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

Booking now open for the 2013 Meet!

Manchester's Canal Street
Manchester’s Canal Street

Yes, the UK Meet team are proud to announce that tickets are now on sale for this year’s UK Meet in July. The weekend of the 12th-14th will see a group of fun-loving readers, writers, bloggers and publishers all descend on the historic city of Manchester, the UK’s Venice of the North.

Manchester is a fabulous location for the Meet, as not only is it a beautiful city with plenty of opportunities for shopping, eating, drinking and generally absorbing the culture, but they’re incredibly proud of their long GLBTQ history. The Macdonald hotel where we’re holding the Meet is only a few minute’s walk from the Gay Village, where you can stroll along Canal Street (location for the original UK Queer as Folk series) and check out the extensive range of bars and clubs. There really is something for everyone in the Village, from fancy restaurants to heaving clubs, as well as quirky tea rooms and fantastically well-stocked beer-lovers’ pubs. We’ll be offering a range of group social events there in the evenings (more details to follow nearer the time).

This year we’re doing things differently with the tickets, and have decided to offer two price tiers to reflect the added bonuses authors receive. Check out the details on our registration page. Everyone is welcome to book the general tickets, but if you want to take advantage of some added publicity and space to share your swag (both virtual and physical), then check out the Spotlight tickets. For just a small amount extra, you’ll receive a range of extra publicity opportunities and we think it represents excellent value. For more information about the event and timetable, please browse the freshly updated website and check out our FAQs.

Please book early to take advantage of our discount, and to secure a room at the hotel. They are holding a limited number of their luxurious, spacious rooms at the special price, but there are plenty of other hotels nearby if your budget won’t stretch. We’ve already had a rush on tickets since booking opened yesterday, so make sure you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to meet up with fellow GLBTQ fiction lovers in the UK’s premier event for our genre.

Follow this blog for regular posts in the run up to July, including guest blogs from authors and publishers attending, free short stories, and more information about the event itself. We are actively seeking contributions from attendees. For example: a short blog post about the Meet in 2012 and/or what you’re hoping to get out of 2013; something relating to GLBTQ fiction in the UK; a piece of GLBTQ flash fiction. Or maybe you’ve got an idea about what you’d like to see on the blog? Let me know! (josephine_myles@yahoo.co.uk). You can also follow our newsletter to be kept up to date with information about the UK Meet.

Hope to see you all in July!

Jo x