Monday, April 21, 2008

A Romantic Times Weekend

Patty here...

I'm writing this post from the 21st floor of the Pittsburgh Hilton, where the Allegheny and Monongahela merge to form the Ohio River. The Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is in it's final throes and even though my suitcase is 48 bags of My M&Ms and seven books lighter, I still can't getting the bloody thing to close. My two roommates—Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff—have left for the airport and for the first time in four days, the room is devoid of laughter and smart conversation.

Approximately three hundred fifty authors attended this event, along with 900 plus readers. Trust me. Romance folks know how to party hardy—the Fairy Ball, the Blood and Steel Monster Mash, hunky, bare-chested guys in tight jeans, strutting down the runway competing for Mr. Romance. Mystery conventions seem staid by comparison.

I was part of the "Mystery Chix and Private Dix" mystery panel track. Aside from my fellow Naked Authors, I have not encountered a group of more intelligent and interesting people. I had the opportunity to spend quality time with many of them, discussing politics, family sagas, and the agony and ecstasy of the writer's life. When the convention was over, I felt as if I'd not only made connections, but I'd also made friends. Here are a few shots from the weekend.

Left to right: Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lori Andrews, Toni McGee Causey, Lois Greiman, Roberta Isleib, Lori Avocato, Lillian Stewart Carl, Sandra Hill, Harley Jane Kozak, Carole Nelson Douglas, Nancy Martin, CJ Lyons, and Shane Gericke kneeling

Here's Lois Greiman with the newly crowned Mr. Romance

Me, Lori Andrews, and Hank Phillippi Ryan who won the award for Best First Mystery
(Yay Hank!)

Me, Lori Andrews, Lori Avocato, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Shane Gericke, Lois Greiman, and CJ Lyons kicking butt after one of our panels

For a hilarious take on the convention, check out Me, Margie's April 17 post on the Lipstick Chronicles.

What's the most fun you've ever had at a convention?

Happy Monday!


  1. Hey Patty, the most fun I've ever had was at same conference--Mystery Chix at Romantic Times! I think part of the charm was our small group bonding amongst the hordes of romance writers and fans. It was great to meet you. And let's face it, mystery cons simply lack that hunk factor! Pop on over to Jungle Red Writers if you want more details--that's what I blogged about this morning too!

    Roberta Isleib

  2. I've hung out with Shane at Bouchercon. he's a good guy.


  3. Great spending time with you, Roberta. Heading over to Jungle Red. And Jim--I could tell you stories about Shane...

  4. BTW, Roberta and Hank blog at

  5. hat's the most fun you've ever had at a convention?

    1. Getting tear-gassed at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

    2. Getting mugged by a Blackstone Ranger at the same convention.

    3. Sitting next to Jimmy Breslin in the press area and hearing him call Ed Muskie a "fish."

    (Mr. Romance looks like a lounge lizard at a Miami club called "Faces" in 1985).

  6. Paulie, do you supposed it's the same lounge lizard after years of "work"? I think you and James O should show up shirtless at Bouchercon and give Mr. Romance a run for his title.

  7. Welcome home, Patty. The pix are great. My own Best Time at a Convention probably pales by comparison: talking politics with Lee Child at Thrillerfest/Phoenix.

  8. Louise, wish I would have been there to hear THAT conversation. Who-eee!

  9. I can't remember a convention at which I didn't have a wonderful time and of which I don't have great memories--probably because I missed Chicago in '68. I was only five, so they probably wouldn't have clubbed me, though. Then again, those Daley cops....

  10. Jim is too gracious, and a really good guy himself. As for the Mystery Chix--they rock! This was my first full RT convention, and it was a hoot. Being part of The Mystery Chix and Private Dix (www.mysterychix, if ya wanna see who we are) was one of the most fun and professionally fulfilling experience ever. As for meeting the various hunks in the Mr. Romance competition, I felt saggy and baggy and not worthy! But the Chix bought me glasses of likker and said they liked me, they really like me, so then it was better :-) Seriously, I had a great time, and those of you who write mysteries and thrillers would do well to attend this convention. Romance readers buy our genre by the railcar-load, and they're some of the most voracious and knowledgeable readers you'll ever meet. P.S. How did I miss meeting you, Cornelia????

    Shane Gericke

  11. The most fun at a conference that I've been to was when both Shatner and Nimoy showed up. LOL!

    My, was that a long time ago, in a world far, far away!

  12. Hey Shane. Thanks for stopping by. Jeff, a Star Trek double-header. No wonder you're still in wonder.

  13. Hi Patty! Oh, I'm missing you already. It was such an amazing time--and it does seem odd not to be planning our next adventures. (Don't forget our idea for the Magic Bus.) And remember, Shane took that smoky and glam photo of you in the bar--you should put that on your blog.

    Home in Massachusetts now, where there are no cranky elevators, and no vampires (that I know of) and where no one wears fairy wings (that I know of.) (Except on Halloween.) When my next door neighbor Molly, age four, heard I had been at a Fairy Ball, she decided I was way cool, and offered to let me use her fairy costume next year.)

    PS: Cornelia, love and admire you so much, but could we please not talk anymore about being age five in 1968?

  14. Dang, you guys go to the best conventions. :-D

    Lessee, best time at a convention? Could be when my hubby was a VIP guest of honour at Dragoncon a lot of years ago, and we had access to the VIP Greenroom. Some Babylon 5 types were having way too good a time, and I got to help out some fans who were waiting for a windbag to stop taking up all of their favourite guest's time with small talk. :-D

    I just get tongue-tied in the presence of 'celebrity', that I never want to bother them and make a fool of myself. Short or long term memory hikes it out of Dodge, and I'm left grasping for something coherent to say. Terminally shy as a kid and teen - sometimes comes up and hits me upside the head when I least expect it. Sigh. I'll probably be gunshy all weekend at Bouchercon this year, when I get a chance to meet some of you wonderfully talented people.

    Double sigh. Maybe I should just give you all cake and cookies...

    So glad you had a great time, Patty. I went over and checked out Jungle Red Writers this morning and had a nice long read and chuckle. :-D


  15. Hank!!! So so so enjoyed spending time with you. And again, many congrats on your win and your Rita and Agatha noms. Keeping fingers crossed.

    You rock, girl!

  16. Dragoncon; 40,000 people - fans and professionals. Media guests signing autographs, writers, artists, pop-culture people and promoters everywhere. They have two masquerade competitions: the G rated one, and then the R rated one much later in the evening at the main hotel. A Hilton, if I remember. The lobby was three or four levels of balcony crowded with people after the R masquerade, and competitors started coming back through the doors. The huge roar and blinding flashes of cameras marked the time when Vampira grasped the skinny straps covering her boobs and pulled... I'll leave it to your imagination. :-D

    The fans drink the bar dry and eat the Italian restaurant in the lobby out of food that weekend. The waitstaff was frantic, because people kept coming in wanting more... :-D

    Oh, and they have a rock concert in the basement.

    I'll tell everyone the rest of the stories in the bar at Bouchercon. :-D

    Marianne "who is currently stuck trying to find a name for a fictional English village..." Urk.

  17. Marianne, can't wait for you to regale us.

  18. Hi Patty - sorry it took so long to post - I am just now catching up on all the work I neglected last week for RT.

    It was great to meet you at the Mystery Lovers event and at RT - looking forward to Cache in June and hope to see you either next year at RT Orlando or anytime here in Pittsburgh!

    Kathy Sweeney

  19. Kathy, meeting you was a highlight of the trip. You are one funny lady and interviewer extraordinaire! Mystery Lovers Bookshop ROCKS! Looking forward to next time...