RT 2015: A Mini Wrap Up (mostly about books)
— FreshFiction (@FreshFiction) May 12, 2015
This is the fifth or sixth RT I have attended. The conference of today is dramatically different than the conference that existed when I started attending. When I began attending, the conference was highly sexualized, with a focus on cover models and shirtless men. You could barely go anywhere without bumping into a cover model, many of them uncovered.
I see the rise of the cover model focused indie signings and the corresponding problems. Long time romantic times goers knows that these sorts of highly sexualized events and only end poorly. While I’m not a prude, the proliferation of these men and the focus on it made the romance genre easy targets and I was glad to see RT pull back.
The focus at RT is on books and authors and readers. It has become more professional, offering more writer tracks and more industry events, but it is still a reader convention. Most of the major publishers hosted fan oriented events including the many FAN-tastic Day parties.
While I didn’t go, I heard that the Harlequin party was smashing and that they had a camera set up that allowed you to get your photo taken as if you were on the cover of a Harlequin Presents novel. (If someone has pics of this, send them to me!) Harlequin wasn’t the only one to use the green screen function as well. The Taste of Texas Rodeo sponsored by Grand Central and St Martin’s Press had a mechanical bull. There was a steampunk party with fantastical costumes and, of course, parties that required no dressing up at all like the New Adult pajama party.
During the day there are panels, not just for authors, but for readers. Publishers gave spotlights and authors collected together to talk about serious topics like diversity in romance and not so serious topics such as the Friday 11:00 “Books, Booze & More”.
RT is a time for readers to commune with other readers and meet many of their favorite authors. What did I do? I ate a lot. I give two thumbs up to Meddlesome Moth in the Design District. I ate there twice—once for dinner and once for lunch. It was a highlight. Their baratta is delicious. About the only thing I didn’t like was the pork cheeks. They were curiously flavorless but everything else was amazing such as the bacon with funnel cake. Lord…but I digress.
The conference started out with BloggerCon. This is the third year in a row that Sarah and I have held this event. It was partially sponsored by Playster (which is a subscription service) and Harlequin (publisher of awesome books). Lynda brought these amazing buttons for all the bloggers to pin to their badges.
There were three things that bloggers wanted to know about: building an audience, making money, and working with publicists and authors. We also talked about blog tours and website design and the dreaded negative review. One new blogger admitted that she was worried about writing negative reviews because she loved authors and wanted to treat them with respect. We assured her that writing negative reviews could be respectful but that her audience wasn’t authors but readers and that some authors would never be happy—no matter the grade or the review—but that most would understand her point of view.
I really enjoyed the website design discussion led by Emily of Wax Creative. She talked a lot about timeliness and timelessness of content and how your blog should showcase both. It gave me ideas on restructuring Dear Author to highlight our most desirable content—for new and returning readers.
After discussions with various editors and publicists, I heard that these books should be on my radar:
- Make You Burn by Megan Crane. This is the first in a series of four books featuring the Deacons of Bourbon Street. Published by Loveswept, this is a gritty and hot motorcycle club series. I actually read this book Thursday night when I stayed in (tired and worn out). I have thoughts about it. Lots of them. In fact, the next couple of days I went around to different bloggers telling them to read it and then email me their thoughts.
- The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert. This is queued up on my Kindle. The publicist and editor I spoke to said it was different than her previous stuff so I’m excited to read it.
- The Hacker series by Meredith Wild. I’m on the fence about this series but the Forever/Grand Central folks tell me that each one is an easy and quick read and that the final entry into the series is in the publishing house right now. One of the DA commenters was not a fan though.
- Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe. (No cover yet which is why there is one image missing) This is the first in a duo logy but they are being published back to back so the wait isn’t long. The heroine is on the run (I think from an abusive relationship) and she ends up renting a trailer. She hears a phone ring from the cushions of this rented trailer. When she answers it, she discovers a man on the other end of the line. The man tells her that in the past, all the occupants have kept an eye on the older man two or three trailers down. The conversation sets off a spark that turns into a fire. I haven’t read it but I’m excited to. I only have the paper copy though so I’m waiting for when the NetGalley widget gets loaded.
- Asking for It by Lilah Pace. Pace is edited by my editor, Cindy Hwang, but it’s a book that was on most blogger’s tongues at the bloggercon and throughout the conference. In fact, I think Erin Galloway, the Berkley publicist, was in danger of being assaulted when she said admitted that the ARCs to Begging for It would be available soon. Asking for It is a rape fantasy book. It’s an introspective look at the fantasy, how a woman lays claim to it and her own personal recovery. I thought it was just terrific and so did many other bloggers.
- Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey. I loved this one. It’s about Lydia Kincaid’s return to her home town and the arms of her family. She’s the ex-wife of a firefighter but finds a connection with her older brother’s best friend. It was catnip for me.
- One Cut Deeper by Joely Sue Burkhart. This one is actually for sale right now! Angela James recommended it to me, but I had trouble with the first 20%. Mel from SM Book Obsessions then texted me and said it was one of her favorite reads of the year. So I went back and tried again and I ended up loving it. It, like the Pace book, is more about what happens in the headspace than the body because the brain is the biggest sex organ any one has. I love when erotic romances focus on that aspect. It’s always 100 times hotter and more interesting.
- Deadly Strain by Julie Rowe. This is not a paranormal romance like I originally thought but a cross between a medical romance + suspense + sexy adventure. The heroine is a trauma surgeon who tries hard not to fall for her bodyguard, a weapons sergeant.
- The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter. I heard a ton of good things about Showalter’s contemporary series—that she’s really found a deeper well of characterization in her romances. The Closer You Come features a hearing impaired heroine. I plan to read that one after the Katee Robert’s book.
At the giant book fair, I bought three books for my daughter including the male/male bent fairytale “The Rules of Ever After” by Killian B Brewer. Brewer was sitting next to Patricia Burroughs when Angela James and I strolled by. Angela picked up the book and Patricia told us that we should buy it. A nervous Killian Brewer gave us the pitch—“What happens when Prince Charming falls in love with Prince Charming.” My daughter has read half of it and was audibly giggling and reading me passages Monday night.
Oh and I forgot. iBooks representatives met with bloggers to talk about increased presence on blogs. They suggested, based on my metrics, that I move iBooks to the second button in the row under reviews and new releases and the like. I think I’m going to do that. If you’d like to sign up, here’s the affiliate link (there’s no kickback for me if you sign up. I’m just providing the information). You get paid 7% based on anything in the iTunes store. I joked with one blogger that we’ll have to start promoting the most expensive things in the store like every compilation ever. Star Wars anyone?
If you have any questions, hit me up!