Romancing the Capital, #RTC2015 Wrap-up by Alice C.
Last weekend, April 17th and 18th, I (Alice, fellow HJ) was in Ottawa, Canada for the most amazing event—Romancing The Capital—Canada’s first ever romance writers’ convention. I want to start this off by saying that I have never been to writers’ convention, and for me it was a marvelous, educational, and fun event. I’ve had a few stressors in my personal life lately, and fun was something I needed. That the fun was linked to reading, and that my sister-in-law Kristen went with me, only increased my enjoyment of the conference.
I first heard of the idea for Romancing The Capital around a year ago. Eve Langlais, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sci-Fi and Paranormal romance, was so sure Canada needed a romance convention that she put down the money to reserve the convention space. That takes hutzpah, and I for one was willing to go to support her no matter what. The response was excellent, according to Eve, with authors and readers not only coming from Canada but also from the US, some as far as Los Angeles and Florida.
Genres ran the full gamut from contemporary to historical, sci-fi to paranormal, fantasy to western, and heat levels from sweet to erotica to “whoa, I didn’t even know that existed!” (but that I blame on my sheltered life). Regardless of genre, the writers were all warm, friendly and generous to a fault; I returned home with bulging bags of swag and books. There were even three publishers on hand: Decadent Publishing, Extasy Books and Amira Press.
I was very impressed by the organization and the planning of the entire event. Eve Langlais and her team of volunteers and sponsors did a wonderful job. There were four conference rooms going on simultaneously during most of the convention, including panels, intimate author chats, publisher information sessions, games, and my favorite, the “speed date an author” event, hosted by author Kali Willows. There were two dinners: a pizza dinner on Friday with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, and a sit-down dinner with a “Rock and Howl 50’s Sock-hop” theme on Saturday. The afternoon on Saturday was taken up by a book signing that was open to the public and was very busy.
Meeting other readers and the authors was the best part of all. I will admit I am largely a reader of mainstream romance novels, mostly historical romances. Therefore, I was thrilled to meet Ellie Macdonald, the author of the excellent Governess Club series (last fall I had the pleasure of reviewing #3, “Sara”) published by Avon Impulse. It was an honor to meet Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix, best selling author of medieval, paranormal, and contemporary romance. I bought one of her Toronto-based novels at her suggestion, and can’t wait to find the perfect day to sink into it. I also met Layna Pimentel, erotic historical writer and author of “The Pleasure Garden Follies.”
Reading sci-fi romances has always been my guilty and secret pleasure. I will admit to a super fan-girl moment when I met and discussed dragon-shifter-aliens with S.E. Smith (regarding her Dragon Lords of Valdier series) and was thrilled when I won a couple of books from Jessica E. Subject who has written some very racy alien-next-door books, among many others. The sci-fi panel was led by Eve Langlais, S.E. Smith, Tianna Xander, and Viola Grace, and there were discussions about world building, scientific inspirations and languages. Although Eve Langlais is known for her many paranormal books (“The Bunny and the Bear” is a personal favourite), her many cyborg and alien abduction novels have a special place in my ebook library.
Kristen and I had lunch with C.I. Black and Olivia Loch on Saturday. I enjoy a good fantasy romance, and I’m so impressed with C.I. Black: not only is “Immortal Coil” (the first book of her Dragon Spirit series) an excellent read, but she is also an interesting person with many different projects on the go. Olivia is an up-and-coming author with her first novella “Then I Saw Her Face” releasing in May.
There is often quite a bit of crossover between paranormal romance and other genres. Shifters are a big deal right now, and the irrepressible Milly Taiden is currently very hot, especially on Amazon. I’ve read a few of her Paranormal Dating Agency novellas, and they are amusing, steamy, and enjoyable. Milly was a conference favorite, with her big smile and great attitude. I got to sit next to paranormal author Ashlyn Chase at dinner Friday night, she was lovely, interesting, and came up from New Hampshire to attend the convention. Robyn Peterman was there, and currently book one from her Hot Damned series “Fashionably Dead” is free on Amazon. She is an author who can also mix funny with sexy, and that’s always a formula for success.
Contemporary romance was very well represented. I don’t read a great deal of contemporary romance, but if I get my ebook loaded with more from Zoe York I may become a convert. She currently has four free novels and novellas listed on Kobo right now, and I’ve breezed through three of them in the last few days. They are hot, full of realistic longing and emotion, and very satisfying to read. I especially enjoyed “Fall Hard,” one of her Navy SEAL military romances. Other contemporary authors I met included Anne Lange, Sara Fawkes (on her honeymoon!), and Amy Ruttan, who has books published by Harlequin Medical, including her new novel “Melting the Ice Queen’s Heart.”
If someone asked me which author that I met made the biggest impression, I would have to say Viola Grace. I am in awe of her multi-tasking abilities: she currently writes three novellas a month, crafts, makes jewelry, and has a funny and wicked sense of humor. She was needle-felting throughout her intimate author chat, simultaneously answering questions and finishing off a felted fantasy-creature centerpiece for Saturday’s dinner. She also led one of my favorite events of the convention, her “What happens next?” session. Prompted by Viola, audience members created the characters and situational setting for a story that Viola will later write. Not only did she gift the participants with pendants that she made, but they will also get a copy of the story when it’s completed. I can’t wait to read it!
By all accounts, Romancing the Capital was a huge success. Both authors and readers have been blogging about how much they enjoyed the event and how they would attend again. Less than a week after RTC2015 had wrapped up, Eve Langlais was hammering out the dates and details for Romancing the Capital 2016! You can bet that I intend to be there.
This was a relatively small convention, at about 200 people (I think… one author told me there was a 3 to 1 reader to writer ratio, and I know there was about 50 writers, so I’m judging the numbers from that) with a lot of author/reader engagement, which was stupendous.
I would love to hear about your convention experiences, especially when the conventions are bigger. So hit me up with your comments.
~ Alice C.