Ann McMan is another author participating in the Guest Blog Project (GBP) who I have not officially met. I was in her presence, however. Yes, I was in the same room. I shared space with her. Not personal space, mind you. I wouldn’t want Salem beating my ass – especially since she’s participating on my panel at GCLS this year. But I was near enough to bask in her presence. (OMG, that sounds creepy.)
I’ve learned from listening to and reading Ann’s words that she is really just delightful! When I asked her to participate in the GBP, she did not hesitate. In fact, she quickly added me as a friend on Facebook as if it was a travesty that we weren’t already connected via social media. I read Dust in 2012 and really enjoyed it – it was well written, nicely plotted, intelligent. How refreshing! Yes, the rest of her oeuvre is on my “to-read” list. (And how impressed are you that I used “oeuvre” in a sentence? Floored the hell out of me!)
Read further to learn about Ann’s first foray into the world of GCLS Conferences.
GCLS and Speed Dating:
How a Shy Person with French Diseases of the Soul Took a Chance,
and Ended Up Meeting Lots of Really Nice People
Quick. What are the five top questions most people ask about Ann McMan?
- Who the hell is Ann McMan?
- Why is that woman hiding behind a potted palm?
- How did she manage to hook somebody like Salem West?
- Does she really think macaroni & cheese is nature’s most nearly perfect food?
- Is it true that attending GCLS last year changed her life?
For answers to these and other probing questions, continue reading.
[For our Evelyn Wood laureates out there, here is the abridged answer key. 1. Me. 2. She’s terrified. 3. Luck and good lighting. 4. Yes. 5. Of course.]
Last June, I packed up my fear and panic, and headed west to an outpost on the fringe of western civilization: Minneapolis. Heard of it? Mary Tyler Moore put it on the map for us back in 1970. (I think she also gets the nod for introducing the pantsuit…but don’t tell Hillary Clinton.)
Anyway. GCLS was holding its annual conference in the Twin Cities, and I was going. I was still considered a “new author,” even though I had published two books, and a third was burning rubber on its way across country to arrive at the conference venue ahead of me. I guess I understood that—I mean, I did sort of appear out of nowhere. And, to be fair, I really hate conferences. A lot. I mean…I avoid them like Brussels sprouts on a hot bar.
But I had Salem, who is smart and savvy, and who knows how to pack five days’ worth of clothes into one, tiny carry-on bag (without anything getting wrinkled). And I had Barrett, who was the seasoned Con Veteran, and who was ever ready with a trusty, well-placed cattle prod. So I bundled up my fears and insecurities, pulled on my big-girl Carhartts, and headed out for my first gawking tenure at lesfic’s jewel in the crown event.
Books of mine were nominated for three awards, and that fact only compounded my angst. I felt like a rube. I mean…there I was in the midst of the luminaries of our genre—authors like KG MacGregor and Susan X. Meagher. People I’d actually been reading for years. On my first day, I was plopped down on a “mystery” panel with Elizabeth Simms, Ellen Hart, and Lori Lake…as a presenter—not a paperweight. I kept pinching myself beneath the table, because I was sure that someone had made a mistake. I think Lori Lake (who was seated next to me) must have noticed this. She kept shooting me these odd glances, like she could sense that I was a hair’s breadth away from throwing up on her shoes. This, of course, was before she tagged me with the moniker “panty-liner,” since I am both a “pant-ster” and an “outliner” when it comes to how I write.
So even though I was incredibly nervous, I did what I do. I closed my eyes and summoned up my inner lounge singer. And I doubt that anyone other than Salem knew that I was popping Xanax like Tic Tacs.
Well…Barrett probably knew, too. She’s an ex-nurse with about fifty sets of eyes…all of them capable of seeing through lead. [n.b. If you plan on attending this year, remember to pack your titanium Spanx.]
As much fun as it was to participate in workshops, it was even more gratifying to attend them. Ellen Hart could’ve stood in front of a room and conjugated verbs for two hours, and I’d have paid the entire conference fee—twice—for the privilege of listening to her.
But, I gotta say that the best part of the entire experience for me, apart from getting kissed by keynote speaker, Jewel Gomez (I think she likes lounge singers), was getting to know the readers—and playing swap-shop with them during the catered lunches. Let me just say that you learn things about people when you watch them sit down at a table full of strangers and crack open a boxed lunch. On the first day, I discretely slid my apple over to rest in front of Salem’s box. In the blink of an eye, there were nearly two-dozen apples piled there. It quickly became clear that apples were not as hot a commodity as potato chips. And who knew there was an entire hierarchy in how potato chip brands ranked as currency?
Having said as much, I fully expect averages for this year’s Potato Chip Exchange to surpass the NASDAQ record for most shares traded on a single day.
And for those of you planning to attend, here’s a useful tip for 2013: try to sit next to Bev Prescott. She will ALWAYS be willing to swap her bread, her cheese, her mayo, her cookie, her room key, or her chips for any fruit product.
Er…did I say “room key” out loud?
So, did attending GCLS really change my life? Well. No. But what it DID change was my understanding of this great, welcoming, and terrifically accomplished community of writers and readers we all belong to and live to support. So, if you’re on the fence about whether or not attending GCLS will be the right thing for you to do—don’t be. Take the plunge. You’ll have a blast. You’ll meet great people who will become lifetime friends. You’ll learn some new things. You won’t regret it. And you’ll want to go back year after year.
And, hey? You can sit next to me at lunch…
Ann McMan is the author of three novels, Jericho, Dust, and Aftermath, and the short story collection Sidecar. In 2011, Ann, along with her novels Jericho and Dust was elected to The Royal Academy of Bards Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was awarded the Alice B. Lavender Certificate for outstanding maiden novel. Her story collection Sidecar won the 2012 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction, and Jericho won Honorable Mention in the same category. Both Jericho and Dust were finalists for Golden Crown Literary Awards in 2012.
Sooooo…Ann has upped the ante here. How awesome!
Ann has proposed a little extra fun – if 20 people leave comments on her blog, she will pick a winner from the commenters. What will the winner get?
A autographed copy of one of Ann’s books, a bag of Cheetos, AND you’ll get to sit next to Bev Prescott at lunch! A completely awesome prize, I must say!