On Saturday we were awake bright and early, and made it into the main hall in reasonable time, where we acquired our fabulous goodie bags (bags sponsored by Dreamspinner Press, contents -- including free books -- supplied by various attendees and publishers). Over the course of the weekend, I may just have contrived to end up with three different f/f anthologies from Xcite books, giving away my original m/m freebie in the process.
The first item on the agenda was novel openings. Various authors read the initial 150 words or so of one of their published stories or works in progress. I went with the start of 'The Footballer's Mistress' from A Series of Ordinary Adventures:
It was the men that woke her up. Noisy men, with their machines, their tools, and their shouted conversations. After so many years of silence, the din would have deafened her, had she still ears to hear; the clouds of brick dust would have choked her, had she still needed to breathe. Cooped up within the walls for two score years or more, before she had finally slept, she found she could now drift outside. It intrigued her that she could do so, and made her curious to see if the world she remembered was much changed by the passing of the ages.
After each group of four (and I was in the first group!) had read, the audience were invited to comment. vashtan commented on the importance of authorial voice, and said very nice things about mine. Other people commented on the importance of originality (or of putting an original twist on a cliche); on getting straight into the story; on making sure the narrator's personality shines through; and on making sure the reader is questioning and desperate to know more. The variety of pieces read was most impressive, and I shall have to track down quite a few at some point.
After that, coffee and associated refreshments were served, and then I ducked out to the bar to chat with my co-panelists for a the slot after next. That slot was 'We've got the gay, what about the other letters -- LBTQ?' and starred me, Elyan Smith and Lucy Felthouse. We managed to cover all the letters, along with I (intersex) and A (asexual) and got a good dialogue going with the audience. The main problem seems to be in finding receptive publishers, and then reaching out to the prospective audience, with one constraint being that some publishers don't want non-romance stories, and others don't want GLBTQ protagonists in general. Positive mentions here for Riptide and Storm Moon as publishers who'll take all the letters, and possibly something new coming from Dreamspinner too? Hopefully we inspired people to think, and possibly sparked a few new story ideas too.
After a smashing lunch, I went down to the other room for the talk on tropes. We discussed those we like, those we don't like, and those we'd like to see more of. I picked up one rec: for Graceland by Ally Blue as an example of an inter-racial romance where neither character is white (incidentally I seem to remember stating that inter-racial romance is not a trope, but a rec's a rec).
The final panel (of a sort) that I went to was the 'Buffet of Banter', where small groups got to talk over a variety of topics. An excellent idea, that I hope is repeated, even if my table did tend to stray off-topic.
The full panel can be found on the Meet's website here, and I'd also like to put in a rec for Ole Ole in the Lanes, who managed to feed 40 of us with splendid tapas after the Meet.
And finally, my book haul. As well as the official freebies, I received a copy of otterdance's Luck in the Shadows from charliecochrane. I bought Anne Brooke's Thorn in the Flesh and Anna Martin's Tattoos and Teacups. I sold two copies of A Series of Ordinary Adventures, and signed one for charliecochrane.
Next year's Meet is in July, and I'm looking forward to it already, even though I still haven't had time to fully explore the USB stick of extracts and free stories we were all given in our goodie bags.