Saints & Sinners 2012 Wrap-Up

You’d think that in this age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other forms of electronic immediacy, there’d be less and less reason for queer writers (and those who love them) to congregate. After all, Skype is almost face to face, isn’t it?

Not quite.

Nothing beats real time communication, and I have yet to find a literary conference where everyone is as approachable and convivial as our annual NOLA gathering. This year, even though financial constraints forced the organizers to scale it back, was no exception. The leaner and meaner S&S packed a considerable punch due to the new manuscript review sessions.

But the weekend started Friday night at the Hotel Monteleone with cocktails, nibblies and readings from the winners of the third annual Short Fiction contest. Amie Evans emceed a great program of terrific writers like J. R. Greenwell, George E. Jordan, Jeff Lindemann, Frank Perez, James Russell and Jerry Rabushka, and everyone present received a copy of the anthology of contest winners, Saints and Sinners 2012: New Fiction from the Festival. Drinking, eating, and entertainment. Kinda sums up New Orleans, doesn’t it?

Saturday dawned bright and early, regardless of where or how long you partied, and we were off to our Manuscript Review Workshops—hosted by Jameson Currier, Fay Jacobs, Jeff Mann and Radclyffe. I attended Jim Currier’s Literary Fiction workshop, giving the participants 10K words of my novel-in-progress The Dead Book and getting some excellent feedback in return. Subsequent conversations indicated the other workshops were just as successful as mine.

We had no time to rest on those laurels, however. At 7:30, I was off to the Orange Gallery on Royal St. to read with William Holden, Jeff Mann, Radclyffe, Jean Redmann and the inimitable Fay Jacobs—who is the toughest act to follow. People stayed afterward for cocktails and questions and to demolish a mountain of fruit and cheese. Some of us went on to a lovely dinner at The Court of Two Sisters, but that is yet another story of New Orleans culinary debauchery.

No matter how much we ate or drank, we were still on our game Sunday for a panel discussion with Jameson Currier, Greg Herren, Radclyffe and Jean Redmann called “Is the Sky Falling? Publishing, Plagiarism and Piracy.” Informative and entertaining, the panel left us all in the Hotel Monteleone’s Orleans Room something to think about—a perfect way to end the weekend.

I have never come away from a S&S weekend without being energized and ready to jump in to another project. This time, I’m making a public vow to finish The Dead Book by the end of the year. Dangerous, I know—but I like it out here on the edge. So, start making plans for S&S 2013, and make your own dreams into realities.

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