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Sunday, 30 August 2015

My first Cosplay experience...

No, it's not smutty, that's just your mind. Cosplay is...(as Wiki so succintly says) 'Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), a portmanteau of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character.'  So there.

Anyway, today York hosted its inaugural Comicon...oh, for heaven's sake, here is what Wiki has to say about that.. 'the MCM London Comic Con[1] (formerly known as the London MCM Expo) is a multi-genre fan convention held in the London Borough of Newham twice yearly, usually on the last weekend in May and October. The convention mainly focuses on anime, manga, video games, sci-fi, cosplay & popular media from the United Kingdom, United States and Japan'.

Are you with me now?  Because I can't keep telling you these things... Right. York, Comicon, have we all caught up? So, since my eldest son is an inveterate CosPlayer, with quite a following in his own right, and one who makes his own costumes (a lot of people buy costumes complete on Ebay, but, for the purist, this is frowned on), we were invited along.  Tom made his own costume - only it was less of a costume and more of a body - and also mine and his sister's.
This is Tom. His 'costume' was a hand painted skeleton on his own body, topped by a leather coat and 'skeleton' boots. It was most impressive (the picture doesn't really do it justice) and a lot of people stopped him to photograph him.
Vienna, in her 'steam punk Plague Doctor' costume. Tom made all of it, including the hat, which looks exactly like bits of metal rivetted together.
Me, with bazooka and mask.
A lovely chap dressed as Zod from the Superman movies, inviting everyone to 'bow down before Zod'. Tom is right at the back on the left, paying homage. And yes, Superman is right in the front. Don't know what he was thinking, frankly.
Me and my bazooka, with Darth Vader. And that's not a sentence I ever intend to write again...

It was all fabulous, with loads of people dressed up, Game of Thrones was well represented, as was Harry Potter (plus real owl), and I can't wait to do it all again! Whitby in October, I think...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Planning a party is like planning a wedding reception - with loads of brides.

Now, if it hasn't escaped your attention (and if it has, where have you BEEN?), it is now less than two weeks to the Romantic Novelists' Association York Afternoon Tea Party - a party that is, if nothing else, going for the world record for the longest title. I've had a small hand in helping with the organisation of said party (mainly, it must be said, being In Charge of Catering, a part I was born for because it meant looking at lots of pictures of food). And it's been a bit like planning a wedding reception...

I've been married, I've done reception planning.  Basically it consists of finding somewhere big enough to shut all your friends, bolting the doors and throwing food in until the screaming stops.  The only real problem is making sure that the alcohol doesn't run out and that the riot police are on standby for when the doors are finally reopened.  Or maybe that's just my weddings...
These were either enforcement or the strippers. Can't remember which, because of alcohol..
Planning the RNA party was a little different. Non-lockable doors, for starters.  And no grooms, but nearly 100 brides, all wanting the day to go smoothly and everything to be perfect.  I mean, only the bride ever notices things like flowers, doesn't she?  When did a groom ever say 'oh yes, it was nearly perfect, if only the stephanotis had been a little fresher...'
Stephanotis. For future reference...
And at wedding receptions you can just keep up a flow of booze until nobody can tell whether the sausage rolls were a bit lacklustre or, in fact, made of plasticine.  Our Afternoon Tea has no such luxury.

But, on the plus side, it's in the York Guildhall, which is beautiful...
we have the fabulous Milly Johnson doing a talk, and the caterers have promised us a feast.  Plus copious amounts of tea.  And, knowing the RNA, the chat-quotient will be well up to all that remains is for me to find a suitable frock.
Something understated, like this...

Sunday, 16 August 2015

My book makes people cry. Is this a good thing or not - and why can't books have 'dahh-dahhhh-dahhhhhh' music?

'I Don't Want to Talk About It' has been out for a couple of weeks now.  It appears to be making people cry. A lot.  Reviews mention words such as 'sobbing uncontrollably'.

And all this makes me feel a bit guilty.  I mean, in films and TV programmes you know when something sad is coming along, because the music goes all 'dahhhh...daaahhhh...dahhhhhhhhahhhhh', so you've had the signal that the news is going to be bad and everyone's going to come over all teary, and then there's a cut and it's six weeks later and there's a single rose blooming and everyone is all brave and stoic and everything, but we don't get that luxury in books...
Come on, admit it, you were traumatised for life, weren't you?

...where, like in real life,  sad things come out of nowhere.  They knock our legs out from under us, and then we just have to live through them, day by day, and we can't even do the 'cutaway to six weeks later'.

Which is all wrong.  Why should films get all the 'warning music' and then the bonus 'two years later' thing, when life and books make us go through horrible things in slow motion?  Not all books, I suppose, in fiction we have the 'cutaway' option, but I always feel that's cheating a bit.  If you can't do it in real life - my imaginary T shirt slogan reads - then you shouldn't be allowed to do it in books.  Which is a bit of a problem for people writing science fiction, I suppose. Or fantasy. All right, let's amend the slogan.  'IF YOU CAN'T DO IT IN REAL LIFE (EXCEPT FOR WHERE IT MAY BE POSSIBLE EITHER IN THE FUTURE OR IN ANOTHER REALITY (FURTHER EXCEPTING THOSE THINGS THAT ARE PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE OR IMPRACTICAL)) THEN YOU SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO DO IT IN BOOKS'. And you are going to need a fairly large chest to carry that one off, but there you go.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Books that make people cry.  I never set out to write a book that would make people cry, honestly.  I know it's an emotional book, but the only thing about it that ever made me emotional during the writing process was the poem at the end, which is Christina Rosetti's 'Remember', which always makes me cry for no very good reason. For the record, other things that make me cry are: the end scene of The Incredible Journey, Snow Patrol's version of Run (and only that version), and the advert for the Halifax where the bloke leaves his scarf on a bus. And that's pretty much it, because I am Hard.
Well, yes, obviously abandoned puppies and kittens and ill treated animals, but that's not just me, is it? IS IT?  
But I am choosing to take my book's making people cry as a compliment, because of the whole 'book/real life' thing. If readers are able to suspend their knowledge that they are sitting reading a story about people that only exist in my head to the extent that those people can make them cry...then that must be a good thing. Right?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Go and have a wee before you look at this blog. Honestly. It's 90% water. Like me.

I've just spent a week in Holland, which was hot and had boats in it. Also, windmills, chocolate sprinkles and, latterly, me and my two friends, one of whom is Dutch.
The Dutch language is interesting, and I tried speaking a bit of it, becoming fascinated with useless words, like the Dutch for frog, magpie and sprinkles, none of which I can reproduce here, although a thorough grounding in saying 'Auchtermuchty' has stood me in good stead.
So here are some pictures of 'what I did on my holidays'. I think almost all of them have water in, so if you need to go to the loo, I'd go now, if I were you...
My little legs in front of a windmill. And water...
A lake, in which I went swimming. Because it was hot and I like swimming, and the lake was there. It, too, was full of water.
The Rotterdam skyline. From a boat. Floating on the water.  The boat, I mean, not the skyline, although that does look a bit floaty, now you come to mention it.
My two friends, Fran and Heather, with me in the middle, in front of Rotterdam Town Hall. Can you see what is missing from this picture? Actually, I think there's a bottle of water in my bag..
Leaving Rotterdam harbour, on the good ship 'Pride of Hull'.  Yes, yes, there's quite a lot of water there too because otherwise it wouldn't be a ship, it would be a big metal leany thing.
And so, that's what I did. And now I am back and normal life can resume. But first, I'll just go and have that wee...

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Writing in Devon and my onesie...

Well.  This week I am away from home (yes, I AM allowed to leave the county, thank you very much) and am blogging to you from a location in Devon...

You remember that Choc Lit held a competition for two people to win places at a Writers' Workshop that was being held by Mel Hudson and me?  Well they did and we did and that's where we are! So far we've launched my new book, 'I Don't Want to Talk About It'..

..with much raucous laughter and alcohol. Much, much alcohol...We wished it well and sent it out into the world and then went for little lie-downs.  Then we did some writing-related stuff, ate lots of food, went for more lie-downs, and then went to the beach for a walk on account of all the food.  It was, to be honest, more of a roll along the sands, Mel having been such a good host that we barely stopped eating for long enough to talk and I now can't lift my knees above my..well, knees.
This is our winners, Lynn and Emily. Mel and I are staring at them from a distance. I think we were wondering what they might do next, in a sort of antthropological study.
No, I don't know why I'm standing like that either. Everyone else looks as though they're pretending to be in the film version of 'Mamma Mia' and I look like I'm auditioning for 'Clockwork Orange'. But, hey ho.
And here's Emily walking down to the workshop room. I just lay down and made them roll me down the hill.
And then this morning I climbed out of a window in a penguin onesie, and found myself locked out and had to lie in a hammock... not pictured... and stare out at the view.
Which, as you can quite clearly see, was terrible.
Then I went in and ate more food. Shortly I will begin the trek northward, I am just waiting for my yak to be loaded....
(most pictures courtesy of Lynn Forth)...