I’ll admit I was trepidatious about attending Rainbow Con. First, because I did not have a good experience at GRL in Chicago last year and I was afraid RC would turn out the same way. Second, because the three friends who said they were attending all canceled, leaving me all by myself. While I am very much an extrovert and outgoing, I’m much more comfortable at conventions for Star Trek and Supernatural than I am at writer’s conventions.
But I was committed to going, so off I went to Tampa last week. And boy, am I ever glad I did. 🙂
I need to give special shout outs to two great women – K-lee Klein and Tammy Middleton – and one great guy – Will Prater.
K-lee let me tag along with her to Ybor City, to Dirty Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s, on my first evening in Tampa. (It’s on, bitches!) And I have to say, it really set the tone for the rest of the convention. I had a blast, made my first new friend and I don’t think I was alone for more than ten minutes after that for the next five days. 🙂
The next day, I’d just gotten back from Busch Gardens and I was starving. I hit up the Grab N’ Go in the hotel lobby, picking up a sandwich and juice. As I sat down at a table I noticed two other women sitting together at a back table. I was too focused on my food to pay much attention, so quickly sat down to eat. I’d only taken one bite when one of the women appeared next to me. It was Tammy. I recognized her as we’d met briefly at GRL. She invited me to join her and Morticia Knight. The next thing I know, I’m part of this huge group of people, making new friends left and right. I never would’ve expected to be out well past midnight that night, and I loved our shared Magic Mike experience! LOL!
I mentioned I didn’t have a good time at GRL last year, but there was one person who was very nice to me – Will. He was a volunteer and helped me out more than once and made me feel welcome as a newbie. So I was excited to see him again at Rainbow. I had such an amazing time hanging out with him! We talked, we laughed, we hugged and we danced. 🙂
The convention started the following day and I had a volunteer meeting first thing in the morning. I decided to volunteer so that I’d meet more people. And that worked out well, too! [waves to Sheri Spell] When I first saw that I had a shift in the dealer’s room for an hour I thought it would be kind of boring. It was anything but! It was my chance to go up to practically every table and spend time chatting with a bunch of authors [waves to Wade Kelly, Hans Hirschi, AE Via, Andrea Morgan Goodell and Anastasia Vitsky].
Thanks to the generosity of my friend Elizabeth Noble who couldn’t attend and gifted me with her Author membership – I had a dealer’s table in the hallway. At first I thought that would kind of suck, not being in the dealer’s room with everyone else, and having to break down and pack up my table each day. Once again, I couldn’t have been more wrong! The placement of the table turned out to be absolutely perfect – it was the first one as people came into the convention space and it was also next to the bathroom. Do you know how many people I got to talk to because of where I was? Like, a zillion. 🙂 Again, I was making new friends left and right – like Liz and Michelle who so graciously brought me lunch so I didn’t have to leave my table, and Gloria and Gareth at the table next to me and Sarah Madison at the table across from me.
Another great side effect of being where I was – I was selling books like crazy! I was stunned! I sold a whopping two books at GRL. At Rainbow I SOLD OUT of two books and only ended up with 2 copies of one and 4 of another that I took home with me. I also gave away 90% of the swag I brought with. I was such a happy camper!
I don’t think I ever ate one meal alone, except for breakfast one morning. I was always included in a group. Things may not have always worked out like planned (Cheesecake Factory and the Cuban restaurant) but it didn’t matter because we still had a good time.
Taking the field trip to the Big Cat Rescue was awesome, despite the rain and feeling like a baked potato steaming inside our plastic ponchos. 🙂 Not only was it educational and amazing to see all of these animals, it was another chance to mingle and meet even more people [waves to Lili Mateo, Brynn Stein and daughter].
I didn’t make it to many panels because I was either at my table or doing my volunteer work. But the ones I did make it to I enjoyed. Honestly, this was my ONE quibble with the con – the programming. I applaud the organizers for wanting to offer so many choices, but it was TOO many – sometimes 6 tracks running at the same time, with 4-5 moderators on each panel. What that did was water down the available audience members, with many panels only having 3-4 people in attendance. For 2017, keep it to 3-4 tracks of programming and a max of 3 moderators per panel, is my suggestion.
Since the next RC in 2017 will also be at the same Holiday Inn, I thought I’d mention the hotel briefly. The rooms are basic, but nice and clean. Though I did have some spotty housekeeping a few days (Washcloths, AE Via! Washcloths!). The outdoor pool area was nice and I enjoyed my swim and soak in the hot tub. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food in the restaurant. Everything I had was delicious, and I heard the same from nearly everyone else. I have to give a shout out to the staff. Every single person there was amazingly pleasant and helpful. Kudos to their customer service.
To wrap things up – I had a spectacular time. I’m so pleased with myself, that I was able to throw myself into the deep end of the pool and not drown. Although I missed my friends who were supposed to attend, it was kind of a good thing that I didn’t have that “safety net”. It forced me to break out of my shell and go up to people and talk to them. And now my life is so much richer because of all the new friends I made. 🙂
I’m bummed that the next RC isn’t until 2017, but rest assured, I’ll be there!