Pensive sitting

I was going to write about the book I’ve just finished. Then I stopped and thought how I would normally write about what I’m doing next weekend. It’s a tradition of mine to write about the Australian Discworld Convention at some stage of the game, whether before or after. Today I’ve decided to write about it before.

This is going to be an awesome event. Running from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening there’s going to be something for every Discworld lover and much for people who don’t love Discworld. There will be panels, arts and crafts, discussions and klatches as well as Troll Bridge, the movie. People aged up to 5 get in free but they don’t get a con bag. There will be activities for the smaller people.

Every postal shop has souvenirs for sale and ours is no exception. We have a range of souvenirs to buy at the convention. I can’t guarantee we will make souvenirs available for sale on the website after the convention as it depends on how much people buy. It’s first come first served. If you want something specific and you can’t get there then you might want to delegate a friend with a ticket.

Ticket sales closed a few weeks ago, but never fear! You can still attend on the day of your choice and buy tickets with the magic of credit cards or Paypal. We’ll have weekend tickets or day passes available. Cosplay is acceptable, normal clothes are acceptable, what is not acceptable is no clothes! Please wear clothes of some description, we don’t want to get thrown out of the hotel.

So, come along. Enjoy the fun, the games, the frolics. Admire people’s skills with cosplay and my committee’s inventiveness. But above all, come and have some fun.

#GNU Terry Pratchett

England and Wales

I’ve made up my mind to get back to scribbling about books next week, this means this is the last about my travels. If you want to read more just ask and I’ll reconsider based on your request.

We flew into Heathrow and took the train out to Paddington Station where they have Welcome to Paddington Station with images of Paddington Bear on the cardboard. We were at Paddington Station a few more times during our trip and noticed an odd thing. Very few rubbish bins were available. We found one rubbish and one recycling bin, we didn’t tour the entire station but did do a decent look and that’s all we found.

We got there fairly early in the day and even with the short walk from the station we managed to arrive hours before our room was ready for us. They kept our bags for us while we walked and even put them in our room while we were out. New SIM cards bought and installed meant we were able to ring and make arrangements to visit a cousin the following day before heading out to Leamington Spa and the UK Discworld Convention.

The problem with visiting the cousin is that we ended up walking down the street to have lunch with her. We were at a new restaurant which didn’t have its processes working well and we didn’t complain about the wait. Three bagels took an hour to come to our table and they were so embarrassed by our wait that they refused to let us pay the bill. The consequences were that we missed our potential connection at Leamington Spa and had to take the bus out to the hotel. I just want to say how nice people are. I made a friend on the UK Discworld Convention forum on Facebook who was prepared to drive back out to Leamington Spa to pick us up and take us to our hotel. Thanks to lunch taking so long she was unavailable at the time we got there. This niceness seems to be the theme of Discworld Communities wherever I go.

The convention itself was awesome. So many people who I knew from online greeted me with hugs. I traded Tim Tams for salty Dutch Licorice, but was given more than I’d bargained for. I’ll be eating this for a good while but it’s awesome. I ended up trading Tim Tams for a shot of vodka. I managed to get into a Klatch with Terry Pratchett’s agent, Colin Smythe. He talked a lot, answered questions and gave us all a printed copy of one of Pratchett’s early short stories. I attended writing panels and learned what I can do should I have issues with my hands and need to start using speech-to-text software. I got signatures from a number of special people on a tshirt from Nullus Anxietas IV which is going into the auction next year at our Discworld convention. I didn’t attend the auction, the one that made £9,000. I figured it was safer on my hip pocket nerve, that and I’d been given so much licorice I wasn’t certain how much more I’d be able to carry home.

Now for some highlights of the rest of the trip.

Having a guided tour of Cardiff by one of the editors of Discworld Monthly which finished some time after we had dinner in a Dalek. It included seeing Ianto’s (from Torchwood) shrine, having a milkshake in Eddie’s Diner (from Doctor Who), having my photo taken at the Rift (from Torchwood).

I’m trying to fade into the Rift. It’s not working, though.

Many highlights going back into England.

Wandering around Cornwall. We based ourselves in Penzance for a couple of days. It gave us enough time to hop on a bus and tour Cornwall. We bought a bus ticket for £12 which gave us unlimited bus rides around Cornwall for that day. I just need to say: those bus drivers are absolutely amazing! The roads are narrow, generally two way, this meant buses would sometimes have to negotiate how they would pass each other. I saw some signage to make me think the clockwise traffic had right-of-way, but if you’re driving there keep a close eye out in case I’m wrong. We saw some bus drivers turn left down an incredibly narrow street without hitting anything, including the cars which shouldn’t have been parked there.

Scrumping. I’ve always wanted to scrump, not knowing what it really meant until I looked it up just now. I always thought it meant to collect fruit from the countryside, I just found out it means to steal fruit from someone else’s orchard. I didn’t do this! We did some walking around the countryside and blackberries were in various stages of ripeness. I’ve now discovered how to tell if it’s properly ripe…it needs to just about fall off the vine otherwise it won’t be really sweet. Seeing an apple tree, and blackberries in plentiful supply made me have some idea of how hard it must have been for the convicts coming to Australia without the familiar plants and their edible fruits.

We had dinner in a typical English pub and I asked for a local beer to go with it. I decided to go typical English and had roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding. Absolutely delicious.

We spent one night in the hotel at Abu Dhabi Airport on the way back. With the way the flights worked out we had 14 hours to pass and one way is to go to the hotel and sleep in a regular bed. This was the best hotel of the entire trip, and even better than any hotel we had in Europe. The only downside was we couldn’t get the shower to run hot water, if we’d been going outside it would have been fine as it was 32° overnight but we were only going downstairs for a lovely breakfast.

We eventually arrived home just before 7am. I’ve only recently realised how hard two overseas trips in one winter can be. Since returning from England I’ve tried to catch up with Convention stuff and Uni stuff as well as family stuff. I denied I was struggling and just kept going but a few days days ago something happened and I realised I was fooling myself. Since then I’ve made a much better effort to get to bed early. I heartily recommend early bed times. This last paragraph feels incredibly self-indulgent but I want you to learn from my mistakes.

Discworld Grand Tour

The beginning of this month was a whirlwind of excitement, fun, frolics and emotion. It was the 6th Australian Discworld Convention and I had all of the above words going through my life, then I drove to Adelaide for the Convention. The drive was fun as I had a co-pilot with me and we spent almost the entire time talking. The drive back was just as fun, we spent most of the time doing a brain dump of the Convention. Why? Well may you ask…

Discworld Grand Tour

For the first time the Australian Discworld Convention was held in Adelaide. It’s a much smaller place than both Melbourne and Sydney but I had confidence that it would go well. My confidence was well placed. We had a ball, there were very few problems.

Most of the panels/workshops/discussions went well. The cosplays were just outstanding. So many people getting together for a drink with friends.

This year we introduced a brand new game, one that seemed to work well. It ran almost the entire convention. Attendees had a passport with places for stamps to indicate you had completed tasks. Once you had completed the majority of those tasks you won a prize. So much fun was had doing these tasks. Photos were taken, videos exchanged and then it all had to be shown to Moist von Lipwig, someone with a stamp or someone in Ops in order to get the stamp. I don’t do the games but love watching other people do them, so my passport is pristine.

There are opportunities for everyone. If you just want to sit and read for a while then there is a place set aside. If you want to make something like chain maille earrings then the opportunity and materials are both provided. If you just want to sit and watch a panel discussion or play games then those activities are also possible.

For me, the weekend culminated in the Closing Ceremony. It seemed I was the only one who believed the location of the 7th Australian Discworld Convention was a secret. We revealed all at the Closing Ceremony with a video ad. You can view it here. Warning: laughter may occur.

Essentially, if you’re at Discworld fan, a Pratchett fan or just love conventions then this is the event to attend. It’s a pity it only happens every two years but we’d need a much bigger fan base and more volunteers in order to make it happen more often. And if that happened it might not be as friendly as it is currently.

Between conventions

You’ve missed the Convention. Don’t fret, there are things happening Australia-wide. Keep an eye on this page. Or have a look here for a list of the fan clubs around Australia. If you’re not on Facebook message me and I’ll put you in touch with the right person.

Videos from OzComicCon

People were very patient with me at OzComicCon. I have 10 interviews for you to enjoy. You’ll notice the slight amusement at the end when I unveiled my signature question. Despite my low technology everything came out fairly well.

Ander Louis

C.S. Pacat

Troy Barnes

Craig Bruyn

Marianne de Pierres

Nath Stones

Melanie Tomlin

Isobelle Carmody

Doug Holgate

Michel Mulipola

Writers not paid?

There’s something that’s been totally fascinating me at events such as SupaNova, Armageddon (now called AMC Expo) and other events such as these which include “stars” from movies and TV series. If you’re not familiar with them let me explain a little.

AMC Expo is an amazing event whereby you have a number of stars mostly from overseas to talk, to sign photos, to have their photos taken and basically to be on show. There are also a number of shops or businesses or just individual artists or writers who will have a stall or a table to sell their works and increase their profile, I’ve been there and done similar stuff for the Victorian Discworld Klatch as they accept community organisations so long as they can pay the large fee. SupaNova is a similar event for pop culture, there are many smaller conventions throughout the year/country.

The thing that differentiates AMC Expo and SupaNova from any of the smaller conventions is the payment system. For the smaller conventions you pay through the nose but you have almost complete access to the special guests, they are very likely to be found hanging around in the bar talking to people and while there will be special sessions where you can talk to them without interruptions or special signing sessions there is no extra cost for this. For Nullus Anxietas: the First Australian Discworld Convention Terry Pratchett was to be found holding forth during unscheduled times in the games room, I have photos of this! The signing queue was quite extensive and we had to limit people to three books. It cost no more.

For both SupaNova and AMC Expo there is a much smaller entrance fee, unless you want to sit in the front row for all talks and be in the front of queues in which case it’s quite a bit more expensive, and it’s much more manageable for more people to actually be able attend, in other words attendance is in thousands rather than the low hundreds. The stars have designated times and places for photo taking and signatures and each one costs at least $30. There are generally multiple stars so if you want a photo with each of them you can find your hip pocket nerve hurting quite a lot as you’ll be losing hundreds of dollars. The same for signatures, each one can cost tens of dollars. You can even get a photo then have them sign it but you have to pay for each action.

This tells me how much my DD was going to spring for me for Mother’s Day in 2010. She would have paid for this cartoon, then she would have paid to see James Marsters to get him to sign this for me! I very carefully did not do the research to find out the price of this but needless to say it’s been put away fairly carefully while I figure how to frame it, there’s another drawing on the back.
So, onto my rant of the day. I found this article Why English writers accept being treated like dirt and wondered, yet again, why things are so different for writers. This isn’t just writers in England who are expected to turn up and not be paid for it, it’s writers here as well and probably writers in many other countries. If you go to a convention where the special guests are authors you’ll have to queue up to get your book signed but you don’t have to pay for the privilege. I understand things are slightly different as writers have a book you can buy but they’re quite happy to sign a book you’ve brought along. Sometimes they’ll sign other stuff as well, I’ve had Terry Pratchett sign a plastic banana and when my DDs went to see the Chaser team they bought a pair of pink frilly underpants and they signed those, but they did then change their policy and refuse to sign anything other than their books after that…awfully proud of my DDs for being able to do this and then make such a change! I still have those underpants somewhere.