That’s a Wrap: UK Meet

Now that I’m back home, have a couple days’ rest under my belt, and have had time for reflection, I figure after all the handwringing I did over going to my first convention, I probably should say something about how it went.

In a word: incredible.

Our intention the first day, Friday, was to arrive in Bristol around 4 or 5 pm, register, and poke around the hotel and neighborhood, maybe have a drink with a few people inclined to hang out with us in the hotel bar, and get a good night’s sleep for Saturday, the heavy duty day of the con.

Traffic had other ideas.

Road Trip Selfie
road trip selfie

What should have been a 3 1/2 hour drive turned into 6, and we missed registration, so walking around the hotel without our names hanging from lanyards around our necks made people somewhat hesitant to approach us. Given that I’m a wuss when it comes to being the first to say hello, Friday night ended up being somewhat quiet. Other than a quick hello with Dani Elle Maas in the bar as we were leaving to find food, we saw a couple faces I thought were familiar from their Facebook profiles, but I wasn’t sure. We walked up the street to a tapas place for dinner, then returned to the hotel.

Saturday was organized chaos. Between registration, getting all our swag to the right place before the deadline, getting our book fair items gathered and prepared, prepping for our round-table discussion on Body Language and its use in fiction, and attending a couple panels ourselves, there was not much down time. I was particularly grateful, because it didn’t give my brain a lot of room to freak out over the details, especially since I’d had a crappy night of sleep the night before.

That intimate setting the previous attendees have described for this con in the past? Totally true. There were a lot of people (to me, anyway), but I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I expected to. There were certainly squees at meeting people in person who I’d only talked to online (Helena Stone and Hanne Lie come immediately to mind, as does KC Wells), and a lot of laughs both in the talks and panels and outside in the chat areas. There were also a lot of people I feel I missed the chance to chat with, where we’d make eye contact across the room and I’d make a mental note to try and get over there to say hello, but it just never happened. That’s my biggest regret, that I didn’t stand still long enough to catch up with everyone, but such a thing is impossible.

Though I was nervous about our discussion on body language, I felt like Kate and I did pretty well going over what we both know collectively on the subject (which is to say nothing formally trained, though we’re both well-read on the matter). It didn’t end up being us staring at a few faces that only stared back waiting for us to say something. *blink blink* That would have been horrible. But no, we had lively people dropping by for the discussion, who asked questions and made their own observations, and it turned out to be quite fun, actually.

Saturday night, we attended the Gala dinner where we were regaled by the Sing Out Bristol choir (a highlight of the whole weekend for me, along with meeting Garrett Leigh, who is badass and so much fun), a fabulous drag queen act, Mary G., who unfortunately got upstaged by four men (barely) dressed as waiters wearing nothing more than aprons, bow ties, and wrist cuffs. Yup, their asses were hanging out. To be fair, Mary G. was just as interested in the waiters as some of the attendees.

Witness my first ever public selfie Bristol selfie waitstaff

There was, however, a conversation where Kate told me, “Don’t lean back even an inch, or there will be penetration,” given how close one of them was standing behind me. Lane Swift had quite the laugh at the look on my face after that. While I’m ALL FOR the beauty of the human body, my personal space issues are still in play. It was around then, when dessert was wrapping up, that people began to rise from their tables, mingle, take photos with the entertainers, and otherwise loom that I began to feel the walls closing in. We bid the others a good evening and found a quiet balcony for a couple of drinks and some good conversation with people who rotated outside for some fresh air (and regaled us of the events inside, specifically when a flash mob broke out).

The excitement and poor night of sleep caught up with me, and Kate and I retired to our room, where my overtired brain kicked my mouth into high gear and she and I ended up talking until 2 in the morning. I’m like a toddler denying I need a nap. Pretty sure by that point, Kate was ready to call down to the front desk for some duct tape to shut me up.

The last day was more leisurely, and we attended one panel called Unlocking Your Dark Side, which had me cackling and plotting evil plots of evil the whole time. At the end, there was the farewell speech, and Kate and I had to cut out early in order to make it back in time for our dinner reservations with her family, so we didn’t get a lot of chance to say goodbye, other than a few quiet waves to now-more-familiar faces dotted around the tables.

Number of times I had to hide: none, though it was a near thing in the height of it all

Number of panic attacks: none

Number of times I surprised myself with how I was able to let my guard down: more than a handful. The book fair was a good example; I didn’t feel awkward or shy talking to people coming over for books or buttons. It was crowded and I didn’t feel the need to run (which could be attributed to being at a table at the edge of the room, so we weren’t in the thick of everything). Also, I almost hugged someone (Garrett Leigh), and I hadn’t even had anything to drink! I’ve said before though, I never know until the moment the situation arises if I’d be comfortable with that or not. That time, I probably would have, though she caught herself and both of us got wide-eyed when we realized what had almost happened. Kate teased me mercilessly, questioning whether or not she should worry my fangirling was developing into more and she’d have to send out a search party for me in case I ended up stowing away in Garrett’s suitcase.

All told, the weekend was a raucous success and I firmly and thoroughly gave my anxiety a gigantic “fuck you.” Also, Kate and I got our first professional picture together done, taken by Temple Dragon, whose laughter and professionalism were unparalleled in putting us at ease.

This one’s going on the wall.


ETA: Still freaked putting my face out there, but total immersion at the Meet worked for some of my other issues, I’m hoping to do the same with this one thing.

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18 thoughts on “That’s a Wrap: UK Meet

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Bristol, and I was so happy to finally meet you face to face, and am so glad I remembered not to hug you (it was a close call but I caught myself in time!)! 🙂

    I love the photo – you both look so relaxed and happy! <3


  • I know what you mean about the personal space issue. I get a bit claustrophobic in a crowd of people. That’s a beautiful room the gala dinner was held in, but it feels very full! when we’re all in there. I suppose if it’s in the same place next year and you’re there you could ask to be on a table near the door. I always feel a bit more chilled if there aren’t a lot of obstacles between me and the door.

  • Don’t you think that cliche “timing is everything” is so true? I never liked being hugged when I was a child and it got worse as I got older……..I hated hated being told to go give some relative a hug. The one time I spontaneously hugged someone in the family it was the subject of conversation through dinner, as in “Did you see that? Valerie hugged Aunt Norma! Without being told”! But then I had my son and there was no way not to hug someone that precious……so I did, ALOT! It finally got through my head, watching my son hug everybody he met and seeing the joy that simple act generated, for both, that maybe I could do this hugging thing…….especially if it’s my choice. So far so good, although I still have moments where I do the pause, before the hug thing.
    I think it was just time for you to venture out and it’s so awesome to read your blog about how well it went!
    By the way, I love the purple hair……..

    • I have no idea, honestly, if timing has to do with it. I am still not a hugger. It’s literally a split second decision. I do feel good about having attended the con and I proved to myself I can conquer things if I’m determined enough. This was a good test.

  • I’m so jealous of everyone that got to meet you but it’s best I wasn’t there because I don’t know that I could’ve not hugged you. It would’ve killed me. Haha. I’m so happy for you and soooo proud of all you overcame. Wow. Just wow. You and Kate are so beautiful and look so happy together. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us. It’s so nice to see your happy faces instead of imagining them.

  • I am so very happy to have met you and Kate in Bristol. You two were definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me. And you (yes you) made it all so very easy for me. Your soft ‘hello’ when I walked past you coming out the front door for a cigarette, made meeting face to face so natural. We were talking before it occurred to me to feel awkward. Your hug before you left, felt and still feels like one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received. I knew you and Kate were awesome before we met, only now do I know how very right I was in that assessment. <3

  • I’m glad your first convention was such a success! It gives me hope that maybe you will attend one in the US that I manage to make it to (no pressure, though, as I know what social anxiety can do to a person…well, I know what it does to me). And I’m totally jealous (in a good way) of everyone that got to meet you and Kate and am happy it was a good experience for you.

    I am one of those people who highly values personal space. I hate crowds. When I was younger, and dealt with them better (still hated them), I would imagine I was smoke in order to help myself move through the crowds better and avoid touching as many people as possible. It totally worked for me. I’m out of practice, though. And so, as we’re gearing up for GRL, I’m giving myself pep talks and though I know I will be fine, once I am there and have met a few people, the first couple hours are likely going to be excruciating. But I can do this.

    The photos of you and Kate are amazing (and I LOVE the purple hair!!!)! (and I totally approve of the waiter uniforms).


    • You can do this! Just keep in mind all the escape routes should you need one. There was a moment when I lost sight of Kate, and I damn near fainted. Maybe if you have a friend you can buddy up with the whole time, it’ll feel less overwhelming? I know that helped me.

      • Indeed! The buddy system is a very good strategy, and I intend to employ it, if I can. I’m going by myself, but I have friends from Goodreads that will be there…just need to find them.. And, yeah, one of the first things I do in social or crowd situations is map out the exits. It’s good policy, even if crowds aren’t a problem. You never know when you might need to leave a building or a room.

  • This was so amazing to hear about! I’m so glad that it went so well. I’m sorry you had such bad traffic but having not seen Kate in so long the drive was probably pretty wonderful regardless.
    Hopefully this might lead to more cons for you both & then I might possibly get to be so lucky to say hi face to face!

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