Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Buzz from RT

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Buzz Girl, Tera Lynn Childs, in Pittsburgh for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. We were both RT virgins (their term, not ours!) so we didn't really know what to expect.

After being bombarded with news about flight delays the week before, I was a bit nervous that I might get stuck somewhere obscure and never actually make it to RT. I was pleasantly surprised when my flights were all on time and arrived within five minutes of Tera's. Our baggage arrived at neighboring carousels, and within minutes, along with Sharie Kohler (Marked by Moonlight), and Kerrilyn Sparks(The Undead Next Door), we were cruising along the PA freeway to our hotel. It was almost too good to be true. Ah, life was good.

We arrived at the Pittsburgh Hilton in good spirits. We were immediately informed that the room with double beds we had requested was not available. We would have to share a king. Tera and I had shared a bed last year in Dallas, so this was no biggie, except for the fact that people were going to start talking. We dumped our stuff in our room and headed back downstairs to mingle.

Luckily, the hotel wasn't jam-packed yet, so it was just me, Tera, and Tim the ADHD bellman and his huge cart on the elevator. I'm a bit claustraphobic so I usually try and put myself in a Zen like state or just talk like crazy to distract myself. When the elevator dropped half a floor, I knew I was in trouble. When Tim started yelling and banging on the doors, I knew this elevator ride was going to end badly. Long story short, we spent an hour of our lives on an elevator with someone direly in need of Ritalin. Here we are trying to make the best of it. We did get a discounted room rate out of it.
This exhausting convention detour put a bit of a crimp in our night. We ended up at dinner at The Pub but were too tired for the Ellora's Cave party. It pains me when I think of all the hard bodies in nothing but white pants and black suspenders that I missed out on seeing. But not to worry because the rest of the convention was a blur of muscle shirts and tight jeans.
We spent Thursday chatting with fans, booksellers, librarians, and the coolest reviewer ever, Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, at Club RT. Tera gave out tons of her cute little buttons promoting OH. MY. GODS. We were then treated to a Mexican lunch and a fancy little skit with a real-life hanging. It was sort of scary. Even scarier, two thousand women eating a Mexican dinner and two bathrooms. I'm not making this stuff up, people.

Thursday afternoon, Tera and I, along with Mari Mancusi, Liz Maverick, Paula Chase, Shelly Adina, and Melissa Marr, dazzled the conventioneers at our two YA panels. Okay, I don't know if we dazzled them, but nobody left, which is always a good sign. We celebrated at a restaurant near the hotel called Palomino, where I had a delectable drink called a Vanilla Sky and a wood-fired pizza. YUM.

Thursday night was the Faerie Ball. Getting a seat at a table turned into a contact sport. We finally found one and spent the night admiring all the hard work that went into transforming the ballroom into an underwater wonderland. We had on more glitter than should be legal. Isn't my seaweed boa adorable?

Friday morning started off with the Stud Muffin mixer. How can the day not go well when muffins and studs are involved? Even though we had been there for two days, I still felt like a rubbernecker every time a Mr. Romance Contestant walked by. We spent the morning in workshops and the afternoon at another luncheon. This luncheon was particularly exciting, not just because of the awesome chocolate cake they served, but because our friend, Helen Scott Taylor, won the American Title Competition by Dorchester. Her book, The Magic Knot, will be out in February 2009. Here is a picture of me, Tera, Helen, and her gorgeous daughter, Katherine. No, we don't normally wear blood and black lipstick, but this was for the Vampire Ball.
We broke out the white powder, black lipstick, and tons of black eyeliner for the Vampire Ball. Tera, Sharon Kohler, and I, shared a table with Charlotte Featherstone, Kristina Cook, and some other nice women and had a great time. The decorated ballroom was truly undead. The band was great and we even did some dancing. We got a little bolder and snapped some pictures. Here we are with thriller writer, Barry Eisler (Requiem for an Assassin), who I'm pretty sure was the only man at RT who wasn't wearing a muscle tee at some point. And just in case you are like my husband and wondering if Barry gave me a hickey, rest assured, those are just my vampire bites. Barry was a perfect gentleman. Well, except that crap he pulled ditching us in line and getting VIP seating. But we forgave him and promised him that he wouldn't have nearly as much competition at RWA.
Here are some gratuitous man candy shots.

Sharie Kohler, me, John something, and Tera. John was voted Most Roided Out Guy. Ha, just kidding, John. Please don't squash me like a bug.
I'm embarrassed to admit how long we chased this guy. He didn't do it for me but he seemed really nice. His name is Chris Winters and he won the Mr. Romance competition. Yeah, Chris.

The guy that stood out from the beginning for me was James Gaskin. See below where I'm blushing like a stupid fan girl and he is baring his fangs a bit. Be still my heart. It was more than just looks though. James had a shyness about him that was so endearing to me. He is the guy every girl wants to end up with. The smart ones anyway. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so because he ended up taking 2nd place but he took 1st place in the online voting. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't get my vote in on time. Sorry, James.

Here Tera and I are with another Mr. Romance contestant, Luke Walsh. Luke was extremely energetic. The dude in the mask is my fav, James, who ducked in the picture at the last minute and nearly made me faint.
Saturday was the giant booksigning, and even though I had to sit next to Kim Harrison and feel like a giant loser, it went off without a hitch. Almost. At exactly two o'clock, when the booksigning was ending, the power went off. And apparently there were no emergency generators. Luckily, almost everyone had a cell phone that they could pop open to illuminate their way out. But I got to meet Mark Henry (Happy Hour of the Damned) and Lois Greman (too many to name) whose son is a total hottie.

All in all, it was a great conference. I would love to go to Orlando next year, as long as we aren't staying at the Hilton!




TinaFerraro said...

OMG, I'm so jealous! This looks like a blast. Orlando next year, huh? I'll pencil it in.

By the way, TLC and Steph, your make-up in these pictures looks stunning. And I'm not normally one who notices those kinds of things. Which one of you is the make-up artist?

Anonymous said...

Ah, the memories! Soooo fun. Great recap, Steph.

And all those studly guys? Actually better looking in person, yep!

I might have to make it a priority every year now.


Wendy Toliver said...

I totally feel like I was there! Great pix! I wish I could go to a vampire ball. ;) You all look so wonderful.

Me said...

Brilliant recap, Steph! RT was soooo much fun. At first I was scared--then we got trapped in the elevator and I figured it could only get better from there. I've already re-upped for next year.

And I must point out the Mr. Roided Out is a trainer at my critique partner's gym. We saw him this morning! It was way weird to see him with, well, clothes on. =)

At some point (not this week, because I have a super secret surprise planned) I will post the note the hotel sent us with the please-don't-sue-us champagne. It's priceless.

Anonymous said...

i never realized how much beef would be at a romance convention. sounds like i missed A LOT. was there a speedo competition?

sounds like you had fun. i love the elevator story. did you all jump in the air like in you've got mail? lol and the use of cell phones to light the way. been there, done that.

i wish i had seen your shy, schoolgirl reaction in person. so cute. bring all your pics to the book club meeting. if there are some "secret" pics, i won't tell. lol.

KrisLeet said...

All I have been hearing about at work is, "Oh my God you should have seen the muscles." This is followed by a very loud squeal. My friends that went were able to take pictures with a more lion like version of Fabio which made their day. They were also gushing about how Stephanie was really awesome, and rubbed it in that I totally couldn't go. It sounds like all in all the trip went well...HUZZAH!

Trish Milburn said...

Oh, so it was you two who were in the elevator when it dropped. I kept hearing about it but was beginning to think it was conference urban legend. :)

Sorry I didn't make it to the YA panels. I had them on my agenda, but then my agent arrived and we talked business. I'm sure you all were fabulous!

Marley Gibson said...

Love the update and the photos! Thanks for letting us be there with you.

Can you tell us what kind of questions you guys got on the YA panel?

Anonymous said...

Gret update! I've always wanted to go to RT. I'll have to go next year. I've always been scared to go by myself. Lynda refuses to go with me. LOL.

Kristina Springer said...

Wow-- that sounded like so much fun! I'm totally jealous!

Gerb said...

OMG Barry Eisler. I sooo love him. Color me completely jealous. Fabulous pictures.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Oh wow! Sounds so fun, although I missed you at this year's Spring Fling, I have to say there were not hot guys like THAT hanging out in Deerfield... well, OK, one cutie bartender named Alfonso! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Barry Eisler is cute! I haven't had an insta-crush like this in years and years. And he's NOT a romance novel cover model? Why not?