Swoonba and sleepovers: The Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2014


It’s my first day back in the office after the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention, and my brain is a bit fried, BUT I wanted to tell you all about our fabulous time at RT while I’m still solidly in the post-RT glow. I apologize in advance if this is a bit scattered. :-)


The lobby of Jean’s swoonworthy hotel.

Jean and I headed down to RT pretty early on Wednesday morning, which meant that we had time to get checked into our hotels (Jean’s hotel was particularly swoonworthy!) and grab some lunch before heading over to the convention itself. There, Jean and I split up to head to two different craft panels. (Craft panels are where a group of different authors talk about various aspects of their writing process and give advice to aspiring authors.) Jean went to THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF ORGANIZING A SERIES, where she met up with an F&F author, Ann Aguirre. Meanwhile, I learned about what it’s like to write with a partner in DOUBLE TROUBLE, and made a few new friends who invited me to come knit with them later on.

Then, after exploring the convention a bit more, including dropping into a couple of parties and discovering an entire hall filled with free swag and promo items, we headed back to The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, for a fabulous dinner with Sandy Hall. The seared scallops were amazing and we were all swooning over the amuse bouche.

Jean with F&F author, Ann Aguirre


Thursday was the day of our big panel, so Sandy and I met up early to beat the lines and grab breakfast at The Ruby Slipper. (We didn’t want to faint from hunger and low blood sugar in the middle of Swoonba!) After we each managed to eat about half of our ginormous servings, we headed back into the convention where we caught another panel. Then we met up with Jean and were joined by Kathryn L. and Allison V. who had just made it in from the airport  in time for the panel.

We started off with a quick Swoonba session and then talked about the site, the process, and what it was like for Sandy as the first author.  Everyone there was really invested, and we had a ton of fun!

Afterwards, it was time for more fabulous New Orleans food at Mr. B’s, where Allison impressed us all (including the wait staff) with her ability to eat New Orleans BBQ shrimp without making a mess. :-)

Sadly, Jean had to leave us after lunch, but we pressed on and had another great afternoon at the convention. Sandy and I also even managed to carve out enough time for a quick editorial meeting!

Then, it was time for the Macmillan Family Dinner at Bayona, which involved more great food and pretty drinks. Although I’m afraid we inhaled our food so quickly that we forgot to take proper pictures!


Friday was Sandy’s last day in New Orleans, so we decided to start the day out with a visit to the famous Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait.

Then, in between panels (my favorite of the day was about world building in YA high fantasy with a fantastic group of authors including Leigh Bardugo, Kelley Armstrong, Rae Carson, Morgan Rhodes, and Tamora Pierce), we had a blast just talking to people in the halls about Swoon Reads. We got some fun video of people doing romance trope Swoon offs (Boy Next Door or Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold) and even managed to get a few people to Swoonba with us!

Some of the swag I got at the convention.


Saturday was a big day for us. Not only was it our last day at the convention, it was also Teen Day, and it kicked off with a GIANT book fair with more than 700 authors available to sign books!

But, the book fair didn’t start until 11 a.m., so I had a little time that morning to wander around, during which I discovered the St. Louis Cemetery 1 which holds the grave of Marie Laveau, known as the Voodoo Queen. (And I have to say that I’m glad it was bright daylight, because there was totally an open grave in there, and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking of zombies and vampires.)

But luckily I had the siren call of books to lure me back, and we went into the rather overwhelming Giant Book Fair. After stopping by to say hello to several Macmillan authors, we found a quiet place for a few more Swoon-offs, and made our escape (after I paid  for my three signed books, of course… what? you expected me to be surrounded by that many books and authors and NOT come out with a stack of books? I was proud of myself that it was only three!)

After yet another amazing New Orleans lunch with Kathryn and Allison, this time at the Green Goddess, we headed back to dive into the Teen Day portion of the con. There were author speed readings, where the moderator attacked authors with a stuffed alligator if they ran long…. An Interactive Writing Panel, where a group of fabulous YA authors brainstormed an idea with the audience and managed to turn a rather ridiculous premise into something that I would have been happy to read… And Allison got an invite to a last minute panel about the If I Stay movie with a special guest actor. (I also managed to sit in on a chat with one of my favorite adult romance authors, which was really lovely.)

Allison and Kathryn at The Green Goddess.

Then, we rounded off our trip with the Teen Day Party. At first, we were co-opted into standing guard over the Teen Day bags (which Swoon Reads helped to sponsor!), but after they were given out, we were able to mingle with a host of wonderful authors, great librarians, and some really enthusiastic teen readers. We gave out the last of our Swoon Reads Swag, got a few more video clips and then it was time for a dance party!

The whole convention felt rather like the most wonderful sleepover with a host of amazing people. My final verdict? A very, very Swoonworthy 5 hearts!



Author spotlight

Holly West

Senior Editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. Giant geek. Dedicated fangirl. Half-Elven Rogue Cleric. Also answers to That-Girl-Who-Reads-A-Lot.

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