Today I am so pleased to welcome Bru Baker to Joyfully Jay. Bru is here as part of the GRL Blog Tour. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Packing list, GRL edition

Five things to bring that will make your life easier

grl tour badgeHello, fellow GRL-ites! I’m Bru Baker, and this will be my fourth GayRomLit. Along the way I’ve discovered some tips to help make the most of my time at GRL, and I’m sharing those to save you from some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years.

This list is pretty universal, though if you’re an author you should pack a kit of essentials to help you through your author lounges and other appearances. Just ask Brandon Witt–he and I met over a pair of tiny scissors and we’ve been friends (and supply sharers) ever since.

Here are the top five things I wish someone had told me to pack for my first GRL:

  1. Sensible shoes. I know this is laughable coming from me, given that you’ll hardly see me wearing anything but high heels all week. When you *do* catch me out of those torture devices, though, I’ll be wearing something comfortable that makes it easy to zip around the hotel and conference center. There’s always a lot of walking at GRL. Some venues involve more than others (I swear the conference center at GRL Chicago was a good half mile away from the rooms, and that was assuming you didn’t get lost in the rabbit warren of hallways!), but you can always be sure that there will be lots of moving from place to place. Make sure you plan accordingly and bring comfortable shoes or any assistive devices you need to help you get around. After a few grueling walks at RT in Las Vegas last year, Hunter Frost and I broke down and bought foldable flats we could keep with us at all times. Best purchase ever (though I wish it hadn’t been at Vegas hotel gift store prices!).
  1. A portable battery charger. Odds are good that your phone will get a workout during GRL. You’ll Tweet, tag, friend, and take tons of photos of new and old friends. Make sure to bring a portable phone charger to juice up your device so you don’t miss a message in a group chat about where to meet for dinner.
  1. A list of what (and who) you want to see most. We all arrive at GRL fresh-faced and rosy-cheeked, ready to take on the world and attend every single panel and event. But the truth of the matter is that you can’t pack everything in–there’s too much to see and do. It’s a great problem to have, being so spoiled for choice, but it can mean missing something you really wanted to do if you don’t prioritize things early. Take some time before GRL starts to go through the program and decide which panels, events, and authors you definitely don’t want to miss, and then build the rest of your schedule around that. That way you don’t get home and realize you never had your favorite book signed. 
  1. Clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. As amazing as GRL is, it can be overwhelming, especially for those of us who struggle with anxiety, body image issues, and self-confidence. Every year at least one or two outfits find their way into my suitcase that never see the light of day at GRL, and it’s always because I wasn’t honest with myself as I was packing. If I’m not brave enough to wear it at home, I certainly won’t wear it there. And if a sweater is uncomfortable, it’s not magically going be comfortable at GRL. (Besides, if I had a magic suitcase, I wouldn’t be using it to make the tags on my sweaters not itch–I’d be using it for much more nefarious purposes. *ahem*) This applies to costumes for theme nights, too.

GRL has no dress code. Wear what’s comfortable and what makes you feel confident and happy. For some, that’s jeans and T-shirts. For me, it’s fun dresses and those ridiculous high heels. When I’m dressed up, it helps me put my anxiety aside and be outgoing and chatty. Be yourself and you’ll be more relaxed and have more fun.

  1. Antibodies. I know you can’t shove these in your carry on, but trust me, you’ll want to bring them. The best way to do that is to get your flu shot in early October. No one wants to come home with Con Crud, and a flu shot is a good way to ward that off. I also always travel with packets of Throat Coat tea. It’s nasty, but it works.

See you there!


Bru Baker headshotBru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

GayRomLit is an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate LGBT romance for a one-of-a-kind, must-attend gathering of dynamic, informal, and diverse fun.

Each year, the retreat rotates to a new city and hosts tons of events from raucous parties to mellow tête á têtes while still maintaining a spirit of familiarity. GRL is the place to connect with old friends, find family you didn’t know you had, and meet with both newly published and established authors in the gay romance genre.

This year’s retreat will be held in Denver, Colorado on October 19-22, 2017 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center.

For more information or to register, please visit our website:

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