Queuing, Coffee and Stories of Ugly Babies: Seeing Maggie Steifvater at YALC 2016

So I might have mentioned I went to the Young Adult Literature Convention. Here is a brief summary of my day.

The Working Toilet Search

I came into town on the Liverpool Street line, which is a) shittier than the Fenchurch Street line and b) obliged on Sundays to stop at every station in east London between Shenfield and Stratford. I necked a coffee somewhere around Rayleigh and by Billericay was thinking ‘yeah this carriage could really use a toilet’. By Stratford I was actually going to die so I hopped off in search of one. The only facilities in the entirety of Stratford station, as far as I could see, were out of order – so I made a quick detour to Westfield. Pro tip: Westfield is a ghost mall at 8:30am on a Sunday. Go then.

Why is Everyone So Quiet?

I clocked in just after ten – too late to muscle in on the first event I’d bookmarked, too early to spend all my money – so I got another coffee and sussed out where the fire exits were.

Which was easy to do

Because it was almost deathly quiet

Because everyone who wasn’t a vendor and probably some of the vendors

Was reading The Cursed Child

Which I had forgotten about

Because I am broke and try not to dwell on the things I can’t buy yet. Spoiler: it turned out I wasn’t too broke to buy an illustrated Philosopher’s Stone that was on sale. So I don’t know what past me was thinking, but she was a plonker not to reserve a copy. Pro tip: make sure you have money for Potter-related purchases. Another pro tip: cons are supposed to be buzzing. People in a group reading is wonderfully quiet and stupefying. YALC might be the only con in the world where stupefying is better. Go to it.

Agent Arena Publishing 102: God Exists

There’s quite a large part of my soul that belongs to the book industry, and the Agent Arena talk on publishing filled that part of my soul with hope that I might be able to work in it one day. Could I work in publicity? Maybe. Could I work in editorial? Maybe. Could I work in foreign rights? Probably not, because my grasp of foreign languages is shite. Pro tip: sit up the front because whoever designed Kensington Olympia forgot that sometimes small groups convene and like to hear one another.

Why the Fuck is there No Food Here

See Stories from the Bathroom Floor for why a packet of crisps  and a pot of melon three hours apart does not constitute an acceptable meal. In the end I found the food court at the main London Film and Comic Con (which looks way more chill than MCM, for the record) and scarfed a baked potato. Pro tip: bring more snacks than you think you’ll ever need. Especially if there’s a chance you’ll join a queue.

London Film and Comic Con Kensington Olympia
There’s more light at LFCC than I remember MCM having.

The Queue for Maggie in Conversation

Around about the time I was exploring the fire exits, people turned up. I turned a corner and oh, shit, there’s a fucking large queue to see Maggie Stiefvater in conversation. I should mention at this point that I went to YALC by myself, not expecting to see anyone I knew. I met a lot of people at various points, from bloggers and readers to agents. I completely forgot to ask names and swap Instas. So if you met someone wearing Blue Sargent dungarees and hair that vaguely resembled the bisexual pride flag, leave a comment. Pro tip: if I looked like I wanted to kill someone, that’s my normal face.

Maggie in Conversation

Some of you may yet see Maggie on tour, so I’ll let her tell you the story of the broken sunglasses. And the story of setting John Green on fire. And the story of her child vomiting on a long haul flight. Pro tip: there are no Raven King spoilers.

The Queue for the Queue for Maggie’s Signing

Only in Britain would you be made to queue for tickets that determine your place in another queue. Pro tip: get in there before number 238 of 250 if you want more than one book signed.

Queuing is really just like waiting for a gate to open in an airport, ie after a while you forget why you’re there

‘Come back in an hour.’ I did another round of exploring. I sourced a pot of melon. Then I sourced a baked potato. Numbers zero to 20 had become numbers zero to 40. ‘Come back in another hour.’ I made two phone calls. I took a photograph.

queuing for Maggie Stiefvater at YALC 2016

 

I discovered that my bag made a great pillow. I wrote some notes. I reflected that the last time I queued sitting down was the last time I saw Mindless. I missed seeing Mindless. Pro tip: bring friends to talk to for this bit, or learn to chat. 

Actually Meeting Maggie

It was 5:55pm. The con was closing. The queue was urgently shuffled forward. My number was called. I met a girl named Lizzie who had brought a notebook for autographs. I gave a lady my phone to take photographs. I gave another lady my book with my name on a Post It. A girl in front said ‘please pronounce the name of the boys’ school.’

‘Aglionby,’ Maggie said. Pro tip: she pronounces the G. 

The other lady gave Maggie my book, plus Post It.

Once upon a time an interviewer asked Gerard Way what fans usually said when they met him. ‘They usually just say thank you,’ he said.

‘Thank you,’ I said.

Then I said, ‘my dad told me to offer you his car.’ Then I said, ‘it doesn’t have a clutch.’

IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. I MEANT THAT IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. Also it is a Mustang and was either born in Texas or assembled there.

‘What colour is it?’ she asked.

‘Red.’ Officially I think it’s called something like “Midlife Crisis Ruby Metallic”.

‘Tell him to paint it black, lower it an inch and a half, and then we’ll talk.’

Meeting Maggie Stiefvater at YALC 2016

I have told him, but it’s probably a good thing that she has a no-driving-readers’ cars policy. Southend Borough Council dislikes paying out for road maintenance when the cause is drag racing down the seafront. Pro tip: they usually catch you drag racing down the seafront and moan about you in the paper. (No, that’s not a confession. I don’t think my Micra could drag race. I will wait until the Mustang is unattended.)

Then I hobbled back to the Liverpool Street line (my blisters actually have blisters), did a lil bit of Instagram bragging and thought that I might, like, go to Venezuela.

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YALC feat. my hair

Remind me to never ask you guys’ opinion ever again.

Moving swiftly on.

Question: who’s going to YALC this Sunday?

Answer: me.

I’ll be signing autographs at 2pm. Look for pink/blue/purple/still mostly brown hair if you want to say hi, because I’ll be the one wearing it. I’ll also be clutching my copy of The Raven King to present to Maggie Stiefvater. It’s dogeared already because I sometimes read it in the bath. If you say hi, do not mention the bath. Compliment my dungarees or whatever I’ll be wearing to deal with the weather (could be a ski jacket by this weekend, who knows).

I have to go back to my quarter-life crisis now, which today has been exacerbated by Horrific 2016-Worthy News StoriesTM and half an hour counting the float for my craft fair on Saturday which I didn’t even need to do because I did it after the last fair. I also booked my drivers’ theory test yesterday for very soon and I’m just starting to comprehend that a) it’s very soon and b) my knowledge of road signs and motorway etiquette is almost as bad as my knowledge of when it’s okay to go at a roundabout.

I suppose that when I pass both tests I’ll be able to drive away from the crises.

Crowdfunding Market Research (aka please have a read and answer)

I’ve been doing up my Patreon lately (still no video because every time I’ve got a minute to make one, I realise I don’t have a minute to make one) but I’ve tidied up my goals and rewards, and I was wondering if you guys could be a lil focus group?

Rewards

Let’s start with the fun bit. I’m offering things that you won’t just get from following me on Twitter – though you can hey hey – like actual handwritten letters and postcards and General Free Shit. You can see your name on the sidebar of this very website and in the thank you notes of every book I write (which will happen, I’m just too superstitious to say any more) too. But I’ve had my Patreon open with various rewards for over a year and have thus far attracted zero beans of investment. That could be because I don’t have a lot of work to show apart from here and a handful of publications – I told you, I’m working on it – or it could be because no one cares about receiving cute mail. So, were you to pledge me a dollar or five or ten a month, what would you want in return?

Goals

#1: Blog Upkeep

Francesca's Patreon Goal 1 THE BLOGS

Aside from domain expenses, I would love dearly to have the money to rid my sites of AdWords completely – but at the moment there’s a chance they could earn me $100 so I’m leaving them up and will use the earnings to pay to get rid of all ads for as long as I can afford. I’ve had AdWords on Indifferent Ignorance since 2012, mind you, and have so far clocked up the grand sum of $15. WordPress won’t pay out until it reaches $100, so unless people get clicking with enthusiasm, having a goal on Patreon is the smarter option. Or is it a bit of a naff goal?

#2 & #3: Health Upkeep 

My other two goals are set predominantly for my mental health. My biggest expenses over the year are train tickets, research costs like entrance fees into places I can’t talk about because I don’t want to give my projects away (patience darlings), accountancy fees and software updates. I also work from home and although it’s fun – dogs are on hand, coffee is there, I can blast CDs – it’s causing massive problems with my family. The way things stand, I have to either quit freelancing and get a ‘real’ job (not my word but don’t get me started) or ask you guys for help to research my work properly, rent office space and take some courses to ultimately progress onto what is deemed a real job.

Francesca's Patreon Goal 2

I have my eye on a really nice shared space in Southend, but the cheapest rent is £100 pre-VAT at three months’ minimum use. I could manage it by myself if I replaced all my business cards with handwritten slips, traded my computer for a typewriter and took a pay cut… Well I could manage it if I took a pay cut, but I’m so far under any type of average earnings threshold that I’m surprised inland revenue haven’t come knocking to check I don’t have a spare bank account in Panama.

Francesca's Patreon Goal 3 THE MOON

I don’t think the goals I’ve set are unreasonable – there are creators on the site looking for a thousand dollars plus towards recording equipment or studios – but they might not be all that interesting?

I’m not expecting to earn a grand a month from the general public, and every dollar I received would go toward work. You guys would be contributing to everything I make even more than you already do, with the added bonus that I could focus my actual wages toward moving out of my mum’s before our relationship deteriorates completely.

So what do you think? Do you see Patreon as an interactive tip jar, or would you consider pledging double figures to my work? Do you have an ideas for rewards? What would you like to see me make? Do you think I should just pack in everything for a real job?

Tell me all.

Quick Quick the Sun’s Out

I wrote an excellent blog yesterday that turned out to be more excellent if I split the subjects into three, so I’ve got three drafts in my dashboard and now I think about it I think they all need work. So this is a new and slightly rushed attempt to fulfil my imaginary weekly post quota.

Who has been basking in the heatwave?

Who has been sheltering from the elements in rooms with air conditioning?

I’ve been doing the former because my Mediterranean genes show themselves in two ways: when I’m angry I make a lot of noise, and when the weather is good I feel a thousand times happier and have a siesta. My bones are humming in contentment right now, and I’ve caught the sun enough that I’ve stopped looking like someone coloured me in with the milky tea-coloured crayon.

I don’t think that’s a real crayon, but Crayola, if you’re reading, that wasn’t a hint.

I might have to go and do Headspace in the garden for maximum sunshine use, since it will probably rain tomorrow. If anyone knows how to bottle sunlight, let me know. How cool would it be to carry a little vial of sunlight around with you? On those days when it’s grey and drizzling, you could unscrew it a little and absorb some vitamin D. It could be a preventative measure in the fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Sleeping Pigs from goldenstories.tumblr.com
from goldenstories.tumblr.com

The lil pigs are me and the dogs. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a patio calling.

Run, Run, Bunny, Run

Morning.

On Monday I bought some trainers. I wasn’t in the market for trainers. Well, I’ve had my old ones for about eight years and they no longer fulfil their function as shoes, so I was keeping my eyes open – and these were sat in the bargain basket in Aldi, cheap but not shitty (a venn diagram game I don’t usually win at). So there went some of my emergency cash.

The trainers are specifically running trainers.

So I’m going to learn to run.

Or at least walk quickly. I won’t be partaking in any marathons, thank you very much. But I have so far done one run around the block and although my body thinks it’s 11pm, not 11am,  I am feeling VERY SMUG. Partly because I’ve raised my heart rate without entering a gym, partly because I really do feel better for it, partly because I did something I said I would do. I don’t think I’m going to start watching the Diamond League or buying fancy socks, I don’t think I’ll go every day or even every other day… I do think I’ll probably put a knee out by accident, because I haven’t physically run since I got a text that The Raven King was in Waterstones half an hour before the shops closed, and the last time I ran before that was probably year nine PE. Which wasn’t really exercise in so far as the only muscles I used were my eyebrows, every time the teachers claimed we should be enjoying ourselves.

Shocked Dog from corgianddachshund.tumblr.com
This is how I looked when I stepped out the door and realised I’d committed to exercising in broad daylight. from corgianddachshund.tumblr.com.

You’ll know if I keep it up, because I’ll add ‘funds to buy muscle cream’ to my Patreon. Right, I need another coffee.

5 Things You Didn’t Know the British Museum Would Make a Video About

Sometimes – often – my day job isn’t the most mentally stimulating or lighthearted. It frequently involves spreadsheets, social media scheduling apps and twelve tabs, one of which is my bank account. On these occasions I find my own entertainment in the form of podcasts, YouTube playlists and throwing pencils.

Sometimes the entertainment finds me.

I came across this while researching the British Museum for a blog.

And now we’ve all learnt something. You’re welcome.

Check Out the Ace Dental Work

Happy birthday America. Let’s just say that I will always be more inclined to say that than I will to celebrate 23rd June.

So this weekend my big-ish little brother  aged substantially and to celebrate I bought him an poo-shaped emoji cushion and a poker set (the former because I thought of him when I saw it, the latter because… I thought of him when I saw it). Now he can legally gamble his way through life, as opposed to playing monopoly with anyone who hasn’t figured out how much he cheats yet. It has just occurred to me that if one of us kills the other, we’re both now completely responsible for our actions and will both go to big scary adult prisons, so on that note I’m going to go and eat leftover party food and reminisce the days I thought he’d never be taller than me. Here is a terrible selfie indicating how much we could both use a haircut.

terrible selfie

But seriously, we owe our parents for taking us to the dentist.