1. If you're going to the gay bar, don't wear heels.
I went to R Place in Seattle with a bunch of fellow M/M readers and authors. I wore gorgeous but impractical heels. I thought I could drink tequila until my feet stopped hurting, but I ended up just drinking until I got sloppy drunk and I had to pour myself into my hotel bed.
2. The gogo boys are not your muse.
Corollary to point 1, after several glasses of wine and several tequila sunrises, a gogo boy named "Danny" introduced himself to me and Anne Tenino. Anne went on with her evening as any spry young woman would. I, however, in my maudlin drunken state, concocted an entire sad backstory for Danny. Good for an angsty m/m contemporary I'm hereby calling "The Lonely Gogo Boy", bad for not being the lady projecting your issues onto a dude who just wants to twerk his way to a paycheque.
3. The Hotel Monaco is amazing.
It's clean, it's well designed, the staff is super friendly and they're welcoming in ways you'd never expect: a free wine hour, free cold drinks in the lobby, a yoga mat and umbrella, BIKES? I felt like royalty the entire time I was there. And the food and drinks at the "happy hour" were faboo.
4. Everyone is beautiful
Seriously, I spent the entire convention in absolute awe of everyone attending. You were gorgeous, you were funny, you were well-dressed, you had great hair and great leggings and great shoes and great jewelry. I fell in love with everybody!
5. Meeting new people is dangerous for a compulsive co-writer
Laylah Hunter (whose breathy voice makes sex scenes EVEN SEXIER) and I are on to write some F/F. Kade Boehme and I are on to do something gay and filthy that takes advantage of our balls to the wall crazy chemistry. Possibly something to do with my delightful Freudian slip: "Christian Gay".
6. Let other people have the mic
Speaking of my Freudian slip, I did my first panel EVER during GRNW and I talked wayyyyyyy too much. Next time I will try and shut my mouth ever so slightly more so other people can speak, too. (Sorry, fellow panelists!) I do think other than the "talking too much" thing, I managed to do decently well, though? It was such a fabulously interesting set of topics to discuss; one I had, uh, a LOT of thoughts on. I can't wait to see how a year's experience and lessons learned will affect all the panels and panelists!
7. Meeting readers is the BEST FEELING EVER.
Seriously. I can't even describe how great it is to have someone come up to you and say "I read your book." Even better when it's someone saying "Thank you for writing this." That's why I'm here. That's why I do this. I want to tell stories that satisfy people, make them happy, give them an afternoon's distraction or a little bit of hope. Putting faces to the people I'm sharing this weirdly intimate relationship and exchange of ideas with... it's pretty epic for me. Makes this whole thing real in a way I am never going to forget.
8. We have a long way to go
I've talked with several people since the convention looking for more LBT* representation coming from authors, publishers, and panelists. Calls for diversity during panels were met with more than one comment along the lines of "we write people" or "the story has to come first", as if both of those things can't be true when authors are also working towards goals for representation. Audience comments that pointed out the focus on gay cis men at the convention and in queer romance (an issue that affects the LGBT community in general, lbr) were met with "f/f doesn't sell".
But hey, we're a new genre and GRNW is a new convention, and the overarching feeling for me, at least, was that things are only gonna go up from here. Hearing that the Seattle Public Library had bought two hundred books for its collection was amazing. The call to action, that we bring LGBT romance to the mainstream rather than us waiting for them to finally notice and accept us, was timely and spot on.
Next year the convention will be on Sept 13th, and I'll try my damnedest to be there again. I wanna meet more people, hear more perspectives, see more gorgeous queer people, read more books, get more swag, and wear more sensible shoes!
See you in 2014! :D