Warning, this post meanders. TL;DR: It was fun. You should go. :)
I was talked into going to the RT convention this year by a friend of mine. And by “talked into” I really mean “she mentioned it and I decided to go.” Not a lot of arm twisting required. My only concern was that the convention started the day after we got back from a three week trip to the UK. The timing was not ideal.
After being awake for twenty-five hours on Tuesday and then sleeping for just six, I awoke tired, jet-lagged, and grouchy on Wednesday. Not the best start for a trip where I had to be sociable.
Dustin gallantly braved my bad mood, helped me finish packing, and drove me to the airport. I did my best not to scowl at anyone until I was safely through security. The trip was uneventful and on-time, which is a rarity for American Airlines these days.
In the shuttle to the hotel, I met several other ladies who were also going to RT. They were all super nice, but they were also all dressed to the nines, with perfect hair and makeup, and wearing heels. I began to fear I had made a terrible, terrible wardrobe mistake.
I checked in to the hotel without any trouble. My room was on the 25th floor with a great view of downtown. The only problem with being on the 25th floor is that it requires you to use the elevator. Generally, I’m pretty okay with elevators. They’re not my fave, but I deal.
These elevators were the spawn of Satan.
I think the elevator shaft had a window on one side, which meant you could see the light flashing by from inside the elevator car. Also, they had a fun little habit of dropping a bit before taking off in either direction. Sometimes the door would start closing as soon as it opened, and you risked life and limb to get inside before you were caught.
After vowing to use the elevators as few times as possible, I decided to hit up some sessions. There were so many sessions. Each time slot had 10+ options, with panels for readers, writers, and industry pros. Most of the sessions I went to were really good. And contrary to what I feared, I fit right in with my jeans and sandals.
Wednesday night, I met up with some friends and totally crashed their dinner party. They had plans with a local KC couple who took us to an amazing Austrian restaurant. It was ridiculously good.
After coming out of my food coma, I decided to check out the dance party. Because that’s exactly my scene. Err.. Yeah, I stayed long enough to eat some pineapple dipped in chocolate, then I split.
Thursday, my time-zone-hopping caught up to me. I woke up at 6:30 A.M. and could not go back to sleep. Thursday was a full day of sessions lead by some of my favorite authors–Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost, Lisa Shearin, Sarah MacLean, and so many more. RT was the densest concentration of authors I’ve ever seen, by far.
It also snowed all day on Thursday. Big, beautiful snowflakes that melted when they hit the ground, but drowned the air in white. It was lovely. More so because I spent the day inside. :)
Thursday night, I went to the Anniversary Ball. Some people went all out with gorgeous full-length ball gowns. I did not. They let me in anyway. Which is nice, because the real reason I went to the ball was for the free dinner I heard was included. It was. It wasn’t super awesome, but for free, I’m not going to complain. Four of us from my table made our escape shortly after dinner was finished. Yes, we are horrible people.
Friday included more sessions and the RT Awards ceremony. I got to cheer on authors as they won awards. And there were a lot. Ilona Andrews won two, one for Shapeshifter Romance and one for Paranormal Worldbuilding. Jeaniene Frost won for Vampire Romance. And Meljean Brook won Book of the Year. She gave a very moving acceptance speech. I teared up.
Friday evening included my favorite event of the whole convention: The Avon Books Red Slipper Lounge party. Avon had many of their authors in attendance, signing free copies of their books. Since several of my favorite authors are Avon authors, this was awesome. All of the authors were very nice, and politely endured my gushing. I picked up over a dozen signed books that went high on my TBR list.
Friday night was another party. I went because they were serving dinner. There was some sort of skit that I didn’t really follow, and once again half of my table made a break for it right after dinner.
Saturday was the giant book fair. There were over 400 authors signing. It was insane. I brought books from home and got them signed. I only purchased one book while I was there. Dustin would be proud.
The rest of Saturday was more social. There were a few sessions, but nothing like the days before. Saturday night was another set of parties. I made it until the cocktail party (which was sadly lacking in cocktails), but then I had to call it quits.
I went back to my room and collapsed. Four days of being extra social had done me in. I’m naturally very introverted, but I made a conscious effort to be more extroverted this trip. I think I did okay, but it was exhausting.
On Sunday, my flight wasn’t until the afternoon. There were a few sessions. I went to two and then decided I was done. I sat in the hotel lobby and read for the rest of the afternoon. It was bliss.
And the books! At pretty much every social event they plied attendees with free books. I had no idea that I should expect to pick up new books, so I came with a full suitcase. That was a bad plan. I ended up shipping two boxes of books home, just so my suitcase would close.
For those of you from Austin, I would say RT is like the SXSW of books. Publishers come and spend a lot of money to try to influence the influencers. Unlike SXSW, the RT crowd is ~98% women. Being used to the opposite at tech and SF/F conventions, it was kind of refreshing to see so many women.
Overall, I had a really good time. It was awesome to meet so many of the authors that I admire. I am energized about writing again. Assuming it works out with whatever I’m doing next year, I would definitely go again.