First, OMG, I go to do a reading at Giovanni’s Room. The Oldest Gay Bookstore in the USA. As an author that’s a landmark. I’m still reeling. Can we just discuss the line up: HOLY SHIT. Bill Neale, sexy and sweet, Z.A. Maxfield and Ally Blue are hot and spicy all rolled up into one (although, Ally says she’s “no longer scared” or me), Rick R. Reed and the ultimate, for me, Victor J. Banis…I got to do a reading at Giovanni’s room with Victor Fucking Banis!!!!
But, all in all, AAD was a hoot.
I got in to Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon. I ran into Laura Baumbach and Kris Jensen (my editor goddess) as they were pulling into the hotel. My afternoon was spent helping them schlep promo up to the room. Those of us that arrived early ended up at the Standing O for dinner and turned in fairly early.
I did two panels on Thursday. One was Law in Romance with a reasonable crowd and then in the afternoon a panel on, “You Don’t Know Dick,” we pulled in an even better crowd for that, most likely because of the title. Dinner was at the Perch Pub across the street, which Z.A. Maxfield and I found through a sighting of Jet Mykles neon pink hair in the upstairs window of the pub.
Thursday night was Ghost Hunting. Yeah Z.A. Maxfield, Belinda McBride and I went ghost hunting on Thursday night. It was a small tour group of about eight of us from the conference wandering around Philly in the dark with EMF detectors. But it was fun. And it was nice to actually see the city where a conference was held…because, most times, you go to a conference and you basically are tied up in events and panels. Sightseeing doesn’t happen. And while I never made it to the Liberty Bell, I got to visit some landmarks of US History in an unusual manner. First we prowled Washington Square with the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Revolution, then moved onto Carpenters Hall and finally we got to prowl around the Powel House after hours and mostly in the dark. I can’t say anything much happened, although one gal kept insisting that she was photographing “orbs.” I kept thinking, with the amount she was “capturing,” that maybe she needed to clean her lens.
Belinda and I did have one cool experience. We were standing at the back of the group outside Carpenters Hall. We both turned to each other at about the same time. I asked her if she smelled the pipe smoke as well. Now, pipe smoke is very distinctive and different from either cigarette or cigar smoke. It persisted and we turned away from the group and started walking trying to catch where it was coming from, which seemed like this little garden area. When it got really strong, Belinda’s EMF meter spiked. If she turned to the left the light bars dropped. If she turned right the light bars dropped. If she walked forward into the garden the light bars dropped. If we stood about three feet in front of the gate facing the garden the lights on the meter pegged. And then, the smell of pipe smoke began to dissipate and without Belinda moving the light bars began to drop. Paranormal? Who knows? We were outside, the smoke could have come from anywhere. The EMF detectors were cheap ones you can get at any hardware store. But, it was still pretty cool.
Friday morning I sat on the Alpha/Beta Men in Gay Romance panel, again with a nice crowd. Then, the MLR/Passion in Print/Featherweight Press group: Ally Blue, Jet Mykles, Laura Baumbach, Karenna Colcroft, Kris Jensen, William Cooper, D.H. Star, Z.A. Maxfield, Ethan Day, Kimberly Gardner, William Neale, Taylor Donovan, Rick R. Reed and Victor J. Banis all trooped over to Gus’ for Philly Cheesesteaks. Best attendance though – The panel on BDSM. Standing Room Only. The folks from the Popular Romance Project were on hand to film it (they filmed several places during the weekend). The discussion was lively, with a lot of great questions, we had people laughing in places, and none of the panelists “showboated” – that kind of interaction makes a panel perfect. That afternoon I plied the bloggers with See’s Chocolate and meet Insane Hussein (who I tweet with a lot) and Joy (bunny ears on her head AND her phone, BTW) of Joyfully Reviewed.
Friday evening was the best. The reading at Giovanni’s Room. The Popular Romance crew showed up for that as well. I was the first to go and read from Spin Out. ZA, William, Rick and Ally followed…then Victor. He read from Lola Dances and it was wonderful. Laura then gave him an award for all the work he’s done in his life. I got to meet a lot of fans and sign books for them. The staff at Giovanni’s Room was so nice to us. It was a perfect event.
Afterwards, since we were in the Gayborehood, we headed to Knock for dinner and basically took over the back room. The meal was delicious and the company delightful. At that point several folks went on back to the hotel and those of us of a more adventuresome spirit decided to head out for drinks. We couldn’t decide, but were saved by a delightful couple who lead us down back alleys and up narrow stairs to a small, but fun dance club with a reasonably mixed crowd of LGBT and allies. This is the point at which we say, what happens in Philly, stays in Philly.
Saturday I didn’t have any panels, but I did film an hour long interview with the Popular Romance Project. Then…then…I got to meet Claire Thompson and my Papi in person – both of whom came in to Philly just to see me. Clair was sweet. But, sorry folks, my excitement was over, Papi — who bitches, cajoles and slaps me around about my writing before my books ever get to an editor. If you want to know why my books are as strong as they are, it’s because Papi doesn’t let me get away with any crap. They hung out with me during the book sale/signing in the Afternoon. I was sorry to see them go, but they had to head back to New Jersey. We invaded the Perch Pub again (by the end of the weekend we had our own “regular table”), spent a bit of time at the Steam Punk ball and then invaded Tom Collin’s room for a bit to share wine and stories.
Sunday, I was woken at about 6:30 a.m Philly time (about 3:30 Left Coast time), but massive thunder and lightning. Had breakfast with the usual suspects: Tom, D.H., Jet, Kimber, Ally, Kris and Laura and then folks started heading out. I don’t know why, but although I flew into Philly, I was scheduled to fly out of Newark – go figure, but that’s what I get for booking through Orbitz. I took the train from 30th Street Station. I ran into Victor Banis there which gave me someone delightful to chat with and then on the train, a wonderful British Blogger, who’d been at the con found me. We talked about tons of things, including the UK Meet Up, which she’d never heard of. Finally I got to Newark International…where my 7:30 pm flight was delayed and delayed and delayed from the weather. I could have had worse, Rick Reeds cab to the airport got flooded out on the street and he and the cabby had to be rescued. They finally put us on the plane at around 9:30pm and thankfully the only row with an open seat was mine – so my row mate and I got to have a little breathing space. I walked in the door to my house at around 1:30 a.m. – having been up close to 22hours straight.
The best part of the conference was meeting everyone. So many names, I can’t even remember them all.
If you’d like to see the rest of my pictures, I’ve made the album public on Picassa. Click here! I apologize in a advance that a couple of the vids are upside down.