The inspiring power of book events

Forgive me readers for I have slacked. It’s been nearly a month since my last blog. That was to tell you about my upcoming events, which now are in the rearview mirror — a reading and chat at Malaprop’s in Asheville with Karin Kallmaker; and a panel and chat at the LGBT Center in Raleigh with Karin, D. Jackson Leigh, VK Powell and Rebecca Swartz. Let’s recap:

South of Mount Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway

South of Mount Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I was very excited for the chance to show off my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains to my friend and fellow Bella author, Karin Kallmaker. I had hoped for more fall color, but the leaves are turning late this year … probably something to do with temperatures stuck between the 50s and 80s. We had plenty of sun though, and a very pleasant drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway that gave us time to talk about our favorite subject — writing lesbian books. You simply can’t spend three days in deep conversation with an icon and not come away inspired and ready to get to work on what you hope will be your best book yet. That’s what camaraderie does, and it’s why people are already registering for next summer’s Golden Crown conference in Chicago.

Photo by Emily Underwood

Photo by Emily Underwood

Karin and I were delighted by the turnout in Asheville! Incredibly, several readers in attendance drove as far as six hours to get there from places like Columbus GA, Atlanta and Knoxville. Karen Cobb gave up the opportunity to watch the Tennessee Vols beat the Florida Gators for the first time in 11 years. (They’ll probably run her out of town for next year’s game too.) Also fun was the appearance of two women from California, who were in town visiting family and happened to see the publicity poster in the window of the bookstore. Lots of familiar faces, including some old friends, and some new faces too. Karin and I both are grateful for your support, and especially honored that several of you who couldn’t make it sent contributions to Equality NC, to which we promised a contribution for each book of ours you purchased at the store. Most important though, at least to me, was the feeling I had when we walked out — that I wanted to hurry home so I could start scribbling the notes that ran through my head while folks were asking questions and sharing their thoughts on what makes lesbian fiction so necessary to their lives.

Photo by Erin Iannacchione, library director

Photo by Erin Iannacchione, library director

Which brings us to Sunday, the LGBT Center in Raleigh. This was my second visit to the Center, the last one being two years ago, a reading and chat moderated by D. Jackson Leigh. As in Asheville, we were excited to see so many old friends and new, and especially to hear your questions and comments. I can’t overstate how vital it is to all of us to hear from those who are reading our books. Understanding our audience simply makes us better writers. In addition to the usual Q&A, the participating authors came up with one question each for the group, giving us all the opportunity to learn from one another. Topics included authenticity of lesbian characters, growth in our writing process, literary versus popular fiction relative to audience and awards, and the legacy we’d like to leave behind for students of the genre. It just isn’t possible to talk about these things without feeling inspired, though not necessarily with story ideas. Rather, we leave feeling fortified to continue our work, and to strive to always do our best for those who support us with their money and time. A special thanks to Erin, who set up our space and helped us get the word out. If you’re in the Raleigh area, take advantage of the library — we all left copies of our recent books.

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Here’s an update on my Work-in-Progress: After the events of last weekend, I came home galvanized to get back to work. I’d been reluctant to promise delivery on this book because I’ve been dealing with some physical limitations that leave me struggling to concentrate and press on when the going gets tough. On Monday, I submitted the blurb to Bella Books for Shining Warrior, a story of romantic suspense set in rural Vermont, and pledged to have it on my editor’s desk by November. Bella responded with a June release date, which means you’ll see it next summer at GCLS.

2 Responses to “The inspiring power of book events”

  1. Really sorry to have missed the festivities – when are you all coming up to Canada (maybe sooner than you think….) I would have loved to hear the discussion on “literary versus popular fiction relative to audience and awards”. Maybe a good panel topic at the next GCLS Conference?

    Danielle

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