I attended a panel at the Minneapolis Con last year called “So I had this idea…how inspirations become realities.” Barrett was a panelist. At one point, I remember Karin Kallmaker – who was the moderator for the panel – saying to Barrett something along these lines: “Did you just say that you consider 100,000 words to be a short story?” (Of course, I’m completely paraphrasing.) But the point was clear – Barrett writes. Barrett writes a LOT. Below is Barrett’s description of her first visit to a GCLS conference.
Barrett’s First Adventure to GCLS 2010
June in Orlando is hot (and not necessarily in a good way). It is also humid. For someone accustomed to the high desert of New Mexico—and by that I mean 7000 feet above sea level—acclamation to the tropical paradise took a little time. However, it does give one and intense appreciation for air conditioning.
For at least six months in early 2010, I planned, prepared, and fretted about attending my first ever Golden Crown Literary Society convention. I learned of it through postings on the once popular Bella Forum. From the Forum, I became virtually connected to dozens of readers and writers of lesbian fiction.
By the time June came around, I had revised and reworked several chapters of my fledgling novel. They were printed, encased in a clear plastic folder, and tagged with my brand new business cards. I was preparing to meet with not only two mentors who volunteered to read my work, but representatives from five well-known publishers of lesbian fiction.
I was a nervous wreck. Not only was I jumping into the pool, I was going straight for the deep end without a life jacket. I made my arrangements and went alone, hoping and praying that some of those online faces would be at the convention. Let me just add a note here, I am by nature an introvert capable of inhabiting a “persona”—and that’s exactly what I did. I also volunteered to help with registration or other tasks so it wouldn’t look like I was standing around admiring the potted palms.
After changing clothes, I took the long walk from the security of a cool hotel lobby across the pool area to an adjacent building. The soggy air was claustrophobic; and by the time I got inside the convention area I was gasping for air and my pupils were so constricted I couldn’t see anything. Fortunately, the first person to come along and greet me was Lori Lake—I recognized her!
Within a few hours, I was feeling more comfortable and decided to venture down to the bar in the lobby where I had passed a large contingent of women, many of whom looked familiar. I chose a seat near a group, and ordered a drink. In a short time, realize that I was sitting between Chris Paynter and Rachel Spangler! Then one by one, more friendly faces arrived, all of them kind and welcoming to the newbie. Georgia Beers, Susan Meagher, Carleen and her Mom, Nancy. And that was the first night.
Each succeeding day brought new experiences unlike anything I had ever experienced. This was my baptism into the world of Lesbian fiction and the myriad of women who make it happen. This year I happily attended my third GCLS convention in Minneapolis were my first published novel was a finalist for Goldie.
So much as happened between my first and third convention, but suffice it to say, I have learned so much about the craft of writing and the art of publishing as well as building lifelong friendships with some of the most extraordinary women I have ever had the pleasure to know. Everyone attends the convention for their own personal reasons and some complain that the program is too focused on writers, I’m not sure that’s true. I attend for a number of reasons, but the most important for me is the opportunity to spend time with a large group of women who share the same interests. It’s great to be able to listen to accomplished authors describe their journeys; it’s helpful to share notes with colleagues who were also learning their way; it’s exhilarating to talk to readers who have a question or comment about my work; but mostly it’s about the warmth and collegiality of an extraordinarily diverse group of women who’ve gathered with one common interest.
This year we will gather in Dallas, Texas in about six months. The GCLS volunteers have worked hard to plan this event, as they do every year. If you enjoy reading, if you enjoy writing, or if you enjoy hanging out with a couple hundred women… Check it out.
Barrett spent her formative years in the quiet North Chicago suburbs. Art and music helped fuel an overactive imagination that eventually channeled into a flair for the dramatic and a dream of acting.
Life and times deferred that dream but offered a new challenge. At her ten-year class reunion, Barrett announced plans to start nursing school. Nursing provided a career of endless challenges and learning opportunities spanning thirty years, several jobs, and great travels.
After relocating from Illinois to Wisconsin to New Mexico, Barrett set down new roots and fell helplessly into a new passion—writing. With some encouragement and provocation, she spent fourteen years making up stories—roughly, twelve completed manuscripts.
Then it was time to take the leap of faith and consider publication. That was when the real “learning” began. Readers, betas, critiques, mentors, edits, revisions, revisions, revisions, and then some pitches, some rejections, and some more revisions.
And now, Barrett’s got books, published books. Her first book, “Damaged in Service” was a finalist for a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. It is the first of a four book Damaged Series.
But that’s not all for this story…