____________________________________ On Hiatus ___________________________________

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, L.A., Part I


I meant to write my IMM last Sunday, but honestly, it was just too massive.   (If you want to skip ahead to the shiny books, now…Feel free. Um, you'll have to wait until my uber Sunday IMM post)(If you want to hear about my fantastic-amazing treasure hunt…keep reading.)

Soooo, when I say massive, um, I kind of lost count…And with my sister hovering around…we may not ever know the true amount…definitely over 100…around a  quarter of them young adult…the rest ranging from thrillers to romance, bodice-rippers and steampunk, alike.

And so, without a doubt, the 2011 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention was one of the most amazing, thrilling, fantastic, wonderful, stupendously enjoyable events I have ever had the pleasure of attending.

Stupendous.  I’m SO not even kidding.

And ever since I walked into the convention, surrounded by book posters and book displays, and tables full of pretty swag, and people milling around…people, who could be AUTHORS, people who could be publishers, who could be aspiring authors, and absolutely people who were readers and just as in love with books as I am…I started wondering how to describe such an amazingly cool place.

Well, if Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.  This was Disneyland for books:

Downtown Los Angeles
Rides and Attractions
Let’s call them workshops, panels, discussions, and book fairs
Movie Characters wandering the streets
Authors wandering the halls
Expensive Disney paraphernalia
FREE book swag, goody-bags, and giveaways

Ok, so better than Disneyland…for booklovers.

The two BEST decisions I made (aside from attending the conference):
1)      Seeing if my sister would come with me
2)      Bringing rolling backpacks

1)  I love a good adventure…And so does my sister…but sometimes, you know that feeling when you want to do something for yourself?  By yourself?  I’ll admit, I had a little moment of that.  And even though she’s a little more romance and I’m a little more YA, it’s not been unheard of for us to share and swap books, and, being my sister, she’s as fanatic a reader as I am.  And when it turned out that the Convention was only a week after her birthday, it solidified that this was definitely a sister-adventure.

Now I know we weren’t the only pair of sisters at the convention—There were sisters, mothers and daughters (even a few grandmas), and friends.  But I did not see a better team than the two of us.  Not to say that my sister and I don’t have our less(or more)-sisterly  moments, but last weekend, We. Were. In. Sync.

Not to mention my sister was fantastic good luck.

There was a room at the convention that basically had giveaways going on every hour, all-day long.  If I were a greedy person, I might be a little disheartened that we didn’t try to make it to this room earlier, but I’m not one to push my luck, and I’d say we did just fine as it were.

Due to the fascinating happenstance of being previously involved in a conversation with Tera Lynn Childs, Sophie Jordan, Tina Ferraro, and one or two other authors that just happened by, my sister and I totally missed the first afternoon workshop.  And when it came down to some extra one-on-one time just hanging out and talking with some of my most favorite authors EVER…or a writing workshop with Dean Koontz…I wasn’t even tempted.  [Side note:  I hear Dean Koontz was hilarious and definitely worth seeing if you ever get the chance][Other side note:  I don’t doubt my ladies were just as fascinating, and not an experience I would trade for anything in the world.]

Well, that’s how we missed the first afternoon workshop.  We fully intended on going to one of the second sessions, but thought we’d make a quick stop in the giveaway room, before the second one started.  We never made it out.

How it worked:  Authors and publishers donated gift-baskets filled with books and goodies.  To enter, you just had to write your name down, and put it in the popcorn bag next to the gift-basket.   100% completely FREE.  They had the baskets staggered at 5 or 10 minute intervals and would start picking names toward the end of the hour.  It seemed as if we got there just as one round of giveaways had finished, and another was about to begin—I hurried around, looking at each basket, and putting my name in for the ones I really wanted, hoping to finish before the net round started.  My sister was more methodical.  After she filled out forms for the giveaways that were about to start, she grabbed entry forms for the giveaways in the next round.  She found a small space of her own, and started filling them all out together.

I watched her things while she went and collected the basket she won from the first round.  Then she came back and finished filling out the forms.  When she’d finished, I watched her stuff, including her newly won gift basket, while she went around the table, dropping off her entries.  And anyone who thinks that was the quick part does not know my sister, who is incredibly pokey.

We were going to go to the second session of workshops…but the next round of giveaways was just about to begin…and we just wanted to stay a little longer…and then we stopped pretending that we were going to make it, and just decided to hang out and see if we won anything, because of course you had to be present to win.

Aside from the giveaways, there were some booths in the room, and a few scattered tables of authors.  My sister and I had no trouble wandering and exploring the crowded room.  My first stop was a table that looked like it was having its own giveaway and that a Kindle was one of the prizes.   And yes, I do own a Nook that I am incredibly in love with, but my mom doesn’t…so, I figured it was still worth entering.  As I was filling out the form, and collecting a postcard for a free e-book, I started talking with the attendants, who turned out to be British—And not merely representatives of the publisher, but the actual publishers, who I came to find out had seen an untapped niche in the market for erotica ebooks and had decided to go for it.  It seemed to be working out very well for them.  And in my defense, I don’t automatically assume that everything with a torrid cover-display is erotica.

Or I didn’t used to.  No, I will still endeavor to keep an open mind.

After entering the Kindle drawing, a swag-covered table with people who looked suspiciously like authors, caught my eye.  They were indeed authors, and all too happy to share their racy-swag.  They seemed to be a range of romance and erotica authors, and I have to say that my curiosity got the better of me, and I spent some time talking with them, having a very interesting conversation.  Because the thing is—They don’t look like erotica authors.  I don’t know what kind of picture you have in your head when you think of erotica authors, I don’t even know what I’d pictured…But the thing was—If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know—You wouldn’t be able to tell.

That was one of the most eye-opening revelations of the convention.

Of course I know that authors are real people.  But in my head, they’re celebrities, rock stars, movie stars—They’re glamorous.

But in real life, ANYONE could be an author.  And at the convention, most people were authors.  But there weren’t any glowing auras, or entourages.  And the only people who looked photoshopped, were the 2011 Mr. Romance contestants.

Although, I do have to admit, there were some pretty rockin’ hairstyles going around, and more than a few standout outfits—It was a convention of 99.9% women, after all.  (*I don’t know the actual gender statistics, just that the male specimen was few and far between)

And so, unless your vision of erotica writers, or authors in general is a similar demographic to the women you pass by at the grocery store or the mall, you might be surprised.  And I was curious about how these women got started—did their families know?

Almost all of them had pen names—Apparently publishers like flowery names, and they sell better.  And a few women wrote both adult romances or erotica (or both), and young adult, and so changing their name was a precaution to keep young fans from stumbling onto more adult content.  One author’s family has no idea.  Another gave a few of her more tame books to her  mother, only for her mother to go out, buy the rest—call up and proclaim how much she enjoyed them.  I can imagine it being slightly awkward on the author’s side.  When I went to the book fair, there was even a whole family of erotica writers—Mother and daughters.

—And, I found it interesting to note, when I asked one of the authors about her YA books—I TOTALLY knew what she was talking about—I was more of a Sweet Valley, Thoroughbred, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine reader, but I could COMPLETELY picture her series covers on the shelves, next to the books I used to read.—Also gave me a chance to  ask to ask how those series worked—I always knew that Francine Pascal didn’t write any of the Sweet Valley books, but somehow there was a book out every month, and with five different series at one time, I was always curious about that particular brand of magic.  I, now, also realize that it totally distorted my timeframe of how long it must take to write a book.   And it was nice to hear what I’d always suspected was true—*Spoiler Alert*—Multiple authors writing, sometimes with a byline, sometimes writing under the same name, all to keep up with the crazy-serial-pace  for teen series.  Each author would get a character/series bible with all the important facts about who was whom, who did what and so forth.  They were give a synopsis, a short paragraph about the main action that goes on in this particular episode (Timmy falls down the well), and then the authors were set loose.

Then, just as the next round of giveaways began, my author table had to go set up their tables at the Book Expo upstairs.  Their table was not empty for long, my sister and I sat down…just long enough to hear her name called.  And I watched her things while she graciously accepted her second basket of the day.  We sat, somewhat dejectedly, as they called her name a third and fourth time, knowing that a person was only allowed to win a gift-basket once per session.  And surprisingly, I actually won my own gift-basket!  And the joy of winning was hardly tarnished at all by my sister’s abundance of winning—Actually, by then I was pretty sure that my sister was my lucky charm, and I might not have won anything without her.  Also, I was immensely soothed knowing that a benefit of living together and attending the convention together was that all those books were coming home with me, as much as with her.

Once we had won our quota, with no reason to linger, my sister made a quick trip to the car with all her winnings, while I headed up to the Book Expo.  Friday’s expo was basically a miniature preview of what was to come at Saturday’s Book Fair.   But I never got past the second row of authors…Not when I realized that the first row of authors included Holly Black, Melissa Marr, Melissa de la Cruz, Richelle Mead, Kelly Armstrong, L.A. Banks, Anne Elizabeth, Jade Lee, Alisa Kwitney, and Gregg Hurwitz…Oh, and there was also one of the MOST. FANTASTIC. PIECES. of. SWAG. EVER.  

A 2011 RT Convention poster…with all their names and manga pictures on it.  Yeah, apparently they all have some type of manga thing together—It was a little bit of a rush at the time, so I still haven’t quite figured out what it was for, only that some of the hottest YA authors in the world right now, were ALL. SITTING. AT. THE. SAME. TABLE.

All of them except Cassandra Clare…who was most gracious when I saw her at one of Saturday's panels and snagged her signature.  Oh yes, I WILL be having a contest for this amazingly fantastic acquisition of swag….not yet…but SOON.

And then my sister returned in time to win another gift-basket.

And, in case I haven’t mentioned the ultra-amazingly-awesome Avon From Dusk to Dark Mixer featuring: Kelly Armstrong, Tera Lynn Childs*, Kimberly Derting*Merrie Destefano*, Colleen Gleason/Joss Ware*, Syrie James, Sophie Jordan*, Melissa Marr*, Pamela Palmer*, Jaime Rush, Lynsay Sands, and Kerrelyn Sparks*.

*The authors from the Supernatural Underground were out in supernatural force, making it a supernaturally awesome experience of not only getting to see some of my favorite authors , but also some of my favorite bloggers—and snag some of their books, and a few pics... ;)

2) Rolling backpacks=best investment. EVER.

Not including ebooks, we counted 68 books that we went back with Friday night.  Or, I should say, that my sister counted…because I was deeply involved reading an ARC of SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs.  And yes, you are SO jealous right now.



Anonymous said...

Dude, this sounded like so much fun and I'm utterly jealous that I live in Vancouver and will never experience something like this unless I move. However, I AM looking forward to your IMM. :D

nymfaux said...

It WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! I'm SO glad I went!!!

--But don't give up--Keep an eye out, because these conventions move around from year to year, so you might get one a little closer to your area! :)