I’m back from New Orleans! I’m taking today off to recover, and much recovery is needed, because I had a blast and didn’t sleep much.
It was a really wonderful weekend. I’m still all giddy about it. I want to recap, but I’m inevitably going to leave out the names of some awesome people I met, so apologies in advance! I don’t mean to exclude you! I’m just very tired right now!
I also didn’t really take any pictures, but I want to see everyone’s! And I’ve been reading other attendees’ accounts, but please leave links to yours in the comments here, too!
Here’s my highlight reel:
• I left my apartment in Brooklyn at 4:30am Thursday after having slept only about two hours. Somehow I still came within a hair’s breath of missing my 6:45am flight out of JFK. Uneventful flight. My room wasn’t ready when I checked in to the hotel, so I checked my luggage at the front desk and went for a walk. I had beignets at Cafe Du Monde and then got stupid lost in the French Quarter. (My sense of direction in NOLA was screwy. The Quarter is a grid, but it’s tilted, so while normally I have a good sense of direction, I could not figure out which way was north/south/whatever.) I was saved mostly by the GPS on my iPhone. Eventually, I made it back and was able to prettify myself to go register for the convention and start meeting people.
• It’s a totally surreal experience to have a stranger walk up to you, squint at your name badge, gasp, and say, “I loved your book!” A surprising (to me) number of readers gushed about In Hot Pursuit. (Noah and Harry thank you!)
• I got to meet a lot of people at the opening gala. I grabbed a bite to eat afterward, and then we went to the Gentlemen’s Juke-Joint Junket at Lafitte’s in Exile (which claims to be the oldest gay bar in the country), where I talked to some bloggers (hi, Chris and Kassa and everyone!) and drank whatever the bartender was pouring. It was fun, but I was operating on very tiny amounts of both sleep and food, and thus I was HURTING Friday morning.
• Friday was busy. I had beignets for breakfast, then I sat in on some author readings, then I went to the Dreamspinner publisher spotlight and signed some books, then I hosted a lunch and ate a tasty muffaletta while chatting with readers (one of whom, Poppy Denison, got her first publishing contract that very afternoon, so congrats!), THEN I went to the Creole Queen riverboat for a big signing event, where I talked to a lot of people and signed a lot of autographs. I am a PRO at signing autographs now. After we got off the boat, I had dinner at Pat O’Brien’s with Ethan Stone and Laura B. After THAT, I planned to just go back to my room and crash, but there was noisy construction at the hotel, so I wandered out into the lobby to see who else was around. I wound up going out for a drink with Shae Conner, and we talked a lot about publishing and baseball. (After all that, I did, indeed, go to my room to crash. I think I conked out at 9:30.)
• Saturday was less crazy during the day. I went to a bunch of author social events. There was some great discussion during at least one of the socials about how amazingly supportive the m/m writing community is of each other. This has been true in my experience, and it was great to see that in action. (The whole convention was like that. It was great.) After the socials, I wound up going out for lunch and a little souvenir shopping with a few readers from Florida (hi, Dolorianne and crew!). When I got back from lunch, I was sort of at loose ends for the afternoon, and I wound up just camping out in the lobby and talking to whoever came by. (I’m trying to avoid name dropping too much, because I’m certain there are people I had wonderful conversations with that my sleep-deprived brain is not recalling. But people I remember talking to include Marguerite Labbe, Clare London, Rowan Speedwell, JP Barnaby, Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan, Damon Suede, and I’m sure some others I don’t remember.)
• Saturday night, there was a hurricane party, so I had a bit to drink and then went to dinner with Marie Sexton, Ethan Stone, Ellis Carrington, Heidi Cullinan, Damon Suede, and Laura B. We went back to the hotel for a wine and cheese party. After that, we went to a gay bar on Bourbon Street, where I danced and drank and stuck a couple of dollars into a go go boy’s undies. All in good fun. (I hadn’t been out to a club in quite some time, and it’s been even longer since I went to a bar/club at which people were smoking. I’m not one to get self-righteous about smoking, but all the bans on where you can smoke plus the high taxes on cigarettes means no one in New York really smokes anymore, and I was not used to it. I sound kind of raspy today as a result. It’s sexy.)
• We got back to the hotel around 2:30am Sunday, so I slept for a couple of hours and then got up at 7am to pack and go to breakfast. After saying good-bye to everyone, I had lunch with my cousin and her boyfriend (they live in NOLA). Then I was off to the airport!
A few other things:
• You know what’s really surreal? When an author whose work you love comes up to you and tells you s/he loves your work right back. This happened to me more than once!
• I now have a very lengthy list of books I want to buy. It is true what they say, I guess; there are a number of authors I met whose stuff I hadn’t read, but I liked them so much in person that I will now go buy their books. (I was really good about not buying books despite temptation or even really entering giveaways. It was hard enough to get the stuff I did acquire into my luggage when I was packing to come home.)
• One of the best things for me was just talking about the industry and the genre with fellow authors. I had been feeling a little isolated, and very few of my writer friends are even romance writers, so it was really great to talk shop, so to speak. I hadn’t really had an opportunity like that before.
• It was a small enough convention that I think I got to at least say hello to almost everyone there, which was nice. It’ll be interesting to see how it expands in the future.
So, that was the quick take on my trip. It really was an amazing experience. Thanks to all of the organizers (Ethan Day, Carol Lynne, JP Bowie, Lynn Lorenz, Amanda Young, William Neale, plus all the volunteers) for putting on a fantastic convention. And thanks, too, to all the readers who came out; certainly none of this would have been possible without you, either. I look forward to seeing many of you next year in Albuquerque!