We all know I’m a hermit with meagre social skills – which is why the internet is such a gift. I can be as isolated as I like, revel in all the unassigned air in my extended personal space AND still chat, laugh, commiserate, rant, rave and rejoice with people. But what happens when you meet these friends in person? What if they turn out to be complete weirdos? Nutty nitwits? Worse yet, what if they meet YOU and figure out you’re not witty, engaging and insightful? That you’ve been misleading them all along? Aaaaaaargh!
These were the worries/questions/concerns that plagued me as I came to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. What if the online awesomeness of my online friendships did not match with the reality?
Abbi Glines, hot NA author, was the first to arrive in KC and right away, she ‘had me at hello’ with her Alabama accent. I could listen to Abbi talk all day, and not just because she’s hilarious. She’s hilarious in Alabama-speak as well. But it wasn’t until I heard her tell of the time some random woman made the mistake of sitting on her husband’s lap that I knew – blonde hair and blue eyes or not, this woman would fit right in with my feisty, fierce Samoan sisterhood! “This woman just sat down in his lap and said to me, ‘What’s the matter, aahm only playin.’ And ahh said, that’s not how we play in Alabama. Hell, no. We know better. Aint nobody better be dumb enough to sit in mah husband’s lap!’
Over the next few days, I met up with more of my online author friends. One of them zipped to RT on their own plane piloted by their super clever pilot husband. (so envious of Jamie McGuire because it took me over 24 hours of flying and waiting in airports to get to RT. Some of them overcame drama to make it to RT… Steph Campbell was at an airport where a man with a gun took on police and ended up shooting himself. And there were prisoners being transported on her plane, shuffling by in the aisle with their cuffs. Elizabeth Reyes wasn’t supposed to come to RT but then her super husband encouraged her to go at the very last minute so she dashed through traffic, security and ticketing craziness. Erika (aka E. L James) initially checked in under a ‘different’ name and had to skulk through the crowds so she wouldn’t get mobbed. Angie Stanton and Tracey Garvis-Graves drove alllllll day to get to RT. So did Jillian Dodd. Then unexpected snow made some of them stay a bit longer than they’d planned to. Tammara Webber even came to RT and wrote through most of it because she had a publisher deadline to keep.
I spent five days going to workshops, writing classes, author panels and industry seminars. I also spent five days and nights laughing too much, Eating too much. Drinking too much Diet Coke. Talking way too much. – With women who all know the challenges associated with trying to balance writing, publishing, raising a family and negotiating a marriage/partnership. Elizabeth Hunter made sure I tried ‘biscuits’ gravy’ for breakfast. (I am now a convert and seeking recipes to make it myself.) Killian McRae was the nicest roommate a Samoan girl on her first trip to Missouri could ever have. Nicole Williams and her gorgeous little girl had me missing Bella heaps and wishing I could have afforded to drag my Fab5 halfway round the world with me. Tina Reber was the efficient organizer who ensured we all went to nice restaurants for dinner and they all had enough wine for the late night chat-fests.
It was a week of not much sleep where we hijacked Erika’s stunning and spacious suite – and then made way too much noise so there were complaints made to hotel management. (Yeah, that’s right, I drank too much Diet Coke and partied too loud in E.L James hotel room so we all had to leave and skulk down to hang out in the lobby instead… how many girls from Lefaga can say that?…okay, it sounds waaay more badass then it was…we talked about children, spouses and stalkers. And we made a video for Colleen Hoover. Then on the way downstairs at 11pm, we bumped into the CEO for Amazon Publishing, Larry Kirshbaum who wanted to talk to the superstar authors about very important stuff, so the rest of us couldn’t be loud and obnoxious anymore.)
Overall, I can confirm that yes, it is possible to fall in love online – and then meet them in person and still think they are cool, funny and fabulous. A lot of this author thing is sitting in a cave making stuff up. I like it that way. But once in awhile it is very cool to get out and about and connect with OTHER hermits who have ventured forth from their caves too. And anybody who ever thought all writers are very shy, reserved and/or boring people – really needs to go to a Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Some of those people are eyebrow-raisers.
And now, I have twelve months to save my pennies so I can go to next year’s RT Convention. OR maybe I can turn forty AGAIN and the Hot Man will give me another America trip for my birthday! (one can live in hope)