Cupcakes, Werewolves and a Sense of Belonging: All About the Indies Signing, Arlington, VA 2017

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And here I sit at the edge of tears. The very first All About the Indies Signing has come to its end, and I’m feeling its loss like a sword to the gut. What’s that saying? “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling that right now. I looked forward to you for too long. I had too much fun tonight. Experienced too much comradery. I have a right to my melancholy. So, stow your smiles for another day.

I remember well the shift in my social status. In middle school, the friends I always considered best started to move into other social circles.  A few of them joined the ranks of the popular, a realm into which my entry was forbidden. I also remember well the mean-spirited taunts following my clumsily-executed cheerleader tryout when I, foolishly, tried to follow a couple of my friends down the new path they’d chosen. But I really should’ve known better. Hard lesson learned, I sought out other quiet like-minded friends to keep company with during my high school years. The highlight of those years being my senior year—the year I ended up with the school’s notoriously hardest-assed English teacher—when I was told I’d picked the hardest book on the list to write my senior research paper, Alice in Wonderland. Despite the fear rumbling in my innards at my teacher’s revelation, I bit the bullet and did my best, nearly toppling over in shock when I saw the A scrawled across the top. But the moment serves to reiterate my point—the moment was a solitary victory. I was seriously lacking in the cheering squad capacity.

Today was different. Those of you who know me best know the challenges I face. I try my best to make career out of author, refusing any impediment in my path. I made this trip to Arlington alone and that alone raised a few eyebrows, but I did it, and the effort made me feel like a whole person…like nothing else. I feel like a warrior. I am capable.

But this trip did so much more. I met so many talented and like-minded authors. When one has experienced the pleasure of sharing a room with them, the realization is driven home…we are a family. One like no other. To sit in a room with others who share the burden and honor of creating entire worlds from no more than the air around them with a shot or five of caffeine is a rare pleasure. It is a bond that transcends geography, race, age or genre in which we write. To me, we share an affinity like no other. The conference was wonderful. The after party, phenomenal. You can see what I’m talking about in my Facebook live video on my timeline.

I may be nearing fifty, but when I walk into a crowded room, I still feel like that shy seventh grader seeking acceptance from her peers. I peeked into the Holiday Inn conference room, heart pounding, trepidation in my heart. My tensed muscles relaxed as I was warmly waved in by several people seated around the tables inside. Tamara, whom I was lucky enough to be seated beside during the day, welcomed me with a place by her side. As we all sat around and chatted, I realized more and more how alike we all were. We all share equally in this struggle to make our voices heard. These were my people. I reveled in the sense of belonging.

As the crowd thinned, those of us left played the most unique game. Each of us drew an identity: werewolf, seer or villager. While we all tried to figure out whom among us might be murderous werewolves, each of us laughed and joked…and I felt a sense of belonging I haven’t felt in a very long time. They all just felt so much like me. I was completely welcomed. Totally accepted.

And there were gluten free cupcakes. There are so many places I go where I can’t eat…and Sade remembered I couldn’t have gluten. I literally haven’t eaten a cupcake in years…at least two. And tonight I had a cupcake. And spent a too-very-brief day with people just like me. People who accepted me for the human I am and didn’t look at me or treat me like I was too weird to talk to. I did have someone tell me I resembled a witch from some TV show…that I took as a compliment.  😉

Thank you, Sade, and your staff for a professionally executed, warmly extended event for Indie Authors. I experienced a completely enjoyable, incredibly memorable time!

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