Poppy says Be BRAVE
by Poppy Dennison
For this year’s GRL post, I thought I’d give my Top 5 tips on how to make the most of your GRL experience! And it all comes down to being BRAVE.
B– Bring your A game, and never, ever say you’re “just a reader”. A funny thing happens at GRL. Authors and readers and bloggers converge together in one place for a weekend of fun. Thing is, authors are readers, and bloggers are readers, and some readers are bloggers, and some authors are bloggers and some…well, you get the point. No one is “just” anything. We’re all part of this crazy family known as the Gay Romance genre. I mean, it’s even in the title. GRL=Gay Romance & Literature Retreat. Right? So that means we’re all in it together, no matter what your role may be. You’re part of the family–even if you’re the self-proclaimed black sheep. We like black sheeps in this genre. But you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and that takes a lot of work for some of us. GRL is the one time of year when we can all step up and get to know each other. It’s so different face-to-face than behind the shiny little computer box we normally live behind. Every year, new friendships are found and new connections are made. That’s the magic of GRL, so you’ve got to be ready for it!
R– Realize that other people have anxiety too. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed among the many posts from events like GRL, but a lot of us have issues with anxiety. And everyone’s anxiety is different. I met an author recently who told me that she likes to be at the corners of a room with a wall at her back. She loves talking to people but doesn’t want to be out in the middle of the room. I’m the opposite. I have anxiety like whoa, but if you put me in the corner with a wall of people between me and the exit? Melt down city. Neither of us had ever really thought about how anxiety is different for everyone! At GRL-Chicago, I’m going to do my best to tiptoe toward the corners to meet those people who don’t like to be in the middle of the room. But maybe you could meet me half way? Or if there’s someone you really want to meet, try to find a creative way to let them know. Maybe it’s sending an email or a Facebook message beforehand letting them know you’d like to meet them. Or maybe it’s getting someone else to introduce you. (I’m happy to make introductions! I kinda like it!) I know that I’d hate to miss meeting someone because I’m hovering in the middle of the room, afraid of the corners, and someone who might be an amazing new friend doesn’t want to be out there in the middle with me.
A– Authors are people too! I know, this one seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget sometimes. I’ll tell you a little story that I’ve told many times before, but it still holds true. At the very first GRL, I wanted to meet Geoff Knight. Like *really* wanted to meet him. I’d read his Fathom’s Five series and absolutely adored the books. I even purchased a paperback of The Riddle of the Sands for Geoff to sign. Problem was, I was too chicken to ask him. Seriously. Like Bwack Bwack chicken. Went over to his table at the signing, couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. I mean this was GEOFF KNIGHT. Who was I to talk to him? I’ve confessed my fear to Geoff since then, and realize that I was being a bit silly. But it’s scary sometimes! I get it! Now that I’m an author too, I understand more than ever. For the most part, I don’t know if you’ve read my books. I’m probably not going to walk up to you and say “so hey, have you read my books? What’d you think?” Cause if I did that, I’d be a Dork-a-saurus Rex. I don’t know unless you’re brave and tell me. And I’ll love it if you do. I promise. I might blush—I’ll always blush when someone likes what I’ve written—but it’s such an honor. So if you’re afraid to talk to your favorite author, find some courage. Geoff and I are friends now, and if I hadn’t gotten brave before GRL in Albuquerque, that might not have happened!
V– Very few cliques are real. Oh yeah, I’m going there. Tis my way. One of the gripes I’ve heard about GRL is that it’s cliquey. Thing is, we all have our friends that we talk to a lot. Most of us are on social media outside of GRL getting to know each other. We have our groups. Who doesn’t? Thing is, I don’t know of any group at GRL that shuts out anyone else. No really. I can’t think of one. I think it’s mostly that we’re all scared that we *will* be shut out. And look, I get it. I’m that way too. See above: me terrified to talk to Geoff. A lot of us have been to multiple GRLs at this point and tight groups are bound to form, especially when we only see each other once a year. We tend to gather in small herds and hug the stuffing out of each other because we know this is the only time of the year where we’ll get to see these people in person. But don’t be afraid to get to know the groups! I arrived at GRL-New Orleans having never met a single person there in real life. It was SO DAMN SCARY. I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb, that no one would like the “real me”, that the online me was so much better. I don’t know. I can’t explain these insecurities that we all seem to have. But we do all seem to have them, don’t we? Stepping outside those groups can be a bit scary, especially since most of us are doing our very best to be brave in a social situation that we’re not accustomed to. Just remember, the groups aren’t exclusive. And I guess if they are, who wants to be part of that anyway? But honestly, I think most of us just tend to huddle together in our safe zones and hope people will come to us. But then people won’t come to us because we’re huddled in those safe zones with our pack of friends. Sigh. See the dilemma? Again, it comes down to being brave!
E– Everyone is at GRL to have a good time! Again, I know I’m a master of the obvious with this one, but I think it’s a great reminder. I can’t think of anyone who has said “Yeah, I’m going to GRL and plan to be miserable the entire time.” Does it happen sometimes? Yeah. I’m sure it does. (See above: anxiety sucks) Thing is, we all want GRL to be fantastic and amazing and that deep breath of air that gets us through the year until the next GRL. Most of us depend on this event to really be ourselves, to be free and safe in a group of like-minded people who love the same things as we do and hold many of the same values. It’s such a rare occurrence in life to have an opportunity like this—take advantage of it. And remember, there are so many ways to get help if you aren’t having a great time! I can’t think of a single person who’d mind if you asked! Everyone from fellow readers who know their way around, to authors who know the authors you want to meet. The organizers are there to help as well. All you’ve got to do is be brave.
So what do you think? Can you do it? If you’re new to GRL what are you most nervous about? For you “old-timers”, what advice would you give newbies on being brave and making the most out of your experience? I’d love to hear what you think!
About Belligerent Beta
When a human is chosen to lead the pack instead of him, Beta Dan Keller struggles to find his footing in a rapidly changing environment. Committed to his pack and not one to turn away from a challenge, Dan follows his Alpha’s request and works with Nathan Ross, the new pack Omega. Though he is initially concerned that Nathan’s weakness will harm the pack, Dan learns there is more to the shy wolf than meets the eye.
As Dan struggles to balance his growing feelings for the young wolf with his responsibilities to his pack, new threats emerge and Nathan’s loyalty is questioned. Not understanding the basics of being a wolf leaves Nathan vulnerable and the pack at risk. Can Dan embrace the true role of a beta so he can protect the man he has grown to love and save his pack?
Available at: Wilde City Press
About the Author
A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.
As part of this GRL Blog Tour, Poppy has offered to give away an ebook copy of winner’s choice from her backlist to one lucky winner!
The giveaway starts now and will end next Thursday, May 29th, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST. After which the lucky winner will be randomly picked.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below with your email address and you’re in!
Make sure to follow the blog for the winner’s announcement post or check back next Friday, May 30th, 2014, to see if you’ve won!