Last year, I really believed the Columbus, Ohio Romantic Times convention was the best ever. There was a wonderful atmosphere, the hotel was fantastic (both in venue and in staff) and the events themselves stellar. But I honestly believe this year was just as great, if not better.

Now, to be honest, I was…more than incredibly busy (if I showed you a picture of my calendar, it would show time blocked out from 8am to midnight each day) and I didn’t get to enjoy some of the conference events as much as I would have liked. I’ve vowed not to book myself quite so much next year, so I can enjoy more of the workshops and events (I am super bummed I didn’t get to see Dean Koontz speak, for instance).

But I could still get a sense of the energy and tone of the conference, from the panels and workshops I was involved in, and it was…amazing.

Wednesday night, we had dinner with some reader bloggers, and it was one of the best dinners I’ve had at any conference I’ve ever attended. What do you get when you bring together people who love books? Conversation about books. Dinner went from 6:30p to 10:30p and we never. shut. up. We talked about books for four hours straight! It was wonderful and energizing and just…utterly fabulous. I didn’t get a picture but there were a few others who did, and you can see one here on Lori’s blog. Thanks so much to Barbara, Lori, Tracy, Renee, Katie, Amber, and Sarah for a memorable evening. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I’m not going to talk about every single meal I had and with who, though they were all fun and full of great conversation (and yes, some gossip), but I also got to meet with a few agents individually. Poor Kevan Lyon, who let me harangue her about something (not really, it was in fun), Kim and Jessica from BookEnds, who were so gracious in letting me pick their brains on a personal matter. And Laura Bradford, who I’m so grateful continues to have meals with me at conferences, even when I’m a harbinger of gloom. All of those ladies, and the other agents I met with, were just as smart as you might imagine from their Twitter and blog accounts.

So most of my week was absorbed with meetings and meals and panels and workshops. I went from one thing to another. On Wednesday, I gave a workshop and found I had an LA Times reporter in my audience. He wrote what I think is a positive article on romance here (and though I’m not attributed, I would be the one who gave the “sage” advice). It’s hard not to be nervous when there’s a reporter in the audience, but he seemed genuinely interested in the material, and asked some great questions at the end.

But on Saturday, my day slowed down. After a leisurely breakfast with a longtime industry friend I adore, I headed up to the Book Fair to take pictures. And take pictures I did. You can see my entire photo album here (sorry, no captions right now) but here’s my favorite picture…my meeting with Catherine Coulter.

I silently squeed and let my inner fangirl loose for a minute while meeting her. She was everything you’d expect: gracious, charming, funny and personable. Also, she was wearing really cute shoes, which made me like her even more.

After that, I ran around and took pictures of many, many authors (did I introduce you to the online album of my pictures?) but I have to admit to having another moment when I took pictures of, and spoke with, the Days of Our Lives actors that were present. Though I don’t watch it anymore, I have fond memories of DoOL growing up, and I always will. It was amazing to see actress Suzanne Rogers and think “Oh my God. It’s Maggie.” She looks exactly like I remember her looking twenty years ago, as do the actors who play Doug and Julie Williams (they are also married IRL).

Last, from the booksigning, I have to share this picture of Patrick Rothfuss, who I met for the first time at the conference, and found to be an interesting guy to speak with. I bought his un-children’s book (un-children’s is my term) The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. It’s a bit subversive, the story is delightful and the illustrations killer. I later gave the book to Megan Hart, because I thought she and her family would appreciate it. If you get a chance, you should check it out. It’s pretty fun.

I also took pictures of the Mr. Romance contestants at the Book Fair. Later that day, Sarah convinced me that I had to go to the Mr. Romance competition (instead of napping or living on the sofa in the bar, either of which I would have happily done). I love the Mr. Romance competition not so much because of the competitors (sorry guys!) but for the audience reaction. Entertaining. This year, Sean McDermott sang. Lucky for you guys? I got video.(oh, and it should be said, he was a total pro and such a good sport when the sound system failed the first time he started singing. Major props to him for that).Um…warning…there is pelvic thrusting in this video.

Sean McDermott

And here’s one of my favorite pictures from the Mr. Romance competition (I was taking from my iPhone, so couldn’t zoom) of the eventual Mr. Romance 2011 in a toga, and one of a very tired competitor (Shane) taken after the competition. These guys really worked hard over the week. (thanks to Megan for the correction on my picture order)

The last order of the night was the Carina Press cocktail party, where we gave away an iPad2, had fruit, champagne and cake pops, and forced attendees to interact with out authors. It was pretty fantastic 😛

And then it was time to cut loose at the last party of the week, the Harlequin Party. There was dancing! And I got to dance for the first time all week. It was pretty clear to me that I wasn’t the only one feeling a bit of relief at the end of the week, the Mr. Romance competitors seemed to feel less pressured than they had all week.


All in all it was a great conference. Next year, it’s in Chicago, one of my favorite places to visit, so I’m determined not to overschedule myself, to actually take some time to enjoy both the city and the conference.

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