July is waning in all of its shimmery heat-wavy glory, and the 2019 Golden Crown Literary Society’s Conference has come and gone. Without exception, each of the  conferences I’ve attended has had a different flavor. This Pittsburgh conference exuded the flavor of younger voices AND significant one-on-one conversations.

Sure, the veterans of the past fourteen events were there. But this year ninety newcomers were present as well. The GCLS leadership and “we who have served” welcomed the newbies. Their presence and contributions injected life blood into the organization’s continued growth.





For some reason I felt less pressure to fill every moment of the conference attending a panel, workshop, or set of author readings. Perhaps that’s why I found time to listen to and talk with a few people at length. While I’d known some folks for years, there were others I’d never met before. I enjoyed listening to what they had to say. Over the years my ears have led me to more journeys than have my eyes.

Each one of the conversation-journeys revealed the other person’s deep concern about a writing-related issue, a political conviction, or a personal struggle.

I listened to a daughter’s narrative about her parent’s health challenges. I watched tears course down the face of a woman who was worried about the upcoming ICE raids. She planned to attend a vigil with like-minded people that evening. I heard writers express their anxiety regarding the accusations of cultural appropriation that fly in their faces when they create characters who represent “the other.” Each conversation was important.

It’s always easy to hear the loudest voices, but the quiet-almost-hesitant ones can be  more sincere, more seriously engaged in making a connection with another human being.

Within the word “conference” rests the word “confer.” From July 10th until the 14th I appreciated conferring with those writers and readers who shared some of their time with me.

That’s all for now, dear readers.

This afternoon I have to revisit to look at my latest DNA results. The last time I checked, my genetic profile suggested 54% of me began on one continent and 46% got its start in a different area. In the event that I’m forced to heed the trump- inspired directive, “Send her back,” I need time to choose my destination. Mind you, I’d rather stay right here. Do you know how difficult it is to find a new dentist, a GYN doc, an honest car mechanic, and a good bookstore? And then there are all the change of address forms…


©Renée Bess, 2019




Renée Bess is the author of five novels published by Regal Crest Enterprises, and she’s the co-story collector of the 2018 Goldie Award winning anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS. She is one of four recipients of the 2019 Alice B. Readers Awards. Renée blogs here the fourth Thursday of each month. Her website’s addy is:



  1. This con was ‘only’ my third, having previously attended the cons in Chicago and Las Vegas. I felt a difference too. The younger voices were also there in Las Vegas, but seemingly more engrossed in all things Vegas. This con was different. There were still in excess of 300 of us, yes, but it seemed smaller, more intimate, our group tighter and closer than in the two years past. There were more chats, more connections made. I think that’s a good thing…a very good thing.


  2. Renee I was one of the “Virgins” in Pittsburgh & it was actually my first conference of any kind. I attended without my wife, so I was a little nervous about what to expect being solo. I’m happy to say it was a memorable experience with a few speechless fan girl moments, lots of laughter and best of all a group of strong, empowered women that are now my friends! For anyone thinking about attending the GCLS Con in Albuquerque, if you can make it go! It’s truly an uplifting experience, where you will truly feel like part of family!


Comments are closed.