Last weekend I attended RomCon 2014 down in Denver. RomCon is a conference for readers and writers in the Romance genre and its various sub-genres. There was a lot going on and a fair few people, but the conference has a very intimate feel with plenty of opportunities for meeting authors. It is a primarily fan driven conference, but they also sponsor RomCon University which provides various topics of interest to authors and aspiring writers.
You might ask, how did a Lutheran pastor end up at a romance conference? Several reasons. 1) My wife reads a lot of romance, primarily in the science fiction and paranormal genres, and her favorite author, S.E. Smith, was going to be at the conference. 2) The weekend before the conference my wife won two free registrations. Otherwise I was going to be left in the hotel room or sent off to the Colorado Rockies games; and 3) I read books, and sometimes I read romances, albeit primarily in the historical genre.
The conference for readers took place over Friday through Sunday morning. There were a fair few authors present, around 40 or so. Lots of fans too. Overall, as I mentioned, there’s a very intimate feel to the conference. You aren’t overwhelmed by the number of people, which certainly is comforting for introverts like my wife and me. We didn’t take advantage of all the sessions but focused on our primary interests.
The first session we attended was the intimate chat with S.E. Smith. The chats are designed for a limited number of fans to get up close and personal with authors. They aren’t held for every author but there’s a limited selection, which I assume changes from year to year. This was Susan’s (S.E.) first ever convention so it was a good opportunity for her to calm her nerves before she took part in larger panels. There were 8 of us visiting with Susan. Certainly a good time learning about her writing style, her motivations, and the process of getting published for an indie writer.
Although we hadn’t originally signed up for it because of a misunderstanding, on Friday we were able to attend the Readers Crown Luncheon. This is where RomCon hands out various awards to authors. S.E. Smith won in the Sci-Fi/Time Travel category for her book called Ha’ven’s Song.
In the evening we attended the authors’ signing, about an hour and a half of wandering around talking to various authors and looking over books. I had done some research on the different authors before coming to the conference and narrowed my focus to those in the historical and fantasy genres. Sheri Cobb South does Regency romance for the most part. Elizabeth Essex does historical romances. Cate Rowan does fantasy romances. They were the primary three I was looking to talk to, as they write the kind of romance I usually read.
I did however wander around to most tables. Not a lot of stuff that really appealed to me per se, but there was lots of swag and the occasional free book. Plus talking to various authors occasionally will give you leads on new authors. I was talking with Patience Griffin, whose books I normally wouldn’t read as they’re Scottish contemporary romances, but she gave me a line on an author of Regency romance. So I later bought one of her books, To Scotland with Love: Kilts and Quilts, as a thank you.
Saturday was a bit more active for us. My wife attended panels with such titles as “Hot or Not” and “Hot Heroes from Other Worlds.” In the morning I went to Mimosa Madness, which was like bingo but with Mimosas, although I had water. You had a card with various bits of information and you had to connect those bits of information with various authors by asking them the questions. If you got a line bingo you could pick out various little prizes, and if you got a completed card you could enter it for the big drawing of a $100 Amazon gift card. Guess who won the card!! A shout out to Anne Marie Becker who was nice enough to sign the last spot on my card and thus qualify me for the drawing.
I spent the second half of the morning at the historical chat panel. Very informative and entertaining. Great lovers of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer there. I also picked up the names of at least 10 more authors whose books I need to try out.
In the afternoon I attended a few more intimate chats. The first was with Elizabeth Essex. Again a very informative chat focusing on her background (she did nautical archaeology, i.e. investigating shipwrecks, which often comes across in her books), the way she does research and the process of writing.
The second chat I was going to attend was with Sandy Loyd, and I must admit it was primarily because I needed to pick up my gift card from her. We ended up combining her chat and Debra Holland’s chat. It turned out to be a great chat with them. We learned a lot about the publishing industry and self publishing. I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to know that publishers usually drive the market of what gets published as opposed to what readers really want. Erotica is the big thing right now, and so publishers are convinced “sweet” romances won’t sell. Well, self publishing has allowed authors like Debra, who writes sweet cowboy romances, to show that there is a market for such books. Of course, I don’t really read sweet cowboy romances, but Debra has done a fantasy series. And I see Sandy does some historical romance.
On Sunday my wife went to the paranormal romance chat panel while I attended a session where several authors read selections from their books dealing with “firsts.” First look, first meeting, first kiss, etc. I apparently used up my luck winning the gift card the day before because I didn’t win any of the giveaways at the reading, but oh well.
All in all, we had a really great time and hope to be able to go back next year. The only bad thing, if it can be called that, is now I have a whole lot more books to add to my To Be Read list.