Better late than never, right? 🙂
The whole joy of the UK MEET for me is the opportunity to meet other fans of LGBT fiction. It doesn’t matter in what capacity you attend – ANYone is welcome, and we operate a strict first come-first served basis for allocating tickets. This year, most of our active waiting list managed to get tickets in the end, as well.
Our attendees generously give their time for the panels, and for helping with the organisation of the weekend. I love the relaxed, “village” atmosphere! We also made sure there was plenty of break-out space and time for attendees just to chat.
The weekend started on Friday afternoon at the Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel, right in the centre of the lovely city, with registration. Attendees are offered a choice of lanyards, to identify whether they’re happy for their photo to be taken and potentially featured on social media or not. Registration is run by new and “old” attendees and it’s a great way to meet people and ease yourself into the event.
That was followed up by a guided Pirate Walk around Bristol, then an evening welcome event at the local Queenshilling bar/club. We had exclusive use of the venue up until 10pm, with buffet food and a visit from our special guest – our HRH Queen Elizabeth lookalike! This month, our Queen became the longest serving monarch ever, so we thought we’d celebrate that.
Panels on Day #1 included a chance for readers to read and discuss their favourite book openings, the use of tropes in writing, mystery myth and magic, and then open “zones” where up to 7 topics were hosted for both readers and authors. Examples included YA, creative writing, cover art, worldbuilding, menages and building author voice. At the same time, TJ Masters ran a BDSM workshop for those who were interested – totally non-threatening, and very interesting to all.
Panels on Day #2 included more entertainment and useful guidance on writing humour, writing sex scenes, character-building, writing dark fiction, and how to write romance *without* explicit sex (my panel, for which I drew deeply on my inner resources…. *g*).
Saturday night’s dinner in the fabulous Palm Court restaurant included entertainment from the superb Sing Out Bristol Choir (still wiping away a tear…), the drag act Cherry Poppins, and a return visit by the (in)famous Butlers in the Buff. We awarded prizes to some attendees, thanked all those who attended and contributed to the organisation, and praised the fact this is the 6th annual Meet!
In other news? The swag bags this year were eagerly appreciated. Also, throughout the event, publishers kindly took pitches from authors, Temple Dragon offered photography services, RRW badges and leaflets were available to all, mini/fun contests were run for attendees, and a raffle raised nearly £500 from our generous attendees for the Albert Kennedy Trust for homeless GLBT young people.
Our keynote speakers were Elizabeth North who gave a very inspiring talk on our responsibility to take our writing out into the world, and the many individuals she’s connected with who have thanked Dreamspinner – plus other publishers – for providing more romance fiction for and about them.
KJ Charles spoke entertainingly and frankly about her work experiences in the publishing industry, and the progress of her career, both as a best-selling author and a freelance editor – with some useful tips on how/how not to get noticed in the slush pile!
At the end of the event, we held a get-together to discuss what had gone well, and what could be improved for next year. We can’t announce the venue yet but it’s likely to be held in Sept again. Follow the newsletter – you’ll hear it there first! There’s a subscribe button in the sidebar of the website.
We could never have done so much without the generous help of our sponsors. A list can be found herehttp://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/2015-event/2015-sponsors/ and a special thanks goes to Riptide Publishing for the swag bags, Dreamspinner Press for the folders, Pride Publishing for the ID lanyards, and Manifold Press for sponsoring the programme.
Now I just need to grab a few weeks’ rest until the next year’s planning starts! And I’m still populating the photos page on the website here http://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/2015-event/2015-photos/.