Monday, 16 September 2013

Eight Things I Learned At GRNW

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


  1. I put my back and my left leg out over the course of the weekend, or I would have been wearing equally impractical shoes. WHOOPS. I was spared that bad decision.

    You already know I'm with you re: #8, but I'm also there on numbers 3 and 4. Like, holy damn.

  2. On the F/F issue, I remember a discussion about that about... three years ago? something like that, on my publisher's author loop. At that time, at least, F/F e-books sold very poorly, to the point that my publisher (Torquere) had to space their releases out, and considered publishing F/F at all to be a community service rather than a money-making endeavor. But some writers on the loop with experience at other, pre-e publishers, said that on the paper side it was the opposite, that F/F romance and erotica sold much better than M/M in paper editions, in bookstores.

    Assuming this is generally accurate, and not just a statistical blip observed by a few people, that tells me that there is a market for F/F, but they aren't (or weren't?) aware of F/F books available online or in electronic format. That's a marketing issue, and it suggests that if we could figure out how to market to the offline purchasers/readers of F/F, then there would be people eager to buy them.

    At this point, though, it does seem to be true (I've heard the same from multiple writers and publishers) that F/F doesn't sell well. It's easy to scoff, but that's a legitimate issue when writers are trying to pay their bills and publishers are trying to keep the lights on and the servers up. But I agree that, rather than just shrugging and ignoring the issue, publishers could look into marketing to the F/F readers who are out there, and then pass the word to their writers that they have an audience.

    For that matter, writers who get booths or tables at realspace Pride type events often report back that one of the most common comments from gay men is, "Wait, there are romances about gay men?!" so it looks like there's a lot of untapped market out there for GLBT romance in general, and not just F/F. :)