More than 2,000 unite in Kansas City for RT convention - WNEM TV 5

More than 2,000 book lovers unite in Kansas City for RT convention

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The Sheraton Crown Center is hosting one of the most sizzling and seductive conventions you can attend.

And it's specifically for book lovers.

The 30th anniversary of the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention began this week in Kansas City. This is the first time in 10 years that the convention has come to Kansas City.

Both the Sheraton and nearby Westin are sold out. More than 2,000 authors, aspiring authors, agents, publishers, industry leaders and readers will attend the sessions.

The 125 sessions cover a myriad of topics including offering tips for writing a great book, getting published and using social media and other avenues to market your book. But there are also over-the-top giveaways, games, a disco ball, dancing, scavenger hunts and celebrations of those hunky beef cakes adorning the book covers.

"This is a big party where we all get to take time to be together for a few days," best-selling author Stephanie Draven said. "We get to get out of the writer's cave and meet actual readers. People are very open to talk to you."

Reader Diane Stacy has attended the last 15 RT conventions. She loves reading, but especially romance books.

"You get carried away," she explained. "I love every genre, but I just love my romance books."

But don't let the title deceive you. The convention doesn't cater just to readers of romance books.

"We now have thrillers and sci-fi paranormal, erotics, inspirational," organizer Carol Jones said. "We go from one spectrum to the other."

Draven writes romance books, including her latest, It Stings So Sweet, and In Bed with the Opposition. Under the name Stephanie Dray, she writes historical novels such as Lily of the Nile, Song of the Nile and Daughters of the Nile.

This is Draven's third RT convention. She said the convention offers numerous workshops "oriented toward writers in every stage of their career."

For first-time attendees, Dray said expect a warm welcome and to plan to return to future conventions.

"The people who seem like strangers this time will be your friends next time," she said.

Draven is co-hosting an event at 10 a.m. Thursday called The Hero Games, where readers can pin a heart on their hero and win fabulous prizes. She and authors Laura Kaye, Elisabeth Naughton and Stephanie Julian will host Friday morning Scrambled Gods and Monsters.

A giant book fair will be held Saturday, and attendees can expect their luggage to be packed with 40-plus books on their return flights home on Sunday. Readers may find that they want to become aspiring authors and the convention helps put them on the track for publication some day in a tough industry.

RT Booklovers attracts big-time authors like Robyn Carr, Karen Robards and Jude Deveraux. In the area of historical fiction, best-selling authors C.W. Gortner and Kate Quinn will attend.

While Draven herself is an established and successful author, she is looking forward to visiting with authors like Gortner and Quinn. She also wants to meet with author Sylvia Day.

Jones said the chance to meet with authors really draws attendees back year after year.

"It's all about the authors. People want to get to meet the authors. They are the stars," Jones said. "Many of the attendees are readers when they first come ... but after a few years, become aspiring authors."

Trent Hart's urge to write urban fantasy novels drew him to make the trek from Houston.

"I'm working on my first draft," he said. "I think after this it's really going to inspire me to GO!"

The convention draws attendees from other countries including England and Canada.

Best-selling author Cherry Adair said she began attending the conventions 25 years ago, well before her writing career soared.

"I can give you a summary of all three of my series. I can do it very fast. Here it is: running, chasing, shooting, jumping, falling down, wild monkey sex, running, getting shot, shooting somebody else, having a fist fight, falling down and then happy ending. Period. That's them," she said.

She enjoys teaching aspiring authors through her workshop.

"I started in a vacuum," she said. "I didn't have a mentor and I didn't know that RT conference existed. I just wrote, but I've always believed in paying it forward."

Stacy said the convention's atmosphere is that of a family reunion.

"Everybody comes every year, and we all look forward to it," she said. "We may not talk all year, and then you walk in and you see everybody and you hug and kiss. We love it. We just love it."

Social media including Twitter and Facebook helps authors stay in touch in between conventions.

Follow tweets about the convention by using hashtag #RT13, and go to the convention website by clicking here.

Next year's convention will be held in New Orleans in mid-May.

"Start making travel plans and saving your pennies," Draven said. "It's going to be quite a party in New Orleans."

But first they are coming to rock Kansas City this week.

The full conference is sold out, but you can buy day passes and a library card will get you into author signings at no charge. If you don't have a library card, it's $5 to attend a signing.

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