Hi guys! Today I am super excited to welcome author Charlie Cochrane, one of the organizers of the recent UK Meet 2013. I have been trying to share some information about some of these awesome GBLT romance events so those of us who can’t make it (insert pouty faces), can at least get a feel for all the goings on.  So Charlie was nice enough to share some thoughts on her experiences and brought along some friends to share as well.  So welcome Charlie!

UK Meet 2013 – was it worth it? (Yes, it was!)

I’m one of the organising team for UK Meet (alongside Jo Myles, Clare London, JL Merrow and Liam Livings). As you can imagine, that role isn’t all beer and skittles. In fact, there are absolutely no skittles and precious little beer. There’s just a lot of hard work and frantic liaison and last minute panics when suppliers let you down and…I won’t bore you, as you can guess how many hours we put in to make Manchester 2013 happen.

But it was worth it, just to see the delighted faces in the room, the hugs and the smiles. To hear the questions put to panels, questions people desperately want to ask but might be afraid to do so online for fear of being shouted down. At UK Meet they won’t be. To hear people sharing their wisdom and ideas and see fledgling authors gleefully scribble them down. To let readers of m/m and f/f stories air their joys and concerns about the books they buy or the behaviour of authors online. And the one hundred and one other things which make the weekend so great.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s what Macky, who attended as a reader and was one of our UK Meet newbies, has to say:

Sunday the 14th of July 2013 will now and forever be known to me as Squee day. I actually squealed out loud at one point (groans in embarrassment ) and in my head all throughout the day. However, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one, because when you finally get that chance to meet good friends who you’ve only ever “met “ online, and get to physically hug them and chat face to face it’s absolutely fantastic.

That’s not all, on top of that you get to meet authors who you’ve probably fan-girled and admired from the first time you set eyes on their books and you can hug and chat with them too because…guess what? They’re really friendly. Yaaay! Honestly, if you only ever manage to do a UK Meet once in your lifetime then you’ll be one very happy bunny.

But I’ll put money on it that once you’ve done one meeting you’ll definitely want to go to the next. I know I really want to after that Sunday, and so does my big sister who came with me this year – and she’s not even a m/m reader. Well, actually, after going to this one she’s now been totally converted.

It was the best day ever and as an avid reader and Goodreads member I can’t thank the organisers Charlie, Jo, Clare, Jamie ( JL) and Liam enough for putting together a truly awesome weekend that was social, informative, friendly and fun. They nailed it. And as if all that fun wasn’t enough, we all got a fabulous goodie bag (thanks to all the kind authors and publishers for contributing ) which brought on another squee session.

So, my last thought is “Bristol 2014 here we come and next time it’s nothing less than the full weekend for us both. One day was wonderful but two would be amazeballs!”

But what about the old hands? The people who’ve attended time and again? Does it ever get stale? And what about if they’ve been inveigled into being on a panel? Here’s Elin Gregory’s take on things:

The annual UK Meet is something I look forward to so much. A whole weekend with people I like, and in some cases love to bits, celebrating subjects we care about with a deep and measured passion and not once having to stop and back track to explain or justify or apologise. This year, though I still looked forward to it, my anticipation was tinged with a bit of dread because I had agreed to help with two panels. I am not a natural speaker. Put me in front of an audience and I either clam up or babble. But the reason I volunteered, actually volunteered, to be on the social media panel is because it’s something I feel very strongly about.

Social media doesn’t suit everyone and if you’re not one of the people who finds it easy and enjoyable it might be better not to do it. Unease and unhappiness shows. Much better to do what makes you happy, whether that’s make blog posts about something you love, tweet haikus or collect pictures of archaeological finds on Pinterest. If you are smiling when you make your post that will show too – and you can always link them so they show up on Facebook.

The other panel was all about smiling – humour in fiction – and I was delighted to hear Charlie and Jo reading from their own works, Sollicito (about weresloths!!!) and The Hot Floor (the bit with the bathtub!! Oh and the armpits *dies*) and to hear samples from the floor of other cool things to read. Humour is a very personal thing and something that one person finds hilarious another person will write off as silly or just won’t get. That’s all right too. UK Meet is about celebrating our differences – not about trying to make everyone conform to the same narrow standards.

So, on the whole, it was worth sitting there, red faced and babbling, because when you aren’t part of the audience you get a good view of all the people in it and I was touched and very encouraged by the ones who caught my eye and made “it’s all right, it’ll soon be over” faces, and very grateful to the ones who laughed in the right places.

Someone else’s turn next year and if you’re brave enough to do it, be sure I’ll be there cheering you on.

So UK Meet 2013 was a roaring success and the organisers can put their feet up and bask in reflected glory. I wish. We’ve already started working on UK Meet 2014…

%d bloggers like this: