The biggest lesson I learned from my first trip to the RT Booklovers Convention? I need to work on my stamina. Holy WOW is it ever a marathon! Forgiveness in advance for any events or people I misremember here.
My week started late Sunday with a smooth flight into Las Vegas and a shuttle ride to the hotel. I got checked in easily and schlepped my much-too-heavy bags up to the room, unpacked just as much as necessary, and crashed, hard.
Monday morning, I was up early (if not all that bright) for a cab ride back to the airport with a chatty driver from Nigeria who warned me to watch out for crazy drivers if I drove in the city. (I didn’t, thankfully.) I met the fab Bru Baker, my roomie for the week, at baggage claim, and we hopped the shuttle to Enterprise to get our car. We ended up in a Camaro convertible, though thanks to rain, we never got to let the top down. After a stop at Jack in the Box for breakfast, we headed southwest toward Arizona and the Grand Canyon. That was a long, long drive that just seemed to get longer as we went. We finally arrived and got our chance to see the great big hole in the ground. And it is a BIG hole. (There were lots of jokes about that, yes. Also dusky pink rims.) Once we had our fill of the view and silly pictures, we headed back to Vegas to drop off the car. Another cab ride and we were back at the hotel, where we ordered late-night room service dinner and managed not to fall asleep in our food.
Tuesday morning, we decided to take advantage of a rewards coupon I had for 2-for-1 lunch buffet at the Bellagio, which turned out to be delicious. The hotel is gorgeous, and I adore the Chihuly glass displays, but we made it a quick trip so we could get back for a panel on getting the most out of RT. Afterward, we headed back to the room to finish putting together swag for the various giveaways planned during the week and then went down to help set up for that night’s Cinema Craptastique. The movie was Abducted, starring Taylor Lautner (and his abs and eyebrows), and although the whole evening was funny and Damon Suede a hilarious host, the best part was that Bru got jumped on by a bunch of Lautner fangirls for making fun of him. (It was just a bad movie, okay?? Great supporting cast, but bad movie.)
Wednesday, I slept in. We’re talking until nearly noon here, folks! Clearly I was exhausted. Once I woke up, and after briefly crashing Kate McMurray, Amy Lane, and Christopher Rice’s brunch at the Hash House A Go Go, I visited with various people (including the fabulous Robyn Carr) and then hit a couple of panels. First up was Writing F/F Sex for Romance and Erotica (aka the #ladybanging panel), where I got to meet Dahlia Alder and sat in a Vanessa North/Tamsen Parker sandwich (woot!). Great information on techniques and dos-and-don’ts for writing sex between women. After lunch, I chatted with Amy Jo Cousins for a while before her next panel, which was LGBTQ+: Characters and Stories in Changing Times. Another great discussion with the fabulous Amelia Vaughn from Riptide Publishing moderating. I finished off the afternoon with a get-together for the former Anything Goes Facebook group, where we talked crossover romance (that is, writing different types of pairings: m/m, m/f, f/f, etc.). A group of us decided to go to the Indian restaurant on site for dinner: me, Amy Jo, Tamsen, Vanessa, Karen Stivali, and Sasha Devlin. Loads of fun!
Thursday morning was the Dreamspinner reader party, for which I dropped off swag but couldn’t stay because I needed breakfast. I paid $9 for a small cup of coffee and a banana in the conference “snack bar,” which was the last time I bought anything there. At 11:15 was the panel on Crossing Over: Writing Straight and LGBTQ Romance, another great discussion with some favorite authors. I grabbed lunch from Starbucks and ate it back in the room before heading back out to visit with more people and then go to a panel at 4 on Reviews: How to Get Them, and What to Do with Them, featuring Jay from Joyfully Jay and the ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I took notes on that one! Dinner that night was with Bru, Brandon Witt, and Hunter Frost, finishing with some amazing apple pie with vanilla ice cream and warm caramel sauce. OMG so good!
Friday was another early day, kicking off with the Wheel of Romance. I helped hand out swag to the line and found a fan along the way who gushed over Sand & Water! (It’s still so weird to me to have fans, man.) Then I helped out along with other Dreamspinner authors while the featured authors gave away lots and lots of prizes. I spent the rest of the day hanging out and visiting with people, including drinks by the pool and lunch at the Guy Fieri restaurant in the hotel with Bru and Hunter, and then a group of us headed for the Strip. We had dinner at the Cosmopolitan buffet and came back by way of the Bellagio fountains, where we watched two “performances.” So pretty!
The final stretch of the marathon started Saturday morning with the Giant Book Fair. Brandon was a rock star, running around getting coffee and water and books for several of us who were signing. I got some new newsletter subscribers and signed for a few people, so that was awesome. Afterward, I joined a big group at Hash House for a late lunch, then headed back to the room to rest a bit. The final big event was the FAN-tastic Day Party, sponsored by Dreamspinner. I helped hand out raffle tickets, worked the room greeting people, and gave away a whole bunch of books, including clearing mine off the table and signing a bunch of them! I hung out with Janet Lee Nye for a bit afterward, and then it was off to bed with me. I had hoped to make it to the party that night, but I was wrung completely out by that point.
Sunday was sleeping in, packing up, checking out, and hanging around the conference area until time to go to the airport. That’s when the only real bad luck of the week kicked in: the airport shuttle was late, so Bru and I took a cab to the airport, where the Delta baggage drop line was super-long. By the time I dropped my bags, walked a long way to security and got through, and took a tram to the concourse for my flight, my flight was half boarded. I managed to grab dinner from the Chili’s cold case and was in the last dozen people to get on the flight. But I did make it, got back home after midnight, and thanks to an amazing friend, got home and unloaded by around 1 a.m.
In summary: RT rocked, and I am already counting the days until next year’s, which is here on my home turf!