Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Hi all!

I had the good fortune to attend RT’s Booklovers Convention in New Orleans this year and thought I’d share a few photos from the event with you.  

IMG_0898The event typically runs from Wednesday to Sunday, but as I was invited to teach at the Pre-Con boot camp I would need to arrive on Sunday in order to teach on Monday and Tuesday.  This truly worked in my favor as my work-in-process is set in New Orleans.  The extra days meant I had extra time to research on site which was fantastic.  About thirty new aspiring authors signed up for the bootcamp and two days of intensive workshops that ended with an editor and agent panel.  I have to admit, I learned a few things that I hope to implement in my writing.

The main convention began on Wednesday with a number of workshops for readers and for writers.  But the main event was the party that night.  The Pirates and Scalliwags began at a building IMG_0943IMG_0968whose interior was made up to look like a mansion at night.  Not sure my camera did it justice.  Inside, spanish moss hung from trees around a pool designed to look like a lake.  Stations were created around the setting so costumed authors could sign cards that would later be turned in for a chance at a prize.  The party continued at the another building where the floats are stored from Mardi Gras. IMG_0945 This place was amazing.  I took a few photos as you can see.  🙂  A jazz band led the attendees down a corridor where authors from various houses tossed beads from the floats.   Some of the floats are pretty dusty, so I’m thinking these were older floats – but even so they were fantastic.  From here, we moved to a third building for typical New Orleans food and drink.  Stations were sponsored by the major publishers and we had shrimp and grits, shrimp etoufee, pralines, alligator fritters (they were really good), red beans and rice, jumbalaya, beignets, gumbo, banana foster, and bread pudding.  IMG_0965All the while a jazz band played.  Having tried all the delicacies, I waddled out to catch the bus to head back to the hotel, very full and very pleased to have come to the show.

Thursday night brought the pub crawl.  Publishers staked out a number of bars along Bourbon Street and participants were invited to visit the bars and collect beads.  The beads were turned in later at the hotel for a chance at a prize.  I stayed at Penguin’s bar, The Beach, to greet folks as they found their way in.  It was really packed, but I found a lot of friendly familiar faces (you know who you are 🙂  ).  

While I attended a number of workshops, I still took advantage of visiting the city. IMG_0902 I took a steamboat ride, a mule carriage ride, and a voodoo tour.  My agent and I had breakfast at The Court of Two Sisters so I could show her the charm gates.  We bumped into Eloisa James who also enjoyed the peaceful beauty of the courtyard to start off the day.  

IMG_0980I ate fried oysters with abandon, poor boy sandwiches, crab beignets, and french toast stuffed with ham, bacon and cheese.  The food was fantastic and I truly would have gained ten pounds had I stayed longer – but I walked all over the city till I returned to the hotel with sore feet.  I’m afraid I missed the other costume parties, but I’m sure they were colorful, fun affairs.

The whole shebang ended with a giant book signing on Saturday – giant enough to take up two ballrooms.  I love signing books and meeting fellow lovers of romance.  I also enjoy meeting authors that I only see at book signings 🙂  This is Toni Blake and me.IMG_1026

Next year, the conference is to be held May 12 – 17, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas.  I’m not certain I’ll be able to attend but I imagine the Romance Bandits will be represented.

IMG_0976So how about you?  Did you attend the conference in New Orleans?  Are you planning to attend the one in Dallas?  Where would you like to see RT goes next?  Costume parties are a big part of the conference.  What theme would you like to see?  (Something with corsets, I hope).  Let’s see…I have a highly recommended copy of Julie Ann Walker’s book Hell For Leather for the winner and some Mardi Gras beads.  Let’s chat!






  • Jane says:

    Hello Donna,
    I missed all the fun in New Orleans. I followed the fun on Twitter. I also saw a lot of food pics and then I started craving beignets and muffalettas. Brad Pitt was in town during RT and I was wondering if anybody caught a glimpse of him.

    • Jane, the rooster ran into him in a bar in the French Quarter. You should ask him about it!

    • Jane –

      I didn’t know Brad was in town. Darn! I would have looked harder. I did see the mansion that Nicholas Cage bought and then gave to the IRS for taxes. I remember that it was on a ghost tour the last time I was in N.O. back before Katrina. He had purchased the place through proxy and didn’t know that it had such a foul reputation. He and his wife never spent a night in it.

      Great food! I’m afraid to get on the scale to see how much I gained!

    • Debbie Oxier says:

      Heard Eloise James just missed him but someone got a pic of Matthew McConnaghuay (sp?). He was with Saints quarterback, Drew Brees.

      • Seriously! I wouldn’t know Drew Bree but I’d know Matthew’s voice immediately. Geez – I wasn’t really celebrity watching. I did see Eloisa James one morning at breakfast, though. 🙂

  • Jennifer Tanner says:

    Did you have beignets and chicory coffee? 🙂

    • Jennifer –

      I had beignets but not at the touristy Du Monde. While I’ll eat them when offered, the fried dough with powered sugar aren’t my favorite. I don’t drink coffee so didn’t try the chicory. Darn, how boring am I? I did have a mimosa or two and banana foster, pecan pie, and bread pudding 🙂

  • Helen says:

    Hi Donna

    I having been following all the fun on facebook I couple of Aussie authors that are friends were there and also some of my ARRA friends were there as well I so wished I could have gone maybe one year I will get there 🙂 and would be happy to go to any city with any theme LOL.
    Everyone looke like they were having so much fun I will be meeting up with Donna Gallagher next weekend and I am sure to hear about all the fun she had while there and I have seen pictures of the swag that everyone got wow thanks for the pictures and the food sounds fantastic

    Have Fun

    • Helen – The food was great. I love fried oysters, but here in Ohio you have to ask to have them fried (when you can actually FIND a place that servers oysters). In New Orleans, fried oysters are everywhere – and crab and shrimp. I got my seafood fix this trip. 🙂

  • Wow, Donna, looks like you had a ball. And how convenient about RT and your research chiming so harmoniously. Isn’t it wonderful when that happens? I’ve never been to RT – one day! And when I get there, I hope they give me fried oysters. I LOVE fried oysters!

    • Anna!

      I didn’t realize we shared that passion! Yes – I love fried oysters as well and ate them at every opportunity.

      RT is great fun and this year was one of the best. Lots of masquerade type balls and parties, great food, alcohol fueled parties, and lots and lots of history. I thoroughly enjoyed my week there.

      • They’re surprisingly hard to get here. You can get the fresh ones reasonably easily (yum!) or else people tart them up with all these different sauces and things that to me just take away from the taste of the oysters. Perhaps that’s why they do it, LOL! Clearly I need to do an oyster tour of New Orleans!

  • flchen1 says:

    I didn’t have a chance to join in the fun but loved “playing along” via everyone’s lovely FB posts 🙂 Looked like a delicious city in many ways! Haven’t yet made it to a conference and RT looks like a big one to start with! Glad you were able to enjoy some research and some fun times, Donna!

    • Fichen –

      I could not get an internet connection so didn’t post on Facebook. I forgot that I could do it via my phone – geez.

      I did have a great time researching plus both my editor and agent were there so got to meet with them as well. Hope you get to go to RT one of these years. The next one is in Dallas. I know several banditas will be there.

  • Maureen says:

    I have never been to New Orleans but hope to one day. It looks like you had a great time between the convention and the sight seeing. I have never been to an RT convention but they always sound like a great amount of fun. I would pick Boston as a place to have the convention because it is a city I would like to visit.

    • Hi Maureen –

      Boston would be great. They have that fabulous walking self-tour through all the historical spots in the city. Graveyards pop up in the oddest places (although I imagine they weren’t odd when they were built 🙂 ).

      For a long time it seemed RT only held their conventions in hotels that were under renovation. I remember taking a shower in at the Pittsburgh convention in a hotel with no shower door or curtain. Some people said they’re room didn’t have a ceiling! But this Marriott was top of the line so maybe they’ve made a change. Plus it was HUGE – biggest RT ever – so I’m thinking that will mean bigger “complete” hotels 🙂

      Hope to see you at an RT soon.

  • Laurie G says:

    I’ve never been to a conference. Is it really expensive to attend for a day? You ladies do have a wild time! I enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing the stories that are posted.

    I’m not sure where you’ve held past conferences. I would like to have a conference in Portland, Oregon, West Palm Beach, FL or Madison , Wisconsin. However, May 12th is a bit early for Wisconsin weather to cooperate and the university would be having exam week.

    Party themes Disney, Villains, Movies, Entertainers, Musicals

    • pjpuppymom says:

      Laurie, do you know about Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon? It’s in Milwaukee, usually in late April and has quite the line-up of authors. I know some of the Bandits (like Donna & Jeanne) have attended. It sells out quickly so if you’re interested, pop over to her website ( and sign up for her newsletter. Registration for 2015 is supposed to open in early July.

    • Laurie –

      I was going to mention Barbara Vey’s Luncheon but PJ beat me to it :). Definitely watch for it and sign up for my table (grin). The authors bring gifties for the people at their table and a doorprize that given away to a reader. I believe the price varies between $45 – $55. And yes, the Wisconsin weather is a bit on the chilly side in late April.

      RT does have day passes, so if it’s ever in one of those cities, you could go for a day (but you’ll want to be there for all four).

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    Wish they would hold the RT Convention in Indianapolis. I have back problems and don’t travel well. Hey, we hosted a Super Bowl and fans said it was one of the best experiences of their lives. Plenty to do in our great city!

    • Debbie –

      There’s lots of events held in Indianapolis. There’s a great mystery conference with a French name – Kate would know what it is – and you guys play host to the Indianapolis 500 so I know Indianapolis has major hotels.

      Actually, RT was in Columbus, Ohio a few years back. If they can hold it in Columbus, they can certainly do Indianapolis. We’re like sisters 🙂

  • Caren Crane says:

    Donna, I was sad that almost ALL my writer (and reader) friends were in NOLA on my birthday! Pffft on all of you! Next year, though, I WILL be in Dallas! It’s an easy trip and the conference starts on my 50th birthday. I have declared that everyone must attend so we can have a major party!

    I have never attended RT before, but I mean to make it count. Lots of reader events and shenanigans will commemorate my 50th! I have spoken. 😀

    • Caren –

      Well, Happy 49th! 🙂 I’m on the fence about traveling to Dallas. Between all the accounting CPE courses, Barbara Vey’s luncheon, and Lori Foster’s RAGT – I’m burnt out. LOL. I’m probably like Barbara, though. Every year she says – this year is the last but I see she’s already announced her luncheon speaker for 2015! 🙂

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Had great fun checking out everybody’s photos. I’ve never been to RT. One of these years….. 🙂

    • PJ –

      You would love it to the max! All the photo opportunities. Lots and lots of authors. Reader panels where you can ask questions of your favorite authors. Masquerade balls. Dancing. And lots and lots of free books. I had to leave several in the hotel. Many people drive just so they’ll have room for their books. You’d love it.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Next year, PJ. It starts on my 50th birthday! Susan promised me cake. 😀

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I would love to go to the one in Dallas, not only for the books but my daughter is in TX

    • Dianna-
      You should go and pack your boots and cowboy hat! There’s lots of mother/daughter couples (as well as friend/friend couples) that go. The hotel room rates are reduced for conference – if you stay in a hotel – and there’s lots of parties that you’ll enjoy.

      Not sure if I’ll go to Dallas but Caren and Suz will be there. That alone quarantees a great time!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Dianna, come and bring an extra suitcase to haul home all the free books! Everyone I know who goes mails home boxes of books. We’re going to have a blast!

      Suz and I will be there, and I’ve strong-armed Susan Sey into going, too! 😀

  • catslady says:

    Sounds like such a wonderful time. Over 40 yrs. ago I had the chance to have dinner in New Orleans when my husband was stationed in Gulf Port. I was always sorry that we weren’t there for Mardi Gras. But I did get to try one of those famous Hurricanes. (I was young and it knocked my socks off lol). I’d love to go back some day.

    • Catslady –

      I’ve never been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras but I’ve heard it’s sort of dangerous. Still, you can see the remmants of the parade each year in the beads still hanging in the trees, on the lampposts and on bar signs. Matter of fact – I’ll toss in some beads in today’s prize package. Laissez les bon temps router! 🙂

  • Becke says:

    Sounds as if you really enjoyed your stay. Sorry to say I didn’t attend. N.O. is always a fun place to visit and it’s hard to beat the restaurants there. Much more fun to me than Dallas. Since we once lived in Dallas, I’m probably jaded. I love DC and NYC, but I like new places. Unfortunately, RWA is rather big so it’s hard to find new locations that can accommodate us.

    Salt Lake would do it. I love Utah. Phoenix, Boston, Portland are also good places we haven’t gone. At least not in the past 18. (my tenure)

    You can have the corset. I’m in to comfort. Of course the southern belle thing might be fun-except those dresses would be a pain.

    You could definitely do the “hat thing.”

    • Becke –

      Key West would be perfect for RT! Not RWA – too conservative – but it would be perfect for RT. It’s definitely the place for wild costumes. I’m not sure if they have the big hotels though – do they? When we did Key West, we stayed right in the thick of things on Duval St.

      I’ve never been to Salt Lake or Portland, but Phoenix would be nice (though HOT !!!) and Boston would be…revolutionary (hahaha). Great choices.

      Corsets – if they fit right – can be comfortable, but you’re never under an obligation to dress up. I usually don’t.

  • Becke says:

    Oh, oh, oh,

    I’ve got the perfect place–Key West!

  • Oh it sounds like you had a blast, Donna! And being in a city you can research for a book is a bonus. Sweet! I wish I could have been there.

    I was in grad school at USM in Hattiesburg for over six years and New Orleans is only a few hours away. I was fortunate enough to make it there for Mardi Gras all six years and spent many happy weekends and vacations there as well. This was all pre Katrina so I will be interested to see what the city looks like now. Sunday mornings at Cafe du Monde reading the Times Picayune, drinking chickory coffee and eating beignets was one of my favorite pastimes. How many places can you watch a city go to bed and get up for the morning all in the space of the hours between 6 and 8 AM.

    I hope to make it to RT in Dallas next year! I’ve never been and everything I’ve heard about it makes me want to attend. I love costume parties!

    • Louisa –

      RT really revolves around the readers of romance – hence the masquerade balls and fun parties. I think you’d really like it as it pretty much is all fun. RWA is all business and professionalism. RT is much more relaxed. This year, all the publishers were there – a first – and there were even some serious workshops. It’s interesting how the two are so different. I hope you make it to Dallas. You’ll have a ball.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Louisa, you have to come! See all my blathering about it starting on my 50th birthday. Everyone must attend! 😀

  • bn100 says:

    Haven’t been, but sounds fun

  • Donna, I’m glad you had such a great time. I don’t plan to go to RT anytime soon, though that certainly could change. I would love a medieval fantasy theme or else Elizabethan–you know, something not popular with the majority of the reading universe. *g*

    • A medieval fantasy theme! I would LOVE that, though I expect those suits of armor might make it hard for the guys to dance 🙂 Elizabethan would be okay. Not sure I’d be too fond of those neck ruffs they used to wear – but it might be easy to make those for costumes.

      Nancy, I’m surprised. I thought for sure you’d chose a star wars fantasy…or maybe something with Super Heroes (and heroines).

  • Hey Donna!

    I’m kind of glad RT will be in Dallas next year! I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going to it then. Wish I could’ve gotten in on New Orleans, but it was sold out long before I thought about it. Would’ve loved an oyster po’boy!!

    • Suz –

      Are you a fan of fried oysters as well? I had no idea there were so many of us. Thought it was just me. 🙂

      That’s the problem with RT – you have to be right on the money to register. I registered too late to be in the conference hotel or even the overflow hotels. I had planned to stay in something nearby, but fortunately Jo Carol had a cancellation and moved me into a room in the conference hotel. Would have loved to have had you there though.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Suz, we just need to register as soon as registration opens AND to submit a workshop proposal. 😀

  • Alyn says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I love the pictures and the food sounds so good. I didn’t make it there, even though I wanted to. If I remember correctly, there is a day where it is open to the public for book signing right? Because that was what I was aiming for, since I am not a writer.

    I have no preference for RT location. I actually like how it is in the South because I’ve heard great things about food in the South. I wouldn’t mind making a trip for good food and books!

    • Alyn –

      RT is open to the general public on Saturday for the big book signing…but it’s not a writer convention, it’s a reader convention. Lots of opportunities for free books.

      And the food is fantastic!!! I went to a small little resteraunt for breakfast one day and had french toast stuffed with ham, cheese and bacon – all covered with maple syrup. Delicious but deadly 🙂