Part of why I participate in the GRL Blog Tour is the chance to meet new authors and reconnect with those that I have come to know. By joining this tour it gives me the chance to share all of these wonderful authors with the readers here at GGR.
J.R. Barten is a new author to me and I’m really excited to start in on her new release; Unf;nished. Information can be found at the end of Jen’s Guest Post.
Second Time Around
First of all, thanks to GGR for being a part of GRL and hosting authors as we gear up for October. I can’t believe it’s less than two months away now!
My time as an author in the M/M world has been relatively short. Though I had been writing fanfiction and other stories for some time, I never thought seriously about publishing until two years ago. I started first with a short story, and then I attempted another for an anthology about cowboys. That story didn’t make the anthology, but it did grow into my first novella, Back in the Saddle. I now have two books and three short stories published (two of those were written for the Goodreads MM Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event last year). My next release is a full-length novel, Unf;nished, which came out August 30th. Scott was nice enough to include a spotlight at the end of my post.
Seeing my first book on Amazon and holding the paperback in my hands will forever be one of the greatest moments of my life. Above that is where I put my GRL experience. Neither of those come close to my wedding where I was finally able to legally wed my partner of fourteen years, but they’re still at the top of my lifetime favorites list.
As a newbie last year, I was both excited and terrified. It helped that I had rearranged a shuttle for several of us arriving at the airport around the same time because I immediately had an excuse to meet people. I would go into the retreat at least knowing somebody—even if it was only a ride to the hotel. The next day, I could see one of those faces and say “Hi!” and feel in the tiniest way that I belonged. The other bonus for me was my roommate, who was on her second time at GRL and happy to show me the ropes. (Thank you, Sandra Hardin!)
Now it’s my turn to be a GRL veteran, and I hope to help folks through their first time, like others did for me.
But if I’m being honest with myself, I’ll admit that even though it’s my second time around, I’m still excited and terrified. I don’t know if that will ever change.
I don’t feel like I have words of wisdom to impart to newcomers, but I do have two suggestions for people that I found worked for me:
1. Listen to your body and your mind. If you are feeling tired, upset, overwhelmed, hungry, or cranky, then do what you need to do to fix/help that. At the advice of my wise roomie, I took several breaks during each day to go back to the hotel room and be by myself. I loved being at GRL and with all those amazing people, but I also know that being social exhausts me. I needed to take time out of my day to recharge. And I wasn’t going to feel guilty about it. Yes, I was in San Diego. Yes, I was with amazing authors I admired. Yes, I wanted to make the most of my time there. But, I knew that in order to be at my best, I needed to take care of myself first.
2. Take chances, ask questions, take pictures, ask for autographs, join someone for a meal or drinks even if you don’t know them that well…basically, don’t let your fears keep you from truly enjoying the experience. I learned that on the last day, but even if it did come a bit late, it’s a lesson I’ll remember forever. Because when I got home from the week, my wife wanted to hear about everything and see pictures. All I had were a bunch of pics of palm trees and an occasional selfie. I was too embarrassed to ask for pictures, and I regret letting my insecurities get the best of me. So, if you are scared because you’re an introvert and have a hard time meeting people, guess what? You are not alone. A lot of us authors fall more into the introverted spectrum and have some anxiety in unfamiliar situations. I found that as long as I paid attention to number 1 above, then I could slowly work my way outside of my comfort zone. That’s ultimately where some of the most wonderful conversations and encounters happened…when I least expected it.
Overall, GRL was an incredible experience. I was on a high when I returned, and it took some adjusting on my part. You mean I couldn’t just start talking about an MM book I read and have others around me know exactly what I was talking about? Why when I made corny (and somewhat inappropriate) jokes about writing MM related things, weren’t there people around who understood and would laugh with me? GRL did feel like another world. It was a place where I felt free to let my freak flag fly. Though I missed being home with my wife and dogs, I was sad to leave that wonderfully diverse and accepting environment, and I’m really excited to be attending again this year.
Thanks to all of you for reading! Can’t wait to see you in KC!
Hugs–Jen (J.R. Barten)
- Book Title: Unf;nished
- Book Series: standalone
- Author: J.R. Barten
- Publisher: SelfPub (August 28, 2016)
- Book Length: 286 pages
- Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance