Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Hugos thoughts and some Split Worlds news

By Emma on August 26, 2014

Even though I wrote a post about Nine Worlds and Worldcon last week, I wanted to write a little something about my experience at the Hugos.

Tea and Jeopardy was nominated in the Best Fancast category and I still couldn’t quite believe it right up until I collected my pack at registration and found the tiny silver rocket pin inside.

Seriously, I never, ever thought I would get one of those! I spent the next four days worrying I was going to lose it in the Excel centre.

I was so busy at Worldcon that I barely had a chance to get really nervous until the day of the awards. There was a rehearsal in the afternoon in which we were shown where to get up on the stage if we won, where to stand for the photo and how to hold the Hugo without breaking it and/or looking like we were doing something… inappropriate.

I must admit that when we were shown where to stand after being given the award I started to lose it. I looked out at the auditorium and saw hundreds and hundreds of seats. I imagined people sitting in them, looking at me. I imagined the flash of cameras. I started to shake. A lot.

We were shown where to go backstage and then how to dismantle the Hugo for travel. By that point I was barely holding myself together. Once the briefing was over I changed out of the shoes I was practising in and then totally lost it.

Reader, I ugly cried.

It was simply too much. The prospect of being up on that stage was too terrifying to bear. I shifted from wanting to win so badly, to hoping we didn’t so I wouldn’t have to go up there! And can I just say that Mary Robinette Kowal is an amazing person to have around if you’re imploding? She knew exactly what to say and is just a gorgeous human being.

The outfit I made for the Hugos. This was taken by Annie at 2am - we looked tidier at the start.

The outfit I made for the Hugos. This was taken by Annie at 2am – we looked tidier at the start.

A couple of hours of sewing my outfit, reassurance from my husband (and co-nominee!) and mental preparation in my room got me over the tearful stage and by the time the pre-ceremony reception was in full swing I actually got to the point when I could enjoy it. Perhaps the glass of wine was a factor. Either way I had a magical moment outside of the reception with my dear friend Adam Christopher when we both stepped back and went “Whoa! This is cool!” before plunging back into it.

Then we were escorted to our seats and I had the strangest experience of seeing a huge version of my current author pic being shown on the screen in the auditorium. And people cheered when it was shown! Blimey!

Luckily our category was quite early on in the running order and I was so delighted when SF Signal won, for two reasons: 1: They really deserved it after so many years of hard work and 2: I didn’t have to go up on that stage and have pictures taken of me! YAY!

I really enjoyed the rest of the evening, mostly because none of the bigots managed to game the system enough to win. No, more than that; because the vote was a clear message that we are moving towards an inclusive future for our community.

As I said that night and the morning after; I felt proud of my community. I felt part of it. And I felt I could not love it more.

But we need to stay vigilant. History shows us – again and again – that without continued efforts, things slide backwards again. Let’s build on this; there’s still a long way to go.

The ‘some Split Worlds news’ part

I had a reading slot on the morning of the Hugos and my goodness, some of that anxiety leaked into it! I made an announcement there that I want to share here too:

I will be Kickstarting the 4th Split Worlds novel!

I plan to launch a campaign to fund the production of the fourth Split Worlds novel in mid-September. I can’t keep this book cooped up in my head any longer! I will obviously reveal more closer to the time, I just wanted to let the people who were hoping that there is going to be one and that I am going to do all I can to make sure it makes it out into the world in the best shape possible. And for me, that means raising funds to pay for a professional team including Sarah J. Coleman who designed the beautiful covers for the first three books.

Scary stuff! Exciting times!

Oh! Speaking of exciting; I am delighted to be able to announce that I will be one of the Guests of Honour at Octocon 2015 (The national Irish science fiction convention) which will be held in Dublin. YAY!

Tea and Jeopardy Episode 24 – A Chat with Ramez Naam

By Emma on August 24, 2014

Tea and JeopardyThe twenty-fourth episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode, the quite frighteningly clever (but absolutely lovely) author Ramez Naam is invited into the secret tea lair. We talk about what Mez didn’t do whilst working for Microsoft, how science may help us to solve the world’s problems (and those which it can’t) and Hollywood science.

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.

Nine Worlds and Loncon 3

By Emma on August 22, 2014

When I’m at conventions I am so fully immersed it takes me a long time to be able to order my thoughts well enough for a blog post. Sometimes I never get round to writing about the particularly intense cons because there’s simply too much trying to get out of the narrow funnel from my brain to my fingers. As I said to a friend earlier, trying to write about Nine Worlds and Loncon 3 back to back is like trying to stuff a pillow down the nib of a pen.

By the same token I never take pictures whilst I’m there; it never occurs to me. I’m in it, not watching through a lens. I suppose I’m saying: the following account will be imperfect in the extreme and I wish I had more pictures to illustrate.

We’ve just had two conventions back to back and straddling the two I had another kidney infection. The first was Nine Worlds and the second was Loncon 3 (Worldcon) and they were both amazing.

Nine Worlds

I came down with the kidney infection on the first full day of the con, so my partying and ability to just sit and absorb the con and attend panels was severely curtailed. I managed to meet all of my commitments (panels and tea dates) but very little else.

However, I was present enough to be filled with a passionate love for the space that the creators of Nine Worlds have created. I felt safer there than at any other convention of that size and larger I’ve been to. And I’m not just talking about safe from harassment, I’m talking about the sense of being held gently, of being in a place where not only I felt safe but others too – people I rarely see at other cons. There was greater diversity, a younger crowd and – most importantly for me – a vast array of gender fluidity that was being celebrated and enjoyed in a way I’ve never seen before. Seriously, I want to live in that world all the time; a world where people are feeling safe enough to express who they are in a way that’s impossible in the current society we live in.

On the Saturday night when I had to retire to my room and bemoan the dreadful state of my kidneys I felt tearful when I thought about how beautiful that space was. I want to publicly laud Dan, Ludi and Erich and everyone else who have made Nine Worlds into one of the most important dates on the annual convention circuit. I will be there next year, and every year it’s on, if I possibly can be.

Loncon 3

Still on antibiotics and with that unmistakable ache in my lower back, we arrived in London for my third Worldcon.

Honestly, it was incredible. And now I want to gush about a million details but if I did we’d be here all day and I doubt it would be as exciting for you! Suffice to say that it was the first Worldcon at which I felt not only actively welcomed, but genuinely part of a bigger community. I think I have to devote an entire other post to the Hugos and just how special and important that night was to me.

Something I do want to talk about right now is the generosity of people I met – most for the first time – at these two cons. For the first time in my life I was given gifts by people who love what I create (we, in the case of Tea and Jeopardy) and, quite frankly, the written word – nay, the spoken word too! – is (are?) simply unable to capture how thrilling that is.

Let me share them with you.

First up, the lovely Ron Davis created a crest for the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup (people who support Tea and Jeopardy through Patreon). In fact, he created two so we could pick our favourite!

A lovely lady called Laura (@Lbebeard) made us a bag full of little Keep Calm and Drink Tea & Keep Calm and Eat Cake badges for the newbies we held a tea meet-up for at Nine Worlds. I gave the few that were left to those who came to my Kaffeklatsch at Worldcon, Laura, I hope you don’t mind! They were just too sweet to be left in a bag unloved.

Actually, I need to give a really big thank you to the lovely people who helped me look after the Nine Worlds newbies, including Andy Piper, Annie Tchaikovsky, Steven Ellis and Marcus Gipps.

Then M Horst gave us a special blend of tea from Chateau Beeblebrox with this splendid description on the label: “This fine white tea is guaranteed to turn completely black in the presence of even mild peril“!

I met up with the very splendid Jane Hanmer (@pipsytip) who crocheted a Loki for me. LOOK AT THIS DARLING!



At Worldcon the very lovely Jeff Wooliscroft (who was at my very first book launch in the whole world for From Dark Places in Bristol) brought me a teapot.

A TEAPOT WITH A TEACUP AND BISCUIT FOR A LID! IT’S JUST SO META. Here is a picture for you to admire and covet it.

Then a lovely lady called Felicia who is a friend of the also lovely Paul Weimer gave me this beautiful crystal teapot charm. Isn’t it gorgeous?

crystal teapot

Speaking of Paul, he took a picture of me on the Iron Throne. I’ve been resisting its lure for over two years now and finally caved when someone said “Red Queen” to me. I was trying very hard to be evil which is surprisingly hard when in a huge room full of happy geeks.

I would be a benevolent queen. If you brought me tea and cake regularly.

I would be a benevolent queen. If you brought me tea and cake regularly.

Thanks to the Loncon3 organisers for a fantastic event and to all the people who made me feel welcome. There is so much I haven’t talked about here (surviving I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue being one of them) but suffice to say it was the most amazing Worldcon I’ve experienced yet. Stay gorgeous, SFF fandom.

Final schedules for Nine Worlds and Loncon 3

By Emma on July 30, 2014

The final schedules for both Nine Worlds and Loncon are in and I’m delighted to say that there are some additions!

At Nine Worlds I am now looking after newbies and at Loncon I also have a kaffeklatsch, a reading and a signing session, as well as all the other things – blimey! I’m working on my tea schedule for those of you who would like to have a cuppa with me and I’ll be in touch soon.

A couple of notes for people going to Loncon:

I am planning to combine my kaffeklatsch with an informal Tea and Jeopardy meet up, so if you’re a fan of the show, it’s probably the easiest way to have tea and cake with myself and Latimer (who is really Peter Newman and will be there with me).

If you’re a Split Worlds fan, come to my reading on Sunday at Loncon if you can, as I will be making a special announcement there. 

Nine Worlds Geekfest 8-10th August, London https://nineworlds.co.uk/

Nine Worlds Newbies Meetup
11.30am – 1.00pm, Bijou Bar, Friday and Saturday
New to Nine Worlds? New to the convention world in general? Some folks find that meeting some friendly faces can help them a whole lot in feeling secure and settled in. Join experienced con-goer and anxiety-wrangler Emma Newman for a relaxed cuppa and a chat with other nervous newbies. All are very welcome!

Finding Your Voice
Friday 10.00am – 11.15am, Royal A
Whether you want to find out more about podcasting in general, or you’re thinking of starting your own podcast and want to peel back the skin and see what lies beneath, then this panel will be a great place to start. Join both seasoned and new podcasters as they discuss topics such as how to decide what your podcast will be about, who will be your audience, and how do you find, grow and, most importantly, keep that audience?
Speakers: Dave Probert, Emma Newman, Michaela Gray, AL Johnson

The Power of New Media
Sunday 11.45am – 1.00pm
This interactive roundtable panel follows on from Saturday’s talk about new media. Four podcasters will discuss and explore with the audience the growing power of new media and the rise of the everyman journalist.
Speakers: Barry Nugent, Emma Newman, Stephen Aryan, Scott Grandison

Loncon 3, 14th-18th August, London (Worldcon) http://www.loncon3.org/

Thursday 14:00 – 15:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)

I’m given to understand that this is a chance to have a nice cup of tea/coffee with someone. I am going to bring cake too, because it would be rude not to, quite frankly. This will also be an informal Tea and Jeopardy meet-up as Pete Newman (who plays Latimer and co-writes it with me) will also be there.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue
Thursday 22:00 – 23:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

The antidote to panel-games.
Two teams of fans/authors enjoy a battle of wits, and are given silly things to do by their chairman, Lee Harris.
Games include: One Song to the Tune of Another, Sound Charades and Mornington Crescent.
Lee Harris (M), Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Emma Newman

Social Media and New Authors
Friday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

In an age when publishers increasingly expect authors to market themselves online and at a time when Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook make the interaction between creators and readers much easier and faster, what should new (and old) authors learn about the emerging rules of engagement? How can you market yourself without becoming notorious for the wrong reasons? Is it ever a good idea to respond to a review? What conversations should you never, ever get into?

Wesley Chu (M), Julie Crisp, Max Gladstone, Emma Newman, Danie Ware

Medieval Languages and Distant Vistas: Using The Past in Games
Friday 20:00 – 21:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Although we might not notice it, history plays a huge part in modern gaming. Not only historical games such as Medieval War, but worlds created using our perspective of ‘historical times’, fantasy landscapes where the people speak with odd, archaic accents or cast spells created in ancient tongues. Why is history so important to games, and how is it used? Should we take more historical care in the way we present these people, places and tongues, and what sort of potential does the recreation of the past have for gaming worlds?

Michael J. Martinez (M), Emma Newman, Ada Palmer, Mel Phillips, Lauren M. Roy, James Swallow

Welcome Party
Friday 21:00 – 23:00, Fanac Tent (ExCeL)

If this is your first convention, or you’re just a bit worried about coming to such a big event, come along to our introductory mixer, where our hosts will find out what you want from Loncon and what your genre favourites are, answer your questions, and introduce you to fellow newbies. Come and start your convention here, and make some new friends.

Paul Cornell (M), Adam Christopher, Emma Newman, Gareth L Powell, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Fear and Writing workshop led by Emma Newman
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, South Gallery Pgm Room (ExCeL)

Are you struggling to write the first draft of your novel? Are you researching endlessly but not actually writing the book? Have you had a book in your head for years but been unable to start it? Do you have a drawer full of unfinished stories and manuscripts?
If so, I might be able to help. I’m running a workshop designed to help you explore the reasons why you’re not getting that book written with practical tasks designed to help you start and finish that manuscript lurking at the back of your mind.

Autographing session
Saturday 13:30 – 15:00, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

If you would like me to deface copies of the Split Worlds novels, this is the best time to do it – I’ll have a pen and somewhere to sit and everything.

So You Want To Be a Podcaster
Saturday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 8+11 (ExCeL)

Everything you need to know about podcasting in one panel! What sort of microphone do you need? Which editing software is best? How should you plan and structure your show? How do you develop an audience? What are the differences between reading and podcasting fiction and non-fiction? Come, listen, learn — and then create.
Alasdair Stuart Mr (M), Elías Combarro, Gabrielle de Cuir, Emma Newman, Mur Lafferty

Sunday 11:00 – 11:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

I will do my best to entertain you. There will also be a major Split Worlds announcement, so if you’re a fan, be there if you can!

Writing Roleplaying Games
Sunday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Panel – how to design an engaging TRPG.

Melinda Snodgrass (M), Colin Harvey, Helena Nash, Emma Newman, Marcus Rowland, Lauren M. Roy


Right, I’m off to carry on making my outfit for the Hugos (zomg I am so nervous!). Don’t forget to vote!

Tea and Jeopardy 23 – A Chat With Aliette de Bodard

By Emma on July 19, 2014

Tea and JeopardyThe twenty-third episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode, the phenomenally talented author Aliette de Bodard is invited into the secret tea lair. We talk about cooking, must-have features for villainous lairs, applied mathematics and how to pick the best fish sauce.

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.