Friday, May 12, 2017

RT Convention 2017 - Wrap Up & What You Get Out of a Conference

Let's face it - conferences are expensive. Nobody is disputing that - even before you count in the bar bill :) So are they really worth it? What actually happens in that marathon of panels and parties? Hopefully my wrap up of last week's Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta will give you some insight (spoiler - I love conferences, so I'm going to try and convince you they are awesome!).

Reader Parties - there are a lot. You will usually get some sort of snack and drink and swag. The truly awesome authors give books (raises hand and waves). I did a Beach Blanket Bingo party with probably 20 other authors (tip - we all shared swag. So when you get home, you can empty the bag and decide what to #1click). My bag was filled with a reader-a-holic bracelet, nail polish, 2 books, notepad, candy, book magnets...and some fellow authors did even more (#showoffs :) ). If you attend a party, you will walk away with your hands full and a smile on your face.

Avery Flynn, Lea Nolan, Eliza Knight and ME!
Craft Panels - I did three of these. The interesting thing was that I spoke to several people who came to listen who were not aspiring authors. They were just big-time readers who wanted to hear how the writing process works and soak up more of their fave authors in the flesh. Even more shocking, they seemed to truly enjoy themselves?!?!? The takeaway being that we authors do truly try to not just each, but make it a fun learning experience. I definitely got a lot out of the Newsletter workshop by the awesome Sarah Wendell of the Smart Bitches blog.

I presented on Seeking Your Voice, Seven Steps to Sensual Tension, and Worldbuilding in Every Genre. It was especially fun when Penguin Random House came to video our entire sensual tension workshop. Considering how many times Laura Kaye and I said the word 'cock', I'm really not sure what they plan to do with it...I met the awesome Lexi Blake, and immediately started reading one of her novellas on the train home.

Speaking of video, Random House also did a super fun ten minute interview video of me. Stay tuned for the Youtube link where I make up a story on the spot about a pirate and a tough-as-nails cop...

Book Signings - Here's where you can really rake in the free books. I *tried* to go to the Harlequin breakfast. For an event that was scheduled to last 90 minutes, they apparently ran out of bags and books from the biggest authors in only 15 minutes. By the time I got in I saw a mass of lines, no way to tell what author they went to, and no books left. But, had I gotten up early (anathema!)it would've been a haul. We did successfully do the Kensington party/signing - also a mad crush of people. But I got to hug Sonali Dev, so all the waiting in line was worth it. (Also full of snacks and drinks, for those of you keeping score). The Avon party/signing had the most books of all (and the best treats) by far (*note for strategizing next year!) and it was fun to hang out with all my new publishing peeps there. I got to sit next to the sweet and wonderful Kelly Jamieson at the Random House signing, and was thrilled to run out of my books in twenty minutes. The Giant Book Fair was loads of fun - loved sitting next to Lenora Bell - go buy her historicals!

No pictures to protect the innocent - yes, there were late nights in hotel rooms catching up with my friends. Yes, there was a wonderful dinner with my editor. And the noise level from the bar was still going strong every night no matter how late I went to bed. The best part - and what is always the best part of any conference - is the concentrated time with literally thousands of people who care just as much about books as you do. Everyone is friendly. I stood in the interminable line for coffee with Laura Stone - awesome! Did I know who she was before we started chatting? Nope. Didn't matter. We love reading (and/or writing). Period. So no matter how long you have to wait for the elevator or hate paying $5 for a muffin or, yes, have to stand in line for 20 minutes to get facetime with your fave author (#priceless) - it is worth it.