I’ve never considered myself a “super fan” of anything. Even with my TARDIS and LEGO collections, I’m an average fan of the television show Doctor Who and I don’t keep the boxes that the LEGO come in (considered blasphemy by hardcore builders). But two years ago, I discovered a certain author, binge-read the majority of her books, became an active fan in her social media community, and here we are. When I found out that this author would be not only on the same continent as me but within a 2-hour drive away, I conspired with another fan to acquire tickets to my first-ever romance book signing event: Indies Invade Philly 2023.

Me, when I found out I would get to meet Cara Dee, my all-time favorite romance author:

Proving that the important part of any adventure is the friends we make along the way, we were not deterred when we later learned that, unfortunately, Cara would not be able to make the trip. Since getting the tickets, I’ve become closer with fellow author Rory Maxwell, and we were still looking forward to seeing other M/M romance authors at the event, along with a few author PAs we’ve also come to know in this welcoming community.


Since we only had tickets to the afternoon session of the signing, Rory and I decided to make a day trip of the event. She met me at my house in the morning and we hit the road in time to have lunch at Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia. We had delicious cheesesteak subs and picked up dessert for later, then walked across the street to the convention center to line up for registration.

(Although I would have definitely loved to see more diversity in terms of age, gender, and race of attendees, I do recognize that is a fan demographic issue, and I will note that I was pleased by the range represented by the attending authors. That being said, I also appreciated a certain element of awareness shown when one of the organizers needed to wrangle the registration line in a certain direction, got attention by yelling “Karens!” at the crowd, and laughter ensued.)

Once inside, our first stop was to deliver an iced coffee to the first person we were looking forward to meeting in real life: professional author PA, marketing guru, and business manager Eliza Rae, who attended on behalf of Cara Dee. Even though Cara wasn’t available to sell or sign books at the event, she was kind enough to both have plenty of swag available for attendees to pick up and to ship signed books to those of us who had pre-ordered them.

I love that I’m right next to Top Priority, my military spouse emotional support novella.

Next, Rory and I made a point to visit the other author we had preordered books from, Riley Hart! Meeting her was lovely, but the true surprise for me was meeting another author PA I’ve worked with in the past and who was kind enough to beta-read my first paranormal romance. Charity VanHuss is just as lovely in real life as she is on the internet. Then, we had to introduce ourselves to the other M/M author in attendance, A.M. Johnson.

We took the opportunity to also walk around the rest of the author booths and check out ideas for swag and other promotional items such as banners and table decor. We were so good and each only bought one other book the entire day! And maybe some cute stickers.

As the day got later, we mostly hung out at Cara Dee’s table and talked up her books to people who stopped by. Don’t tell Cara, but we might have even ended up in charge of her table briefly when Eliza had to step away. (Super fan achievement unlocked!) We figured that between us, Rory and I had to know at least 75% of what Eliza does about this amazing author’s published works.

At the close of the event, Rory and I were also happy to help Eliza pack up the table, and we were thrilled to be invited to have dinner with her! It was nice to get some in-depth time with someone who knows so much about marketing for self-published authors, but it was even lovelier to get to know such a sweet person who I’ve interacted with online as a reviewer. Rory and I already can’t wait to see her again for the Rainbow Readers Cruise next summer, but we’re also plotting ways to get together beforehand.

It poured the entire way home, so I’m glad I had Rory to keep me company on the drive. Perfect timing was having my box(es) from Cara Dee with my pre-ordered books arrive that same day, so I enjoyed opening those before passing out.

Overall, this was an amazing day and a fun event. I’m having a bit of FOMO that so many other members of the M/M romance community are also getting together this week for another conference, but I’m definitely there in spirit!

Final Haul

I have already read many of the books shown below, so I’ve included links to my spoiler-free reviews!

  • Boyfriend Goals by Riley Hart [review]
  • Meet Me in the Blue by A.M. Johnson
  • Return by Fire by Tracey Jerald (freebie)
  • This Will Hurt I by Cara Dee (freebie) [review]
  • This Won’t Hurt by Cara Dee (freebie)
  • Sleepless by Cara Dee (freebie) [review]

I’m a bit of a bag fanatic, and one of my favorite colors is purple, so I love the tote we received as part of our registration. I picked up some cool stickers from other authors at the event and mostly restrained myself with the Cara Dee swag. (Look, the Auctioned coaster was still there at the very end. You can’t blame me.) (I’m absolutely going to buy all the Violet Haze ingredients and console myself this weekend while all the other M/M authors are partying without me.)

The only reason I wasn’t one of the many event attendees with a rolling cart was that my massive preorder of Cara Dee books had to be shipped instead. The timing of their arrival on the same day as the event was unintentional but delightful.

  • Auctioned (Auctioned #1) [review]
  • Stranded (Auctioned #2) [review]
  • Deserted (Auctioned #3) [review]
  • Played (Auctioned #4) [review]
  • Finished (Auctioned #5) [review]
  • Prepared (Auctioned #5) [review]
  • Out: The Complete Collection [review]
  • Rogue Launch (The Renegades #1) [review]
  • Enemy Combatant (The Renegades #2) [review]
  • On The Double (The Renegades #3) [review]
  • Tango Down (The Renegades #4) [review]
  • The Secret Plan (The Game #10) [review]
  • Apex Predator (The Game #11) [review]
  • Prowl (The Game #12) [review]

Cara’s swag game with all deliveries is on point, not just with event preorders. And “It’s another box from Sweden” might be a running joke in my household…

One thought on “Con Report: Indies Invade Philly 2023

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