As promised, today’s blog is a recap of my week at the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention in Houston April 23-29. (For those of you wondering – Romantic Times is a magazine that does monthly reviews of ALL romance novels as well as romantic suspense, mystery, etc.).
I flew out on Monday and stayed for a couple of nights with friends. Got an insider’s tour of Houston, including a peek at Beyonce’s recording studio. My hosts took me to several fun restaurants inlcuding one in Galveston where we had blackened redfish topped with a crawfish cream sauce. Yum!
Tuesday I dashed over to do a workshop on plotting for the aspiring writers’ workshop which is an official “pre-conference” event. Wednesday afternoon I checked into the Hyatt downtown along with my rooomie LuAnn McLane. And from then on out it was go/go/go from morning until midnight!
Wednesday early evening there was a welcome reception with chips and salsa. Late evening, Ellora’s Cave ramped up the festivities with a party that included chocolate fondue and our first glimpse of the Ellora’s Cavemen, all of whom are buff and cute and funny. Some of them competed later in the week in the Mr. Romance cover pageant. Harlequin organizeded it last year, and the winner got a modeling contract to do a book cover. This year Dorchester Publishing is the sponsor.
Thursday was a full day… the Vamps and Scamps (Karen Kelley, Dianne Castell, Janice Maynard, Erin McCarthy, LuAnn McLane, and Kathy Love) stuffed one hundred cloth tote bags for the bookseller’s event we hosted Friday night. (We were sorry that Toni, Rosemary and Shiloh couldn’t come this year!) Erin and Kathy led an 80′s trivia workshop. We also went to a luncheon and later that night the dinner and fairy ball. Dressing up is optional… the crowd is about 50/50 on that point. Our own Miss LuAnn was sporting a pair of wings.
Friday morning the six of us presented a well-attended workshop for readers called “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”. Lots of laughter and high jinks. Dianne (aka Miss Kitty) was our moderator. We played games, snickered over LuAnn’s inflatable bull riding costume, and even though we couldn’t get Fabio, we had a surprise appearance by “Bobio” – “half the man for a quarter of the price”.
That evening was Heather Graham’s Wild Wild West play, dinner and dance… the six of us Scamps had to slip out to go get ready for our Midnight Temptations event for booksellers. Kathryn Falk herself dropped by along with others. We had goodies to eat and drink, door prizes, and of course, our chock-full goody bags to hand out. We did a sort of gypsy theme… I was wearing red lipstick, and when I did the red-eye adjustment on my camera, it made my lips black!! Not sure how to “undo” that odd effect!! Got in bed at 2AM Central that night. Yawn. Here’s hoping that RT gives us an earlier time slot next year, although everyone seemed to enjoy it!
Saturday is the huge book signing open to the public. I was sitting by Liz Maverick, as often happens with ABC order.
After the signing we grabbed a quick late lunch and put our feet up for a few minutes before the Mr. Romance Cover Model pageant at 5PM. It was a hoot… eight contestants, including one sort of honorary guy… his wife is a romance writer and he is leaving this week for his 5th deployment to Iraq.
The winner this year was Jason Santiago… and I just happened to snap a picture of him holding a copy of PLAY WITH ME at the booksigning earlier that day!
During part of the pageant, the men came out dressed as various Dorchester historical heroes. Travis Greiman, a crowd favorite, was dressed as a Scottish highlander. Two female volunteers, one of whom was the lovely Anna DeStefano, posed as models with the guys for some fictitious contemporary vignettes.
Toward the end, the military guy came out in full dress uniform carrying a bag. Anna was standing at the edge of the stage… she turns… they see each other… he drops his bag… and they run into each other’s arms as he returns from the war. Not a dry eye in the house, including the female emcee who had to be handed a jumbo box of kleenex.
It was a great event. Ended about seven… back to the room to freshen up, and then on to the Dorchester party at nine. This Saturday night party is always more casual and laid back. The eats were fresh fruit, warm pretzels, and popcorn. The DJ played rock and roll all night, and our bunch of women had a blast dancing the night away.
We snagged one of the pageant contestants, Christopher – a real sweetie, to pose for a picture with us.
Sunday morning it was off to the airport…
It was great to see Danny from Germany (Hi! Danny), Billie Jo Case and her sister Yvonne (see pic above), and so many other friends.
This was only my second RT, but like last year, I thought it was great fun. Even the most shy of women can find friends to hang out with, and the freebies (including tons of books) are super!
Looking forward to seeing some of you next year in Pittsburgh.
Janice (aka your roving reporter)
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