So… Last week was my first RT. And my first time in Vegas. I’ve been to Comic-Con a few times, and a few smaller conventions as well, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. And, really, compared to Comic-Con’s over 100,000 attendees, the 3,100 or so RT attendees were a refreshing relief. Even the longest RT lines didn’t look like they’d be more than an hour or so, compared to the sometimes 24 hour lines in San Diego. (To be 100% honest, those are both estimations. I didn’t wait in the 24 hours lines in San Diego, or the hour long lines at RT.)
So – first the bad. To be fair, these first 2 aren’t really RT’s fault, and anyone I talked to at RT will already have heard these complaints ad nauseum, but here they are. The first issue I had – the Rio didn’t have any coffee makers in the rooms. No. Coffee. Makers. This was a huge, huge problem for me. I never quite adjusted to the three-hour time change, so every night I was up having fun and hanging out with amazing people until almost 11:30 or midnight, and I woke up every single morning between 4 and 4:30. Yes, there was a Starbucks kiosk on the bottom floor right next to the elevator, but I had no interest in getting dressed enough to be in public every morning when I gave up trying to go back to sleep by 5:00. All I wanted was coffee. And no matter what time of day or night I walked by the Starbucks kiosk, there were never fewer than 50 people in the line for it. Plus, let’s not kid ourselves, Las Vegas is expensive. The one time I did get to that Starbucks, I got a medium black coffee, a bottle of water, and a muffin, and it was $20. Every hotel I’ve ever stayed in has had both coffee makers in the room, usually with coffee supplied by Starbucks, and a Starbucks kiosk. This was really upsetting to me. Fortunately, most of the early panels supplied coffee, so that helped, but they weren’t usually until 8:30 or 9:00, which was way after I woke up.
The other issue. This is a personal preference, and if I offend anyone, I’m sorry. But the cigarette smoke. My god, the cigarette smoke. I live in a state where you can’t smoke inside anywhere, so I just forgot that there places where that’s not the case. You couldn’t smoke in the main hotel areas, including the wing where the convention actually took place. Which was a relief. And, technically, you couldn’t smoke in the restaurants, but the restaurants that are on the casino floor aren’t completely closed off, so it didn’t really help. At one point, I saw poor Victoria Dahl sitting at a bar trying to play some video blackjack next to a woman (who I don’t think was part of the convention, based on her lack of RT badge), holding a cigarette almost directly in Victoria’s face and blowing the smoke toward her as well. I ended up buying a travel spray bottle of Febreze from the hotel store and constantly spraying down my clothes and hair.
Those were my 2 biggest gripes. There were so many amazing panels that I didn’t have a lot of down time, and I didn’t really get to see much of Vegas. I got there Monday evening and was able to spend some time walking around the strip, but that was it. I didn’t leave the hotel again until the shuttle picked me up Saturday morning. That was my own fault. I’m certainly not going to complain that there were too many great panels. I focused mostly on the craft and genre focused panels, and didn’t really do any of the reader panels. Which means I walked out of RT with about 25 books. I left about a dozen behind at the Starbucks with a note for people to take what they wanted. Some were shorter and I was able to read them during the convention, some I’d read already, and some I could tell just weren’t going to be my jam. I’ve seen on Twitter that some people managed to leave with more than 100 books. I’m thrilled with my haul, I have to say. I got some books that I’m really excited about and some that are new to me but look really interesting. I think the people who got that many books probably went to a lot more of the reader events than I did. Those panels gave away a ton of books.
My lack of sleep hit me full on about Thursday afternoon. I was happy to have a few hours free both Thursday and Friday afternoons so I could relax for a bit and do some Netflixing. And Friday evening I had to pack. I didn’t go to the Giant Book Fair on Saturday. I would have, but the difference in flight prices was in the hundreds of dollars, so I left earlier.
The panels I went to were really great, for the most part. There were a few I didn’t like as much as others, and some that were so great I wished I’d recorded them so I could listen to them again. One called Suffragettes & Alpha Males: Feminism in Romance was a highlight for me. Moderated by Eva Leigh/Zoe Archer, and featuring Victoria Dahl and Tessa Dare, I had been looking forward to that panel since I saw it on the agenda, and it did not disappoint. I tried to live-Tweet that one, and I got some good tweets in, but I kept getting so wrapped up in the discussion that I forgot to tweet.
Overall, I had a great time at RT. It’s in Atlanta next year, and as of right now, I’m planning to probably go. I’ll wait and see how everything is going when registration opens, but I’d like to go. At least I’d be in the same time zone, so hopefully I won’t hit that wall of fatigue I hit Thursday afternoon this time around. Oh, one other thing. It’s not as big a deal as the lack of coffee or the cigarette smoke, but none of the panels I attended had any microphones for the panelists. Most readers and authors and bloggers are introverts, so they’re not used to having to speak loudly. And the convention wing was noisy, so by Thursday and Friday, everyone’s voices were shot.
Some of the advice I saw from various people was right on – like bring a water bottle, you’ll need it (I use this one and I love it. Comfortable shoes – I got 2 pairs of Skechers with Memory Foam and they were like walking on clouds. The one bit of advice that wasn’t so accurate was to bring a sweater or dress in layers because it would cold in the conference rooms and I would freeze. That was inaccurate. For me. There may have been people who were cold, but I didn’t meet any of them.
In short – if you have the means and the time to go, I highly recommend it. I met some great people, people I plan to keep in contact with IRL and online. I learned a lot, and I met some of my favorite authors. Oh, and meanwhile, back at home, both of my dogs came down with kennel cough, so I was thrilled to be out of town while my husband had to deal with that grossness. If you’ve never had a dog get kennel cough, which I hadn’t, it’s really, really gross. Not dangerous, about the equivalent of a person getting a cold or the flu (as long as they’re otherwise healthy), but really, really gross.