Surviving the Convention

covermodelEven though I’ve been to BEA (Book Expo America) quite a few times, I wasn’t prepared for the RT convention this year. Although they both revolve around books and finding the right book for the right reader, they are markedly different.

BEA is geared to publishers and booksellers with very few sessions aimed at readers. It’s staid and business-like, very organized and not given to much fun and frivolity.

RT? Laissez les bons temps rouler, baby!

Here’s a quick overview of the event :

The cover models, particularly C. J. Hollenbach, were a delight at the Cover Model Sock Hop on Tuesday night. They were charming and funny despite how unorganized the event was.

Imagine your first formal date or an awkward night at the prom, and you have some idea of the “guests” at the sock hop sitting around while the cover models stood at their stations with no one getting together.

While a few attendees were coerced into dancing with the models, we left an hour into the two-hour event when it didn’t look like the evening was going to take off.

saladTo give you an idea of how inundated everyone was with book covers, take a look at the hallway floor outside the elevators (right) and at the wall art in the elevator itself (left).floor

My daughter (see above with C. J.) and I joked every time that we got into the elevator with that particular poster that we’d had our salad for the day.

Speaking of elevators, we happened to run into Charlaine Harris in one and Lee Child in another. Harris was charming even though a trio of fans were jumping around squealing in the tight, enclosed space. Child, on the other hand, either wasn’t recognized or his fans were quieter around him.

The hallmark of the convention, however, were the long lines at the most popular events. My daughter and I arrived late at one of the supernatural panels that Harris was leading and joined the wall-huggers because all the seats were taken. Again we left early because standing for over an hour wasn’t very fun.

With a packed hotel lobby, SRO author events, and vendors of books and everything book-related (tee-shirts, jewelry, bookmarks, and such), an air of excitement and fun permeated the hallways and event rooms.

The bottom line seemed to be that organization wasn’t everything. The week really was all about romance.

–Pat Henshaw

6 thoughts on “Surviving the Convention

  1. What a bummer that they didn’t organize the sock hop better! It was really sweet of those guys to be there and it had to be as awkward for the models as for the fans.

    Sounds like you had a good time though. :-)

  2. I didn’t have a conversation with any of the cover models (nor was I at the sock hop) but, at the events I attended, they seemed to be taking everything in stride. I have to admit, though, I didn’t make an effort to engage them because I felt a little awkward about it. Funny thing, if they were good looking male authors, I probably wouldn’t have felt as reticent. Something about being at the event because you pose sexily for book covers in an effort to attract me to buy the book feels weird for me in the flesh. But I have to say, they all seemed like very nice people.

    As for organization, I think everyone was overwhelmed by the number of people who attended RT this year. I suspect New Orleans was a big draw as I came across many people for whom this was a first time experience … including me. I suspect that Dallas will not be as inundated, which might be a good thing as it will make things more manageable. However, if Vegas is indeed the location for 2016, all bets are off — no pun intended.

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