My first GCLS Conference and what a fantastic experience! The words and photos on this blog barely begin to describe the effect of the time spent in New Orleans.
When I first saw the programme for this event last August, I didn’t hesitate to book. Dorothy Allison’s name jumped out and grabbed me. I’ve read all her books and although my life experiences have been nothing like hers, the power of her writing drew me in. What I didn’t expect when I attended the reading she gave, was the extra dynamics she could project – taking the words from the page and giving them life. That and her keynote speech were the exceptional highlights of the conference for me.
There were other wonderful times throughout the three and a half days (not nearly long enough) – meeting people, taking part in panels and even doing a reading of my own.
Another reason for making the long trip from the UK was the opportunity to meet my publisher and other Affinity authors for the first time. We are a diverse group with the others having come from Australia, New Zealand, as well as covering most of the United States from Washington State to Florida and places in-between—but we bonded well and had a great time getting to know each other. There was a lot of laughter.
Nancy did a great job with the table display, so I couldn’t resist having my photo taken with it on the first day. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the Affinity table to talk with us and buy books.
The city of New Orleans is fascinating and I was pleased to have a room with a view, looking down on the Mississippi River. I could have sat and watched the ships going past all day. Only being there for a week and spending most of that time in the hotel, I didn’t see a lot of the city, but what I did see was delightful. Great to see that Katrina hadn’t succeeded in destroying the vibrant spirit of the people who live and work there.
My wife didn’t come with me but she had a bottle of Champagne delivered to my room when I arrived. Not wanting to drink alone, I shared this with some of the Affinity crew by way of celebrating completing my first public reading session without falling over, although I did start to lose my voice part way through. (And a kind woman in the audience brought me a glass of water.)
Affinity eBook Press is celebrating their 5th year in publishing and with nine authors present for this event, they pushed the boat out (pun intended) in hospitality terms. And these women can party! I’m a lightweight on the drinking front and was in awe when Erin O’Reilly and J M Dragon downed their Fireballs in one. (I think several more were consumed after I’d gone to bed.) Saturday night there was cause for further celebration when ‘The One’ by J M Dragon received a Goldie Award.
Heartfelt thanks to the GCLS for their professional organisation of such a fantastic event. I met some lovely people and look forward to the developing of friendships through social media until we have the chance to meet again in person.