Wonder Boi Writes

GCLS 2015

I promised a few weeks ago that I’d give y’all a blog about GCLS, and I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’m having a really hard time with this one. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say about GCLS. The opposite is true. I want to say all the things. Books, readers, literary icons, old friends, new friends, stories, pictures, New Orleans, the whole conference was off the hook.

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Let me back up a bit. The GCLS or the Golden Crown Literary Society is an organization dedicated to education, promotion, and recognition of lesbian fiction. If you aren’t a member yet, you should really think about joining. The organization is fantastic, and there’s no better chance for readers and writers of lesbian fiction to interact with each other.  I think that’s the thing I love most about their annual conference: I am there as an author, and I am there as a reader. I got to have dinner with the likes of Dorothy Alison and Lee Lynch one night, then lunch with some fellow readers the next two days. I can be signing autographs one minute, then dashing off to get someone else’s autograph the next. Of course when I leave my seat during the autograph session, someone else takes my spot and signs in my place.

 Jackie autograph

Like any other conference, there are also plenty of formal sessions to attend. This year I got to be part of several cool events that ranged from the serious to the silly. I was part of one panel on the coming out experience. Then I moderated a session on graphic novels. Both of those were educational and engaging. They each left me thinking about either the genre or my place in it in new and more thoughtful ways. On the purely fun side, I got take part in a Liar Liar panel with some really creative authors. We took turns telling stories, and the audience got to vote on whether or not they thought we were lying. I suppose that session was plenty educational in its own right (authors are wilder than you’d think), but there was also a lot of laughter all around.

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I also got to do a reading from Heart of the Game. It was at 8:00 in the morning…in New Orleans…the morning after Karaoke Night…and yet we had a full room of awesome engaged readers asking great questions. I think that really goes to show you how much these readers and writers love the books we share.

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Aside from my official duties, I also got to enjoy some really great sessions. So many of them stood out, and every one of them taught me several things I could take back and use in my own writing, but the one I will likely use the most from was Melissa Brayden’s workshop on to how to write faster and sell more books. She shared a great list of tips or “nuggets” for writers at all stages of their career. The audience was filled with a mix of people ranging from aspiring writers to people with more than 20 books in print, and every one of them was taking notes.

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Photo Credit Aurora Rey.

GCLS also offers two guest speakers every year. This year the special address was given by New Orleans local and enthusiast Ali Vali. I’ve known Ali for years, and she is one of the most naturally gifted storytellers I have ever met. She gave a hilarious powerpoint presentation on tips to enhancing the writing process. The keynote address was given by literary great, Dorothy Alison  I don’t know what I can possibly say to do justice to her speech other than this: It was the best speech I have ever been privileged to hear. No exaggeration. I genuinely hope GCLS will be able to make the recording public because I think every reader and writer of lesbian literature needs to hear this speech.

Photo Credit Watty Boss

Photo Credit Watty Boss

The culmination of the annual GCLS conference is the awards ceremony. This is the time when everybody gets all spiffed up and honors not only the best work of the year, but also those writers and works that paved the way for us to do what we do now. This year Rita Mae Brown accepted the Lee Lynch Classics Award for Rubyfruit Jungle, and Joan Nestle was given the Trailblazer Award, which Dorothy Alison accepted on her behalf.

Then we partied. We danced, we laughed, we took so many selfies our head spun, and we shut the place down. What’s not to love about that?

As usual I had bast, I learned a lot, I got recharged, and I left New Orleans already counting down until I get to do it all again next year at GCLS Washington D.C.

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September 16, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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