Today I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Christopher Rice to Joyfully Jay. Chris is here as part of the Coastal Magic Blog Tour and is sharing his tips for surviving a romance conference (including handling Damon Suede sweat!). Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Greetings, Joyful Jayians. (Yeah, I just made that one up. And no, I didn’t ask Jay’s permission. And no, she probably doesn’t like it.) I’m thrilled Jay invited me to do an exclusive blog post as part of the build up to the lovely sun and swag-filled Coastal Magic Conference, happening this February in Dayton Beach, Florida! And I’m also thrilled this year’s conference is open to all forms of romance, not just paranormal, which means a lot of my pals from 1,001 Dark Nights will be visiting for the first time.
I’m relatively new to the romance world, which means I’m not at the point in my career where I’m putting out eight novels in four different series per month while organizing ten different conferences and tweeting about everything on television and raising ten kids. In the past, I was a mystery, thriller and horror guy, and those conferences were more author-focused than reader-focused. (Translation: it was a bunch of writers huddled in a hotel bar wondering where all the readers were.) In light of this, I thought I’d put together a list of tips for how to survive a romance conference, since the end result would be relevant to a large number of readers, bloggers and writers. So here goes.
- Damon Suede will sweat on you. No, seriously. Not like, rubbing-up-against-you-in-the-hotel- elevator-after-he’s-just-come-in-for-a-jog sweat on you. Like soaked-towel-just-pulled-from-the-washtub sweat on you. If your conference has a dance party, that’s where you’ll find Damon Suede in a sweat soaked T-shirt, just waiting to gather some of it between his fists so he can ring a small shower of Suede sweat onto your back, your neck (if you’re sitting) or your legs (if you’re in shorts). So in other words, if there’s a dance party, don’t go. Just kidding. Go, but protect your skin. Unless, you know, you’re in to that sort of thing.
- Don’t believe the lies: swag is a competition. Whether you’re giving it out or trying to get it, this is blood sport, people. Witness the author who follows up an enthusiastic complement of your branded pencils by humbly displaying a miniature Teddy Ruxpin that recites the titles of all her books when you squeeze its right foot. Or the reader who congratulates you on managing to grab one of those bright pink squeeze bottles from your favorite author by showing you a photo of their two room gallery of author branded mouse pads, all of which have been encased in Lucite frames. As with Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where first timers often wonder how they could ever come to care about catching silly strings of plastic beads, once you’re in the thick of it, there are no rules and there are no prisoners, only victims. Bring your A-game, folks. The swag is real.
- Geography matters. Conferences bring people from literally all over the world, so as you observe their sometimes quirky behavior, remember they could have just flown in from literally anywhere. Case in point: if you’re in your hotel room in Daytona Beach and you see several children flailing about in the surf outside, in February, while their parents watch from the sand, fully-dressed with arms crossed, don’t call hotel security because you’re sure they’re being abused. Chances are they’re just Canadian and they think 61 degrees is perfect swimming weather.
- The introvert’s dilemma. If you’re a writer, chances are you’re an introvert. If you’re a reader, chances are you’re an introvert. The definition of an introvert is that your energy levels decrease in the presence of you’re other people. But wait, there’s more. Your energy levels also INCREASE in the sudden ABSENCE of other people. At a conference, this means you can slog you an entire day of panels, mixers, sparklers, ice cream socials, laser tag, karaoke contests, strip poker, Yahtzee, charades and bumper cars, find yourself stumbling back to your room with one eye open at two in the morning, and then suddenly, as soon as you close the door behind you and find yourself utterly and completely alone, you are overcome by a sudden inexplicable burst of energy. This is in the introvert’s dilemma. It’s the middle of the night and you need to be up at six in the morning to prepare for your panel on BDSM ostrich shifters. But all you can think about is reading the seventy free samples you downloaded of authors you’ve just met. Also, where are those potato chips you bought earlier; with enough effort, they can probably be assembled into a replica of Versailles. Then you can Instagram the photo. Instagram! You forgot about Instagram! What’s been posted to Instagram in the day since you last checked? Should you sketch some of it? This, my folks, is the introvert’s dilemma. The easy solution? Sleep when you’re home. Or room with someone who drives you so crazy you’ll pretend to be asleep until you are.
- Seriously, eat. If there’s food in front of you eat it, because you honestly don’t know when you’re going to eat again. Oh, you’ll have a big meal plan. A light breakfast followed by a sunny brunch and then dinner in the hotel restaurant with friends, and then lo and behold, it’s four p.m. and you’re in the middle game of Dirty Pictionary and you’re weeping because someone laughed at you because you don’t know what figging means and it’s all because the only things that have gone in your stomach that day are some Melba toast and about ten cups of coffee. Eat. If there’s food anywhere near you and it doesn’t look spoiled or poisoned or destined for a starving child, eat it.
I’m going to stop the list here because I don’t want to frighten people out of attending romance conferences. Also, thanks to BuzzFeed, lists don’t have to be ten things anymore. They can be 5 Reasons We Love Licking Pictures of Zac Efron or 345 Times Angela Merkel Threw Better Shade Than You. Honestly, romance conferences are the most fun I’ve had since I realized you could scare the crap out of people by taking Instagram photos of old Falcon Crest episodes and applying the Nashville filter. I encourage everyone to go. Even if you think romance is stupid. Then you can be that person we all gang up on and pelt with swag. Hopefully I’ll see some of you at Coastal Magic this February. Thanks again to Joyfully Jay for inviting me to post.
New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice’s first foray into erotic romance, THE FLAME, earned accolades from some of the genre’s most beloved authors. “Sensual, passionate and intelligent,” wrote Lexi Blake, “it’s everything an erotic romance should be.” J. Kenner called it “absolutely delicious,” Cherise Sinclair hailed it as “beautifully lyrical” and Loreli James announced, “I look forward to reading more!” Now, Christopher returns you to the world first introduced in THE FLAME with an all new novel of The Desire Exchange… Emily Blaine’s life is about to change. Arthur Benoit, the kindly multi-millionaire who has acted as her surrogate father for years, has just told her he’s leaving her his entire estate, and he only has a few months to live. Soon Emily will go from being a restaurant manager with a useless English degree to one of the richest and most powerful women in New Orleans. There’s just one price. Arthur has written a letter to his estranged son Ryan he hopes will mend the rift between them, and he wants Emily to deliver the letter before it’s too late. But finding Ryan won’t be easy. He’s been missing for years. He was recently linked to a mysterious organization called The Desire Exchange. But is The Desire Exchange just an urban legend? Or are the rumors true? Is it truly a secret club where the wealthy can live out their most private fantasies? It’s a task Emily can’t undertake alone. But there’s only one man qualified to help her, her gorgeous and confident best friend, Jonathan Claiborne. She’s suspected Jonathan of working as a high-priced escort for months now, and she’s willing to bet that Jonathan has uncovered some possible leads to The Desire Exchange—and to Ryan Benoit. But Emily’s attempt to uncover Jonathan’s secret life lands the two of them in hot water. Literally. In order to escape the clutches of one of Jonathan’s most powerful and dangerous clients, they must act on long buried desires—for each other. When Emily’s mission turns into an undercover operation, Jonathan insists on going with her. He also insists they continue to explore their impossible, reckless passion for each other. Enter Marcus Dylan, the hard-charging ex-Navy SEAL Arthur has hired to keep Emily safe. But Marcus has ulterior motives for taking the job; he, too, has a burning passion for Emily, and he turns out to be as rough and controlling as Jonathan is sensual and reckless. As Emily searches for a place where the rich turn their fantasies into reality, she will also be forced to decide which one of her own long-ignored fantasies should become her reality. But as Emily, Jonathan, and Marcus draw closer to The Desire Exchange itself, they find their destination isn’t just shrouded in mystery, but in magic as well.
By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. His two novels of dark supernatural suspense, THE HEAVENS RISE and THE VINES, were both finalists for the Bram Stoker Award. He recently entered the erotic romance genre with three works in all new series called The Desire Exchange. They include THE FLAME, THE SURRENDER GATE and KISS THE FLAME, due out in November 2015. His debut novel, A DENSITY OF SOULS, was published when the author was just 22 years old. A controversial and overnight bestseller, it was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it devoted to the fact that Christopher is the son of famed vampire chronicler, Anne Rice. Together with his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher launched his own Internet radio show. THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN is always playing at TheDinnerPartyShow.com and every episode is available for free download from the site’s show archive or on iTunes.