Friday, May 16, 2014

Dispatches from an RT Virgin

Posted by: A. J. Larrieu

I’m writing this from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans. (Actually I’m writing it sitting on the floor in my bathroom, because my roommate is asleep. Shh….) Needless to say, it’s been a fun convention.

I’ve been going to the national conference of the Romance Writers of America for several years, but this is my first RT convention. Maybe it’s the fact that the convention is being held in New Orleans, but WOW--it has been insane. Here are my top five reasons for loving RT:

1) Meeting fellow authors
I admit—I had a bit of a fangirl moment in front of Kevin Hearne. And I finally got to meet Diana Rowland, one of my favorite UF authors, who I’ve “known” online for years, but never met in person.

2) Meeting fellow readers
One of the cool things about RT is that a lot of readers come, something that doesn’t happen as much at RWA. It’s awesome and valuable to talk about the business and craft of writing, but it’s been a lot of fun to also talk about books from the reader perspective. I’ve met readers I connected with online as well as new readers, and it’s a blast to hear about people's favorite books and how much their taste varies.

3) The costumes
I should have been prepared for this. I was warned. But I still wasn’t expecting the crowd of wings and horns and halos at the Sinners & Saints party last night. I’m not much a costume girl myself, but author Debra Dunbar passed out these fun devil horns to folks on the first day, and they worked out fine.

Yes, I took a devil-horn selfie.
4) The information
There have been some amazing panels at RT. I went to one on sex and spirituality yesterday, and it turned into an amazing conversation with the audience about how to talk about writing sexy romances with people you fear won’t approve—and sometimes being surprised by their positive reactions. I’ve been to some fantastic panels on diversity in fiction, too. There are so many great conversations to be had.

Amber Belldene, Christa Soule, Tiffany Reisz and
Alice Gaines talking about sex, romance, and spirituality

The food
I’m from a small town about an hour outside New Orleans, so I was expecting a lot of great food. But it’s been better than great. Gumbo, red beans and rice, fried catfish poboys, cochon de lait… I’ve had to try all of the favorites from my childhood. And when I get back home, I’m going to have to eat nothing but vegetables for a week.

Have you been to RT as a writer or a reader? What are some of your favorite moments?

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