Boundary Crossed

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Helen Harper

RT Convention 2015

  • May 22, 2015
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Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I’m not dreaming and life really is this much fun! I was lucky enough to travel to the Romantic Times Convention in Dallas last week and, while I only returned on Tuesday and am still struggling with jetlag, it was a phenomenal experience.

Seven hours to Tokyo, four hours stopover, then thirteen hours to Texas sounds pretty crazy. I knew with crossing the international date line that I’d struggle with jetlag so I gave myself a few days to acclimatise and explore Dallas first. I hadn’t been expecting to land in a ghost town! In KL, Sundays might be quiet but there’s still plenty going on. That wasn’t the case in Dallas – it was DEAD. Considering I was staying downtown, there was next to nothing open and next to no-one on the streets. Part of travelling around the world and getting to see new places is just that – having your expectations entirely confounded. And it wasn’t just that it was quiet. It was also cold. Lucky I thought to bring more than just a pair of flipflops for my feet!

Still, I managed to get in some sightseeing in between my odd sleeping hours. There’s something incredibly macabre about seeing the X on the spot on the road where JFK was shot. And I somehow thought the grassy knoll would be bigger. I managed to buy several large Texan-style hats (because all my friends back here had been asking for them since I booked the tickets!) and eat some seriously yummy barbecue.

When the convention itself began, I spent the first few hours in a daze. It was so large and with so many people! Every author I met handed me over a shiny, beautifully designed business card – along with numerous freebies like pens and badges and sweets. It was rather embarrassing to have nothing to hand back in return – I’m going to have to get my arse into gear and get some proper swag ordered. Everyone was also hugely down to earth. After I’d registered, I sat down on a comfy chair to watch all the people go by – a couple of others sat beside me and after several minutes of conversation they handed me their cards. The woman next to me was none other than Rachel Caine! I was pretty much struck dumb! All the other authors, whether hugely famous or not, were just as lovely and unassuming.

One of the greatest parts of the convention, besides some fabulous panels on marketing and business (expect me to be more pro-active with all that over the coming months now!) was meeting other people who I’d connected with online. Susan Ilene, the author of the Sensor series, and Debra Dunbar, of the Imp series fame, were particular stand outs. Debra even celebrated her birthday while I was there. It was an honour to have a drink (or two!) with her. They were, of course, far more organised than me. For one of the evening events, a Steampunk party, they had beautiful costumes. I had jeans. Er…

Anyway, I’m taking everything I learnt and starting to put it all into practice. And I’m definitely planning to go to the RT Convention in 2016. It’s going to be in Las Vegas and I have definite expectations of what it’s like as a city. I’m already excited to see how those expectations will be squashed. And I’m going to bring costumes, business cards, and generally be much, much more organised 😉

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