Hi everyone! As many of you know, last week I was at the Authors After Dark Conference in Savannah. AAD is a smaller romance conference that is very focused on reader/author interaction. It is a general conference, not specifically for GLBT romance, and I thought given its small size would be a good conference to try out in anticipation of going to the big Romantic Times Booklovers Convention next spring.
One nice thing about AAD is that despite being a general conference, they have a nice number of sessions focused on GBLT romance. They also include their GBLT authors on a variety of panels (both GBLT and otherwise), which I really appreciated.
I started planning for this last year and ended up coordinating with authors Katey Hawthorne and J.A. Rock. Katey and I met when she lived locally as part of our DC Area MM Romance Group and I met J.A. once as well when she was visiting Katey. So the three of us spent lots of time over the past few months costume planning and generally getting excited for the conference.
I thought it would be fun to give you guys a recap of the event to give folks a feel for the conference and what went on. I am dividing it up into a few posts because there is lots to share. I’m including lots of pictures but you can also see the full album on Facebook because I can’t include them all here.
Ok, here we go…
Days 1 and 2: Melt You Like Butter
I headed to Savannah on Tuesday, a couple of days in advance of the conference, so that I could see some of Savannah and settle in and meet some folks before the full crazy of the con started. Things had a bit of a rocky beginning as I flew on this teeny tiny plane with seats so small I felt like I was engaged to my seat mate by the end of the flight.
When I arrived at the hotel I was happy to see that J.A. Rock had already arrived. She was driving in and not expected until later in the day, but fueled by vegan granola bars and fruit, she managed to make in early. Yeah! Roommates! I hadn’t seen J.A. since a brief meeting more than a year before, but we had been chatting by email and hit it off right away.
Since the hotel couldn’t give us our room yet, we decided to do a bit of wandering around Savannah. Now, I know I am not telling you anything you couldn’t have guessed, but holy smokes is Savannah hot! I live in the DC area where our city is built on a former swamp, so I know heat and humidity. But Savannah is awfully sticky and wet and J.A. and I looked oh so pretty after wandering the streets for a while. We ended up having lunch at this really good vegetarian place that was literally going out of business two days later. But oh, were those peanut noodles delish!
After lunch and soaking up as much air conditioning as possible, we headed back out on the swampy streets to our Segway tour. I have ridden Segways before and convinced J.A. that it would be fun. She was very brave. Here are some pictures I took along the way. Savannah is gorgeous. (P.S. Click on pics to make them bigger)
After our tour, J.A. and I made our way back to the hotel, decidedly soggy and not exactly at our freshest. Just as we mutually agreed we had better not see anyone we knew until we had showered, we ran into the fabulous folks from Riptide. Luckily they weren’t in much better shape having just arrived and unloading their van in all the heat. So I got to see Rachel Haimowitz and Stephanie Grober again, and to meet Sarah Franz for the first time. When Sarah reviewed for Dear Author, I literally bought every book she recommended, so I was really excited to meet her in person. And the fabulous Brien Michaels was also there with them, there to help staff the Riptide table. Yeah! Friends!
After some desperately needed showers, J.A. and I joined the Riptide folks for a dinner along the river. I think Rachel and Sarah were a bit shocked at my total lack of filter and potty mouth (I look much more innocent than I really am). Stephanie and Brien knew better… As I decided what to order, J.A. gives me this big commanding voice and says “Get the burger Jay,” which cracked me up and started a week of the two of us telling each other to do stuff in our big Dom voices.
Well, we were all exhausted and J.A. and I headed up to our room. Of course, as tired as we were, we still managed to talk way too long and crack ourselves up laughing as we ended up doing every night. First, I saw this in the bathroom. I said, “J.A.! We have bonnets of douche in our bathroom!” To which she correctly replied, “That’s a douche bonnet!” Which quickly became our favorite insult and we spent the week calling everyone and everything a douche bonnet. And with that (and a little sex toy talk) we went to bed.
Wednesday dawned bright and early. Ok, not really. We are both really lazy and slept late and dawdled around in our pjs until around noon. Then I realized that one of my readers and Twitter friends Tracy was in town and we arranged to meet her for lunch. It was a lot of fun getting to know someone I had previously only met online and we had a fabulous lunch together. Thanks Tracy for slogging through the heat to our hotel and taking the time to hang out a while! Can’t wait to see you at GRL!
After lunch, Katey Hawthorne and her husband had arrived and we took a quick dash out to do some sightseeing. The four of us headed over to Mickve Israel, the third oldest synagogue in the U.S. for a little tour. They have a fascinating history dating back to the Spanish Inquisition and they have a lovely building and little museum. It was lots of fun.
When we got back to the hotel, we had a little time before the first event, a welcome reception sponsored by authors B.A. Tortuga and Julia Talbot. Katey suggested I come back to her room so I could see all the awesome swag she had made for the conference (she was a sponsoring author) and proceeded to get me drunk on Jack Daniels. Ok, I really got myself drunk. To Katey’s credit, she had no idea I was such a lightweight (Katey: OMG, you only had one glass! Me: But it was a very healthy pour! Katey: Holy crap, you really ARE drunk! You can barely walk! Ha ha ha….)
So with my dignity barely intact, we headed down to the reception. It was lots of fun with good munchies and great favors, including some free books and this awesome mason jar wine glass. You guys! It is a wine glass with a lid! You can take it anywhere!
After the reception was the full on welcome event. We got gobs of swag, including piles of free paperbacks, which was totally awesome. There were some raffles (which sadly we didn’t win) and lots of talking. Nothing too exciting. We did get to catch up with author Anne Tenino, as well as the fabulous ladies from Less Than Three Press: Megan Derr, Samantha Derr, and Sasha Miller.
So it had been pretty much raining all night and we weren’t sure it would go off, but around 11:00 that night Katey, her husband, J.A., and I went on a ghost tour of Savannah. It was a lot of fun and the host told some really great stories about the city. I recognized a few of the spots from our Segway tour the day before, and even though I still was hopelessly lost, things started at least looking familiar. We were quite soggy by the end of it, but overall the tour was a lot of fun and a great chance to see more of the city.
And after that we pretty much called it a night (along with more foolishness and inappropriate conversations before bed).
So that is it for the first two days. The conference kicked off in earnest on Thursday so I will be back soon with more of a recap of the rest of the week’s events.