I went, I saw... and I partied !
One thing I hadn’t realized about the Romantic Times convention – it is one big party from beginning to end.
One thing I wished I’d done: The Early Bird Tour, which shows you the city the convention is in, and also introduces you to people outside the hectic, party atmosphere.
One thing I loved: meeting so many wonderful people.
One thing I hated: Not getting enough time with everyone on a one-to-one basis. In fact, you are almost always surrounded by a crowd. Publishers, agents, booksellers, readers, helpers, writers, and cover models all mingle and there is no barrier between the public and the show. For example, I was thrilled to be able to meet Kathryn Falk in person. Before I went to RT, I imagined that I would only be able to see her from a distance, but she mingles with the crowd – easy to talk to, and gracious.
The parties begin from the moment you sign in. There are evening cocktails, breakfast brunches, and gala dinners. At the Ellora’s Cave “What’s Your Fantasy?” party, I saw harem girls, slaves, naughty school girls, elves, fairies, dragon queens and more. Heather Graham’s Vampire Ball from Oz featured a play, with Heather and Beth Ciotta singing a duet at the end that brought tears to my eyes. (Beth and Heather both have amazing voices!) And the Mr. Romance contest was won by the sizzling, sexy Andrei Claude, nicknamed ‘The Maltese Cat’ by his friends for his feline good looks and the fact he’s from Malta. There was the Regency ball, with elaborate costumes, and the Toga Party, which had the best music…lots of dancing…and a Karaoke that lasted until the wee hours!
Ellora’s Cave had quite an impressive showing with over twenty authors present, and nearly all the staff! They arrived in their glorious bus, which was definitely worth a look. Ellora’s Cave offered a get-together breakfast for everyone at EC to get acquainted, and even their calendar cover models showed up and munched on croissants and eggs with the rest of us! Speaking of cover models – the women at the convention just loved them and the guys were all fantastic. I have rarely seen such a nice, professional bunch of models – bravo fellows, I vote for all of you!
One thing I regret not having – a picture of me surrounded by cover models. Another regret is not having the time to go to all the panels. They were overlapping, not clearly announced, and in small, noisy rooms. My panel was very small—as a matter of fact, I was the only author on my panel to show up. Luckily Mary Mancusi and Debbie Federici helped out and we ended up having a lively discussion with aspiring authors about ‘How far is too far in YA flirting and sex?’. Those same aspiring authors sought my out at the book-signing on Saturday and bought my books, so I can definitely recommend being on a panel at RT for an author. But during the panel we were often interrupted by the loud noises from the ‘Wild and Wacky’ party next door, and the fun lured many out the door, I’m afraid to say! A huge thanks to Maryanne Mancusi for helping me out - go get her book, 'A Conneticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court' - it's a blast. I know - the title it too long - but trust me, the book is fabulous!
One thing I was glad I did: sign up to be a helper. I didn’t do much – not as much as most of the ‘Busy Bees’ – but I did get the chance to meet Kevin Beard, who is the behind-the-scenes organizer of the RT convention. I don’t have enough good things to say about Kevin, he does an amazing job keeping everything running smoothly, and his staff of volunteers, including his son, are just terrific.
So, I am no longer a Romantic Times Convention Virgin! It was hectic, confusing, exhilarating, and exhausting. I’ve learned much, but most precious to me are the memories I have of the people I meet. I hope to meet them again, and to count them among my friends.