Warning: It’s another LONG one, and a little anemic on the pictures this time.
Hello again everybody! This is the last part in my GRL Recap. If you missed the first two feel free to go back and read about the road to the conference (Part 1) and the first half of the conference (Part 2). We left off yesterday with our night of debauchery at the New Mexico Gay Men’s Choir’s Halloween Cabaret** and then the party back at the Hard Rock***. I woke up on Saturday just completely… out of it. I wasn’t even hung over (lots of water), but the combination of several late nights in a row, not sleeping, and drinking when I normally don’t and I just needed a morning off. Plus, up until now we’d really been going from morning to night without much rest and I need more downtime than that. So I took the morning off. It made me a little sad, but I had to do it.
I ended up missing a couple of the readings I had really been looking forward to (Edmond’s and Val’s and some others) and when I finally got down to the lobby to see what was going on everyone was coming in from Silver’s BBQ on the lawn. It was nice though. I went and had lunch all by myself. I got to read a bit of Tigerland by Sean Kennedy while eating a truly scrumptious Tuna Melt with Havarti and Sweet Potato Fries. My waiter, who I remembered seeing every day as we went down for breakfast there, talked to me for 20 minutes about how he had once been a bartender in Vegas. He told me stories about how he’d met Elvis and James Brown He was such an awesome guy.
Saturday afternoon was the Author’s Autographs event. I have to say that this year was MUCH better than in New Orleans. While taking a ride on the ferry up the Mississippi was a great idea, I didn’t have much fun locked in that room with nowhere to sit. And, honestly, I’m not an autograph person. I could do better to go around and actually talk to more people, but alas, I never end up doing that with authors I don’t know (Note, check out Elisa Rolle’s GRL Recap in the links below — lots of author pics from the signing!). I usually seek out some and then my social expectations are met. So being free to come and go and wander wherever I pleased was nice. I got to buy more books (eek!). I talked to the very, very lovely Kris Piet. The night before she’d seen me at my worst (drunk and dropping my stolen books — not my finest moment) but being able to talk to her a bit during the day was very nice. Kris and I have talked through email quite a lot over the past year and since they got to know me personally from reviewing their books, and later with the blog, and Kris is absolutely lovely! I also finally got to talk to Erica Pike, who came all the way from Iceland! She was wonderful to talk to and stocked me full of licorice candy (yummy.. eating some now!) for my drive home. We got to talk for quite a while and I got to give her a hug and it was really nice. Laura and I went and visited with ZAM, who I will forever love. I remember loving her reading in New Orleans and getting to talk to her more was very nice. I also stopped by the Silver table and the ladies were kind enough to give me a few audiobooks on CD to listen to on my drive home. Those really went to good use. I listened to Grand Jete by Diana Copland and One More Soldier by Marie Sexton (reviews on those coming tomorrow).
In all, that afternoon was really nice. It was much more low key and after the past few days, I really needed that. I almost forgot! I had a really nice time talking to Aleks Voinov at the author signing. We had talked briefly a few times in the previous days, but I spent a good 20 minutes talking to him. I won’t lie — I was surprised that he was nice. That sounds horrible, I know! But… I mean… he totally scared me! I realized that I really just did not get his humor before I met him in person, but seeing him and getting to know him in person shed light on a whole new side of his personality and his online persona just sort of… clicked. I told him that I hadn’t wanted to meet him because even though I thought he was a brilliant author, he was totally scary online, which he thought was hilarious. I’m sure he’s been told that before I think he was probably the author that surprised me the most. From what I’ve seen of him online and things like that, I had this totally different picture in my head of what he was like, and the surprise of finding out how wrong I was kinda blew me away!
In New Orleans, I ended up getting to know Nikyta (and her sweet and really great mom Catia) and I hadn’t really known her very well previously. Since then we’ve become very good friends and seeing her this year was just really… great. I can’t say more than that. If you don’t know her, she’s one of my two reviewers here at The Armchair Reader and she started reviewing for me not long after the blog opened in May of this year. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time together this year, so that’s why I was so happy that she and her mom came to dinner with us. We had a good time talking, catching up, telling stories and talking about people behind their backs (the best pastime! muahaha!) and planning for next year in Atlanta.
Part of the reason I needed to take Saturday easy was I had planned on driving home to Oklahoma on Sunday. I knew that I’d need to rest up some during the day so I didn’t crash just as I was getting on the road the next morning (for my 12 hour drive) and I knew that I’d have to take it easy that night. I wasn’t going to miss the night, of course, but I’d had enough drinking by that point. We had two events that night. Torquere hosted a Southwestern cultural show along with tribal dancing and chanting and Native American arts (by now they’d really gotten the message that a ticket per person for a free drink should really just be an open bar) and then Dreamspinner hosted a piano bar directly afterwards. It was a fun night. I spent a lot of the first event talking with Laura and Alex and the second one (where everyone was a little crazier) hanging out with all my ladies out on the patio and listening to the music. Of course, who should show up but Edmond dressed as a demented clown? Here is a TERRIBLE picture of him “licking” my neck which Tina texted to my mom, lol (to which she replied, “did anyone tell them you’re scared of clowns?”… um, if I wasn’t before I am now mom!).
Of course, we had to sing Journey! It was fun — it reminded me of our night out in New Orleans at Pat O’Briens (sic?) and singing along with the piano man. The only way it could have been better would have been dueling pianos, but I know I’m a picky bitch so don’t mind me When people started to transition to the after hours parties (casino and in-resort club) I kinda/sorta tried to wiggle my way upstairs (look at me showing restraint! the horror!) and ran into a whole group of people I’d been meaning to meet/talk to/or talk to more. Amy Lane, Ellis Carrington, and Chris and I talked for a while. Then, FINALLY I got to meet two ladies I’d been waiting all weekend to meet — Charlie Cochet and Rhys Ford. Both women are two of my favorite authors and stun me every time I read another of their books. I don’t know Rhys as well, personally, but Charlie and I have talked and it was a delight to finally be able to give them a hug (Rhys gives the bestest ever) and put a face to the name. Charlie struck me as someone who I’d just love to talk to for hours and Rhys has such a gregarious and fun-loving personality that she just seems to attracts people to her. I loved them both. Also with the group and people I wish I had gotten to know were Lisa (the awesome reviewer of The Novel Approach) and seriously cute Jacob Z. Flores and his also cute partner. Of course, now I really want to read 3, Jacob’s recently released novel from Dreamspinner. That is the power of a pretty man, people. It looks angsty.
The night was pretty great, but certainly more low-key for me than my previous ones and I headed to bed pretty early (Midnight) while everyone else headed to the club in the Hard Rock and the bar.
I was really pretty sad to leave on Sunday morning. I think everyone was in a way. I said a lot of it yesterday, about how people really bond at these things and the overall tone, no matter how hokey it sounds, is one of togetherness and common purpose and belief. It is nice to have that outlet. I wish that we could have 2 GRLs a year. It’s hard, now that I’ve bonded with so many online friends to go back home. It feels like putting distance back into a friendship after there was no need for it. I have to deal with the comedown from that for a few days, working back into my normal routine, after the end of every year and this year was almost a little worse, because I made even more friends.
That is part of why I wanted to drive to Albuquerque. I mean, I love driving. I didn’t fly anywhere until I was 16 — I grew up taking road trips with my family. So driving home was nice itself, but also to decompress, think about the weekend and my feelings and allow myself to unwind and get back in the proper headspace.
But before I took off for the road I met everyone at breakfast the next day. I think I left before most people, though some were starting to get ready to head for the airport, but I liked it that way. I sat next to Amy Lane at breakfast and we got to talk a little more before leaving, which was nice (I’m wearing her dragon shirt that I won right now, in fact ). We talked about how brilliant Mary Calmes is and our favorite books and how much we love to knit. I wish I had read How to Raise an Honest Rabbit then so I could have gushed to her about how much I loved Jeremy! And then I said goodbye to everyone, took a few last pictures and headed out for the road.
The drive home was pretty anticlimactic. I was by myself so I listened to those Silver CDs I got which I mentioned earlier. I ate the cookies that Snow brought from the bakery and gave to me for the drive home (I still don’t know what they were but I’m guessing aniseed snickerdoodles, which were a-MA-zing). And I stopped about 5 times for coffee, and then about ten times for the bathroom, making my 10 hour drive into about 13 hours and getting home at 1 am.
I have to say that I know conferences aren’t for everyone (both GRLs are the only ones I’ve ever been to) and that it isn’t possible for some people to go. I’ve loved my time at both of them and would hate to miss one. And if you’re thinking about it, you should seriously consider going to Atlanta next year. I would LOVE to go to Manchester next summer to the UK Meet, but it isn’t a difficult guess that that is out of the realm of possibility, but I’d love to see some of my European online buddies. Thankfully next year’s GRL is on the east coast and many of them are planning on attending.
So, until tomorrow, I’ll sign out. I hope that I’ve given you a pretty good idea of my time, the people, and the conference, but all I can really say is that once again this year’s GRL blew me away and completely exceeded my expectations. And they were much higher than the previous years.
This was the last part of the GRL Recap, but tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about the books I read and listened to during, on the way home from, and immediately after the conference with some mini reviews. Most of them are excellent and there’s one book in particular I want to shout about from the rooftops If I could make you all read what I wanted (wouldn’t that be a great superpower???), I’d make everyone I know read this one. Come back tomorrow to find out which book it is!
Other GRL posts:
JoyfullyJay – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Chris @ Stumbling Over Chaos – From Somewhere in New Mexico, A Bit More from New Mexico (great pic of me and Tina on this one!), More GRL Links
Laura & Laddie @ The LL’s Word – It’s Our Party…
Reviews by Jessewave – Wonderful Memories… (lots of author stuff here), GRL 2012 Photos
Eric Arvin – The List: What I did at GRL
Kate McMurray – Five Things: GRL Recap Edition
Eden Winters – GRL 2012
Elisa Rolle – Around the World: 2012 GRL in Albuquerque (this is where you should go to put a face to the name! LOTS of authors, many I didn’t even see and am sad I didn’t talk to in person!)
Lisa @ The Novel Approach – I’m Back…
There are lots more! Too many to post actually, but look up some authors if you wanna get more, lots of the ones who attended have written about it on their site and shared pictures as well.
Good day everyone!
**In Part 2 yesterday, I forgot to link to the video that I mentioned Laura took of the guys singing “Creep”. It was fantastic and you should check it out! Go to Laura and Laddie’s recap edition and the video is embedded in the page.
*** Yesterday, at the end of Part 2, I ended talking about how I didn’t remember much from Friday night at the hotel. I remember now! I actually had a really, really great time. Around 12:45 we tried to get into the casino bar (me, Tina, & Laura) as everyone moved the party after karaoke, but all those doubles from Effex hit Laura pretty hard so Tina and I took her up to bed. Tina ended up staying but I went back down to the casino for a few hours and ended up sneaking into the bar just before last call and met up with TC Blue, Anne Tenino and EM Lynley. Now, I got to know Tis and EM Lynley (I bet she told me what to call her when I was drunk… in both cities!) in New Orleans, but I hadn’t met Anne until this point. Tis had to leave pretty soon after that but the three of us left stayed and chatted for several hours. It was really great. My buzz from earlier in the night was carrying me through, no doubt about that, and I was pretty toasted. I remember telling several embarrassing stories once we left to get a midnight snack of fries at the cafe and the woman sitting next to us laughing her ass off at me It was really fun and it was really nice to reconnect with EM Lynley while getting to know Anne Tenino. After that it was bedtime, but staying up and chatting with those ladies was really fun! I wish I had some pictures of us, but this was once again me and my failure to get any good pictures at all. I bet a few were taken, so maybe one of those ladies has some and if I find any I’ll share them, because we had a lot of fun laughing and telling stories
PS: I met so many amazing and wonderful people — authors, readers and those with the publishers — that I know I missed a lot of you. Please forgive me and hopefully I’ll see you next year at Hotlanta!