Hi gang! Now that I am back from GRL and somewhat caffeinated, I figured I would check and let you know about my awesome experience!

GRL is always amazing. This was my fifth one and each is different and wonderful in its own way. I was talking to a first-timer friend this year about the magic of GRL and for me it is two fold. First, there is the fact that you are someplace with all these people who love just what you love. No one thinks you are crazy because authors are your rock stars. Everyone knows what you are talking about when you mention a favorite book or series. No one thinks it is weird that you would probably save your kindle first if your house caught fire. Being around people who just get it is so wonderful and incredibly amazing.

The second part of the magic of GRL is that it is place where people can be accepted as they are in the GLBT arena. I know some of us are lucky enough not to experience discrimination and prejudice in this area directly, but so many folks in our community do. And to be at GRL where two men can hold hands and no one blinks twice and where people can openly discuss these issues is an amazing thing. Not to mention where you can wear crazy costumes and do wacky things and no one cares. That is why GRL is so important to me, no matter how many other events I attend. There is just something really unique and wonderful here.

Ok, so for those who follow me on Facebook, I posted daily recaps (as I do for most of my blog trips), along with a whole mess of pictures. Since it is hard to find them all if you have missed them, I pasted the recaps here so you can read them all on the blog. I can’t repost all the zillions of pictures I took, but if you go to my Facebook page you can see all the photos I have posted. Click on the Photos tab and then “Jay’s Photos” or follow this link and you should see all the pics I took at GRL (the “Photos of Jay” tab will show you other people’s pictures of me if you are curious).

Once again I have to send a shout out to the amazing folks who made this experience so wonderful. Despite the occasional bickering, we really do have a wonderful and supportive community. Every year I adore seeing these folks again and reconnecting. And to my besties, both new and old, you know you make this conference amazing every year. Thank you for once again making it a highlight of my year and I miss you so painfully much already.

Tuesday

Hi gang! So for those interested, here is my quick GRL recap for Day 1 (Tuesday). I flew out at around and 11 and was lucky enough to have Wade Kelly on my flight (we don’t live far from one another but hadn’t coordinated flights). Since we were on SWA we got to sit together and the trip flew by (even though I may have scared our seat mate talking about Cocky Boys).

We arrived early afternoon and I was starving so we headed over to the little mall attached to the hotel. There were lots of folks already gathering in the lobby so Lynn Lorenz and Ally Blue joined us. It is nice bc there is a little food court over there so cheap places to eat.

After lunch I crashed out in the room for a while. Thanks to Morticia Knight for getting me some groceries while she was out! Yay for mini fridges in the room!
Then I had a fabulous dinner at Q39, a wonder BBQ place with Wade, Andrew Michaelsen and Hans Hans Hirschi. The food was amazing and the company great. And during the meal I had added bonus of JA Rock texting me about sex toys (as we do).

After during I hung out in the lobby for a while with some other GRLers before crashing. I am so happy to see so many familiar faces and meet new folks as everyone trickles in. Looking forward to more!

This is a grainy photo but it captures the joy of being back together with people you adore! Devon Rhodes, TA Chase, and Jared Rackler

This is a grainy photo but it captures the joy of being back together with people you adore! Devon Rhodes, TA Chase, and Jared Rackler

Wednesday

So Wednesday was my first full day in KC, but since GRL didn’t start until Thursday, I took advantage of the chance to sleep in. After that I headed over to the gym. It is huge for a hotel gym and really nicely set up. It overlooks this big green space and a waterfall and the pool on the other side, so it was nice. I was trying to baby my ankle that I hurt while running at the beach, so I used the elliptical instead of the treadmill. Sadly I still seem to have aggravated it by the end of the day with all the walking so I was kind of limpy at night, but it feels a bit better this morning.

After the gym I headed to the Power & Light District with Jared Rackler and Ally Blue. Its a neat area with lots of restaurants and a big open air stage. We ate at some restaurant with a long sounding German name I can’t remember or pronounce, but they had good beer and hamburgers. We rode the street car, which is really easy and free! (Hello DC, wouldn’t this be nice?)

After lunch pre-registration had started so we mostly hung around the lobby area and chatted. The lobby is always a fun place to be at any GRL, but especially on arrival day as you get to catch everyone as they show up at the hotel. We took a detour for happy hour in Amy DiMartino and Lindsey Woolsey’s room where I found my new favorite drink thanks to Amy – vanilla vodka and cranberry juice. I’ll admit I was skeptical but it was delicious! (maybe too delicious – we drank all of poor Amy’s vodka in one sitting!).

After we all got a little tipsy (ok, a lot in some cases) we headed down with a big group to the pizza place at Crown Center. We kept adding as people arrived and had about 30 of us by the time the meal was over. That poor restaurant didn’t know what hit them as we are not a quiet bunch! But it was so much fun to catch up with everyone!

After dinner we decided to hang around the hotel rather than go out. It was so much fun as there was a huge crowd gathered in the bar and lobby and I spent the night talking to old friends and meeting new ones. I even got to hear Joel Leslie’s sexy narrator Scottish accent whispered in my ear, which got me all blushy! It was a great night and I capped it off chatting with my roommate Susan Lee before we both finally crashed.

GRL 2

Dinner with a huge gang of awesome folks!

 

More with some amazing folks: Lindsey Woolsey, Cindi Sulken, Jared Rackler, and Amy DiMartino

More with some amazing folks: Lindsey Woolsey, Cindi Sulken, Jared Rackler, and Amy DiMartino

Thursday

Hi gang! So Thursday was the first official day of GRL and it was a lot of fun. I’ll admit I was kind of lazy and didn’t roll downstairs until close to 11, but that was in enough time to check out the supporting author signing. Then at noon I had a spot at the Blogger table for the author lounge. I’ll be there again today at 11 so be sure to stop by. I have lip balms, stickers, and entry slips to win the rainbow cowl I knit (if you miss me, find me today or tomorrow before 6 and I’ll give you an entry form).

After that I grabbed a quick lunch with Susan Lee and Lane Hayes (love these ladies) before dashing off to moderate two Q&As. Always enjoy hearing what the authors have to say about their books and their writing and themselves. We also got some inside scoop on planning GRL from Ethan and Carol. Then I got to go to Book Boyfriend Bingo with Jordan L. Hawk and Zam Maxfield, which was so much fun!

There was a break after the sessions and I mostly hung in the lobby and chatted. Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie Froomkin gave a great talk about audio books for some interested readers. It was cool to hear about recording audio and some of the behind the scenes details about how the process works.

Then time for nighttime fun! First was the Grease sing-a-long. Lots of folks dressed up for the theme, which was awesome. Paisley Hutchins even had a cool old fashioned polaroid camera. They announced next year’s GRL location (Denver!) and MLR gave out blankets. There was food and even free beer and wine (woo hoo!). After Grease they turned the room over for dancing. Dancing is one of my favorite GRL activities so I had a blast. All in all it was a great official first day! Shout out to all my awesome folks who movie watched and danced with me all night! <3 you guys!

Staffing the Blogger table with Lindsey Woolsey

Staffing the Blogger table with Lindsey Woolsey

 

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Watching Grease singalong with Joel Leslie, Jared Rackler, and Rich Najuch

Friday

So yes, it has reached that point of the conference that I know longer remember what day it is and barely can tell you what happened. But I have pictures!

I started slowly again Friday (sensing a trend?) and went to my first reading of GRL. I heard Devon McCormack, Dean Frech, and Christian Baines, all of whom did great readings. I love that readings are like getting a live excerpt, combined with getting to know the author a little better. After that I worked my second Blogger Lounge table. Again it was fun to meet readers and get to talk to folks without having to run from place to place.

After that it was lunch break. We decided to try a restaurant that folks had been talking about that was only a few blocks away. Somehow it turned into the world’s longest trip since we had to detour through the train station through the dark corners, up and down stairs, across bridges… Seriously it took us about a half an hour to get 3 blocks away only to find out the wait was too long for our lunch break. I ended up having a great lunch with Amy DiMartino, Joel Leslie Froomkin, Richard Julian Najuch, Jared Rackler, Lindsey Woolsey and her awesome hubby Dave. Then I took off at a run to make it back in time for my last moderating job for a Q&A with Nicole Dennis, Sandrine Gasq Dion, and B.g. Thomas. Then my official GRL duties were done!

The fun fair was that afternoon and I had a great time at the cock walk. It is an event where people make cock themed crafts and they are raffled off for charity (with the help of cock stories told by the audience and hunky guys helping to draw tickets!) I made two knit cozies for chapstick that were shaped like cocks. Just what everyone needs, right?

After the cock walk I had a fabulous dinner at Gram & Dun with some of my foodie buddies. Everything was so delicious. Once again Susan Lee outdid herself with the restaurant suggestion. We had amazing french onion soup dumplings, pork buns and other apps to start with. And then I had the most fabulous chicken and waffles. It was a sight to behold. I only had about a third of it, the plate was so huge. In fact, Anya and Amy and I all ordered the same thing and we probably could have shared it. But seriously, the food was outstanding. Thanks to Susan, Anya Justanya, Rick R. Reed, Lane Hayes, Heather Kobos, and Amy DiMartino for being great dinner companions!

After dinner we went to the dance party. Once again I had a great time hitting the dance floor with everyone. Crazy pictures and hijinks ensued.
So that about wraps up yesterday. Thanks again for everyone who has continued to make GRL so awesome!

My lunch dates: Joel Leslie, Amy DiMartino, Dave Woolsey, Jared Rackler, and Rich Najuch

My lunch dates: Joel Leslie, Amy DiMartino, Dave Woolsey, Jared Rackler, and Rich Najuch

 

Susan Lee once again organized an amazing dinner! Amy DiMartino, Anya Justanya, Susan Lee, Rick R. Reed, Heather Kobos, and Lane Hayes

Susan Lee once again organized an amazing dinner! Amy DiMartino, Anya Justanya, Susan Lee, Rick R. Reed, Heather Kobos, and Lane Hayes

Saturday/Sunday

Saturday was not a heavy schedule day since it is also the book signing, but we did have one session in the morning. I went to a great panel with Jay Northcote, Posy Roberts, and N.r. Walker about writing characters from around the world.

It was really interesting to hear about some of the tricky elements of language and cultural norms that can lead to writing/reading confusion. I was so glad to finally get an answer to what the heck A-levels are and how the British school system actually works!

After that we had a lunch break and I headed out for pizza with Jared Rackler to the place in the little mall nearby. We were later joined by Trina Lane and Lindsey Woolsey and got to hang for a while and relax before the signing.
The signing was fun as always. Given that this is my 5th GRL and I have been lucky enough to attend other conferences as well, I decided to take it easy on the signings and the swag and just wander around and chat with folks and take pictures. I did a big post yesterday where I have pics from the signing so you can probably find that on my timeline or in my photos area of FB.

After that we had a LOT of time before the Over the Rainbow party so we mostly hung out for a while. I did catch a great dinner of Thai noodles and mango sticky rice with Wade Kelly before joining my gang for costume prep. We had a LOT of body paint happening between us! The costume party is always one of my favorite parts of GRL but for some reason this theme was especially fun. People had some amazing costumes and really got into the dressing up.

After going to bed around 2:00 am, I was back up at 6:30 to pack and get ready for brunch. Sigh. The brunch is always so bittersweet. Everyone is together, but it is time to say goodbye. I can never make it through without crying at some point. I did get a chance to wander around and say goodbye to as many folks as possible, but I know I still missed some (Rick! Where were you?). And of course cried when I said goodbye to my most amazing group that kept me company all week and are so wonderful and fun and make me so happy to have such awesome friends. I love and miss you already Lindsey Woolsey, Jared Rackler, Amy DiMartino, Devon Rhodes, T.a. Chase, Joel Leslie Froomkin, and Richard Julian Najuch!

Every GRL is different, but yet somehow they are all amazing. Once again I was lucky enough to reconnect with old friends, meet online folks for the first time, and find some new people who I didn’t know at all. Thanks to the organizers for putting on an amazing conference and thanks to everyone who helped make it all so special!

My annual "sitting on Rick's lap" picture from the signing. I have one from every GRL!

My annual “sitting on Rick’s lap” picture from the signing. I have one from every GRL!

 

Wizard of oz party! The costumes were amazing! Amy, Lindsey and Dave

Wizard of oz party! The costumes were amazing! Amy, Lindsey and Dave

 

Two Tin Men! And how incredible is Joel Leslie's costume?

Two Tin Men! And how incredible is Joel Leslie’s costume?

 

Sad faces as we say goodbye! Amy, Rich, Jared, Joel, Lindsey and Devon

Sad faces as we say goodbye! Amy, Rich, Jared, Joel, Lindsey and Devon

 

Until next year in Denver!

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