Dispatches from Romantic Times 2013

If you've ever thought about going to RT, my goal here is to try to show you what it's like. It's crowded, happy, eager, and jubilant. It's a four-day party focused on romance reading, which is completely awesome in my opinion. The readers who attend are taking time off work, time away from home and caring for family members, dropping everything and taking a four-day vacation at a hotel to party about…books. Excellent, right?

And, it is a truth universally acknowledged (by me) that there are few groups as friendly as romance readers. You wait in line, you make friends. You go to the ladies' room, you make friends. You go to an event, you make friends. And at every other moment, there are books to receive. Books as prizes, books as giveaways, books to share. Book recommendations, book suggestions, books books books.

While talking with Angela James and Lauren Dane, Lauren remarked that she loves the first day of RT, because it's so exciting. People haven't seen each other for months, we're all just-arrived and eager to say hi. It's a really happy atmosphere.

I think it's kind of like the first event of our “season.” If this were historical romance, RT is the start of the London season, with new shoes and conference clothing and gatherings everywhere. Then comes BEA, then Comic Con in San Diego. Then the season winds down with RWA, especially since many of our kids go back to school around that time, plus Dragon Con over Labor Day if you attend that, too. So if you read historicals, this is sort of the multi-day kickoff of our London season, and it's lovely.

I'm wandering around RT today, taking pictures and talking to people, so I hope you enjoy this glimpse at the first day of our romance season.

Sharon Muha (hi Sharon!) came up to me in the lobby this morning to introduce herself. She reads the site – and sent me a very awesome email that cured all my confusions about what “verticals” are and why they're the buzzword of all buzzwords on a corporate level. I noticed her name badge – how cute is this?

Sharon Muha's badge, with aspiring author crossed off in favor of Carina author.


Sharon signed with Carina Press last week, so she arrives at RT not as an aspiring author but as a Carina author – and some of her fellow authors helped her edit her badge. She is VERY excited.

Her book, which has the working title “Christmas Pitch” and will be published under the name Shari Mikels, is due out in November, and is about a professional baseball pitcher who is forced to retire due to injury. He returns home and confronts the fact that he's in love with his best friend's little sister. She's had a crush on him, but after her marriage ended in divorce, she's not too interested in any man, not even him.

I so want to read that like all the whoa and holy damn. I think Sharon was as excited about her book as I was by the time I stopped talking to her.


Sharon Muha with a big smile


Sharon says she is most looking forward to the Carina author cocktail party: “I got the invitation and was just…all my favorite authors are going to be there and I'm going as an author?! Oh, my gosh.”

Book The Cursed - Alyssa Day I also chatted with Alyssa Day during breakfast, and she's excited because her new book The Cursed ( A | BN | K | S | ARe is coming out on Tuesday of next week.

But attendees at the signing on Saturday will have a chance to pick up a copy four days early, an exclusive opportunity just for RT. How cool is that? I love that. 

The series follows two characters in a continuing journey, and is centered around Luke, the bastard son of Lucretia Borgia. He's been cursed with immortality, and if he veers into bad behavior, he ends up in worse-than-hell. He's not exactly a willing hero, and does things begrudgingly, and when he's mad cars tend to blow up.

The story is set in a border town, a fold between the human, fey, and demon worlds, and it has a sort of wild-west vibe. Day says the story is “between, beneath, and behind the streets of Manhattan,” and was inspired by the Highline Park in New York City.

It's lighter than her Atlantis series, and more funny and wry, and she's very excited.

Day also has a fantastic promo idea for the signing, too, and she and Mari Mancusi are the only authors I've seen with this item:

Stickers for ereaders showing Mari Mancusi and Alyssa Day's book covers


Signature stickers for digital readers! Small stickers with their book covers, and space beneath or on the side for their signature. (They look huge in the picture, but they're only a few inches tall. Plenty of room for other stickers for other books!)

How brilliant is that? I'd totally cover my digital reader with stickers of my favorite books. I love this idea.

I had lunch with Sassy Outwater and Kodak the Guide Dog (who is my secret canine boyfriend, please don't tell my dogs). Sassy is here for her second RT, and is attending both as a reader and as an aspiring author. While we were eating, Shiloh Walker came over and I introduced them – which led to a really interesting conversation between them about Shiloh's blind heroine from her book … . They had a lot to talk about in terms of research and blindness and accurate character portrayals.

Sassy and I were also talking about how people dress up for RT. I was describing some of the costumes and kilts and dresses that were walking by while we ate, and she asked if I was going to get pictures of some of them. I'm of two minds about that. On one hand, these costumes can be stunning,  and there is a part of RT that is about dressing up and formal balls and wings and costumed fun. Not everyone does, but some people love that part of the conference.

This is our con, for romance readers. This is like our Dragon Con or Comic Con, and the dressing up is a small part of the convention, so in context I am not even that surprised anymore (unless the shoes or costume are particularly intricate and then I want to know how it was made). My first RT I was agog at the intricacy and the stubborn defiance of gravity, but I'm so used to it now I'm mostly curious what all the fabulousness is made of.

In context, the costumes aren't out of place, in my opinion. Dressing up may not be for everyone but there's no requirement that everyone do so. Those who do fit in as well, I think, as those who do not.

But if I were to put pictures of the corsetry and the amazing costumes, it leaves a lot of room for folks who aren't familiar with RT or with convention culture to make great and everlasting fun of those silly women who dress up for romance novels (grrr), and I don't want to hold anyone up for that kind of treatment, especially if I think they look excellent.

That said, some of the women I encounter look incredible. I do have one picture to show you, which is all kinds of steampunk awesome:


Steampunk costumes of excellence


That's Mallory Braus, PJ Schnyder, and Karina Cooper, in most excellent steampunk finery. Check the boots: 

Close up of mega awesome boots with metal laces up the front

I love this part of RT. I hope I find more glimpses of it to share with you.

Sassy also shared some very cool news for herself and her fellow visually impaired romance fans: the Kindle App for iDevices is now accessible. In previous versions of the app, the menu wasn't accessible. It couldn't be read aloud, and so she had no way to navigate the app or find books. Now, she can read any Kindle book on her iPhone and she is SO Excited. PARTY TIME. EXCELLENT.

You can read more about the accessibility options at Macessibility.

I'll be back with more dispatches from RT, with pictures and – very soon – a giveaway of all the awesome swag I can get my hands on. 

Do you think you'll come to RT one day? I hope you do! 


Romantic Times

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  1. 1
    CarrieS says:

    Mad with jealousy!  Saving pennies for airfare for next year STAT!

  2. 2
    Emily says:

    I couldn’t make it this year, but I so want to be there.  Also saving up for next year!

  3. 3
    Diana Castle says:

    I have never been to one but my friend, Joely Sue Burkhart, attended last year for the first time and is attending this year in Kansas City. She had a blast in Chicago. Next year it’s New Orleans. I want to go, not only for my first time at RT but my first time to New Orleans. So, to answer your question, a definite yes! :)

  4. 4
    Lammie says:

    This sounds like fun.  The camraderie you are talking about reminds me of attending high level figure skating competitions – the audience is about 90 percent female, and everyone talks to everyone, particularly in the stands and the restroom lines.  Do they change some of the restrooms in the convention center from male to female like they do at figure skating?

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    I’m so interested in your posts! Keep them coming. I’d love to attend RT some day, but we’ll see.

  6. 6
    MissB2U says:

    First off, I’d go pretty much anywhere with someone named Joely Sue Burkhart.  I think this sounds like really big fun.  Are most of the attendees non-writers?

  7. 7
    apesmom says:

    As someone who has abandoned print, I LOVE the signature sticker promo! 

  8. 8

    Thinking about NO next year – if I do well this year with my sales!

    and SO envious of all of you there…


  9. 9
    Emma Barron says:

    Sooo jealous! I’m really hoping to hit both RT and RWA next year for the first time.

    I’m very happy to hear how friendly these conferences are. If I do go next year, I’ll probably end up going by myself (no one in my writer’s group usually attends and I don’t know anyone else IRL who would go). I worry about it being this nightmare experience of middle school proportions, feeling awkward and alone in the corner. If it really is as friendly as you say, I might be brave enough to do it.

  10. 10
    lorenet says:

    Wow!  Thanks for keeping us posted.  I really wish they would have a conference in Las Vegas.

  11. 11

    I have attended RT seven times in the past 9 years.  The two missing years were the first year I moved to Hawaii … and this year.  Hubby is in Korea and I have two kids in high school.  While I have dragged them to RT before, it just was not possible this year.  Sigh.  We move to Baltimore later this summer, so I’ll be back in action at RT and RWA thereafter!

    Love the pictures … please keep them coming.  Kudos to you for your observations about RT.  Keep that coming, too!

  12. 12
    Mikaela says:

    I would love to go, but the closest I’ll come the next couple of years is Loveletters Convention in Berlin :).  Unless RT decides to move continents to Europe. 



    Want 56= I want 56 000 SEK( ~8000 dollar) so that I can go to RT next year :P.

  13. 13
    azteclady says:

    I say, in the context of RT—which is a READER focused con—costumes make all the sense in the world.

    Please share? Pretty pretty please?

    captcha: already72 (ye gods, not quite yet!—though there are days I truly feel ancient)

  14. 14

    Sounds like everyone’s having a lovely time. I hope I can make it one of these years, but my standing commitment to Worldcon (2014 is Loncon in London), tends to eat up my travel budget.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. 15

    Must have those boots… !!!

  16. 16
    VandyJ says:

    I first heard about RT here at SBTB.  I’d love to go, but must live vicariously through you.  Thanks for sharing!

  17. 17
    ppyajunebug says:

    I would LOVE to go to RT if it was close to me!  As it is, I stick with Comic-Con as my one big con a year, since I live right here :-P .  It sounds like Cons in general can be great places to meet people- I met so many cool fellow nerds last year!

    CAPTCHA: body61, as in I’d give that cover model’s body a 61/100

  18. 18
    Julie M says:

    Last year my husband and son drove over to Chicago with me so that I could attend the Saturday book signing. I was the obnoxious woman walking around telling authors that it was my birthday. It was! I didn’t get to do the whole conference but that day was fab! I got to me you Sarah, but you don’t have to remember. It was pretty busy that day and a super great birthday weekend!

  19. 19
    Julie M. says:

    make that – I got to meet you Sarah!

    Is it too funny that my match word was “meet15” and I spelled “meet” wrong in my message?

  20. 20
    Mom on the Run says:

    I used to sell Longaberger baskets and this reminds me of the Basket Bee—4 women packed in a hotel room, lots of people dressed like bees or wearing bee fabric jumpers (this was in the 1990’s!), the excitement of spending a week talking about what you love with people who love it, too. I’m not sure if RT is the conference for me, although I would like to see some of the panels and information, but I’m definitely not one to dress up in a costume for anything. I never even liked Halloween when I was a kid, so I can’t see it happening. I don’t read paper anymore, either, so the book signing would be a bust. If I actually turn my 3 outlines and partially plotted stories into books by next year, I may think about going since I live in the South and NOLA isn’t that far away. I am going to RWA—I live in Atlanta and I figure that this is the least I’ll ever have to spend to go since I don’t have to stay in the hotel. But after spending mega bucks on conferences back in my basket days, I will have to be more than a fan before I think about it.

  21. 21
    Sally says:

    Here’s to hoping RT will one day come to San Francisco!

    Until then, loving all the pictures and updates.

  22. 22

    Thank you for the dispatch. I missed not attending this year. And big thanks to Sassy Outwater for the information for the blind and visually impaired folks.

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