Monday, October 29, 2018

GRL 2018

This was my first time at GRL (the annual GayRomLitRetreat) and I flat out loved it.

I mean, I knew I would enjoy meeting readers and fellow authors, getting to talk books and writing and publishing for hours on end, but I didn't expect to love it quite so much!

I loved the city of Portsmouth, VA--beautiful old homes and gardens, plenty of quaint shops and wonderful restaurants (Fish and Slips, I will remember you and the lump crab dip fondly forever) within walking distance. I loved the hotel (yes, it took forever to get a drink and the restaurant was so-so, but when is that NOT the case at a conference hotel??). I loved all the events which were organized to give authors plenty of opportunity to interact with readers. I loved the ferry and hugs and the she crab soup and the white caps on the water and all the churches and statues and old trees of the city. I loved the fact that we didn't miss our flight going home--which was a near thing after I realized Sunday night that I'd arranged for the shuttle to pick us up five minutes before we were supposed to board our plane!

Highlights...almost too many to list: meeting LE Franks for lunch the afternoon we arrived (possibly the last moment of quiet sanity for the entire week), the Fanyon dinner (FINALLY meeting the legendary Marilyn Blimes), the first dinner at Fish and Slips with S.C. Wynne, Felice Stevens and C.S. Poe, the author lounges--love, love, loved getting to talk to so many readers--getting to hang out with narrator Kale Williams, singing karaoke with S.C., the spotlight panel with S.C. and Felice (so many great questions from the audience) the Patreon breakfast on Saturday, the MEGA book signing that followed...and this is where I start to lose track, but that's the sure sign of a great trip. When there is simply too much good stuff to recount in a single post. 

Was it worth it from a professional standpoint? I would say so. Networking. There's something to be said for meeting your peers face-to-face. But what I thought was especially well done about GRL versus other conferences I've been to was the effort to create a variety of events for authors to interact directly with readers. Two lounges, a panel and a signing mean there's a lot of opportunity to meet and greet readers--and that's really what this kind of event is all about. The readers.

Was there room for improvement? Undoubtedly there is always room for improvement. From my perspective, next time I'd try to schedule a little more one-on-one time with the author friends I didn't manage to connect with. I probably spent too much time in the bar hanging with the usual suspects (but that's kind of what happens when you only see your pals once or twice a year). I'd bring a pair of boots. I'd try to get a little more quality sleep because by Saturday night I was whipped and just couldn't make it to the big 80s party. I would make more of an effort to eat healthy (in fact, I've never had so much fried food in a single week in my entire life). I'd schedule the Patreon breakfast for earlier in the week. I'd bring a smaller selection of print books, but more copies (who knew Fatal Shadows--Fatal Shadows?!--would be my big seller :-D). I'd do a way better job of bagging my preorders. I'd buy one of those banners that drape OVER the table...

Anyway, that was GRL. A big thank you to the organizers (I'm guessing it takes the better part of year to pull that event together). And another thank you to the readers who took the time and trouble to attend. I can't tell you how much it means to hear that a book helped you get through the dark times, still makes you laugh aloud, taught you something new or gave you a Come to Jesus moment.

If you're an author or a reader and you've been trying to decide whether to attend GRL in the future, well, like any event, a certain measure of what you get out of it will be equal to what you put into it. But you're unlikely to find another real life event so tailored to the things we spend most of our online lives thinking and talking about. And, after all, despite our shared love of fiction there's still something to be said for real life. ;-)

If You Don't Vote, You Don't Get to Complain

And I know complaining is such a vital part of social media these days, so Be Aware.

But seriously.

When I was researching Murder Between the Pages, I remember reading a contemporary (1940s) account of women being dragged off a parade float celebrating their newly gained right to vote. Yes. Women being dragged off a local parade float by their male FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS AND FAMILY MEMBERS because of their outrageous demand to have a say in politics.

And by politics, I mean legislation that affected these women intimately and immediately--as all legislation does.

Now, in fairness, many gentlemen in the crowd came to the assistance of these ladies--this is why we all need allies. We cannot do it alone. No one can. Allies are required. Allies are a non-negotiable component of success. To affect political change you need the good will and strong arm of the majority behind you--and even then, you're in for a hell of a fight. Make no mistake.

Anyway, women won the right to vote--the right to even cast a vote--in 1919. Please pay attention, girlfriend, because some of your great-great-grannies did not have the right to vote. My grandma could remember a time in which she did NOT have the right to vote. (That's right, I am old--and I wear it proudly.)

This right that you take so much for granted that you don't bother to use it...well, think about it. African American males won the right to vote in 1870.  (As well they should have.) But our right to vote is still relatively new and pretty damned fragile. I have heard females argue that women have innate protections merely by virtue of being white or middle class or pretty or whatever.

NO. Get your head out of your ass, my dear. What are you, British? (That's a joke--British women only got the right to vote in 1918.) Wake the fuck up.

We still live in a time when men (some men) take it for granted they can legislate everything from our health care to whether we have children.  We live in a time where OTHER WOMEN take it for granted that men should have the right to legislate our health care and whether or not be have children.

You think "it" couldn't happen here? That's what people always think. Look at history. And then weep. Or not. Because big girls don't cry. They VOTE.