I’ve been to a few writer cons in the past four years. I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences, but let me tell you, deciding to attend Romancing the Falls 2017 (RTF2017) was one of the best writing decisions I’ve made in a long time. Sometimes you attend a convention and because you’re not NYT Bestseller so and so people don’t talk to you. Readers avoid you and other authors treat you like the you have the plague.
Let me break down RTF2017 like this.
I met this goddess a few years ago at the first Romancing the Capital. I was new to cons, my first foray into the unknown and I was TERRIFIED. I guess I wasn’t very good at hiding it because she saw it instantly. I remember her saying to me “don’t worry so much. It’s not that serious. You got this.” Then she gave me one of the biggest hugs ever. And to think she didn’t know me. I think the only reason she knew I was one of the authors was that I was wearing the name tag that said “Kendra Mei Chailyn: Author” on it. When I tried getting into RTF2017 as a signing author, it was full. I made it into the con via the waiting list. But I didn’t mind. I waited and the day Freya send me the message that someone had to drop out and I would be getting her spot, my heart got back into that knot–the same one I had that first day I was standing outside the Holiday Inn in Kanata wondering “why am I even here?”
From that first message, Freya showed me kindness and understanding all the way through to the very end of the con. She checked in with me, made sure I was okay, made sure I was set up, made sure I wasn’t freaking out. And the hugs–yeah well, the hugs were everything!
Honestly, these people were some of the best. They were busy as bees from helping us set up our tables, to carrying things into the hall, to ensuring we had everything. During the signing (That was about five hours long) many of us didn’t get a chance to get up and move around. These volunteers were our mouths, eyes and ears and errand persons throughout the whole thing. They ensured we were fed, hydrated and that we were having the best time. They worked tirelessly to take care of us the writers and our readers and for that, I cannot be more thankful to them.
The Marriott (The location/accommodation)
The hotel was beautiful. The best part of my room were my bed and my shower. There were a few hiccups with our bathroom doors and the elevators but those were minor compared to everything else. The rooms were clean, the sheets pristine. I had a lovely time. The elevators–well, there were a lot of people going in and out of the place, up and down constantly. The wait times for the lifts were unusual but we made do.
I cannot remember being in a place with so many authors and not feeling as if I didn’t belong. At RTF2017 authors were coming up to me for hugs and pictures. Most of whom I had no idea who they were. They were people I spoke to on facebook and a few of them I had never interacted with. Random authors helped me set up my banner, others shared carts with us (since our hotel seemed to only had like four of them), the male authors helped my friend Allison and I lift boxes into her van, their husbands helped us lift boxes off carts. Hell, I was standing at one point, I guess I was looking a little overwhelmed and the fantastic JC Hannigan stopped to give me a hug and a verbal self esteem boost.
Rosanna Leo checked in on me just to give me a big hug (And it wasn’t until I got home that I realized – crap! We didn’t take a pic together – Next time for sure). I met the incredible AW Clarke who had Allison Cosgrove and I cracking up the whole way home. The downside about this is we didn’t get AW on the dance floor – hrm…oh well, next time.
Let me tell you, there are so many wonderful interactions I had at this thing, I don’t think we have all day to talk about them all.
This lady–this lady was responsible for me getting to Niagara Falls and home again. A few times I came so close to just giving up and walking away from this whole convention, but she was always there with a kick in the pants or a virtual hugs. She ventured into Toronto to pick up my books and bags. She asked to be seated close to me so she could ensure I was okay. She held my hand through this whole thing because I was coming off a really bad experience and I was a little gunshy. She helped me out of my shell at RTF2017 – helped me be more social, suffered with me in stilettos, gave me the strength to do Karaoke (Thought Christine had to save me through Say A Little Prayer, the reggae version from My Best Friend’s Wedding)…The whole experience was a million times better because of this lady and I am SO grateful and humbled and proud and over the moon by her.
From all over the world – our readers descended on Niagara Falls. They showed up, showed us support, some even bringing us goodies. It never ceases to amaze me at the depth of the love these ladies and gents show us. Sometimes I think all we do is pot words on a page and sometimes I find myself wondering if it is all worth it. When I see our readers at cons, asking me to sign things, to take a picture or fresh faces asking about my work and interested in getting to know little, ole me, it makes my heart swell. Sometimes I cry with happiness and in those moments I am reminded not to take it all for granted and to enjoy every moment. So to you who make us who we are, who make us feel like rock stars, from the bottom of my heart – I thank you.
Christine, AK, Shannon, Sue
These ladies–these ladies you want on your team when you’re terrified and an introvert and desperately trying to grow. From long conversations to breaking it down on the dance floor, from screwing up Diana King on stage to testing out new dessert and musing over the risotto, from having a small break down about the next con to trying to find yourself – these ladies were there before, during and after it all.
On our way back from Niagara Falls, Allison and I took a detour. Our GPS went gangsta and brought us to somewhere in the middle of God’s nowhere but we managed to find Becca at work. We talked, she fed us (Delicious lobster mac and cheese *Drool*) and then we gifted her with swag and books because she missed the con because she had to work. She was so happy to see us, it was worth being punk’d by our GPS just to get to her. If you guys knew the story of what had happened just a couple of weeks before the con, you’d understand why this trip was a little difficult for me to make at first. But Becca is one cool chick.
There’s so much more I’d like to talk about–but this post would be massively long. But RTF2017 was a major success. I’ve reconnected with people I haven’t seen in a year. I met new and exciting readers and fellow authors and bloggers. I’ve connected names to facebook names – I hugged, laughed, danced, eaten, talked to strangers in the elevator. In this one weekend, I feel a renewed energy I never thought would ever be possible. And for that, I thank all who made this weekend so spectacular and I send to you my love and many, many hugs.
And now – back to reality and our regular schedule programming.
Hugs as always,
**PS: You may have noticed I didn’t use any pictures in this post. This is because as you may know or have guessed, quite a few authors use pen names – If they wish to share their photos, I am sure they will but I will respect their privacy at this moment.**