2013 was my year. The year I lost my convention virginity. Before then, I didn’t know even know that these conventions existed for readers and writers. I’ve always been a voracious reader but in the closet. I’ve always idolized authors but from afar. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine there were groups of people like me that got together just to talk about reading and writing, and mingling with their literary heroes. In 2013, I went to my first two reader/writer conventions, and I was quickly hooked.
Once I found out about the Romantic Times Convention and RomCon, I did a lot of research about them. What to wear; what to do; what to expect. I inhaled and memorized every do and don’t I read. I asked question after question of convention veterans. I learned that I needed to hydrate often. I knew that I needed to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, but, since I was going as an author AND a reader, I needed to make sure my clothing was professional looking as well. Just in case I met the publisher or agent that took one a look at me and decided I was the writer they’d’ been waiting their whole life for.
Alas, that didn’t happen.
But that didn’t diminish my experience at either convention. And I learned a lot of things that not all my previous studies and research had prepared me for. For instance, I hadn’t planned on power-walking several miles a day to make it to meet-and-greets and seminars. I also hadn’t planned on missing several meals because I had packed my schedule so full there just wasn’t time to eat. Who needed food when I got to learn from Yasmine Galenorn and Jeanine Frost, for goodness sakes? In fact, going to conventions turned out to be a great diet plan, and I lost 10 pounds at the end of them both!
I learned a few other things from my virginal convention tours:
VOLUNTEERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME. If you have extra time at conventions, volunteer. They always need more people to help, from stuffing bags to setting up rooms for meetings. Find one of the people in charge and ask them to put you to work. Not only is it rewarding work, but you‘ll meet some great new friends. If I hadn’t stuffed bags at RT, I would have never met Kasi Alexander. Kasi and her family have turned into great friends of mine, and if I had stayed in my room instead of volunteering, I would have never met her.
ENJOY A PUBLIC ORGASM OR TWO. One of the great things about conventions is that there is always something fun to do. I had the opportunity to assist with several parties at RomCon. The Very Virginal Bachelorette Party, hosted by Lexi Blake and Shayla Black, was a girl’s only party with the requisite naughty games… Naughty Pictionary, Cock Ring Toss, and of course, The Orgasm game. I was the lucky judge of The Orgasm game, and handed out prizes for the best orgasm of the night. Nowhere but a reader/writer convention would it be appropriate to move about the room asking for orgasms!
Conventions have all kinds of great parties and fun activities for readers and writers to mingle with each other. It doesn’t matter if what genre is your favorite, there’s something for everyone. And I mean everyone!
BE YOURSELF – OR NOT. The RT convention held several parties, both during the day and at night, which boasted all kinds of costumes. If you weren’t into dressing up in Steam Punk, then you could dress up in a ball gown from Gone with the Wind. Or perhaps you’re more into vampires. Don’t worry – there’s an event for that too. Dress up was encouraged, and the costumes were plentiful. Some beautiful, some odd, and some outrageous. It made me wonder how they got them on planes, and how many pieces of luggage were needed to carry them! One thing was clear, however, and that was that costumed or not, everyone enjoyed the dress up.
TOUCH, STROKE, FONDLE – IT’S ALL OKAY. When I first signed up for the conventions, I knew there would be cover models there. What I didn’t realize was how many skin bearing hunks there would be. And I assumed that they would all be unapproachable – no talk-y, no touch-y, just look-y. I found out that my assumption was VERY wrong. Not only were the models extremley approachable, but they didn’t have a problem with being hugged or kissed. They even seemed okay with the occasional stroke across their smooth, muscled chests down to their washboard abs, covered in tanned skin that looked so lickable…oh, um, sorry. I got a little distracted!
Besides being very patient with the fans, they were also very friendly and loved to talk to everyone. I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know about the cover model business, and made some great new friends to boot. Not only that, when I see a book cover featuring one of these great guys I get to point to it and tell my friends “I know him!” Sure makes them envious!
OPEN UP. This was by far the hardest thing for me to do. I’m not an introvert, but I’m not someone that can just strike up a conversation with a total stranger either. However, I swallowed my fear and approached people I’d never met. I made great new friends and found this awesome group of people that shared the same sense of pervertedness I have. (Can you guess what group of PERVS I mean?)
I also had SEVERAL fan girl moments, and because I opened up, I got to talk to and party with some my greatest heroes. In fact I almost peed myself when Jess Dee talked to me for about 20 minutes! And when Mari Carr hugged me! And when Jayne Rylon recognized me from Facebook! I think Lorelei James probably thought I was stalking her at RomCon since I stopped her three times for pictures and autographs, too.
However, had I not shoved that fear way down, I would have never had those opportunities. And boy, I’m glad I did.
Every convention is different: different themes, different purposes, different authors. But, in the end, they all have the same purpose: to bring reading fans and their authors together. I’m glad I’m no longer a convention virgin, and I’m already planning my 2014 conventions. I’m excited to have some fun, catch up with old friends, and meet new friends.
Maybe I can even meet you!
You can find about Michelle and her books under her pen name Emleigh Walsh at:
Barnes and Noble