RT 2014: An Enormous Photo Recap, With Apologies To Your Server, Plus a Giveaway

This year's Romantic Times convention was, I thought, pretty spiffy. The crowd was larger and the hotel wasn't as ideal as some previous years, but the location in New Orleans made it extra special and the people who attend are always some of the very best. The lobby was LOUD, and if there was a line for something, people got in it and met new people (I did, anyway). 

One thing I find interesting is that the more conventions I attend, the more I realize how much of a difference the facility can make in terms of how the crowds move and how the attendees see the group as a whole. For example, last year's RT hotel in Kansas City had an open lobby with the convention areas on the first and second levels, both of which opened onto the atrium where the lobby was located. This meant that you could see what was going on – a bit of it anyway – upstairs, even if you were on a couch in the lobby. The New Orleans hotel had no atrium, so you couldn't see what was going on on the 4th, 3rd, or 2nd floors, which were all visually separate from the lobby. Obviously every hotel is different, but it's curious how something like lobby layout can make a large group event seem different year to year. 

The best part of this conference, though, was the location: New Orleans is a pretty unique place, and since the Marriott was at the edge of the French Quarter, if one wanted fresh air (as opposed to hotel air), a walk was going to show your eyeballs some incredibly beautiful things. Ready for pictures? 

Here are some pictures of the French Quarter: 

Art Gallery with Cat in the window, giving no shits.  Mardigras earrings with beads and baubles, about 4 inches long

white one shouldered dress with gold trim, on a model dummy outside a shop Morpheus Griffith the Cat who lives at the French Quarter vet clinic

 

Many art galleries in the French Quarter have cats, specifically cats that sit in the window and give exactly zero shits about all the people passing by. Morpheus lives at the vet clinic, and also sits in the window and gives no shits.  

There were boutiques with mardi-gras jewelry for sale, and dresses both new and vintage in shops that were unique to that area. The best is the hat store, Fleur de Paris, which sells one of a kind hats and couture, but forbids picture taking inside. Never have you ached to take a picture as when you're inside that store. You can see some of the hats on their website – incredible, one of a kind (and expensive).

 

French Quarter wrought iron balcony with window pots, plants and flowers in purple and yellow

 

Balconies with plants, baskets and huge green topiaries

 

Another French Quarter balcony, with black shutters and huge plants in baskets on the balcony railing

 

The French Quarter is eye candy, even if you're not shopping. The wrought iron balconies and all the topiaries and plants make each one different, and the way they look sometimes makes me feel like I'm in another time period.

 

Your corset and costume needs will be met in the French Quarter.A leather steampunk corset and matching shoes in a shop window

 

Your corset and costume needs will be met in the French Quarter on Royal Street. Also, I'm not sure how this shop keeper knew, but the leather steampunk-style corset and matching shoes were attracting a LOT of attention from the RT crowd. Apologies for the blurry window – New Orleans is also among the most humid places ever.

 

Leather voodoo rabbit with grenade Black leather voodoo doll w red leather heart and white button eyes

 

Unsurprisingly, if you need leather voodoo dolls, there are some of those, too. A higher shelf had some naked human ones, including a dude with a floppy felt peen, but they were so high in the window I couldn't get a photo without reflecting the sky in the glass and thus obscuring the fine felt parts. 

So that's the outside of the conference, the surrounding area if you will. Ready for conference pics? 

 

Hotel Keycards celebrated 40 years of Kensington Publishing with a full set of abdominal muscles. Close up of abs on the Entangled poster in the elevator

 

Silhouette of two men that reads why settle for one hero when you can have two?Banner for Harlequin Presents re-designed covers with a stern faced dude front and center.

 

The hotel keycards celebrated 40 years of Kensington Publishing with a full set of abdominal muscles. Like you do.

And each elevator had a poster inside, so I regularly rode in the Lauren Dane elevator, the Jaci Burton elevator, and the Entangled abdominal scratch elevator. As I wrote about last year, the large scale signage makes the lobby into an event-specific space, and this year at RT was no different. There were posters everywhere, some so striking people would stop to look at them and take pictures. 

Here are some pictures of the events I was in, or at, or both: 

Marie Sexton's shoes, brown and yellow and pink with flowers on the heel

My favorite shoes of the conference: Marie Sexton's completely fantastic heels.

 

Lisa Kleypas meets attendees after her Q&A session.

Close up of vintage Kleypas books she was asked to sign. One dude has his shirt on and buttoned up, which is beyond strange

 

Last year at RT, my inner 13 year old was flipping our at being in a room with Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood. This year, I attempted to rein in my inner 13 year old while doing the Q&A with Lisa Kleypas, which was, despite my nervousness, VERY fun. Definitely one of the highlights of RT 2014. Lisa answered questions about her older books, how she crafts heroes and why intimacy that's difficult for the characters makes for a more effective story. She also talked about her upcoming series with Avon, which will be historical, and about her upcoming contemporary from St. Martin's, Brown Eyed Girl. I proposed her historical series be about a Regency biker gang, which you would TOTALLY buy, right? I would. Anyway, according to Lisa, bicycles were called velocipedes, which is perfect because Viscount Velocipedes would be the BEST SERIES NAME IN THE HISTORY OF EVER

Someone at Avon is rolling their eyes right now. 

Readers stayed afterward to meet Lisa, including one who brought vintage Kleypas novels for Lisa to sign. That guy on the cover on the left kinda looks like Bob Costas. 

The author masterminds of bad boy bingo: Alyssa Day, Cindy Holby, Megan Hart, Victoria Dahl, HelenKay Dimon, Vivian Arend and Shane the cover model

Shane the cover model reading one of the scenes

 

Two years ago at the RT in Columbus (or was it three? I have a terrible concept of time), I called bingo for Bad Boy Bingo, hosted by a group of authors. Bingo is self explanatory, but if you won a round, you'd have to read a specific scene (ahem) from one of the author's books before you claimed your prize. This year, we did it again, with more prizes, scenes to read, and general candy-fueled mayhem. 

I've said before that the best sessions for me at RT are the games. Not only is RT already a pretty large equalizer in terms of allowing authors and readers to hang out together in the bar like friends, but the games increase that leveling, so that everyone at the table, regardless of whether they're an author or a blogger or a reader or an employee of a publisher or romance-related organization, can play together. 

This year, Shane, one of the RT cover model pageant (aka The Mangeant) contestants from years past, arrived mid-way through the game and started reading the scenes. You can see him reading above, reading from HelenKay Dimon's Mercy

The really interesting thing about reading the sex scenes is how different they are, but also how curious they can make you to find out more about the book. Several times after each round of bingo, readers would ask “WHAT BOOK WAS THAT?” 

 

Then there was the Pub Crawl: 

 

Close up of Penguin Beads at Pub Crawl

 

Mother daughter team prior to pub crawl, dressed as devil and angel

 

Alas, my pictures from the pub crawl were mostly blurry or just crowded with people and didn't make much sense (except for the sign that says “HUGE ASS BEERS” which had nothing to do with the pub crawl except that it was on Bourbon Street). 

The good parts of the pub crawl: the mother-daughter team above, dressed as a devil and an angel. The angel was very proud to show me that she had some very comfy white sneakers on under her dress. That right there is one of my favorite images from RT this year. The mother-daughter teams, the groups of friends and family who come to RT – it's so, so cool to see so many people traveling together to hang out on a vacation all about books. I love that. Book vacation for all! 

The pub crawl was a sort-of-good, sort-of-not-great activity. For starters, it was very quick. I was calling it a “pub sprint,” because the goal was to go from pub to pub in a very limited amount of time – about 90 minutes once you got going from the hotel. Participants would get beads from each stop, some of which were hosted by groups of authors and some of which were hosted by publishers, like Penguins, whose beads are pictured above, and bring those back to the hotel to claim a prize (I didn't go back to claim it but I heard it was a shotglass – did you get one?). While the point was to make sure people returned to the hotel for the publisher-sponsored party that followed the pub crawl, and I totally understand that, the limited time meant that few people spent a lot of time in one spot to meet or talk to any of the hosts – and the bars made it really hard for me to do that because the music was so loud I couldn't talk to anyone (I know, loud music is part of the scene, but oh, my voice hurts when I strain it!). 

Plus, the varied bars had different experiences for the people doing the pub sprint. Penguin's spot, The Beach, was really terrific, and there were a ton of authors there, plus staff wearing Penguin t-shirts handing out drink tickets – for a drink that was served in a Penguin hurricane cup. There was another spot, which was from Atria, that was… not so awesome. This was totally not in control of the publisher and authors present, but when we walked in, there was a guy in a barber chair in the front of the bar. His friends punched him in the crotch, then poured beer on him, after which a waitress hopped onto his lap, poured some kind of alcohol in his mouth, then lifted his head and motorboated him against her breasts. I don't think the people involved had anyhting to do with the publisher at that bar; I think that was just part of what that bar does normally. It was just very… strange. 

The thing I thought was very cool about the pub crawl was that it got the conference attendees who wanted to do the activity out of the hotel and onto Bourbon Street which, if you haven't been to New Orleans before, can be a bit intimidating. There's no requirement that you get drunk or visit any of the bars on Bourbon, but if you've never been, seeing everything on Bourban can be a little…scary, I think. The pub sprint provided a frame for people to see Bourbon Street, but to also have a time limit to do a set of specific things (collect beads, no flashing necessary) and get back to the hotel. Activity: all good!

Short time period: not so good, as it created a lot of crowds packing into small bars (some of which were serving food to people who were wondering why all these romance fans were arriving in waves) that would grab beads and move on – not optimal for those who'd paid for a spot on the pub crawl to meet readers and promote their books.

My own reaction aside, I think the pub sprint was a great idea. I wish that people had more time, and that the spaces were a bit larger to accommodate the crowd of people who were bead hunting, but it was a really unique opportunity to use the locations outside the hotel that were as famous as the city itself. 

Table full of gold beads from Penguin berkley NAL

 

This entry is already so long, I'm going to post the pictures from the RT book signing and my annual Overheard at RT round up in a separate entry. BUT! Before move on – I have a giveaway! My RT bag! 

Each year attendees get books in a conference bag, along with bookmarks, swag, gifts and little promotional pieces, and I brought mine home so one of you could win it! 

Standard disclaimers apply: I'm not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and in the viscinity of some beads to win. Winners must when possible generally allow the good times to roll, or at least rock on a bit. I'll select the winners at random on Friday 23 May 2014 at 12pm ET. 

You can enter using the Punchtab widget below – please email me if you have any problems with it!

You can enter in the widget to win the bag, which includes a ton of promotional items, plus a handful of paperback books, all pictured below: 

A picture of all the swag and books, including sampler books, bookmarks, paper pads and a charm

Books included: Secrets of a Viscount by Rose Gordon, SE Jakes Free Falling, Jill Shalvis Always on my mind, Heather Graham's Sacred Evil, Kristen Ashley's Fire Inside, and Lauren Dane's Goddess with a Blade

 

Plus, I'm including a CD titled “Rag Band” from a band called Tuba Skinny, whom I heard playing on Royal Street on Friday afternoon. 

Here's a brief video (:26) I took of their performance: 

You can find other videos of Tuba Skinny on YouTube – they're terrific.

If you didn't get to attend RT 2014 in New Orleans, I hope this gives you a bit of the sights and events, plus the sounds of some French Quarter musicians. Good luck with the giveaway – and stay tuned for images from the book signing, and the annual Overheard at RT collection! 

 

 

 

 

Categorized:

Romantic Times

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    jimthered says:

    Tremendous photos!  It sounds like a great convention—and a terrific town for it to be held in.  Woooot!

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    Thanks! It was a great location, no question. The music in the French Quarter was definitely one of the best parts of going for a walk, too. It’s so interesting how a location can be so unique – there are few to none places like it, really.

  3. 3
    E. Jamie says:

    Thanks so much for the recap! Dyyyiinnngg to go to one of these someday and would love to visit New Orleans someday soon. My sister has gone a few times and adores it. I totally agree on those awesome shoes! Dude! Me wants!

  4. 4
    ppyajunebug says:

    Oh god, next year’s is in Dallas???  My parents live in Dallas.  I might actually have to try and go…

  5. 5

    *Heavy Sigh as homesick subterranean blues set in*

    Thank you for the excellent recap of RT and your wanderings through the quarter.  Did you make it to the Garden District or any surrounding neighborhoods? I’d planned to attend this year’s RT but a bump in the road made it impossible. Hopefully I’ll get to experience all the fun another year.

  6. 6
    Elinor Aspen says:

    So envious. I wish my budget had allowed me to attend this. Bad Boy Bingo sounds like a hoot and a half. There is no place like New Orleans, and Bourbon Street is an alternate reality all its own, with perhaps the best people-watching in the world. I once saw a vampire mime performing on a street corner in front of a voodoo shop. I shit you not.

  7. 7
    Ellie says:

    It looks amazing! Thanks for the recap!

  8. 8
    denise says:

    looks like y’all had fun!

  9. 9
    erinf1 says:

    Amazing!!! LOL… I keep telling myself to go. That it’s ok to go alone but I still chicken out :) Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  10. 10
    Heather S says:

    I agree with that poster – why settle for one hero, when you can have two? M/M romance FTW!

  11. 11
    Kristen Westfall says:

    I had an absolute blast! The attendees and authors were fabulous. I really enjoyed getting to fangirl over Sarah and buy her book as well:). I live in NOLA, and completely agree that the hotel was not the best layout.
    Being back in the real world today sucks!

  12. 12
    Lindsay says:

    That looks like SUCH a fun time in such a cool location, I want that cat, and I would absolutely read Viscount Velocipedes. Also Victorian Velociraptors. Just saying.

    I can’t wait to see more pictures, and I loved watching peoples’ Twitter! Twitters? Tweets? I am thinking hard about going to RT next year, but I live in Canadaland so it is a big big trip for me, especially since I’d be going alone.

  13. 13

    Aloha, Sarah!  Great seeing you in NOLA!  I enjoy reading others’ perspective of RT … and I appreciate your recap! I didn’t think to take pictures of the key card or the giant posters. 

    Overall, I thought RT14 rocked NOLA!  No conference is perfect, and some issues were outside the control of the staff.  I have noticed a trend on Twitter that some are thanking the staff for their efforts … and others are slamming for the “separation” issue at the Book Fair (crowds are always a problem at the book fair). 

    That being said, RT delivered a fabulous welcome party that celebrated diversity and humanity.  Although it was a long program, every minute was worth it.  I was saddened that many readers did not stay to the end to hear Olivia Gates talk about the freedoms we enjoy here in the Western Hempsphere, prompting her to flee her home country, Egypt.  It was Romanceland that helped her find a new home here in the US. 

    Looking forward to your next posts on RT14.

  14. 14
    Lammie says:

    @erinfl I have not yet attended a book convention, and if I do I will have to attend alone – my plan is to go next year with a mostly completed/completed book.  If I can do it, you can too! Maybe there is some way to meet up with other people attending alone? (Other than, of course, meeting people in conference sessions, etc.)

  15. 15
    DonnaMarie says:

    Biggest regret was not attending when RT was in Chicago. I’m with @Erinfl. Going by myself seemed so daunting.

  16. 16
    Melanie (@moviemavengal) says:

    Sarah, your panel with Lisa Kleypas was one of my favorites of the conference. 

    And the bad boy bingo—Whoo boy!  I read aloud a passage from a Victoria Dahl novel.  Needless to say, I have never before uttered the words “My, what a magnificent c%#k” into a MICROPHONE before.  The people who were passing by in the hall must have wondered just what in the world was going on.  Shane turned several shades of red reading those passages!

    From what I heard about the book fair, I’m glad I skipped it and went on a walking tour of the Garden District.  The hotel set up was not ideal, but the setting in New Orleans seemed to really bump up attendance, both of authors and readers. 

    And I agree with your comments about the Pub Crawl.  I am glad that I experienced Bourbon Street, and would have felt hesitant about going there otherwise.  It mostly was a Pub Dash, and very, very crowded in many of the stops.  What made it for me, was that at the Bourbon Cowboy stop, we had to go up to the second floor to get our beads.  We then went out onto their balcony, and there were extra beads there to throw down to the street.  I never thought that was something that happened when it wasn’t Mardis Gras.  Picture a balcony full of women throwing down beads to bewildered men who couldn’t quite believe the tables were turned.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  We stayed on that balcony for half an hour going through bags of beads, and laughing ourselves silly.

  17. 17
    Helena Justina says:

    That’s a difficult question.  I know CS Harris, author of the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series, was at RT this year but I don’t know if that was only because it took place in New Orleans (near her home).  I’d love to meet her, or Joanna Bourne—or a long list of other fabulous authors, some of whom I will meet at the UK Meet in Bristol in a few weeks!

  18. 18
    Cotterpinx says:

    Well, I can’t help with Viscount Velocipedes, but I do know where you can get a velociraptor on Velocipede t-shirt: http://shirt.woot.com/offers/villainous-victorian-velociraptor?ref=cnt_ctlg_dgn_0

  19. 19
    SB Sarah says:

    @Donnamarie & @Erinfl:

    RT is one of the most friendly conferences ever. If you’re a first timer, and have a ribbon that says so, people will introduce themselves – and if you’re in line, you’ll make friends. It’s RT, there are lines, and you meet all the best people in them. I hope if you decide to attend a future RT you’ll let us know!

  20. 20
    Amy S. says:

    I went again this year because I had to when it’s in New Orleans and New Orleans is on your bucket list!  I tell you what, it is really hard to do a convention and try to see a city and I still missed a lot.

    I’m not sure about this year’s convention. There was so many people that it felt like you were standing in line forever with no communication why. The book fair…we stood in line for half an hour longer than we were suppose to but wasn’t told the reason. Wasn’t that the reason for the app? There was a huge line for the team vampire vs team shifter panel that was also late getting into the room so the line just kept growing, but nobody said that they could only fit so many people into a room.

    All in all it was still fun. I will probably take next year off but if the rumor is true and 2016 is in Vegas, I’ll be there!

    I really really want to go back to New Orleans!

  21. 21

    Thanks for the opportunity for the book giveaway bag entry! Thanks! WOW!

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