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2012 RT Report

This year’s Romantic Times convention was my fourth in a row. Since my first visit, RT has underwent a dramatic change and much of it has to do with moving the focus away from cover models and toward the readers. In 2012, RT did not have a Cover Model pageant and while there were cover models roaming the halls, the overt sexuality of past conferences was not present.

This is not to say that all readers are happy with this change. Some vocal readers expressed unhappiness at the lack of eye candy and the disappearance of the Mangeant, as it is fondly referred to by some of us. (I think Heather Osborn may have named it) I overheard one reader exclaim to a friend after having her picture taken with a cover model that “it made her conference.”

You can’t really have an increased YA celebration and mantitty all over the place and thus I believe that in choosing to foster young readers, RT is making the absolute right decision as to the direction of their conference.

During the immense signing, RT set up Teen Alley. It was mobbed during the signing. There were groups of girls, some who came with their mothers and others who came with library groups. One library group had printed “Author Prom” t shirts for their readers. The readers wore the shirts and had the authors sign the t shirts. What a marvelous idea.

Even though the conference price is high, the hotels they choose are reasonably priced, some meals are provided, and a ton of swag (books and other items like bookmarks, chapstick, pens). However, I believe the most valuable thing that the readers get from this is the opportunity to meet with authors. The authors will sit in the bar and the lobby and are very receptive to readers coming up to them and engaging in them. Authors, I’ve learned, get a thrill from being recognized and acknowledged by readers. Some authors, like Beth Kery aka Bethany Kane, were anxious to meet other authors like Anne Rice. (I’m not sure if Beth ever got her Anne Rice meeting but I did hear that Anne Rice was in the elevator at some point!)

The Hyatt was really a great conference hotel. The staff was super nice and they put out signs that celebrated romance readers and had no snark! (At least none that I saw). Whether it was Hyatt or RT, there was a big dry erase board where a new question was posted every day and people were invited to write in their answers.

Hyatt Whiteboard RT 2012

I attended a couple of sessions. One was the reader roundtable that Sarah and I facilitated. It ended up being a lot of authors wanting to hear from readers (dear readers, we want to hear from you!!) but listening to authors talk about their favorite books was really fun. MaryJanice Davidson confessed that she just started reading George RR Martin’s series and that she was totally hooked.

There were some RT scandals. What would RT be without scandals? J.R. Ward instigated #peegate. Apparently she twice used the restroom on Friday and both times had her bodyguards prevent any one from entering. Dear everyone there, no one but the hotel staff has the right to bar you from the restroom, particulary if you were a paying customer. Of other interest to Ward readers, she intimated in her panel that Butch and Vishous are regularly having sex. I guess that is okay for Jane, after all, she is just a ghost but what about poor Marissa? (Edited to add a link to someone who took more copious notes)

Q: We haven’t seen much of Butch and V lately–
JR:
 interrupts They’ve been seeing plenty of each other!
Q: — will we ever see any of that on the page?
JR: No..
 [paraphrased]... I will give hints about it and talk about it verbally, but it won’t be on the page… because too many people would hate it.  sotto voce Butch is getting it regularly.

Nalini Singh 2012 RT

I tried to pump Nalini Singh for details about the ghost but she refused to give it up. Actually, she seemed close to being broken on Friday night (I had worked her over good for three days) and admitted that she wanted to tell but was afraid that if she spilled the beans to even one person that the floodgates would be breached and she couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. I told her that I knew it was Kaleb and in the event that she choose someone else to be the ghost, I would need a legal brief justifying her alternative choice. Someone is going to have to write a lot of fan fiction for me if the ghost ends up being someone else. Nalini is a very good sport. She had dinner with Angela James and Sarah Wendell and I. I think Angie and I spent about a good hour complaining about certain aspects of Nalini’s books. (Angie and I are not fans of reincarnation stories) Nalini took everything with really good humor. Perhaps it helps that Angie and I are real fans of both series but as I look back at that dinner, I am pretty amazed at how gracious Nalini was with Angie and I.

Loretta Chase RT 2012

One of my highlights and more embarassing moments came right before the booksigning. I had slipped in to take photos which I have uploaded to the new Dear Author flickr account. Loretta Chase was there. I told her that when I was in Korea, I went to a bookstore and there was Lord of Scoundrels in Korean. I wished I had brought it with me. I shared with her repeatedly, in a rush of garbled words, how much I appreciated her books and loved her writing. I also told her that no matter what grade we gave her on the blog, we still appreciated her contribution to the genre. I think I may have said that three or four times. It was embarassing. I’m glad few people were there to see me.

RT has made Saturday into a reader event. There are four or five sessions going on at one time so that there is always something that will fit a readers’ particular interest. I’m not certain what readers want out of conferences but if it is to meet with other readers and authors in an informal but engaging setting, then RT is likely to satisfy.

 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

40 Comments

  1. Amber
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 16:21:05

    Intimated? Intimated! Does anyone remember the exact words, or a close approximation? I am all kinds of fascinated by that! Well, #peegate did make it more fun to “watching” from twitter.

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  2. Jaci Burton
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 16:21:35

    Jane, I loved your recap of your meeting with Loretta Chase. At one of my first RWA conferences, I stood in line to have Linda Howard sign a book. When I met her, I babbled something incoherently, and then after she signed a book for me, I left the room and burst into tears.

    Those of us who love the romance genre are, at heart, all gushing fan girls for someone. Or at least I was a gushing fan girl that day.

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  3. Kate Pearce
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 16:45:10

    I thought RT did an excellent job with the whole thing this year. I especially liked the idea of the one-day pass, which meant that a lot of extra readers, especially the Teens, got to come in and made Saturday a great fun day.

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  4. Vi Dao
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 17:47:09

    I don’t read Ward so I am not emotionally invested in the series and the characters. How is it in the best interest of her readers to suggest something like that? Doesn’t that violate the HEA rule? She should just admit that she regrets on pairing Butch and Vishous together.

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  5. Ros Clarke
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 17:56:18

    I think it’s great that younger romance readers are being encouraged to attend conventions like this, but I will admit that I am still unclear as to why there is so much blurring in people’s minds between YA and romance. They are different genres, right? So if teens are reading romance, then great! If they’re reading YA, um, okay, but why have it at RT?

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  6. Michelle
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 18:05:13

    I think it is a good choice to get teens involved. Hmm, wonder if J.R. Ward has gotten any threats, or maybe she was worried about someone taking weird photos with their phone. It would be kind of hard to pee if someone was sticking their phone under the stall door.

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  7. cleo
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 18:21:27

    Now I wish I’d been able to go. I live in Chicago, but work got in the way – couldn’t even make it on Sat. It sounds like fun.

    Your Loretta Chase story made me look up all the LC reviews on DA – somehow I was expecting that someone had slammed her, but I didn’t see one that was below a B. (As I keep telling my students, a B is above average. That’s good)

    I so wish I’d been able to overhear you grilling Nalini Singh. I love, love her psy/changeling series and if I ever saw her in person, I’d probably ask her why there are no gay people in her alt hist version of San Francisco.

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  8. Ros
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 18:45:42

    @cleo: You can! The DBSA podcast is basically just Nalini Singh being grilled.

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  9. LG
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 18:59:06

    @Ros Clarke: YA isn’t a genre, it’s an intended audience. So, you can have both YA romance and romance geared towards adults – same genre, two different intended audiences.

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  10. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 19:35:18

    I love the changes they’ve made in adding a one day, two day pass, etc. Much easier on the wallet for the typical reader. And the YA deal was amazing.

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  11. Holly
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 19:40:02

    @cleo: There are in Kiss of Snow – and they are mated. They’re in the Snow Dancer group so not in San Francisco exactly….

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  12. Mireya
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 20:14:42

    I gushed to Chey McCray and Ann Jacobs several years ago when RT was held in NY and I was still a HUGE fangirl of erotic romance (Angela Knight looks fab, btw, I just checked your photo album). They were really gracious and remembered me from hanging out on the EC boards way back when … I still cringe to this day have to admit.

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  13. library addict
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 20:38:50

    Glad you had the chance to meet Loretta Chase.

    Nalini Singh sounded like she was having fun with you all in the podcast. I am not an author, but I would think they would mainly enjoy their fact their work connects to readers and those readers are able to argue about the world they’ve created means they’ve connected on multiple levels.

    I have never been to an author signing, much less a huge signing like RT. I think I would turn into a gushing fangirl over a few authors myself.

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  14. maili
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 21:28:00

    The changes sound great. Enough to tempt me to break my vow not to enter a U.S. airport again. Heh! Given a chance, I’d gush over authors, reviewers, online regulars and readers. At that rate, I’d probably gush over a janitor. Thanks for thos reports. I can’t see photos, but will deffo have a look when i get home. Can’t wait.

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  15. JoanneL
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 21:39:54

    That’s so odd about J.R. Ward. I’ve never heard of such a thing. My first thought is that she’s gone over into the Land of Authors Behaving Oddly but the mystery genre reader in me wonders if she’s gotten threats or a stalker. Any of those choices would be really sad.

    It’s nice to see so many young people turning out to meet authors.

    Love Nalini Singh — Under siege and hangin’ tough. It’s definitely Kaleb and I won’t read and damn fan-fic if it isn’t. I’ll just pout.

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  16. AnimeJune
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 22:00:08

    I recently read and reviewed Dark Lover and was disappointed when I learned Ward paired Butch and Vishous off with women – honestly, I kind of laughed at most of the stuff in that book but Vishous and Butch were the most believable couple in the entire book. Maybe a Dark Lover menage short story is in the works?

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  17. Amber
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 22:19:51

    I’m going to be the minority voice, here, and state that I *hated* that they made all day Saturday open to everyone. Chicago was already more crowded than LA, and every party, signing, what-not seemed under-prepared for the numbers. Opening the floodgates on Saturday didn’t help.

    I’m not upset that the mangeant is history, but I think it’s a little greedy to take an event that was “convention only” and substitute one that is open to anyone who pays for the day pass. I’m not really a fan of the huge YA push, either, but then I’m not a YA reader.

    I do agree that nearly every author at RT is totally approachable. Even Anne Rice, who graciously posed for a photo with a girl who passed her in a hallway. (Not me!) And part of the fun of the conference is the complete lack of snark about and freedom to discuss the romance genre.

    I think Loretta Chase is wonderful! She seemed genuinely shocked by how many people love her books and her contribution to romance. The historical chat she participated in was terrific.

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  18. Hannah E.
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 22:19:56

    Young adult attendees aside, the “Mangeant” probably did nothing to improve the image of a genre that has been referred to as “porn for women.” We mourn the loss of mantitty, but it is for the best.

    THAT SAID, half-naked “booth bunnies” are a regular feature of most comic/anime or video game conventions, and it is simply accepted. So apparently it’s okay as long as the eye candy is female.

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  19. SAO
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 00:20:33

    Well if JR Ward has had threats, she should let us know. Otherwise, I’m going to consider her a self-important jerk.

    I hate to carp, but the “with you and I” formulation drives me crazy. You’d never say, “Nalini had dinner with I,” so why say, “Nalini had dinner with Sarah, Angela and I”?

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  20. Janet P.
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 06:18:45

    @Vi Dao
    Ward now claims that her series is Urban Fantasy and not romance, so maybe she doesn’t feel obligated to maintain HEA. That is one author that frequently seems embroiled in some fan-author drama. If she desired a private restroom, using a private hotel room probably would have been more polite than attempting to block everybody else out of the public restroom.

    Vishous is just one messed up dude – major Daddy and Mommy issues. But still, after centuries of trying to cure them through various forms of sex, I think he needs to try something else. Off page I hope because I’m getting a little tired of reading about Vishous angst.

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  21. sandyl
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 07:35:36

    Has J.R. Ward become one of her characters? The crude behavior is just very unprofessional. I would find it very hard to take this woman seriously. And the foul language? After living with two teenage boys, it sounds juvenile and immature coming from an adult (and educated) woman.

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  22. MarieC
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 08:47:29

    I wish I could have been there; I missed the opportunity when it was in L.A. Sounds like fun, if the podcast was any indication!

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  23. Danielle D
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 08:49:49

    I was at the Reader’s FanTastic party and a good time was had by myself and my friends.

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  24. Lisa Hendrix
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 09:42:38

    @Jaci Burton: It’s true. We all have some author we worship from afar, and that first face-to-face meeting can be overwhelming. At least you waited until you left Linda Howard. I fangrrled Laura Kinsale at my first RWA and burst into tears *at* her table while she was signing books for me (I re-bought them all so I’d have signed copies). She was mortified, but has since treated me like I’m a normal human, gracious lady that she is.

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  25. DS
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:05:08

    Re: J. R. Ward. It could be theatre. It was common when conventions were relatively young to see pictures of romance authors swanning around in glamorous gowns all the time. I remember one reporter noting with surprise that Mary Jo Putney (I think, this was ages ago) was dressed like an ordinary person. The assumption seemed to be that this was what romance fans expected.

    I certainly hope that J. R. Ward is just doing what she thinks is the urban fantasy equivalent.

    The alternative is that she has been taking advice from lkh who also has bodyguards.

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  26. Sharon
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:10:17

    And this is why I’m glad I stopped reading Ward. How is it okay to have two married men have an affair?
    (at least in the HEA world of romance fiction)

    Blech!

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  27. LG
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:13:58

    @DS: I hadn’t realized LKH had bodyguards now. I’m glad she was more relaxed at the signing of hers I went to (before the Meredith Gentry series started). Hers was the first author signing I ever went to, and it was wonderful, even though I was loopy from sleep deprivation (she was nice to me anyway). I don’t know if the experience would have been as nice with bodyguards in the background.

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  28. Bethany
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:24:55

    just when I thought that Ward was on a good track with Lover Reborn she has to go and pull this crap! Argh. I thought Butch and V were mated for life with their FEMALES. There is such a huge emphasis on this, especially in the earlier books. Butch was supposed to be so madly in love with Marissa he could barely function without her. What the heck is going on in this woman’s mind? She can’t just rewrite her own histories as she pleases at this point.

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  29. Kim
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:22:56

    Thanks for the recap. It’s always fun reading what happens at these conventions. I read a few complaints on another blog about the one day passes. The blogger felt that the RT event just couldn’t handle the added influx of people and was a quick way to make some extra money.

    As for JR Ward, it sounds like she tends to cave to her ardent fan base. A certain percentage have never accepted that she married off Butch & V.

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  30. Angela
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:33:13

    This was the first RT I ever went to, and unfortunately I didn’t get to be there as much as I would have liked. I was only able to get there for the signing on Saturday, which made me incredibly grateful that I could just purchase entrance to that event.

    I asked Nalini Singh about the Ghost too, and got the same answer I got right after Caressed by Ice came out. A grin and zipped lips. But I’ve asked it every single time I’ve met her lol.

    I usually get struck speechless the first time I meet the authors I fangirl over. I did it for J.R. Ward, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Anne Rice – thankfully only two of these were at this convention so I wasn’t entirely unable to speak.

    Just to add some more information, fwiw, about the Butch/Vishous thing: someone asked on her FB page if they were really having sex off page and her answer was that if it’s not happening in the books, it’s not happening, and that levity has a place where it’s good and where it’s not. Totally paraphrasing there.

    I had such a good time at RT that I’m definitely going to try and get there for the whole thing next year. I was really bummed I missed out on some panels this year. Thanks for the report!

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  31. Lisa
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:03:18

    Hotel. Yes well hmmmm. There was a kinky college girls convention there two weeks before. How do I know? Because I spilled a drink on my bed an we had an extra bed. We decided to pull the blanket from that one since we were pretty settled in. So imagine our shock when a vibrator rolled out of the second bed! That convention was TWO WEEKS EARLY per the front desk. That bed had not been change for two weeks. I think we can assume there is a lot of making up the beds and not changing them going on. We couldn’t get a manager to call us. Finally AFTER we got home we got to someone and because the front desk had documented it and sent us fresh sheets we got a discount but the fact that it took so much effort to get a manager was pretty amazing.

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  32. Jennifer Estep
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:57:44

    I thought it was nice that RT let folks buy day passes. Like Shiloh said, it’s easier on the wallet. I also thought the YA Alley was a good idea. Hopefully, the kids who read YA will grow up to read romance.

    I also did a YA speed reading event where several authors got up and read excerpts from their books. I thought that was a really cool way to introduce readers to several authors at once and let them get a feel for the author’s books/writing style.

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  33. Jane
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:06:03

    @Lisa – wow, that’s terrible!

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  34. MaryK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:40:58

    Nalini Singh seems so awesome. I’d love to meet her. I’d love to attend an RT con and “view” all the authors (‘cuz I wouldn’t know what to say to them!).

    Jane, it sounds like you might’ve really damaged your mean girl status. Or possibly changed “mean” for “crazy.” :D *See my parentheses above. LOL

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  35. MaryK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:57:09

    @library addict:

    I am not an author, but I would think they would mainly enjoy their fact their work connects to readers and those readers are able to argue about the world they’ve created means they’ve connected on multiple levels.

    Yeah, that. I couldn’t figure out how to say it. If readers are arguing about plot points, they’re really believing in the world the author built. Not sure how authors feel about that. :)

    Just found the photo page:
    I don’t get the cover model craze, but I have to admit Angela Knight’s model with the glasses is quite appealing.

    I remember seeing a photo from somebody of an ereader skin with lots of signatures on it. That’s an awesome idea. If I ever get to a convention, I’m totally doing that.

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  36. Deb Kinnard
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:05:19

    I liked RT, and I lovedlovedloved the way the conference allowed us lesser known authors to link up with readers. The public event made my week. The “no meals unless you’re lucky or have a car” thing, not so much.

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  37. MaryK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:07:07

    @Ros Clarke: A lot of Romance and UF authors seem to have written YA as well. Maybe their young fans started seeking them out at RT, and RT has played that up?

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  38. Susan
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 15:11:07

    Great photos, Jane. Will you be captioning them at some point? (In your spare time. You know, in between sitting around eating bonbons and massages.)

    Sue Grafton was there? Squee.

    Someone else mentioned LKH’s bodyguard(s). I think she has hers almost fulltime, not just for signings, conventions, and the like. Part of me want to snort, but part of me thinks it’s really sad if something creepy/scary prompted it.

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  39. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 20:59:37

    I will give hints about it and talk about it verbally, but it won’t be on the page… because too many people would hate it.

    Seriously? Wow, that just about puts the final nail in the Ward coffin for me. In other words, I’m going to play both sides so everyone can think what they like, and I won’t get any homophobic hate mail, and I can eat all my cake and still have it there to look at. Blech.

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  40. Nicola O.
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 23:28:47

    Thanks so much for the link!

    Personally, I think Ward is a total hoot and don’t really get the outcry one way or another about what fictional characters may or may not be doing “offstage” in Ward’s head. Her talk was dynamic and fun and she seemed to really be having a great time. She did backtrack later, so I guess that means you (the general you) can believe whatever you prefer.

    Ward has some freaky fans. I spent some time on her message boards and I gotta say, I’d have a body guard too if I were her.

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