Tag Archives: Susan Bartholomew

Fantasycon 2015

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nottingham_venue_headerThis year Fantasycon was held on the outskirts of Nottingham at a spiffy Conference Centre with the adjoining Orchard Hotel available for those attendees wanting to stay for the duration.
As ever, the event was well organised, with plenty going on during all three days so that I found myself yearning, once more, for that clone to be able to attend more than one panel/reading/discussion.

Highlights
The overall quality of the panels was very high, with moderators well prepared and the contributors knowledgeable and articulate. I’m a sucker for this aspect of cons, as I love listening to good discussions. The standout panels I attended were:-

Blades, Wands & Lasers: Fighting the Good Fight-Scene
Clifford Beal, Juliet McKenna, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Jo Thomas and Dani Ware, moderated by James Barclay Fantasycon-bannerdiscussed all aspects of fighting, using magic, sharp pointy things and techie gismos. It was a wide-ranging, often funny and insightful exchange, ably facilitated by James Barclay. This was the gold standard of panels…

Stealing from the Past: Fantasy in History
Moderated by Susan Bartholomew, the panel of Jacey Bedford, Susan Boulton, Anne Lyle, Juliet E. McKenna and Toby Venables discussed how they use history or historical events within their writing. Again, this was an excellent panel where the contributors were knowledgeable and entertaining.

Sounds Like a Great Story: the Science and Psychology of Audio Fiction
Alisdair Stuart moderated and the contributors were Emma Newman, Chris Barnes and James Goss. This was a gem, and uncovered a whole world of podcasts that so far had completely eluded me… I came along because I spend a chunk of my hard earned dosh on audio books, principally for my dyslexic granddaughter, and was intrigued to learn how they are produced. But as with the best of panels, I came away with a whole lot more than I’d expected. Awesome stuff.

Round Robin Poetry Slam
Once more the wonderful Allen Ashley organised this event, which this year was held on Friday evening. The standard was higher than ever, with a great range of material and some amazing deliveries – I’m not going to forget the Moby Dick rap in a hurry… I read my poems ‘Sunspots’ and ‘Desertification’.

Readings
It’s always a pleasure to hear authors read their own work. This year I managed to hear Adrian Tchaikovsky read an111_4650 extract from a new shapeshifting fantasy series which sounds fantastic; Janet Edwards read from Earthgirl, which reminded me how awesome it is all over again – read my review of it here. Joanne Hall read from her latest novel Spark and Carousel which is next on my TBR list. And Frances Kay read extracts from her books Micka and Dollywaggler – a clearly accomplished and interesting writer. I also read an extract from Running Out of Space, my space opera adventure novel due to come out soon. Many thanks for those kind souls who turned up to support me during my reading. I was ridiculously nervous, but very glad to get it over with. Hopefully next time won’t be such an ordeal.

Conferences are all about meeting friends and making new ones. It was great to meet up with Janet and John Edwards again, catch up with Susan Bartholomew who was the very first person I spoke to at my first conference back in 2011, and talk to the actual versions of Joanne Hall and Sophie Tallis who I regularly chat with in bloggerland. It was a delight to make new friends, too, such as the awesome Carlie Cullen.

The Dealers’ Room
Packed with gorgeous books to drool over – and buy. Himself and I peeped in promising each other that we wouldn’t weaken and acquire anymore. After all, we ran out of places to put new books sometime last year. Until we came across several we couldn’t resist… It was something of a shock to find we’d come home with 35 additions to our book piles.

Regrets
There were, inevitably events I missed that I wish I hadn’t. The Atrocity Exhibition sadly clashed with the Poetry Round Robin – a shame, it sounded just up my alley. I am also more than a tad devastated to have missed teaandjeopardythe live edition of Tea and Jeopardy with Brandon Sanderson, after checking out the podcasts – marvellous geeky fun. If, like me, you were visiting the Moon when Emma Newman’s wonderful tea lair and her guests were being given crazy things to do, then do track it down. Beats Radio 1 hands down.
Also deeply saddened to have missed Adrian Cole’s lecture on Zombie Sky Sharks and the Fantasycon version of Just A Minute. Ah well, maybe next year…

Many, many thanks to all those hardworking folks who make Fantasycon possible – the organisers, the contributors, the panellists and other attendees. In particularI’d like to give the redcloaks a special mention – those willing souls were always on hand to help out in any way. Fantasycon 2015 was, as ever, a fabulous, friendly event for SSF fans that has come to be one of the high spots of my year.

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Review of The Lake of Destiny by Susan Bartholomew

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This fantasy adventure starts somewhat uncertainly, but my advice is to keep with it and you will be rewarded by a page-turning adventure.

lakeofdestinyIn medieval England, early Christians battle the forces of magic and the dark forests are filled with wolves. Laura, an eighteen year old convent girl, is chosen for a dangerous question. She must find a magical weapon of mass destruction and keep it safe from war-mongering demon hordes. She has a rival in her quest; Ciaran, a young wizard, longs to possess this instrument of power. They meet by chance and for a time they travel together, helping each other to face the dangers that wait for them on the path through the forest. But unknown to Laura, Ciaran is hiding something – or is it something hiding deep within Ciaran?

The notion that a young convent girl in medieval times is allowed to regularly practice with a sword, initially jarred with me. However, we do know that some women rose to positions of power within the early Christian church – and history is dotted with women who dressed up as soldiers and sailors and served alongside men in close quarters for whole campaigns without being discovered. There are even reports of Pope Joan, who ruled during the Middle Ages, and was only revealed when she gave birth… When all these facts are taken into account, then young Laura’s skill with a sword may not seem so surprising. And after a relatively short time, I stopped caring anyhow, as I got swept up in the plot. Another piece of advice – don’t judge this particular book by its cover… The soft focus and beautiful scenery led me to believe that I would be reading a fantasy romance and while there is a love interest in the book, it is not the engine that drives this story. This book is far sharper with a lot more action and sword-swinging adventure than I expected.

Bartholomew produces an event-filled plot. Her characterisation, though adequate, could be fuller and at times the dialogue is a tad clunky – but I’ll forgive her all that because she whips the story along at a fair clip, not forgetting to tie up all the trailing ends. She is also adept at setting the scene without holding up the action – something more experienced authors often seem unable to do – and while I thought I knew exactly where the story was going, it soon took off in an entirely new direction that had me sitting up late at night to discover what would happen next.

So, having taken us on this enjoyable fantasy adventure, does Bartholomew successfully manage to bring her story to a satisfying end? Yes, she does. I understand that there is a sequel is in the pipeline and I will be on the lookout for it in due course.
7/10