I had such an amazing time at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans this year, I’m still processing the experience over two weeks later.
With only one book under my belt, I’m relatively new to the field. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from such a large conference. I figured at the very least I’d be able to make some new writing friends and spread the word at bit more about Siege of the Heart at the Kensington events I’d get to participate in. What I got was a heck of a lot more.
It started when I first arrived in New Orleans that Tuesday. This was my first trip to Louisiana, and after checking in, I started exploring the French Quarter. First stop was a seafood lunch then coffee and beignets at Café du Monde.
And yes, it was as good as it looks. After walking around some more and taking in the sights, I ended up at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA restaurant and treated myself to more fabulous seafood and the wine pairings that came with it.
The next morning I got registered and snapped up my goodie bags before I started hitting the panels. Lunch, I spent with the wonderful Pamela of Badass Romance. She hosted me on her blog awhile back, and I’ve always found her posts to be insightful, in-depth examinations of the genre. Her post on the visual impact the RT conference made is a must-read.
That evening was the multi-publisher sponsored party at Madi Gras World, which was as fun as you might expect it to be. It was fascinating to walk around the different floats—the colors and craftsmanship was amazing.
At the party, I was able to meet some of my Lyrical Press sisters—Eden Ashe and Stacy McKitrick. Eden writes fantasy romance about dragon shifters and Stacy has a steamy series of vampire novels. It was great to finally connect the name with the face and talk shop!
What I liked so much about RT was how even the most innocuous events—standing in line at the Marriott Starbucks or waiting for the bus ride from the party back to the hotels were wonderful opportunities to meet people in the field—bloggers, booksellers, readers and writers. To be able to talk so freely about the books I love with people who feel the same way? That rarely happens, even at my local RWA meetings. I also had the opportunity to get a signed copy of Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace (yay!) and had a few fangirl moments that are best left unmentioned.
The next day, more panels. I took a break from the convention for lunch (yes, sometimes I need to embrace my inner hermit) and decided to go to the Central Grocery, known to have the original muffuletta sandwich—a wonderful concoction of Italian meats, cheese, olives, and capers. Yummy!
Then it was time to prepare for the Kensington book event. Since paperback versions of my book aren’t available yet, we had Lyrical Press samplers to sign, which included excerpts from everyone’s book. I also had my own swag (which surprisingly was quickly snapped up), and Kensington gave us snow globes to hand out, which had our book covers inside them. I kept one to put on my desk back home to keep me inspired!
Afterwards, the Pub Crawl down Bourbon Street. Kensington was stationed at Pat O’Brien’s where I had my very first Hurricane and chatted with my publisher Renee Rocco and marketing director Ellen Chan. These wonderful ladies made me feel so welcome to the Lyrical/Kensington team.
With the Pub Crawl behind me, Stacy McKitrick and I grabbed a late meal at Red Fish Grill, where I had more amazing seafood and great conversation about all things writing. If you love paranormal romance, check her books out.
Friday was my last day in New Orleans. I made the most of it attending some morning panels, then meeting the lovely Juliette Cross for lunch. She has a new series coming out with Lyrical—be sure to check out her gorgeous cover reveal.
I was also interviewed by Dabney Grinnan from All About Romance (!), featuring a number of authors in attendance. I was thrilled to be in such august company. Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (which includes me!), and Part 4.
Then it was time for me to return home. Tired, out of swag, and brimming with the energy the conference gave me. I’m disappointed I won’t be around for RWA this year—don’t feel too bad as I’ll be in Barcelona with my husband. But RT exceeded my expectations—I think it may have something to do with the “Published Author” ribbon I got to wear. Either way, I look forward to next year!