This year we’ve had a veritable flood of newcomers buying early bird tickets to the UK Meet, which we’re really excited about. Of course, there will be plenty of old hands there to help the newbies on the weekend itself, but in the meantime here’s a guide from the lovely Clare London (veteran of all three UK Meets so far), answering that popular question: “What actually happens there?”
On Friday, people arrive throughout the afternoon/evening and find friends or meet Organising Team members to say hello. We’ll also have a venue arranged for people who want to eat out in a group on their first night, but you’re welcome to make your own arrangements. (During the weekend, there’ll be refreshments all day and a buffet lunch for delegates, and that’s all covered in the price of your delegate ticket(s).) You’ll get your ID card on arrival, whether that’s Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Formal registration is on Saturday morning (Sunday for those only attending then). You’ll get a printed programme and also a souvenir bag with promotional gifts and goodies, completely free. We have two rooms booked on Saturday, a large one where we can all meet to start and finish each day. It’s usually set up with small table arrangements, where 6 or so people can sit, which makes it much less formal and much more comfortable. There will be none of those excrutiating “icebreaking activities” at any point – the only nagging you might get is to buy raffle tickets in support of our link charity, Albert Kennedy Trust.
After an informal “welcome” session, the schedule breaks up into forty minute long panels. We run these two at a time, in the two different rooms, so that we can offer the maximum number and type of topics for people to discuss and explore. Again, it’s an informal sitting arrangement, and you can sit and listen, or join in the chat, or just soak up the atmosphere. The panels are run by fellow fans and authors, whom you may already have met, so it’s a very friendly approach. You can see the kind of topics we want to cover in the draft programme.
Most importantly, you can choose to go to everything or nothing :). You can go to any panels you like – though we do ask out of respect for the panelists that you don’t dodge in and out of panels while they’re going on. We leave plenty of time in the schedule for people to take time out for a coffee, or find a quiet corner to catch up with an online friend – or meet someone you’ve always liked or admired, in a comfy atmosphere!
At all times, we’re equally respectful of all attendees. We have provisions for people who don’t want to speak in public, or be photographed and appear on Facebook (though many of us don’t mind after the first couple of hours have gone past and we’ve already made new friends!).
On Saturday evening, you can do your own thing, or join in an organised group meal, somewhere near the hotel.
Sunday will be the same format, but in a slightly more relaxed way. Parts of the schedule will be looser, so that people who started a good debate or discussion going on Saturday can have the room and time to follow it up, but there will also be new topics to discuss. We also finish earlier, to allow for people travelling home that day.
Also during the weekend, authors and publishers will have a chance to set out their books for you to buy, and anyone can go autograph hunting fora book you already have. We’re also going to find time for aspiring authors to pitch to publishers who are attending. If that’s not all enough already! we’ll be running a prize raffle during the weekend, proceeds of which will go to the Albert Kennedy Trust.
And finally, here’s a link where you can find plenty of pictures (and write ups) of last year’s event.
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters. Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home. All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!
Clare is published in print and ebook at: Dreamspinner Press, Carina Press, JCP Books, Amber Quill Press, MLR Press, Torquere Press, JMS Books.
Clare’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: http://www.clarelondon.co. uk