Normally I don't do a recap of conferences. How can I fit so many wonderful things and folks in one itty bitty post? But, what the heck, thought I try this time.
Things kicked off right when I landed in Houston for my layover and found Jessica Canoto, Alissa Steele, and Gina Gutierrez waiting at the same gate. Woohoo! Party starts here and carried onto the flight to CA. Hugs and love to Laurie Peterson for being so gracious in gathering some lonely lost souls from the plane, including me. Your hubby is adorable too!
The Bahia Resort is gorgeous and easier to navigate than the crazy honeycomb maze of Chicago (tho I still laugh everytime I remember all of us getting lost and turned around so many times). Started seeing most of our crowd in and around the lobby. There was my beloved pal and roomie – Rebecca Johnson – and got our long-awaited hugs! While waiting for room to get ready, I wandered into the café for food and met Atom Yang, Caraway Carter, and others who enjoyed the writer's workshop where Kris Jacen, my beloved awesome editor, used my Walk Me Trilogy and others to help show series arcs. Walk down to dinner with Juli-Anna Dobson – you know I can never get thru a GRL without finding you – and we got lovely eye-candy (runner in white shorts – Hello!) as a treat. Enjoyed some of the Pre-Retreat Meet and Greet along with Swag Room set-up to get a gander at what everyone created. Enjoyed the gorgeous beach-bay view from my room's sliders and took pics.
Next day started out with a bang – Starbucks run and bumping into more folks and got to Swag Room. Then it was time for the Supporting Author booksigning – My turn at the signing table. Talked to anyone who stopped by to see me or visit Pip n Skip, enjoyed talking to folks about Southern Charm, Walk Me Trilogy and other ideas coming down the pike. Loved meeting new readers when I signed the special Stories/Excerpts Anthology – From San Diego with Love – thank you Cate Ashwood for creating this for everyone. Hugs and love to AKM Miles for her love and support of Following the Law and pics. Fangirled the sweet Cody Kennedy (sorry for the pounce).
Then all the spotlights started – first was the Storyteller Spotlight – KC Burn, Lynn Lorenz and Belinda McBride talking about all the characters we love and adore. Followed up by another Storyteller spotlight with Mary Calmes (really gotta pick up some of your books!!), Andrew Grey (you know I adore you) and Jaime Reese (you always have a spot in my heart since Tennessee!). Rushed up to Mission Ballroom for a packed house (standing room only!) to listen to Charlie Cochet (Dex and THIRDS – utter total fangirl!), Rhys Ford (Miki love!), and Lisa Henry (a new one to me but adore). We had our very own THIRDS Agent - Regina Franchi, you were so damn cool in cosplay of Dex – unforgettable! So happy to meet you!
Luau time! Gathered all my special goody bags, talked with one of my favorite besties, Rj Scott, and laughed at Brandon Witt with his unforgettable flamingo hat. We got leid and stepped out to cheers and applause from you awesome readers. Went to Table 6 and got utter cheers and had NO clue what I got myself into when I saw colorful tentacles raised by the Kraken Team of Prism Book Alliance. Things got louder when Tj Klune joined us. Tj and I laughed the entire night by the ladies antics and helped by Kraken Juice and Hula Twerking. (I will not make mention of my issue with the chair - nope nope) Best table evah! May I request this table next year? Spent some time at the after party, but not long.
Crawled outta bed next morning – but sat with SJD Peterson and SA McCauley and roomie, Rebecca Johnson, for an awesome breakfast chat. Thank you ladies for letting us join you. Luckily Dreamspinner provided more caffeine and sustenance for all the bleary eyed folks. Jumped right back into spotlights – Q&A with Alexis Duran, Jordan L. Hawk (total utter fangirl squeal whenever I see her and David and highlights of W&G and Spectre) and Felice Stevens. Took a few minutes to speak with Nicki and Claire at the Pride Publishing table about ideas for Southern Charm series (still in the works – but news of competition will hopefully be announced – stay tuned for news!!) and rushed to tail end of Wheel of Destiny – Poppy Dennison, Wade Kelly, and SJD Peterson. Before lunch and lounge, I stayed to listen to Turning Up the Heat with SE Jakes, Silvia Violet and LA Witt. Went to my Lounge Session, not too many visitors, but loves listening and joining in on conversations plus more bunny love. Listened and joined in the wonderful and informative session Role Players in Sex with Tj Klune, SA McAuley and Abigail Roux where we ventured into the rest of the rainbow spectrum – beyond the Gay. Thank you three so much for opening these mostly unknown sexualities and supporting others – including me (Ace and proud of it) and one of my newest heroes, Beau Courtenay – a Gay Asexual.
Time for the Fun Fair! I joined in on the Win, Lose, Draw or Discover game as a Supporting Author. Big thanks once more to LA Witt and Anna Zabo for giving the Supporting Authors time to shine. The game was Pictionary and full of tropes. Yes, penises and MPreg were involved. Lots! Joined LA, Anna, Carrie Anne, and so many others on the patio for a truly epic game of Cards Against Humanity. Man, most of us were sober, but boy some of you were so naughty. Naughty!
Last full day – Booo! – but more caffeine to kick off the morning. Morning spotlight – Blue Collar Hero with Amber Kell, Rj Scott and Marie Sexton (with her ever awesome shoe choices!). Randy Gresham came to the rescue with microphones. Even this early, laughs were abound – NO, I wasn't sleeping in Rj's pic of the room, bad timing. Why would I sleep? It was topped off by Rj's fabulous hubby reading a steamy scene from Texas Heat. Come on – steamy scene and British accent – can't miss combo! Finished with the last spotlight – Why Quirk is our Kink – Tara Lain (so sweet and kind), Amy Lane (fangirl – I can never miss any time with Amy) and ZA Maxfield (Love you and gotta catch up on your books too).
On to the big event – Featured Author Booksigning. Hot, loud, and crowded so I couldn't quite stay for long but got the signatures I desired and yes, I got extra books. Hugs and love to everyone for taking the time to sign stuff. Even Rj, tho she sent me to the back of the line. Love ya anyway, Rj!
Got to watch my last sunset in San Diego...
Rebecca and I hung out before the Hollywood Costume Extravaganza with some lovely folks – Juli-Anna, Jessica, Laurie, and Nancy. Chit-chatted, laughed, and dressed for the party. Pulled my last minute costume together, but it worked. My roomie rocked it as Kim Kardashian – full on attitude and everything. You go, girl! Juli-Anna wore a gorgeous Tardis costume while Jessica and Laurie were sexy Snow White and the Evil Queen – complete with an apple.
OMG – the costumes were beyond awesome this year. It kicked off with the Fashion Police and Fan Girls on the Red Carpet reporting live from GRL. From Hollywood glam, to a full set of Batman and his villians, black and white characters – especially Charlie Chaplin (hi Cody!), the Spice Girls – Zathyn, you rocked the look!, and Her Majesty, the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings, with a full Royal entrance. Kris tried to whip me into obedience – don't know if it worked. I ended up part of a Marvel Crew – Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, Black Widow and Winter Soldier (K-lee, you rocked the look). Jim Morrison came back to visit us – way sexy, Jared Rachler. Finn and Jake from Adventure Time took photos.
Last morning – mega booo! – was the Farewell Brunch. Last goodbyes to all my friends – long-time and new. Lots of hugs. Even some first-time hellos as others catch sight of one another for first time throughout conference – never fails. Promises to find one another at next year – Kansas City.
GRL didn't quite end right away – got to spend more time with others at San Diego. Shared a flight out with Amy DiMartino.
Hugs and love to the organizers and everything you do to make GRL Retreat one of the best places to get together. Hugs and kisses to everyone!