RT Booklovers Convention 2014

Last week the Hubs and I attended the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans. I found this conference last summer when it was in Kansas City. I was able to attend one day and I sat in on several panels that all impressed me. The one that made the biggest impact on me was a group of YA authors that included Veronica Roth, Kami Garcia, and Melissa Marr. I was so impressed because they were so supportive of one other. I was also thrilled, because they were incredibly generous with their writing and publishing and marketing knowledge for the rest of us. I learned so much that day from every session I attended. I decided that no matter where RT went the following year, I'd go and I'd bring the Hubs. The agenda is massive and there are tons of great presentations, so I thought it would be best to divide and conquer.

We spent six days learning from authors, librarians, book sellers, book bloggers, and readers about how to write and market a best selling book. Oh and you get free books. It was like I won the lottery. The Hubs laughed, but I brought an empty suitcase with me just to bring home all of my free books.

Yeah, I'm a swag hag when the swag is free books. Thank you to all of the publishers and authors who gave away their books!
Now, this is a conference that has its origins in the romance world. RT stands for Romantic Times and over the years it has looked to be a bit more inclusive, but the roots are still strong. A lot of the attendees were romance writers and lovers. You might not think that romance writers could teach a humor writer a lot, but you'd be wrong. Think about it. When you've finished your latest erotic book about vampires who are personal trainers who suck you and fuck you to help you lose weight, you go looking for something to cleanse your red hot palette and there I am. I'm just a little comedy relief to read before you pick up the next Sylvia Day blockbuster. The marketing ideas these ladies shared work across all platforms. The ladies who write these romance books are hilarious and their characters are usually sassy, feisty, and funny. (Also, as a bonus, there are hot male cover models making the rounds all week. So there's that too.) How can you not have fun with this bunch?

The Hubs even had a great time. When I registered, I warned the him that this conference is about 99.9% female. The Hubs wasn't concerned. He's comfortable anywhere. When I signed him up, I had to select if he was an Aspiring Author, Published Author, Reader, Industry Professional, or Blogger, because they put this on your name tag. I didn't know what to call him. I went with Blogger. Well, that got him some attention, because the only people who signed up to be bloggers, were book review bloggers. As in ladies who review romance and erotica for the most part. Needless to say, they were more than a little curious about the Hubs' blog and his reading habits. I realize now I should have signed him up as an Industry Professional and then he could have told everyone he was a cover model. With a Fabio wig he could have easily passed as Mr. Romance 1995. Next time.

I met so many helpful and generous authors and bloggers at RT and I just wanted to list them all here, because I know you guys are huge readers like me and you're always looking for new authors and new blogs to try. Please check out these ladies and let me know which ones are your favorites.

Kelley Armstrong -- She provided lunch for YA-loving teenagers and didn't kick out the Hubs when he wandered in because he smelled free pizza. She's a saint. I'll have to buy all of her books now to make up for the Hubs' appetite.
Renee Bernard -- Besides writing novels, Renee also interviews lots of your favorite authors on her podcast.
Kiera Cass -- The Belle of the Ball. Kiera hit the New York Times number one spot while we were there and shared her wisdom.
Alice Clayton -- The title of her book alone will tell you she has a great sense of humor.
Anne Elizabeth -- Hands down, the nicest person I met all week long. The conference is several thousand people and most of the time I walked around like a deer in the headlights. I knew no one and I was a bit overwhelmed. Several times, I felt someone touch my arm and say, "Hi Jen. How are you doing? Where are you headed?" and it was always Anne Elizabeth. She always found me and always went out of her way to say hello. She taught a class about writing comics, but it was full and I couldn't go. I wanted to hear about her kick ass girl power comic books that have been showcased on "Big Bang Theory."
Leigh Evans -- I attended a panel where she spoke and she made me laugh so hard and then I met her in a bathroom where she cracked me up again.
Tessa Gratton -- She shared how much work it really takes to write a great fantasy novel. The amount of research she did for her series was amazing -- and daunting.
Denise Grover Swank -- One of the first real live authors I ever met. She has always been generous with her knowledge and her advice. I've learned so much from her.
Charlaine Harris -- She shared her writing process with us. She gets blocked! She has doubts about her ability to write! She's just like us. Also, she's adorable and hilarious.
Mimi Logsdon -- The Hubs met Mimi in the lobby of the hotel and instantly knew she was a fellow New Yorker. They bonded over food "tawk" comparing the best pizza and Chinese food in NYC.
Dana Lorraine -- Gave me a pack of tissues (with the picture of a hot threesome emblazoned on them) when I needed it most.
Read-Love-Blog -- I've been a fan of Jillian's for years and we are "Twitter friends." I was sooo excited to finally get to meet her in person.
Veronica Rossi -- There was a night when a ton of publishers gave away free books and you could line up to get them signed by the author. It was bedlam and there were lines everywhere and it was hard to hear, etc., but when I got to the front of Veronica's line to get her book, she stopped what she was doing and took a few seconds to talk and connect with me as a reader and as a writer. She asked where I was from and what I read and what I write. I doubt she remembers, but I do. I hope that one day if I have a line a mile long waiting to see me, I'll take a few seconds and be gracious to those who have waited.
Carrie Ryan -- I totally geeked out on Carrie at a party and told her that several of my readers had introduced me to her and I was so glad that they did, because now I am a huge fan. She was so gracious, but I'm pretty sure she was a little terrified of me too.
Smart Bitches Trashy Books -- I didn't get to meet Sarah, but the Hubs sat in on one of her panels and told me "she's your people." I'm bummed I didn't get to meet her so we could each make fun of our kids' made up names. See? I'm not the only one who does that!
Heather Snow -- Local KC girl! Whoohoo! Heather organized one of the best mixers of the whole week.
Jasinda Wilder -- Her back story is incredible. She went from near foreclosure to earning seven figures a year self publishing. She is a rockstar who is humble and giving. Earlier this year I had a question about self publishing and she gave me great advice.

What I learned at RT is that there is a great community of support. It was awesome to be surrounded by so many people who love to write and love to read. The readers were incredible. It warmed my heart to see readers sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room with stacks of books beside them. I would encourage anyone who is writing or even thinking about writing -- self published or traditional published -- to attend this conference and find your tribe.

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Anonymous said...

I am positively green with envy that you got to meet all of those amazing women, especially Kelley Armstrong and Charlaine Harris. A lot of the authors that I enjoy reading are based in the States (I live in the UK), so I have zero chance of ever meeting them.
I misread the title of the bottom book in your photo above as "The Undead Poo!" I'm blaming the light bouncing off it, or possibly the fact that I have a lot of kids, lol.
Btw, I love your blog! :-)

Kim Bongiorno at Let Me Start By Saying said...

Next year, come Hell or high water, I'm coming. I knew it'd be amazing, and love that your shared so much info about it. Will check out everyone on your list ASAP!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great conference, so glad you and husband got a lot out of it. Thanks for sharing! And, I love that you brought an extra suitcase for books, I agree that is the type of swag that is worth it! Have fun reading!

Jen Piwtpitt said...

Zee, I was SHOCKED how many people came in from England and Australia for this conference. Please don't buy The Undead Poo, you will hate that book.

Jen Piwtpitt said...

I don't want a free mop, but I'll take books any time! Now I have anxiety of where to start with my stack.

Jen Piwtpitt said...

You'll love it, Kim.

Anonymous said...

Consider me sold... these ladies' works are now on my summer reading list. Do you have any tips for keeping the kids occupied/quiet during summer vacation so that I might get a chance to actually read what's on the list?

Melissa b said...

I've read about this conference on others blogs for the past 2 years and just drool over all the stories (and books). I'm glad you had a great time... and very envious of your swag pile, there are some great ones in there! ( just finished Undead Pool)

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