We are very pleased to have LE Franks visiting with us today. LE is a Featured Author at GRL 2016, today she is sharing her memories from each year that she has attended this wonderful gathering.
You never forget your first time
I have weirdly perfect Google luck. In 2012 after picking up writing again after a very, very, very, long break, I went online looking for a writing conference to quietly attend—just a teeny dip of the toe into the infinite pool of possible. I debated briefly about the UK Meet but it was smaller and I was looking for crowd cover; besides, I love hot and spicy and from the retreat themes to the local color, GRL seemed to be calling my name. So at midnight, I booked my flight, picked a pen name, and signed up for the retreat not knowing how much my life would change from one little click of the mouse…
New Mexico set the stage for what would become an addiction: Land of Enchantment, chili roasting season, an isolated casino with a giant garlic keeper to house their spa…well it was a dream come true for a gal whose heart is one hard blown dust storm of love. I convinced a shy Sue Brown to sign my chest within minutes of meeting, only to return the favor by the end of the retreat. I met the amazing Sara York and within a day we’d christened the writing couch on the second floor, drawing others into our web of creative chaos, and laughed so much with my fabulous roommates. And for the first time in maybe ever, I never once edited myself to fit in. GRL was a gift and I was hooked.
This was the year of the haunted hotel, staffed by aliens – the weird architecture barely concealing that the building itself was the Mothership. We compared notes in halls and laughed when the reality of our stay affirmed our convoluted plotlines. I signed my first book next to the bell captain’s desk and swapped drinks with Edmond Manning and we each learned to appreciate something new.
The year of the long march. We broke our fit bits and traded war stories about miles walked between the event rooms and main hotel with its speakeasy, weird cave bar and food-court-esque atrium that made it easy to sprawl out with friends, old and new. It was my first event as a supporting author—equal parts terrifying and thrilling. It was the joy of accompanying ZA Maxfield on a stroll through downtown Chicago until exhaustion made me bail, and hanging out eating cold pizza in the lobby with the rest of the stragglers when I got back.
2015 San Diego
This was the year of paddle wheels and sandy beaches and the easy comfort of familiar faces, familiar names, and fangirl moments of turning the corner and running into a favorite author. I met the fabulous blonde duo from Australia, RJ Jones and Nic Starr, and ate Mexican food in Old Town, and Pho with the San Diego crew before listening to Greg Tremblay read to us over the most perfect coconut
cream cake invented. It was the thrill of fan art, and happy readers, and long conversations about the state of transgender rights and LGTBQ youth.
2016 Kansas City is already turning into an adventure: I’m not sure how we came to this decision, there is no late night of alcohol fueled sleep deprivation that I can point to, or diagnosed psychosis that might be the underlying root cause, but Morticia Knight and I decided to road trip from the west coast to Missouri.
At some point the idea of her pulling into my drive, honking the horn twice, and me scrambling on board as we head off across the Sierras and over the plains, seemed like a good one. So we are. She may be packing her flogger, I’ll be dragging along ten pounds of gummy bears, so we should be safe enough as long as there is enough coffee between California and Missouri. We might even arrive half sane and in one piece. Maybe.
But it should be fun. GRL always is and I can’t wait to see you there—meet you again for the first time, share a laugh, or just a thought.
LE Franks lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, one teenager, and two cats bent on world domination while she writes about gay men in pursuit of love. Her stories are a unique mix of humor and drama with enough suspense to produce fast paced stories filled with emotion and passion, and featuring characters that are quirky and complicated and sometimes a little bit dark.
LE is a best selling author and finalist for 2013 & 2014 Rainbow Awards, and contributing author to Semper Fidelis, 3rd place winner for Best LGBT Anthology 2015 from both Divine Magazine Awards and Goodreads MM Romance Group Members Choice Awards. Her books are available through her publishers at MLR Press, Dreamspinner Press, Wilde City Press, and Pride Publishing, and through online booksellers everywhere.