Evening entertainments now booking!



The famous Canal Street by day and by night.

Yes, bookings are now open and places are filling up fast! You can find full details over on the Entertainments Page. All signed up delegates should have already been contacted via newsletter to let them know this, but I just wanted to share a bit more about what’s available, and why we chose it.

Jamie and I enjoying the Molly House

Back in October 2012 JL (Jamie) Merrow and I took a trip to Manchester to check out venues for the Meet. Not only did we pick the splendid Macdonald hotel where the main event will be held, but we explored some of the more quirky and welcoming bars, cafés and restaurants within the nearby Gay Village. I even had to sample the beer in every bar we went into. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! One thing I learned was that Manchester drinkers like their fancy, premium continental lagers, and I was bowled over by the choice. The British beer selection was excellent too, and I’d single out The Molly House as having a particularly impressive collection. I’d love to have arranged one of our evening events there, but unfortunately it’s just too small to hold a group like ours. However, I urge anyone interested in beer and/or spirits to check it out at some point over the weekend. Also, the decor was gorgeous and the staff were lovely. Can’t ask for more than that!

Taurus – exterior view. Canal just opposite!

Despite the distractions of beer, food was our most pressing concern. We wanted to find places that were welcoming, cosy and with excellent food for both the Friday and Saturday nights. The first place we ate, Taurus, ticked all the boxes. It’s right at one end of Canal Street, has a history of supporting the local LGBTQ community, and not only was the food delicious, but the staff were delightful. Head chef Nosheel came out to talk us through potential menu choices for a large group. We would have arranged our main Saturday evening event there straight away, but we still had a whole list of places to check out, and Taurus wasn’t really big enough to hold the whole group if we got the numbers signing up that we were hoping for.

The Richmond Tea Rooms, exterior

However, after a couple of hours trekking through the pubs and clubs on the list we came to the conclusion that nowhere could beat Taurus. What were going to do for the other night, though? Nowhere else really measured up. We were still discussing it the next morning, on our way to a café that had been recommended to us: the Richmond Tea Rooms. I’d heard it was decorated with an Alice in Wonderland theme, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was like and sample their cakes. We’d never considered it as an evening venue because it was a cafe, but wonder of wonders, when we got in there we discovered that it also had a back room bar, decked out in quirky Victorian style and with an impressive cocktail menu. Our Saturday night venue was settled, and with only half an hour to spare before we caught our trains home!

Since then I’ve been in contact with some Manchester cabaret performers to put on a show for us, and arranged a champagne reception at the Richmond on the Saturday night. Should be a great way to finish off the day!

Image00001For the final part of our entertainments I wanted to organise something different. As Jamie and I walked around the Gay Village we were full of questions. Set into the street everywhere were rainbow flag mosaics, apparently marking some spot of LGBTQ historical interest. We wanted someone to tell us more. We wanted a guide. I got in contact with the Manchester tourist board and they recommended an experienced guide who regularly runs walking tours around the Village. His name’s John Ryan, and he certainly knows his Manchester history! He’s also a chair of Gaydio, the Manchester radio station based in the Village, and has produced documentaries about the history of the area for both television and radio. I’ve chatted to John and I know you’re all going to find him an excellent tour guide. He’s promised to keep it a gentle pace, and fortunately the Gay Village is a compact area so you won’t wear out your shoe leather 🙂

We’re offering the same hour-long tour each night, so as many of you as possible should have a chance to find out more about this fascinating, vibrant and beautiful area of Manchester.

I hope you’ll all be joining us on as many of the entertainment events as you can manage. However, if for any reason they’re not your thing, rest assured there’s somewhere to suit everyone in Central Manchester. We really will be spoilt for choice!

Jo x


A newcomer’s guide to the UK Meet, by Clare London

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: clarelondon11@yahoo.co.uk
Blog: http://clarelondon.livejournal.com
Website: http://www.clarelondon.co. uk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
Twitter: @clare_london

The UK Meet enters its fourth year

Charlie Cochrane, the organising team’s official keeper of the timetables and mistress of the whistle, is here today to share her thoughts on how the UK Meet has grown over the last three years, and what’s going to make this year even better than what’s gone before!

2013 banner

Look at us…all grown up!

2011 logo
Our 2011 Meet logo, complete with stormy skies

The first UK Meet consisted of twelve authors in a room above a library, scoffing tea and cakes and chatting. Unfortunately I missed that as our boiler went flop-bot, but I’ve been to the two Meets since and I have to say the beautiful baby of an event is now a gorgeous child. There are still seemingly endless supplies of tea – and provisions of all sorts for scoffing – and there’s still plenty of capacity for chin-wagging with people who understand our love for our genre. UK Meet means never having to say you’re sorry for what you read or write or publish or review.

The biggest change is in size and attitude. The twelve authors grew to best part of seventy established authors/readers/aspirant authors/publishers/reviewers in 2012. Now, those sorts of numbers can be a bit scary, but we managed to retain intimacy, by making sure we had plenty of time for socialising, by organising events-within-the-event which were on a smaller scale (of which more anon), and by avoiding the painful sort of “ice breaking” sessions that many of us have endured at corporate events. “Novel openings” eased us all into the convention part of the day without too much pain.

2012 logo
We went all teapotty in 2012…

We’ll be trying to produce the same “professional but friendly” mix this year, having a similar starter session on a subject – the development of covers – which everybody can pitch in their two penn’orth on if they wish.

In 2012 we had two sets of panels running, in different syndicate rooms. We’ll be doing that again, pitching at different audiences. We’ve been told that aspiring authors have found the event really useful – as have readers – so we want to make sure they’re catered for. We also had an experimental session, the Buffet of Banter, which consisted of smaller tables where people could sit and discuss slightly more eclectic topics (such as shifters or BDSM). It was a huge hit so we’ll be repeating – and extending! – it in 2013. We’ll also be picking up panels/tables on some of the subjects our delegates asked to see on the programme.

...and back to brollies for 2013, but with optimistic blue skies
…and back to brollies for 2013, but with optimistic blue skies

But wait, there’s more! What else was new in 2012? More (optional) social events. Branded event shoulder bags crammed with goodies of all sorts. (Ah, the great sheep wars they sparked…) Those goodies included a USB stick chock-full with free fiction and useful things like publisher submission details. And a printed programme and badges on lanyards and…well, everything you’d expect from a proper convention, because this is what UK Meet now is.

Except there’s one big difference. Every delegate still matters, the “industry” side of things runs alongside rather than over-running the social, and we’re all there because we love our genre.


As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries. She lives near Romsey but has yet to use that as a setting for her stories, choosing to write about Cambridge, Bath, London and the Channel Islands.

Charlie has stories with Samhain, Carina, Cheyenne, Noble Romance and MLR. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.
Charlie’s website: www.charliecochrane.co.uk
Email: cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com
Blog: http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com/
Twitter: @charliecochrane
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000878813798