Last weekend I had the honor and pleasure of attending my first LoneStar Lesfic Festival. It was beyond thrilling to be an invited author to this prestigious event and there were a number of firsts for me. I did my first ever out loud reading of my work to someone other than my wife and cats. I also participated in my first panel. I stole a line from Ali Spooner who remarked that she was a Panel Virgin. Since I was both a Panel Virgin and a Reading Virgin, I lost my virginity twice at this conference-something I will never forget! I bet you never knew it was possible to lose your virginity twice in one day, but I am living proof that indeed, it is possible and I am fanning my face right now just thinking about it!
I ended up doing the following reading and told the lunch gate story (if you don’t know the full story-feel free to ask me about it). It prompted a few sales which I suppose was the intent. I might have turned a deep shade of red.
When I opened the front door, I groaned as I spied Sydney and her bitchy girlfriend, Hollie.
Hollie was an accomplished attorney and everyone’s golden girl—well, everyone who shared her political views and social standing in the community. The rest of us nerds and common people got to see her decidedly less charming side. When Sydney wasn’t looking, her non-verbal messages were clear—stay away, loser.
I never understood what Sydney saw in Hollie. Sure, her outward appearance was flawless, but she was a soulless she-devil and treated Sydney like shit. Sydney was no more than her loyal and devoted lap dog. As far as I could see, Sydney was not an equal partner, but rather eye candy that Hollie loved to show off.
Of course, Sydney saw us enter the shop right away and waved us over. I couldn’t be rude, so I reluctantly made my way to their table. Celeste followed my lead and stood beside me as I approached my high school crush and the enemy.
“Hey, Sydney. You remember Celeste, right?”
Sydney smiled and nodded. “Of course, you’re the one who wants to learn all about stuff that our resident librarian and expert on remote and interesting trivia knows absolutely everything about. You couldn’t have found a better person to help you. Mabs is amazing with the amount of knowledge she has in that big brain of hers.”
I noticed Hollie scowling when she said that, but Sydney was too busy motioning toward the empty seats to register her sourpuss expression. However, before glaring at me, she focused her penetrating gaze on Celeste and I could tell she liked what she saw. I was willing to bet my house that she would turn on the charm with Celeste.
“Celeste, right?” Sydney pointed to Hollie. “This is my girlfriend, Hollie.”
Hollie directed her perfectly dazzling smile at Celeste. “It’s wonderful to meet you. I’m not sure what information you were looking for, but I’d be happy to help in any way I can. I don’t think Mabel knows that much about our legal system or politics. So… anytime you want to have lunch, my treat of course, I’ll fill you in. It sounded like you aren’t from the US and it can be complicated to understand our system of justice.” Hollie placed a business card in Celeste’s hand and held on just a bit longer than I thought necessary.
I grinned when Celeste’s response was polite but distant.
“Thank you, Hollie. I shall consider your offer, but so far Bella has provided me with the information I need at this time. I choose to continue my education with her.”
Hollie narrowed her eyes. “Bella?”
Sydney chuckled. “Yeah, Celeste decided that was an appropriate name for Mabs and I have to agree. I might start calling her that myself.”
If Hollie’s eyes had the ability to shoot daggers, I’d be dead.
She turned to Celeste and smiled. “Why don’t you and Mabel join us for dinner tonight?”
Oh now, that was rich. I’d known Hollie for over ten years and she’d never invited me to dinner before. Even Sydney seemed shocked by the invitation as she looked at her girlfriend.
“Oh, I am so sorry. Tonight I will be fucking Bella until she screams my name in ecstasy under this lovely moon and stars. I will lap up her sweet nectar from the pulsing, plump lips surrounding her vagina,” Celeste calmly remarked.
Sydney burst out laughing and I hastened to clarify. “She’s kidding.”
I remember thinking that Celeste had the driest sense of humor of anyone I’d ever met. Death Valley had nothing on Celeste. She could deliver a punchline with the straightest face I’d ever seen. Her guileless expression was unflappable.
Hollie just sat there with her mouth hanging open—too shocked to respond.
Celeste looked at me and crinkled her nose. “Bella, did I not give an accurate enough description? I replicated the words in your book.” She turned to Sydney. “I do wish to try the things that I learned in the lesbian erotica book I found. Bella seems to be an eager participant in my experiment.”
Sydney smacked the table and smiled in my direction. “I knew it. You’re a big ole dyke just like me.” She frowned and I imagined that she was perplexed about why I’d never told her before.
“She’s joking,” I protested weakly. I felt bad about not confiding in Sydney, and she was the last person in the world that I wanted to hurt.
Initially I didn’t think there were any videos out there and then Dawn Carter snuck one on Facebook and tagged me. I did a pre-emptive strike and shared it on my Facebook page. For the masochists out there here is a link to the video: Lonestar Reading
Now for my top ten lessons learned from the event (in this blog they are in no particular order because that would require deeper thought than I can drum up at this particular moment with everything happening in my life right now).
- Women over the age of fifty cannot do the same things they used to do in their youth, like take red eye flights. Never again! It took me a whole day to recover from the huge error in judgement.
- You will not puke in front of an audience of very kind readers as you are about to read for the first time or follow Radcliffe in a panel no matter how much you think you will.
- Pay attention to the Facebook pictures and study them so you recognize your beta readers. Readers who ask for you to sign their books don’t always give their last names (Carrie….).
- Make sure you can see the smiling face of your wife in the audience and pay attention to her non-verbals as you are about to reveal too much information and make a total donkey out of yourself. A slight shake of the head usually works, except in my case.
- Never take readers for granted and always feel sincere gratitude every single time they ask you to sign a book for them, because it is the best feeling in the world when they honor you with that request.
- Your heroes are human. I was so amazed when Radcliffe admitted that sometimes even she believes that what she just wrote was crap (okay I am totally paraphrasing here – but I did glom onto a comment that she made that loosely resembled this notion).
- Thoroughly enjoy your time with friends that you might only get to see once a year and stop fretting about making a donkey out of yourself because it gets in the way of your time with these precious people who are now in your life. A little innocent flirting with your heroine cover artist is okay as long as your wife is right there (I swear she was sitting next to me when we posed for this picture).
- Always support your fellow authors because honestly they deserve your support and it helps lift up the whole genre.
- If you are going to steal a line from a fellow author, for example, “I’m a panel virgin,” make sure you give that author credit. It was a brilliant line from Ali Spooner, an equally brilliant writer. I got to use it twice.
- I can’t think of a bigger honor than being included in the list of authors invited to attend this event. I know I’m relatively new to attending these conferences, but this was so much better than my first due to Yvette’s brilliant organization and the fact that there were actually a few people who knew who I was before I introduced myself. Of course the name badge helped.
In summary, if they’ll have me back, I’d walk the 2,000+ miles if I had to, because I would attend this event again in a heartbeat.
If you want to purchase the book that started lunch gate just click on one of the links below.