Tag Archives: RT

(mis)perceptions #RT12

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a blog which was founded to prove that smart women do read romance, did an excellent wrap up of the RT Booklovers Convention. It was right on target, from the misperceptions about the genre in general, as well as this specific convention in particular, to the unprecedented media coverage of the RT event last week in Chicago thanks to that book which shall not be named. The continued top seller status of  “Voldabook”, as we have begun calling it in my circles, meant there were TV crews there from CNBC and NBC Dateline perpetuating the long standing myths of the romance industry and even creating new ones. I.E., no Voldabook did not reignite the erotica industry and the eReader did not save it. What did happen is that technology finally caught up with consumer demand. eReader devices got better and cheaper and  made it economically feasible for  shorter works to be published, for publishers to take a chance on unknown authors or new and different cutting edge sub-genres, and for authors to self-publish. That all means that a romance reader has more choices, for less money, than ever before in history. It’s not that they can “hide” what embarrassing materials they’re reading, because there have always been decorative book covers that did that very effectively for paperbacks for years, if that was the goal.

Now that the RT dust has settled and my fun blog wrap-ups have been posted, I can get down to reality and post what really happens at RT. As Sarah on Smart Bitches mentions, though I can fault the CNBC piece for crediting THAT book with reigniting the industry in one breath while saying how the RT convention has been happening for decades in the next, and for finding and interviewing one of the small handful of (unknown) male erotica authors at a convention where there were easily hundreds of female authors, some making $1 million a year selling erotica, we really can’t fault CNBC for stripping the 4 male cover models that were actually at the convention and putting them on camera, because sex sells.

Want to know the reality? Part of that CNBC piece was filmed in the lobby at  6 a.m. the morning following the Ellora’s Cave party (which want late into the night). That scene was staged. Those authors milling around the hotel lobby with shirtless male models would not have been there at the crack of dawn otherwise. In reality, those models would have been in the hotel gym in tank tops working out before the start of another long day and night. The B-roll of the dancers and party were shot the night before at the EC party.

Yes, there are models (though one tenth of the number there used to be before the death of the Mr. Romance competition), and there are costumes, and fun and games and drinking and hanging in the lobby bar, but much like high dollar deals are so often made by men on the golf course, there’s that at RT too. I came home with a list of 15 items to do, a document with notes regarding ATF agents and bomb-sniffing dogs and another document full of notes I took at the Mark Coker (Smashwords) session with 11 points on how to top the best seller lists. My to do items included following up with the publicist from Kensington I met at the Kensington party, to send her promo materials to start getting some media attention for my book which doesn’t release until April 2013. It including items discussed at lunch with my editor at Kensington that I need to take care of now, again for that new release a year down the road. It included to do items from a discussion I had with the Samhain author liaison in the bar, to email my Samhain editor regarding my next bull rider series book release. On my list is the session I need to pitch to the RT organizers for next years convention in Kansas City in May 2013, and items to follow up with fellow Western authors regarding a reader event we may try to plan for one of the smaller cons happening later this year. On there was how I need to follow up with cover artists for my self-pubbed backlist, and how I needed to send follow up emails to some of the authors I had discussed a possible collaboration with.

So yes, I did post pictures of me in costume with two shirtless cover models holding big swords while wearing kilts, because readers most likely don’t care about my To Do list, or that this RT was the most productive to date for me professionally. But as CNBC and I both know, sex sells.

What I Learned at RT 2012

I always come back from a book lovers’ convention exhausted and energized at the same time, with both my head and my To Do list full. Here’s what I learned last week at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago…

#1 Aside from the occasional travel to conferences and conventions, it’s best if I stay in my writer’s cave…

Even though I rarely do it, on the plane I was reading an eBook by one of my fellow authors who writes in my genre, to analyze it and make comparisons to my own stories. I thought I was doing a good, productive thing. Apparently I’m not supposed to do that. When I told my new editor at Kensington, the reaction was basically a look of horror and (I’m paraphrasing here) “Oh my God, don’t do that! You’ll mess up your own voice!” All righty, then. Lesson learned. LOL I guess I’ll be reading paranormal or historical or YA or something else from now on, at least while I’m in the midst of writing my own book.

#2 Whether you drink or not, you better plant yourself in the lobby bar…

It’s totally true, some of the biggest deals and the most valuable contacts are made at the bar. They’re all secret, of course, but my plans for world domination (the romance world, anyway) will begin shortly.

Vampires Blood#3 I love the Aussies!

Australians (at least the ones I’ve come across) are the most genuine, generous and friendly people I’ve ever met. They are always there with a smile and a G’day, and willing to share their yummy TimTam cookies and a shot of Australia’s own signature liqueurs. Apparently they have a great sense of humor down under since the line of “Dragon liqueurs” made by Castle Glen Australia come with such colorful names as Kiss, Piss, Blood and Crap. I was treated to the Vampires Blood which is apparently a mix of Dragons’ Blood and Wiskello and comes with a kick thanks to the hot pepper flakes in the bottle.

#4 Just do it!

Going to the gym on 4 hours sleep hungover won’t actually kill you. What doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger, I guess.

#5 Don’t judge…

Those whom I thought would be stuck up were incredibly friendly and warm. Those who I thought would be fascinating bored me to death. And those who I thought would be boring proved the most informative of all. You really never know, so you had better plant a smile on your face and be open to everyone, anything and everything.

So that’s my wrap-up of the educational aspect and the lessons learned at this year’s convention. For embarrassing pictures of me dressed like a Scottish faery and posing with shirtless cover models check out my site. And for pics of the cowboy and Western events at RT, check out the Wild & Wicked Cowboys blog.

i’m baaaack… #rt11

…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.