RT 2014 in NOLA started out bumpy and cascaded into a whirlwind for me. Due to a smoky mechanical issue in Chicago, both O’Hare and Midway shut down for several hours in the middle of the day on Tuesday. That shutdown turned O’Hare into a clusterfuck of epic proportions. I arrived at O’Hare at 5:30 for a 7:30 flight and actually took off for NOLA at 11:43 the following day. I landed at 2:23 pm, exactly 7 minutes before I was due to speak at my very first RT panel, a panel I had pitched: Writing Effective LGBT Characters. Thankfully, my friends and fellow panelists: Amy Lane, Devon Rhodes, and TA Chase took over and handled things beautifully.
The days honestly start to blur, so I’ll reconstruct the event from my pictures and Evernote notes. Once I arrived at the hotel, within a matter of minutes I ran into almost a dozen friends in the lobby. One of the first I encountered was one of my favorites, KA Mitchell, and, well, she gave me crabs. That may have set the tone for my weekend. I also ran into Damon Suede, and our friendship came full circle because we had met for the first time in NOLA at GRL. I absolutely love this picture.
Our first night in New Orleans, we decided to take full advantage of the culinary flavor of the city by going to NOLA, an Emeril Lagasse restaurant. With four servers attending to us, Jodi, Brandilyn, and I were we’ll taken care of. Bread, cornbread, drinks, appetizers, and finally the main course were delivered by servers who could not have been more helpful. From the filet to the barbecued shrimp, everything was amazing.
Thursday and Friday were all about interviews and panels. The interviews I’ll link to as they are published, but the panels were kind of hit and miss for me. In some of these events, the speakers talk far more about themselves and their books than the subject they’re in front of us to discuss. While A Heart for Robbie will be my 20th published title, I still find learning craft from other authors to be invaluable. Wade Kelly and I sat through a panel on Urban Fantasy that descended into a discussion on pantsing vs plotting which has little to do with the topic being discussed. I went to another one on writing comedy into your books which focused a lot on the books of the panelists. The other two panels I went to were fabulous, first was 3D characters with Cherry Adair and Heather Graham which was funny and very well done. The second was about writing science into your novel. It was a panel of strong, brilliant, science-oriented women which I loved and they had some great tips on maybe incorporating some of my physics knowledge into fiction. I also put all of their books on my TBR. I really enjoyed that panel.
Thursday night consisted of a couple of drinks and dinner with some people I truly enjoy spending time with – bloggers Joyfully Jay, Heather from Blogger Girls and Jen from Love Bytes, Brandilyn from Prism, as well as Kate McMurray who I absolutely adore. Afterwards we went to the Samhain Party which was well attended even with the questionable choice of DJ.
Friday evening we took off and spent some time in the French Quarter, having dinner and checking out the architecture. My good friend Kage Alan have a running discussion about fortune tellers, psychics, etc. because he finds some value in it and I don’t. At all. So, I had my fortune told for the first time. I’m going to live into my 90s, she guessed I was bi so everything was about men and women, and gave me a bunch of bullshit that would have applied to a million other people, but she was funny and charismatic and we had a good time. After dinner, we spent the evening at the gay club Oz with our friends. I made the mistake of doing Jäger bombs with the bartender and may have ended up dancing up on one of the raised platforms. I also met a gorgeous, funny, and sweet dancer named Jake who will end up in a book some day soon. Oh and I got picked up by a really cute straight guy named Brad, but given the fact I wasn’t entirely sober, Jamie chased him off. Reason #37754 to be friends with gay men, they take very good care of me.
Saturday was all about three things: my hangover, the book fair, and the FANtastic Day party sponsored by Dreamspinner Press. I seriously thought I might die Saturday morning when I got up. The Tylenol took care of my throbbing head, but even with the crackers and 7Up they got me for the signing, I wasn’t able to eat until we ordered up room service pizza about 9 that night. The signing went really well. I’d had some reservations about being on YA Alley, but gave out everything I had including 200 Read A Book Save A Kid drawstring backpacks (designed by Jeff from JP Adkins design, who also did my table banner). I also sold about 20 books including one Broken Kind of Life to a sweet deaf kid which made me really happy. I left my station only once, to go meet the writing team behind Kit Rocha because I LOVE the a beyond series.
I went back to my room for a while and laid down between events but was up and ready to go for the FANtastic Day party. This is a fan event where they can come to mingle and have books signed by authors and win awesome prizes. It was a huge event last year, but with authors like EL James, Lee Child, Tiffany Reisz, Eloisa James, and Sylvia Day this year was EPIC and the Dreamspinner authors and staff pulled together to make it a truly incredible event. I was on social media so I posted pics and videos to the DSP twitter live from the party, Damon emceed taking over the mic with his usual amazing flair. Authors Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, Tere Michaels, Ariel Tachna, Anne Reagan, Nessa Warrin, Kate McMurray, and our new amazing 15 year old YA author Winter Page manned bags, drawing tickets, and general mayhem. (I’m sure I’m missing authors there and I apologize). Other m/m authors signing at the event were KA Mitchell, LA Witt, Cat Grant, Devon Rhodes, Marie Sexton, TA Chase, EM Lynley, Tara Lain, Jessica Freeley, and Amber Kell. (Again, I’m sure I’m missing people, but there were a lot of people in that chaos).
(Thank you Kage for the calming phone call before bed.)
Sunday morning was a lazy breakfast with Brandilyn from Prism, Becky Condit (who I never ever see enough of), and Wade Kelly, during which we exchanged advice and strategies on giveaways and swag.
All in all, it was a good weekend but I’m seriously happy to pack JP back into the suitcase for a while – she’s kind of exhausting.