"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘RT Booklovers Convention’ Category

2015 RT Convention: A Newbie’s Perspective

Two weeks ago I attended the 2015 RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas, Texas, with my fellow book-loving cousin and aspiring author, Kim.  Neither one of us had attended an event like this before, so part of the fun was not having any expectations of what it would be like.  In fact, the only thing we really knew was to bring along an extra suitcase for all the books we’d be bringing home.  I registered for the conference as a blogger, although I think the types of blogs they had in mind for that type of attendee were those that specialized in book reviews.  Rookie mistake.

The Blogger listing page in the RT Convention program

The Blogger listing page in the RT Convention program

The “RT” stands for Romantic Times, so primarily the authors and books featured were romance writers, but there were several Young Adult authors there as well.  In fact, many YA authors have romance books out there—sometimes they use a different pen name to distinguish their works between those marketed for adults.  Before attending this conference, I hadn’t realized how many subgenres fall within the romance novel umbrella, and they were all represented—from Inspirational to Erotica and everything you can imagine in between.

From the time we arrived in Dallas, it felt like events fell into place in our favor.  Our flight arrived earlier than what we’d planned, and we got to the convention in time to attend the RT Convention newbie workshop, where we learned some tips to best negotiate the conference.  Being the book nerd that I am, these authors are my rock stars; it was great to be told to be sure to seek out and talk to my favorite authors.

Kim and my obligatory selfie upon our arrival at the convention

Kim and my obligatory selfie upon our arrival at the convention

I grew up loving to read, and when I hit my teens, romance novels, especially anything that was historical romance geared towards teens, were my favorite.  There was a book series in the 80’s called Sunfire that I absolutely devoured as a teen.  All of the books featured a young heroine growing up in various historical times in American history like the Civil War, western pioneers, or the American Revolution.  Think the American Girl doll books of today with the girls growing from young teens to young women, trying to decide between suitors that represented opposite ways of life for the time period.  Only a few months ago I found a couple of my books from this series at my parents’ house and ordered a few more from Amazon.  I started re-reading them and I still think they are great reads.  When I got older, I enjoyed other types of romance books, but historical romance holds a special place in this reader’s heart.

Our goal was to attend the workshop sessions geared towards writing—and there were plenty to choose from.  Two of my favorite sessions about writing were “Oops, Your Research is Showing!” and “All Things Old Are New Again”.  The first one, which ended up having one of Emily’s favorite YA authors, Lydia Kang, on the panel, gave great information about ways to go about researching topics for your writing.  Everyone on the panel shared how their books’ storylines had aspects that required they find out specific information to ensure their novels felt authentic, without bogging down the reader with too much information.  In “All Things Old Are New Again”, the panel of authors discussed ways they continue to come up with new ideas book after book.  At this session I met Erin Knightley, who is one of my new favorite authors.  In part because she really is a gracious person who was generous with her time in talking to Kim and I, but also her books are historical romance.

In addition to the workshop sessions, there were several publisher sponsored events with opportunities to meet the authors and get free copies of their books.  These events were heavily attended, so there were a lot of lines to wait in and it could get a little overwhelming, but these events were a lot of fun.  Not that I enjoy waiting in lines, but for the most part I found interesting people to talk to in line with me.  Most of the time I would just wait in a line, not even knowing what book or author was on the end of it.  In doing so, I was introduced to various books and authors I would not have otherwise found, and I loved it.

One of the authors I met this way was I.G. Gregorio.  Her YA book, None of the Above, would have never been on my radar.  In reading the premise of the book, which is about a teenage girl who learns rather traumatically as a senior in high school that she is intersex (meaning she was born with both male and female parts), it seemed like an interesting premise that I had never really thought about before.  I didn’t want to pass it on to any of my favorite YA readers without screening it first, so I started reading it that night and I couldn’t put it down.  I finished it by the next morning.  Later, at the giant Book Fair held the last full day of the convention, I sought her out to let her know how much I enjoyed the book, which she seemed to honestly appreciate.

The Book Fair, included as part of the convention, is open to the public and draws an amazing number of book lovers.   The authors are arranged by genre in alphabetical order at huge tables.  Kim and I made it a point to meet up with authors we had met during the convention to get signed copies of their latest books.  I had a list of YA authors that Emily had asked me to look for, and I scored some big time Mom points getting her books that were signed personally to her.  After the Book Fair, we went up to our room to try to figure out how, even with the extra suitcases, we were going to get all these books home without going over the weight limit for our bags.  It wasn’t easy!

Lydia Kang, one of the authors Emily asked me to visit, was kind enough to sign Em's book and pose for a pic

Lydia Kang, one of the authors Emily asked me to visit, was kind enough to sign Em’s book and pose for a pic

This conference rekindled my love of reading as well as reminded me of how much I enjoy the writing process.  I learned so much in the various sessions about the writing and publishing world, met some great people, and was introduced to several new authors that I’m sure will become favorites.  Now if only I can find the time to get to all those books!

Here are the books I brought home with me, many of them signed by the author.

Here are the books I brought home with me, many of them signed by the author.

Advertisements

Old Year, New Year

I love, love, love the week in between Christmas and New Year’s. The pressure of Christmas is over, but the world seems to still be in holiday mode. The kids are home from school and are like formerly-famished people after a big meal with all their goodies. Work is quieter (a little) and the promise of a brand-spanking-new year looms ahead past the confetti and champagne. Oh yeah, I love this week.

Today I received an email from the lovely folks at WordPress that gave me a rundown of my stats for this past year on the blog. It was fun to see which posts got the most views. Nice to see the spammers made the top ten for commenters, too. Seeing that year in review got me excited for what’s to come for The Lighthearted Dragonfly in 2015. I officially registered for the RT Book Conference in May as a blogger. During the month of December, I took a bit of hiatus to work a little extra and get everything done for Christmas. It was nice to have that bit of a break, but now I’m ready to move forward and settle back in to what I need to do.

I’m not one to make resolutions at New Year’s, but I do like to think that each year I take a little inventory of life to see what I want to make better the following year. For both personal and professional goals, it’s gratifying to see how far I’ve gotten in the past year. I’m at a point in my life that I’m content with the life I lead—but not jaded enough to not believe in an even better next year.

May 2015 bring you closer to your dreams, whatever they may be.

 

Happy New Year!

Writing: An Expensive Hobby? Thought That Was Just Running…

I have a knack for finding seemingly cheap hobbies and making them expensive.  Let’s take running for example…a pair of shoes and some water and you’re off to conquer the road, right?  At least that’s what I thought when I first got started.  I mean, I already had work-out clothes.  So just add running shoes…oh, and a Garmin would be nice.  Cotton is rotten when it comes to socks, so I’ll need some good moisture wicking ones.  Oh, and Gu or Chomps are needed to sustain me during my long runs.  And let’s not go into how much race fees are—I actually have “Race Fees” as one of my budget categories in the family budget.

I like to think that I’m not the only one whose hobbies expand like that.  Darrell is always so sweet about indulging my hobbies.  For years I was an enthusiastic scrapbooker—not even a remotely cheap hobby.  Over the years, I’ve purchased enough paper, rubber stamps and embellishments to chronicle albums for ten families.  I still have all my supplies in the basement, along with several years of pictures that need to be put in albums.  What I don’t have is the time (or enthusiasm) to do it right now.  And so it sits, there in the corner of the basement, awaiting a time when I make it a priority again.  I’d like to think that I will someday—I just hope that I’ll be able to remember who the people are in the photographs!

Writing, another hobby that’s cheap on the surface, has also cost more over the years than one would think it could.  I’ve taken several online writing courses, bought many books about writing and now I’m gearing up to register and attend my first writing conference.  The RT Book Lovers Convention (www.rtconvention.com) is scheduled for next spring in Dallas, Texas, and my cousin, Kim and I have been planning out how we’ll be attending.  There’s a lot to take into consideration when attending—namely if I’ll attend as a blogger, reader or aspiring author (they all cost the same—a lot).  They did not have an “all of the above”, so I’ll have to decide exactly what I am.  I like to think of myself as all three, but here lately, the aspiring author in me seems to be buried deep within.  Very deep.

I started this blog as a writing outlet, and it’s been just that.  What I like most about blogging is the interaction with people—it’s almost an “instant gratification” type of thing for me.  Thanks to Facebook, I can see who “likes” my posts and read comments about them right after I write them.  There’s a certain accountability factor as well—I need to post regularly to remind people that the Lighthearted Dragonfly is still flying.   On the other hand, when I’m working on other writing, it just sits there on the computer, where no one views it but me.  I start ideas and re-work and sometimes delete them.  I stall on them. To be honest, I’m not productive with the types of writing that an “aspiring author” would have under their belt to take to a convention.  I can’t bring ten half-finished stories that I haven’t figured out how to resolve.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I started calculating the cost of attending the convention and decided to write a post about it that the image of the scrapbooks in the basement popped into my subconscious.  As someone who writes for fun, it’s one of my biggest concerns—that I’ll never finish the one story that might have someday made it to the publisher.  Instead of boxes of pictures and papers there will be loads of files with names like “Adelaide—the Misfit Psychic”.  I can’t let that happen.  Adelaide is way to cool for that.

When someone is invested financially in something, they’re more likely to hold it to a higher standard.  Take the typical teenager and their car.  Hand over a car to them, and chances are it won’t be valued as much as the car they had to save and work for themselves.  The same is true of hobbies.   I look at it this way.  Investing in a hobby—your time and your money—returns to you in a lot of ways that aren’t always tangible. My little running hobby helps me maintain my weight, developed friendships and boosts my mood.  Scrapbooking, although incomplete, documents so many family memories—again, priceless.  And then there’s writing.  I may never make a dime from the hours I’ve poured myself into pages.  But money making from it has never been my sole motivator (it’d be a great by-product!)  So I’ll go to this convention and indulge myself a little.  I’ll be surrounded by other people who love books and words and storytelling.  And hopefully come out a little more knowledgeable.  And who knows?  This little “aspiring author”, poking her head out of her shell might just join the race against the hare.

%d bloggers like this: