Over the years I’ve discovered I’m not good at taking photos while socializing. I’m too focused on talking to the people and getting to know them to bring out my camera. When I get home to see all the memories I’ve made, my camera is sadly quite empty. But my memories are not. GRL 2017 was no exception.
GayRomLit is a conference for authors and readers of Male/Male Romance, aka Gay Romance, and it’s held each October. This year I attended my fourth GRL and my third as a featured author. I’ve driven to two conferences and flown to two since the location varies from year to year. This year we were in Denver, so I flew.
GRL starts for me months in advance with planning, organizing, attempting to get books written and released around the same time as the conference, and then helping other authors get their books edited and formatted as well. And there’s swag to plan for, preorders to gather, and paperbacks to stock up on. So I’ve been living GRL for months before I even pull out my suitcase.
This year packing meant more than in past years because I flew and sold books, which I’ve never done before. When I flew to San Diego a few years back, I didn’t sell paperbacks. Last year I drove to Kansas City, so this year was a totally new experience. I also had to contend with my sweet Olive insisting on sleeping on what I’d already packed. I shipped boxes of books for the Indie Pub Authors selling table, and thankfully they all arrived undamaged. Even so, I had a lot of luggage, and for a woman who doesn’t do well with carrying heavy loads, I was weighed down! Thankfully, I checked my luggage. And after a huge delay, airplane repairs, and an eventual airplane change, we were in the air!
I was lucky enough to fly out with a friend, room with another friend, and meet up with several more friends I’ve met at previous GRL events. And I got to see people from all over the world! I also made many new friends, as always seems to happen. It’s why I keep going back.
I was on a panel with N.R. Walker and Jay Northcote and we talked about the symbiotic relationship between reader and author. For years we’ve heard people say, “But I’m only a reader…” and we wanted to address this. Without readers, we wouldn’t be signing books or going to conventions like this. We might still be writing, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun a job as it is. Readers, you are important! You are necessary to our craft.
Honestly, you are the reason I write, and here’s a little example of that. I started out writing fanfiction and expected nothing from that than to get words out of my head. Instead, I discovered a supportive community of readers who encouraged me so much that I decided to take a leap of faith and move over to writing original fiction.
After our panel, I had two friends from way back in my fanfiction days approach me. One I’ve seen at each GRL, as she travels from England each fall for this. The other I have never met but I remember her leaving me the most wonderful reviews back in my fanfiction days. She would have me cracking up with each review, and I couldn’t wait to see what she’d say about the next chapter I posted. They ended up gifting me with this amazing cup that had each of the titles I’ve written on it, including the fanfiction story that brought us all together. What a fantastic gift. Thank you, Terri and Pauline! Without you, I’d likely not be writing today.
A friend who couldn’t attend sent a charm bracelet with another friend. Each charm represents a book of mine, and I got a little misty when I opened it. Thank you, Melissa! The moon for Feathers From the Sky, the star for the North Star trilogy, arrow for Bent Arrow, treble clef for Fall Into You, and peace for the Naked Organics series. 🙂
And MtSnow gave me this beautiful tree of life pendant on Chalcedony (I probably got that wrong. I know it started with a C). I’ve admired her beautiful pendants from afar, and not only did I get to meet her, but she gifted me with this. I feel so loved.
I also got to meet Marc Fleischhauer, who came all the way from Germany. I wrote Forever Under a Rainbow based on his prompt, and he gave me German chocolate and the best hugs. I don’t have a photo of the chocolate because it was German chocolate! I ate it! Savored it! But yeah, I totally forgot to take a photo of it.
I met so many new friends, finally connected facebook avatars with real-life faces, and best of all, we all connected over books, books, books! GRL is truly one of the few places where I can openly talk about what I write and share my love of this genre, the advocacy so many of us are passionate about, and connect with people I’ve known online, sometimes for years.
Next year I hope to remember to pull out my camera more often because I didn’t get pics of so many of the special people in my life that I’ve met through our mutual love of MM Romance. Luckily, many of them took photos, so if you want to see some, go check out some of the photos of GRL posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
When all was said and done and I finally got home, I was exhausted. Happy but exhausted. But Olive refused to get off my lap and has barely left my side since I got home. I have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks, so I’m glad to be home too.
Thank you, GRL organizers, for making this retreat a highlight of my year yet again.