First up were Jordan Castillo Price and Val Hughes of Wilde City Press talking about Avoiding Your Mid-Novel Crisis. Tips included pushing on and going back to fill in the details or fix problems later; writing long-hand rather than typing; asking other people what they thought would happen next; writing all possible next steps (no matter how cliched or unlikely) and then picking the one that would fit best; taking a structured break; working on the synopsis/blurb/(or the outline for those that don't write one first) instead of the main novel. There were lots of inspiring ideas from the speakers and the audience and I may have to try a few of them when my life calms down a bit and I have proper writing time again).
After a coffee break, I joined Matthew J. Metzger for our panel: It’s Not All Sex Scenes – Young Adult/New Adult Books. Being a relatively new pair of subgenres, the definitions of what each is or isn't are pretty flexible -- and having established that point, we and the audience discussed why we like the books we do. Reasons included that the audience is more accepting of major events rather than expecting a hugely detailed backstory; characters can be tossers just because they are; characters may have major angst, but they are also less likely to have adult worries like bills and debts; the stories are quite simple at heart with straightforward language even when some of the problems are complex. We also discussed swearing, the fun of inventing new (swear)words and the tricks to employ in writing for a younger audience when you know that a lot of readers are actually older.
I stayed in the same room for the panel of charliecochrane, helenajustina, and Penelope Friday to lead a discussion entitled In My Heart’s Core – LGBTQ Characters in Classic Fiction. The audience were challenged to see how many they came up with, and produced an impressive list:
Antonio from Twelfth Night
Antonio from The Merchant of Venice
Bebe from A Room with a View (and various other E. M. Forster characters, no just those from Maurice)
Horatio from Hamlet
Clarissa from Mrs Dalloway
Orlando from As You Like It (and the one from Orlando)
Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey
Miss Peters from Mallory Towers
Mrs Danvers from Rebecca
Raffles and Bunny
George from the Famous Five books
Iago from Orlando
Miss Jean Brodie from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Empress from The Blazing World
Gil and Ferdie from Friday's Child
Francis from The Reluctant Widow
Annie from Annie on My Mind
Absolon from The Miller's Tale
Achilles and Patroclus
Bebo Brinker from Ann Bannon's books
Jeeves from the Jeeves and Wooster books
We then discussed which were positive or negative, and which were hidden, along with the various stereotypical characters that crop up time and time again in classic fiction (tomboys in school stories, pairs of elderly women in Agatha Christie's books, etc.). Sadly, we eventually ran out of time.
Lunch was just as excellent as on the first day, but with 50% less queuing. We had plenty of time for all the food to settle because the next items were our second Keynote speaker Aleksandr Voinov, followed by the Albert Kennedy Trust Raffle Draw. Aleks was as inspiring and entertaining as always, as well as very encouraging about the continuing growth he expects to see in our areas of fiction. And while I didn't win anything in the draw, it was still a fun occasion.
For the final session of the day, I went to Out of the Ghetto – the Value of Writers’ Groups and Organisations, led by charliecochrane, http://zahraowens.com/, and elisa_rolle. I'd have preferred more interaction and discussion, and less in the way of presentations, especially as this was part of the audience led steam, but each to their own...
And that was that for another year. Roll on the next Meet, wherever it happens to be held (I was presented with a box of choccies for my 100% attendance to date during one of my panels).