RT Moment

Usually with any conference or event I attend, there’s always one memory or item I remember best, something that sort of encapsulates the entire event. Sometimes, it’s not a good thing (Pittsburgh’s RT, while hosted by my home town, was a hot mess of groping and asthma attacks for many) and sometimes it’s something outside the script, like at RT in Orlando, when Beth Ciotta turned to Heather Graham and remarked that she couldn’t believe Heather’s daughter, who had just danced onstage, was no longer 3 years old. That moment reminded me that although many people disagree about RT and the events and tone of some of those events, every year that conference is populated by a family of (mostly) women drawn together by their love of books and, perhaps, corsetry. Seriously, not everyone, as I was reminded by KristieJ, has someone they can talk about romance with frankly and honestly and with joy and snark.

This year the moment of RT that I’m going to remember is from the book fair. Yes, I know, you were expecting me to say that the Mr. Romance contestant rubbing Poland Spring water into his manscaping would be the moment that burned my memory. Nope, sorry. (However, more on Mssrs. Romance over at Dear Author. And I do mean more.

I am sad to report that book fairs, especially one as big as that one, acquire a sort of musty funky smell at the end. There were a LOT of people in that room. But you know who populated that event?

A mother loving posse load of young women. I mean that literally. I saw so many teenaged women with their mothers shopping for books en masse. Customized t-shirts for authors. Gifts. Excited comments over the LIST of author NAMES they were DYING to meet. I interviewed one young girl who was nearly 12 who was so excited to meet Richelle Mead and Heather Brewer she could barely speak when she was at Brewer’s table getting a signature.

When I asked who else they were going to meet, her mom said, “She can meet any author she wants and get whatever books she wants. This is her day.”

I love that. I freaking love that: young women all giddy and shivering with glee at… meeting authors and buying books. There’s a lot of snide comments and “Oh God Twilight” dismissal (and I’m totally guilty of that, too, at times) about the powerhouse that is YA, but seeing literal teams of women going hours and hours out of their way (in some cases dealing with Homeland Security to cross from Canada into the US, for which on behalf of the US I apologize) to meet authors, buy books, and tell these writers how much their books rock. Mothers bringing their daughters to a giant book signing for a shopping/signing spree as a gift. Hell, moms driving 4 hours to meet one author along with their daughters and friends. Once again, I run into the family that comes together at RT.

Seriously. I love that. It’s the next generation of women readers, and part of the driving force behind the paranormal explosion – and even though I myself am exhausted of the paranormal milieu, reader enthusiasm never fails to make me inordinately happy. That will be the moment I remember most about RT 2010. What about you?

Categorized:

Romantic Times

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  1. 1

    Very nice, Sarah!  Thank you for a sentimental glimpse into the Book Fair.  And I echo Kristie J’s sentiment that not everyone “has
    someone they can talk about romance with frankly and honestly and with joy and snark. ”  I feel somewhat isolated here in Hawaii, but I make the most of it by following blogs such as Smart Bitches and Kristie J for light hearted banter. 

    I was sad to see the RT discussion at Dear Jane degrade into a frenzy when the EC Party and Mr. Romance is intended to be fun.

    Looking forward to seeing pictures of Mullet Mania … hopefully RWA will find a hotel above water so Kristie can model it for those who did not attend RT!

  2. 2
    LeeAnn says:

    Sarah, I have to agree I also met a lot of mother/daughter shoppers during the book fair. What I found great about this event is that although the line to get in was long no one complained, everyone was excited to get in, meet authors and shop.

    I also attended RT in Pittsburgh and have to say this one surpassed it by far. I had such a good time that I’m considering flying to LA next year.

    Do you plan on attending next year?

  3. 3

    The bookfair was insane-but in a good way.  So yeah, I can totally see that being a standout moment.

    The memorable moments for me?  Getting to meet some of the people I’ve only chatted with only-readers like Shell from Canada (and I’m materialistic-she brought me ice wine, so I’m her slave), and then Limecello-she got awesome news on Friday and I was there when she got it, so that was definitely a standout moment.

    By and large, this RT was a positive experience.  I just wish I could remember the names of everybody I met.  O_O

  4. 4
    Joanne says:

    her mom said, “She can meet any author she wants and get whatever books she wants. This is her day

    God, that gives me the happy. Seriously Happy. You go Moms, the love of fun fiction, it’s one of the best things you can give your children.

    Sarah, with the firebomb that a terrorist just placed in Times Square should we be apologizing for protecting our borders? Or was there something more that went on during the crossing?

  5. 5

    I didn’t go to RT, but I am so touched that my three grown daughters have read and posted about my book on their Facebook pages. The youngest requested an early copy so she could give it to a friend for her birthday. Then she called me last Friday night from a Barnes and Noble in Boston saying she bought a copy and told the clerk, “This is my mom’s book.” Her friends are sending her pics from their phones as they buy it. These are young women who are not ordinarily romance readers, and I’m hoping to snag them, LOL. Come to the dark side—-we’ve got cookies and Mr. Romance meltdowns.

  6. 6
    Natalie L. says:

    The only other RT I went to was Pittsburgh, and this one was so much more fun (I think it helps when the hotel DOES NOT SUCK).  One of the highlights for me was getting to meet and spend time with Kathleen Bartholomew, Kage Baker’s sister.  I am such a huge fan of Kage’s work and was just devastated when she died in January and I just thought it was wonderful that Kathleen was able to come to RT to accept Kage’s award. 

    I also really love the earnestness of RT—everyone is so unabashedly excited and unashamed of the books they read and it’s a lot of fun to see people that excited.

    And Creepy Doll.

  7. 7

    I was next to Richelle Mead at the book fair.  And even as people streamed past me towards her, it was hard not to smile.  Early on, there was a group of girls with matching, homemade t-shirts, with favorite quotes on the back, and a mom/designated driver who had a shirt, too.  And they got their pictures taken with Richelle, and Richelle took pictures of them with each other.  And they had a nice chunk of face time before the line got long.

    I was pretty clearly just off ground zero at OMG, the best thing that had happened in life EVER!  Raw fangirl energy.  Fan boys, too.

    A little later, I told a couple of the stranded line standers that I had been a fan of Dark Shadows.  The puzzled looks I got back on that comment were priceless.

  8. 8

    And Creepy Doll.

    I walked past that and made an involuntary “Unghbrrh” noise.  So glad it was named Creepy Doll and not “My best, beautiful friend in the world, we go everywhere together, hold her and let me take your picture.”

  9. 9

    It’s not just daughters. I brought back 2 books signed by Heather Brewer to my ten year old son. He’s been carrying those books to school and everywhere, thrilled to have a note signed to him by his favorite author and he’s finished reading one book already.
    It is truly awesome to see young people reading and be so supportive of their favorite authors!

  10. 10

    There was another mother/daughter who were going around the signing. The daughter had an autograph book and she went down my row asking all the authors to sign it. I thought that was really nice, even though the daughter only looked about 12 and is too young to read some of the books/authors that were there. Still, I hope it was a nice day for her. Who knows? Maybe she’ll read romance when she’s older or even become an author herself.

    I’m always impressed by how clever folks are at the book signing. Like the lady who had me sign labels (bookplates) instead of lugging all her books around through the crowd. Another blogger—Jackie from Literary Escapism—had me sign a couple of boards. I think framing those is a really cool way to see all the signatures instead of having to open every book to look at them. I wish I’d thought of that!

  11. 11

    From the other side of the table – I was signing my historicals, so knowing that all the “big” authors this year were urban fantasy, I sat back to enjoy the fun.
    Did you see the Richelle fangirls, all wearing T-shirts with slogans on? So good to see them, so excited. Anyone who can get teenagers excited over books has my vote.
    The ballroom had a lovely high ceiling, which meant – we could breathe! The signing room can get really, really stuffy and hot toward the end of the signing.
    And amazingly, this was my most successful signing yet. I was signing highly sensual historical romances, and I did have to tell a couple of girls that maybe my books weren’t for them. I explained the reasons to one mother, and she bought a copy for herself!

  12. 12
    joykenn says:

    OK, for you guys that were there, what’s with the Creepy Doll reference?  Those of us stuck at home rely on the blogs to vicariously experience RT so you’ve GOT to explain.

  13. 13
    t_k_f@hotmail.com says:

    what’s with the Creepy Doll reference?

    One of the authors—I think it was Diana Rowland, but I’m not sure (SBSarah will have to verify)—had this doll that someone had given her.  Apparently, she had told several people about this “creepy doll”, but no one really understood the level of creepiness of this doll.  (It’s just enough “life-like” to be wrong, if that makes sense.  It even has a little clear drop of saliva on the inner curve of its bottom lip!)  Anyway, as she explained to me, she brought the doll to prove that it was, indeed, the creepiest of dolls and since she had it with her, she brought it to the signing.

    Christine Merrill, you were my RT moment! (Well, you and getting to talk to Jim Butcher for a moment.)  When I got home, I even told my husband what you said about being a book signing and being seated next to Lois McMaster Bujold.  I loved hearing about your fangirl moment, ie, being right next to her for 2 hours!  It was an awesome reminder that authors are readers/fans, too.

  14. 14
    Tina C. says:

    being a book signing

    Um, that would be “being AT a book signing”.  And look!  I also screwed up my name!  (That’s what I get for being in a hurry.)

  15. 15

    My highlight was meeting SB Sarah! I’m a total SB fanboy. ;)

    I was originally attending as an aspiring author and especially looking forward to the e-books panel on Friday w/ SB Sarah and Angela James, but somehow ended up competing in the Mr. Romance contest (don’t ask). I didn’t get to attend many of the panels as a result, but heard many good things about them.

    The weirdest moment was having a table at the book fair next to Richelle Mead, where I was signing pictures of myself along with the other Mr. Romance competitors. I had wanted to meet Richelle, but didn’t even ask her to sign one of her books for me because I was embarrassed by the man-titty in my photos. As an author with a book coming out next year, I never expected that my first signing experience would involve shirtless photos of myself!

  16. 16

    but no one really understood the level of creepiness of this doll.  (It’s just enough “life-like” to be wrong, if that makes sense.  It even has a little clear drop of saliva on the inner curve of its bottom lip!)

    I tried to post on this earlier.  But the post was eaten.  Probably by The Creepy Doll.  Do not trust a doll that drools when it looks at you.

    She’s on Twitter as TheCreepyDoll.  you can see her picture.  Follow her.  But don’t let her follow you.  Because she’s creepy.

    And I was happy to be your RT moment.  Frankly, I think that the main reason to become an author is to get better fangirl opportunities.  Since I was signing, I got into the room 15 minutes early, and walked right up to Jim Butcher’s empty table to get my autograph.  Half an hour later it was a mob scene.

  17. 17
    Donna says:

    A little later, I told a couple of the stranded line standers that I had been a fan of Dark Shadows.  The puzzled looks I got back on that comment were priceless.

    Christine can we agree Barnabas would kick Edward’s pansy ass? I used to run home from school just to catch the last 5 minutes!!
    And on topic? Fav memory. My mom catching me reading “The Happy Hooker” (how’s THAT for a blast from the past?). She advised “that’s a very dirty book.” and left the room. She didn’t take it away, didn’t punish me – I was 15 at the time – didn’t try to dissuade me from finishing it. Mom wasn’t the type to smother an inquiring mind.
    A few years later: mom curled on the loveseat with a Loveswept & me stretched out on the sofa with a Silhouette after a stock up trip to Crown Books.

  18. 18
    MaryK says:

    Mothers bringing their daughters to a giant book signing for a shopping/signing spree as a gift.

    That’s awesome!  I love to see kids being encouraged to read.

    Every month, my local library has a book sale, you know the 25 cents to a dollar kind.  Several times I’ve overheard people fussing at their kids, “you can pick two books, only two.”  WTF!?  They’re practically giving books away, and you’re holding your kids back?  It burns me up.  The parents usually have a stack of books, but we wouldn’t want to waste a few bucks, literally, on something that interests the kids would we?  GAAAH!

    It’s great to hear of something good for a change.

  19. 19
    cories says:

    As an author with a book coming out next year, I never expected that my first signing experience would involve shirtless photos of myself!

    So, Andrew, would those photos be available through your website?  ;)

  20. 20

    Cories, somehow I seem to have, um, misplaced those photos! What a terrible, terrible tragedy.

  21. 21
    CanuckReader says:

    On the thing about Homeland Security?  It’s a bitch to deal with.  Leaving Canada, we are searched by our own Airport Security (compared to what American Airport security does, it’s an ordeal).  Then to arrive at your hotel and find that your Homland Security has tossed the contents of your suitcase?  You feel violated. 

    I went to a Readers’ Weekend in the US last fall.  I don’t mind being searched.  I do mind finding the card from Homeland Security telling me my suitcase has been checked tucked in my underwear half way down the layers.  That is just creepy.  People I met, told me it should have been laid on top of my clothing, NOT tucked in my underwear.

    Canada isn’t the enemy.  I’m yet to hear of a chubby, middleaged housewife lugging a suitcase full of summer wear and a few souvenirs being a terrorist.

  22. 22
    Anne says:

    (Puffs up in her Librarian Pride mode)  Sarah that was a great thing you saw.  Magnificent!

    BOO-YAH!  Families with similar reading interests coming together for a book outing

    BOO-YAH!  Young women reading both YA and moving onto higher reading levels just becaue they’re interested

    BOO-YAH!  Better reading comprehension skills

    BOO-YAH!  Both adults and teens feeling part of a greater community of readers

    BOO-YAH!  Reading is cool!

    BOO-YAH!  Both adults and teens arrived with or met their friends there.  Building up their local community feeling and (bonus) giving the teens the peer approval so important at their age of development

    BOO-YAH!  You can bet those kids were texting their friends about the great experience.  Promotion of the genre and the positive experience they had.

    BOO-YAH!  RT found a way to promote the conference in a way that hit both demographics

    From what you have said, I call this conference a WIN and give it a score of…

    BOO-YAH!

  23. 23
    Karen W. says:

    Aww, that literally made my teary to read about a teenager being that excited about books and authors and to hear there were many others like her!  I’m so glad there are still kids out there who love to read, and bravo to the moms who do the encouraging!

    Thanks, everybody, for sharing your favorite moments.  I’m living vicariously through you. :)

  24. 24
    Erin says:

    even though the daughter only looked about 12 and is too young to read some of the books/authors that were there. Still, I hope it was a nice day for her. Who knows? Maybe she’ll read romance when she’s older or even become an author herself.

    Hmm…I dunno. I was a very precocious reader, and read quite a lot of romance and explicit novels at 12, and it didn’t scar me. On the contrary (Jondalar’s hugenormous woman-maker aside), it made me curious and I looked lots of stuff up, and had a much more comprehensive idea of sex, relationships and birth control than many other of my contemporaries.

    And…it gained me a great “Dad defending my reading romance” moment: in 6th grade, I was reading a Silhouette Desire, don’t remember which, in class, after I had done all of my schoolwork. My teacher ripped it out of my hands, marched me up to the office, and called my home, to report me reading “pornography.”

    Weelll, my dad, my blue-collar, telephone lineman Dad, my voracious reader dad, was home sick. That happened like, once every 10 years. Lucky teacher. He listened, “Uh-huh. Ok. Was she done with her work? And she was reading quietly? Causing a ruckus? No? Ok, ma’am…well, Erin can read whatever she wants, as long as her mom and I approve, and as long as she’s doing her work, and bein’ good, any book is ok with me.”

    She was not pleased.

    Got home that afternoon, and my dad marched over to the bookcase, picked out the book with the most lurid, purple, heaving-bosomed, mantittied cover, shoved the book into my hands and said, “This one. You take this one to school tomorrow” and lumbered back to the sofa and his Kleenex.

    And that, my friends, is why my dad is teh awesomest.

  25. 25
    Cakes says:

    ahem…
    errr, what’s “RT?”

  26. 26
    SusanL says:

    Erin, your dad IS awesome.  It’s not just about the romance.  It’s about you knowing he’s got your back.

  27. 27
    Donna says:

    Erin, my dad -a former Ma Bell lineman- would’ve done the same thing! Lucky, lucky us. Buttinski cop who lived down the street thought he’d get around dad by confronting the little woman -seriously she was barely 5’1”. Boy was THAT a mistake!

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