Tag Archives: Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention

Cavemen, Cover Models, Strangers and Boobs…It’s All Good!

Well, as you know if you’ve been following our blogs, most of the BMG’s are in Pittsburgh this week for the Romantic Times Conference.  We have been working our tails off doing promo, setup, tear-down, decorating, networking, workshops, and trying not to leave the hotel with an overstock of Buttershots.  Dirty job, but someone has to do it. 

Can you imagine…when we arrived the hotel had NO Buttershots.  What the hell were they thinking?  We made sure well in advance that it was specifically listed in the conference BDO, but someone apparently didn’t take it seriously enough.  You get six Butterscotch Martini Girls and enthusiastic readers who love to try new things all in the same spot with no Buttershots and…well, let’s just say it’s not pretty.  LOL  But we did manage to find some substitutions that got us through until the hotel realized we were dead serious and managed to finally get in a shipment of Buttershots.  The booze arrived on Thursday and this is Saturday so by now, we have ALL of the bartenders trained on the art of Butterscotch Martini-making.  Woo Hoo!!!

And yes, as Cassie mentioned yesterday, I am apparently still wearing a sign on my back that I can’t see.  My family used to tease me that it said, “If you’re weird, I’m in love,” implying that I attracted the strangest boyfriends.  And they were pretty much right at the time, as I generally managed to attract someone with either no job, no home, or no car…often, none of the above.  But I’m getting better…just, apparently, not completely free of the curse.

This time it happened yesterday morning in the restaurant.  I started out fairly safely when I joined Dani and Carol for breakfast.  They had arrived first and were almost finished when I joined them.  So halfway through my meal, they paid their bill and left me there alone to finish my coffee…here’s where it starts to get strange.

I’m sitting there finishing my coffee and a woman walks up to the table.  The restaurant isn’t really very crowded, so the tables around me are empty, which makes it fairly obvious that she’s there to talk to me.  I look up and she’s just standing there staring at my 3 empty chairs.  I’m wondering if she wants to borrow one and why when I smile and say, “Hi.”

She replies, “Hello,” as she stands there smiling and glancing at my chairs.

I wait.

Finally, she says, “I’m just looking around for a perfect stranger to sit with.”

Okay, I’ve never heard that one before…so I stare for a minute trying to figure out if this one just got off the short bus.  She looks safe enough.  I kind of squinch up my eyes and repeat after her, “You’re looking for a perfect stranger to sit with?”

She nods and smiles, but doesn’t offer any more information.

Okay, my “weirdo alarm” is starting to honk, but I ignore it because I’m bound and determined to be polite to everyone.  So I gesture toward the chair and say, “Well, you’re welcome to sit with me if you’d like.  I’m not perfect, but I’m about as strange as they come.”

She visibly relaxes and plops into the chair.  “Thanks.”

Alrighty then…now, what to say to a woman who walks through restaurants alone in strange towns looking for perfect strangers to sit with?  I have no clue.  So I decide she’s the one looking for strangers…let her come up with a topic.  Fortunately, she had no problem doing just that.

As it turns out, we had a very fun chat and she turned out to be a lovely woman who is welcome to share my table any time.  Of course, next time I won’t be a stranger any more, so it might not work.  Anyway, in the end, we both met someone new, had an enjoyable cup of coffee/breakfast break, and did not have to sit at the table alone reading a book.  Woo Hoo…

Now, another great story is the boob tale…man, are there boobs at a romance writer’s conference!  Who knew?  But this tale starts with the costume contest the night of the Faery Ball when a woman showed up in an old time costume that looked like it might have come from a Renaissance Festival…and did she have some jugs on her!  The corset she was wearing pushed those puppies up until they were pointing straight out in front of her and they were flat on the bottom and very, very jiggly on top.  Then, to make matters even stranger, she stuck a long neck Bud bottle in between those tata’s and paraded across the stage and all through the ballroom like that. It was a hoot!

Later, some of us were sitting around in the room, rehashing the party and Carol made the mistake of saying she just couldn’t imagine the beer bottle between the boobs.  Well, long story short, I decided my boobs were just flexible enough (translation…floppy) that I could show her.  So I hoisted those puppies up and stuck a water bottle between them and, Thank God, it stayed in place.  Well…at least until I quit supporting the girls, at which time the water bottle shot across the room.

Oh, the hazards and sacrifices of a career in writing.  LOL  Oh, and there was one more piece of excitement that has Dani’s nose totally tweaked out of joint.  While she spent this entire evening cruising the hotel ballroom, stalking the hallways, peeking in elevators, trying to get a glimpse of Fabio and, possibly, have her picture taken with him…guess who passes him in the hallway to our room?  Yep…me.  So I drop my books in the room and hotfoot it back to the elevators where he gallantly holds the door for me and I get to ride the 17 floors back to the ballroom with the infamous Fabio.  And I must say, girls, that I was very surprised…he’s actually very good looking in person.  Very intense, very quiet, but actually gorgeous. 

So now I guess I’m going to have to sleep with one eye open all night so Dani doesn’t beat me to death in my sleep.  LOL  By the way, be sure to ask Kayla why her fairy wings owe me an engagement ring…you talk about hot wings!  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it…hold on tight now, we’re gonna go real, real fast!

Love Ya,


More Live from RT!!!!

Thanks to Kayla for yesterday’s lead in.  As you can tell by the time stamp we are getting a bit of a late start today, but I’ll try to be coherent!

As for the bus incident—Kayla and Isabella and I were walking toward Starbucks (aka the Elixir of Life) and we were talking and laughing as usual.  (Yes, shocking, I know…lol)  Anyway, I was midsentence answering Kayla when I realized she was walking in the street and a bus was barreling toward her.

He showed no signs of slowing down.

No horn, no tapping the brakes—this guy was deciding how many points she was worth.

I reached out and grabbed her jacket and pulled her out of the street without interrupting my flow of words.

Her first reaction was to look down and furrow her brow at me.  I’m sure the phrase, “What the hell are you doing?” was sprinting through her mind at that moment.

But then the bus whizzed past and her mouth dropped open as the realization that she was almost a permanent indent in the bus grille registered.


Now onto other news…

Yesterday was the longest day of the conference for me and I’m feeling appropriately exhausted today.

Fairy Court rehearsals and set up happened pretty much all day and I had to jump in and out as my schedule permitted.  My paranormal panel was terrific, and I felt very honored to be on a panel with such great authors.  My fellow panel members were Vivi Anna, Delilah Devlin, Megan Hart and Lora Leigh and Sasha White was nice enough to pinch hit as a Moderator since Cheyenne McCray was quadruple booked   The audience seemed to laugh and enjoy all our musings rather than running away in horror, so that’s always a good thing.  Then I had the Kensington Author’s cocktail party at a nearby restaurant.  I had a terrific time chatting with Kate Duffy, Maureen (I didn’t catch her last name, but she does some PR for Kensington), Rosemary Laurey and Karen Kelley.

The Fairy Ball last night was absolutely amazing!!  I wore a floor length black and red satin and lace dress along with some red shiny fake eyelashes, huge black wings and about five pounds of glitter all over me.  (We’ll have to post pics when we get back to Phoenix.)  The ball was great, the costumes entered in the costume contest were absolutely wonderful and creative, the decorations fun and classy and the food very good.  Our book covers and pictures flashed on the screen throughout and it was a terrific night.  After the dancing was in full swing, we ventured downstairs to the lobby bar only to find out that they still didn’t have Buttershots for our Butterscotch Martinis in the lobby bar.  Of course, after I ordered a different drink, Kayla told us that the pub in the hotel had Buttershots – damn!  LOL. Oh well.  We had to get back up to the ballroom and help tear everything down anyway.  So, you can imagine us dragging our tired butts back to the room at about 1am with a small cloud of glitter furling in our wake.  There were two poor bellboys going from door to door with a list of rooms hanging someone’s promo bags on every door that had RT attendees inside—I’m hoping we didn’t choke them with a few large inhales of glitter.

As soon as I hit the room, the dress came off and I was walking around in my bra and underwear and heading toward the bathroom to wash off the worst of the glitter and to try to brush it out of my hair.  Isabella had left her phone downstairs and needed to go back down, so she opened the door and then turned back to talk to me.  Unfortunately, one of the bellboys had just stopped in front of our door.  The poor guy stood with mouth open, promo bag suspended in the air looking past Isabella at me in all my half naked glory.  I’m just glad I had some cute polka dotty bikini undies and my nice black bra on.  One of those long moments later, Isabella finally realized she was holding the door open and went outside and closed it.  Oh well—guess if that was my one embarrassing moment for the conference, it wasn’t too horrible…LOL.

As for today, we slept in late (after trying to wash as much glitter out of the bottom of the shower as possible!) and are now down in the lobby with our laptops.  🙂

Tomorrow is Kayce’s turn to blog, so maybe she will tell you about why she is a stranger magnet.  🙂

That’s it for now!  I’m off to find a Monster drink and try to finish waking up.


Live from Pittsburgh…It’s RT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, we are smack dab in the middle of the Romantic Times conference 2008. Fellow BMGs in attendance are Cassie Ryan, Lynne Logan, Tia Dani, Isabella Clayton & Kayce Lassiter. So far a great time is being had by all.

Tonight is the Faery Ball and I’m very excited to say this is my first time as a member of the Court. Lots of glitter, wings and beautiful gowns. But, I must say my favorite thing about this conference is the one on one connection with the readers.

This is why we write. For the readers. Yes, we write for ourselves, too. Don’t get me wrong, but if it wasn’t for the readers and the lovers of books everywhere we would be out of a job.

I’ve made some great connections so far this week and met some wonderful new people. Now all we need is the hotel to order some Buttershots and we’ll be in great shape! Although we did find a great little bar in downtown Pittsburgh, The Steel City Bar & Grill, on First Ave & Smithfield, where the bartender made them perfectly.

Well, I’m off and running again. Maybe Cassie will tell you all about how she saved me from being run down by a city bus.

Hugs and kisses,

Ciao ~

Kayla Janz

Getting ready for RT

Today is the mad dash day. Finish the last minute errands, pack the suitcases and double check everything one last time, even tho I know I’ll leave something behind. (I always do!)

Why, you ask? Because tomorrow AM I hop on an airplane and head for the steel city of the U.S. Pittsburgh, PA and the 25th Annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention.

This is my 2nd time and I have to say it’s my favoritest convention of them all. The Desert Dreams conference held by Desert Rose RWA chapter is my second favorite, which was last weekend in sunny Chandler, AZ. If you missed it set a reminder for April 2010. With under 300 in attendance it is probably the most intimate conference (that I’ve attended) in the West. I digress…

RT 2008. This year is my promotional push. This is the first year of the E-Book Expo which I’m very excited about. 4 of my 5 novels will be available for download during this event on Wed. evening. Thursday evening is the Under the Sea Faery Ball and I am excited to say I’m a member of the Faery Court. Moving on to Friday we (the Butterscotch Martini Girls) are giving a workshop on critique groups. We’ve done this workshop at a couple of other events locally and have received rave reviews. Have to admit I’m a little nervous, but this always happens when I have to speak in public.

If you’re curious to see what kind of trouble the BMG’s can get into check out the archived posts. There’s a great one from last year’s RT involving myself, Brit Blaise, tiny male membered necklaces, feather boas, a Houston police officer and the quest for cheap hamburgers.

Off and running again.


Kayla Janz

Newbies Guide to Conference…

Most of the Butterscotch Martini Girls are gearing up for a very busy April.  There are two upcoming conferences—the Desert Dreams conference, here in sunny, Arizona April 4-6th and the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention the week of the 14th of April in Pittsburgh.

This year will be my fourth RT (Romantic Times) and my third Desert Dreams, since that conference only happens every other year.  They are both excellent conferences and the emails and loops are all abuzz with pre-activities and questions—especially from newbies.

Now, this in and of itself isn’t anything different from any other year.  I remember very clearly BEING one of the newbies and asking all kinds of questions–being worried about everything from what I should wear, how to act around the agents and editors, should I bring my manuscript (this is a big NO, if you’re wondering what the answer is…),  to what types of things I should NOT do to totally tank my writing career before it got started.  LOL.  That all seems like a long time ago now, even though it was only just back in 2003, and I’ve learned a lot since then.

What I remember most about my first set of conferences—especially the local one, was that so many people were willing to answer my questions and help put me at ease.  After all, this can be a cutthroat business, but here there were best selling authors as well as many other authors whose books I loved giving me tips and encouraging words every step of the way!  My appreciation for that helping hand back when I was in the newbie seat has always stayed with me.  So, watching the posts go by for our local Desert Dreams conference over the last week was a little bit nostalgic.  And as time has permitted, I tried to make sure to chime in with encouraging words or help where I could.  And I don’t want to make that sound like a big sacrifice—I really enjoy helping and mentoring new writers.

But since it was my day to blog here in BMG land, I thought I could start a list of good tips for the conference, and then you can all chime in and help me expand this list – sort of a newbie’s guide to going to conference.  I really wish I would’ve had one back then, but since I had all my fellow Butterscotch Martini Girls, I was in good hands! 🙂  (Although that was back before we had that name and we were a lot smaller group…LOL)

These are in no particular order:

–    Dress nicely, but for comfort.  Desert Dreams and RT are fine with nice jeans and a top, or something more formal, but make sure you’re comfy!!  RWA is a bit more dressy.

–    If you are concerned about what other people think of you—you wouldn’t be so worried about it if you knew how often they didn’t.  Aka-most people are thinking about themselves and what they have to get done/do at conference.  No one but you is going to stress over the fact that you put on 10 pounds, or that your makeup isn’t perfect or that you’re wearing the same jacket two days in a row.  Smile and look confident – and that’s half the battle 🙂

–    Take two sets of business cards—one without your phone number (but with your email and website) for readers and one set with your number and all other info for agents/editors and friends.

–    Carry your business cards at ALL times!

–    When you receive a business card from someone else, write who they are and how you met them on the back of the card.  Believe me, by the time you get home and go through these, you’ll be glad you did!

–    If there are tapes available for the workshops – BUY it!  Those are tax deductible (talk to your tax person) and you won’t stress if you end up networking and miss some.

–    Networking is the true gold of these conventions!!  Spending time in the bar chatting with an agent/editor or another writer is where valuable friendships are made and where you learn a lot from others.  Don’t get me wrong, the workshops are great, and I hope you come to mine 🙂 but don’t come to mine at the expense of making some face to face contacts with others.

–    Don’t judge people upon meeting them.  This may sound stupid, but it’s a great life-skill, especially in this business.  I remember my first Desert Dreams, another newbie pointed out a woman in jeans and said she HAD to be new because she didn’t know enough to dress well for the conventions.  Her comments were on the loud side and several people heard her (which did NOT put her in a good light.)  The woman she was pointing out was a best selling author and is published under a gazillion pen names and is one of the best writers I know.  Oops!  Don’t forget—one of the perks of our jobs is we aren’t expected to wear panty hose and etc.  So, not to be trite, but don’t judge a book or a writer by their cover 🙂

–    Act professionally at all times.  This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun—I know I certainly do—but just remember you are representing your writing business (and your chapter for us locals) with every action.  There is a lot of drinking at these conventions, but getting drunk and dancing on the table half naked will NOT make a good impression on the editors/agents or other writers.  And news does travel fast in this business, so remember where you are, and act appropriately.

–    Here’s my favorite urban legend.  I mentioned not bringing your manuscript above, and I meant it.  The agents and editors won’t want to lug those home in their suitcases, they will ask you to mail them later.  The urban legend is (although I’ve heard this really did happen) that someone tried to slip their manuscript under a bathroom stall to an editor!  ACK!  Please don’t do this—this won’t win you any brownie points, but it will make sure everyone knows your name—just not in a good way.

–    Agents and editors are people just like you and me.  Yes, you may feel like they hold your future happiness in their hands—but really, they want your success just as much as you do.  If you pitch or submit an awesome book that they think can sell and make their company (and by extension, you) money, then they will want to buy it.  If it isn’t ready yet, they won’t.  That’s the simple statement of it.  They hold you no malice, they aren’t out to get you, and they aren’t demi-gods walking around with a glowing light around them.  They are people just like you and me.  They love good books, and they like the same things we like for the most part.  They hang out at the bar, they need to use the restroom (without being offered manuscripts instead of TP) and they get tired and have bad days.  When you see them, say hello, just like you would to anyone else.  You can introduce yourself and be polite, but don’t hang on them and beg for submissions!  A lot of times, a friendly chat with an agent or editor in the bar has resulted in them asking me what I write and sometimes even a request for a submission.  So be yourself, be nice and treat them like a person and not a means to an end and they will appreciate it and remember you in a good way 🙂

–    Rejections are a part of life.  I have 69 sitting in my file, and even now that I’m multi-published, I expect more to build up.  It’s a fact of life.  Don’t sweat it if you get some.  Think of it as sort of a badge of honor.  You’ve actually submitted!  Heck, Sherrilyn Kenyon was told by an editor to give up on writing, that she would never make it.  And look at her now!

–    If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask.  There’s nothing you can think of that other writers haven’t already asked or wondered about when they were learning the ropes.  And what’s more—we never stop learning!

–    Don’t ask total strangers or new acquaintances to critique your manuscript.  This doesn’t mean we don’t all wish you well, but most of us have deadlines, our own critique groups and a thousand other things going on.  We just don’t have time.  Ask around and find your own critique group.  That’s how the BMG’s got started.  At my first RWA meeting, I asked Brit Blaise how I went about joining a critique group.  She asked where I lived and told me I was in the new one she was starting.  “Uh…okay.”  The rest is history!

–    If possible, arrive at the convention site early and scope out the place.  At RT, we always go a few days early to sight see (hey, future books could be based there!) and to scope out the hotel. Where are the best restaurants, bars, bathrooms, entrances, ballrooms, workshop halls, goodie rooms etc?  Same for Desert Dreams, by the time people arrive on Friday, I’ll have the lay of the land! 🙂

–    Even if you have nothing to pitch, don’t pass up a chance to meet an agent or editor.  At the last Desert Dreams, everything I had was contracted and I owed one more, but I knew I wanted to find an agent.  So, I took an agent appointment with Paige Wheeler.  I sat down and told her I had nothing to pitch, but as soon as I finished my current contracted commitments, I wanted to find an agent.  (And after much research, I knew I wanted her!)  I told her she had given me a great rejection on my first book back in 2004, and she remembered it since she doesn’t give many great rejections.  (Woo hoo – you bet I was excited she remembered!)  Anyway, we chatted and she said to give her a call when my contracted things were done and I could submit something else.  As fate would have it, Kensington called me about six months later, and I called Pagie to broker the deal, and she’s now my agent.  So, the moral is – don’t pass up that opportunity just because you don’t have anything right this second to pitch!  I almost did.  Remember what I said about face to face time being valuable!  Thanks to the BMG’s for convincing me to keep that appointment!

–    Never trash someone else’s book or someone else’s genre.  We all have our own personal likes or dislikes, that’s human nature.  I LOVE paranormal of almost any type.  Historical romances?  Fantasy?  Suspense?  Well-written erotic romances?  Yummy!  But are there some genres I don’t particularly care for – of course.  However, I won’t trash them.  I have tons of friends who write those, and I’m happy for their success.  Remember—we are all writers, but we are not what we write.

–    Take a sweater and layer!  Those conference rooms can get very cold or very warm – be prepared.

–    It’s always a good idea to take a bottle of water and some Tylenol or a cough drop wherever you go, so you’re always prepared.  A good pen/pencil or alpha smart for notes is good too.

–    Always be inclusive.  Do you see someone alone standing in the corner, who looks like they may want to join your group, but aren’t sure of their welcome?  Say hello!  I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made this way.

–    Lost?  Confused?  Frustrated?  Afraid you’ve just trashed your writing career by accidentally spilling coffee on your favorite editor?  Take a deep breath, and find someone to ask for help, and apologize to the editor and smile.  Everyone spills stuff, and we all have our share of embarrassing moments—if you doubt me, read the BMG blog archives and search on “panties”…LOL.  Don’t sweat the small stuff!

I won’t bore you with a ton more, but does anyone else have some great advice to add?

See you all at conference!


More Romantic Times Pictures…

more-rt-from-rita.JPG Rita from South Africa sent this picture to me from L to R, Kayla Janz, Brit Blaise, Carolan Ivey, RITA from South Africa, J.C. Wilder and Cheyenne McCray and sans butterscotch martinis.