Romantic Times Convention :: A life altering event!

Author: Jax Cassidy // Category:
DAY ONE

I arrived in St. Louis at 5:03 PM on Friday afternoon and the landing was so smooth we glided down the landing strip. The skies were grey and yucky, but I was filled with enthusiasm, anticipation, and uncertain expectations. Took a shuttle to the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louie which cost $15 one way! Is that outrageous? In LA the fly-away is about $9 roundtrip... oh well. At least the driver was entertaining. He was a bit disgruntled, but I would be too because of the glum weather.

Checked in with ease and went to my suite 161... no roommate in sight. I guess she decided to be a no-show, fine by me-- I had the digs all to my lonesome. :) First thing I did was strip down to my undies and ran around the room. After jumping on beds and channel surfacing I got dressed and headed the Out Of This World Party sponsored by the FF&P. I felt oddly strange, out of place, and didn't have a badge to announce who I was. No one knew I was there with the Romantic Times, but easily made my way around smiling and nodding at folks. I felt like a law breaker, a rebel who snuck into the convention.

So I spotted Kathryn Falk (CEO of Romantic Times) and made my way over and stood in the sidelines as she wrapped up her conversation with other published authors surrounding her. Forgive me, I'm really bad with remembering names... but then as she had finished, I jumped in to announce my arrival. Got a big hug and kiss on the cheeks and felt relief that I knew someone! Thus began my employment as Kathyrn's shadow for the next two days...after all, that was why I was there.

The first evening was the Vampire's Ball sponsored by Heather Graham. I had dressed in the Vamp Slayer outfit with crossbow, belted bustier with five little buckles, black mini and calf length boots...to my amazement everyone was dressed in period costumes of elaborate gowns with detailed beading and embroidery. Those who weren’t dressed in costumes were in ball gowns or evening wear. Feeling a bit out of place I went back to my room to change into a slick black stretch gown. At the beginning of the dinner Heather Graham and several others treated us to a play…their version of “Wicked”. It was rather entertaining and interesting as Heather played her part well as the wicked witch.

Soon after the play ended Christine Feehan introduced her son and his dance partner who would soon show us some very fancy East Coast Swinging. They were incredible and made me a bit envious…the night was young and we mixed and mingled. I went around introducing myself to others. Ran into Kayla Perrin and we had a few laughs before I made my round. I passed out business cards to anyone who would want them and made a few friends along the way. In between socializing I took a potty break and bumped into Maggie Ryan of Triskelion Publishing. I didn’t know she was an editor and after babbling like I usually do she still requested my work… Well, I could say she is the nicest, sweetest, and coolest editor I’ve met! While everyone boogied down, I was still amazed at this surreal evening. I had to get out of those darn heels and headed to the bar. I slipped into my jeans and a comfy tee and bought myself a celebratory glass of white zin. I didn’t have any trouble taking a seat and introducing myself to the authors in the lounge. I must have chatted until 2:30 AM before I decided I should sleep.

DAY TWO

I had to be at the Salute to Librarians Mixer at 9:00 AM and that’s when I met a wonderful woman named Sonya Kate Childers who really inspired me. She’s a true testament of great courage and strength. She is living with Lupus, Anti-Phospholipid Disorder, Raynaud's Disease and Fibromyalgia. Yet, she didn’t let it interfere with her life’s goal of becoming published. In fact, she self-published and now her book will include a song written by country singer Steve Azar with proceeds going to the SOS (Support Our Soldiers) organization she’s involved with. This was a really special event for me and I was happy to have met her along with all the other military wives and authors who were present. I managed to become fast friends with an author named Jennifer St. Giles who was extremely cool and we had a blast, especially knowing we both have an obsession with Gerry Butler…(BTW, Phantom of the Opera is released on DVD today, May 3rd.)

Well, my day had just gotten started.

I wandered aimlessly to the Book Signing room and managed to be roped into credit card duty for the local bookstore vendor as they were short handed. At least I had a good hour of chatting with my friends Judi McCoy, LA Banks, Kayla Perrin, Liz Maverick, Susan Grant, Jordan Summers….the list goes on. As you can tell I did make rounds. It was actually fun working and getting to know readers in line. Needless to say I was so busy on Saturday I didn’t stop to eat—at all! I was whisked away to change for the Mr. Romance pageant. Let me tell you, it’s not like the reality show. It was a pageant and it was done very tastefully. The 9 contestants were studs and any one of them could have graced the Harlequin covers. In fact, the Italian hottie won and he looked the part! Soon after that, I was whisked away to go on behalf of Kathryn to the Dorchester Party for Connie Mason. That’s where I met Chris Kessler. It was already 8:00pm and I was rather pooped, going without sleep and food in me. You can imagine my wacky ramblings and poor Chris had to put up with me. Needless to say, he wanted me to submit to him too! Wow, two days and to requests…I was walking on air.

Back in my room I dress up for the Dorchester Roaring 20s Party they were hosting. Could it get any better? Of course, my friend Julia had worked diligently to add the fringes to my top and skirt while I made the head band and sewed my black rose on. I had borrowed a bunch of items from Lisa and the long strand pearls with the black boa made all the difference in the ensemble. I looked like I was a flapper! Woohoo! I can say that I had a lot of wonderful comments on my costume and it made me feel pretty darn good. I mixed and mingled, passed out more cards and even met up with Liddy Midnight again. It was a blast hanging out with Chris Kessler and commenting on his super cool bright yellow suit. Hehe… let’s just say he was easy to spot. The night went by in a blur of dancing, drinking, talking...and it was close to midnight -- not wanting the coach to turn back into a pumpking... I headed to the bar for a nightcap. Without the cushion of food in my stomach, I got drink pretty fast…hehe. This time around I stayed just enough to unwind as I had an early flight out the next morning. I didn't feel quite so alone anymore because by the end of the night I was among friends.

DAY THREE

Woke up extremely early and had a terrible and overpriced breakfast buffet. I even guzzled down several cups of coffee as I waited for my shuttle to the airport. When I arrived at the skycap, they kindly told me I had missed my flight! What??? Couldn’t be possible! But I did manage to take a noon flight back to LA. What a relief-- I was certain I would be detained most of the day, but luck was on my side. It was still a good weekend!

Bottom line, although I missed all the workshops by coming in at the tail end of the convention… I still was able to schmooze, booze, and let loose. What I got from the Romantic Times Convention is that it’s all about fun, learning, meeting and forging friendships. Partying seemed like the central theme, but it was a chance for authors to meet readers who supports them through purchasing the books. It’s about aspiring writers who can interact with pubbed folks who would point them in the right direction. It was a more intimate and personable environment and I truly want to attend next year’s convention in Daytona Beach, Florida.

I don’t know what RWA Conference will be like, but this one revitalized and energized me… it made me want to write, submit, and publish!

You guys gotta go at least once!

6 Responses to "Romantic Times Convention :: A life altering event!"

Kristen Says :
3:35 PM

Wow! Sounds like an awesome trip! You're the networking bomb, sista!

Lynn Says :
3:55 PM

I agree with Kristen and I'm really, really jealous.

WOW!!! Two requests? You rock, Jax!

jax Says :
4:23 PM

Now, if they would only buy my stuff so I won't be "aspiring" anymore...maybe in Reno I can adorn a button that says "published"! :)

Sheri Says :
6:57 PM

WTG on the requests! That's awesome. Sounds like a great time.

Eva Gale Says :
9:35 AM

Sounds like you had a blast and were a great promoter.

I can't wait to hear what happens.

FerfeLaBat Says :
12:44 PM

OK.

Rule One: Judi McCoy is always right!

Rule Two: Questions? See Rule One.

Katherine Falk is the hurricane of promoters. You spent the week with her? Just through osmosis you've absorbed more than a million other writers about how to promote yourself and your work.

It was very cool to meet you at the convention. That week is way too short to spend any real time with everyone, but next time ... we'll be on MY beach and I know all the best places to go. Byt then you'll be published, though and will have no time for the rest of us. ;-)

-- Cindy Cruciger

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