…from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (RT for short to those in the industry) held last week at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, California and I am, as usual, amazed and exhausted. This is probably the most infamous of all the many annual conventions. Though this year seemed far tamer than the past it was still memorable in so many ways.
I’m exhausted because the days start early and continue on into the wee hours of the night. Amazed because…well let me see if I can consolidate it for you into edible bites of info.
Here are the top 5 things I love most about RT~
1) The people– they come from all over the world, even from as far as Australia, just for this convention. Some save all year to be there because I can tell you with airfare, hotel, convention fee, meals & other assorted expenses, it ain’t cheap. They are readers, writers, book sellers, publishers, agents, reviewers and book bloggers but they are all there because they love romance books. AND in this age of Twitter, my favorite thing to do (what I’m doing now as I write this in fact) is watch the #RT11 Twitter hashtag stream of the event to see what everyone else is saying about it. I’ll admit I was ‘tweeting while intoxicated’ during the Mr. Romance contest, and ‘tweeting in anger’ during one session when I didn’t agree with the speaker. LOL Too bad, unlike Vegas, what happens at RT doesn’t stay at RT–not with Facebook, cell phone cameras and Twitter around.
2) The costumes/parties- Yes, it’s a pain to pack for this convention because there’s at least 1 themed costume party per day and I’m not talking just a mask. Some people have costumes worthy of an Academy Award. Some make them. Some buy them. All are creative and amazing. This year we had the Bollywood party (with a India theme where I got a henna tattoo on my hand, after which I had tattoo remorse), a Steampunk party, a Venetian Faery Ball (where I donned a ball gown, mask and wings) and a Vampire/Zombie party. The parties are huge and fun and alway memorable, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a ‘it’s such a trainwreck you can’t look away’ kind of way. In any event, you don’t forget them easily.
3) The sessions- I believe you should never stop learning. I don’t care how many books you have published or how long you’ve been in the biz, things are always changing. You can learn a lot from other authors, publishers, editors, and industry professionals. Some of the big themes this year for the sessions were Self Pubbing, EBooks/Digital trends, the Young Adult (YA) book market, Author Marketing/Branding AND because we were steps from Hollywood, ScreenWriting and adapting books for TV/Movies. Then there were the sessions that made you say “huh?”. Male thriller writer Barry Eisler teaching how to write sex scenes was one I’m sorry I missed (I think).
4) The swag– I flew JetBlue knowing I’d be checking a suitcase and they offer ‘1 bag flies free’. I went out to LA with it full of Cat Johnson giveaways, and I came home with it (and a 2nd carryon) full of things I’d gathered. Free books, cover model calendars, and then the author branded items such as personal lubricant, candy, pens, notepads, playing cards, buttons. What I saw but didn’t pick up, though I regret it now, were condom lollipops (I still have some left from last convention) and a wooden ruler that read “Spank Me”. I was being a minimalist and conserving suitcase space. This year Romance Trading Cards were the big thing and everyone (from readers to bloggers) was collecting them like boys collect baseball cards.
5) Mr. Romance-Ah yes, what would RT be without the male cover models and the Mr Romance contest, that one blogger affectionately refers to as a mangeant because it is in essence a beauty pageant for men. They dress up in suits, they dress up in costumes, they undress and show us their abs and they answer meaningful questions ala Miss America (and you all know how well those usually go). This year I chose to attend with my friends, and a bag filled with smuggled in champagne bottles. You’ll be happy to know that when the models raised their shirts to show us their abs, no one heard our 2nd bottle pop! I have to say this was the best contest ever, but then again, I may not be the best judge.
So there you have it, RT 2011 in a nutshell. Will I go next year? Who knows? Every year I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the convention for oh so many reasons. But I have to say I wouldn’t trade the memories or the great people I met this year for anything in the world.