A year ago, a gal I knew through Twitter pinged me and asked if I'd consider attending her conference as a featured author the following spring. She promised me Florida beaches in February, enthusiastic readers and great, organized programming.
Wow - did she ever deliver!
I just last night returned from the Coastal Magic Convention, which ran February 5-8. This is now at the top of my list for favorite reader-organized conventions. Let me tell you the reasons why.
Author/Blogger Speed Dating
The convention invites featured bloggers as well as featured authors and Thursday evening kicked off with speed-dating. Authors sat two to a table (I got to share with the charming Angie Fox), while the bloggers circulated on a timed schedule. The bloggers were excited to meet new authors and asked great questions. Two of them (Chelle from Literal Addiction and FranJessca from Book Lovin' Mamas) even brought us goody bags, including wine jewelry with our book covers. This was a terrific way to meet book bloggers who wanted to meet US.
So Many Panels!
Besides the speed dating, I was scheduled for five other appearances. The panels were well-composed and fun to do, with terrific attendance and audience participation. One of our appearances was a Meet & Greet, with four authors and opportunities to hang out and win prizes. Another was Cinema Craptastique, led by Damon Suede, in which I tweeted out our snark to the larger world. The audience was in tears with laughter. Authors on the panels said smart, interesting things and the audience asked insightful questions.
Okay, I was dubious about this one, but... wow! That's the photo above. (Thanks to Little Read Riding Hood for the pic!) Six authors sat at the front of the room and took prompts from the audience of at least 75 people. I believe this photo was shot during the prompt that included 1684, space opera, and octopus people. One person would kick off the story and keep going as long as they could, then pass it to the person next to them. I love this shot of Damon Suede and Lucienne Diver watching me with incredulous amusement as I waxed on about octopus Princess Uvula's dusky blue tentacles and delicious grape scent. We all had an unbelievable amount of fun with this.
The book signing came late in the conference, on Saturday afternoon, last event of the day before the nighttime dance mixer. The amazing part of this was that I'd been in front of new readers and bloggers so much by this point that bunches of people came by my table to buy my books. For those who've sat through conference book signings where people have no idea who you are, you'll get how huge this is.
I don't know if it was because the convention took place in a gorgeous beachside hotel with copious alcoholic fruity drinks or what, but it was SO MUCH FUN. It felt like a big party, with all the readers and bloggers there explicitly to discover new writers. They were happy and excited for everything we offered.