GayRomLit, Guest Contributor

Poppy’s Post-GRL Follow up (as requested!)



Poppy’s Post-GRL Wrap Up

Well, it’s happened again. The GayRomLit retreat is over. I’m back home, snuggled up on my couch and reflecting on an amazing week. True confession: I’m really sad. I miss everyone already. I knew I would, but it’s so hard to explain what it’s like to leave behind folks you’ve bonded with on such a deep level.

So, instead of being maudlin Poppy, I thought I’d share a few special memories with you of my week in Atlanta with the amazing authors and readers of this genre. To say I broke out of my shell a little more this year would be the understatement of the century.

First up, I did as promised in my pre-GRL post and tacklehugged the lovely Lisa (goddess extraordinaire of this blog) and the amazing Rhys Ford. It was worth the trip alone for those two moments! As I expected, Rhys tried to feed me. She does not approve of my microwave dinners. LOL. As to Ms. Lisa, I can’t believe it was the first time we’d met! I feel like I’ve known her forever! (And isn’t she absolutely gorgeous???)

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There were so many new faces for me at this year’s event. Some of my favorite new friends were found in the lobby of the Melia. Just sitting around chatting…it’s really the best part of GRL (amazing parties notwithstanding).  I particularly loved getting to know the Book Addicts crew. I might have glomped onto the adorable Glenn (isn’t he so huggable?) and am working on forgiving him for never delivering my promised coffee. And Cindi, lovely lady, you are a dear with the most amazing energy I have ever encountered. Thank you for greeting me with such a lovely smile and big hug.

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Remember me saying I broke out of my shell a little bit? I have proof. Yes, that’s me, wrapped around Charlie Harding, cover model for Accidental Alpha. You have no idea how glad I am that the room is lit in red lights…because believe me when I tell you, I was redder than I’ve ever been before!

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But that’s part of the magic of GRL, isn’t it? Doing things you’ve never done before, meeting people you have only the slightest connection with and realizing you have so much more in common than you ever imagined.

A few other shout outs to new friends: those of you who shared my table at the Dine With An Author event (L.A. Witt, Eugenia Worst, Nate, K.C. Wells, Brandi, Taylor, Christian, and JoJo) thank you guys for such great conversation!

Have I mentioned how hysterical it was to ask Rick Reed and B.G. Thomas if they wanted to taste my beaver? I still giggle every time I see their faces! In my defense, it was a bag of beaver nuggets that Xara Xanakas had brought along from Texas. But oh…the look on their faces. Priceless!

To Lorelei and Madysn, who made me feel like a princess for the night of the formal, thank you! You guys helped me walk into that room with confidence I didn’t have. It means the world!

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And to my “outside lobby” friends: Jackie, Denise, Suzie (yes, I’m wearing red right now!) Michelle and all the others I’m forgetting…thank you for sharing those moments with me! For my Kelly, who is so magically delicious, and Kade, my little hush puppy, you guys are adorable. Thank you for letting me give you silly nicknames! And for Doug, a new friend who did something nice for me, even though he barely knows me. You are a doll face. Gah, I know I’m leaving out a gazillion people from this list, but you all know who you are!

Another great about GRL? Fangirling. Oh yes. I did it. To one author in particular: Eric Arvin, you are a dreamboat. Seriously. I admire you more than you can possibly imagine, and seeing you sitting in my Q&A…wow. It was amazing. Catching your eye helped me remember how incredibly brave you are, and it helped me find my own courage. Thank you for your kind words and support. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one…

So now that I’ve gushed a bit, I’d like to switch to a more serious note for a moment. Some of you know that I suffer from severe anxiety. There’s no way I could have survived the week in Atlanta without the support of my posse.  The folks in this picture…

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there are not enough words to thank them. They held my hand when I trembled walking through the crowded lobby, bodyguarded me on packed elevators, and gave me giant hugs when it got to be too much. For the posse members not pictured, well, you know who you are. Each of you gave me the strength to walk out of the hotel room with a smile on my face and my head held high.  I heard from so many people this year that they have the same issues. Folks who had a hard time leaving their rooms, who couldn’t attend some of the events, but braved it anyway. You’re all an inspiration to me. Some of you out there might think you can’t come to GRL because of similar issues. Believe me, you can. No one there will judge you. The best compliment I received the entire week was a reader who saw me at a weak moment and said they had no idea. It’s hard being vulnerable, but there are ways to make it through. You don’t want to miss this experience, even if you do have to spend time locked away in your hotel room decompressing. And if it gets to be too much, just hunt me down. Trust me, I understand.

I’ll see you all next year in Chicago—if not sooner!

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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.

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