Monday 10 July 2023

The Joy of Romance Reader events

 by Alyssa J. Montgomery

From the 1st to 5th June this year, I was in Houston, Texas, at the Book Lovers Convention and it was a fun, up-beat event, but there was some sadness and a lot of nostalgia too, because this was the last Book Lovers Convention.

Taking a step back in time...The amazing, and trail-blazing Kathryn Falk founded Romantic Times and the RT conventions. She created a unique environment where writers, agents, publishing houses, cover models, reviewers, librarians and readers were all able to come together. Behind the scenes, Jo Carol Jones was the wonder woman who organised the events for- I think - about 20 years. So, when Kathryn announced that the RT convention in Reno was to be the last event, all those in attendance were thrilled to learn that Jo Carol was going to pick up the baton and continue the annual event as the Book Lovers Convention (BLC!). The slogan "I can't wait for BLC"  was particularly apt.

We talk about having a 'tribe' that isn't familial and my tribe is my romance writers/authors and reading friends. I've always enjoyed the RWA and ARRA events and gatherings, but I was on happiness overload when I attended my first RT event in 2014 in New Orleans (From memory there were approximately 3000 people there and the event was one of the most well-attended RT convention of all time).. 

From that first New Orleans gathering, I reunited with the RT then BLC "family" in Dallas, Las Vegas, Reno, New Orleans and Houston. And, as silly as it might sound, the incredible group of volunteers who stuck with Jo Carol, other authors, and especially the romance readers embraced me as part of the "family". It became the norm for me to walk through the foyer of the hotel to calls of "Alyssa! Hey girl, how are you doing?" (The fact that I'm an Aussie and many "I just love your accent" comments were made, probably made me a bit of a novelty!). 

The joys of these particular reader events were:

- meeting and connecting with like-minded people (both romance readers and writers)

-discovering new authors (and models!!)

  With some models, Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons and at a Book Bash signing event. (Images Copyright: Alyssa J                        Montgomery)




-learning more about the industry from other writers and from industry professionals

-all manner of fun in the form of dinner and dance parties, author and publishing house events, games to play and craft activities in which  to participate. (Better still, dressing up is encouraged at these gatherings)

(Fancy Dress Events! With my friends Susan and Libby

So, what's next?

Well, since Kathryn Falk first showed us the way with the RT Events, there have been several other large reader/writing/industry professional conventions that continue to 'spring up'. I've just been to the BABE23 event in Sydney (amazing event run by Tate James and Jaymin Eve), but they say this was the last BABE event in Sydney as well.

Next year I'm going to be at the READERS TAKE DENVER event in April. Tickets and accommodation are almost sold out, so if you'd like to attend, you'd better get your skates on!! 

Have you any international book conventions you're keen to attend? If so, please let us known about them.

Love to Laugh in sheer happiness at being in attendance at one of this incredibly up-beat reader conventions.

Love to Love reuniting with friends I've met through the Romance reading events and making new friends..

Love to Learn about what all my friends have been up to - what they are reading/publishing.

Best wishes to all,