Wednesday, 23 October 2013

GRL 2013

After the whole disaster of  imposing categories such as "preferred" and "featured" and "supporting" author, I wasn't keen on attending another GRL. I loved Albuquerque, though I spent most of it in a jetlagged daze - but I did meet many wonderful authors and Lori and I became fast friends there. (My gods, it's only been a year?)

For the record, I strongly resent the idea that any of the authors in the genre are "better" or "more necessary" to such an event. I may look like a solid mid-lister/small-time celebrity on the outside, but I just imagine what I'd have felt like as a "new" author in the genre, being relegated to the sidelines. I tend to hold grudges for years, so being treated like that once would likely have meant eternal resentment and maybe even that I'd never again have shown up. Nobody likes to be told they aren't important. (And no, I wasn't on the "preferred list", either, and would have insisted to be taken off it had I been one of the "Chosen Ones".)

Small gripes like this aside, a convention like GRL lives from the people involved. Personally, I chose not to take part in any of the events or parties - mostly because I'm not suited to loud and alcoholic environments, and I really wanted to spend my time either one-on-one or in a small group. I also did some minor busybody work (shopping, getting coffee), but mostly, I was just hanging out and talking to people.

Which is exactly what I like in conventions - having the time to connect with people I hadn't known or hadn't known well. This year, I also did quite a bit of work with a number of people. I've recently been certified as a progressive TFT practitioner, so people could watch me do consultations and tap various parts of "clients'" bodies. And it was very much necessary - large groups of people and especially authors have a way to stress people out, and many, if not all, authors suffer from anxieties (which pTFT is really good at resolving, so I did a lot of that). Few things are more gratifying than seeing a friend have a full-blown panic attack and treat them for 15 minutes, and see them smiling and joking with a group of people an hour later. It's nothing short of magical.

I spent a lot of time with LA Witt (obviously), and met so many more people - reviewers, readers and authors. "My" readers impressed the hell out of me - knowing who I write for - how smart they are, and how critical, and how accomplished - is humbling and has a way to focus me on my job. Knowing somebody like Sharon or Lin read my stuff, it's even more important for me to not compromise on the quality.

I've also met so many authors in the flesh whom I ended up really liking - from "just a name" to "OMG, that author's awesome!" a dozen, or two dozen, time. We went out to Poor Calvin's with Cherie Noel, EM Lynley, Thursday Euklid and Clancy Nacht, for example, and they were a riot. (If you ever go there, try the lobster wontons; they were some of the best food I've ever eaten. And I'm a saint for having shared them with the rest of the table.) So my TBR pile just gained another 20 titles or so.

The hotel did have some serious issues (dirty carpets, woefully unprepared, if friendly, staff, laughable gift shop, extremely mediocre restaurant food, and a gym that's actively dangerous, also a seasonally closed pool - and many complained about moldy rooms and no access to the balcony), so I'm hoping next year's will be better. The decor was really weird - it looked like it was built in the '60s and then upgraded in the mid-'80s. The furnishings were seriously tired - and then they charged for EVERYthing. Alcohol was very, very expensive. ($10-12 for a small alcoholic drink - I stuck to water and unsweetened iced tea for the whole stay.) I can't imagine that anybody who's stayed there will be back.

All this sounds quite negative, but nothing's further from the truth. If you have so many quality conversations/interactions with people, dealing with a sub-standard hotel really goes to the sidelines. I could happily do two of those a year. It was great meeting authors and readers and being able to help some people. If I can afford Chicago next year - which depends on book sales and whether I'll still have a job in 3-6 months' time - and if I can slip in in the five minutes that it's sold out, I should be there.

(Also, I'm glad I did get a chance to see the manta rays and whale sharks in the Atlanta Aquarium. Watching them for half an hour has chilled me right out.)

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