So, in case you couldn’t tell by the overabundance of posts regarding the matter, GayRomLit 2012 was held in Albuquerque NM last week. Yes, I attended. Yes, there were shenanigans of the highest order. There were smiles and hugs and tears and hickies and tattoos and gross strippers and carpel tunnel syndrome and alcohol and getting stuck in elevators and ghosts and more alcohol and legitimate psychos and books and authors and readers. And so much, much more. Here’s some of my highlights over the course of the week.
--I hate flying. I will always hate flying. But it helped that for some random reason, I was upgraded to first class both to and from GRL. Did you know you can drink for free in first class? As much as you want? I didn’t know that. I do now. That was awesome.
--In my layover in Las Vegas, I made friends with a Korean business man named Fong (Phong? Carl?). We had bloody Mary’s together and he told me about the time he held a baby panda. I said “awwww.” I didn’t hear the end of the story because I had to go, but I hope it didn’t end with him eating said baby panda. That would have been tragic.
--I got to the hotel and walked past a group of people and heard “That’s TJ Klune,” whispered excitedly and for a second, I thought, “Who?” Then I realized who they meant and I started blushing and mumbling and wondering if being at GRL was such a good idea.
--Anne Tenino was the first person I met at GRL after she walked up to me and introduced herself while I was checking into the hotel. Therefore, she is my first GRL person and I worship her.
--I got stuck in the elevator because it wouldn’t take me to the sixth floor. Supposedly, it was broken. I think I was just told that and the real reason I couldn’t get to the sixth floor was because I don’t know how to work elevators. And to make matters worse, the elevators were glass and everyone could see me not knowing how to work the elevators. Fail.
--Nothing like being brought back to a cold, stark reality when going to your own publisher’s table on the first day and asking if your books will be out anytime soon for people to buy, only to be asked “Who are you?” by the person behind the DSP table. Ouch.
--Getting multiple contracts for new books while on a GRL vacation is the equivalent to having simultaneous orgasms. It rocked that hard.
Blurb for Tell Me It’s Real (February 2013):
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster sure doesn't. As a matter of fact, Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s slightly overweight, just turned thirty, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides at life as it passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasi-bipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead end job in a cubicle that is sucking his soul dry. His parents are nagging him to settle down with a nice boy and his grandmother's homophobic parrot keeps insulting him to the point Paul is pretty sure he's going to wring that stupid bird's neck. He’s stuck in a monotonous routine that he doesn’t know how to escape.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul is not: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some strange, astonishing reason, Vince begins to pursue Paul relentlessly. Paul thinks that Vince is playing a trick on him because there is no way someone like Vince would want someone like him. It's not until he hits Vince with his car in a completely non-intentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way that he realizes that maybe Vince isn't being totally insane with his declarations of being half-way in love with Paul already. The only thing blocking Paul from believing in Vince is himself, and that is one obstacle Paul can't quite seem to overcome. When tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must find the courage to put aside any notions he may have about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect just the way he is.
Blurb for Into This River I Drown (April 2013):
At once an exploration of grief and faith, Into This River I Drown is one man's journey into the secrets of his father and discovering the strength to believe in the impossible.
Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father, Big Eddie, who drowned when his truck crashed into a river. All called it an accident, but Benji thought it more. However, even years later, he is buried deep in his grief, throwing himself into taking over Big Eddie's convenience store in the small town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day by day, struggling to keep his head above water.
But Roseland is no ordinary place.
With ever-increasing dreams of his father's death and waking visions of feathers on the surface of a river, Benji's definition of reality is starting to bend. He thinks himself haunted, but whether by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. It's not until the impossible happens and a man falls from the sky and leaves the burning imprint of wings on the ground that he begins to understand that the world around him is more mysterious than he could have possibly imagined. It's also more dangerous, as forces beyond anyone's control are descending on Roseland, revealing long hidden truths about friends, family, and the man named Calliel who Benji is finding he can no longer live without.
--My GRL Posse: SJD Peterson, Scotty Cade (and his lovely husband), Stacey, Amanda, Lannie, The Canadian, Ely, Erika Abi Roux, and, of course, Eric Arvin.
--Speaking of Erika, there is no way I could have survived the trip without her. She totally played the thankless role of my assistant. Without her, I would not have known where I needed to be, who I was supposed to be talking to, or even how to walk on my own. She fucking ROCKS.
--What I heard constantly:
Whoever: “You’re so fucking funny in your books/blog/FB/wherever!”
Me: “Thank you?”
Whoever: *Stares at me*
Whoever: “Say something funny.”
Me: “Oh. Uh. You see… uh. There once was this man from…er. Maybe?”
--It was discovered that I am, for lack of a nicer word, retarded when it comes to technology. My phone randomly died and I was freaking out, sure I was stuck in the middle of the desert of New Mexico, to be trapped there for eternity. I just knew I would never get home again and WHAT IF THE WORLD ENDED AND I DIDN’T HAVE MY PHONE?!?!? Well. Uh. My phone apparently didn’t just conk out. I was apparently pressing the “Volume” button rather than the “On” button for thirty minutes straight. Yikes.
--But, before you judge me harshly, know this: Eric Arvin doesn’t know how to open pens. I am not fucking kidding you. He sat there for minutes trying to click open a pen that instead needed to be uncapped. Between him and I, I think the whole human race went down a few IQ points. I’m surprised we weren’t drooling in each other’s presence by the end of the trip (and no, not that way either—get your mind out of the gutter; well, until we get towards the end of this post and I shove your mind right back into the gutter. That’s called a teaser.)
--Some people cried when they met me. I didn’t know what to do with that except hug the crap out of them. That was a crazy feeling to have. Especially, in all seriousness, I was trying hard not to cry in return. That would not have been okay for me to make Wookiee Cry Face in public and to have us wailing on each other like we just found we’re giving birth to a litter of otter-bears (Haha! References).
--Dreamspinner sold out of my books they brought to their table in two minutes. TWO MINUTES. Holy Hannah Montana. The ones I brought with me to the author signing last about ten minutes. Mental note: next year, bring more books. And Xanax.
--That moment when the doors open up so readers can come meet the authors and get books signed and someone comes to my table and I look down to autograph their book and look back up again only to see thirty people now standing in line to meet me, well… that moment was insanity. I must have made an “oh my crap” face because everyone started laughing.
--I signed boobies:
--Apparently, someone figured out I was the most photographed author at GRL which is surprising since normally I’m not photogenic in the slightest. I usually end up looking like I am uncomfortably snarling at the camera in any picture I take. So please, don’t let all the photos you’ve seen fool you. For all those that are “good” there are ones that I have threatened the photographer with death if they are ever released. There is one in particular that shows me looking like a deer caught in the headlights that literally makes anyone who sees it howl with laughter. That picture will never see the light of day so help me God.
(and yes, I know it is small, but it still hurt like a motherfucker!!)
--Jo Peterson and Scotty Cade made me lose forty dollars in fifteen minutes on nickel slots. Damn you both straight to hell!
--Jo and I had a game called the thunder game where we tried to one up each other’s reader experience. I don’t know who won. Or maybe we both lost for playing such a game.
--Abi Roux dives at elevators to keep them open, only to sacrifice her body in the process. Thanks, Abi, for being so selfless. Next time, wait for another elevator.
--The beds at the Hardrock were SO uncomfortable…. until I wasn’t the only one sleeping in them. *wink*
--Kaje Harper promised to sing with me at karaoke next year (and don’t let her tell you otherwise because she’s lying!).
--The “cowboy” strippers that were supposed to grace the stage? Wow. Just…um…wow. I don’t know where they went shopping for strippers at, but I’m pretty sure it was a discount warehouse of some kind. In Chernobyl. That was not attractive. At all.
--I drank. A lot. And got maybe six hours sleep total. I don’t know how I stayed upright but I managed it. Except for those times I didn’t. It wasn’t my fault I was stumbling at any point. It was because there were earthquakes. Lots and lots of earthquakes. That only I could feel.
--Damon Suede licked my face:
--I’ve been asked a bit where I disappeared to at times. To be honest, I was a tad overwhelmed at certain points during the trip and took a break every now and then. I spent most of Friday away from the hotel, wandering around with some people and causing a ruckus. We then rocked a casbah at a different hotel that was supposedly haunted, but I didn’t see jack shit.
--Did not get to go to Roswell. Disappointed. Aliens, you’ll have to wait for me to hunt for you another day. And this time, I’ll be doing the probing.
--Which lead to Hickey-Gate and Makeout Nose-Gate. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more knowing looks or squeals of glee directed at my person more than after people started figuring things out. Not like it was that hard to figure out: Arvin pretty much jumped my bones in front of everyone. Hey, Arvin! You’re welcome.
--And finally, of course, comes to the end, the burning questions that people seem to have about Arvin and me (BTW, who ever thought of the name Klarvin needs to be given a medal. We laughed our asses off at that). So, what happened? Well… a good boy doesn’t kiss and tell. Most of the time. Suffice to say, there isn’t anyone quite like Eric that I’ve met before and it was a bit rough after spending four days wrapped up in him only to realize that we live on opposite sides of the country. That part sucked. A lot. And for a moment there, due to a mix up, we got separated at the airport and it looked like our goodbye would have been just a flippant see you in a few minutes. But we connected in the end, even if it was hard.
So then it was one of those moments that you know you have to say good-bye and then you think really? Really?!?!?! THAT'S IT???
Maybe it is.
Or maybe it’s not.
You don’t meet someone like that very often, especially someone like me who’s a serial dater and normally doesn’t do “romance”. It’s almost clichéd, right? Like a story you’d read out of an m/m book. I realize this. I know this. But I also know I’ll be damned if I let him get away without trying my hardest to hold on. So, we’ll take it as we can and hope for the best. It's a good thing I have a lot of hope.
GRL 2012 was the first time I’d ever gotten to go out and meet readers and other authors face to face and it was an amazing experience, one that I will be doing again next year in Atlanta for GRL 2013. If you couldn’t make it this year, do your damn best to make sure you can go next year. I promise you, it’s completely worth it. To all the readers who I met, thank you for making my first time one of the best times of my life.