Planning a Short Story: Case Study of ‘Wrong Side of the Bed’

In my time at the Geek Mart, I’ve produced 15 booklets, each with a short story in them similar in style to Wrong Side of the Bed and I’m often asked two things: 1. ‘Did you write all of these?’ (usually by someone just passing the table) and 2. ‘How did you write these?’ (usually by a writer who struggles to write short fiction, because all their ideas seem too big.)

Where the ideas come from is a whole other thing, but my advice is always the same to those who want to write short fiction: focus on one moment. Maybe it’s a result of teaching 11-year-olds to write short stories, but I became aware years ago that short stories don’t need an explosive ending, so long as they tell the tale correctly, reach a conclusion, and – all things going according to plan – have a twist.

The twist is the thing some people struggle with within a narrative arc, because we’re used to the Soap Opera version of an out-of-the-blue shock to the reader. What we need to remember, as writers, is that the twist works just as well if the reader can see it coming, if the point is to affect the protagonist. That was the approach I took with Wrong Side of the Bed.

Keep reading to see my plan for the story. (But it might help to read it first, to see how what I planned and what I wrote compare to one another.) Everything in italics is additional at the time of writing this.

Wrong Side of the Bed: Behind the Scenes

  1. Last time she slept: 48 hours ago. Stuck at home, afraid of what will happen. Specifically, afraid of what will happen if she falls asleep. The one-line abstract is ‘A girl teleports whenever she falls asleep.’

  2. Sleeps, wakes up in France in someone’s bed. Has to flee. Tries to fall back asleep. A story needs a problem, or nothing is really happening. Before letting my protagonist get to the ‘What if someone finds out and I become a lab-experiment?’ train of thought, I focused on placing her in uncomfortable scenarios.

  3. Wakes on a desert island. Heat causes her to fall asleep. A problem with other people is one thing. A problem alone is another. I chose to cut her off, make her face a bigger problem – life or death. Sometimes being cruel to our characters is a choice we have to make, other times it’s just for fun.

  4. Wakes up in a museum after-hours. Stares at the artwork. I had Ferriss Bueller on the mind, I think.

  5. Wakes up in the scene of a painting (IRL). Sleeps again. Finding herself less tired. Change the problem: she’s waking in places she’s thinking of, and she’s going to find it more difficult to get away if she wakes up somewhere she doesn’t want to be.

  6. Wakes at her mother’s house. Tells her she’s feeling unsettled. ~
  7. Spends day with her mother. Sleeps. Wakes in the same bed. A story needs a conclusion, and a problem has to go away. If this was a superhero story, she’d need to learn control over her superpower. Going for something closer to ‘Problems manifest in reality’ rather than ‘having a unique ability’, she had to get rid of the teleportation.

I won’t claim that it’s the best story out there, and maybe I didn’t follow all the typical rules of storytelling and flash fiction with it. At the very least, though, the approach to planning should help others who worry that an idea is too big or too small for a short story. In my case, Alexa’s waking hours were spent trying to get back asleep.

Knowing how much you’ll write for each point is a good way to judge how long your story will be. I was aiming for a thousand words – I ended up at 1145 – and knew that anywhere between 5-7 points would be enough to get me there, depending on how much detail I included in each one. I used this approach when planning A Death in the Family, writing down every point of action and the smaller details in new settings that needed to be addressed.

Every month, I’ll have a new short story up, and follow that up with another post like this. With a bit of luck, someone will learn something new about storytelling – that someone might even be me. What’s your approach to storytelling? Do you plan your stories in advance?

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Writing Prompt: Something Old

Traditionally, a bride on her wedding day has with her something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. It’s considered good luck on a wedding day, but it isn’t necessary. Equally, we can consider ourselves lucky as writers to be able to use such a tradition in our writing.

Almost every book you read will have a love story somewhere in its pages. Sometimes it’s unrequited. Sometimes it’s never explored. Sometimes it’s only a subplot between side characters, because the main protagonist is too busy slicing up dragons with an axe made from metals found only in the deepest mines of the Dwarf Kingdom to think about falling in love. But quite often, the love blossoms. And a lot of the time, when love blossoms it leads to marriage.

For the sake of writing for the sake of writing, and not because you’re working on a book, lets imagine that you have a wedding in your book, and whatever the circumstances of it – whether you’re writing something set in space or in a magical realm or, I don’t know, the Bronx – let’s pretend that the characters maintain the tradition of something old, something new, etc.

Even if you aren’t going to write the scene, these questions will help you figure out more about your character-to-be-wed.

  1. What are the items they bring with them up the aisle? (New, Old, Borrowed, Blue.)
  2. Why did they choose those items? What significance do they have for your character? Where did they come from? Who?
  3. What would happen if they couldn’t find one of the four?
  4. Do any of the items have any significance on the plot aside from the wedding?

Depending on the items and the story you’re telling, different items have different importance for the character. (I refuse to say “bride”, because what’s to say that a man in a same-sex relationship isn’t trying to upkeep the tradition?)

The ‘something new’ could be a sign of welcome into a new family, or something to indicate a letting-go of the past. The ‘something old’ could be a family heirloom (another tradition), an old toy or piece of clothing (a reminder of one’s youth), a photograph (a way to bring a loved one down the aisle after they’ve died) – it’s the option that deals with the character’s past most explicitly. The ‘something borrowed’ can be from a friend, a family member, a soon-to-be-in-law, or an important person in your story’s society. The ‘something blue’ is the where you can either surprise a reader (the something blue being incredibly valuable and/or rare) or just use it as a throwaway item (either metaphorically or literally, like a blue bouquet.)

There are other things you can consider about a wedding, if you want to stick to the topic for a while. Is it arranged? Do the couple love each other? Do either of them stand to gain – or lose – something by getting married? What led to the wedding? (Do you need to write about that first?) What will happen after the ceremony? Will they even get to say ‘I Do’?

A wedding is a big deal. How will you write yours?

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How to Write a Haiku

A few years ago, I picked up the habit of writing haiku as a warm up exercise. This was especially useful when I was writing Balor Reborn, because I was trying to write and publish the book in a week. (Spoiler alert, I did it!) I began each writing session by writing a few haiku, usually taking requests for subjects from friends. This meant writing on a few random topics, like jam and coffee, and a lot of them were written as innuendos. Anything to get the writing blood flowing, I guess.

To this day, I still find haiku to be a fun and interesting way to get myself thinking about word choices, and I’ve recently revived my old habit of writing Doctor Haik-Who based on the most recent episode of Doctor Who to air.

But how do you write a haiku? Thankfully, I’ve already written one to explain it.

Take five syllables, then add another seven. Finish with five more

Take five syllables,
Then add another seven.
Finish with five more.

It seems simple when it’s broken down like that, but there are often a few other things to take into consideration. Traditionally, the last sentence of the haiku should provide a twist.

Most relationships
Of boy meets girl gets married
Are not that simple.

I’m not going to say that my own haiku are the best examples out there, but they illustrate the point clear enough. (Pun definitely intended.) Haiku are short and simple in appearance. Usually, they address issues of nature or philosophy, but modern interpretations (read as: Western bastardisation) has loaned itself to dealing with every topic under the sun. As I said before, anything from tea to Doctor Who.

In rainless puddles
Find reflected reflections

And imperfect truths

(That’s a throwback to The Pilot, s10e01.)

In some circles, haiku take on different roles and forms. They’re used to tell stories, to make shapes, to become a new form of art in and of themselves. I used one myself in the promotion of- and original cover for- Balor Reborn back in 2012: a cirku. Designed to be read continuously, at its most natural starting point it still follows the rules of a haiku as far as syllables are concerned: 5-7-5.

A powerful evil
A divided family

An old Irish myth

The rules of haiku make them an interesting challenge in short-form poetry. There’s no need to pull out the rhyming dictionary. There’s no requirement to use flowery language. The focus is on specific word choice based on syllable count, not complexity, and to create something with meaning. Most of the time.

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense

Refrigerator

If you thought I’d end this post seriously, you really missed all the puns. I just wish we knew who wrote the refrigerator piece.

What are your favourite haiku? Do you write any of your own? Leave one in the comments below.

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6000 Words a Day

I registered for Camp NaNoWriMo this year. That was a mistake.

For those who don’t know about it, it’s essentially a set-your-own-target version of National Novel Writing Month. Decide how much you want to write, enter the goal, enter a cabin to compete against friends or strangers, and let the site track your progress. Simple.

It’s not so simple when you do the two things that I did this year: I set myself a target of 80,000 words for April, and I went to a convention at the very start of the month. I was further set back by deciding to write a book that I hadn’t finished/started planning. Whoops.

So, I checked the stats. I checked what I need to do to meet my goal. Rounding up, 6000 words per day for the rest of the month.

Now, unemployment does provide plenty of time to reach that goal. I can totally do that. If I had a story to tell. I still haven’t sat down and planned the book, and so I’m faced with only one other option (aside from absolute failure): write a hella-ton of short stories.

Enter the London Dungeons notebook.

I began using this notebook as a place to write down ideas. Ten a day. That was how I worked it out – though that was more of a coincidence, since I was only able to realistically fit ten short ideas on each page.

Ten ideas a day aren’t always going to be ten good ideas. I might get one or two that I can actually work with. Others end up joining together and creating something new. Some make up a super team of ideas that end up creating a little story universe (as in the case of A Death in the Family, with The Local NecromancerHanging Up the ScytheThe Monochrome Marriage, Swipe Right for Blood LustThe Happy Pear, and The Misfortune Teller all filling in background details to a wider story-world.)

My short stories tend to be about a thousand words. So, I’ve to write 80 of them in the next couple of weeks to “win” Camp NaNoWriMo. Simple, right?

I have a process for writing these things. Bullet-points. I write down the little details of the stories, between 5 and 7 per story. Then it’s a case of fill in the blanks. Characters get created for the sole purpose of telling one story, of making one little detail become known – especially in the wider story-worlds that build up with a few tales.

 

Part of this will be easy. I know that I’ll want to write more stories relating to the paranormal story-world that a lot of my other tales fit into. But there are only so many different types of people and monsters that I can write about in short stories before it becomes uninteresting.

Under creative pressure, diversifying the workload is key. (Except, of course, when I’m writing a book and I use one song as the soundtrack for the entire writing experience.)

I tend to write in a few different genres. I have my paranormal stories. I have my Irish folklore stories. I write some science fiction, and I have a few superhero stories. (I have a LOT of superheroes whose stories haven’t been told, yet.)

I also sometimes use these “short stories” as chapters/scenes for longer stories, so I think I can focus on a few of those in the next couple of weeks. I don’t know how many of these will ever see the light of day. I don’t know if I’ll publish every single one of them – I still have loads from January that I haven’t done anything with – and I don’t know what way that publication would take place. Wrong Side of the Bed was from January and I only posted it on Friday.

But we’ll see.

I have a story arc planned for an English magician. I have a man who loses his wife and then his mind. And I have a bestiary of badness that the lovely folks of my paranormal police force have to deal with on a regular basis.

I don’t recommend anyone attempt this sort of writing challenge. I didn’t even mean to do it to myself. And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try. So, my advice (for myself, as much for anyone else):

1. Plan stories in advance. It’ll be less of a headache that way. You can still surprise yourself when you write.

2. Set aside enough time to finish each story. If it takes forty-five minutes to an hour to write one, and you have an hour and a half to work, don’t assume you’ll definitely finish two.

3. Remember that they’re only first drafts. Don’t edit as you go.

4. Spread your writing time throughout the day, if you need to and you can. Six stories a day is probably a lot for most people. Take it in twos.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail.

6. Back up your work. Seriously. Put your work on a USB. Email it to yourself. Back it up on the cloud. (Google Drive is free, and stories don’t take up a lot of space.) You don’t want the pain of losing a day’s work.

And, most importantly, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams:

7. Don’t panic.

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Wrong Side of the Bed | Flash Fiction

In a worst case scenario, a human can survive up to eleven days without sleep. Alexa could manage two, before exhaustion began to settle in. She had had to travel for half of that time to get home, grateful for the kindness of strangers, and the music festival happening in her town that weekend. She was not planning on attending, but the influx of cars helped make her journey affordable – that is, free – and relatively easy. Even if she had been stuffed into the backseat beside someone who had given up on hygiene two days prior.

Alexa was not happy with her current predicament. Strange things were happening when she slept, things she wasn’t sure she could explain to anyone. She didn’t want to sleep, anymore, but her eyes were drooping shut as the kettle boiled for yet another cup of coffee.

She did not make it to the end of the boil, when she found herself jerking awake.

The problem with Alexa’s new sleeping habit was that it was random and unpredictable, and usually put her in a number of awkward scenarios. At first, she thought that she had been sleep walking, and sought advice on the subject online. But with doors locked, and no sign of leaving on a camera she had had installed in her entranceway, she began to ask more questions.

Specifically, “How am I waking up fifty miles away when my cameras don’t even show me leaving the house?” In this particular instance, however, her question to herself was, “Why can I see the Eifel Tower from the bed of this strange and not-so-alluring Frenchman?”

She sneaked out of the bedroom as quickly as she could. The man was snoring. Someone downstairs was singing poorly and Frenchly, while burning their breakfast. Alexa could not stand foreign languages, bad singing or burnt food, particularly not when she had not make a decision to visit foreign countries.

She knew the solution to her problem, and locked herself in the couple’s bathroom. Lock, in this instance, means closing the door and running the shower, in order to convince each of the other people in the house that their partner was in the room. She sat on the toilet, closed her eyes, and tried to sleep.

It took her a few minutes of trying to get comfortable, which she found was easier when she stopped thinking about the fact that she was in a stranger’s bathroom.

When she opened her eyes, she felt an enormous heat blast her from above. The heat came from the sun, which was less comforting than she thought it might have been, particularly when she found that she was sitting in hot, white sand.

She screamed, her only audience being the wide ocean that spread in every direction. It took her a few minutes to find some shelter from the sun. She wished there was some water nearby, just in case she was stranded for a long time. But this island was less like something out of a TV island survival show, and more like somewhere pirates were marooned to die horribly.

Alexa woke up in a museum. She did not know where, but she liked to look at the paintings. The building appeared to be closed, which didn’t help her with the location. It did give her a certain freedom of movement, however, which she embraced.

The island had been unpleasant. At least the museum would eventually fill with people. Maybe, she thought, a security guard would find her. Feed her. Give her some water. Maybe even arrest her, so she could try ask for help from someone who might be in a position to assist her more permanently.

In the meantime, she stared at the paintings. There was one of a park – Central Park, she realised, and then wondered whether the museum would really receive visitors – that she couldn’t take her eyes off.

It did not take long for Alexa to fall asleep looking at it, the image of it burned into her mind. She thought she might have been losing her mind when she woke up inside the painting. Except, of course, that there were other people with her, wandering through the park with expensive coffees and talking on expensive cell phones.

She knew she could probably get home from here, if she wanted to try. She did not know how long she had slept for, but she knew that she was finding herself less tired and more annoyed. Her sleeping habit was becoming something of a nuisance. People stared at her as they passed by. She escaped the scene for a library, hiding between two shelves on the floor.

She stayed there for an hour before falling asleep.

Alexa almost missed the desert island when she woke up in her mother’s house. “I didn’t hear you come in,” her mother said.

“I just popped by a minute ago,” Alexa replied. Silence. This was, as far as Alexa could tell, the most they had said to each other in three months. “I don’t call you enough,” she said. “Why don’t I call you any more?”

Her mother put her hands on her hips. “You want the list of things I thought it was about?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “A new boyfriend. An old boyfriend. A new job. Your current, terrible job. Drugs, illness, shame, regret, or my cooking.”

Alexa averted her eyes. “Illness is beginning to sound right,” she muttered. Her mother did not hear her. “I’m feeling a bit… I don’t know, unsettled at the moment.” She paused. Her mother was staring at her. “Do you think I could stay in my old room for the night? Home doesn’t feel like home.”

It did not take long for her mother to agree, to hug her, to start crying, or to suggest a hundred different ways to spend the day. Alexa did not realise that it was only early morning. So they baked. They talked about Alexa’s late father. They gossiped about the neighbours. Alexa shined a light on a few of the rumours that had gone around years ago, and which ones turned out to be right. Her mother showed her how to start knitting a scarf.

Counting it in her head, Alexa realised that she had not spent a full day with her mother – and just her mother – in more than fifteen years. She thought about that as she lay down in her old bed, last used regularly when she was getting ready to leave for college. She found a dozen years every summer not to come home.

“Alexa, sweetie, do you want breakfast?” her mother called in the morning. She had to ask twice to wake her daughter up. But, Alexa realised with a smile on her face, that she was still in her old high school bed. Breakfast sounded wonderful.

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Quarterly Review: Jan-Mar 2017

Something I tried a year ago on YouTube was a “quarterly review” video, to look back over the previous three months and examine different areas of my life. That didn’t really pan out. But given the fact that I have the images I used for the video, still, and I’m trying to open back up to the online community, let’s try it again in writing.

I have a lot of books. If I took a “shelfie”, I’d need to take several photos, because my room doesn’t allow me to fit my books in one place. (The curse of an attic room – slanted ceilings!) That said, there aren’t a lot of books jumping out at me that I’ve read over the past three months – none more so than Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis. To explain it simply, it’s about the art of writing comics and graphic novels. I won’t claim Bendis is the best person to teach this stuff, but I’ve enjoyed several books he’s worked on, and I already had the book, so I gave it a shot. At the very least, it provided a good starting point for understanding the process a bit better. I have a couple of other books on the subject that need to be read properly – Making Comics by Scott McCloud and Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels by Peter David – so it comes down to availability and need for each person when they’re choosing which one to read first. Words for Pictures was, in a word, accessible.

Picking one movie out of everything I’ve seen this year so far is difficult. I go to the cinema every week. It’s a tough choice. La La Land is up there as one of the most enjoyable, but I think I preferred Get Out – and Moonlight was technically a better movie. Get Out definitely has the benefit of recency over a lot of the others I’ve seen – John Wick 2 was brilliant – but I think it was also one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time. Dark and funny, with an incredibly strong cast. I’ve been calling it Rich, Old White People are Scary: The Movie since I saw it. So hey, let’s say it was my favourite and pretend that I’m not just forgetting other movies.

This is where things get really tough for me, because I don’t always find new music. On a recurring basis, this one might be impossible to keep up. But this time around, taking a quick look at the most recent additions to my iTunes library, one song stands out: All Good People, as covered by RANGE a cappella. It says a lot to me about the current state of things in the world, and feels very much like a rallying call for being a better person in a better community of awesomeness – the very thing that drew me into the Nerdfighter community years ago. (It also helps that I am 300% obsessed with RANGE at the moment.)

My events this year (at least, from January to March) are sorely limited in scope to three iterations of The Geek Mart. They weren’t always big and exciting. But February. Oh boy February. We had a convention in to sell tickets (Shurikon – they were lovely). That brought a lot of people. We hadn’t had an event that busy in a while. Circumstances always got in the way, but now Dublin City Comics & Collectibles were involved, and Predators Ireland were on the prowl with flyers in the streets. It was probably my best month for sales – at least as far as I can recall – and it made it properly believe that I could do this sort of thing. Maybe not for a living (my sales were good, but I wouldn’t make a living on what I earned even if I did that well every weekend of the year…) but as a start? It was wonderful. And, even aside from the obvious benefits of money (which got put away to pay off my share of my K-Con hotel stay!) it was a fun event for the buzz of excitement that came with all the people. The Geek Mart has been a home-away-from-home for me for a long time, and it felt like it was just waiting for something like the February event to happen.

Okay, so I wrote a fair bit at the start of this year, so I’m actually going to give two answers to this one. My absolute favourite was A Death in the Family. I’ve written about that a lot on this blog lately. I’ve never been happier with a book that I published. But I also had a few short stories that I loved when I wrote them. My two favourites in that category, that I can’t pick between, are The Hat Collector, about a guy who has a hat for every occasion (including a Thinking Cap and a Chef’s Hat), and The Monochrome Marriage (which ties in to The Local Necromancer and A Death in the Family), about a man who kills himself and then his wife. (Yep, you read that right.) I fell in love with the ideas of those short stories, and I feel like A Death in the Family deals most honestly with who I am now. I also love my pitch for it to potential readers: it’s about a guy who gets a job as a Grim Reaper to pay off his parents’ supernatural mortgage.

So, a little late to the game for this one – I’ve already had my first two events for the quarter. But let’s look at the rest. Two more Geek Marts, including OUR BIRTHDAY. An 80,000 word writing target for this month. A comic script to finish for one artist. A comic script to write for another. A book to edit. Articles to pitch. A podcast to start. Videos to record and edit. A documentary to edit. A blog to revive. They look like little things when they’re put down on paper like that, but it all screams to me as a lot of work. So there’s the other thing: take care of myself. I know how I get when I give myself too much to do, and it’s only become apparent in the last few months how much is too much for me to handle in an out-of-work environment.

So I’ll take it somewhat easy. I’ll focus on one thing at a time. This month, the book edits and some writing. I’ll take on some of the work for the documentary. I’ll plan articles, and send off pitches every week. I have to, to start doing something to look after the other parts of me that can so easily be ignored (like the desire to do well professionally.) We’ll have our birthday party in May for the Geek Mart. And by then, hopefully, I’ll have made a change in my life that means something more than words getting lost online.

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K-Con

K-Con was a weekend of firsts. First time travelling across the country to spend a weekend with friends. First time behind a table at a convention. First time an under-performance in sales wasn’t totally depressing. There’s a lot to talk about. And it starts with a journey to set up a table.

There were a few hours of panic on the Friday immediately before the convention, when the Bus Eireann strike in Ireland suddenly Irish Rail and Dublin Bus. This was an issue, given we were all planning on getting the train down to Kerry. Thankfully, three of the people I was bunking with for the weekend were able to drive down, another got a coach, and I was picked up by the very lovely Jason Browne and his partner from my house. A five hour drive later, we were there… with barely enough time to set up. I have a lot of experience in setting up my table. I finished in ten minutes. A dinner and a couple of drinks later, we were in bed for Day 1 of K-Con.

Missing from photo: fancy hat

Completely out of the hands of the organisers, the convention itself was very quiet. A lot of it can be blamed on transport strikes. It was also a new convention, in a town that lives on country rock music.

It’s just as well, then, that there were still a lot of awesome people on the scene over the weekend. The lovely Meg, AKA Without a Stitch, was sharing our apartment over the weekend in Kerry, so we go to witness her putting together her amazing 18th century Peggy Carter cosplay. I won’t lie: I audibly squealed when she showed up on Saturday. And that was after seeing her finishing up the hat and ironing the dress the night before.

I was also joined at my table by one of the lovely members of the Dublin 2019 team, who were busy giving away free books downstairs. (And she even bought a book, which was awesome!)

The weekend was filled with people like her, enthusiastic about the event and up for a chat at the table. We met a few wonderful kids over the Saturday and Sunday, from the cutest little fan of Supergirl and the Flash, to a couple of young comic creators who Tracy introduced to one another.

Seeking the full convention experience, we gave Saturday night to the Cosplay Ball. Myself, Gareth Luby and Tracy Sayers headed down together, to meet up with Meg and a few others we knew were heading out for the evening. Things got… interesting.

(Psst, there’s a video that won’t embed properly…but here it is.)

We can’t explain the horseman, but we did appreciate his sudden appearance on the dance floor.

A big shout-out has to go to Tina, who was the driving force behind the organisation of the ball. She put together the prom-photo display on the day, and made sure to mingle as much as possible.

She was one of the reasons I was able to get so involved in the comic community a couple of years ago, too. I met her in person by complete chance the day before my Masters’ orientations day in 2014, and she was the first person I interviewed for the documentary I was making for my thesis, along with her partner Stephen. She secured my group press passes for Dublin Comic Con in 2015, and that was the final push I needed to throw myself headfirst into this community.

After a long night, we prepared for Day 2 of K-Con.

And boy-oh-boy was I tired. I like to think that the expression I’m wearing in the selfie I took is part exhaustion, part excitement. In reality, it was mostly exhaustion. In a complete turnaround from my stand-all-day attitude on Saturday, I sat for most of Sunday.

It was quiet. Very quiet. Apparently there was also a Kerry GAA match on, so we knew better than to get our hopes up. We just had the chats, spent time with each other, and took a look at what other artists were selling. (I avoided heading downstairs to the Trading Hall, because I knew I’d only want something.) I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone who picked up a copy of any of my books over the weekend, especially A Death in the Family – I was so ridiculously excited about that book, so it meant a lot that people were picking it up.

We were interviewed by Geek Ireland during the day – I’m hopeful we’ll see that video soon, and that I didn’t babble too much! – and spent a lot of the rest of the time watching Gareth work on his commissions.

Most of Gareth’s commissions for the weekend were done on blank variant comics – proper comic on the inside, but an otherwise blank cover. He was colouring them with Copics, which meant watching him blend the colours together for a while.

Gareth’s art really picked up a lot since I first met him in 2015. I have a commission from that day, and the difference in his work over an 18-month period is astonishing. Other people seemed to agree, with him receiving more commissions than he could possibly complete in the weekend (thankfully, Tracy had already thought of that and began taking postal bookings!)

Now, obviously there’s some bias in how I look at Gareth’s artwork, because he’s a friend of mine. But you can see it for yourself. He’s posted a couple of his more recent commissions on his Facebook page – and if you’re reading this early enough, you can still get one at a reduced rate – including the wonderful commission of Supergirl and Flash dancing.

Spending the weekend with my friends really made K-Con something special. The past few months haven’t been the easiest, with a less-than-successful job hunt to occupy my subconscious, so it was nice to be able to unwind with them, both behind the tables and back at our apartment. We played Cards Against Humanity and watched movies, and I had to deal with Gareth’s scare-tactics to help me get rid of the hiccups I’d beaten almost instantly. We stayed up talking until late at night.

Every story has to end, of course. Every weekend rolls into Monday, and like thousands of travellers before us, our road led us through Moneygall for a pit-stop.

It was a full and exhausting weekend – and I don’t envy Gareth the drive to-and-from Kerry – and while the sales were the best, it was still one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. And that’s what conventions are supposed to be about. There’s so much focus on money, and whose cosplay is the best, and the drama between attendees in this small community of ours, that sometimes it can be hard to remember why they’re worth such a massive undertaking. But there are always friends to be found, and good times to be shared, games to be played and memories to be made.

Next stop:  The Geek Mart.

 

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