Learn More. Eat Cookies. Make Friends. Or: GCLS 2012

That was pretty much the theme of the week for my recent attendance at the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Annual Conference. I hope I accomplished at least two of three.

First, let me say that I love conferences.  Really, you can create a conference about pretty much anything and if you give me an all access badge, I’m in.  I’ve never watched a moment of Star Trek in my life but there was a conference in town last summer and I seriously considered purchasing a day pass.  Don’t judge me.  I like new experiences.

So as you can imagine, when I heard last year that there was a conference that not only pertained to books, but was also located in another city – it was on. And it lived up to the hype.

Cut to this year and of course I was going back. The fact that the conference was going to be housed at a Doubletree Hotel, land of hot, free cookies, was ultimately icing on the cake (or cookie. I guess it should be cookie.)

So much wonderful happened at this conference that I couldn’t possibly detail it all here. But I’m always one for highlight reels.  You too? Fabulous. Imagine some sentimental music is playing under this look-back. Maybe some slow-mo action.  Ready? And go.

  • Georgia Beers demanded that the hotel shuttle driver return to the airport and pick me up immediately when it was discovered that my terminal had been skipped over.  She stood up and slammed her hand down. It was quite dramatic. No, that didn’t happen at all. But it’s what I like to pretend happened. In actuality, I accidentally made one of my favorite authors ride half the distance back to the airport to pick me up and then (due to what time it now was), accompany the shuttle driver on his pickup at the Mall of the America.  Double sigh. To her credit, she was way nice about it. I owe her one. Maybe I’ll mail her some Doubletree cookies.
  • I got auctioned off! Yep. My unofficial agent, Rachel Spangler, signed me up for the author auction. I was nervous that no one would bid, but it turned out pretty great. My first dance (after the awards) went to my high bidder, Andy, who turned out to be one of my favorite people at the conference.  Points for new friends. We’re texting buddies now.
  • I’d heard a little bit about ground-breaking publisher, Barbara Grier, in the past, but the class A tribute offered to her at the conference was not only educational but moving. At the conclusion of the tribute, I felt I knew Barbara Grier, flaws and all. The presenters did a fantastic job of honoring who she was, what she stood for, and the strides she made in lesbian publishing. Just wow.
  • If you’re ever looking for some great conversation over a bottle of red, look no further than the illustrious Elizabeth Sims. I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth’s presentation at last year’s conference – it really stuck with me. So when I had the chance to share dinner with her this year, I didn’t hesitate. She’s a class act and a fantastic conversationalist.  It was a memorable dinner for me. I got some great advice and had quite a few laughs.
  • On Saturday, many thanks again to Rachel, I was scheduled for an author reading kind of last minute. I wasn’t sure whether to read something from Waiting in the Wings or Heart Block – tough choices – but given that Waiting was actually available at the conference, I decided to go with the old standby. Mari SanGiovanni read in my group and had me in stitches at the back of the room. This woman is hysterical. I got the chance to hang out with her later that night and she’s even funnier in person. Seek her out. You won’t be disappointed.
  • The awards were the last event I would attend as I had an early flight out the next morning. Everyone looked fantastic and the event was really top notch. I snagged a drink and enjoyed the great company all around me. This sounds ridiculously cliché, so I hesitate to even say it, but I was simply thrilled that my book was shortlisted. That was enough for me. But when my name was called for Debut Author and I got to accept the award from Karin Kallmaker and Lee Lynch, it was the highlight of my year. I should confess that I have no idea what I said when I accepted the award. I hope it made sense. Shout out to Pol Robinson, who I was thrilled to win alongside. She’s awesome.
  • Later in the evening something crazy happened. Waiting in the Wings won for Traditional Contemporary Romance, which still seems all fuzzy and surreal. I was equally excited for my tablemates, Georgia Beers and Mari SanGiovanni who also won in this category. Apparently, I chose the right table to sit at.

All in all, damn, it was a good trip.

There are lots of photos from the conference on my Facebook page. If we’re not Facebook friends, we definitely should be.

Thanks to my publishing twin, Ashley Bartlett, and her hilarious text messages for making this blog happen. The pact worked.

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Georgia Beers

I like your version of the shuttle ride better, so let’s go with that. I am nothing if not demanding when my friends are left behind! Dammit! *slamming hand on desk*
(How was that? Did I get the part?)

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