GCLS – Meet-n-Greet & Day 1

January 8 and January 9, 2011 – Orlando, FL

After months of counting down months, weeks, days, hours and minutes, the annual GCLS conference was finally upon us.

Mom and I arrived in Orlando on Wednesday afternoon.  We had an easy check in…that’s always nice.  The suite we have for this leg of our trip is really quite nice.  It has a separate bedroom with 2 queen size beds, 1 1/2 bathrooms (the large bathroom actually has two showers), a living area, and 2 balconies.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

While we were unpacking, Ann came up to the room.  Rounds of introductions ensued.  Once all of the unpacking and organizing was finished, we each took turns in the shower and cleaned the travel from our bodies.  Then Watty came up.  Mom and I hadn’t seen Watty in about 7 months, so, of course, we wasted no time giving her shit. LOL  Gifts were exchanged, travel stories were told.

A look at the clock told us that the Meet-n-greet had already started!  Yikes!

After just a quick walk over to the conference center, we were with friends that we hadn’t seen in a year – authors, readers, reviewers.  The hugs were robust and gladly given by all…even people who had met for the first time.

Indulge me while I go on a tangent for a minute.

You know, the Internet is a marvelous thing.  There are so many people here that I’ve met in person for the first time, yet, they are all friends because of social media like Facebook, or mailing lists like the Virtual Living Room (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Virtuallivingroom/), or forums like the Bella Forum (which will hopefully be returning to us).   We share our likes, our dislikes, our successes, and our setbacks…and there’s always a group of people standing ready to give us a pat on the back or a shoulder to lean on.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Back to the topic at hand.

A group of us went down to Kooks Sports Bar and had a few drinks.  We ended up having to commandeer a couple of tables and extra chairs.  The group just kept growing!  It was great fun.  Just as I was about to call it a night and head back to the room with Mom, RUTH PERKINSON showed up!  OMG!  I’ve been waiting about 3 years to meet this woman.  Her novels Piper’s Someday and the sequel Breaking Spirit Bridge are incredibly powerful.  Read them.  So, of course, I couldn’t leave.  However, about 3 beers later (that cute server was just too hard to resist, though I did hold out on the shots), it was time to call it a night.

The first day of the conference was a lot of fun.  we started the day off with a welcome meeting where we got to say hello to more friends – old and new.  We then moved to the first series of panels, workshops, and readings.  mom and I attended the session of author readings and got to hear a bit from Amy Dawson Robertson’s forthcoming book Scapegoat.  The is the follow up to Amy’s debut novel Miles to Go, which, I must say, is a WONDERFUL book.  Amy is a finalist for three awards – Debut Author, Mystery, and Ann Bannon Popular Choice.  I really recommend that you read this book!  I even got my mother to read it.

We followed that up with a panel on surviving reviews.  It was really interesting to hear authors Georgia Beers, Karin Kallmaker, Lori Lake, and Karen Badger talk about their experience with reviews – from both “professional” reviewers and readers.  As someone who hopes to write some reviews for this site, it was really helpful to hear what authors take from the reviews they receive.

After lunch, it was time for my panel – Golden Standards.  I got together a group of readers and we chose sections of books that represented our “golden standards” in humor, character development, scifi/fantasy, and opening chapters.  I think the panel went over well with those who were in attendance.  I chose sections of the opening chapter from Claire Rooney’s As Far as Far Enough – the chapter did such a wonderful job of really setting the scene for the reader.  Her use of language was beautiful and subtly let the reader inside the main character’s world – both physical world and emotional world.  Again, another recommended read.

The final panel for the day was moderated by Lynn Ames – Sending Pirates to Davey Jones’ Locker.  This panel included Karen Kallmaker, Marianne K. Martin, and Chris Paynter.  Again, a very interesting panel on a very interesting – and timely – topic.  The Internet, while marvelous for the social benefits I mentioned above, makes the pirating of books far too easy.  Much like the music industry, the book industry is trying to figure out how to combat this piracy.  It’s quite the sticky wicket.

The remainder of the evening was spent shopping (watty and Ann needed some stuff) and doing laundry (Mom and I had been on the road since Sunday).

More tomorrow covering Friday, June 10.

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