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Guest blogger: Alyssa J Montgomery

8 June 2014

Alyssa J MontgomeryRT Convention 2014, New Orleans

A couple of weeks ago I returned from my first RT Convention in New Orleans. Wow! What an experience! The opportunity to connect with romance readers, other authors and a whole range of people working in the romance novel industry was simply incredible. To say that the whole even was ‘Bigger than Ben Hur’ is probably an understatement as the convention had a record number of attendees—well over 2000.

My week at RT kicked off on the Monday morning at a two-day boot camp. The course was designed for aspiring authors and covered a lot of very important basic ground. Although I’ve signed three contracts now and have another two books submitted to Escape Publishing, I was about to embark on a new novel, and I thought this course was a timely and very worthwhile one to attend.

Tuesday afternoon I attended the international event hosted by Megan Bamford and also Kathryn Falk, founder of RT. It was lovely to touch base with the contingent of Aussies. I met ARRA members Sarah, Aimee and Pamela who were all flying the ARRA banner and handing out Tim Tams and cards advertising our very own ARRA convention in Canberra next March!

With Harlequin authors Susan Stephens and Carole Mortimer

With Harlequin authors Susan Stephens and Carole Mortimer

There were many ‘squee’ moments for me as a romance reader—meeting some of my favourite authors such as Sabrina Jefferies and also the opportunity to meet with Carole Mortimer (an RT Award recipient this year) and Susan Stephens, who had both been at the RWA Conference in Fremantle last year. I also dutifully lined up at the Book Fair and had books signed by Tamora Pierce for my teenage daughter.

There were many industry workshops, including an insight into indie publishing, which was useful as I realised while in New Orleans that it will be important for me to travel down the indie publishing road in order to publish the number of stories I wish to write each year. Loads of workshops on marketing and on ‘perfecting’ the craft of romance writing were all very relevant to me as I am at the infancy stage in my journey as a writer.

Dinner with cover model, Jeremy

Dinner with cover model, Jeremy

The social events were terrific. New Orleans is a city that has its own beat and as Mardi Gras capital, what better tourist place for an evening of fun than Mardi Gras World! I must admit, sitting next to one of the cover models at another dinner has to rate a mention as well! (I’m beginning to enjoy the perks of being a romance writer!) I thought that scrolling through pages of internet images of bare-chested males was hard to take, but actually having a gorgeous group of male cover models roaming around the convention centre was very pleasing to the eye! And to arrive late for dinner, be hunting around desperately for a vacant seat only to find one at long last AND next to Jeremy was really the icing on the cake—and I must say this photo doesn’t really do him justice, ladies!

Kathryn Falk from RT

With Kathryn Falk, founder of RT

But in the midst of all the buzz of this amazing and well-run convention, I kept meeting with the very gracious RT Founder, Kathryn Falk, Lady of Barrow. I can’t help but be impressed by her and the vision she had. A lifelong fan of the romance genre, Kathryn started RT Book Reviews in 1981 and twelve months later wrote How to Write a Romance. In an article I found on the internet, ‘About Kathryn Falk/RT Book Reviews’, she is quoted as saying, ‘I figured there must be other women like myself who wanted to know about the available books, the authors and how to write a romance.’ How right she was and how awesome that the RT Convention has grown to such mammoth proportions offering so much to readers, authors and industry professionals alike.

I’ve told my husband I’d love to be in Dallas (13-17 May) next year and he’s delighted that I’ve come home feeling the trip was so worthwhile. I hope I’ll meet with some of you in Dallas.

At the Book Fair, RT Convention. 750 authors signing books!!!

At the Book Fair, RT Convention. 750 authors signing books!!!

On that note, however, I also thought how fortunate we are in Australia to have had romance-loving women form ARRA so that we have our own wonderful romance reader’s association bringing us all together to share our passion for this genre. Who knows how big the ARRA conventions will become over the next few decades? I look forward to seeing ARRA grow.

Alyssa J Montgomery is an Australian author of contemporary romances who has recently written a romance set in Medieval times. She lives south of Sydney with her husband and three children on acreage they share with a menagerie of animals. As well as writing, she is a speech pathologist in private practice and has been an international flight attendant for Qantas and a professional pianist.

Echoes of the HeartMistaken IdentityAlyssa’s latest novel, Echoes of the Heart, was released on 1 April by Escape Publications. Her debut novel, Mistaken Identity, released 1 November by Escape, was a finalist in the ARRA 2013 Awards in the category ‘Sexiest Hero for 2013’.

Alyssa can be found here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

  1. 8 June 2014 8:45 pm

    Nice to hear from you ladies.
    Pam…absolutely…size can be a disadvantage and there’s a lot to be said for intimacy!!!

    By the way, Pam, I think you, Sarah and Aimee should have a photo of the books you had made up for autographs put on the ARRA website so everyone can see how fabulous they are. I was in awe of them!

    • Debbie permalink
      9 June 2014 12:22 pm

      This is an awesome idea Alyssa! I will follow up with Pamela

  2. pamalidi permalink
    8 June 2014 6:50 pm

    It was lovely meeting you too Alyssa.
    Its amazing how Tim Tams can be such an object of desire! Occasionally I thought I’d be stampeded for them!
    However I must say that while I enjoyed the experience of being part of a 2500 person convention, it really brought home how lucky we are with our smaller, more intimate and extremely well organised convention.
    Pamela 🙂

    • Debbie permalink
      9 June 2014 12:21 pm

      Glad to hear that Pamela – the thought of organising an event for that number of people is terrifying!

      • 9 June 2014 12:30 pm

        Sorry to raise that terrifying thought Debbie! RT of course is big business now and had paid staff as well as volunteers there to run the show! I think ARRA is run brilliantly and comprehensively and know I am one of the many who is enjoying the results of the efforts of the relatively few. The work that is done voluntarily is fabulous.

  3. 8 June 2014 4:25 pm

    Nice post, Alyssa – now I also know what you look like! I really hope I’ll be able to attend onebof these someday 🙂

  4. cassandrasamuels permalink
    8 June 2014 12:27 pm

    Great blog. The RT looked like so much fun. I hope I might be able to go next year. I agree with Alyssa that our own ARRA is only going to keep growing and get better with every year.

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