You know you’ve arrived at a very special kind of convention when the key card for your hotel room features a book cover with a bare-chested man. And the RT Booklovers convention is very special to the (mostly) American readers who travel from all over the States to get their big romance fix – meeting authors and cover models, attending panels and parties, buying books and getting them signed at two monster signing sessions …
The convention is an annual event, hosted by RT Book Reviews magazine at a different American location each year. This year it was Kansas City and it was the 30th anniversary convention. It was rumoured that more than two thousand readers and authors, mainly female, descended on the unsuspecting city for the hectic long weekend. And I was one of them, part of a group from Choc-Lit, intent on taking British-style romance to new audiences. It was exhausting and enormous fun. Those ladies know how to party and were focused on doing just that, from the morning mixers and breakfast events to the evening balls and parties. In between there were talks by authors – singly and in groups, quizzes, scavenger hunts, craft sessions and the chance for aspiring authors to meet agents and publishing houses, to pitch their manuscripts. The term ‘elevator pitch’ took on a whole new dimension while being practiced on the way down from the 29th floor. You could pick out the glow from the hopefuls who had just been asked to submit their manuscript from about ten paces.
Choc-Lit authors hosted a craft session on creating heroes, a chocolate tasting session, a Jane Austen celebration from CL’s Austen expert, Juliet Archer (which featured a guest appearance by Mr Darcy) and, captained by author Lynne Connelly, devised a fiendish quiz to test the participants’ knowledge of the British Isles. And yes, I was the one with the question that involved a sheep. I was specializing in Wales, after all. And wore the national dress, to prove it. I also forgot to give someone my camera to get a shot of me in it.
The hotel was fabulous, the free books on offer were amazing, the swag – gifts from authors and publishers of everything from bookmarks to letter openers – completely fascinating. You have no idea how many gew-gaws and gadgets can be printed with an author’s name. Actually I do, now. I brought home as many as I could carry. Some of the themed parties featured costumes – saloon girls to vampires – and the anniversary ball called for formal dress. The Choc-lit group rose to the occasion with sparkle and tiaras. I didn’t risk a tiara – I was afraid I’d end up wearing it as a necklace – or skewering someone’s eye, but I did have a snazzy pair of cream coloured elbow length gloves, which were admired by a gentleman I met in the lift on the way to the ball. His wife was very tolerant about it.
I had a really great time. It’s impossible to give more than the tiniest glimpse of the scale of the event here. The high-spot was probably being part of the huge book signing on Saturday morning, but the thing that made the most impact was the welcome and interest shown by American romance fans. The British (and Welsh) accents had something to do with it, but everywhere there were people keen to talk about books, writing and every kind of romance genre. Next year’s convention is in New Orleans and events are already being planned. And I’m already saving my pennies.
15 thoughts on “RT BookLovers Convention 2013 – Guest Post from Evonne Wareham”
Looks like it was a lot of fun! As a matter of interest, apart from the settings, what are the major differences between English and American romance writing? Come to that what are the differences between the RNA and the RWA, and is this reflected in the differences between the kinds of writing which emerge from the two cultures? Just wondering….would make a very interesting blog post! 🙂 xxx
As you say, a whole blog post – if not more! I think the shortest answer would be the effects of the size of the two countries and the variety of genres in the States, simply because of the differences of scale – in the UK you might get one or two authors writing werewolves, or steampunk but in the US there is room for much larger numbers.
Ooo, I was there too, it was amazing wasn’t it? So fabulous to be among so many people passionate about Romance, especially to get readers perspectives, and my debut novel only came out on the day of the Expo event, people said to me don’t expect to sell any, but I sold four, when there were 350 authors to choose from. I can’t tell you how much my hand shook when I signed the first copy.
Best time ever, I want to go to New Orleans, don’t know if I’ll make it though. I was even there in the room when E.L. James who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, stood up and announced herself, she was right in front of me, and no one had known she was there as she’d come anonymously, and I met two of my favourite authors Mary Balogh and Elizabeth Hoyt… I could go on forever, such a fabulous time 🙂
Congratulations on making sales and getting to sign your first copy!
It is an amazing experience.
Wonderful post, Evonne and the Romaniacs. I’m saving my pennies, too – I have yearned to go to New Orleans for years. Crucial question though, Evonne – were their chests waxed? Call it a pet hate, call it a phobia – but I go over all screamy – and not in a nice way 🙂 So pleased you had such a wonderful time and thank you for doing us Choc Lit authors proud! X
It sounds as though you had a great time. I loved the dress, you looked lovely, I would have loved to have seen the evening gloves. Next year New Orleans, now that I would love to come to. Can I come if I save my pennies? Totally agree with Sarah about the waxed chests! Not Nice.
Evonne, thanks for telling us all about it, you have wetted my appetite.
Thanks for the comments – my Mum made the dress so she gets all the credit. I’m just the clothes horse.
Not sure – but waxing may have been involved. 🙂 On the subject of saving – have a horrid feeling that it is going to have to be pounds, not pennies.
Dunno what happened, Sarah, but my reply to you is a bit lower down. Think the laptop is having a hissy fit.
Sounds amazing! Oh for a lottery win so I could join in the fun one day…. XXX Thanks for the post!
Nicky – keep doing the lottery – it’s an excellent thing to spend the money on 🙂
Hi Evonne, Now I know what goes on these gigs. You realise that I am going to be very disappointed at the RNA Conference if my key doesn’t measure up to the RT one. Thank you for the Celtic hearts badge you gave Adrienne and I at the Summer Party, I will buy you a drink at the conference and quiz you a little bit more about your wonderful experience. New Orleans you say ????
Somehow I don’t think the keys at Sheffield will be quite the same. We don’t do things quite that way over here 🙂
You could start a trend? I’m sure noody would mind.
Sounds great, wish I could have been there! 🙂