I love romance books. In fact I am obsessed with romance books and all they entail. No one in my circle of friends and family really understand this about me. They know I like them and my husband is somewhat alarmed sometimes with the amount of books I have and even more so about the covers of some of them. Hey, I can’t help what the publishers to do the covers. Because of this and because of the depth of my obsession, I used to feel very alone with what is a huge chunk of my life. About four years ago I read on the Romantic Times web site, one of the few I knew about at the time, that they were having their annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is about two hours away from where I live. When I read the list of authors who were planning on being there I took the boldest step of my life and decided to go. I not only stepped outside my comfort box, the box ceased to exist. Me, Kristie, planned on going somewhere all by myself for an entire weekend. I was going to go into a world where I didn’t know a soul. In order to save costs, I signed up for a room with three other women whom I had never met before.
It turned into one of the most glorious weekends of my life. I met authors whose work had enthralled me. I will always remember when I ran into Connie Brockway outside one of the meeting rooms and made an idiot out of myself with my awestruck behaviour. She was very understanding about it. Marsha Canham held a party in one of the meeting rooms. What a blast that was. I met Lorraine Heath, an author who amazes me with the poignancy of her writing. Julia London was another wonderful author who was fairly new at the time. The list of authors who I met goes on and on. Connie Mason, whose books I admit I don’t read sat and talked with me for a very long time and I have very fond memories of her. I can't possibly list all the authors I spoke to and had sign my books. I'm not a fan girl by any means but if ever I came close it was that weekend
And the other fans. What can I say? For the first time I was among other people who are as committed to romance as I am. At one of the events they held, they had everyone come up who had more that 1,000 books in their collection. The line was staggering. And I wasn’t even in it. At the time I didn’t have 1,000. I have since long past that mark though. I talked books with complete strangers and they could totally relate to me and I too them. It was incredible. It was amazing.
There were drawbacks to the weekend. The roommates for one thing weren’t quite what I was expecting. The room had two king size beds. I would be sleeping in the same bed with someone I’d never met. Two of them were friends who owned a used book store together. They were very nice and friendly but they were there not for “the experience” , but more for business. And one of them slept on the floor which I thought rather odd. They went to the meetings held for bookstore owners and publishers wanted to make business contacts and grow their business. And the one I had to share a bed with. Well, she was different, I’ll say that for her. She snored. And great leaping lizards did she snore loud. I thought my father was a loud snorer when I was a kid but she made him sound like he had a mild case of the snuffles. And I think every sentence she uttered started with the phrase “well, in my opinion”. And none of her opinions met with mine at all. “Well in my opinion, books written today have way too much sex in them.” “You’ve got to be kidding” I thought to myself. "Well, in my opinion nothing good is being written these days."After 15 minutes in her presence I had to take myself away. I honestly don't know why she was there. Nothing made her happy.
Another huge drawback was the fact I didn’t budget for food. Really huge mistake there. For some reason I had thought all the meals would be provided for. They weren’t. They had two wonderful dinners with parties after that were great loads of fun. And they provided muffins and pastry for breakfast but that was all. With the money I had, I could either save it for the book sale they planned or I could buy myself something to eat. I went with the books of course.
The third problem I had was my back. When I get stressed, it goes straight to my back. And leaving that box, as wonderful as it was, was very stressful. As I've said, I am normally very shy and quiet when meeting new people. For the weekend to mean anything, I had to be someone I not usually am. I had to approach people and introduce myself. It went very well, but it was hard. The Saturday night I could not sleep at all. Between the bedmate that snored to beat the band, and the agony I was in with my back I ended up getting dressed and going down to the lobby of the hotel at 4:30 in the morning, not having got any sleep at all.
It was all worth it though. I left Sunday tired, hurting like the dickens and very very hungry but for the first time in my life I was with my people.