At the beginning of this month, I attended the GCLS conference for lesbian fiction…or rather WLW (women-loving women) fiction since it has become a lot more inclusive. It’s an annual conference that travels around the US. This year, it was held in fabulous Las Vegas.
My friends and I flew into Las Vegas a couple of days before the start of the conference to explore Sin City a little. Somehow, we managed not to end up with heat stroke, which was quite the feat with temperatures of around 115°F (46°C). People kept telling me “it’s a dry heat,” but believe me, once the temperatures climb that high, it really doesn’t matter. It was like sticking your entire body into an oven.
Two of my favorite spots in Vegas were the Bellagio Fountains and The Venetian, where we discovered a great Mexican restaurant directly along the faux-Venetian canal.
The conference itself passed by in a blur of meeting new people, reconnecting with friends, and talking books. It’s hard to explain how empowering and inspiring it feels to be among 400 women who are just as passionate about lesbian fiction as I am and to get to talk about reading and writing with people who get how important it is to me. There’s a sense of camaraderie and community that keeps bringing me back all the way from Germany year after year. The conference in Vegas was number five for me.
It was wonderful to meet readers and to catch up with friends and fellow authors that I only get to see once a year. I also connected with a lot of people whom I only met online before. This year, over 100 of the attendees were “con virgins” who hadn’t been to one of the conferences before.
During the con, I was part of a fundraising author auction, with proceeds going toward future GCLS conference sponsorships. The prize was a dance with all of us at the gala after the award ceremony. But thankfully, the person with the winning bid, Lynne Pierce from Lesfic Unbound, didn’t make us dance.
I didn’t get to go to a lot of panels and presentations this year because I was covering the Ylva Publishing table with my fellow Ylva author A.L. Brooks, but the sessions I did go to were excellent.
There were several panels on diversity and writing diverse characters this year. It made me happy to see the GCLS strive for more inclusivity. There were more women of color and also younger authors and readers attending the con this year than ever before, and Rachel Gold gave a great speech on gender diversity.
I was also happy and surprised to receive a “Goldie,” a GCLS Literary Award for Perfect Rhythm. While it’s my eleventh Goldie, it’s my first one in the contemporary romance category, and I was especially grateful to receive it for a book with an asexual main character.
After the conference, I spent a week in the San Diego area to recover from the craziness of Vegas at the beach and to meet up with a couple of friends and fellow Ylva Publishing authors. I visited RJ Nolan and her Great Dane, and I spent a day exploring Balboa Park and Coronado Island with Catherine Lane, whose upcoming sports romance I just finished editing.
Now I’m back at my desk, inspired to start working on my next novel and already looking forward to next year, when the GCLS conference will be in Pittsburgh!