GRL 2014GayRomLit in Chicago was simply outstanding. I always expect GRL to be great, but this year it was amped up for me quite a bit. I think it’s mostly because I went as a Supporting Author, my first time at GRL in an author capacity. Plus, after three years, I know how it works. Although, even with that my expectations were exceeded.

So what made it so great? There are a lot of ingredients in that mix, so here they are (and in no particular order). Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything…

Great conversations: I knew I wanted to talk with some of my author friends face-to-face to get  advice on how to grow my rather new career. Yes, I’ve published since 2009, but it’s been it fits and starts. The Hat Trick series as me publishing consistently now, but the series will come to an end next year (and from a writing perspective, it should be finished this year). The series, however, has inspired me to write more, and attempt to be faster at it. Among the people I talked with, often at length, were Z.A. Maxfield, Clare London, T.A. Chase, Devon Rhodes, Tere Michaels and Geoff Knight. There’s a lot to think about because they didn’t all say the same thing–which is good. In the week since GRL’s ended I’ve started making notes for what I want to do in 2015, including an idea for a YA series that as me super excited. Most importantly, I can’t thank these people enough for taking the time to share their wisdom and experience.

Supporting Author Signing: I did a brief post on this the other day because of the picture that came out of it. This was an incredible two hours for me. The singing I did at Rainbow Con had nothing on this one. There were people at GRL who came with copies of Hat Trick or Hat Trick 2 for me to sign and that was amazing. I struck up conversations with people who were interested in one of the books and within the two hours, the stack on my table was gone. I met tons of awesome people who asked me to sign my contribution to the From Chicago with Love anthology. The freakiest, and perhaps coolest, aspect was signing books for authors who I’ve previously been at their tables to get their books signed.

Author Headshot: Madison Parker set aside a couple hours on Wednesday during the writer’s workshop to take headshots. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Madison’s photography and I didn’t pass up the opportunity to get an actual headshot. I haven’t seen the final version yet, although I was very pleased with what Madison showed me from the camera. It’s going to be great to have something worthy of a book jacket.

Parties: Will and I typically aren’t very into the parties. We’ll go for a few minutes, usually less than a half hour, say hi to a few people and be on our way back to the quiet of our room. It was different this year. Will went to the Juke Joint party without me for a while (more on why I wasn’t there in a moment) and then we returned together and hung out for probably a half hour near the party’s end. For the Costume Party this year, not only did we go, but we dressed up, too. I had a great time being a knight next to Will’s Robin Hood. It was fun taking pictures with so many costumed friends.

From the Juke Joint…with dancer Derrick

At the Costume Party with Devon Rhodes and T.A. Chase

Another costumed shot with Wade Kelly and Taryn Plendl

Radio Time: I missed the start of the Juke Joint party because I was taking part in Writers Online Network’s live broadcast of “Write on the Edge” from GRL. I hung out for about an hour talking about all kinds of things, including actors you’d want to transform into porn stars, what my favorite moment of GRL was so far and more. You can listen to the broadcast on this link. It does run explicit at times, so keep that in mind. I was excited to have the WON experience, and I think I’ll have some cool WON news to share in the coming weeks too.

Time with friends! Besides talking with friends about career direction, it was great to see so many of them since this typically the only time in the year we see each other face-to-face. It’s also when you get to meet people you might only know from Facebook or Twitter. Wade and I talk all the time on FB, but it was great to see her in person and get hugs (and she brought us homemade cupcakes!!!!!). Plus she brought the awesome Taryn. Michael and Anthony are always great to see. I loved watching Michael, who was not attending as an author, get approached to sign his latest book. It’s great to see him getting the attention he deserves. Meeting Tammy in person was great after working with her on the Dirty Dozen Blog Tour and being part of one of her Facebook chats. Devon & T.A. touched Will and I Sunday morning, bringing us an anniversary present. It was so sweet and unexpected.

Sing! You don’t expect singing at GRL, unless it’s karaoke. And there was some karaoke going on, but the singing that made the weekend for me was Shira Anthony. She turned loose her singing talent on Friday afternoon. Her concert was beautiful and she went between standards, some Broadway tunes and opera. I admit I was an emotional mess after the hour was done. Here’s the video I shot of her doing an aria from Tosca.

You can see another video of Shira (singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me”) and all our GRL photos in the Flickr album.

Next year, GRL is in San Diego, and that most likely means road trip since it will be in our home state. Yes, I’m already looking forward to that!