Friday, October 24, 2014

GRL 2014 (Part 1)

Hello everyone!

So of course it's time for the official GRL master post! I've been longing to make this post for at least a few days now but I was unable to because of the infamous con-crud. I'm not sure where or when I picked it up and from whom - but it had to have something to do with all the people I kissed (on the cheek!) or maybe just all the hugging. I don't know and to be honest, I really don't care. I had tons of fun.

So that being said, I'm going to break down each day from the moment I got there until the time when the conference was over. And this time I have pictures! Yay, pictures!

I hope you enjoy!


So there really isn't anything noteworthy about most of Tuesday as most of it was spent in a car driving from New Jersey to Chicago. Yeah, it sounded good on paper and I know for a fact we saved a great deal of money on travel (driving only cost about 120 dollars because our car is amazing on mileage - where plane tickets were around 180 each round-trip or whatever) but it was exhausting.

We left 10:30 AM and arrived at the beautiful hotel around 9:00 PM, Central. So almost twelve hours in a car. Not fun. But it was nice once we got to leave the car and unwind.

I met the wonderful and talented J.P. Barnaby in the lobby who proceeded to pull me into the hugest hug possible. You have no idea the magnitude of this hug - it was the hug to end all hugs. For those who don't know, she's a very good friend of mine. We usually talk for 2-3 hours straight once or twice a week and it was nice to finally see her in person after a year.

I also got a chance to be officially introduced to William Cooper, my lent-assistant, whom I met last year but we really didn't talk much. He's a lovely guy and very, very sweet. I'll just insert this here - I couldn't ask for a better assistant. EVER.

After we had our hello, I was instructed they were going to go play a game called Cards Against Humanity...which, just by the name, I should have knew what I was in for. The rest of the night was a blur...but I do remember snapping turtles biting off the tip and pacman uncontrollably guzzling cum - so I'm going to assume it was a good night.

We also managed to have Chicago pizza for the first time and it was delicious.


So of course Wednesday began with me texting J.P. and asking her what she was doing that morning because we've talked so much and seen so little of each other so I'll be damned if were weren't going to spend as much time together as possible - which she agreed.

So we got breakfast together and when I went downstairs to her room with the fiance I was introduced to the lovely Jodi. Now, apparently we met the year before but I seriously did not remember - it doesn't say anything negative about her, but rather about how many people you meet in a single weekend at GRL. This time I like to say we were officially introduced because got to spend a great deal of time together and actually had a conversation for more than a few minutes. She's one of the sweetest, most genuine people you could ever want to meet.

So being a glutton at heart, I wanted to sample the breakfast buffet, my fiance did too. I didn't see an issue because we've stayed at hotels with breakfast buffets before and they were stellar...yeah, wasn't the case this time. The waffles tasted like depression and the bagels were so hard I thought the secret ingredient was Viagra. But in all honesty it was the only negative experience so it's forgivable. :P

Anyway, after breakfast we had a lot to do. We went back up in the room and proceeded to assemble about 250 bags of stuff. You see, J.P. being the generous, kind-hearted individual she is, allowed authors who couldn't attend as authors or couldn't make it to put their swag inside of her bags. This was lovely...but we were flooded! I think we had stuff from over 50 different authors and it was basically just myself, William, and two others assembling everything together. It was chaotic - but fun. I also had help from two lovely ladies (who are good friends) Juli and Rebecca - I met them last year on the last we didn't get to hang out as much as we should have. But this year I like to think I remedied that.

Afterwards I tagged along with J.P. to pick up Ms. Shae Connor and Jared Rackler from the airport. Now I had met Shae previously twice - wonderful person and has such an amazing smile - but this was my first time actually meeting Jared officially. He was at GRL last year but I don't think I found the inner strength to approach him as I was much too shy back then and he well, doesn't appear to be. Let me say he's also very sweet and funny. We all had quite the car ride back. I won't get too personal but our topics ranged from writing to threesomes to slippery dildos. Yeah...if you weren't there, you certainly missed out.

That night we proceeded to play Cards Against Humanity, again. It was Myself, Anthony, J.P., William, Jodi, Jared, Daniel Kaine (adorkable and gives amazing hugs!), Brandon Witt (cute, funny, and has a nice laugh), Amy DiMartino (beautiful, funny, and reminds me of home!), and I'm sure a few others. Let's just say it was chaotic. Notable mentions? Daniel giving AIDs to naughty children and the discovery that pacman seriously needs to seek help for his cum-guzzling problem.


This was the first "official" day of the conference. 

I didn't go to the newbie meet n' greet this year. I wasn't a newbie, so I didn't see the point. I was much too busy sleeping - I was exhausted, okay?!

I shot a text to J.P. and of course, our gang went to breakfast again. Only this time we didn't have the buffet, we just ordered off the menu. Huge improvement. My pancakes were beautiful and fluffy and I just wanted to wrap them around my naked body while dancing to I touch myself by divinyls. Yeah, they were seriously that good.

After breakfast it was time to head down to the Supporting Author Signing. I helped them carry stuff down and basically went to support William (his first time being a supporting author) as well as Wade Kelly (another close friend) and Jeff Adams (sweetest guy ever). During my venture in the Supporting Author room, I managed to finally meet Taryn Plendl - a lovely woman who's quickly become one of my closest friends. I enjoyed chatting with her and her lovely daughter made my fiance and I two My Little Pony bracelets. He got Rarity, I got Twilight Sparkle. OMG! They were beautiful. I don't think I took it off once the entire weekend.

I have to mention that I was shocked that people were actually buying my books! I must have had like twenty people come up and ask me to sign their things. It was a bit overwhelming and I couldn't even begin to handle it. I was blushing like crazy and came dangerously close to crying a few times. But I was bolstered by William, J.P., Anthony, Rebecca, Taryn, and Juli-Anna. So I didn't do that.

Speaking of people buying my novel - three fellow authors whom I just so happened to look up to, also purchased copies! T.J. Klune, Daniel Kaine, and K.A. Mitchell! Holy cow! I'll have to address them separately.

T.J. - I was surprised when I saw that he'd be attending this year but I was really happy. As soon as I possibly could, I said hello and hugged him. I spent some time with him and Eric Arvin last year and they really were amazing. We chatted a bit and I mentioned I had a novel out - I don't want to fully recap what I said because I don't feel like crying right now - but I mentioned how they were part of the reason why I worked up the courage to actually try to make my way into the M/M genre and he asked me to show him the novel. I did, and he bought a copy. I don't know if he actually intended for me to have an out of body experience or not...but I came dangerously close.

Daniel - I met him last year. He was far too quiet so I thought he hated me. This year I decided to try and see if I'd get the death glare or not. He came up to me and mentioned he purchased it and after two chapters thought it was really good. And let me say it sounded really pretty coming from him. :P
Anyway, I melted and yeah, I signed it - actually messed up my name! >.>

K.A. - sweet woman, one of my first friends in the genre. I love her to death. I was so touched that such a brilliant author actually took the time to buy my novel and when she asked me to sign it I actually teared up. >.<;;

Afterwards I went out to lunch with J.P., Anthony, William, and Jodi - we went back to Portillos which is a delicious place near the hotel. Think cheese fries to end all cheese fries. They were that good.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur - I know I went to the authors lounge and stuck pretty close to J.P. and co. - we were officially her minions for the week. Which was a fun job! And I managed to raid the swag room and was given a hug by Rhys Ford (a close friend) and finally bumped into Lisa of The Novel Approach who is another close friend - and got a huge hug from.

Thursday night was the Juke Joint! Let me start off by saying that I was kind of drunk. See, somebody thought it would be a good idea to leave a bunch of booze out on a table in the hotel with a sign saying: "Free to a good GRL home" and well, I took that as a personal invitation. I downed a whole bottle of rum and milk. I had fun. I did some things I didn't think I would. I actually tipped an exotic dancer. A pretty cute one. And I kissed him, too! Holy cow. Again. I danced on a dance floor to S&M...with a woman and a man. It was crazy.


This post is getting kind of long so I'm going to cut it off here. I'll post the last three days before the week is over. But yeah. The first half of GRL was AMAZING. Second half was better.

As always, lots of love (and applesauce) <3

Pictures from the first half:

(Me, Anthony, Daniel Kaine!)

(Me and Dancer Derrick)

(Brandon Witt feeding me chocolate cake!)

(Me with TJ Klune!)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How To Understand Anxiety Without Really Trying

Hello everyone!

I haven't made a blog post in awhile because real life has been kicking my ass. I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about a very important topic that not a lot of people understand. I'm referring to the little demon known as anxiety.

Now before I delve into this, I want you to understand that "anxiety" is a blanket term. There is a whole rainbow of different anxieties that someone can have. In fact, someone can even have multiple forms of anxiety. Meaning,instead of having one huge beast ravaging inside someone's mind, there can be two, three, or more! Isn't that nifty?

I'll go over a few really quick.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Yes, although most people don't realize it, OCD is a form of anxiety. OCD is a form of anxiety where a person will be compelled to repeat specific actions in order to ease the amount of tension/anxiety in their body.

Plain ol' Vanilla Anxiety: The standard variety. General Anxiety is the process of worrying about things that one has no control over/being terrified about the outcome of said events. Many people have pings here and there of general anxiety, but those with anxiety disorder are afflicted constantly.

Hypochondria/Health Anxiety: A type of anxiety where the person is constantly worrying about their health. Little injuries can be a big deal and an innocent headache could result in major stress/worry. In fact, it's quite common for health anxiety to take a toll on you physically/mentally in the vein that your mind actually can imitate what you're looking for. As in, you could be checking yourself for lumps and feel one or one could actually form. Or you could read an article about a person who had a pain in their foot and died and feel that same pain.

Social Anxiety: This type of anxiety happens when a person leaves the sanctity of their home and ventures out into the world. They can be at a grocery store, a park, or whatever - the slightest thing can trigger the anxiety. It also poses a hindrance to social interaction.

Sexual Anxiety: Where you're only hit when you're getting intimate with someone. People with sexual anxiety are typically those who have been sexually assaulted (read: post traumatic stress disorder) and have a hard time distancing themselves from the traumatic event and the present situation or those who are uncomfortable/insecure in a sexual setting because of the vulnerability.

Those are just a few. The point is, although anxiety is in the mind, it's very much real to those of us who do suffer from it. And it's important to understand that no matter of reassuring or words of encouragement will make it just go away - although, they do help. Sometimes. =)


Here is a short list of things you should NOT say when dealing with an anxietic person:

(1) "Just get over it"
Right, because it's just that easy. Pro-tip: It's not. Let me make an analogy for you. Having anxiety is like... having arachnophobia, claustrophobia, and nyctophobia and being locked in a small, dark room with thousands of spiders. AT ALL TIMES. Now ask yourself if that's something you could just get over. If it was simply that easy, everyone would do it.

(2) "Oh come on, you're faking it!"
I'll let you in on a little secret: people with anxiety don't want to have anxiety. Trust me. Having anxiety isn't fun. Having people think you're crazy isn't fun. Having people stare at you like you're some wanton mistress of the night isn't fun. So why on Earth would someone want to put themselves in that light? Seriously. I won't lie, some people DO act like they have anxiety for attention - and, there's just no explaining it. They're idiots. But for the rest of us, if you say the above - it isn't going to make things better. It's going to make things worse. Do not be an asshole because chances are if you tell me I'm faking when I'm having a panic attack, I'm going to tell you that you're faking when you're on fire and I'm holding a fire extinguisher.

(3) "If you have social anxiety, why are you having fun in public/why can you go out with certain people and be fine? You must be doing it for attention!"
First of all, see the above response. Second of all, social anxiety is a lot more complex than that. Yes, we are uncomfortable when in public, but that doesn't mean we're frozen in a corner the whole time - well, okay, some of us are. But the point is, anxiety is an affliction of the mind. It affects everyone differently. Some people who have anxiety can NEVER go out in public and have to stay home or they'll have a huge attack (agoraphobic/anthropophobia people) while some anxietic people are fine sometimes but something - it can be big, small, whatever - can trigger them and cause an attack. So if we can get our minds off of it, we can function better. One of the best things one can do is surround themselves with people they feel safe around. These people are like an anti-anxiety barrier. Another thing, as a friend of mine (J.P. Barnaby) mentioned, sometimes a bit of liquid courage helps. Just a little. The important thing to understand is that people with anxiety usually have their minds racing a thousand miles a minute. It's like grand central station is in our brains. We can't shut it off, so the best alternative is to be around people we feel safe around or do things that help distract.

(4) "See? You were freaking out for nothing. You're doing so well!"
No. Don't say this. Because then it'll remind us of exactly what we're doing well with. And that's bad. And an irate person with anxiety may stab you in the eye with a hot, salted french fry. I'm not joking. It's been done before...I should know.

(5) "Stop being such a hypochondriac. You know there's nothing wrong with you!"
Okay. And while we're at it, how about you stop breathing. Because that's essentially what you're asking a person with health anxiety to do. I'll say it again: people with anxiety disorders can NOT control what they think about or how they perceive things. Maybe to a normal person a pain is just a pain, but to someone with health anxiety their mind causes them to freak out and think something bad is going on. And telling someone with health anxiety to just get over it or that we know there isn't anything wrong with us - doesn't help! It actually makes things worse.

However, there are things you can say that actually WILL help someone with anxiety.


(1) "You're okay. I'm here for you. I won't let anything happen to you. You're safe."
Comments like this help. If you know someone with anxiety who you think is having a panic attack, it helps to ground them. Assure them that they're fine and nothing is going to hurt them. If they're the type who won't get freaked out by physical contact, a hug or light touch helps, too. Any form of reassurance, really.

(2) "Think about..." or "remember when..."
Someone once told me that depression is worry about past troubles - anxiety is worry about future troubles. So sometimes if someone is having an anxiety episode, it helps for you to bring up a positive memory or a happy event of some kind. The key is getting the person to focus on anything but what's causing their anxiety. 

(3) "That's not so weird!"
The one thing that will really hurt someone with anxiety is if attention is drawn to what they're going through. It's generally a bad idea to point out someone's OCD (unless you know them personally and they're comfortable with it) or point out that someone is pacing or having nervous ticks. What you can do is draw attention away from it. So if someone brings it up you can casually lead the conversation in a different direction. Your anxietic friend will be appreciative.

(4) "You're not alone.
Sometimes a casual reminder helps. Let them know you're there for them and that there are other people who are going through the same thing. Sometimes anxiety makes you feel like you're trapped and all alone. Nobody can hear you screaming. Be there for them.

(5) Action
Although most people with anxiety have tools they use to calm themselves down, sometimes it's not always so easy to remember when you're in the middle of an attack. So that being said, remind them of the tools. Tell them to breathe - deep, slow breaths. Take them out of the situation (if possible) make sure they took their medication, if applicable. Stuff like this.


I don't know what causes anxiety or why it has to exist at all. I wish that I could be like everyone else and not worry about things I don't have to or shut down when something gets too intense for me to handle. I'm sure most others with anxiety feel the same way.

I wrote this blog post because I think it's important to be honest and factual when dealing with such a heavy topic and the more people who understand what anxiety is, what to do and what not to do, the closer we get to lessening the effects and maybe one day finding a permanent cure.

I can dream, can't I?

As always, lots of love and applesauce <3