Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Some new cover pretties...

Just a short post to show off some lovely new cover art for two books coming this fall from Samhain Publishing!  Keep an eye out for blurbs and links!

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm back, y'all!

As I mentioned a few months ago, I had to go dark for a while on my blog while I dealt with the joy and fun of moving from Nebraska to Spain. Relocating from that godforsaken place to Spain is awesome. That actual logistics? Holy Ned. Talk about a royal pain.

In the interim, though, I was able to spend a few months with my family in Seattle, as well as enjoy a visit from Aleksandr Voinov, who had never been to Seattle. We even took a trip out to Bluewater Bay (or where it would be if it existed), and we plotted and schemed some new books for 2015 and beyond. As you do.

Finally, though, after a few months, a few thousand miles, a lot of headaches, a road trip, and three plane rides... I'm here!  And I'm working again! The cats made it safely, my husband found us a lovely house in Sanlucar de Barrameda, and we have the most hilariously stupid beater car, with which we're slowly beginning to explore Spain.

Behold, the hoopty ride, the hubby, and the house:

This is the house as viewed from the backyard:

Yep, it's got a pool. Tubby is intrigued.

Midget finds the pool suspicious, but she's loving the sunshine.

In between taking their spoiled little highnesses outside (seriously, they want out, like, every five seconds), I am of course writing again. I was writing during the move, but maintaining a regular schedule was practically impossible. Now, I'm back in my groove and back on schedule.

Though I'm definitely back to work, I'm trying to curtail my workaholic habits, since those resulted in the burnout that led to my immune system collapsing last summer. Fortunately, I'm in a great place to balance work and play, since there is SO MUCH TO SEE here. Naturally, I must take time off at regular intervals, right?

Because I'm surrounded by  things like monasteries....
....and abandoned sugar factories that have been taken over by nesting storks.

We're planning to visit Gibraltar and Sevilla soon, and we'll be taking a short trip to Madrid right before RT in May. So, expect a lot of pictures, though most of them will be on my personal blog, which will finally be active again.

But yes, as I said, I'm back to work. So what's coming up in the next few months?

Because of my slowdown in late 2014 (moving + the lung demon), there won't be quite as many books out in the first half of 2015. Rest assured, there are more coming.

L.A. Witt will be fairly quiet for a few months, aside from re-releasing Wireless this spring.  Never fear -- there is a ton in the works! Aleksandr Voinov and I are both hard at work on additional Dark Soul books -- he's writing Franco's story while I'm finishing up the sequel to Dark Soul. Aleks and I are also working on the next Market Garden book -- Rolex's story, of course! -- as well as the World War II historical that we so need to finish and a sequel to Hostile Ground.

 On my own, I've also got another erotic Mafia book in the works, which I plan to release toward the end of summer. This fall, look for an erotic menage, What He Left Behind, coming from Samhain, and a not-yet-titled Bluewater Bay story from Riptide Publishing. Will there be others? Quite possibly.

Lauren Gallagher will actually have some releases this year. In April, The Saint's Wife, a hetero contemporary romance, will be available from Samhain Publishing, followed in July by Kneel, Mr. President, a kinky bisexual menage, also from Samhain. Expect two more releases from Lauren before the end of 2015, plus a re-release of an older title.

And my two three new pen names will have releases this year!  Lori A. Witt's space opera, The Tide of War, comes out in June, followed by Ann Gallagher's gay Christian romance, Lead Me Not, in August, both from Riptide Publishing. My first horror novel, And All That You Hold Dear, should be out right around Halloween under the name Diana Fyre.

So yeah, it's gonna be a little light in the release department for a short while, but I'm catching up!

Now, back to work.

As soon as I let the little monsters outside


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And on the 57,428th day, Rolex got a name.

Remember that time Aleksandr Voinov and I had this contest to name Rolex from Market Garden, but then real life decided to be a bastard and bring everything to a grinding halt for like six months? And then we kept everyone waiting forever for the results of that contest because OMG we just could not catch a break in 2014?

Yeah, me too.

First of all, thank you to everyone for your patience. 2014 was quite a roller coaster for both of us, and it really put a dent in productivity, concentration, etc. We haven't even co-written since July (up until today), so...yeah. Which meant dragging this contest out for MONTHS.  Sorry about that! :(

But blah blah blah, that's not why y'all are here. You want to know Rolex's name, right?

Well, wait no more.

Rolex has a name.

Yep, we finally found a first name.

And then we paired it with a surname.

And when we put them together, they worked pretty darn well.

So we said, "Yes, that is Rolex's name."

You ready for it?

You ready to find out what Rolex will be called?

OMG A hedgehog with a dinosaur! How adorable is that?


RIGHT? Just LOOK at how adorable it is!

Here it is again in case you missed it...

See? It's so--

OKAY OKAY I won't tease you anymore.

Rolex's name is:

Blake Raleigh.

Which also means that our contest winners are Kristie Sanchez and Antonia. If both of y'all could e-mail me at gallagherwitt (at) gmail, I'll get some prizes out to you.

So thank you again to everyone for your patience, and we really apologize for the huuuuge delay in wrapping up this contest. Rest assured that Rolex's story is in progress as we speak. Watch this blog and our Twitter feeds for release info.

Monday, November 3, 2014

NOW AVAILABLE: Starstruck and Precious Metals

Now that I'm more or less settled into Seattle, I can actually catch up a bit! I had one book out last week, and one comes out today.

First up, today's release: the first book in the new multi-author Bluewater Bay series, STARSTRUCK, available from Riptide Publishing. Available on Amazon, AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

Hollywood is full of dirty secrets, but Carter refuses to be Levi’s.
Retired action star Levi Pritchard has made a quiet life for himself in the sleepy logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But then Hollywood comes to film the wildly popular television series Wolf’s Landing, and Bluewater Bay isn’t so sleepy anymore. His retirement doesn’t stick, either, because he’s offered a part on the show—exactly the kind of complex role he’d always wanted, one that would prove him more than a glorified stuntman. The only catch? He has to stay in the closet—no matter how attractive he finds his co-star.
Carter Samuels is the critically-acclaimed male lead on Wolf’s Landing. And now, the man who inspired him to take up acting—and made him realize he’s gay—is joining the cast, and sparks fly between them instantly. But Carter is out and proud and determined to stay true to himself.
Remaining just friends is the only thing to do, as both the studio and Levi’s disapproving, dysfunctional family remind them daily. Except their friendship deepens by the day, tempting them with what they can’t have but both desperately need.

And last week's release, also from Riptide Publishing, is PRECIOUS METALS, a steampunk story set in the Klondike Gold Rush like Noble Metals. It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

For Constable Paul Benson of the North-West Mounted Police, monotony is a blessing. As a provision inspector below the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, he’s seen miserable conditions and gold fever turn civilized prospectors into madmen.
Joseph Starling is on his way to the Klondike to find the men who savagely beat him, murdered his eldest brother, and stole their mining machine. They’ll kill his youngest brother if Joseph doesn’t operate the machine for them—it won’t work without him. With time running out, Joseph must purchase an expensive ticket aboard a crash-prone airship. But the station is miles away through dangerous terrain.
Under orders, Paul grudgingly escorts Joseph, but quickly finds himself intrigued by the young man. As they make their way toward Juneau, it’s not just the need for warmth that drives them closer together. But neither man can draw an easy breath until they make it to the gold fields . . . and there’s no guarantee that Joseph’s brother will still be alive when they do.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The countdown begins... and the author becomes scarce.

T-minus 26 days until I leave Nebraska forever. Not that I'm counting.

Naturally, this means we've reached the frantic period where 11,000 things need to be done so that another 27,000 things can be done. We've planned ahead, of course, and managed to knock out quite a bit. I'm still kind of floored by the sheer volume of stuff we've removed from the house in the last two weeks. I literally donated more clothing than I kept. It's liberating to get rid of that much debris, but man it was a lot of work.

I've also gone through my extensive library and divided my books into "storage" and "Spain." I swear, choosing between books is like choosing between kittens. I WANT TO TAKE THEM ALL. So two bookcases worth of books are on their way to a storage unit, while the remaining six bookcases worth are coming with me. Hey, it's a 25% reduction. Don't judge me.

So that's a handful of things down, and 10,995 to go.

I know, really exciting, isn't it?

And of course, in the midst of all of that, I'm still writing. Two books will be finished before the end of the month, lest I incur the wrath of my editors. Between them, that means probably 40,000 words to go.

So, with all of that being said, my internet time (not to mention headspace) is getting a bit limited. I will be somewhat scarce on most forms of social media until I get settled into Spain in early 2015. This blog will probably be pretty quiet, but, well, that's how it's been for most of 2014, so... LOL

Of course I'll still be around, and I'll still be tweeting/posting on Facebook, but there will likely be days where I'm completely MIA. If you send me an e-mail or an @ message on Twitter, expect the response to take a little longer than usual (possibly up to a week). Or you might catch me when I'm at my desk and get a quick -- if brief -- response.  This does not mean I don't want to hear from fans, I promise!! I love hearing from y'all, and I do read messages as soon as they come in. It's just response times that will be a little jumbled for a bit while I get my life out of its holding pattern and all of my belongings across the Atlantic.

TL;DR - I'll be around, but sporadically over the next 3-4 months.

Thank y'all for being patient! I promise, even if I'm quiet, there are books in the works that will be unleashed on the world in 2015 -- stay tuned!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Guest Post: Jamie Lake -- The ‘Bad Boy’ Of M/M Gay Romance Literature

Apologies to Jamie for posting this WAY's been one of those months. But he's stopping by to talk about his Bad Boy series...

Jamie Lake’s newest book series Bad Boy was an instant hit, becoming the #1 book in its category. I had the chance to chat with Jamie about how he created the book series and his advice to those who are interested in writing in the genre.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Bad Boy series, tell us about it. It’s the story of a really hot teacher who becomes desperate for money when his hours are cut and the only choice he has is to moonlight as an erotic masseuse for men. The problem is, he has to keep is profession a secret from the school and it’s right when he meets the guy of his dreams, who happens to be not only one of his student’s dads but also a cop.

Why would you recommend m/m as a genre for other authors to write? It’s still very much undiscovered territory, even though there are tens of thousands of m/m titles out there. Compared to general romance which has probably hundreds of thousands of titles, maybe more. It’s not as easy as people say and people don’t always understand the audience. The men who write it, don’t realize the majority of the readers are straight women and they want something different and sometimes the females that write it, don’t sound authentic with the male dialogue to me. There are issues that gay men and bi men deal with, subtle things that women may not quite tap into as writers. You have to be able to write authentically and at the same time, give your readers what they’re looking for and that’s not always easy to do.

How did you create your characters in Bad Boy? Do you do a character bio? My characters are generally loosely based on people I know or in the case of Chip, people I’d like to know. I tried to give him qualities I’d love in a dream guy and that I hope the readers would like too. Sometimes I’ll do a character bio or even a passage from a journal to get into the voice and mindset of the character if needed and that’s always a lot of fun to do. I love to go into the point of view of different people.

Where can we get a copy of Bad Boy? You can get it exclusively on Amazon or email me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

General updates...

Remember in January when I said I'd be blogging a lot more this year?


About that.

Anyway, this year has been kind of a bust for a lot of things, mostly because I've been facedown in deadlines since like 1922, went through an awesome period of massive burnout, and also did a bunch of traveling. It's been a chaotic year!

And it's going to stay chaotic for a little while, so updates will likely continue to be sparse until we're finished moving. So, I figured I'd do another general updates blog, and I'll try my level best to actually have some interesting posts over the next few months. Just...bear with me until February or so.

So let's start with the move... I'm moving to Spain! While this is, of course, incredibly exciting (especially since it means getting out of Nebraskastan), it's also a challenging process. Fortunately, my husband and I have this down to a science, and we're already making headway with staging household goods to be either moved to Spain or sent to storage. Or thrown away. It's amazing how much useless clutter two people can accumulate in twelve years.

The plan right now is for me to drive to Seattle in early November with our cats. Meanwhile, Eddie will get the house squared away, and then he'll join me in December. Then he'll continue on to Spain in mid-January, and I'll follow at the end of January. Trust me, it makes sense. (Also, if anyone happens to know anything about obtaining work visas for American citizens employed by other American citizens while living in Spain, please let me know...)

During this lengthy period of migration, I will still be working... especially when Aleksandr Voinov comes to visit!  Yes, you read that right. Aleks will be flying to Seattle, and we'll be doing some touristy stuff in between writing. Also, if you're in the Seattle area, keep an eye on this page for information about an event on December 5th!

Speaking of writing with Aleks, there's the small matter of the contest for Rolex's name. Because the universe apparently has a mean sense of humor, real-life has, to say the least, interfered with our ability to co-write. As such, Rolex and his still-not-yet-determined name had to park on the back burner for a little while. But rest assured, he will have a name! And he will have a story!

Aleks and I have a number of projects in the works right now, and we're hoping to make solid headway on a few of them while he's in town. Our second World War II book has been on hold for over a year, and we're both chomping at the bit to wrap that one up. There are a few Market Garden books that have been demanding attention. And we've got at least one book that desperately needs a sequel. Which reminds me, I need to get in touch with the state penitentiary and book a tour...

Moving on.

As my workload winds down after the last chaotic year or so, I can finally work with my other oft-neglected co-authors. Cat Grant and I are in the homestretch on a new book called Hardcore Ink. Marie Sexton and I are plotting a sequel to Roped In (hang tight, Jackson fans! His story is in the works!). I have two other books in-progress with other authors, and another person I plan to start working with soon, but I'll announce names/titles once we're further into the books.

Let's see, what else...

Upcoming releases!

August and September were relatively quiet, but...

(All are L.A. Witt titles unless otherwise noted)

And there's plenty more to come in 2015!

Also, Starstruck is the first in the new multi-author series, Bluewater Bay. If you enjoyed Tucker Springs, this series is going to be right up your alley. Check out the Bluewater Bay page for more info, including links to the other titles available for pre-order! (Lone Wolf is also part of this series, and should be up for pre-order soon!)

Which brings us into 2015...

In mid-2015, two new pen names will be debuting. Lori A. Witt will be writing more mainstream science fiction and fantasy, with the first release, Tide of War, due out in June, followed by the Mythos series (dates to be announced). I'll also be writing as Ann Gallagher. Ann's books will be sweeter romances, including an inspirational romance, Lead Me Not, due out in August.

That pretty much wraps it up. I'm hard at work on several things right now, and there's some cool stuff in the offing for the first half of 2015, but I'll announce those once a few more ducks are in a few more rows. 

Also, since I will be living overseas for the next few years, my US conventions will be a little limited. I plan to attend RT and hopefully GRL, but don't have plans for other cons at this time. I will, however, be at the UK Meet in Bristol. 

And now, back to sorting through my library to determine which books come to Spain with me and which go to storage. I swear it's like choosing between kittens...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

FUNDRAISER: Help MYRNA with post-production, get a Kindle Fire HDX Tablet!

So... the pilot for this really awesome TV series, MYRNA, starring Marlo Bernier, is in post production, but they need help to get this baby wrapped!

What we've seen of it so far is amazing. (And dammit, a TV show with a transgender main character is long overdue.)

The FanBacked page is here. Though they've reached their goal, it doesn't take into consideration the cost of post production, so they're still collecting. They need an additional $10-15,000 to wrap things up, bringing the FanBacked total to roughly $45-50,000. And they're offering some cool incentives to those who contribute.

Since they need a big push right to get the pilot finished, I'm offering incentives too.  For those who donate between now and September 25, 2014, I will provide the following:

$15 -- Two ebooks of your choice from my backlist (includes co-authored titles)

$25 -- One signed paperback of your choice from my backlist.

$50 -- Two ebooks, one signed paperback, and a dedication in a future book.

$100 -- Five signed paperbacks, three ebooks, and a mention in a dedication of a future book.


The first TWO people who donate $500 or more will receive all the items listed above, PLUS a Kindle Fire HDX Tablet loaded with every ebook I currently have available in Kindle format.

UPDATE: Aleksandr Voinov has generously offered the following:

$5 donation - ebook copy of Return on Investment (no limit to the number of copies you can get!)

$50 - dedication in a future book (0 of 10 claimed)

And jointly, we'll offer the following:

$250 - We'll write a short story (~7,000 words) to your specs. (1 of 3 claimed)
$1,000 - We'll write a novella (~40K words) to your specs. (0 of 1 claimed)

Please see Aleks's blog for details on claiming his incentives, as well as restrictions regarding the stories we'll write.

Authors/Publishers: If you want to add any donations to the above incentives, please e-mail me!

How to claim incentives:
1. Make a donation through the FanBacked page.

2. E-mail me with proof of your donation (the confirmation e-mail from the page is fine).

3. Specify your preferred title(s) and file formats, as well as e-mail/postal addresses for shipping.

4. To qualify for the above incentives, donations must be made by midnight, US Central time, September 25, 2014, and must be claimed by September 30, 2014.

Go forth, my friends, and let's help get this show down the homestretch and across the finish line!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Box Sets!

I've got stories in two box sets this year -- one is available now, and the other is up for pre-order!

First, Campus Cravings, which is available now on Amazon, AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

Welcome to Cathia University, where school is in session! Nine of today's hottest gay romance authors have crafted brand-new interrelated novellas celebrating everything wonderful about college, including sophisticated professors, sexy teaching assistants, ambitious grad students, and spirited undergraduates, all looking for the same thing: an A+ in true love.

Annabeth Albert: Winning Bracket -- Metrics and tournament brackets—who knew they were sexy? When competing dorm advisors Edwin and Ollie bet on a basketball tournament, neither expects he’s risking his heart. As the challenge becomes a hot bedroom battle to avoid real feelings, the two “frenemies” must change their definitions of losing to win a shot at lasting love.

Cassandra Carr: The Eloquent Jock -- Hockey jock and English Lit major Brendan knows he’s gay, but hasn’t come out to anyone, fearing a possible backlash. Then he’s tapped to be a TA for a hot professor and feels an immediate connection. Now he must decide how much he’s willing to risk to score the ultimate goal.

Dalton Diaz: Lesson Learned -- Adam Warren is counting down the days until he can put “Professor” next to his name—and his disastrous past with Tyler Ford behind him. When a fluke puts Tyler in Adam’s class, the graduate assistant faces some hard choices while Tyler faces an uphill battle for a second chance at first love.

Mia Downing: Switching Leads -- Coach John Graham needs a new assistant for Cathia U's equestrian team. The last person he expects to get the job walks into the barn and stops his heart. How is he supposed to focus on the team when his ex-lover—sexy horse trainer Finn Parker—wants back into his life…and into his bed?

Whitley Gray: Artistic Endeavor -- When friends ask one-night stand connoisseur Michael Esteban to introduce shy virgin Cobey Miller to the joys of sex, Michael balks—lust is his thing, not teaching. But Cobey’s problem meeting men fuels Michael’s decision to help Cobey become a gay-sex-loving guy. It’ll all be fun and games—unless someone falls in love.

Bianca Sommerland: Solid Education -- Gage Tackett comes off as a bad boy—detached and maybe a little dangerous. Definitely not Vet Sciences Professor Derek Paulson’s type. When Gage arrives at Derek’s veterinary clinic with a frostbitten stray dog, Derek realizes his most difficult student has a few things to teach him. Things he’s more than willing to learn.

KyAnn Waters: Private Lessons -- Ryan Kane could lose his scholarship and his position on the pitch. Jake Finely offers to help. Only Ryan and Jake discover their private lessons have more to do with sex ed than Business Ethics. When a tenured professor offers Ryan an indecent proposal to make the grade, will he choose soccer or Jake?

LA Witt: Did Somebody Order a Pizza? -- Paul Switzer has been miserable ever since his childhood love, Cory Bowman, chose a fraternity over him. When a pizza delivery to the frat house lands the exes face to face for the first time in eighteen months, the wound is reopened... and so are Paul's feelings for the only man he's ever loved.

Sara York: The Dust Of Everyday Life -- Cole only has the courage to lust after the swim team from afar. When Seever asks to share a table at the packed coffee house where Cole is studying, he’s sure it’s a joke. But after one touch and one scorching kiss, Cole thinks the chance meet could lead to something with substance.


Unconditional Surrender - 16 military-themed stories in one book! This one comes out in October, and is available for pre-order on Amazon, AllRomance, and Barnes & Noble.

There's nothing like a man in uniform, and sixteen of today's hottest gay romance authors are celebrating military heroes and the men brave enough to love them.

These brand-new novellas feature all branches of the service and offer something for every reader. Almost 300,000 never before published words!

Inside these pages you'll find:

Kerry Adrienne - Cruise Control
Annabeth Albert - Resilient Heart
Keira Andrews - Arctic Fire
Brit Blaise - Storm Out
Cassandra Carr - Civilian Master
Lia Davis - His Guarded Heart
Sasha Devlin - Hometown Hero
Rhi Etzweiler - Blood & Peyote
Lucy Felthouse - Desert Heat
Amelia C. Gormley - The Houseboy: Initiation
Cat Grant - The Only One Who Cares
EM Lynley - Irresistible Forces
Brien Michaels - Are We All We Are
Sam Schooler - Flint and Tinder
VJ Summers - Blood and Treasure

L.A. Witt - Flight Risk

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NOW AVAILABLE: General Misconduct

General Misconduct is now available from Samhain Publishing! Note that while this is a sequel/spinoff to Conduct Unbecoming, it can be read as a standalone. Currently available from Samhain, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I'll add additional links to my website as they go live.

Ensign Aiden Lange is taking a hike—and it’s not for the pleasure of seeing Okinawa’s Hiji Falls. It’s in the hope that claiming he took a fall on the rocks will cover up the fact he was beaten up in a gay bar. Not a place a Naval Academy grad wants to get caught, not if he’s serious about his career.
At the end of the trail, a surprise comes with the scenery. A gorgeous young guy in swim trunks.
Connor didn’t come up to the falls to find a man, but he’s instantly intrigued by the ensign with the bandaged eyebrow. A hike turns into dinner, and before he knows it, he’s up to his heart in love with the gentle, infinitely patient Aiden.
It’s a small world, though, and an even smaller island. It’s only a matter of time before they’re caught by a man who’s more than just Connor’s overprotective father. He’s also Aiden’s high-ranking boss. Someone with the power to force Aiden to choose—Connor, or his naval career.
Warning: Contains two adorable guys who don’t give a damn that the deck’s stacked against them, plenty of sex on the beach, and the hottest application of sunscreen you’ve ever read.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Quick Update on the Rolex Contest

The contest to pick Rolex's name has closed, but Aleks and I are still debating names. Also, Aleks will be starting a new job very soon, so his writing time (and headspace) will be limited for a while.

Rest assured, we'll pick a name soon, and Rolex's story will happen. It just might take a bit more time as Aleks settles into this new chapter in his life.

Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Conferences: How NOT to Lose Your Mind

Conference season is in full swing. Having attended a couple this season, not to mention several in previous years, I decided to write up a post on how to go to cons without going insane. Because let's face it: they're stressful. I've previously blogged about whether or not you should attend them, but let's assume you've made the decision to go, and talk about what lies ahead. I won't be getting into things like how many books you should bring, or how you should travel, or what kind of swag. This is all about managing stress.

Right off the bat, I'd like to invite authors, readers, publishers, etc., who've attended conferences to post their own advice/experiences in the comments. Nothing about this post is intended to scare anyone away from cons, but rather to be open and realistic about what they're like and how to cope with them. Everyone's experience and coping methods are different, so there's no way I can cover everything. If you have any advice for attendees, please feel free to comment.

Moving on...

The vast majority of this comes down to two things:

  1. Know Thy Limits. You, better than anyone else, know how much (and what kind of) stress you can cope with.
  2. Take Care of Thyself. It is 100% okay to do whatever you need to do in order to manage that stress.

Writing conferences tend to be heavily populated by introverts. If you're concerned about social anxiety cropping up at a con, you'll be in good company. Trust me, nobody at a conference like this is going to judge you for it, because chances are, well, we've all been there. (And if they do judge you, they're jerks.)

I've observed two things that help people cope with social anxiety at conferences:

  1. Don't overbook. Conventions are busy. There are usually multiple events going on at any given time. You don't have to go to anything, and you do not have to be at an event at all times. I think I attended two panels at RT this year. The rest of the time, when I wasn't off getting a tattoo, I hung out in the bar or checked out the vendors upstairs. I even disappeared up to my room to write for a little while. Of course you should go to the panels and such you want to attend, but if you find yourself sweating over the schedule or sprinting between events, take it easy. You don't have to attend everything, especially not if it's going to stress you out.
  2. Have a bunker buddy. Have someone there who "gets" you. Someone who knows your limits, and knows when you've reached them. Aleksandr Voinov and I tend to be joined at the hip at cons, and it's not just because we're partners in crime. He knows before I do when I've reached saturation, and vice versa, and at every single con we've attended together, there's been at least one moment where one of us has dragged the other away from an event or situation before someone cracked. 
Remember that the vast, vast majority of people at these cons either experience some level of social anxiety, or know people who do. Also, remember that at any time during a convention -- even during The Big Party That Everyone Is Attending -- it's okay to disappear to your room with a book and a bottle of wine. I assure you, at any given time, there will be other people doing the very same thing.

Speaking of The Big Party That Everyone Is Attending -- It's okay not to go. Seriously. I've been to eight conferences in the last three years, and have blown off at least one major event at every single one of them. Why? Because by the time the party starts at 7pm or later, I've already run myself ragged, overloaded myself, and just need a break. There's a very good chance that when The Big Party That Everyone Is Attending is in full swing, you'll find me in the bar or lobby playing Cards Against Humanity with a few other social refugees. Feel free to join us!

The thing is, not everyone likes big noisy parties. Not everyone likes dressing up or wearing costumes. Not everyone likes to dance. (No, really.) No one will think less of you if you prefer to slip away with a small group of friends (or by yourself) for a quiet dinner, a card game, or even just a long bath with the door locked and three Do Not Disturb signs hanging from the handle.

And speaking of going back to your room...

Choose Thy Roommate(s) Wisely.

Most people at cons share a room. Roommates can mean the difference between a $1,000 bill and a $500 or even $250 bill, so it only makes sense. That said, it's a good idea to really think about who you'll be rooming with for upwards of a week.  I've had disastrous roommate arrangements, and I've had roommates who were sanity savers. There's a reason Aleks and I room together whenever possible -- we keep each other sane!

While sharing a room with your BFF might sound like a good idea on the surface, there are some things to think about. Is the person going to be getting up at 8 am and running a hair dryer while you're sleeping off a hangover? Do you see the room as a place to escape the chaos and decompress, while your roommate would just as soon install a revolving door and bring in people you may or may not know at all hours of the night? (Don't laugh -- I've experienced that.)  Is one of you hyper while the other is incredibly mellow? This can work or it can be disastrous -- just be aware of how you feel around the other person and how that will work if one of you is stressed.

Establish rules upfront, and don't be afraid to enforce them. Make it clear whether or not other people can come back to the room. Make a decision about charging things to the room (room service, food at the restaurant, alcohol) so nobody has a heart attack when the final bill comes out.

If at all possible, have a backup plan -- someone you can stay with if things turn sour or if you and your roommate(s) just aren't compatible.

And finally, if you can afford it, don't be afraid to room alone. You are not obligated to take in roommates if you know you'll be saner and happier on your own. It's okay to say no, and you don't have to justify it. Some people even room off-site so they can completely escape the con (and save some money).

The bottom line is, conferences are hectic and stressful enough without roommate drama. Your room should be the place you can go to catch your breath and decompress -- if that room is a stressful environment, you're going to be in a bad spot. Be proactive about minimizing that drama, and you'll be fine.

Shifting gears entirely for a moment...

Let's talk about book signings.

Most conferences include a mass book signing. Rows of tables are set up, and every author within a hundred mile radius sits down to sell and sign books. Even at small conferences, these signings get pretty crazy. At the big ones like RT? Utter madness. I understand RT set a world record this year for largest book signing, in between having the fire marshal losing his mind because of the sheer quantity of people in the room, so that should tell you something.

I want to preface this by saying book signings are a  lot of fun. And they're great for authors -- you get to meet your readers, you get to sell some books, and there's also that "OMG I'm a for real author" feeling that comes with sitting at a table at a book signing (or maybe that's just me, but whatever). Please don't take any of this as "book signings are scary and should be avoided at all costs."

That said, I'm not going to beat around the bush: Book signings are stressful.

They're crowded. They tend to get hot. They are LOUD. Having a line of people in front of your table is as stressful as having no one stopping at your table. You will probably forget something (I forgot PENS at a book signing). You have to be "on" the entire time -- not necessarily interacting with people, but ready to interact with them. By the time it's over, you will probably be exhausted.

Way to go, Lori. Let's make book signings look like an utter nightmare.

I promise, they're not. But it's better to know this stuff upfront than to find out the hard way, and with this info in mind, you can better prepare yourself.

So how do you prepare for a book signing?

1. I highly recommend attending one as a reader first. My first convention ever was RT in 2012, and while I attended as a published author, I declined to get a table at the signing. Instead, I went in as a reader and just checked it out. Got a feel for the crowd, the noise, etc. You will not have wasted a con if you elect not to sign -- you can always sign at the next one when you're better prepared. Or you can choose not to if you find that environment overwhelming.

2. Have a support system. Riptide Publishing came up with the brilliant idea of survival kits for their authors. At RT, they brought everyone cool little lunchboxes with munchies and water, and that can make a huge difference. It also helps to have a friend who isn't signing come by and check on you from time to time. They can bring water if you need it, or talk you down if you're starting to get overwhelmed.

3. Don't make plans after the signing. Unless those plans include "chill in my room" or "low key lunch away from the con with like 3 people who don't stress me out," just...don't. Expect to be exhausted. Expect to be at social saturation. Give yourself some time to decompress. If you're the type who can bounce back and go to a giant, noisy event right after a signing, then by all means, do so. But most authors who I've talked to find that they need some downtime after something like that. I know one author who will disappear up to her room and sleep until dinner. Another won't speak until she's halfway through a bag of throat lozenges. Myself? I usually spend 15-20 minutes catching my breath in my room, then go eat with a small group of friends. It's up to you to know your limits and know what you need to do, but the bottom line is to accept those limits and do what you need to shift gears after a signing.

4. Remember that, like anything at a con, book signings are not mandatory. If the mere thought of walking into a book signing makes your heart race, don't. I won't tell you to "just relax", because I know a lot of people reading this are socially anxious, and "just relax" is about as helpful as telling someone with a migraine to "just ignore it." Hopefully my tips above can help some people have a less stressful time at a book signing, but it's up to you to know your limits, and if the phrase "book signing" makes you think "NOPE"...don't.

One last thing about cons... do not underestimate the bar. I don't drink, but I spend a significant portion of every con hanging out in the bar. Why? Because that's where people go to relax and let their hair down. That's where you can go chill with your readers or your favorite authors in a low-key environment. Plus it's where the most hilarious stories are usually told,

In closing... 

So now I've made conferences sound incredibly terrifying, but I promise, it really is just a matter of knowing what to expect and knowing how to minimize or cope with it. Cons are great fun and an awesome place to network, but they are stressful. So...

With the authority granted to me by absolutely no one except myself, I hereby grant every author, reader, publisher, blogger, reviewer, etc., permission to do whatever they deem necessary, within the laws set forth by whatever city is hosting the conference, to manage their own stress level without having to justify it or apologize for it.

Never, ever feel obligated to stress yourself out for someone else. It is absolutely 100% okay to say "I've had enough" or "I don't want to go." If anyone gives you crap for bowing out of an event, don't hang out with them, because they're buttheads.

And if you're at a con, and you can't find a group to socialize with or you're afraid to approach a group, come find me at the bar. I'll be the one with glasses laughing my head off while playing Cards Against Humanity, and there's always room for more players.