I can say, as someone who has been to every GRL, that each one has kind of a different vibe. For me, the six days I spent in Atlanta were busy and intense but also really wonderful and surprising and inspiring.

[I wrote this post Tuesday, and then thought, "I didn't take any photos, so I'll pull some off Facebook later," then kept forgetting to go do that. If you are friends with any gay romance author on the Book of Faces, you've probably seen the photopalooza of the last few days and are totally sick of it, so this will be a texty review of events. I'll paint pictures with words! (Ha, no, what am I, in a college creative writing class?) Here are my impressions as recorded Tuseday.]

This year, I got involved behind the scenes to help run the first ever Writers Workshop. The Workshop was run by Rainbow Romance Writers, for which I am the current president-elect, and it was intended to bring together writers to help share and foster talent. The whole event was a phenomenal success. It went more smoothly than I ever thought possible and we got nothing but positive feedback. Participants seemed to enjoy the classes—even my workshop on setting, although I felt like I got off to a slow start—and the pitch appointments ended up being a great surprise, with many writers doing their first ever pitches. I know some editors asked for partials and full manuscripts, so maybe the next big success will come of it.

I’ve already started talking to the GRL organizers about bringing it back next year, so stay tuned!

Somehow in all this, the Scarf Dance meme was created. Well, Damon Suede told a room full of people that I would be performing a scarf dance at the post-Workshop cocktail party, and people might have been disappointed that I just gave a short speech, but I did wave my arms a bit, and then Damon spent the rest of the week yelling “scarf dance!” at me.

(Phrase memes became a theme of the week. I roomed with Tere Michaels, and by the end, we were so tired, we were basically just speaking to each other in code. “Scarf dance?” “Clown!”)

Thursday morning, I went to the supporting author signing. I grabbed the sampler of stories by the supporting authors and carried it around to get signed by everyone. Putting that book together was a fantastic idea and gave me a good excuse to talk to all the authors there. I can’t wait to flip through it and read.

I volunteered to moderate, so I spent all of Thursday afternoon at the pub for readings. I moderated the very first session—Anne Tenino, Lloyd Meeker, and Shannon West, who were all fantastic—then I stuck around for Damon, Heidi Cullinan, and Deanna Wadsworth, then finally I read from The Stars that Tremble after readings from Jade Buchanan and Anna Zabo. (I heard later that while I was reading, TJ Klune proposed to Eric Arvin. Congrats, guys!)

Thursday night was the neon-themed Juke Joint party, a blast as always.

Friday morning, I did a storytelling panel on sports romance with Devon Rhodes and TA Chase, who are awesome and amazing and now I want to read their athletes series. (Obscure sports from around the world!)

Friday afternoon was the Fun Fair, including Scrapbooking with the Rainbow Romance Writers, which seemed to be a big hit. After doing all the prep work for that, I could go a while without seeing another glue stick, but we’re already talking about doing it again next year and extending the event to 2 hours instead of just 1 so readers have time to hit up every author.

At Dine with an Author, I wound up at a table tucked in the corner with Mr. Suede, but we had a fun little bunch of people. This was followed up by the Dreamspinner cocktail party, which was super classy! I really enjoyed seeing everyone all dressed up.

Saturday morning, I moderated the first session of readings—Jordan L. Hawk, P.D. Singer, and Angel Martinez, who, again, were all fantastic—then I crashed Tere Michaels’s panel on cop romances, which she did with Hank Edwards and Sylvia Violet. (Poor Tere had no voice by then.)

Saturday afternoon was the big book signing. Three hours is a lot and I had a terrible headache through most of it—not to be whiney—but it was great to see fans and talk to people I hadn’t been able to talk to up to that point in the convention.

Then there was a cocktail party and the Heaven & Hell Masquerade. I’m not really into wearing costumes, but I appreciate when other people do, and I really loved that party and how great some of those costumes were. My halo and angel wings were apparently not convincing, though. I can’t imagine why people weren’t buying the angel act. O:-)

There was brunch Sunday. I was busy trying to figure out how to ship leftover scrapbooking stuff and missed the photo booth, something I regret in retrospect. Then I flew home.

I worked yesterday, which wasn’t as bad as I expected, but today I am tiiiired.

My takeaways? I love this community of writers and readers so very much. I am SO EXCITED to get back to writing as soon as I have enough energy to do it. I have a towering virtual TBR pile on the Kindle with books written by authors I met and adored, so if I could have a week off to just read, that would be awesome. (My boss does not seem to like this idea.) And finally, I left with a lot of optimism for my tenure as RRW President in 2014. (I’m about 80% happy and excited and 20% abjectly terrified about taking over as president. I have some, er, big, loud shoes to fill. Perhaps my reign will be more understated but we’ll still kick ass and get a lot done as a chapter.)