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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#RT14 - The Good, The Bad, and The WTF

Welcome back to your local Diva hangout! 

I've been pretty quiet as of late, but I have been ridiculously busy in the best possible way. 

First, it was prepping for the Romantic Times Convention (RT14) - I finished another round of revisions on my romantic suspense in preparation so that I could focus on the paranormal series I would be pitching at the Convention. And then there were the wardrobe decisions which took ages! I needed casual clothes, party clothes, costumes, business attire, and then the basics like
undergarments... just thinking back on it makes me break out in hives! It was horrifying the condition of my bedroom and closet for over a week as I went through every item of clothing I remembered I had, and some I'd completely forgotten! And then there was the horror of trying to fit all of those things into two carry-on bags... it's a damn good thing I'm a seasoned world traveler or I might have been paralyzed in the face of the amount of crap I'd spread out on my bed to pack. "Is that all going to fit in that little suitcase?" my family asked. 

Oh, how little faith they have! 

Of course it fit. With some coaxing, a few choice words, and a shove or two. 

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Now that's how you pack, ladies and gentlemen!

Then there was the preparation for the book signing! Yikes. So I was going to ship my books down, so I didn't have to check luggage, and because I have more faith in the post office than I do in the airlines not to lose my stuff. So I packed up my babies and insured them and sent them on their merry way. Now if I was the nail-biting type, I'd have no fingers left! As it is, I'm more of a bitch and pace and not sleep type... none of which was very helpful or productive as I was trying to get everything in order to leave. Or while I was, you know, working the day job. So anyways, I sent the books and I put in my little tracking number and watched my box travel from NY to New Orleans... and then NOTHING. My babies got to the city where they were supposed to be, and that's it. I couldn't get anyone to tell me if they'd arrived at the hotel for the convention, if they were sitting in the middle of a Post Office warehouse somewhere, or if they'd fallen into the gutters on Bourbon Street. For six days, I didn't know where my babies were! 

I barely kept a leash on my panic. I focused on my to-do list, on the tasks I had to accomplish. I called the post office, the hotel, the shipping department at the hotel, the coordinators for the convention. I pleaded, I demanded, I got downright pissy and hung up on several times! All to no avail. No one could confirm if my books had arrived or not. I packed my suitcase, I printed our boarding passes, and I ushered Kara through her first wonderful airport hopping experience. We arrived at the hotel, dropped our bags, and I went book hunting. 

Some of The Disenchantments! 
I got to the registration table twenty minutes after they closed. When the woman behind the table realized I was about ready to tear her face off or burst into tears, she very nicely, and with a heap of sympathy told me, "I know who we can call. Diane will know!" I prayed for a Hail Mary pass, only to be smacked in the face with a voice mail box. :-( We left a message, and Kara carted my sorry ass back to the room to get ready to go meet the Disenchantments - her wonderful group of author friends, who by the end of the week were like my family. They helped get my mind off my missing books, and we explored New Orleans for the night - Hello O'Briens and your amazing Piano Bar & Hurricanes! They helped assuage my fears and tamp down my panic. 

The next morning, when there was still no call on my books, I again went on a quest. I found Diane, who checked her magical list and confirmed that yes, one box for Rachell Nichole had in fact arrived, in tact, and full of books! My God, I could have kissed her! I gave her a fabulous hug, thanked her profusely, and could finally breathe again! 

I went about my business, joining everyone in the giant ballroom for crepes and an introduction to RT, then I went to lunch with the fabulous Jessica Freely to Antoine's - an amazing, up-scale Creole French restaurant which also doubles as a museum. The meal was incredible. The staff was impeccable, the tour was glorious. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, I could not recommend this place enough! Our waiter was a third-generation employee who at one point had eleven relatives working in the restaurant with him. The history, the atmosphere, and the story of this place can be felt the minute you leave the front dining room and head into any of the other fourteen, yes fourteen dining rooms! The Japanese Room was by far my favorite (behind the wine cellar) and they even took us out on the balcony through these huge windows that slid upward and were the size of doors. We spent a good two and a half hours here and it was wonderful. The picture on the left is the Rex Dining Room, where all the Kings of Mardi Gras eat before the parade!

After that, I went back to the hotel and found my new favorite person, Diane, to check in my lovely books and take possession of them until the book signing. She was wonderful, and I felt so indebted to her for finding my books that I stayed for a bit to help out when the line behind me grew exponentially.

Here we are dressed as SINNERS :-) 
I didn't go to as many panels as I'd originally planned on attending, but I still had an incredible time. We partied at the Pub Crawl, at the Saints & Sinners party, at the Harlequin Dance Party, at the hotel bar, on Bourbon Street, and pretty much everywhere else. I met some wonderful new authors and friends. I got to see some of my wonderful Seton Hill people, and I got to meet with four agents and an editor to chat with them about my books, which was great. One of them was super excited about my paranormal series about Mayan Demigods and so now I'm working on getting them ready to send her way, which is awesome! 

I also got to meet some readers, which rocked my world. One woman, Deborah, and her good friend who's name I for some awful reason can't recall, were just the sweetest things. The three of us talked about books, and writing, and romance, and I kept running into them at the Convention, so that was really cool. I also had some people stop by my table at the book signing and ooh and ahh over my covers and say "Oh, yeah, I've read that." OH, MY GOD! That was an incredible, humbling feeling. :-) Made all the nonsense from the week totally worth it!

There were so many more little moments that were pure perfection, and others that were a complete mind fuck, but if I sat and wrote about them all, we'd be here all week. 

Overall, the convention was a success for me, but I don't know as if I'll do another one any time soon. The disorganization of many of the events and the craziness of a mismanaged convention of 2,000 people was a lot to handle, but I don't regret going in the least, if only for the amazing people I met and the great experiences I had. 

I think Kara will be sharing some of her RT Experiences with you all soon, so check back for that. 


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