So yes, I finally made it to Chicago for the Dreamspinner Press Workshop Weekend. A day later than I wanted, but all is well. I had to stay in Kansas City Wednesday night, and stay at a hotel, and wake up at four in the morning, and take the shuttle to the airport… But the plane took off on time. This pilot was flying if he had to get on the wing and flap his arms.

I was in Chicago by 8:00 yesterday (Thursday) morning. I then took the cab to my friend Jo’s house–whom I have not seen in at least fifteen years and spent a good four or so hours with her. We went a visited her mom, who had a fall several days ago and is convalescing in a nursing home. She is in good spirits. Then Jo took me to get White Castle burgers (hurray!), which I have not had in years. Love them! Then Pete’s Coffee, because I wanted to pick up a box of assorted tea bags. A lot of the ladies who run Dreamspinner Press are tea drinkers and I thought it was the least I could do.

There was another hilarious and frustrating turn because we kept passing the Renaissance Hotel, but couldn’t figure out how the hell to get into it. We drove past it twice before passing in the direction where we could pull into a circle drive and I could get into the hotel proper. I then went to my room.

I took these amazing picture of my view from my window on the thirteenth floor (yes! a 13th floor!!). We are right on the river and it is just gorgeous. The room is stunning as well.

Three hours later it was the big cocktail meet and greet and I had a wonderful time. I also discovered the several people had yet to get into Chi-town as well, but by this evening, finally everyone made it. The cocktails, the service, and the finger food last night were incredible. I wish I would have taken pictures of the food. All kinds of delicious fancy stuff, including this lobster baked thingie, these huge scallopes, and so much more. The visiting was lovely, meeting new people, re-meeting people from last year or from GayRomLit, all was wonderful. I got to spend some wonderful time with Elizabeth North, the publisher in chief of DSP.

Finally it was to bed.

Breakfast was on our own this morning and then it was a FULL day of activities and more. First the staff all introduced themselves, then we had this incredible workshop on how to promote yourself and get really serious about writing (if that was our goal). I thought my mind was going to explode from all the information. Next was all kinds of stuff on new changes at DSP, all exciting.

Then we broke for lunch. Next was a mind-blowing workshop on writing sex. The facilitator was incredible. It was easy. We would get twelve minutes to write various sensuous or sexual scenes, and then had to be brave enough to read them aloud to the people in our group. No one wanted to do it (the out loud part) and finally I just thought, the hell with it, and read my scene. After that everyone was willing to read aloud the whole rest of the time. This all lasted at least three hours and was intense. We learned a lot, the most important part being…

WHY sex scenes are so important in a romance novel–and the general consensus was that sex tells you LOT about your characters. A LOT. It tells you if they are naive, or shy, or kinky, or outgoing, or prudish, or unable to be comfortable about their own sexuality, or were very standard/vanilla, or etc etc etc. Sex does NOT have to be detailed at all. It doesn’t have to describe every single little detail. And writing it is also about our own feelings when it comes to sex. Are WE comfortable in our own skin, our own sexuality, and are we programmed by family, society, or something, to think there is something “dirty” about sex? Is that why we get uncomfortable when it comes to the subject? It also gave us lots of ideas for stories, especially characterization. For instance, would this show that a character is uncomfortable with sex and has this same programming–that sex is “wrong.” I was shy and uncomfortable, but it was a powerful learning experience.

Then there was an hour or two break and we all joined together for a provided dinner that was totally awesome and incredible. I got to do a lot more talking to people.

I also got to spend time with several new friends and growing friends–like Rick Reed, JP Barnaby, Rowan Speedwell, and many more.

One thing though, MM writers are apparently not big partiers. Everyone but me has gone to bed. I came down to the lobby around 10:30 to write this because that is where the free Wifi is provided. It is going to be a LONG day tomorrow, so I do need to rest and get some sleep. We will not only be doing a LOT of workshops but a group of us are going to some famous drag show tomorrow night. It is to help celebrate my birthday, which wonderfully coincidentally falls this weekend. It is also the three year anniversary of my first sale!

SO now that I’ve come down and written and unwind-ed, I think I might be able to get to sleep. Wish I would have found a local liquor store to make me a cocktail. I don’t even want to find out what drinks cost in the hotel bar! LOL!

I am staying until Monday morning so there is a lot yet left to do.

Ah Dreamspinner Press. Incredible. Simply incredible. I love working for them. And who knows, maybe one day soon I can give up The Evil Dayjob!

Hugs and love,

View outside my hotel window.

Me, the lovely Elizabeth North, and the devilishly handsome Rick Reed.

An amazing repast!

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