by Cara McKenna
By the time this posts, there'll be only two weeks to go before the second annual Ellora's Cave RomantiCon convention kicks off! Although Richfield, Ohio may not strike one as a hot destination for a conference, between October 7 and 10 it will be The Place to be for erotica authors (published as aspiring) and fans of the genre. Oh and who are the Cerridwen Press authors and fans? Chopped liver? Mainstreamers are welcome too.
I'm going, are you?
This will be my first RomantiCon, and everyone I've talked to who attended raved about last year's event. It sounds like the perfect mix of professional development and partying, and a publishing-snobbery-free zone. My only trepidation is arriving unprepared. To my mild chagrin and utter non-surprise, the main outlet for convention detail dissemination is the Yahoo Group. As much as I loathe Yahoo Groups, I won't contest that they're still the best option for what they are…Google Groups are very spammy, and until someone figures out a way to replace existing Yahoo Groups but manage to aggregate a given group's backlog of files and correspondence, we're stuck with them. [end rant]
Where was I going with that? Oh right—all the details of RomantiCon. If you're running behind on boning up on conference to-dos, as I am, you may be relieved to hear I'm doing all my fellow last-minute planners a public service, wading through the verrrry chat-heavy and disorganized Loop messages (I'm faulting the technology, here, not the users) in an attempt to simplify the deets. This may sound like overkill, but many fun events means plenty of chances to miss out on making the most of them. For example, have you got your costume? Your sash? Your silly hat? Well, those items are all for different nights! Allow me to elucidate what you need to know, day by day. For a full hour-by-hour schedule, go here.
Before You Leave Home
If you haven't booked your flight yet, be advised the Cleveland airport is closer to the venue. I made the mistake of assuming Akron was closer, since that's the home of EC's offices. But no! Dalton set me straight. And no matter which airport you're arriving at, if you don't know how you're getting to the hotel in Richfield, sign up with Gregg at Western Reserve Transportation. Click here for both the e-mail and phone number to contact him. There's also a database going on the conference's Yahoo Group page where you can enter your arrival and departure info and view others'.
Also, authors, make sure you've completed any other forms that apply to you—click on the Databases tab on RomantiCon's Yahoo Group homepage to view them.
Thursday, October 7
If you've brought promo items with you, Thursday is the time to get them to Valerie so she can get baskets assembled. I'm making up two customized ceramic mugs with bags of candy in them, tied with ribbons with my calling cards and a $5 Good Vibrations gift card attached. They'll be used as giveaway/door-prize items. Other authors are donating books, pens, bookmarks, Chapsticks…anything you can think of, I'm sure.
In the evening there's a meet-and-greet. Authors and fans alike are invited to create a Miss America-style sash with their name and possibly a book title or personal motto. There will be an informal contest to determine the best [read: most outrageous, I suspect] sash. I'm not sure if I'll be doing that one yet, depends on if the materials fall into my lap in time.
Friday, October 8
Workshops in the morning and afternoon, pre-party photo opps with the Cavemen cover models at 6:30.
At 7:30 the Roaring Twenties theme party kicks off! I'm psyched for this. Period dress is optional (flapper dresses, cigarette holders, feathers, beads, gangster-type ensembles, etc.) and although I was leery about shelling out for a costume I'd only wear once, I was determined to participate. I had fantastic luck, finding a flapper-esque dress I'd actually be able to wear elsewhere. After much internet scouring I figured it out—search for a "tiered dress". I found a really nice, really cheap one on Overstock.com, black chiffon layers that give that flappery look, no satin or expensive beading required. Another tip—I scored all my jewelry to accessorize it at the chain store Forever 21 (now simply called XXI in most malls). The twenties look is apparently hot, as they had plenty of cheap-but-cool cloche hats and feathered headbands and long strings of assorted faux pearls. Score. Also, if you fancy a dance off, bone up on your Charleston chops by searching YouTube for "learn charleston dance". There will also be a simple demo during the party. Fingers crossed the contest won't end up like the one in It's a Wonderful Life.
And this just in from Samantha Kane! "As sponsors of the dance contest, Mari Freeman, Kris Daniels and I will be giving away $100, $50, and $25 gift cards, and the winner will be Queen For A Day on Sunday, first in line at the booksigning, complete with tiara!"
Saturday, October 9
Workshops in the morning and afternoon, then in the evening it's the Ellora's Cave 10th Anniversary party! No specific dress code, just wear your dancing and schmoozing gear.
Sunday October 10
Workshops in the morning. At noon the bookfair begins! Free admission, and dozens of EC and Cerridwen Press authors will be participating. I can't wait to hear from readers. After feeling like a bit of a pariah in the sea of largely mainstream romance authors at RWA National's signing, I'm psyched to chat with erotica enthusiasts and suffer no snooty glances directed at my torsotastic book covers. No official dress code, but most authors aim for a balance between casual and formal—think nice jeans with heels and blouses, blazers and slacks, skirts and sweaters, and dresses that land somewhere between summer barbecue and ballgown. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and stylish, and projects the image of you that you'd like readers to leave with. I'll probably go the dressy jeans and blazer with swanky shoes route.
It's always a good idea to bring goodies for your signing spot—promo items, candy, business cards, laptops set up with your website or a slideshow of your covers displayed… And I know some more well-established authors have binders with cover flats of all their back titles in them for readers to browse. Someone on the Loop thoughtfully suggested that in addition to regular pens for the signing, silver Sharpies are a must—when you're selling e-books, you sign the cover flat, not the inside pages, so silver shows up great on dark covers. I bought a four-pack, so if you panic, come find me.
At 5:00 it's the farewell bingo party, with pizza! Strictly casual, plus there's a prize for the most outstandingly silly hat. Doing my best to be a joiner for a change, I ordered one specially for the occasion.
The Conference Checklist
And of course, all those things you're always told to bring with you to conferences: business cards, bandages, safety pins, your camera (captive Cavemen, remember?), mints, device chargers, Post-Its, aspirin, a sweater for layering since hotels are notoriously chilly, etc. Dalton also helpfully suggested thinking about water—last year the vending machines ran out of bottles by day three, so if you're cagey about tap water, consider packing some emergency bottles of your own. And an excellent tip from Regina Carlysle—first-time conference goers, don't rely on your perfect new go-with-everything shoes to get you through the trip. Pack a pair of comfort-tested flats for when those darling, brand-new heels turn savage, as they always do.
And that's about it! Attendees, if you have tips or details I've missed, please share them in the comments so I can add them to the post. The more comprehensive the better. Hope to see many of you in two weeks in your conference finery!