10 Things I Learned At The RT Convention

RTcover picTo get my feet wet and learn a bit about attending book conventions, I took advantage of the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention being in Dallas in May.

Now, I have been to a multitude of conventions…teaching conventions, journalism conventions, and photography and church conventions. Of course, each one is different and has a vibe to it that either leaves you wanting more or scratching your head wondering where’s the door.

The RT convention definitely had a vibe…a charismatic, knock you out with “romance” vibe, and these folks do not shy away from a reason to party. But, it wasn’t just about handsome cover models and author signings. They had an inspirational track and a young adult (YA) track, and their many panels over a wide range of topics helped me learn some things I’d like to share.

Top 10 Things I learned at the RT Booklovers Convention
  1. EVERYONE loves free SWAG! Giving back to others is a lovely gesture and truly, if you can, you must. Buttons, magnets, bracelets, bookmarks, tote bags, and more were hot items for ladies and gents of ALL ages. Give.
  1. Pull up your bootstraps and be BRAVE. You may never have another opportunity to meet an author you admire or get an answer to a question from an expert in the field. Be brave and take the initiative to raise your hand and ask a question, approach speaker for a signature, or say hello to a new friend in line who might just become a best friend or writing partner. Be Brave y’all!  (See what I did in my next blog Author Spotlight?)
  1. Write what You want to Read. Over and over again, authors such as Francine Rivers and CC Hunter talked about how their characters and their stories were ones that reached out and grabbed them and they HAD to write to see how it ended. Whatever your talent, don’t just do it to sell, write (sing, blog, share) what you want to read, what you know, and what you are passionate about and good things will come.
  1. Get involved in YOUR community. Whether your interest lies in being with other new mommies, becoming a healthier version of yourself, taking pictures, or writing your first novel, you need to find a group that shares similar interests so that you can discuss, support, and learn. This could look like joining a writer’s group, a specific gym class, or a church life group. It could be helping at a women’s shelter, a food pantry, or an annual fundraiser. Being involved gains you life experience, fellowship with like-minded folks, and a feeling of belonging.  It’s the hardest thing to start, but it’s the most rewarding once you do.
  1. It’s all about longevity. Sounds cliché’, but it’s the most solid truth. Be steady. Be consistent. Be you all the time. And, Don’t. Give. Up.
  1. Find quiet (you) time. Statistics say we are busier as a population than ever before. So, slow it down and find the quiet. This might not be absolute silence, but I found that after three hour-long classes back to back the first day of this convention, my brain was already spinning a bit, and with all the noises, I had to find a quiet corner, grab a seat and just people watch. This also applies to life. When you’re overwhelmed with deadlines, meetings, carpooling, and laundry, sometimes you need to take a small step back, set your timer, and give yourself an hour (or three) to read, take a walk, or take a nap…anything that allows you to clear your mind. Take care of you.
  1. Don’t do everything…Do What Works for You. Whenever I go to a convention, I always pick up a myriad of information that’s supposed to help me in my pursuit of perfection! But, while I like knowing that there are many resources at my disposal, inevitably I get overwhelmed and start to wonder do I really need to register, sign-up, or pay for all these awesome companies or memberships. The answer is a very loud NO! NO, you don’t need to join another social media outlet. NO, you don’t need to have three of the same type of software. NO, you don’t need just one more…of whatever it is. More is just more, not better. Pick the companies and resources that work best for YOU, your budget, and your lifestyle, and bookmark the rest for later time.
  1. Be Authentic. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Be you and only you. Don’t be fake or superficial. Delve deep. Stand out. Be different because it’s who you are, not what you have to do to join the club. Be who God made you to be because you are unique. Be authentic.
  1. Even if you face rejection, Believe in Your Dream. At the convention, I bravely asked a Top 5 publishing company’s marketing assistant a specific question about young adult publishing, and, honestly her response was negative. I left that meeting dejected…and determined. When I chose to start Little Lamb Books, it was like being hit by a lightning bolt. It was a dream of my childhood, one I had long buried and thought could never happen. I mean, who was I to bring together unpublished authors to share faith and inspire young lives? Me. I’m Me. And when God re-introduced me to my dream, it came alive. Through research, wise counsel, and much prayer, I believe with my whole being that this company is God’s calling for me and for Christian YA authors, and HE will see it grow and find success. I just have to BELIEVE.
  1. Honor God. This wasn’t necessarily a panel lesson at RT, but while faced with many discussions about passion, relationships and love, I was reminded that GOD is all about relationships, love, and passion. He loves us fully and completely, flaws and all. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to be in a right RELATIONSHIP with Him and honor Him with all the talents and gifts we have been given. He loves us so much and He can, and will give us the desires of our hearts.