Huge welcome to K-Lee Klein! Thanks for joining us on the Official GRL 2016 Blog Tour! We can’t wait to meet K-lee in October!
What GRL has taught me…
Hi, I’m K-lee. Welcome to my GRL post and a big thank you to Two Chicks Obsessed for being part of our blog tour and for letting me borrow their readers for a few minutes.
I am what you might call a GRL veteran. This year marks my fifth trip to the retreat, with only one missed due to what I’m going to talk about today—mobility. I was actually at the very first Gay Rom Lit in 2011 in the fabulous city of New Orleans. That was my only time attending as a reader and also the only time I went on my own two feet, so to speak.
In February 2012, I did something unusual to my left knee. I describe it that way because it was never diagnosed properly, at least until early 2015 after three years spent on crutches (something to do with my patellar tendon.) Without going into too much boring detail, in August 2014 I tore the meniscus in my right knee mainly because there was so much wear and tear on the joint from being my only leg in use for so long. I ended up having to use a walker—I’ve affectionately named him Walker-Stalker—because neither of my legs is stable enough to risk going without.
Now back to the purpose of this post—mobility problems at conventions.
Going to GRL and other conventions on crutches was tough, especially being a Canadian and travelling to some of those hot and humid places—I swear Atlanta almost killed me, or in the least, melted me into the concrete. Crutches are a lot of work and they taxed my body in ways you don’t expect—arms, legs, back, neck, hands, feet. They made it difficult to fit in with the crowd because of the limitations of walking too far especially if pain is involved, and it definitely is with me. Crutches and chronic pain slowed me down when all I wanted was to keep up. They made me stand out when all I wanted to fade into the crowd.
But conventions like GRL have taught me that people can be very kind. Whether carrying books, coffee or lunch, standing to give up a chair or just offering small gestures or words of encouragement, humans can be supportive and empathetic—if you let them.
I should mention that leaving home at fifteen served to make me very independent and I’m extremely willful when it comes to asking for help.
Fast-forward to last year in San Diego after my crutches had been switched out for Walker-Stalker. I have to admit I was more nervous and self-conscious about showing up with my wheels and the urge to stay in my room was strong because of the insecurities running ’round my head. (Note, unfortunately because of the aforementioned anxiety, I’ve actually spent a large amount of time in my room at previous GRLs.) But thanks to some lovely ladies in San Diego, I didn’t give-in to those particular feelings. They know who they are and to this day I’m appreciative of their encouragement, kindness, and patience with me.
Now that’s not to say I’m cured of the stigma that Walker-Stalker creates in my head but it was definitely a start. And if I may name names for a minute—Carol Lynne was the one who got the kindness train moving for me when she offered a room close to the events at San Diego GRL. Thank God she did since the resort was so spread out, it would have been painful for me to hike back and forth. Her thoughtfulness saved me from a lot of that so thank you very much Carol.
Don’t get me wrong, GRL and other conventions still have the same physical limitations that regular life hands the mobility-challenged, but they can also offer softer alternatives and important lessons. I’ve learned that that the person most bothered when I ask for help is me. And just because I still feel weird dragging Walker-Stalker around with me, doesn’t mean everyone is looking at me in the same way. I even put this theory to the ultimate test by going to my first official costume ball dressed as the best damn Winter Soldier I could be, complete with my walker sidekick.
So what is the moral to my long-winded tale? Maybe it’s a call to arms for those of us who feel out of place because of whatever challenges we either have or even think we have. Maybe it’s a note to self that most times people don’t mind moving their chair so I can squeeze by, don’t find it a complete imposition to help carry something, reach for something, lift something. Maybe it’s simply a love letter to all the fabulous friends and even strangers who’ve helped me through the years or maybe it’s a personal note from me to you—letting you know it’ s okay to feel a little out of place or different than anyone else because do you know what? I think most of us do.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all at the next GRL or even just online. But before I go let me tell you about what I have coming up in my writing world.
Lost in Loveland (the sequel to Lucky in Loveland) will be available for pre-order on August 15 with a release date of August 25. I will also have a new release in September—Gimme Shelter, a hurt/comfort story about a rock cellist and a Celtic fiddler, will be out on September 10th.
And if I may be so bold, I have a rerelease about a man who learns the ultimate lesson about asking for a little help coming out this week. Unbreak My Heart stars my favorite cowboy, Brett Taylor, and will be released on August 5, 2016 from Dreamspinner Press. Here’s what it’s all about.
Brett Taylor’s world collapsed three years ago when he lost the love of his life. Almost as bad as the grief is the advice he’s starting to get from everyone and their brother, telling him it’s time to move on. They’re flat-out wrong. He left his career as a musician and escaped to his ranch because he needs the peace and quiet, and he’s doing just fine. He doesn’t want anyone invading his memory-filled, booze-fueled solitude.
JT Campbell’s world has been defined by his parents’ money, status, and his own empty relationships, until he’s desperately sick of it. A quest to find something meaningful leads him to Brett’s failing ranch. It’s supposed to be a brief stay. JT never wanted to be anyone’s savior or compete with the ghosts of lovers past. Still, he can’t help wanting this gruff and grieving man.
JT’s mind knows it’s a bad idea, but his heart keeps pushing him to find out what lies beneath Brett’s rough and broken exterior. Brett’s not going to make it easy. JT can only be patient, keep his sense of humor, and hope for the day he may be allowed far enough into Brett’s world to unbreak his heart.
K-lee Klein loves guys with long hair and tattoos, and you’ll often find her front and center at her favorite rock concerts. She has bounced around Western Canada all her life, but will always consider the solitude and beauty of the British Columbian mountains home. Her life is blessed as the proud mother of three now-grown but still spoiled kids, the servant of two bossy felines, and the wife of a truly patient husband.
Her writing muse is terribly temperamental, so to keep him close by and in check, she had him inked on her left calf. The gorgeous, long-haired, mostly naked, kneeling angel that resulted is truly a work of art, although he’s still a handful and hopelessly uncontrollable. She writes on his schedule and inspiration.
K-lee tends to fall easily into obsessions. When something grabs her attention, she jumps into it headfirst with complete abandon. Actors, musicians, superheroes, fictional characters, and brainwashed assassins all hold spots on her cannot-get-enough list. She once followed Thirty Seconds to Mars around the United States and Canada and saw them perform fourteen times that year. Obsession sometimes leads to ideas for her kneeling angel to turn into stories.
Although an introvert in person, she’s extroverted online and has met many wonderful friends there, sometimes with the added fun of meeting them in person at gay romance conferences. She’s grateful for all the people in her life who accept her as she is and support her through her ups and downs as mom, wife, and joyfully obsessed writer.
Places to find K-lee.
Website – kleeklein.com
Blog – http://chaosinthemoonlight.blogspot.ca
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Klee_Klein
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kleemoon
Facebook author/reader group https://www.facebook.com/groups/812548795471921/