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Back home again in Indiana...

Hello all! This is my first "official" blog post on my brand spankin' new website (after my one congratulating the Goldie winners).

We just returned from our stay in HOT New Orleans for the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Conference. We decided to drive this year rather than fly. It made it a little more of an adventure. We caught up with old friends on both ends of our trip. Patty Schramm, her wife Sandra, and Verda Foster met up with us in Alabama. We shared breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, then drove the rest of the way into New Orleans. Here's the view from our 20th floor hotel room out on the Mississippi...

We got acclimated to the hotel and where everything was fairly quickly and enjoyed seeing everyone we'd missed (since we'd been unable to attend last year in Portland). I especially enjoyed meeting up with all the women who are madly in love with my wife. LOL! Seriously, every time I turned around, someone was telling me, "I have a huge crush on Phyllis. Just so you know." I mean, at least they're honest! ;-) It didn't take long to catch up with all our Blue Feather family, either. We even managed to get a "family" photo taken to send to Emily Reed and Jane Vollbrecht. I look a little stoned... probably from cold meds since this is about when I started getting sick.

On Thursday, I got a lot out of Caren Werlinger's panel discussion, "Hopefully Ever After," providing us a twist on the traditional "happily ever after" aspect of romance writing. Later, I shared lunch with Georgia Beers, Deb Amia and Sharon, where our talk ranged from discussing the Peace Corps to the impact our grade school teachers had on our writing aspirations. Bright and early Friday morning, I participated in Andi Marquette's "Flying by the Seats of Our Pants: The Changing Dynamics of Lesbian Fiction," which included a lively discussion regarding self publishing vs. traditional publishing. I sat in on Cindy Rizzo's "Fade to Black or Go There Part 1: Let's Talk about Sex in Our Books" as sort of homework since I was on the panel discussion after this one, "Fade to Black or Go There Part 2: That Scene Really Turned Me On/Off." During the discussion, I decided to read a "mild" sex scene from one of my books, followed by one with a bit more spice. Since I've never read from any of my sex scenes, I had to start and stop a few times, accompanied with giggling. Obviously, I need to work on my poker face. :-)

Later Friday, we were entertained by special speaker Ali Vali talking about her writing process. She always makes us laugh, plus I related to her final instructions to BACK UP your work. I had this happen once with my "job job" where I lost days of work. It's NOT a pleasant experience. Then that afternoon, I had the thrill of sitting just a few feet from Rita Mae Brown during the autograph session. Way cool! (She would later receive the Lee Lynch Classic Award for "Rubyfruit Jungle."). Friday night, we had fun sharing dinner with Cindy Rizzo. Saturday, Dorothy Allison delivered her keynote speech. I don't know what else to say other than by the end of it, I was an emotional wreck... but in a good way. It was truly a privilege listening to her tell her journey in such powerful words. It's also an inspiration to get my butt in gear and WRITE. Later, I read a scene from "From Third to Home" during the author reading/chat that afternoon.

Toward the end of the week, my sinus infection quickly morphed into a full-blown cold... which sucked. After loading myself down with cold meds, we rested Saturday night so we could start our drive back early Sunday morning. On Sunday night, we met up with friends in Alabama again, this time ones who live there and we hadn't seen in a long time. On Monday, on our drive back to Indy, I think we became slap happy. We were joining in with Chicago on one of their songs, sounding very much like Alvin and the Chipmunks, and then burst out laughing. So, yeah, slap happy is a good term for how we were feeling. I think Phyllis was ready to hear ANYTHING but Elvis. Just a hunch since she muttered, "Thank God," when I changed over from the Elvis station on satellite radio. :-)

The best thing was we got home in time to pick up Buddy. Little did he know the effort we made to get home by six so he had one less day in the kennel. He sat in my lap for a good hour that night.

Now, it's back to work on finishing "From Third to Home." Then on to my next romance, "More Than a Song." Spending a week breathing in and talking about all things writing should be inspiration enough! Thanks again to Liz Gibson, the GCLS Board, Judy Comella, Mary Griggs, and all who made the Conference such a huge success!

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