RomCon: A Reader’s Impression

Friday, July 16, 2010 1:00

Limecellos Icon My thoughts on RomCon are all over the place. If you want an extremely detailed minute by minute playbook, this is not where you’ll get that. RomCon? Well, I’d do it again. I’ve never been to any conferences/conventions before 2010, but this year I’ve hit up RT, Lori Foster’s get together, and now RomCon. I think of the three, RomCon was my favorite. It just has more. (I really enjoyed Lori Foster’s get together, and I have to say RT was my least favorite.)

Incidentally, most of the pictures have nothing to do with my rants – I just needed somewhere to put them. So for the second one there, I have nothing but nice things to say about Nalini Singh et al. Also, I’m not in any of these pictures, in case you were Lime hunting.

Straight off the bat, however, I vehemently, 100%, completely, cannot tell you how much I disagree with people saying there were too many authors. [I cannot help but say this snarky thing: apparently there was a lounge for authors. Well, maybe if there hadn’t been one, or if authors didn’t go to it, they would’ve been out there mingling with readers. Not to say there wasn’t enough of that. But I mean, hello. If you’re going to be in an author only room, of course it’s going to seem like all authors and not enough readers. And that’s my snarky bit. I of course understand that authors who went to the lounge weren’t there the whole time and a lot of them did interact with readers and I pretty much saw every author I wanted to.] Did I get enough time with each and every one? No. And guess what? If more more more more more readers go we’re not going to be able to interact with the authors at all.

And on a different note, there were a lot lot lot of scheduled conflicts. Like a lot. I don’t know if I can stress this enough. The conference is short – something like 48 hours, and you know sixteen of those hours are allotted for sleeping. It depended on what event you were going to. For example, the teas were filled with what looked like  60 people.  Likely most readers. At the same time there were intimate chats with authors, which generally had 10-15 readers in the room. The teas and intimate chats being the “coveted events” as they were ticketed, all other panels I’m sure had less people, and it made it appear as if there were no readers. Well, based on what I observed, say during the day 150 readers were at “closed” events and the remaining were sleeping, meeting with people, or otherwise attending one of 2-4 scheduled panels. Yes, I can see how it seemed that readers were thin on the ground. However, I don’t think that’s the case and really really really hope the numbers don’t shift too much. (And here’s more snark – come on now authors. Do you really need that much more of a rockstar feel?)

Some of us were discussing – readers do talk to each other. Yes some people don’t know about the online community, but that seems to be the exception to the rule these days. And you know – maybe we’re just not that interesting. I don’t know. I feel completely fulfilled without going to conferences in my book talk and gushing. That’s what blogs, twitter, chat, texting, and phones are for.

So that’s my rant. Sure, let the conference get bigger. But don’t limit the number of authors. That’s probably at the top of my list for reasons to not come back to RomCon

Now, I will say I was unimpressed with the panels that I attended. Admittedly, I’m not very much of a panels type girl. I “just” got out of school. I don’t need to sit and be talked at. However, I dutifully followed friends to the controversial Fairy Godmother one, and felt as if I was being lectured and reprimanded. Every single person in the room I talked to felt the same way. (And as I hear it, there was only one person who thought the panel was enjoyable. Telling.) It could have been interesting, and fun and interactive, but that’s not the tone of the panel. It made me quite angry. I had to use the restroom, so I left, but after that, I didn’t want to, and was told not to bother going back in. Some people I hear were tweeting about it, but I went straight to texting my WTF feelings. Why was I annoyed? Piracy was brought up immediately after introductions, and the way it was approached and discussed we all felt like we were being attacked, and that we were all pirates. It only got worse. I truly felt that this was a[n understandable] pet peeve but those on the panel had finally gotten a captive audience/a trapped room of human bodies and faces that they could yell at. Not amazing. I ran into Sarah (from Smart Bitches) that evening and she was still unhappy. Of course I later found out she’d also gone to the book reviewer panel with Jane (from Dear Author), and that one was full of head exploding material was well – and led to the “books are not babies” discussion and hashtag on twitter. I’m still curious as to the results of Tessa Dare’s “experiment.”

I will say that in a way, coming to RomCon (I’m sitting in the hotel lounge/lobby as I write this, because I’m staying two extra days in Denver) was to play with friends. I didn’t know originally that they were going to be here, but I figured I’d meet fun people anyway. (It worked well enough at the Lori Foster event.) However, Ali and Joy did come, and that basically was the highlight for me – seeing friends. But in a more conference centered manner… meeting authors I’d interacted with online, but never met in person.

My list would be Julia Quinn (admittedly I’ve never interacted with her online but I always read her books and it was so cool to meet her. And talk about Outrageous Tacos.) Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Carolyn Jewel, Pamela Clare, Leanne Banks, Melissa Schroeder… There are more but I’m realizing this is turning into a something I don’t want, and anyway not really – I guess I talked to the same people/nobody. (And I’d met Carolyn Crane and Coutney Milan previously at RT.)

My random fun things and highlights? I tried to hang out with Carolyn Jewel all weekend, and it never worked. On Friday night for cocktails just when we were about to sit it was time for dinner- and Julia Quinn was at the table so I walked over to dinner with her (and ran into Ali and Joy and Eli) so we all sat together. We got there late. Bad us. I also sat next to Sally MacKenzie, whose books I’ve enjoyed, and had no idea who she was. (Sorry! I think I need to put in here that I’m just… not much of a fangirl. I barely recognized Julia Quinn and actually hadn’t recognized her the first time I saw her in the hallway. There. My secret shame.) Anyway, Sally MacKenzie is a fun, fabulous lady. We were bad and chatting throughout dinner and the “performance” because we were sitting in the back, the acoustics were bad, and we couldn’t hear a damn thing. This is also where the No Ordinary Taco discussion started. (Somehow Julia heard that instead of No Ordinary Cowboy. I don’t know either.) I didn’t know who the other two ladies  at our table were either, but I had a lot of fun with them. [Erm, Lavinia Kent was one of the them. So sorry to the third!]

Saturday was full of events – intimate chats with authors, and author sponsored teas which were ticketed events  – you entered a raffle to get into them. The historical one was fabulous, with a goody bag and prizes for all. I also went to the contemporary author tea the previous day, where it was more of a Q&A panel. I didn’t go to publisher spotlights on Friday, but had heard they weren’t that impressive. Saturday just seemed to be a more fun and worthy day all around. And I have to say the publisher spotlights on Saturday were extremely generous with the swag. (Swag is stuff we all get – and we all got books. It was nice.)

I also got to spend more time with Courtney Milan, because she sat with us at the HCI launch party. I have to admit, I had thought she might not really care for me – but I knew that was equally likely not to be true as nothing had happened to make me think that. So I figure if Courtney Milan didn’t like me, she wouldn’t have chosen to subject herself to my company during something she couldn’t leave. (I also didn’t know another author at the table was an author but she was incredibly gracious. Sorry!) Anyway, our table talked about dogs, and there was a girl across the table from me (sorry, woman) and she was the most adorable thing and I wish I’d gotten her name. So – Courtney showed me pictures/video of her dog. I’d heard of him before and seen pictures via twitter, but I want to meet him! (I love dogs.) He’s an Australian Shepherd and so adorable.

On Saturday night I sat next to Elizabeth Hoyt for dinner. I had no idea who she was (she looked familiar but I couldn’t remember, and I’m horrible about names and faces, so I’m pretty sure I committed some sort of faux pas and asked her what she did.) I also joked with her in a way I might not have if I had known she was Elizabeth Hoyt at the time, but I’m actually glad about that. Being too restrained isn’t fun – and not really how I am.

I do wish the hotel had been one downtown. I’m actually shy, and hate people. (Heh.) So it’s important for me to be able to leave a conference hotel and go do something. This was not possible at the Crowne Plaza and their concierge was not accommodating on Saturday night. I have/had mad love for Crowne Plaza concierge services (especially for the one in Columbus – I love you!) but this one disappointed. Of course I also became annoyed at a few of the hotel staff, but that’s all tied into the being trapped here issues.

Something I’d like to make a note of that every single person [reader] I spoke with mentioned – yes we were getting books, and that’s wonderful, but we were getting the same books. It seems like we were getting the same books over and over again. I know there a bunch I have two of – so guess what? I’m going to give them away. [At the moment I'm still figuring out how I'll do that.] I also gave away a number of books as soon as I got here – Jessica and Carolyn Crane were nice enough to let me stash stuff in their room, and when I went to pick it up I gave them books I already owned in hopes that they’ll read them. This process was repeated throughout the weekend.

Um… oh and this is totally a personal thing non-conference related. But a lot of people complimented me on my purse (and thank you! You’re all too sweet) – so I want to say, it’s the Lorca bag from Hayden-Harnett, and I think they’re such a fabulous company that I’m giving them a shout out. You should buy from them. Get your own Lorca. Really – and their customer service is basically unmatched. In excellence. And I also wore a flower ring that I’d just gotten as a birthday present – and that was Kenneth Jay Lane. Just in case you wanted to know O_o. (Well, if you want it, I think you should get it, right?)

Oh and my plug – if you haven’t read Julia Quinn, do so. Not only do I love her books, but she’s fantastic. She’s incredibly nice and fun – but not like nice in the way you’re scared you’re going to be bad and really have to be on your best behavior. She’s sarcastic and has a great sense of humor. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever was a book I got here and gave away in hopes the person will enjoy it. That’s one of my favorite books by her. Also The Duke & I, The Lost Duke of Wyndham, Splendid, and I think my favorite book by her is Brighter than the Sun. (Ok and/but since I’m me, I will say I don’t love love love all her books. Some people also got What Happens in London here, and that didn’t work for me. Nor did I go for Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, even though Liv tells me I’m wrong.) Anyway, not only are Julia’s books great, but she’s nice. I was going downstairs and had a book I wanted her to sign – there was a historical authors event. However we ran into her at the elevators, and she actually got back off and came and signed a book for me. I mean, I know not a huge deal and like she gave me a kidney or anything, but I thought it was super sweet. Because I was like “oh wait-  oh no!” I did meet some authors who gave me the “I don’t want to talk to you but we’re so close to each other in passing it’d be rude not to acknowledge you and I’m a professional here so I’ll give you the curt hello.” So you know, I’m that much more thrilled with Julia Quinn’s awesomeness.

So, I hope RomCon is essentially the same next year as it was this year, with some tweaks. The entertainment ” ” was… not amazing- and most people seemed to flee the dance parties. There is that – I didn’t really talk about them because it wasn’t so much worth going. [Oh and along the same “keep going what you’re doing line – reader focused. Please. Please please please don’t assume all readers are wannabe writers. I know some readers are aspiring authors. But not all of us. Do not, for all that is good and holy on this Earth, turn this into another RWA/RT thing. Because let’s be honest- RT is now more like RWA than anything else. I almost felt more like an intruder than anything else there.]

And I did like the format of the signing. With books elsewhere, you don’t feel a sense of obligation to buy a book just by looking at it. (It’s so awkward to pick up and book and put it down – unless you tell the author you already own it.) And with the ability to book browse people do buy more books, I heard at RT some people didn’t buy books they were curious about because they didn’t want to check out the book then realize it wasn’t for him/her and be obligated to take it. Also, it got rid of the whole ridiculous sticker business of RT. If you walked into the signing with books at RomCon, they were obviously yours. That was amazing. I think it would just help or be nice to let authors know this is the format, so they could have something in front of them at the signing – swag, little props, extra books, what have you.

So again, I have to say, I really hope the book signing format remains the same. But you know, I‘m just a lowly reader. What do I matter? :P [Sarcasm!] Also an author had a fantastic idea – of panels with readers sitting on the panels, answering questions. I love that. So… maybe not panels because that’s a lot of pressure, but how about round tables? I think that would also really fit in with the idea, concept, and spirit of RomCon. Incidentally, Carolyn Crane had this idea – and I think it’s amazing. [Incidentally NO those aren’t all the books I got at RomCon. A few pictured, yes, but this is why I’m not too torn up about not getting books. And why I’m so avidly going for ebooks. Don’t need to add any more to my book graveyard.]

And… those are my rambling wandering RomCon thoughts. If you’d like to know more about something [anything] I’ll do my best to answer any questions. Or gossip more :P

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