I did it! I went to my first Gay Romance Literature Retreat (GRL), and I had a blast! Let me start by saying I was scared out of my mind. I had my fears and doubts about a couple of things, even with my excitement I didn't know if I wanted to go. Even though I'd bought my plane ticket and reserved my room. I'm glad that I was able to push through my fears and still got on the plane which was another fear. I hate flying. After arriving in Denver and waiting for my husband to get our rental car, my anxiety ramped up. My number one thought kept ringing in the back of my head. What if the authors whose books I've read and loved are not as lovely in person as they are in real life? It's been known to happen. I'm so pleased that I was proven wrong when I received my first hug from Sharon Johnson before I even checked into my room. I met her mom who was with her, and she met my husband and son. Sharon and I have spoken over the phone a couple of times, and she is just as beautiful in person as she was over the phone.
After checking into my room, I wanted to stay in there and hide. However, my biggest supporter and best friend (husband) told me no. As a matter of fact, he was adamant that the only time I was allowed to stay in my room was to shower, dress, and sleep. After all one of the main points of me going to GRL was to meet and get to know authors and readers that are just like me. He was right if I stayed hidden the entire time I wouldn't be able to meet all the authors on my list. So without unpacking, I left my room.
On my first night, I met and went crazy over A.E. Via. If I haven't said it before I loved this woman, she beautiful and allowed me to hug her. Along with A.E. Via, I went completely crazy meeting authors I've read since I started reading M/M all those years ago. Slowly as the days progressed and the more comfortable, I became. My anxiety didn't disappear, but I didn't let it hold me back. As a new author, I felt welcomed, and that was a plus for me. I received and gave hugs. I learned a lot at GRL by talking, listening, and paying attention. I asked questions and was happy when no one looked at me like I was crazy and answered them. I not only met authors, but I met readers and was surprised when a couple recognized my name and had read my books (that had me smiling all weekend). There were still some authors I wanted to talk to but couldn't because to me they seemed larger than life.
My first GRL experience, I had more fun than I thought I would have. I gained friends and hope that it will continue for years to come. I plan on attending next and hopefully all the ones they have after that. Thank you to all the authors who allowed me to gush over you and work. Thank you for making me feel like one of you even though I'm a small fish in a vast ocean. Thank you to GRL organizers; Carol Lynne, Ethan Day, Teressa Emil, and Reese Dante for your time and effort in making GRL first timer readers and writers like myself feel welcome. And for a safe space where we could be ourselves and talk about M/M romance. I heard the word family so often throughout the weekend, and it really felt as if I was home among people who truly understood me.
Special shout out you to- A.E. Via, Sharon Johnson, Elizabeth Silver & Jenny Urban, Tempeste O'Riely, Taylor Rylan, Aria Grace, Harper B. Cole, J.C. Owens, Kiki Burrelli, Khadijah James, Evette Reads, and Wendy Lynn. I hope I did not forget anyone but if I did thank you :)