GRL and Facebook
Last week I took time out to attend GRL – GayRomLit 2014. This now-annual retreat for readers and authors of M/M romance has become a highlight for me. The best part is the chance to spend a few days immersed in a large group of people with a shared love for the genre I write and read most. This year it was in Chicago – close enough for me to drive, past scenery like this. Sharing the 7 hour drive with author Jessa Ryan made the miles go quickly, and glorious fall colors were the icing on the cake.
The retreat this year was held at the Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, IL.
This was a lovely hotel and quirky, built primarily out of hexagons. The rooms were hexagons, with two walls of windows, and slightly domed ceilings set with a stained glass hexagon boss at the peak. The corridors twisted and turned between them, in short angled segments. In fact… some of you may remember that I said last year we needed more corners for shy people to hide in at a conference like this? Well, I think I was taken too literally, because there were hundreds of corners. Not to mention a whole atrium of potted plants to hide behind. Perfect for lurking introverts.
This year the internet worked (yay!) and the whole thing went amazingly smoothly. Almost the only complaint I heard was that going from the rooms to the convention area was a quarter-mile walk. But it kept us all fit, walking off some of the good food we were served.
I brought a variety of swag this year – post-it notes with the cover from The Family We Make, candy and my reading ducks (back by popular demand.) The ducks were gone fast. Author swag seems to get more interesting every year. Pens with a stylus tip for touch screen use were popular. I came home with a bunch of fun/silly/useful stuff. (I was collecting it for a friend who couldn’t come. Really!)
The thing I love most about going to GRL is the feeling that the whole place is full of family. The first time I left my room, I met Amy Lane getting onto the elevator, and she recognized me even without a badge. A majority of people wore purple on Thursday for Spirit Day (to bring attention to bullying in schools, particularly of LGBT kids.) Two guys can kiss in the hallways, and everyone passing by will smile happily. It’s a warm, inclusive feeling.
I had a Question and Answer session Friday, shared with L.C. Chase and the two authors who make up Kindle Alexander. For a nine a.m. event the morning after a party, it was very well attended and there were some excellent questions. The Kindles showed us pictures of the hot guys they use as story inspiration, and L.C. talked about getting her start in cover illustration by winning a Josh Lanyon cover contest.
The most fun I had was at the Cockwalk, a raffle of cock-themed arts and crafts, benefiting a local youth center. The event MC, author Edmond Manning, kept the audience laughing so hard we almost couldn’t get the raffle part accomplished. A group of good-natured (and hot) guys dressed as the Village People helped out with drawing tickets and bothering Edmond in all the best ways. (Well, the best that were legal in public anyway.) The youth center got a great donation, and we all left with cock-shaped candy, and book-ends, and artwork, and bottle openers, and wine, and more. Hard to picture it? Check out the pictures on Heather K’s blog post.
I met so many wonderful people, some familiar, some for the first time, including author Julie Bozza who PMed me that she was there. I was delighted to spend a couple of hours talking to her about writing and life. And I could go on for hours about the other good parts of GRL, and all the people who make it special. But that’s probably enough.
Next year will be in San Diego. I hope to see many of you there.
Oh yeah, I mentioned Facebook in the title of this post. Well, one of the things I asked the audience at my Q&A was whether they liked having authors available on Facebook. The yes vote was pretty overwhelming. So this weekend I’m going to try to get a Facebook page up. Wish me luck. Tell me what you like seeing on an author’s page. All tips are welcome. When it’s done I’ll post a link here. And I look forward to seeing you there and checking out what Facebook is all about.