When I told co-workers I was headed to Las Vegas for nearly a week (5 days, to be exact), there was a whole lot of “Vegas? That long?” followed by a whole lot of head shaking. It was kind of the HR appropriate version of “kids these days.”
They were probably right. But that’s okay, because it was worth it for my annual trek to RT Booklovers Convention. RT stands for Romantic Times and is the event put on by the magazine formerly dubbed thusly. It’s now called RT Book Reviews, but the RT still stands for Romantic Times. Basically, it’s the biggest reader/author event focused on romance and genre fiction at its periphery (like the urban fantasy that is so near and dear to my heart). There are panels for readers to get to know authors and play games, trend panels for booksellers and librarians, and writing craft and marketing panels for authors and publishing industry folk.
Short story: Fun times with a bunch of people who love genre fiction, especially romance. There are also a whole lot of lounge and hallway meetups.
Since this year was in Vegas, everything was spread out. I walked an average of eight miles per day, if we trust my watch. It’s already shaming me this week, because I’m no longer tripling my walking goals. Pushy watch. I digress, lots happens at RT each year. Instead of delving into every neat event and every hilarious conversation, I’m going for a list of things others probably won’t share in their posts.
Top 3 Things I Learned at RT 2016
1. Writer doubts are real, legit, and won’t go away after you’ve sold 30 books, but it’s worth it.
Any doubts, fears, days when writing feels like a slog are a) totally normal b) something you probably won’t ever really get over and c) something that happens to the “big league” authors who have 30+ books published. I attended a panel about writing for the long haul. it was moderated by literary agent Jim McCarthy and featured three of his clients, Richelle Mead (focus of much fangirling by yours truly), Michelle Rowan/Morgan Rhodes (I really liked her YA Nightwatchers books, so I’m including her first penname) and Victoria Laurie (who I didn’t actually know, but was fun and I would be her friend if she asked).
So often craft panels become giant cheerleading sessions. It was refreshing to see these authors be honest about the fact it isn’t all sunshine, but if you stick with it during any rough patches it’s worth it. I’ve been a long-time believer that determination makes all the difference in being successful. I’m that way in my day job, and when it comes to writing. If you want something, you’ll have to work hard. When someone says no, try a new path to get to the same goal. It isn’t perfect for even those who have hit the New York Times list repeatedly, but it’s worth it.
They also talked about all the good that comes from it, too, but what made it so special to me was their candor. So to everyone trudging through a soggy middle or twiddling their thumbs while on submission, successful authors have been there.
Remember: Sticking with it is worth it.
2. How to put on liquid eyeliner.
I know you’re thinking about how I’m in my thirties and should know how to do that by now. Well, I didn’t, so let’s all be cool about that. The lovely Amanda Bonilla (aka Mandy Baxter and Kate Baxter) decided to teach me. I no longer look like a crazy lady when attempting to do so. Did I make her take me to Sephora while we were still in Vegas so I didn’t screw up my product selection? Yes, I did and I have no shame over it. (Because someone will ask: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper.)
3. Embrace the geek. All the time.
I have two words for you: Cosplay bar.
In a quest to find a fun bar, I started working my Google ninja skills. I found a listing for the Millennium Fandom. As if it didn’t already have the most awesome name ever, it was in fact a cosplay bar and listed on a Buzzfeed list of 21 Insanely Unique Bars You Need to Drink at Before You Die.
While Buzzfeed may not always be right about guessing my age or who my celebrity best friend should be, they do always correctly sort me into Slytherin on their quizzes. So, yeah, I trusted them on this one.
AND IT WAS FANTASTIC.
The bar is off the strip and tucked away next to an art gallery. Our cab driver actually struggled in locating it. Basically, it was a secret hideout that only the most awesome nerdy folk could find, and we were those people. Inside there were decorative treats from so many great fandoms including Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Marvel and DC comics, I can’t even list it all. There were pop-art painting of stormtroopers dressed up at Wonder Woman and The Flash. (You read that right: Stormtroopers in cosplay.)
They let us play with light sabers.
Amanda Bonilla, Jenn Proffitt (from Heroes & Heartbreakers), and I all had cocktails named things like “I Am Groot” and “License to Kill.”
The walls were lined with books.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was showing on TVs throughout the bar.
The owner spent lots of time talking about The Force Awakens and the Rogue One trailer with us.
We met a magician and convinced him to teach us a card trick.
Basically, it was delightful. The group consensus was we would live there if we could. Unfortunately none of us live in Las Vegas. So I’m passing this tip on to you. If you’re in Vegas, hunt down the Millennium Fandom. Totally worth the effort.
Not included on this list are the top-secret stories I was told, all the awesome books I brought home (epic giveaway coming very soon!), the quality friend time or how I told pretty much everyone to buy Molly O’Keefe’s books.