This was my third EGX, but my first at ExCel in London. The other two were at the NEC in Birmingham. So a much shorter drive this time.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the vibe. Even while standing in the queue to get through security and get our lanyards there’s an electricity in the air. The three of us are adding to it, especially when Stefan sees some of the PlayStation Access team.
We got our lanyards, much better than having just a wristband. They’ve an advert for House Flipper 2, which Steph got rather excited about, and we went into the event room itself.
There’s a lot to take in when you first walk in. There are a few folks handing out leaflets. Cosplayers moving around, not as many as I was expecting, but it’s Thursday and I’d imagine the weekend will ramp it up a bit. There’s a lot of folks in some amazing outfits. While not cosplay there is a lot that are themed as well as those that are just awesome. There’s all the gaming setups right there and they go throughout the space. Off to the left and towards the rear quarter of the floor is the vender stores. This is where we go first.
Now, my cash flow like many of us is shite at the moment so I only had a small budget but I couple of little bits went for a Mystery bag that was £25. Now, what I got in it I wouldn’t necessarily have bought, but I’m really happy with what was in there and it was definitely worth the money I paid for it.
I find I really enjoy looking around the vendors. As it’s a gaming convention most of them are gaming related in one way or another. There was a lot of anime as well, and strangely enough I noticed a lot of vendors selling pop culture themed swords at this con.
There’s a lot of people selling artwork based on video games and pop culture in general. Some of it I found mind blowing. The skill that goes into producing these pieces is amazing and I could have spent quite a chunk of money on those alone. There was a couple of DOOM ones that really caught my eye.
We explored the retro gaming section. This got the nostalgia going big time. The one that really got me was one called Dizzy Egg. Now I can’t remember if this was the exact game me and my brother had on the Sinclair Spectrum ZX as the one I saw today was on a different system. But I had a quick go, and died like four times! But it brought a big smile to my face.
I saw StarFox, Micro Machines, Halo 2, various Super Mario Brothers and Sonic The Hedgehog games. There was a few Batman ones, one of which Stefan dived into (he’s a big Batman fan) and so many more. Aside from Dizzy Egg I didn’t really play any as others were playing them while I was circulating, and honestly my anxiety was rising.
Steph did wait to play House Flipper 2 and she spoke to one of the developers of the game. I’d imagine seeing people queueing up to play and talk of how much they love the game you’ve worked your arse off must be good.
Now, my anxieties did get to me a little but not like they would have done before. I didn’t have to take a moment and regulate my nerves at any point, although a couple of times I did feel a little overwhelmed.
It was such a good day though. I was with two of my dearest friends, and seeing how much they loved it as well made the day even better.
I needed to replace my dictionary/thesaurus recently (the kitten destroyed my old one). I was going to just pop onto Amazon and get it but I remembered I had points on my Waterstones card and decided to cash those in. It was only a couple quid and I doubt I’ll add to them in the near future simply because I haven’t shopped in Waterstones for a long time. Each time I go in there for a book I’m finding it very uninspiring. Dictionary aside, I can’t remember the last novel I brought in Waterstones. I think the last comic was the paperback of Civil War 2.
One of the reasons I don’t shop there is I never find anything I want to read. The Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy sections seem to be being squished into one which is dominated by Fantasy. And most of the books in the horror section are still the heavyweights in the genre, there was a lot of King.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Those books deserve to be there. Stephen King is the writer of his generation and one of the all time greats, but there should also be room for other voices in the genre. The person who served me even agreed about how much of the big names were there and that was it. I can’t speak for Science Fiction as I haven’t read any in quite some time and I’ve never been a fantasy reader.
I’m also not reading much mainstream fiction at the moment. Most of the books on my to-read list have been books I’ve brought at Horror Cons or from discovering writers via podcasts like Arm Cast and The Horror Show With Brian Keene. Some of the more mainstream ones I’m listening to the audiobooks of anyway. And to be honest, most of the books I’m hearing that appeal to me aren’t in shops, definitely not here in the UK so most of the books I’m buying, outside of cons, are via amazon. You’re not going to get extreme horror, or books by small publishers or indie authors in Waterstones or, well Waterstones is the only real bookseller here in the UK now. We’ve got places like The Works and WH Smiths that sell books in addition to supermarkets but that’s about it.
I haven’t wondered around a bookstore in awe for a long time. That excitement of searching for something to pull me into a new universe hasn’t been there for years. I get that buzz from going to the cons and finding books at those to read. That, to me, is where I’m getting the fix I need.
Only 149 words recorded today, but I deleted a fair few that I’ll be rewriting. So in truth I probably clocked three or four hundred today.
Yesterday a company that ran most of the UKs horror conventions went tits up. This has hurt a lot of people, including those I know and consider friends. I’ll focus on the writers just here but what I’m saying can be said for all traders at these cons. This is a big part of their incomes and more importantly it’s a great chance to meet fans and make more fans. It’s a great chance to meet up with other writers and people in the genre. A lot of people feel at home at these cons, I know I did. A lot of writers and other traders have probably lost their money from booking their tables, along with hotel bookings. They’ve also lost the chance to earn income while at the cons.
It’s really easy for something like this to happen. So if there are writers whose work you enjoy then please spread the word about their work. It doesn’t cost anything to post a review or share a post on social media. A lot of writers will share the links on their social media profiles, hit the likes and the shares. It all helps.
This last year has been a tough one. As a family we’ve had a lot of crap thrown our way this year. We’ve lost loved ones, and had issues of health pepper us amongst other difficulties life has a habit of throwing in our paths.
It has been a hard year, it’s not been harder than anyone else’s year. It’s been what it is. We’ve taken each day as it comes and in my opinion that is the best way to take life at times.
These things I won’t go into detail on. They are things that affect my family as well as myself and I don’t think it’s my place to talk in-depth about these events on my public blog.
One moment this year that hit me harder than I thought something of its nature could was the death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Although now I am really out of date with most music, I was a huge fan of Linkin Park when they first hit the scene. Their first two albums are two of my favourite albums ever, I didn’t even listen to that type of music until they came along. It’s music that speaks to me, but I didn’t realise how important it is to me until Bennington’s death this year. I mourned his death in a way that I haven’t for other public figures. I read a lot of Tom Clancy when I was in my late teens. I was a huge fan of Alan Rickman as well, and although it saddened me when they died it wasn’t like when Chester Bennington died. I immediately binge listened to the Linkin Park albums I had, and blitz their YouTube channel. It was only a month or so ago that I’ve stopped getting a lump in my throat when I hear his vocals. I realised a few weeks after his death that I felt like this because it was the first death of one of my icons. Someone who not only did I look up to and admire, but someone who spoke to me. I didn’t know the death of someone I didn’t know would hit me as hard as Chester Bennington’s death did.
I’ve had highs and lows with writing this year. A few projects I put a lot of time into have crashed and burned pretty badly. In particular I was quite demoralised by a zombie story I thought was going to be something good but it just didn’t pan out how I was expecting it too and it kind of gave me a bit of a confidence hit. I had done a lot of outlining for it, characters had been thought out and developed, but it just didn’t go right. I tried to rewrite it for NaNo, and it’s not bad. I’m happier with it now than I was initially but it’s not how I was expecting it to go. I think I can roll with how it’s changing, I just need to do some re-thinking on it.
Something I have learned is that it doesn’t matter whether I write with a pen and paper or straight into a word processor the words are the same. I wrote a first draft of a story I’ve got a lot of hope for by hand but was writing something else at the same time digitally and realised quickly that it didn’t matter how I wrote something, if I was in the mood to write it all came out the same. With this story in particular I’ve got to change a lot for the second draft. Like the zombie story I mentioned it came out different to how I envisioned it. The biggest problem is I’ve written it from only one point of view, and to tell the story I want to I need to do it from multiple POVs. I don’t think it’ll be difficult, but I want to let it sit for another month or two before I return to it. I’d like to get some more planning done for it as well.
The work with Owen is a little up in the air at the moment but I’m expecting to find out what’s happening early in the new year.
The highest points of this year for me have been getting two stories published. Both through charity anthologies from Burdizzo Books. The first one, The Final Charge was in Sparks: An Electric Anthology in October. The second was my take on The Three French Hens in this years 12 Days of Christmas 2017 Anthology. I am incredibly proud of both of these stories. They were a lot of fun to write and knowing the proceeds from both books go to good causes makes it feel even better than it does. The folks at Burdizzo Books are fantastic people as well, along with the group of writers they have around them.
It’s great to finally have my writing in print and has really fired me up and shown me that it’s not impossible. There is nothing stopping me except myself.
The last item I really want to talk about are a few of the people I’ve met this year. I attended a book launch for Sparks up in Walsall and met the head honcho and editor Matthew Cash as well as a couple of the other contributors. We later had another launch in my home town as Burdizzo Books’ other editor, Em Dehaney, is from Gravesend as well. Both launch parties were fantastic, I did a reading at both, although with the Gravesend one I was hit with a severe cold a few hours before and was incredibly unwell. I thought I was going to pass out during my reading, but it was still an amazing experience.
I also went to a few cons this year. Unfortunately DemonCon down in Maidstone has now come to an end. I was pleased to be at the last one in February, but will miss it. It’s the con were I first me Dan Abnett and his wife Nik, who are lovely people. I went to Birmingham Horror Con around that time as well, that was incredibly fun and I got to see my friends Cat and Lynx Raven again as well as Dave from From The Shadows. I also went to EGX with my buddy Stefan from Stefan’s Daily Gaming. Although I’m not a huge gamer this was a lot of fun as well. It was good seeing some great games and a lot of people who were in their element. Bristol Horror Con was my favourite of the year though. Not only did I see CL Raven and Dave (From The Shadows) again but I also went to a couple of panels. I spent a little time talking to Adam Millard and his wife in the VIP room. Seriously lovely people who were very encouraging of my own work and just fun to talk to. I also got the chance to speak to Tim Lebbon as well. Again, another awesome and encouraging person. I just hope the more of these I go to the more at ease I get speaking to all these fantastic people.
The horror community is really welcoming and seems to have a lot of heart to it. It’s definitely a place I feel at home it.
One night in particular that was both fun and tiring was an all-night ghosts hunt I went on with Boleyn Paranormal down at a True Crime Museum in Hastings. It was a lot of fun, very interesting and I met more awesome people, but I’m not doing another all-nighter. I was shattered for a few days after that. Cat and Lynx Raven were there as well, and they popped back to my home to meet my animal army before they returned to Cardiff. En Route to my house we stopped at the site of the Battle of Hastings. Although not far from my home I can’t recall ever going there and it was quite a surreal experience that I’m glad we took the time to do.
A massive highlight of the year for me was meeting Scott Sigler and AB Kovacs. I’ve been a fan of Sigler’s work for a decade now and when he announced he was coming to Europe, including the UK, it would have taken the zombie apocalypse to have stopped me from getting there. It was a great evening in a pub in London just hanging out with Scott, A and other fans of Sigler’s work (AKA the Junkies). It was good chatting to them both and seeing the love they have for the fans of the work. Both Scott and A have a lot of charisma and energy and clearly love what they do, and it was one of the highlights of the year.
With Scott Sigler
With AB Kovacs
2017 has had a lot of downs, but its had a lot of ups as well. That’s what I’m focusing on, I’m not ignoring the low points, just choosing to look at the positives. Most importantly I appreciate those important people I have in my life. My friends and family mean the world to me and I’m very grateful having them all.
I haven’t got my word counts close to hand so I can’t say what my numbers for the week are, but they aren’t great.
The last week has felt like it’s flown by; I can’t really recall much about Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday I was at a Write-In and got some good words written. Thursday I was at the cinema to see Blade Runner 2049. Friday evening most of it was getting bits and pieces done for going to Bristol Horror Con yesterday.
I’ve got a lot I’d like to get done today. Outside of writing I’ve got a chicken house to clean out, and I’d really like to swap my bookcase around with my movie library (the bookcase is closer to my TV stand), but I don’t think that’ll happen today. I do want to get a good 1000, 1500 words done today, and get stuck into the outlining for NaNo. I’ve changed my mind (again) and will be doing a second draft of my zombie piece I wrote a few months ago. I think that’s the right piece to be doing, and there will be less prep for it than one of the other options. That’ll give me more time to focus on the WIP and getting that done before NaNo starts.
I enjoyed Blade Runner 2049, but it was too long. If there was half an hour shaved off it then I think I would have enjoyed it more. I’ve never been a huge fan of the original Blade Runner but do have some moments in the film that I find really memorable. I’m not sure there’s much in Blade Runner 2049 that I’ll find iconic. The performances were good and it looked amazing. The sound didn’t work for me. I’ve also seen the storyline before, anyone who saw the Battlestar Galactica reboot has seen it. I will give a shoutout to Dave Bautista, he was really good and showed just how talented an actor he is. Mackenzie Cook was also very good. It was hard to take my eyes off of her when she was on screen. Ana de Armas as Joi was incredibly good as well. She put a lot of heart into the film.
Finally, just a quick few words on Bristol Horror Con. It was a lot of fun. Last year was good, but this one was better. It’s been expanded into a bigger hotel, and I caught a couple of panels and the readings which was so much fun. I caught up with my friends CL Raven, such awesome people. I had a chat with their friend David Davies (From The Shadows Ltd), again. He’s a great dude. I also had a chat with Adam Millard again, again another great fella. His wife is really nice as well. I got a couple of minutes chatting to Tim Lebbon as well, another really cool and nice dude. That’s something that has struck about the couple of Horror cons I’ve been to, everyone is just so nice. When I was younger, and more stupid, I’d be a little wary of people who did live their lives different from mine. But in listening to more metal and ‘alternate’ music and going to cons, and seeing people from the Horror community online I’ve realised that this community is not only amazing, but incredibly welcoming as well. I’ve been to three horror cons now, and each one I’ve felt at home at. Everyone is smiling and having a great time. Cat and Lynx Raven have said a couple of times how great this community is, and they’ve been in it a lot longer than I have. Come next year, I want to get to a few more horror cons next year.
Well, this last week hasn’t been fun. I’ve got a (tiny) kidney stone, and that’s decided to have given me a huge amount of pain and discomfort this week.
I did go to DemonCon(pictures beneath) last Sunday, and enjoyed myself but I was in a fair bit of pain and that did take the sheen off of the day. I was chuffed with myself that I got over some of my shyness and was able to ask cosplayers if I could take their pictures. All said yes. I really do love Cosplayers. They’ve got so much passion and skill for what they do and it’s great to see. I had some good conversations with a few of the people there as well, which is always good for the soul.
This week has been tough. I’ve been working through my days at work and getting home and all but collapsing. It wasn’t until Friday that I started to feel back to my normal self, and today is the first day where I haven’t had any pain at all. (yeah, I’ve probably just jinxed myself there).
Writing this week really hasn’t happened. I’ve made a few notes and some outlining details, and have had some good thoughts during the course of the week. I was planning to do some work last night but I was wiped out so I put my feet up, chilled out a little, and aside from writing a blog post I didn’t really do much.
Today I have smashed out the red-pen notes of The Space Watch and gotten it sent off to Owen. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts and notes on it when he’s read through it.
I’m off out for a family meal shortly, so I won’t be doing any more writing stuff tonight. Now that I’ve got The Space Watch off to Owen I’m going to get the final Beta Notes done on my vampire collection.
This week has felt quite odd. We had my Grandad’s funeral on Friday and although that went well (as well as any funeral can) its felt like a week where I’ve been out of sync. I’ve also not been especially well again also, which hasn’t helped.
On Monday I started making my red-pen changes to The Space watch, although most of the night was spent arranging the layout in Scrivener so I’ve got each chapter broken down into its various scenes. Tuesday night, after getting home from seeing The Lego Batman Movie (which is awesome!) I cracked on with a little planning on a zombie story I’ve had brewing for quite a few years. It’s struck me that when I’d thought that I’d not be able to build a story strong enough to write with this idea it was because I need to put more thought into it. This goes back to what I was saying the other day about making sure I get an outline done instead of just steaming into it, which I have tried in the past with this idea. I’ve got an idea, and I’m using a couple of movies as a sort of inspiration/format for the tone I want to aim for. I’ve done a little more planning for that, and have come up with an idea for one of the characters that I like a lot, so I need to see if I can make it work.
That’s what I’m going to be working on outlining wise for the next few days. I’d like to think I’ll be done with it by the end of this next week, but I’ve not done much outlining so I’m not sure what the timescale will be. That is my secondary project, my primary one is going to be getting The Space Watch sorted out. Now I’ve done all the logistics of switching it from Pages to Scrivener I don’t think it’ll take me too long to get it sorted out. Being me I’m planning on getting stuck in today when I get home from DemonCon (more on that in a bit), and I’m assuming that I’ll be able to smash out the rest of this edit pass by the end of the day. It’s probably about 25,000 words, which is doable, but I’m not going to bust my gut to get it done. If I rush it, I’ll start missing details and making mistakes.
I’ve had to stop working on my fanfic piece, simply because I was working on it during my lunch breaks but I’ve got to a bit where I’m going to need some time to sort this next section out properly. To do that I’m going to need more than a lunch break to do it. So what I’m going to do is get The Space Watch edited, then get through some Beta notes on my vampire collection, and then get stuck into it. Then I will be up to date with some work that I should have had done for quite some time, and then I’ll get this read through of the fanfic piece done and see where I need to go with it.
Just a quick word on DemonCon; this will be my third one, and I’m really looking forward to it. I am still feeling a little unwell, so thats dampened my enthusiasm a little, but I’m still pumped. I’m going to make more of an effort to ask people if I can take their pictures, there’s going to be loads of cosplayers there, and I’m going to make more of an effort to have a chat with them as well. I need to get over this shyness of mine and I think events like DemonCon, Birmingham Horror Con, and Bristol Horror Con are great places for meeting people and getting talking to them. There is such a great, warm atmosphere at these three different cons that I’ve been to, and the people who go to them are all into what I am. So hopefully the more of them I go to the less shy I’ll be.
Speaking of DemonCon, I’d better go and get ready.
This morning I woke up at about 3:30am and couldn’t drop back off. So after 45 minutes I gave in and got up. I made myself a cup of tea, popped the gas fire on, fired up my laptop and wrote a blog post and knocked out 837 words before going back to bed at about 6:30.
The rest of the day has been focused on signing up for mailing lists of people I met yesterday at Birmingham Horror Con, looking them up on social media etc. and sorting out the swag I got from the Con. I did tidy a bookcase up that was in a state as well. I’ve also started a Star Wars marathon and have, at the time of writing this blog post, gotten to A New Hope. I don’t think I’ll get to The Empire Strikes Back, tonight. I think that’ll be tomorrow night that I get into that one now. Once I’ve finished A New Hope I’m going to get tucked into bed and read some more of Savant by Nik Abnett before I get an early night.
Yesterday I travelled to Edgbaston Cricket ground for Birmingham Horror Con with my buddy Stefan and his partner, Steph, and boy was it a lot of fun! Aside from the fact that I got to see my friends C L Raven again I met some awesome people who all seemed really nice. I brought a load more books, T-Shirts and some really cool artwork, as well as a couple of comics.
One of the things I’ve loved most about the cons I’ve been to (DemonCon, Bristol Horror Con, and now Birmingham Horror Con) is how warm and welcoming these events are. I’ve not encountered any negativity from anyone. It just seems to be everyone there to enjoy themselves, which is really refreshing! In a world where there’s so much hatred and desire to stop other people enjoying themselves it’s something I’ve found to be really quite awesome.
As for Birmingham Horror Con, it was vibrant, full of great people selling their books, works of art, clothing, jewellery, and a tonne of other horror related merchandise. As I mentioned it was great to see Cat and Lynx Raven again, and spend a little time talking to them. It was also great chatting to Dave from From The Shadows, J.R. Park, Daniel Marc Chant and very briefly with Adam Nevill. This is where I fail a little. I need to get better at talking to people. I do have a shyness and I need to get over that. Just talking to the cosplayers and getting some photo’s of them would be great as well because they all looked so cool!
There’s another one later in the year, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get there for it but I’m going to try. I will definitely be there again next year because it was just so much fun.
I haven’t blogged this last week because my Grandad died on Monday evening. So, I’ve obviously been a little out of sorts since then. I have continued to write everyday, albeit not many words. I have done a few more pages of editing as well, although I’ve not been as consistent with editing as I have been with writing.
Yesterday (the 4th) was my first zero word count day of the year. I went to Birmingham Horror Con with a couple of friends, so that took up most of the day. And when I got home I was feeling so tired that the thought of writing just seemed to drain me further. I haven’t had much settled sleep this week for obvious reasons, so I sacrificed writing for a little down time. I am a bit annoyed at breaking that chain, but it would be naive of me to think I’m going to be able to write every day this year. Even with the best will in the world, some solid momentum, and the ideas transferring from brain to screen without much resistance, there is still these elements in life which make it difficult to hit a target like writing every day.
I’m sure with time I’ll learn how to manage writing each day with life events. In my own defence I’d planned to be up at 6am yesterday and write for a little of the time before leaving at 8am, but I slept through two alarms and didn’t get up till 7:30am. It was a great day though and I’ll write a post about it in the next day or two.
I have finished reading Silent Dawn by CL Raven, who I saw at the Con, and WOW! what a book. I’d definitely recommend checking that one out (and their other work). It’s a really engaging book that I’ll be writing a review for soon.
I’ve now reading Savant by Nik Abnett. I’m only about thirty pages in, but so far it’s very intriguing.