Fight like a girl – report from the book launch

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What happens when a whole bunch of kick-ass women get together to launch a book about kick-ass women? Supported by awesome men who appreciate kick-ass women?

Well, for one – you have a great, fun day and a great book launch which included Aikido and sword fighting demonstration, a discussion panel about Fight Like A Girl, buffet, book signing, and general mingling with a great bunch of people.

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On Saturday, April 2nd we gathered at The Hatchet Inn in Bristol, to launch an anthology that has been close to many hearts. Titled, Fight Like A Girl, it brings together science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring kick-ass female leads, written by female authors. In an industry where women are still judged only to be able to write fluff by many, this book is our platform to show otherwise. We’ve our incredible publisher Grimbold Books to thank for that. 

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Fight Like A Girl is now available from all good booksellers, in paperback and Kindle editions. So we hope you will try it out, and if you do, we would appreciate all honest reviews. 

Link to Amazon UK

Link to Amazon US

Link to Book Depository (Free Global Delivery)

 

Fight like a girl – join the anthology launch party!

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This is an open invitation to all of you for a kick-ass launch party. After all, what else can you expect from an anthology with the name as kick-ass as Fight Like A Girl?

So what is Fight Like A Girl?

It’s a fantasy/sci-fi anthology being published by Grimbold Books. The book will include stories from some of the best kick-ass females of British Science Fiction and Fantasy writing, and a short story from yours truly. 

This is the blurb from Grimbold Publishing:

What do you get when some of the best women writers of genre fiction come together to tell tales of female strength? A powerful collection of science fiction and fantasy ranging from space operas and near-future factional conflict to medieval warfare and urban fantasy. These are not pinup girls fighting in heels; these warriors mean business. Whether keen combatants or reluctant fighters, each and every one of these characters was born and bred to Fight Like A Girl.

Featuring stories by Roz Clarke, Kelda Crich, K T Davies, Dolly Garland, K R Green, Joanne Hall, Julia Knight, Kim Lakin-Smith, Juliet McKenna, Lou Morgan, Gaie Sebold, Sophie E Tallis, Fran Terminiello Danie Ware, Nadine West

The launch will take place on April 2 at The Hatchet Inn, Frogmore Street, Bristol from 13:00 to 17:30. There will be a buffet, fighting demonstrations (obviously), a whole bunch of geekery and fun! 

You can buy the tickets for the event through Eventbrite.

I hope you will join us, and please spread the word. 

 

Giving time and space to ideas

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Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

– Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs makes it sound so simple, but for anyone who spends most of their time doing creative work, you would know that while Jobs’ quote is accurate, the process is anything but simple. Connecting experiences and synthesizing new things often results in false starts, and roundabout routes.

I’m productivity obsessed. Usually it’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s not. When you are productivity obsessed, you measure things by the end results. It means you achieve goals. However, not everything is measurably instantly by end results. Sometimes, simply going through the process is important. 

This is particularly the case when coming up with an idea for a new novel. A novel is a huge undertaking, and even if you are not an outliner (which I am mostly not) it still requires some thought, some percolation of ideas until you are set on writing that particular story. This requires brainstorming.

Different people do it differently. If you are really really lucky, a story arrives, all set and ready with main framework. However, more often than not, it’s a small germ that grows and grows. Some people may brainstorm while running or walking. Others, like J. K. Rowling, may end up doing it on a train journey. Some people, like me, write things down to figure them out. 

I brainstorm by writing. It’s not a bad thing. But, it does mean that brainstorming session, in which I may end up writing thousands of words, may or may not be of any use. I may think about a story, write whatever comes to my mind, and decide at the end that it’s all actually rubbish. So from the productivity perspective, that’s wasted 3,000 words that I could have written for something far more useful. For something that would have resulted in a finished product.

But there is another way of looking at it, and that is creative perspective. Now, just to be clear, I don’t believe that it is productivity vs. creativity. They are not enemies, nor mutually exclusive. However, one does take priority over the other at times.

When brainstorming a new novel, without a particularly concrete idea in mind, creativity takes priority. That means that yes, there is a risk that what you end up scribbling or thinking about for hours, may not get used at all. But eventually, you will find things that become the foundation for that new novel, or indeed any new project. Even for the material that you may not end up using, it may not be wasted. Some of those ideas may be used later. But even if they are not, it is still an exercise for your brain. You have still spent time tapping into your subconscious, connecting consciously with your muse, and you have learned how to consistently keep mining for good ideas instead of accepting whatever’s on the surface. It is time and space for creativity. 

For anyone really, but particularly for writers, giving this space to idea generation is important. Without that, there is a danger of staleness, or even worse, a creative block. The process of creativity, therefore, is no less important than measurable productivity. 

What do you think? Do you struggle between choosing creativity and productivity? Or how do you manage both?

 

BristolCon 2015 – the one-day convention

BristolCon is Bristol’s leading (and only) Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. On the 27th of September, I attended it after a year’s break. It’s my “regular” convention, and it has been growing from strength to strength since it first started in 2009. One of the unusual things about BristolCon is that it is an only a one-day event. If you are at all familiar with SFF conventions, you would know that most of them are weekend-long affairs. That means a lot of time and money. BristolCon offers the con experience without the hefty price tag. Even better, it offers the intimacy of a relatively small convention, which makes it perfect for newbies.

I’ve been to BristolCon as a newbie, I have been on panels, and these days I do some minion duties (helping out on the day as per instructions of the Head Minion), but mostly, I just go to BristolCon to mingle. It’s incredible how quickly people bond, and how this once-a-year event can form lasting friendships. There are people, who I now consider my friends, whom I used to see only once a year at BristolCon. Somehow, in that limited time and space, friendships grew. The same goes for networking with writers, and other people in the industry. These relationships are built, one smile and one handshake at a time. Some will last, others will not.

I was looking forward to going to BristolCon 2015 for several reasons. For one, it was after I missed a year and almost two years since I’d moved away from Bristol (where I lived for nearly 10 years). Another reason was my friend and organiser of BristolCon, Joanne Hall’s book launch. And lastly, I just wanted to be at BristolCon, and hang out with people I hadn’t seen for a while.

It did not disappoint.

Just out of the train station, I ran into G R Matthews, an author I’d met at last year’s Fantasy Faction’s Grim Gathering. We wandered down together to Double Tree Hotel, and from then on, it was meeting and greeting. Having had a glimpse of the number of emails, meetings, and planning it takes to organise conventions (and realising, I really don’t want to do it) I have a special regard for people who do the job. It’s mostly a thankless job, and you are really only noticed if you screw up. So well done to Joanne and the rest of the committee that I didn’t see anyone shouting loudly for organisers.

I attended only three panels this year and they were all good fun. The censorship panel was way more fun than I had expected. Ian Millstead moderated it well, and the panellists – Dev Agarwal (writer, and editor for BSFA’s Focus Magazine as well as Albeido One), Joanne, Juliet E. McKenna (a fantasy writer), and Tony Cooper (a fantasy writer) offered their opinions, well-researched insights, and entertainment.

I met new people but especially got to have a bit more of a chat with people I’d only briefly met before, or seen at previous cons (or kept in touch through Facebook). I hope that next time I see them, at least some of them will remember me.

Joanne’s new book, Spark and Carousel, launched officially at BristolCon today, with disco-lights and cake and wine!

It was a successful launch and included absolutely sweet speeches by Roz Clarke (editor) and Sammy H. K. Smith (publisher). It’s so nice to see all the love shared in the community. Because SFF is a community, and the regulars who attend BristolCon are a community of their own. 

Both the Art Room and the Book Room were full of great wares. Artist, Jennie Gyllblad was resplendent in her costume!

Not really having paid much attention to book covers before (shame on me!) I was excited when Dev pointed out that the Guest of Honour, Chris Moore had designed several well-known covers, including that of The Stars My Destination. 

It was fun to catch up with people and listen in on panels, but I also learned a lot. It does not matter at what stage you are in whatever you choose to do, there are opportunities to learn. This time, as I wasn’t on any panels, I paid more attention to people who were – who does what, and how. I saw how different moderators work, and what was more effective. It’s not an easy task keeping a room full of an audience engaged, and it’s a good skill to have.

All in all, despite earlier reluctance to travel to Bristol (it’s weird going back to the place the first time after you move away), I am glad I went. It was a very good day spent with very good, interesting people. So good in fact that I already booked my next year’s ticket – and I don’t even know the date! 

 

A writer’s diary: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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4 June 1831

I wonder if I shall burn this sheet of paper like most others I have begun in the same way. To write a diary, I have thought of very often at far & near  distances of time: but how could I write a diary without throwing upon paper my thoughts, all my thoughts – the thoughts of my heart as well as of my head? – and then how could I bear to look on them after they were written? Adam made fig leaves necessary for the mind, as well as for the body. And such a mind I have! So very exacting & exclusive & eager & headlong – & strong & so very very often wrong! Well! But I will write: I must write – & the oftener wrong I know myself to be, the less wrong I shall be in one thing – the less vain I shall be!

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

A writer’s diary: John Steinbeck on comfortable space for writing

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12 February 1951

Lincoln’s Birthday. My first day of work in my new room. It is a very pleasant room and I have a drafting table to work on which I have always wanted – also a comfortable chair given me by Elaine. In fact I have never had it so good and so comfortable. I have known such things to happen – the perfect pointed pencil – the paper persuasive – the fantastic chair and a good light and no writing. Surely a man is most treacherous animal full of his treasured contradictions. He may not admit it but he loves his paradoxes.

Now that I have everything, we shall see whether I have anything. It is exactly that simple. Mark Twain used to write in bed – so did our greatest poet. But I wonder how often they wrote in bed – or whether they did it twice and the story took hold. Such things happen. Also I would like to know what things they wrote in bed and what things they wrote sitting up. All of this has to do with comfort in writing and what its value is. I should think that a comfortable body would let the mind go freely to its gathering. But such is the human that he might react in an opposite way. Remember my father’s story about the man who did not dare be comfortable because he went to sleep. That might be true of me too. Now I am perfectly comfortable in body. I think my house is in order. Elaine, my beloved, is taking care of all the outside details to allow me the amount of free untroubled time every day to do my work. I can’t think of anything else necessary to write except a story and the will to tell it.

– John Steinbeck 

 

221B Baker Street – the home of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s most celebrated character, exists in his own right. He’s a fictional character who’s taken on a life of his own. So much so that there is a museum dedicated to him on Baker Street (his fictional address) in London. 

It’s a cute little museum showcasing what Holmes and Watson’s rooms may have looked like. Entirely touristy yes, but still worth a trip for any Sherlock Holmes fan. 

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Holmes’ Violin

Watson’s Desk

I visited the museum years ago, but Holmes has an increased significance for me now, as I am doing my MA dissertation on Conan Doyle. The author and his hero were both incredibly fascinating, and the fact that Sherlock Holmes continues to be one of the most reincarnated and celebrated character is a testament to Conan Doyle’s writing and imagination. 

 

A writer’s diary: John Steinbeck

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13 February 1951

It must be told that my second work day is a bust as far as getting into the writing. I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straightening shyness that assails one. It is as though the words were not only indelible but that they spread out like dye in water and colour everything around them. A strange and mystic business, writing. Almost no progress has taken place since it was invented. The Book of the Dead is as good and as highly developed as anything in the 20th century and much better than most. And yet in spite of this lack of a continuing excellence, hundreds of thousands of people are in my shoes – praying feverishly for relief from their word pangs. And one thing we have lost – the courage to make new words or combinations. Somewhere the old bravado has slipped off into a gangrened scholarship. Oh! you can make words if you enclose them in quotation marks. This indicates that it is dialect and cute.

– John Steinbeck