I’m going to the RT Convention in Chicago this April. I’ve been to several RWA Nationals and to quite a few regional conferences, but this is my first RT. Another friend is going for her first time and asked me what to wear. I sent her question to Liz Kreger, who’s been to the conference often. After receiving Liz’s answer, I was glad I asked. My other friend was just as thankful, and I thought this would be of interest to other first timers. Here’s Liz’s advice:
There’s the sci fi party which you can do anything sci fi … or just regular clothes.
I generally wear a long black coat that has a lot of silver in it and all black clothes.
She mentioned Heather Graham’s party, which in the past few years have been vampire balls:
That’s pretty much anything goes. If you want to dress like a vamp … go for it. But I generally wear formal. I have a long black satin skirt that I pair up with a dressy top. I’ve noticed a trend toward more casual, but it’s still a dressy affair. Keep in mind that that’s a dinner and theater sorta night that Heather Graham puts on.
Liz advised me to check RT’s website to see what’s going on. I did and there’s a lot! This is a real party conference, so I’ll just talk about the ones you might want to bring something for that you normally wouldn’t pack. Liz mentioned the sci fi party, and there could be more than one opportunity to wear that outfit. On Wednesday, there’s also a Speakeasy, Flappers & All That Jazz party with the Foxy Dames. The description says “Boas, sequins, flapper-style–anything goes!” For a YA Midnight Slumber Party, PJs are optional.
Midday Thursday is the Wild ‘N Wacky Readers Party, with cover models. You’re invited to bring a boa (perhaps one you wore to the All That Jazz party) and to leave your inhibitions. There’a a Steampunk Gaslamp Gathering in the afternoon. The description says to “Cinch your corset, fold your fan, tip your top hat, grab your goggles and open your clockwork heart…” There is no costume requirement, but if you have have something you think would fit, go for it! There will be a fashion show and authors in this genre.
Samhain is having a Western Stampede Mixer early in the evening. It’s just for an hour and, again, no costume requirement, but this doesn’t mean you can’t bring your cowboy boots and any other Western wear. A longer party, from 8:30pm to midnight is a Magical Scottish Fling. If you have any plaids or kilts, this would be the place to wear them. Or just go with your regular party clothes and have fun. At the Rocky Horror from midnight to 2PM, you can watch the movie and dress up as your favorite Rocky Horror character.
Helen Graham’s Friday night party this year is called RT’S GANGSTER CAFE TALENT QUEST. It has a ’20s theme, but it doesn’t completely get rid of the vamp and other paranormal creatures. From their description: “…mobsters slipped in, and molls found their mates, vampires roamed and zombies longed for world of the truly living. A werewolf or two dropped in now and then, and just about anything could happen.” I don’t know what talent they’re looking for but I plan on being there to find out.
Here’s some non-fashion advice from New York Times bestselling author, Cynthia Eden (who’s a speaker on the Holding Out For a Hero workshop on Thursday):
My advice is to actually pace yourself.
There are so many things going on at RT. You can find a party at any time. 😉 So try to plan your schedule out in advance so that you can make the most of your time. I try to do a combination schedule that will allow me to pick up some great craft or research workshops and still allow me to have time to mix and mingle at all of the parties (a quick note—be sure to arrive early at those parties! The lines can be killer!).
It always seems to come back to the party. Marcia Colette won’t be there this year, but she’s attended other years and gave this advice:
My biggest piece of advice is to take a look at the schedule *before* you leave for RT and make a plan.
Decide what’s at the top of your list of panels that is a must-see, then have a backup panel just in case it gets canceled, is boring, or can’t get into the room. Speaking of which, if it’s really important that you go to a particular panel, show up to the one that’s prior to it. That way, you have a seat or stand a chance at getting the best seat in the house once the room clears.
Oh, and for writers, don’t think that you’re off limits to readers events, even if you’re on the panel. Folks in those rooms LOVE letting their hair down and have a blast doing it.
I don’t have promo advice, but Marcia said, “PLEASE tell me that you’re going to participate in the ebook fair. The room is probably going to be explosive with readers this year, given that so many have either ereaders or tablets. It was tight even when I participated in 2010. Not only that, but it’s so much fun. You don’t have to have a physical book either.”
I’m not participating. I’m bringing business cards and will happily hand them out like they’re M&Ms. I’m thinking of bringing trifolds with excerpts. I do want to connect with readers, but for the most part I plan to enjoy myself.
Here’s the convention home page. If you’re at the conference and see a very short woman, check out the name tag. If you see my name, say hi. I’d love to talk to you.