve to get there?

I’m not sure any writer ever feels that they have “made it”. There’s always room to grow and each new book presents a new challenge (or abject terror of getting it wrong). I tend to follow the story and telling the best story I can and having people read and appreciate it is the most amazing thing.

If you had a choice, which author (living or dead) would you like the chance to spend some time with?

I’m a bit fan of Terry Pratchett and I’d like him back to tell more stories.

What would you do with this author?

I’d like to talk to him about folklore because I think he had a sublime understanding of it. I love the way he worked it through everything he wrote.

Tell us more about your latest release – A Darkness at the End.

A Darkness at the end is the final book in the contemporary fantasy trilogy set Dublin and Dubh Linn, the fae world that exists in the cracks and corners of reality.

Angels, fae demons and humans are drawn into lethal conflict as the fate of the world hangs in the balance in the final instalment in this urban fantasy. Holly, the fae matriarch, tries to seize the power of heaven for herself, while Izzy has lost her memory and Jinx is dead … or is he?

Confronted with ancient powers, sacrifice and treachery. War is looming within the ranks of the Sidhe. The angels and the demons begin to draw lines, daring each other to transgress and start another war …

You have just ended a trilogy. What is next for you? What stories are there in your future?

I’m currently working on a Space Opera, and a Young Adult contemporary, and a timeslip… so plenty.

Bio

Ruth Frances Long writes dark young adult fantasy, often about scary fairies, such as The Treachery of Beautiful Things, A Crack in Everything, A Hollow in the Hills and the forthcoming A Darkness at the End. (O’Brien Press, 2016). As R. F. Long, she also writes fantasy and paranormal romance.

She lives in Wicklow and works in a specialized library of rare, unusual & occasionally crazy books. But they don’t talk to her that often.

In 2015 she won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The nature of myths

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This topic has been on my mind recently because a few weekends ago, the LRP event I used to be a major part of (Odyssey LRP – which I have talked about in the past on here) came to a satisfying end. Through seven years of ongoing story, many of the characters worked through story arcs which matched those seen in mythology. Several found themselves ascending to godhood or higher, others emerged as political leaders of their people. There was glory, honour and tragedy; with much of the plot driven by the inevitable heroic fatal flaw. All in all it was an emotional finale.black-and-white-stand

As part of the preparation for this event we listened to some podcasts on myths and legends. In particular, one on the Trojan war by Paul Vincent which I feel highlights the problem (or maybe the advantage) with mythological heroes – heroes are idiots. Seriously, have you actually looked at that story? They make massive mistakes in tactics and common sense which lead to what should have been a very quickly settled dispute into ten years of constant siege. I am fairly sure that they were suffering from the age old problem of the self fulfilling prophesy in that the gods decided that there has to be a war and it must last ten years so the mortals channel their stupidity to ensure that a) the war happens and b) it carries on as long as the gods say it should.

zodiacblurredfightBut that issue is only part of what I want to talk about here. The main focus of this post is that weird transition between myths and history. The events in the Iliad and Odyssey, for example, combine elements of both. Archaeological evidence points at the existence of Troy, there is a good chance that there was indeed a war there between Greece and Troy. There have even been attempts at working out the exact date of this war by use of dating techniques and evidence of bodies buried near the ruins of what is believed to be Troy. The podcast also talked about how many of the historic kings of Greece claimed descent from the (in)famous kings described in these myths. Though it is unclear whether they actually were descended from those people (assuming they even existed) or were just legitimising their claim to the throne.

I think the problem here is actually based on lack of actual historic evidence coupled with biased oral history reporting. Stories passed down for generations from a time when little was actually recorded which are embellished in each retelling by individuals who have a good reason to amp up the exploits of their ancestors or excuse them their sins by blaming them on fate or the gods. The result is a bizarre merging of myth and reality where the actual exploits of individuals get exaggerated to the point where they take on a supernatural air. Cultures like the  Celts have been  shown to have added  a creative and boastful bent to their oral storytelling – where a story of one man defeating two becomes the same man defeating ten and ultimately hundreds of enemies. The ancient Greeks would likely to have had the same tendency and it is easy to see how many famous warriors became demigods. Chances are they were good – good enough to make a name – and their fame spread and grew and their stories were embellished and added to until they were legends.

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A character at Odyssey LRP enters the underworld (with a little help from photoshop).

 

 

So, how does this apply to a writer? Well, it is an insight into the nature of story in general and myths specifically and can be applied other things to0, such as faerie tales. Many Urban Fantasy novels play with ideas of myths and legends – whether they are vampires, werewolves, fey, wizards or similar. Thinking critically about the stories you are playing with can help to make these more believable, especially if it is removed to a modern setting. What is the real reason why vampires do not show up in mirrors? Is this even a real thing in your world or is it just a confused story based on the recollections of survivors of vampire attacks whose perception of the events may not have been fully reliable due to stress? What about all this stuff about garlic and crucifixes? If I were an ancient undead creature trying to survive, I’d probably consider spreading some rumours about things that can kill me in the hope that the prey would turn to them when attacked instead of investigating more reliable methods. Then I could laugh at their pathetic attempt to kill me with a spear made of garlic while killing them, making sure no one knows the garlic failed. Or maybe there was a vampire who was actually allergic to garlic or one who really hated the church to the extent of reacting badly to any symbol from it and the story grew from there?* What about all the legends of fey and the rules associated with them? Can we apply a rational rule to these too? Probably.

img_5056Also, I guess you can say there is precedent (Classical Precedent at that, you cannot get much more venerable that Homer***) for allowing your characters to be idiots. Always a good way to progress a plot and make readers shout ‘No! Don’t do that, you idiot!’ at the page while they read.

Ian Stewart** said that we are Pan narrans (the story telling ape) rather than Homo sapiens (the wise man). Telling stories is our strength but sometimes the way we tell them mutates them. Understanding this can help a writer produce more unique ideas, or at least present old ones in a new way.

*It is worth pointing out here that AFAIK (correct me if wrong) the earliest example of vampire being repelled by crucifix is Dracula but since then every single one seems to have that weakness. Could it be that Dracula merely had a personal grudge against Catholicism due to their perceived betrayal and other vampires are perfectly fine with it? What about atheist vampires or those of other religions?

**In The Science of Discworld series, which is well worth a read for many many reasons. It has been invaluable to me as a science teacher for the way it interprets and describes scientific theories and challenges preconceptions. They’re also great fun, and not in the way science teachers (like me) often say ‘this is going to be fun’.

*** Not that ‘Homer’ apparently existed. Evidence suggests it was a name given to a story teller so the Iliad and the Odyssey are actually collections of folk tales. Probably the most popular versions of those tales. So again we have the oral tradition getting involved.

#MAEG2016 – the Manchester author signing event and gig.

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So, yesterday was an event I had been planning and preparing for since quite early in the year – the Manchester Author signing event and gig, officially shortened to #MAEG2016 for the benefit of Twitter users.IMG_4759

It was an early start. I was up at 6 so that I could be at the train station to meet Elizabeth Morgan in time for us both to travel to the site of the event – which was a mining museum near Astley on the outskirts of the city. Things were not helped by the fact I had been persuaded by Samantha Harrington the night before to go to a hotel near the site to meet some of the attendees and have a drink… *. Regardless of that, the meet up at the station went without a hitch and we quickly made our way to the venue, learning on the way exactly how much more expensive train station taxis are compared to pre booked ones.

The event organiser, who writes under the name Scarlett Flame, had spent a lot of the week building up to the event setting up a marquee, a beer tent and Portaloo toilets in the grounds of the museum. By the time Elizabeth and I arrived the place was bustling with people setting up their stalls. We claimed a table and started getting everything ready for the day ahead.

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The Mining Museum

We had lots of conversations with people who came by the stall. Many were interested in what the ‘Tea Society’ was and what it meant. Many of the attendees there were acting as an individual – all the books on their stall had been written by them – however we were there representing not only our own work but those of the other members of the group too which did seem to cause some confusion. I do sometimes wonder if they believe the ‘other authors’ are actually our pseudonyms.** There was a lot of interest in various of the books on the table and many of the bookmarks and cards were taken. We gave out almost all of the swag packs that Elizabeth had prepared and made a couple of sales between us. All in all, about as successful as many similar events I have attended with the promise that future ones will be even better. There was a solid group of people involved in this, both the organisers and the attendees, and a lot of good camaraderie and mutual support going on throughout the day.

 

We were asked to sign a variety of weird and wonderful things. Many of the authors there

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One of the other authors gets video interviewed

seemed to have an autograph book that got passed around by various of the assistants for us to sign and some asked us to sign things like blank canvases,  T-shirts and canvas tote bags. One or two of these items ended up as prizes in one of the many raffles that were going on but many seemed to have them mainly as a memento of the day. We also ended up on video twice over the course of the afternoon. Once by a blogger who was looking to collect footage of authors promoting their books (my contribution was horribly garbled, I hate being on video) and later by Samantha Harrington who was doing a live feed from Facebook of her walking around the site. We get about 5 seconds of fame in that – a brief hello and a wave after she got distracted by corsetry. I will check permissions and share both of these when they are available.

 

IMG_4836.jpgThe signing bit of the day ended at 5 and once we had packed up all our stock and cleared the marquee of tables, we went and got some food from the BBQ while the stage was set up for the gig. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of public transport meaning we had to leave before 9 we only managed to catch one of the acts that were lined up to perform but did enjoy that a lot – she had a good singing voice and played well.

By the time I got home it was late and I was exhausted from pulling the suitcase full of books but I had a sense of having had a good and productive day.

 

*Which led to a great night out and the chance to meet some of the readers who were there to get books signed. Fun was had discussing everything from Wales to the current economic situation, but did mean I did not get to bed until near 1am.

**Something which will be easily disproved at the upcoming Sandbach Author event in November as that is looking like an event pretty much all the Tea Society is going to so we can all be seen in the same room at the same time with no need to slip off to the toilets to put wigs and false moustaches on – the Ninfa wig really itches too. Only one who cannot make it is R.A Smith. Having trouble finding an actor skilled enough to play him🙂.

On the Rocks by Elizabeth Morgan


On The Rocks BLURB:

On the Rocks is the hottest club on South Padre Island, and Meghan’s new workplace.OntheRocks 500x750

If the warped mermaid uniform isn’t enough, the fact that she can’t stop thinking about the club’s singer, Zenzie, is. Everything about the female gets Meghan hot, but when she finally gets her shot with the temptress, it turns out Zenzie isn’t as perfect, or as human, as Meghan thought.

Length: 6,000 words | Content: F/F, Erotic Paranormal/Horror | Publisher: Elizabeth Morgan

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ajcUWs Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2amHr3f

 

~ * ~

EXCERPT:

Her warm breath skated down my neck, causing a shiver to curl around my spine. She straightened then slid her hands through my hair. My eyelids fluttered at the feel of her fingertips stroking over my temples and along my hairline.

“I saw you watching us.”

I stared at her. “Excuse me?”

“Do you like watching?” She retrieved a few items from the vanity table, twisted two sections of my hair, and pushed the hair clips into place. “It’s all right. You can tell me, Meghan.”

My nipples tightened at the husky way she said my name. The knot between my legs pulsed under her piercing stare. I had no idea how, or even why she managed to get under my skin, but God, I wanted her.

“I’m not a pervert or anything.”

“I know you’re not.” She slid a chain of small red flowers into the black mass of my hair.

“I just heard a noise. I guess my curiosity got the best of me.” I shifted on my seat. “I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be. I liked you watching.”

My nails dug into my knees as her hands moved down my throat, her skin like satin, her touch soft. She ran her fingertips over the top of my breasts.

“I would have asked you to join us, if you hadn’t run.” Her gaze caught mine again while she slid her hand inside my skin-tone bra and cupped my left breast. “Will you run now, or will you do what we both know you want to do?”

 

~ * ~

BIO:

Elizabeth Morgan is a multi-published author of urban fantasy, paranormal, erotic horror, f/f, and contemporary; all with a degree of romance, a dose of action and a hit of sarcasm, sizzle or blood, but you can be sure that no matter what the genre, Elizabeth always manages to give a unique and often humorous spin to her stories.

Like her tagline says; A pick ‘n’ mix genre author. “I’m not greedy. I just like variety.”

And that she does, so look out for more information on her upcoming releases at her website: www.e-morgan.com

Away from the computer, Elizabeth can be found in the garden trying hard not to kill her plants, dancing around her little cottage with the radio on while she cleans, watching movies or good television programmes – Dr Who? Atlantis? The Musketeers? Poldark? American Horror Story? Heck, yes! – Or curled up with her two cats reading a book.

Where to find Elizabeth Online:

Website: www.e-morgan.com

Blog: www.xxxxmyworldxxxx.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @EMorgan2010

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ElizabethMorgan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.morgan.944

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElizabethMorgan/

Blood Series Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheBloodSeries/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/elizabethm2012/boards/

TSU: https://www.tsu.co/ElizabethMorgan

Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.co.uk/elizabeth_morgan

 

Manchester Author event blog hop


Blog Hop

 
*´¨✫)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨)✯ ¸.•*¨)
✮ (¸.•´✶ (¸.📑📑Welcome to the Manchester Author Event & Gig 2016 Book Hop!📑📑

There will be a book signing in Manchester, UK on Aug 13th and we would love to have everyone come out and join us to meet the authors!!

Please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/manchester-author-event-gig-2016-tickets-19745695908 to get your ticket!

We have a few authors & bloggers involved in this hop, so please visit each page
Each page in this hop has its own prize.

You are currently at Lurking Musings, the site of D.A Lascelles & for a chance to win a signed copy of Gods of the Deep here is what you have to do! 

 Gods of the Deep involves a lot of demons, gods and ethereal spirits. So, for a chance to win a prize you must describe a new demon, god or ethereal spirit. What does it look like? What are its powers and weaknesses? How can it be defeated? The most imaginative and original entry as judged by myself and my team of crack demon QA assessors will be able to pick up their prize from the event or request to have it posted to them.
To enter, comment on this post with your description. One post per person. Please state in your entry if you are attending the event or need your prize posted to you.

We would like winners to be chosen Monday 1st Aug 2016.

 
After you have entered my contest, it’s time to hop on over to the next page which is, Dirty Sexy Words (https://www.facebook.com/DirtySexyWords)
for a chance at more prizes.

If you get lost you can find your way again by checking out the entire list of participants here: https://www.facebook.com/ObsessedbyBooks/
Thank you for joining us and Good Luck!!

***Facebook is not affiliated with any of the contests included in this hop***

Gods of the Deep

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Well, it has been a long time coming. It seems like I have been talking about a sequel to Gods of the Sea ever since the Pirates and Swashbucklers anthology first came out all those years ago. In fact, it was quite ominously Friday 13th April 2012 when I reported to you all that I had got an email from the publisher of Pirates and Swashbucklers asking me to do a sequel.

And now, four years and approximately three months later… you can buy the completed book in both Kindle and paperback formats. gods of the deep postcard

Ok, I admit I was slow in getting this done but this project has gone further than I imagined it would. Plus I think I can still claim a faster turnaround than GRR Martin at the moment. What started as an idea for a  relatively  small novella turned into a much longer work and now includes two bonus short stories that explore the wider world in addition to a newly edited and tidied up version of Gods of the Sea which now serves as what I describe in the foreword as being similar to that scene in a Bond film just before the theme music plays.

And that is not the only thing that is special about this release. In addition to the wonderful cover produced by fellow Steampunk market trader and artist supreme, Lauren C Waterworth, you also have internal illustrations derived from the sketches that she made when creating the cover to coo over. If you like the cover, by the way, you should totally check out her facebook page and see if you can buy prints of her artwork. .

The official launch will be taking place at the Manchester Author event on the 13th August 2016. You can buy tickets for this event here. There I will be signing copies of both Gods of the Deep and Lurking Miscellany. I am also attending another signing event in Sandbach in November and Chester in April 2017. Finally I am also an attendee at Inominate, the Birmingham run Eastercon in April next year where I am hoping to be on some panels again. If you see me at any of these events feel free to pop over and say hi. Also, if you want to pre-order a signed copy of any of my books you can order them using this handy form and they can be delivered to you at the event of your choice.

You can also expect to see me sneaking into some other peoples’ blogs and messing around in there, getting mud on all the furnishings. I’ll post links to these as they go up. In fact there is one here for the Addicted to Reviews blog which went up earlier today. Go check it out and give the owner some love.

Finally, I am staging a stealth raid on the Manchester Author event Facebook page this Thursday (21st June). I will be taking control of the mic around 1030 GMT and holding onto it like grim death until it is wrested from my cold dead hands at 11pm by JF Holland. Come to the page to check out what nonsense I will spout. If it is anything like my last page takeover, expect some musical links to my books and some extracts… If you are lucky there may even be dog photos.

Don’t forget… buy your copies of Gods of the Deep as soon as you can!

Blood Secrets by Elizabeth Morgan

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Those who follow this blog will know I am unashamedly a huge fan of Elizabeth’s writing. I reviewed the first novel in the Blood series, she is a Vampire month alumni and I had the pleasure of going with her to a number of events, including the Yorkshire comic con. Where she met Gambit…

Therefore I have absolutely no qualms about recommending Blood Secrets which is the second book in the series that begins with Cranberry Blood… I hope to be able to read and review this myself sometime soon. Until then please read this extract…

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Gambit meets Elizabeth Morgan

Blood Secrets
Blood Series: Book Two

Blurb:

When your life is messed up to begin with, how much worse can it really get?

Heather Ryan’s life has never been simple. The latest in a long line of descendants who have made it their mission to hunt down and slay the Ancient Vampire, Marko Pavel, she is also the first born Infected. Up until recently, the biggest downside to living with the Vampyrric Virus was simply that she craved blood, but after receiving a DVD from her deceased Grandmother Sofia and being kidnapped with friend and so called guardian Werewolf, Brendan Daniels, she quickly discovers that she is also the inspiration behind the Vampires’ attempt to create a whole new breed of super monsters—Hybrids.

12799081_1023635497696916_1922083712313817560_nThe truth comes at a cost, but how much does one have to sacrifice to gain success?

Following the breadcrumbs left by her psychic Grandmother, Heather and Brendan find themselves in new territory. Venice is where Heather hopes to find Marie, the second Bloodling of Marko, along with Brendan’s three taken Pack members. But an old Peace Pact between the Italian Pack and the Colony means they are left hunting blind, and due to the Italian Alpha’s reluctance to believe their story of kidnap and experimentation on Loup-Garous, time is running out. So when help comes from an unlikely source, they have no choice but to accept.

All families have secrets, but blood can’t lie.

Caught up in an intricate and complicated scheme spun by the one she trusts the most and the friend of her enemy, Heather soon discovers that she is the pawn in a plan she would never have been able to conceive. But how many of her new allies were in on the game, to begin with?

This title contains explicit language, violence, and some scenes of a sexual nature.

Length: 127,000 words | Content: Urban Fantasy| Publisher: Elizabeth Morgan

** Download your copy of Blood Secrets (Blood Series: Book Two) at the celebratory release price $3.49. Thereafter it will revert to the price of $4.49. **

Buy Links:
Smashwords:
http://bit.ly/1VwXVL0
ARe: http://bit.ly/1W9We4s
Amazon US:
http://amzn.to/1Wb8S3b
Amazon UK:
http://amzn.to/1MDoLxP
iTunes:
Coming Soon
Kobo:
Coming Soon
Barnes&Noble:
Coming Soon

Blood Secrets will also be available in print from Amazon and Barnes&Noble in the next few weeks.

~ * ~

 

[Guest post] Milford SF Writers’ Conference and Bursaries for SF Writers of Colour by Jacey Bedford

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My fellow panellist from Eastercon, Jacey Bedford, is not only a skilled and popular writer but also secretary of Milford… she is here today to explain what that is and how a writer of colour could end up attending it on a paid for bursary.

Milford SF Writers’ Conference and Bursaries for SF Writers of Colour

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I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Milford I wouldn’t have my book deal. When I attended my first Milford back in 1998 I’d only sold one story professionally (the minimum qualification for attending.) . I was totally wet-behind-the-ears yet all of the ‘proper’ writers there didn’t make me feel inadequate in the slightest.

What’s Milford? I hear you say…

It’s a peer-to-peer week in which fifteen published writers of science fiction and fantasy (and all subgenres) get together to workshop and critique works in progress. Established in the USA in 1956 and brought to the UK by James Blish in 1972, many famous names have passed through from Anne McCaffrey, George R.R. Martin, and Samuel Delaney to Alastair Reynolds, Neil Gaiman, and Charles Stross. Held annually, it now takes place in rural North Wales in mid-September.

It’s exhilarating to be in writerly company in such a gorgeous location. We have the run of Trigonos, an ethically run community business which provides accommodation, meeting rooms, and home cooked food. (You will never starve at Trigonos. Did I mention that 4.00 p.m. was cake o’clock?) Set in its own grounds looking up the valley to Snowdon, Trigonos even has its own lake, though you sacrifice mobile phone signal for the rural beauty.

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Critiques are professional level, strict but fair, and everyone gets a chance to be heard. To be honest you learn as much from critiquing as being critiqued. Post-crit discussions often happen after dinner or through coffee-and-cake breaks. It’s not unusual to plot-noodle or to work out the details of how to wipe out the population of a small planet over breakfast.

An exciting new development is happening in 2017. We have bursaries for two self-identifying SF writers of colour to attend Milford. Funding has been donated by the 8Squared Eastercon, held a few years ago in Bradford, and by a writer who wishes to remain anonymous. The bursary (value £610) covers all conference and accommodation costs for the week at Trigonos, but doesn’t include the cost of transport to and from the event.

Details of how to apply for the bursaries are on the Milford website (see below). Application is by letter to a maximum of 2,000 words, posted or emailed along with an application form (downloadable from the website). Applications are open from 1st October 2016 to 28th February 2017. Up to two successful applicants will be notified by the end of March. If potential applicants have any questions before making an application please email me for guidance.

The bursary opportunity is intended to be an encouragement and not a quota. We only have two bursaries available, and only for 2017, however we operate an equal opportunities policy so all SF/F writers who are ‘Milford qualified’ are welcome to apply for the full-price Milford SF Writers’ Conference places in any year, subject to availability.

Here are our upcoming dates:

  • 10th – 17th September 2016, (now fully booked with a short waiting list).
  • 9th – 16th September 2017 (booking open now).
  • 15th – 22nd September 2018 (booking opens16th September 2016. )

 

You can find out more on our website: www.milfordSF.co.uk. Anyone who needs additional information about Milford or the bursaries can contact me, Jacey Bedford, Milford secretary, at <jacey@jaceybedford.co.uk>

 

@mancunicon: a weekend in the life of Eastercon Part 2: Saturday

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In our last instalment of ‘Eastercon’, we went through Friday, including the True Love and Trophies panel starring Yours Truly. Today I intend to work through the events of Saturday…

 

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The ‘Balancing the Creative Life’ panel.

 

 

I had a late start on Saturday and a relatively easy day. I turned up at 1pm in time for a panel which I felt was very relevant to me – Balancing the Creative life. This starred Tony Ballantyne as moderator and had Jackie Burns, David L Clements. Peter Ellis and Juliet Kemp discussing the issues of maintaining a 9 – 5 day job while also writing or producing art to a high enough standard. Several of the panellists claimed to cheat. Peter Ellis stated that he had not really started to write properly until he was retired from his full time teaching job and David L Clements was quick to point out that his job as an Astrophysicist did actually provide a lot of useful research material for SF novels. This panel also covered issues like being a carer for a family member and how to cope with raising a family. From that discussion I came away with a sense that I was doing a lot of the things needed to be both a full time worker and a writer – things like considering plotlines and character development in the otherwise dead time spent travelling to and from work, making good use of holidays and so on. I was also made aware of the wonders of noise cancelling headphones when it comes to shutting out distractions…

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General bustle of the Con

 

Later in the afternoon, I tried to attend the Female gaze panel, mainly because it was mentioned as part of the True Love and Trophies panel and was something I was interested in. However, it seems as though our ringing endorsement of this panel during our slot was enough to get them full long before the panel was due to start. So unfortunately I missed it, as did Ruth F Long who I caught up with later in an attempt to find out if she had learnt anything from it.

So, instead I decided to wander into a talk that was taking place in a larger room next door which was entitled ‘the Ecology of Doctor Who’ by Eira and Smuzz. This wasn’t (as you might expect) a discussion of fictional alien ecology but rather an interesting overview of the relationship between Doctor Who as a BBC TV programme and the ecological issues that were prevalent at different points in its history. Covering such things as the nuclear fears of the 50s, fuel crisis, deforestation and how these were represented in the show. The narrative was accompanied by a series of clips illustrating the points made and though these were plagued by technical hitches which delayed the start of the talk, they did help to make the points clear. The upshot of the talk was that Doctor Who has lost its way recently with regards to stories about the environment, though it is not clear if this is a deliberate policy decision or merely an accident of story selection, and that more should be done to use the show as a tool for educating the viewers about the issues relevant today. It was a talk delivered passionately with a lot of excellent arguments by a speaker who really knew his Who history and made a lot of points I agreed with, though I did disagree that New Who had wholly abandoned its liberal enviro friendly roots as there have been stories covering those issues. However, I am fully in support of there being more of that sort of thing – not just the ecological issues but also social and political ones. Doing the job that SF does so well – warning us about the dangers of the future based on the trends evident in the present.

After the Who talk ended (late due to aforementioned technical issues) I was rescued from the con by a crack team of special forces who dragged me to a restaurant for dinner… after which it was time to return to the convention for drinks and the disco… the disco that I missed due to getting involved in some fascinating discussions with various random people…

Next instalment: Sunday and a date with radio…