Today’s Cub Reporter is Damon Suede. Damon is the author of the brand new contemporary Bad Idea and his previous novel, Hot Head was #1 in the gay romance genre on Amazon for six straight months. He grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year.
I’ve just come back from the most fabulous con you’ve never heard of.
The GayRomLit Retreat just unleashed its third phenomenal year to a sold-out crowd in Atlanta. And I don’t say sold-out lightly: author spaces for the weekend were snapped up in under six minutes and the entire con was sold out in less than a week…with a waitlist that grew into the hundreds as the retreat approached. GRL has quickly become a must-attend event for a burgeoning community of readers and writers…and gained a rep as one of the most fabulous cons of the year.
GayRomLit describes itself as a gathering for the folks who create and celebrate LGBT romance, and boy is it. In the past few years, gay romance has enjoyed an explosive groundswell in the romance genre and GRL 2013 reflected every bit of that affection, acceptance, and warmth. Events ran the gamut: soirees from black tie soirees to black light disco, porn star jams to tearstained marriage proposals. A blowout across the board!
For the first time at GRL, things kicked off Wednesday with a pre-retreat convention for writers to kick off the week with some networking and craft-building for the author-types. Co-sponsored by the Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA’s chapter for authors of LGBT romance, the GRL Writers Workshop featured over twenty instructors from within the RRW chapter offering panels and workshops on craft, strategy, and professional development. The editor/agent pitch appointments proved a complete slamdunk and more than few deals got done that day. We broke midday for a groovy keynote luncheon by K.A. Mitchell and wrapped up with a poolside cocktail party in the evening. Established and budding authors alike lauded the workshop as fantastic addition to both GRL and the LGBT romance community; plans are already in the works to bring the workshop back, bigger and better, next year.
Thursday morning, GRL kicked off in earnest. Fans and authors had flown in from all over the world (Australia, Germany, Belgium, Brazil) to join the LGBT romance tribe. By day the GRL Retreat featured author readings, question and answer sessions, and panels focused on subgenres to answer questions from PG to NC-17. The publishers opened up a book room that broke sales records; Dreamspinner alone sold 1200+ books in a couple days. The GRL fun fair offered everything from author scrapbooking to a salacious sidewalk artshow. And of course, the nights featured a variety of parties to satisfy almost any taste.
GRL has a reputation for unforgettable parties and this year we raised the bar. The Thursday night Juke Joint (hosted by Wilde City, Stiff Rain, and Extasy) had a blacklight theme, and about two-thirds of the attendees came in an array of fluorescent costumes and wigs. Friday night was elegant evening wear for Dreamspinner’s Enchanted Evening, and Saturday was Samhain’s sunset cocktails followed by Totally Bound’s masquerade extravaganza, where GRLers got their ghoul on. All three nights featured an after-party in a private bar where, true to GRL spirit, DJs sprang spontaneously out of the crowd and kept people jumping and bumping. The whole GRL tribe generated so much wacky fun energy that each night the go-go dancers or jazz singers or MCs would put on their street clothes and join us for the rest of the night just to hang out till the wee hours.
That’s the thing: a singular openness and warmth drives GayRomLit. No surprises there… LGBT romance breaks down walls, closets, and expectations on the page, and that freedom and acceptance carries over to the general shenanigans whenever we come together as a community. So much of the GRL event is about family and the friendly tribe that seems to spring up around these books, and that carried over into real world contributions.
Elisa Rolle, longtime LGBT reviewer and blogger, partnered with the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter to raise over $6000 for two separate charities through her awards contest, and the checks were signed on the ground in Atlanta. One GRL attendee collected knitwear for homeless LGBT youth. Author J.P. Barnaby hosted a phenomenal bodypainting event that raised more money for a local shelter.
As dazzling as the entertainment is each year at GRL, my favorite moments come in the little unexpected meetings and intersections that happen at random. Putting names to faces for the first time, discovering shared favorites or crazy coincidences. Some of my highlights:
- watching Joyfully Jay greet a PACKED room of excited first-timers for her annual newbie meet-n-greet.
- sharing a sweaty dance with Devon Rhodes which always gets my convention started right.
- shamelessly fanboy-ing genre favorite Jordan Castillo Price who proved to be more gracious, gorgeous and brilliant than I could have hoped.
- getting to eat and dance and joke with the RRW members I only get to see a few times a year.
- one of my fans surprising me with a spectacular tattoo from one of my book covers.
- seeing YA author Michael Chulsky arrive GRL2013 as a GRL virgin and leave with a bushel of new fans and inspirations for about a dozen new projects.
Bottom Line: If you read LGBT romance then you need to come to Chicago next year for GayRomLit 2014. And if you don’t read LGBT romance, what are you waiting for?
Winner of Southern Magic Giveaway is Jillian Mick.
Winners of New Releases Tuesday are:
Harlequin - Collen C., Kathy Setter, Barbara, Kathy K., Kim
Please email Anna_Robinson @harlequin.ca with BHB winner in the subject line. Include your mailing address.
Emily March’s Miracle Road - Dina S., Blurbette Heidi, Nancy Northcott, Loretta Rogers, Rebecca C., Amy R., Nicole H., Cindy Ulrich, Susan Kay L., M. Bourke, cyclops8, Kari, Marcy Shuler, Elena L., pjpuppymom
Please email barbaravey @gmail.com with BHB winner in the subject line. Include your mailing address.