I don't know if you've ever been to the GCLS Con. If you're like me, the Con officially begins with the first sighting of GCLS folk--in this case Mercedes Lewis and Lizz Gibson when we pulled in front of the Double Tree Hotel. Lizz came to our rescue in dealing with the shuttle company. Later, Nelda Ireland reeeeeally got the shuttle stuff straightened out for us so there would be no more questions on our return to Love Field. We were tired and dragging and a little irritable, but then I heard a "CHRIS!" shout-out when we entered the lobby from Jeanine Hoffman. That lifted my spirits. We later came down from our rooms to chat with friends we'd not seen in two years.
We rested up in time for Wednesday when our taskmaster, er-uh, fearless volunteer leader, Pam Sloss, imparted her instructions to us on what was needed. We immediately set about cutting out nametags, and cutting out nametags, and... you get the picture. It was still a lot of fun. That afternoon, we went out with friends to Twisted Root where we were given food tickets with such imaginative names as Chaka Kahn and Annie Oakley, among others, to pick up our food at the counter. I wasn't adventurous and went right along with Phyllis's request of a hamburger of "beef from a COW" for my sandwich (instead of elk, or buffalo, or other more exotic meat).
Thursday, Phyllis and I saw my publisher at Blue Feather Books, Em Reed, for the first time in two years. It was an emotional hug fest. We always love to see her, but a lot had happened in those two years. The Con "officially officially" started with Executive Director's Patty Schramm welcome. Then it was on to a romance coffee chat with Georgia Beers, Rachel Spangler, Mary Griggs, and Lee Lynch. It's interesting to listen to other authors speak about their characters and writing process, and I love interacting with the readers who asked excellent questions. Later that afternoon, I participated on a "Creating Series Characters" panel with Mary Vermillion, J.M. Redmann, and Ali Vali. Linda Kay Silva, our moderator, asked some hard questions. I think I provided semi-intelligent answers.
Friday, I felt like I hit a brick wall of fatigue. I don't know if I'd used up my adrenaline or what, but numerous people said, "wow, you look exhausted." That's not good. lol Carsen Taite did help in pepping us up with her speech that morning. Later that day, I had the pleasure of finally handing over my latest release to good buddy, Rach Spangler, while she handed me hers. We'd started this tradition long ago where we'd send each other our latest release. It was so special to do it in person.
We then read from our books right after the infamous book exchange. Rach's latest romance sounds like a winner. Can't wait to read it. Friday afternoon was the autograph session where you interact with the readers and your friends. That's always a blast. I had a good time chatting with fellow-Blue Feather authors Bev Prescott and Erica Lawson and with Lynn Ames. Friday night, we sang and boogied at the karaoke festivities. Phyllis and I were in our cowboy and cowgirl get-up. I had never worn cowboy boots in my LIFE, and I think it showed. lol
The awards ceremony was Saturday night. I'd already gone through the drill of how to handle the presentation of the Romance/Suspense award with Linda Kay Silva. She read this wonderful description of the category. My contribution was, "I agree." I don't think I could put a coherent sentence together even if I had been reading from a piece of paper. Linda sounded marvelous. She had told me what she was going to do. I think she was ready for me to say, "well, I'll say this and this." Heck no! Hence, "I agree." lol
Later, the final award, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, was announced. When Jessie Chandler announced, "Survived by Her Longtime Companion," and my name, it was so surreal, I stay seated for I think five seconds until Karen Badger urged me to stand up. Then I hugged my wife and couldn't stop kissing her. Phyllis finally got through my fogged-up brain and said, "Honey, you have to go get your award." Since we were the last table in the room, it took me some time to make it to the stage. After Patty hugged me, she said, "don't cry." Which was a useless piece of advice. lol Because of course I did. Even though I couldn't see her through the glare of the lights, I looked to the back of the room where I knew Phyllis was sitting and I spoke to her. She's the reason I'm writing. She's in every romantic moment I write between my characters. My characters even speak words she's spoken to me. I tried to thank her, but I don't think I can ever thank her enough. As for my father, I know he was there, too. Good friend Pam Sloss captured the moment on tape.
The only person I failed to thank, but got too flustered to say more than the words I did speak, was Ann Bannon. She is the inspiration to so many of us authors because if it weren't for her, authors like Lee Lynch, and Trailblazer Award-winner Marijane Meaker and others, organizations like the GCLS would not even exist. I look forward to next year in Portland so I can thank Ms. Bannon in person.
It was a magical night and a magical Conference... one I'll never forget.