Hi guys! Today I am super excited to welcome my friend Leigh Logan to the blog.  Leigh recently attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City.  RT is pretty much the biggest show in town in terms of reader conferences for all kinds of romance.  Over the past few years, GLBT romance has increased its presence at RT and this year was definitely the biggest showing of readers, authors, and publishers in this genre.

So I asked Leigh if she would mind writing a recap for us about what went on at this fabulous event.  (If you read any of my GRL recaps, you may recognize Leigh as one of my partners in crime and the one who took about 1000 photos of me!)  A big thanks to her for taking the time to write all this up for us and please join me in giving her a big welcome to the blog!

P.S. Leigh included lots of pics, so just click on any of them to expand bigger

RT Intro, Panels, a Disco, and the Day of 387 Outfit Changes

Hi, everyone – thank you Joyfully Jay for inviting me to guest post about Romantic Times 2013, better known as RT.  RT is arguably the largest convention for romance books: there are well over 500 authors who attend the signings, and I would estimate that there are at least 1,500 people in attendance all together.  RT covers and includes all various romance genres and sub-genres, and while some are newer than others, others are starting to grow and expand within RT – our beloved LGBT romance is one such genre.

I have been fortunate enough to attend RT for the past two years, and while I fan-girled over authors of all various romance varieties – paranormal romance, urban fantasy, young adult, and contemporary – I can honestly say that nothing thrilled me more than when last year I saw that four of my favorite M/M authors were attending the E-book and Indie Author Book Signing.  While I was still pretty “green” to M/M romance, I had read books by these fabulous authors, and in addition to meeting them and getting them to sign my scrapbook, friendships were formed, and I became so entwined with and connected to the LGBT romance community that I haven’t looked back since.

Leigh and Mary Calmes

Leigh and Mary Calmes

RT 2013, held in Kansas City, Missouri, was a fabulous year for the LGBT romance community.  Out of the dozens of panels and workshops one can attend at RT, there were FOUR that were led specifically by M/M romance authors.  This is huge!  Last year, there was only one.  Additionally, one of the four panels this year specifically addressed M/M romance – YAY!!  On top of all of that, LGBT publishers were very present as well.  When registering, full con attendees received a tote with two free books, one of which was Second Hand by Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan, and in the free books room, there was Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov – go Riptide!!  There were also two cocktail hour events both sponsored by large M/M and LGBT romance publishers: Dreamspinner Press and Samhain.  Ellora’s Cave sponsored a party one night, and Total E-Bound had a table set up in Club RT where people could be introduced to the publisher and its works throughout the con.  WOW!!  What a fabulous showing for gay romance!

Now that I gave you an overview, I’ll give you some of the very fun specifics. Because I could just go on and on for days about the amazing time I had at RT – with so much of it surrounding the M/M romance community – Joyfully Jay is letting me write about my time at RT in two parts.  Hopefully that way, I won’t get TOO long winded. 😉

rt2013 2On the first full day of the con, Wednesday, there was an excellent panel led by Heidi Cullinan, Z.A. Maxfield, Marie Sexton, and Damon Suede, discussing “Brutes to Suits: The Ever Evolving Hero.”  They talked about the evolution of the romance hero throughout the course of time, from Rapey McRaperstein (as one of the panelists dubbed him) to the beta male to the alpha male.  They were discussed in the context of all romance genres, and the panel was very well presented, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. Here I am with three of the panelists (sadly, ZAM had left before I was able to get the picture; oh, and don’t mind me…I was dressed to attend a Saloon themed cocktail party after the panel).

rt2013 3Look who else was in the audience! The adorable Amy Lane and Ethan Day!

rt2013 4That night, Ellora’s Cave sponsored a fabulous Disco Inferno party, where I had a chance to meet up with Riptide’s marketing gal, Stephanie, and some of the fabulous authors I met at GRL last year.  It was a great time getting to watch Ellora’s Cave Men dance half-nekkid all night, but more than that, we just had a blast getting our groove on!!  Here is L.C. Chase, my roommate and dear friend Francesca, Devon Rhodes, and Kate McMurray getting down on the dance floor.

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Leigh with Tere Michaels

The next day was Thursday, the day of 387 outfit changes.  Okay, okay, so I’m exaggerating just a little bit.  The morning began with just a regular outfit, but at lunchtime, it was time to dress up for a reader panel, “Romance Pride: Over the Rainbow,” which was hosted by a slew of authors, including M/M authors Heidi Cullinan, Z.A. Maxfield, Tere Michaels, Damon Suede, and L.A. Witt.  In this panel, hosts and attendees visited all varieties of romance and discussed (and playfully argued) which was best.  It was a very informal panel, but relaxed and fun, and it also gave readers an opportunity to speak with some of their favorite authors (where I got to officially meet Tere Michaels – YAY!) and meet new ones.

RT2013 6Hosts and some attendees also dressed as their favorite subgenres.  Francesca and I decided to dress as Steampunk heroines.  While it may not be our favorite subgenre (I actually had thought of dressing as a rainbow fairy to represent M/M romance as being my favorite), we decided it would be the most exciting.  And lucky us – we tied for best Steampunk costumes and won a bag full of prizes!  Specifically, I chose a book bag from Dreamspinner that was full of M/M books, a journal, earbuds, a mousepad, a leather porfolio, and a flash drive.  Elizabeth North, owner of Dreamspinner was also in attendance and gave out t-shirts that were just amazing!  They said, “The only women who don’t like gay romance are the ones who haven’t read it.”  AWESOME!  Here is a picture of all of us Steampunk folk: ZAM, Francesca, Damon, Marie Sexton, and me.

RT2013 7One of THE most surprising costumes, however, was that worn by Heidi Cullinan.  Heidi decided to dress up as Mitch, a trucker and main character in her book Special Delivery.  To say there was a total transformation would be an understatement.  It even took me a moment to recognize her.  She looked amazing!!!  Here is a pic of “Mitch” and Devon Rhodes.

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Belinda McBride and Z.A. Maxfield

After the “Romance Pride” panel, it was back into comfy clothes (and shoes!) to get ready for the E-Book, Indie Publisher & Graphic Novel EXPO.  A lot of M/M authors were signing here, and it was awesome because I got to spend time chatting with them and getting my books signed.  That way, I didn’t have to worry about whether I would have enough time to get to everyone on Saturday during the Giant Book Fair, which is much bigger and only a little bit longer.

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Kate McMurray, Heidi Cullinan, and Damon Suede

Once the book signing was over, it was time for outfit change #256, in order to get ready for Samhain’s Safari Party.  While I did show up a bit late to this event and didn’t get to participate in all the fun and games they had, I did once again find myself hanging out with the M/M romance gang (really, they are just that full of awesome!).

RT2013 11And for the last outfit change of the day, it was time for the RT 30th Anniversary Formal Ball.  Here is a picture of a group of us, including cover model Scott Nova, Francesca, cover model Charles Paz, Devon Rhodes, cover model Len Gunn, me, my dear friend Angela, and author Suzanne Graham.

For the Ball, a full sit-down meal was offered, and festivities included a stroll through the history of RT as well as a costume contest.  For me and my friends, we just enjoyed dressing up and taking tons of pictures (yes, one of my favorite pastimes).  The Ball didn’t really have any dancing, though – strange, right?  But that was okay because we decided to move the festivities to the hotel bar and hung out there for the rest of the night, having drinks, and spending quality time catching up and laughing with old friends and new.  :)<

To be continued in Part 2: M/M Romance’s First Inaugural Panel, Hot Shoes, Paranormal Fun, the Giant Book Fair, and One Last Night of Staying Up Too Late and Partying Our Asses Off

FILED UNDER: News and Notes
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