It’s Saturday, the day RT plans to deliver a very full Teen Day Program and a FAN-tastic (get it? FAN-fastic? Ok, fine you got it right away; it took me six hours) Day Program. The conference attendance is about to shake up—those of us with full week badges are about to be joined by hundreds more Weekend Pass holders.
If I thought the hotel and lobby were crowded on Friday…
But, the good news is, it’s a lighter day for me. No courses, no “formal” learning (the informal, life-and-encounter delivered lessons, of course, continue). In fact, all I have to do today is the FAN-Tastic Day Author Day Party in the late afternoon. It’s my only toe-in-the-water author event of RT that I’m doing as an author.
The event, like every other party at RT, sounds a little over the top, and it’s hard for me to imagine what it will be like. I know I’m supposed to bring swag (I don’t have any) and I can give away books (I have a few), and I know I’ll be sharing a table with one to four other authors (but what does that mean?), and I know I’m only in the room for 45 minutes (I can do that), but I don’t know anything else. Like, for example—will anybody care to stop by me? Nobody knows me. I have no US fan base at all.
OMG. Suppose nobody stops by me? I’m going to stand there, all alone, a pathetic doofus, and I’ll probably cry.
OK, all better.
(This is why I meditate, btw.)
The flagship event of the day is the Giant Book Fair.
THE GIANT BOOK FAIR
I mean… so giant… I can’t even begin to tell you…
I gave you a glimpse yesterday, remember?
That’s the size and scope of the room that will soon house as many as 600 signing authors and… they think 3,000, 3,500, maybe more fans.
Here are the fans checking in:
…three hours before the doors open!
…and here’s the line-up 1.5 hours before the doors open:
…and here a picture of something just… weird:
So here’s the thing. A room full of 600 authors and 3,500 fans? We have just described my hell. Truly. I can’t go in there.
Fortunately, I don’t have to go in there: I’m not signing at this one. I would like to pop in and say hi to new friends and old favourites… but I can’t do this line. Or the crowd.
(Breathing and meditation only take you so far.)
So. I remember that this is my second novel’s launch week, and the poor thing hasn’t been out of the hotel room at all, and so I take it for a walk (self-indulgent slide show; go slow to indulge me, keep on reading if you don’t care about how good Consequences looks with snippets of Atlanta streetscape in the background ;P):
(and in the process get a brilliant marketing idea. Do you see what it is?)
Fifteen minutes before the
GIANT BOOK FAIR
closes, and most of the hordes of fans are in the line-ups for next mega-events, I sneak into the room, and do a little bit of reconnaissance—chatting with authors about their experience of the fair. I learn a lot—I’ll tell you about it another time. What I really want to do is to go all fan girl on you again. But first, let me show you what the room looked like when it was no longer “busy”:
Still pretty full, eh? But I got this. Happily, the first person I see is Beth Kery:
Beth (visit her at BethKery.com) writes contemporary romance that’s heavy on the emotions and—says the review on the back of one of the Spanish language books I snagged in the Goody Room on Day 3—“hotter than an atomic bomb.” And, her newest book, Behind the Curtain, released on May 2, just like Consequences! Coincidence?
Yes, total coincidence.
Still. A cool coincidence, right?
Amy lures me over by waving her swag. It’s a coaster. I don’t want a coaster (although coasters are cool)–I don’t want swag–I’m not quite sure I want to talk to Amy, because… ok, you get this, right? This OCD-hyper-energy diary notwithstanding, I’ve been out of my comfort zone in a big way for five days, and I am running out of stamina.
But Amy waves her coaster and I go to it like a moth to a flame.
I don’t think it’s about the coaster, tho. I think it’s about Amy. She exudes… warmth. I ask her a few dumb questions (about author-working-RT stuff), and she gives lovely, patient answers. I take her swag and make a note to look up her books when I have a moment, So now I can tell you that,
A. Amy believes in “Wuv, Twu Wuv” and “she writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together,” and
B. Swag has a purpose. “It’s a way of making contact with people,” Amy says. “Right? It’s not about the coaster. It’s about starting the conversation.”
And–remembering the conversation. Right?
And then I see the giant line-up leading to Sylvia Day… and I don’t have anything for her to sign, but hey, Charlaine Harris just signed my badge, maybe Sylvia would too… but, line up. Canadian. Can’t do it.
Seriously. They’d revoke my citizenship. I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to stand in line. It’s probably in the Bill of Rights.
But I sidle closer and closer to Sylvia, and then I see Sonali Dev!
Sonali writes Bollywood romance. Need I say more? Find out more at sonalidev.com.
OK, this is as close as I get to Sylvia Day:
Whatever. She’s not that great.
I so want to be her when I grow up.
But, hey, look: Alysia Constantine! I snap a pic of my favourite book of 2016 just as Alysia’s packing up:
Alysia thinks I’ll like her next book, Olympia Knife, coming in November 2017, even better.
It’s possible. But Sweet was… so fucking delicious. (It just got an even sweeter-than-mine review that Alysia shared on her blog: check it out!)
Anyway. I spot Cameron Allie—she’s the one who won Iris Bolling‘s basket, remember? And did that author spotlight on me a few weeks back? She also has a new release this week—and I snap a pretty fab pic of her with her trilogy, and mine her for information. How was the fair? Did she sell anything? How many books did she sign? Was it worth it? (She’s very patient with me. Everyone is.)
And then I see… Cherry Adair.
Fan girl hat back ON.
For those of you who don’t know (how can you not know?), Cherry Adair writes romantic suspense—which I don’t usually read, but I love her—and she’s probably one of the hardest working authors around. Her butt’s in the writing chair five to seven hours a day, and when she’s not writing, she’s telling other writers how to get that butt in their writing chair.
This is the definitive Cherry Adair quote:
“Sit your butt in the chair and write. There’s no magic to it. Writing is hard work. It isn’t for sissies or whiners.”
Soul-sister. Idol. Mentor.
She’s running this contest right now, Finish the Damn Book, with the most ridiculously generous of prizes:
She tells me to connect with her on Facebook, so that she can mentor me for real as opposed to just in my imagination.
I do this creepy gurgle thing. I swear, at this conference, I’m like a 15-year-old girl at her first rock concert. Except every rock star is inviting me back stage.
(Except Sylvia Day. Whatever. I don’t care.)
(I should have stood in the damn line.)
And suddenly… fatigue.
Seriously, I’ve done nothing all day. I ran away from a big line, went for a walk, and I’ve spent maybe 20 minutes at the GIANT BOOK FAiR. And suddenly—I can barely keep my eyes open.
So you know what I do? Take a nap. And skip A Southern Affair with the Random Penguin (they want to be called Penguin Random House, but Random Penguin is what all most of their authors call them, hee hee hee). And also Frankly My Dear, Bang, Bang! a thriller and suspense author party. And also Linda Lael Miller’s Rhinestone Cowgirl Reader Party (I’m ok with that—I’m from Calgary, remember, and we have this thing called the Calgary Stampede—I’ll tell you about it in July—anyway, point: I get my fill of Rhinestone Cowgirls every July and never need any more). But I do pop into the tail end of the Passionflix Reader Party to notice that they’ve given out all the attendees glowing cowboy hats.
Wait, maybe that was from the Rhinestone Cowgirl Party.
OK, that makes more sense…
But let me tell you about Passionflix quick: Passionflix is going to be a movie streaming service for romance fans. OK, that’s all I’ve got because I’ve missed the presentation. Streaming. Romance. Movies. I think that covers it all. ;P
I’m starting to panic a little because it’s almost time to for my one working event of the conference, the FAN-tasting Author Day Signing Party.
I swing by the bar to chill my nerves and bump into Nancee Cain and a few of her friends from the Alabama chapter of the Romance Writers of America. We talk swag and fan strategies. Strangely, that doesn’t relax me at all. I have no swag. I have… ten books? Maybe less? Because I’ve only arrived with 20, and I’ve handed out a few, and I don’t actually know that anyone would want a book from me, because, you know, they don’t know me, and…
Fuck, I’m totally hyperventilating and sweating and panicking and I need to go up to my hotel room and put on more deodorant because I smell like fear.
In the elevator, I start chatting with Christine Ludwick. About the line-ups. And the crazy. And the swag.
And I tell her that I’m conscientiously and consciously NOT collecting swag—but I had really wanted to Sylvia Day rolling tote bag that went to the first 600 attendees of the GIANT BOOK FAIR. Clearly, I didn’t want it enough to stand in line with that intrepid 600… but it was the one piece of swag that I’m mildly regretful about.
“Do you want mine?” she says.
“Do you want mine? I have so much stuff—I really don’t need another bag. And I already have one form another conference.”
I demur. She insists.
I ask her if I can give her a book for it. She’s thrilled.
“Something dirty, something complicated, or something funny?” I asks.
She plops for something funny, and so, I get the bag:
…and she gets the printers’ proof of Cherry Pie Cure:
…and becomes the first reader in the whole wide world to own and read a paperback of Cherry Pie Cure. (I haven’t even read through the proof yet.)
A win-win-win situation.
Especially, when, a little bit later, I get this tweet from her:
Sweet. Best possible review, right?
So it’s on that high note that I go to the FAN-tastic Author Signing. Which is insane.
But as we authors trudge through a line-up of our own towards check in, I’m two people back from Charlaine Harris (THE Charlaine Harris!), who’s trudging in the same line, and I feel like I’ve arrived. You know? Totally irrational I know. But such a good feeling.
Then an RT staffer comes and pulls Charlaine and the other “featured authors” (yes, Sylvia Day is one of them; Jennifer Armentrout is another—oh, and there’s Shayla Black, and Alyssa Cole, and Lorraine Heath… Erin Nicholas… Alexa Riley… OMFG, do you know what I just realized? I can say I’ve done a co-signing with Charlaine Harris and Sylvia Day! I mean, there we are, all in the same room! Ok, I’m feeling ridiculous and giddy. Help.)
We get into the room. It’s a mosh pit. There are people—fans—everywhere. They’re playing a treasure hunt game—they’re supposed to collect a variety of stamps of different colours (we authors are all colour-coded)—a nice gesture to ensure they’re motivated to swing by the likes of me, for example, instead of all swarming Sylvia Day and Charlaine Harris.
K. I got this.
My table mate is Marilyn Kelly, who writes sexy historical romances. You can check her out at MarilynKelly.net. Also, look:
…is it not obvious we both like it hot? Anyway, Marilyn and I work it like mad. People come, we stamp, and we woo. “What do you read?” we ask. If they say historical, I engage them with Marilyn. If they say contemporary, she points at my books. When I’ve got them looking at my stuff, I ask if they like it dirty, complicated, or funny.
She likes it funny:
She wanted the dirty one:
…and she went for complicated without a hesitation:
When they say “paranormal,” we think, “Fuck!” and point them to another table. Sometimes, they want to know what we’re peddling anyway. 😉
(I think it’s because we’re so cute and our outfits rock.)
My books disappear too quickly, and then I’m down to business cards and taking pictures of happy people.
Look, it was this lovely’s 40th birthday, and Marilyn Kelly gave her the only copy she had of her “choose your own adventure book,” All The Boys I’ve Kissed:
And look at this fan girl’s crazy haul:
Or this delirious book nerd:
(Hey, have you ever noticed how delirious and delicious are almost the same word? How did that happen? Do they share a root? Things to nerd-google later…)
This RT Veteran finished the author treasure hunt at our table:
And then, two sisters, Monique and Colette, swing by our table just to chat, and Colette and I have an immediate “OMG! You have my name, but the opposite!” (I did mention I’m giddy? And I haven’t eaten all the day? Yeah?) and we decide to make a Monique sandwich.
Wait, that sound very wrong. We take a selfie. With Monique in the middle.
Aint’ we cute?
And then I totally and completely want to do this:
But I also need to eat… and I so want to go to Heather Graham’s Dancing Dead Southern-Style Dinner Theatre…
…and it’s my last night in Atlanta, and I so want to go dancing…
…and I so don’t want to see or talk to any person ever again, or at least not for an hour…
…and I so want to sleep…
…but I should eat…
I drag myself to the Turkish restaurant across the street and am unforgivably rude to the waiter when he tries to banter.
I apologize. “I’m just so fried.”
He brings me strong Turkish tea with two sugar cubes.
I leave him an outrageous tip.
K. WILL. GO. TO. HEATHER. GRAHAM’S PARTY. IF IT KILLS ME.
It’s a costume party, btw. Check it out:
…and that’s all I got. Because I can barely hold the camera in my hand. Because I have half a dozen Heather Graham books in my arms.
Also, I’m really, really tired.
The young ‘uns and the die-hard ‘uns are in the bar, and there are still so many people I should—I want to meet, but I can’t.
I am done.
Like, so done:
And… lights out.
May 6, 11:39 p.m.
Need to catch up?
Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 5: Fans Gone Wild (you are here)
Day 6: 359 days until Reno!
Let me do this properly.
She says, among other things:
The author herself (whom I recently met at a book conference) hands out business cards that read “I write erotica for smart people,” which translates to this novel being gentler, more emotionally complex, more subtle and less flatly pornographic than what passes for “erotica” in most fiction/film …
In fact, I’d call this “feminist erotica” (and here I can’t remember if Colette refers to her work as such, but I certainly would), in that it does not rely on dehumanizing the participants for its effects. In fact, the narrator and the women with whom she deals are allowed to be relentlessly human: confused, inarticulate about their feelings at times, proud, sometimes in the wrong, sometimes behaving badly, but still stubbornly doing it, complex, sympathetic, smart-and-stupid, real women.
Plus, they’re too old and their bodies too lived-in to be porn vixens. Zia, the ex-wife who comes closest to being a villain in this story, is given the same attention and intelligence in her portrayal: the reader understands her more as a complex, angry, hurt, relatively powerless woman trying the only avenues she knows to get what she needs, rather than as a villain. I think of her more as the narrator’s antagonist; she’s the fly in the ointment, sure, but a sympathetic fly.
Full review on AlysiaConstantine.com.
IN YYC? HAVE A ONE-NIGHT (ART) STAND WITH ME
Thursday, June 8: I’m performing in Ignite Festival’s SLEAZE night—“an outrageous one night stand of all things sex, excess, gender blender/blending/identifying, 18+, and over the top sex pop flare.” The fabulous, amazing burlesque dancer Keely Kamikaze will be reading excerpts from Tell Me and Consequences… in the costume she wears for her Naked Girls Reading performances, and Calgary spoken word poet Kathrine Holm and I will be presenting POProtica–our very sexy interpretation of pop-up poetry and prose that will take my #3littlewords game off the Internet into REAL LIFE.
Also, I’ll be providing Dirty Listening Stations so you can have a… private moment with the more… intimate… aspects of my work.
IN YCC OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?
Find me here: