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I Survived RT 2014…#RT2014

Yeah, yeah, another Romantic Times Booklovers recap, but bear with me as I get my feet back under me from the nuthouse of May. Not only did this month (which is fading in the rearview) see me type THE END of Shadow’s Curse (coming Fall 2014), but we had SHADOW’S MOON hit the shelves! Plus, HUNTED BY THE PAST is scheduled to follow along on July 11th, so it’s been a little (okay a-frickin’-lot) crazy. When you’re a newbie author, promo items fall squarely on your shoulders, so I’m trying to wrangle a virtual book tour and post all over the web-a-verse for SHADOW’S MOON, and get a head start on HUNTED’s own twisted promo paths.

Enough of my babbling, on to the actual post–RT2014 in New Orleans, was it what I expected or not?

For those who haven’t been following, this was my first time in NOLA and my first time at a convention the size (think GODZILLA SIZED) of RT. I even did a book signing, first ever again. Yep, a whole world of firsts. Keep in mind, everyone will experience the same thing very differently, and if you’ve noticed some grumbling around the writer social sites about the organization of RT, don’t be surprised.

RT had some great points, the location was awesome. Of course, I’ve never been to the Big Easy before, so I was truly excited about that. Loved the Ghost Tour and the fantastic story telling skills of our guide. Got a love a city where a Liberal Arts major can not only earn a paycheck but have fun doing it.  LOVED Cafe du Monde, so long as you hit at 2 am or after the line rivaling the Mississippi disappears. Did a psychic reading–nope not sharing, I want to see if it all comes about or not. Tons of great architecture (sue me, I love buildings).  Jackson Square, very cool, the Mississippi-muddy, just like everyone says. People and food–fantastic! Of course, refused to suck the head of animal with beady little eyes. Made him turn away while I devoted his tail.

Regrets–wish I had more time, wanted to do a Swamp tour, Plantation tours, see a little broader views other than the French Quarter. If you have a sensitive nose (I do) be prepared for Bourbon Street. Everyone knows why it’s famous, so I’ll leave it to your imagination on why if your nose is a tad princess-y you should tread carefully.Next time, I’m going as a tourist. There’s so much history and I want it all.

RT Conference–holy moses! I knew it was big, but hadn’t quite expected what I got. The noise level at the convention hotel remained at a deafening dull roar the entire time. I think my ears are still ringing. People, real live humans, were EVERYWHERE! I had to hide in my room for a few times just to breathe before diving back in. Elevators, by the way, don’t like handling over 2600 people in a given 15 minute time slot. However, I did get plenty of aerobic exercise.

Featured authors–I had hoped to touch base with some of my past guests (Faith Hunter, Kevin Hearne, Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep) or even some of my fan girl type writers (Charlaine Harris, Jeanine Frost, Kresley Cole, Stephanie Tyler, Nalini Singh) but after watching them being mobbed by fans, I just couldn’t add to it. I think it’s because I’m an introvert, I hate to push myself forward if I think someone already has enough going on. The authors were just unbelievably gracious and positive, I was so impressed and no disappointments there. They were incredibly patient with their fans, truly thrilled to talk to all these readers. However, during the Book Fair (Yep, we’ll hit that big red, topic button in just a minute), I did send my Knight to get a book or two signed. He braved the crowds for me. (Sigh).

Panels–here’s where my expectations and reality began to disagree. I think I had mistakenly considered the fact the conference offered various tracks (Craft, Industry, Reader, Specialty) which meant if I stuck to those tracks where I could get something new out of it, I’d learn a well guarded secret or two. Nope. Don’t get me wrong, the panels were good. Sometimes there were a few at the same time, then it became which one do you really want to go to as a determination factor. There was a speciality course I was really, REALLY looking forward to, then on the first day, I noticed it was no longer showing up anywhere. I checked under chairs and behind walls for a cancelation notice of the course and found–nada. My OCD kicked in, and I was quite bummed. Once I stopped pouting, I picked the other course I had been considering. It went well, but still…  Then the panels on craft kept themselves fairly general, with information I’ve heard/read before, with a few  personal views thrown in. Those did help reassure me, my writing career was not plunging off the cliff into a whirling vortex of death. The industry panels–whoo baby. Talk about conflicting information. Depending on who was talking, their views on publishing/writing, crap, you’d need a Magic 8 ball to get better answers.  My overall take away–the path of publishing is not GPS comparable–forge your own trails using whatever works for you and your stories.  I did enjoy the marketing ones, mainly because the speakers were bluntly funny and didn’t hold back. LOVED them.

Big, Red, Hot Topic Button–The Book Fair on Saturday:

Yes, I’ve read various points of view on this. Yep, I was there, in the Indie room with over 200 hundred, very talented authors. Yes, our supposed table space was severely under estimated. Yep, the doors opened late. Yep, the AC failed miserably (you would too–New Orleans, largest book signing EVER((it’s making Guinness World Record)), lots and lots of people). Instead of going over all of it, here’s what happened to me. I was very nervous about this. First ever book signing. No one’s going to know who the hell I am, nor will they want my books, what if I have lipstick on my teeth? What if…what if…

You know what made my entire experience? The other authors. Talk about an awesome community. I sat next to two beautiful women, KT Grant and Katie Graykowski. Those two made my time there fun and a blast. Add in Kendall Grey and yes, I had fun. Kendall had readers who were lining up. So Katie and I did what ever we could to keep them entertained. We helped them laugh, provided free AC (via hand fans) and chocolate. We even encouraged them to check out KT’s sheep. I sold three books, but you know what, I count it as a success because:
1. I got to meet Sunny and Susan in person. These two readers were so AWESOME, they almost made me cry. Their obvious enjoyment of my books just made my day.

2. I made new friends with KT, Katie, Kendall and other writers, readers, bloggers around me. I got to listen to what they’ve done and experienced which in turn, sent home just how big the writer/reader community really is.

3. Writers are funny as hell. And completely fearless!

4. The RT staff (who volunteer) have to be hoarding patience pills, because I’m not sure I could’ve handled the crushing crowds they faced.

 

Were their downsides to the signing? Yep, there were, but the one I had the biggest concern with was the two plus hour wait in line for readers to pay for their books. Seriously? That’s a bit much. However, I know the RT people are getting tons of feedback and re-evaluating how the set up the check out process next year.
As for the division between “Traditional” and “Indie”, here’s my take: at some point in the near future, every writer will wear both hats at some point, because it circles back to what I mentioned about the industry message: the publishing path is yours to forge, just make sure you use the right tools for you.

With all that being said, will I be back next year in Dallas? Probably not, but only because I can’t afford too many conferences each year and I’ve already made promises to some friends to do the RWA one in San Diego. However, Mighty will be there. She’s pretty persuasive, so I might show, you never know.

 

Come back next week, because I have  a new author to intro! Keep an eye out, I’ll be making rounds in June and July with Shadow’s Moon and Hunted by the Past!

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