UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet 2013

Image  I spent the weekend in Manchester, at this year’s LGBTQ fiction meet. Their fourth, I believe; my first.

After getting over the initial shyness – I know those of you who know me don’t believe it, but actually I am quite shy when there’s a group of people who know each other and I’m the outsider (plus being hard of hearing doesn’t help in large groups) – I had a wonderful time. And not least, that was because it was so well organised.

All right, it was tiny compared to Galacticon back in Houston in May, and the venue didn’t dick about the way the Houston conference centre apparently did (who in hell thinks it a good idea to put a formal law graduation with graduates in cap, gown and $2000 dresses right plump in the middle of a huge fan convention where people were wandering around as cybermen, or cylons, or colonial warriors? Puh-leeze). But still, it was refreshing to have a couple of days where everything ran smoothly and the panels and discussions were such fun. The difference, it seems to me, is that the delegates to the panels are passionate about what they’re doing, and fling themselves into the discussions and listen so receptively, because they’re with like minded companions and can *be themselves* openly and freely. That was very refreshing.

And it was lovely to meet people Facebook friends: Kate Aaron, Sue Brown, Clare London, Josephine Myles, Charlie Cochrane.  Great writers, lovely people.

I’ve already posted about how the walk around Canal Street on the FridayImage evening brought back to me how much I love the original Queer as Folk and how that crystallized for me why reading and writing gen fiction was so deeply unsatisfying. What I forgot to mention was that last weekend was also Sparkle, the big UK trans gathering, so an area that’s already vibrant and colourful was positively hopping. Loved it. I’ll really have to rewatch the series soon.

Day one of the conference itself started so well! We were all at little round tables—usual conference set up—and I sat with Serena Yates. We had never met before, but when I introduced myself with my penname, she said it was familiar. Well, I’ve not done *that* much professionally but I mentioned Dreamspinner’s Make A Play anthology and Contact Sport, and she not only said she’d loved it, but she remembered my name from it – and she’d reviewed it. Cue **massive** ego rush on my part, because of course she’s one of Goodreads’ top reviewers and her review on Goodreads had been wonderful and she *got the jokes*. So naturally, since Serena showed herself to be a woman of discernment and intelligence, we had a lovely time. I may have been a bit presumptuous, but I had three print copies of FlashWired with me (the ones where I got the spines wrong and they ended up blank white. I must fix that). I gave one to her. I hope she likes it, but it’s a different beast to Contact Sport. Serena’s a new friend on FB and Goodreads now. A gain!

Sessions were fun and fast. I loved the one on cover art, the one on social media, on good blogging… so helpful, all of them. And funny. These are people who are not just good at their trade, they’re amusing and intelligent too. That’s a nice combination.

And on Sunday morning came the big moment when I was allowed to corner a publisher and pitch the Taking Shield series to him. He was kind enough to ask me to send him the synopses and the whole of the first book to him (I gave him the synopses and a sample 50 pages on a flashdrive), and he was also the unwitting recipient of another copy of FlashWired. So this week I must do one more runthrough on Gyrfalcon and email it all to him. Poor man. He gave me a nice hug afterwards. Of course this doesn’t mean anything other than someone at the publisher’s will look at it and see if they’ll be interested in it, but that in itself was another nice boost.

And finally I came away realising one big thing. I don’t write m/m romance. I don’t write it as the genre expects: the focus of my story is not on the romance or the kissing or the erotic sex scenes. It has some of those things, but that isn’t what the story’s about. If we must have a definition, I write gay lit. I write stories where the characters happen to be gay, and their relationships are a strong theme within the narrative. But they are *not the reason for the story*. The gayness is part of who they are and what they’re doing, it’s not the totality. So, of course, I’ve been marketing FlashWired all wrong. Why on earth push it to m/m romance readers when it isn’t the usual m/m romance? Of course they’ll hate it. It isn’t what they’re looking for and I’ve (inadvertently) misled them. So a rethink on marketing is on the cards and I will expend time and energy on getting it done better. Not before time, you’ll agree. And I can’t argue with that.

Roll on next year.


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