23 & 24 August 2018


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European Lesfic Literary Conference

My First Con



                     A Newbies Tale

                         Valden Bush


Are you thinking of coming to something like ELLCon 2018, and wondering what happens at these events? Does the idea of attending a Con on your own daunt you? Worry no more –  I attended the Diva Literary Festival on my own, and wrote this article to highlight the highs and lows of flying solo at a Con.

So how did a Lesfic Con virgin survive her first outing into the lesfic world? I think I will be fangirling for the next twenty years!  If I had to summarise the event in one word –  awesome!

I only discovered lesfic a couple of years ago. Being a voracious reader  has been a real bonus – it has helped me catch up to everyone else with my reading. When I saw the DIVA event advertised I knew I had to go, I was really curious. But my wife is very private and didn’t want to attend. It was a really big decision, but the thought of being surrounded by books and authors for a whole weekend was really exciting, and I kept wanting to be there. After some deliberation, my wife & I decided that I would go solo.

Early on I made the choice to stay at the venue, to reducing the worry of getting to and from the event. I also decided that I would not attend the evening events, because I didn’t have enough confidence to do that on my own. (please see the item at the end of the article on the EllCon Buddy Scheme).

On the day, I arrived at the Festival a little early, registered and got myself a coffee. This allowed me time to read the programme, and get my bearings. It was a really good decision, as it gave me time to ‘acclimatise’.

Then I saw Jen Silver in the distance, I recognised her from her blog. I have read all her books and to see her in the distance was the first of my ‘eek!’ moments. I later plucked up courage to speak to her, and felt as if all my words were trying to get out of my mouth at once. I only hoped that I wasn’t speaking too much garbage. It’s only after the event, I realised that I didn’t tell her that I had read all her books!

There were a number of panels/workshops/films running in parallel, and one of these was always much larger, catering for about 200 people. This had the panels miked up, and the audience asking questions via a microphone.

Once the welcome speeches were over I headed to my first panel, and suddenly had Andrea Bramhall, Wendy Hudson, AL Brooks and G Benson in front of me. More ‘eek!’ moments. It was an intimate panel, holding about 40 people and very informal. We were encouraged to ask questions if we wanted.

I attended one or two of the bigger panels, but mostly stuck to the smaller ones. There were a number of book stalls set up, and somewhere to buy food and drink, so I was really happy to just sit, or wander, between events.

In the morning, I  attended panels with I Beacham, Helen Davis, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows. In the afternoon, I was able to hear readings from Cari Hunter, Michelle Grubb, Suzanne Egerton and Jenn Silver. Most of the panelists read excerpts, and discussed their books, and a variety of lesfic topics.

My biggest Eek! momement of the Con was when  I  spotted Harper Bliss and Her Mrs. I have listened to their podcasts for a long while, and plucked up enough courage to fangirl to them about it. But once again I didn’t mention a single one of Harper’s books that I had read!

There were a number of people, like me, on their own. We kept passing each other, and I tried to be very good and introduce myself. Everyone was very friendly, and I was comfortable being on my own at the panels and and while having coffee. I did find it difficult at the end of the first day, when I wanted to have a drink in the bar, and didn’t know anyone. Jen Silver and her wife came to my rescue.

There were also interview panels with Kiki Archer, Clare Lydon and Clare Ashton which I missed ☹, but I couldn’t attend everything! I know I am name dropping, but the authors were there and available to talk to. This gave me the opportunity to speak to Clare Lydon and Clare Ashton.

By the time I spoke to Clare Ashton I had even managed to get enough confidence to think of books to mention! I talked about After Mrs Hamilton and Poppy Jenkins and she was happy to share her thoughts with me. All the authors were wandering around the event, and looking at authors books, or sitting drinking coffee just as I was. They also signed copies of their own books for readers.

In summary, it was well worth attending and getting to both see and meet all those authors whose books I really enjoy. I loved my Eek! moments, even having a mouth full of rushing words coming out at all at once. It is invigorating for both authors and readers to find that passion and enthusiasm. If you get the chance you should do it!

I (Valden) am co-ordinating the ELLCon 2018 Buddy Scheme. If you have never been to a Con before, and are coming either as a couple, or alone and would like to have a light touch Buddy or two then please have a look at our buddy scheme announcement on the website.  Please don’t let attending solo stop you – we will endeavour to make you feel very welcome at the Con.