Tag Archives: Atlanta

Babs’ RT17 Recap

Oh my goodness – this post has been ready since the middle of June, so the tardiness is my fault. Apologies to Babs!! Anyway, it’s still always fun to hear about peoples conference experiences, so enjoy!

Do you want to hang out with hundreds of fellow romance fans for up to 6 days and geek out over books? Do you want the opportunity to meet hundreds of romance authors all in one place? Check out RT! (Maybe–see notes below.)

If you’re not familiar, RT Booklovers Convention or RT is hosted by RT Book Reviews each year. It’s a traveling convention and occurs during a April-May timeframe. Reader events run Tuesday through Sunday. The focus is romance novels but you’ll see non-romance authors there from mystery, suspense/thriller, etc. RT17 was my fifth RT and was in Atlanta May 2-7. I attended RT in:

  • 2013 in Kansas City
  • 2014 in New Orleans (my fave so far)
  • 2015 in Dallas
  • 2016 in Las Vegas

Agenda. RT can be as busy and crowd filled as you want. I am pretty selective in the events I attend. Some readers go for the reader parties with all the goody bags and free books and have complex scheduling strategies. I know others spend a lot of time socializing in the hotel bar with friends they only see at RT. I’m somewhere in the middle now. A few reader events, some panels, maybe one evening party. I leave plenty of time for food, relaxing/hanging out, and a little sightseeing. Use the RT app or the paper agenda if you’re like me and need to HAVE A PLAN. I like variety in my panels and reader events and try to hit different sub genres.

Highlights. My con kicked off Tuesday night with Cinema Craptastique hosted by fab author Damon Suede. I highly recommend checking this out if you go to RT or Coastal Magic Con. Damon spends hours watching terrible movies, researching, and then delivers an incredible, snark-filled commentary for the year’s pick. Folks at home can follow along on Twitter. This year’s movie was Mariah Carey’s Glitter. I also enjoyed large amounts of junk food and there were tons of giveaways.

Wednesday was the welcome breakfast from RT. I attended a couple of reader events. The ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books held their first Reader Recommendation party last year and it was one of the best events of my RT last year. The same this year–I was not missing this one! They share their recommendations and then the audience shares their recs plus giveaways! I attended a Historical panel–Welcome to Americana with wonderful authors Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, Kate McMurray, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe, and Kianna Alexander. I went to one of the evening events then wrapped up for the night.

Thursday started off…frustrating. My first event was the Harlequin party. I arrived 45 minutes early and there was already quite a line. I immediately got in line for Tiffany Reisz to make sure I got a signed copy of her book. I didn’t make it any further on my list (remember HAVE A PLAN from above?) because the other authors were running out of books. Not cool. Better events Thursday–Heroines: You Can Have It All panel with Alisha Rai, HelenKay Dimon, and Sonali Dev (watch the panel here); Romance, Bollywood Style with Sonali Dev, MK Schiller, Amalie Howard, Shaila Patel, Sienna Snow (Bollywood movie clips! Beautiful goodie bags! And I talked to a lady in line who loves Sonali Dev and was so cute when Sonali walked by–“Is that her? Oh my gosh!”); Kensington Peaches & Cream party (books from Jeffe Kennedy and Alyssa Cole and an ARC from Sonali Dev).

Friday was my busiest day. I did a Meet & Greet signing with Christina Lauren first thing (and thoroughly embarrassed myself by spilling my coffee right behind them but I’m trying to erase that from my memory 😳). Right before my first panel I caught the end of a publisher showcase (for booksellers and librarians) and they were offering up tons of free books! Score (for my mom and a friend mostly, but still)! Then my day really started and I went to the Steam vs. Scream panel with Jennifer Estep, Chloe Neill, Jeffe Kennedy, Julie Ann Walker, Amanda Bonilla, HD Smith (Grace Draven and Amanda Bouchet were also in the room and it was so hard to be chill about it!). I attended Geeks Who Drink: Author Edition trivia game which was fun. Next was a huge, must-attend reader event every year–the Friday Avon party. I planned my schedule so I would have plenty of time to get a good spot in line (hopefully), have 30 minutes in the event, then run to a live recording of SBTB podcast. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The doors opened over 30 minutes late! I ended up getting out of line 30 minutes after the scheduled start because I had no idea when the doors for Avon would open and I didn’t want to miss the podcast recording. This was the ONLY event Ilona Andrews was appearing at besides the awards ceremony and they had early copies of White Hot. I also missed getting a signed book from Alisha Rai! Ugh! Two months later and I’m still bitter. The SBTB podcast recording was great though so there’s that! My last event was the annual RT Awards Ceremony. I go mostly for the big bag of books you get at the end. It’s also fun to see fave authors win awards.

Saturday was the Giant Book Fair and my last scheduled event for RT17. Hundreds of authors with books for sale and to sign. I didn’t get in line early this year unlike previous years and it was nice. Attendees who pay full registration enter 30 minutes before everyone else (including the public). I think I was in and out in 30 minutes or so. Then sightseeing at the Georgia Aquarium!

I like RT because there are so many authors, usually quite a few of my favorites, all in one spot. I also have a friend I go to book conventions with and it’s fun hanging out with her. Everyone is usually pretty friendly and ok holding spots in line, etc. I also try to meet a couple people IRL that I interact with online.

There are many opportunities for free books like reader events, evening parties, pop-up signings, Goody room, and book swap table. I don’t bring every book available home with me but you could. This year I ended up with 30 books for myself (not including what’s on the Smashwords thumb drive) and then about 10 each for my mom and a friend.

Some notes:

  • there are lots of people. There are hundreds of readers and several hundred authors in attendance. I struggle with crowds sometimes so I try to pace myself, have flexibility in my schedule so that if I need to go to my room, I can.
  • you spend a lot of time in line. You can probably miss most of the lines if you’re not interested in getting ALL THE BOOKS/SWAG or going to highly attended reader events.
  • registration is not cheap. I pay for full registration for the whole week. You can buy day passes. Between hotel, registration, and airfare this is usually my most expensive vacation.
  • you may be disappointed. Authors cancel. Karen Marie Moning was at the top of my list for RT17. At some point she backed out and that bummed me out. Also goody bags or books may be gone before you get to that author or the front of the line.
  • the book fair is crazy. That is all.

Overall ok RT. Not my favorite. The hotel was nice with the meeting space right there (unlike Vegas). After next year in Reno, I’ll evaluate whether RT is an automatic, must-attend event for me. I’m trying out other cons and will need a big, favorite author or great location to get me back to RT. Last year I attended 3 new-to-me cons: Coastal Magic Con, WorldCon/MidAmeriCon II, and Nola StoryCon (its 1st year). This year I’m attending Nola StoryCon again and Sirens Conference for the first time. Next year I’m attending Apollycon for the first time, RT, and maybe WisCon.

Have you been to RT? What was your experience? Is there another con or reader event I need to go to? Let me know!

My Visit to the High Museum of Art

While I was in Atlanta, I obviously scheduled a few excursions outside of the hotel, because it’s what I like to do as I go stir crazy. (And to be honest, people hate-y, although this time wasn’t bad more for the reason I felt like I didn’t see anyone at all.) Anyway, while just chatting on twitter, someone (sorry! I can’t remember who!) told myself and Isobel that we had to go to High Museum of Art Atlanta (HIGH) because Girl with a Pearl Earring was there as part of a special collection (Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis). Well, I love the Dutch Masters. I’ve had the opportunity to see a special collection of Rembrandt’s works and it was amazing, so I knew I had to go.

I already had a busy schedule, but I started asking people how they felt about high art. I finally found a victimfriend, and Beth said she was excited to go. Whee! I contacted HIGH about my visit, and it was arranged so they provided me with tickets! Which was awesome! In fact, fortuitously two! (Thank you, HIGH Museum of Art!)

First off, it’s really easy to get there. We took a cab there, but MARTA back. There are a lot of great restaurants nearby as well, so you can get lunch, dinner, or brunch at any point surrounding your visit. Beth and I had a tiny bit of a walk around to find the entrance of the museum, but once in, it was easy to get to “the good stuff.” The exhibit was on the second floor, and the elevators were right there. We took the audio tour, which was nice. It wasn’t like other audio tours I’ve ever listened to. There were a number of people speaking, and although they each gave their credentials, I don’t remember who they were. (Oops.) Beyond giving some information about the work, oftentimes the speaker also did a sort of casual “art crit,” remarking on parts that they liked, which people may not have noticed. It was a fun personal touch that I’m sure encouraged people to look at the paintings more carefully.

It was a lovely collection, and there were a number of works that I’d never seen before, which was awesome. I don’t know if it was possible, but I wish the lighting had been slightly different, because there was often a reflection or glare on the protective glass which made the paintings difficult to observe. Otherwise, I feel lucky to have had a chance to visit HIGH because the exhibit was only in San Francisco, Atlanta, and will be heading to New York. There were a few Rembrandts I got to “revisit,” as well as works from Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and Adriaen van Ostade. (Beth and I also felt the Rachel Ruysch was a favorite.)

Of course the culmination of the tour was Girl with a Pearl Earring, which got its own room complete with foot barrier, and dim lighting. I stood there for quite some time, and had a moment. <3

It was very clever for the exhibit to open into a small gift shop that had books, cards, the usual museum store items, and even a chocolate bar with Girl with a Pearl Earring printed on the wrapper. There were even magnetic Girl with a Pearl Earring finger puppets. (In fact I’m now wondering if I can find a book of the collection “out in the wild,” as I didn’t buy one there…)

Then, we went downstairs, and found what felt almost like a gallery, with all (I believe) the pieces created by local artists, which opened into a room of African Art. It was a fun display that I think children would like. They had two or three ceremonial masks mounted on a wall, with two screens showing video of the actual ceremonies. Certain this wasn’t all to be see, Beth and I and asked about the HIGH’s general collection, and what the “must see” works were. (I’m not sure if we were asking volunteers or staff.) We did this because we had lunch plans, and Beth had previously informed me she was forced to endure countless hours at museums, so we weren’t going to spend all day there, but didn’t want to miss anything.

You have to go through something of a walkway, and then into what I’d personally call the “main building” of the museum. We were actually a little surprised by how “small” the museum is. I suppose I’m spoiled when it comes to museums, but for Atlanta being such a large city, Beth and I were a bit perplexed. Nevertheless, there’s an interesting mix of modern art, American Art, and European art from various periods. (In fact I realized you can browse the museum collection online! Super cool!)

We found two Monets, one from his Houses of Parliament series, and one landscape. I hadn’t seen either before, so that was nice. (The Monet had been our goal, because the girl told us there was “a Monet” so it was a bit of a scavenger hunt.) After walking through a few floors (it’s a really cool open layout with a winding ramp between floors), we were hungry and decided to leave. I do want to note the American Art (I did a project on it in school so it’s got a special place in my heart), as well as a Degas I don’t remember seeing in any art book. Another find! There were some gorgeous displays of crystalware on the walk up, and some whimsical British china with a lot of cute motifs. Lots of “the four seasons” and items shaped like fish, frogs, and the like.

I like that the museum has the “open layout” but with the ramps, there are some nooks that can house the smaller collections with a particular theme in its own space. It’s really nice because the open layout gives you a general idea of the collections so you can have a specific target if you’re “on a mission” like we were.

The grounds for the HIGH museum are very nice, and the architecture is gorgeous. I can totally see a number of wonderful events being held there. If I visit Atlanta again I’d like to see how the collection is developed. Also, on Thursdays they have “Thirsty Thursdays.” Who wouldn’t like half price tickets and drinks available for purchase? If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend seeing if there’s a special exhibit that catches your interest. Or, if you’re looking for something to do on Thursday evening. [Oh, and if you’re wondering why this is so text heavy, you need a special permit to take pictures in the museum, and I didn’t think to apply for one previously, so sorry – none from me this time!]

My Trip to World of Coca-Cola

On twitter, when just … chattering generally like I do, someone suggested I go to World of Coke. (Or Coke World, or whatever.) Formally, I believe it is “World of Coca-Cola.”) I don’t normally drink soda pop (covering all my bases there as you see ;)) – but if or when I do, Coke is often my choice. It’s just good and pairs well with so many flavors. Cuba Libre. Coke with lime. Coke with vanilla. Coke with lemon. Coke float!

Anyway, I pounced. I looked into it. I contacted Coke to ask about tours, and after I talked to a few people, it was all set. They “sent” me tickets. I was going to Coke World. (Which is what I want to call it because it’s easiest to say and type.) And I was bringing a friend(s).

It was really close to our hotel, so we walked. (I had planned on going with Jax, and that morning Sandi texted me to see where I was and I told her she should come with us.) As soon as you walk in, there’s coke promotional items and advertisements. I wish we had known a bit more, because the “holding room” is pretty cool, but they were all “the film is starting soon!” And I was picturing small museum room, so I lined right up. Like a good lemming. Had I known it was a theater I would have wandered more and taken pictures, waiting for a crowd to go through so I could take pictures in an empty room. (Although it’s good we didn’t, because Sandi was on a restricted schedule.)

Anyway you watch this little film which is animated, and cute, and catchy, and was in my head still a few days. Although some of the things are freaky.
And OMFG I FOUND IT ONLINE. En.Joy. (You’ll see what I thought was freaky.)

I loved the Happification and the Happiness Factory.

After that, it’s an open tour and you can wander around. There’s the requisite “museum type” section, kinda like what you see at a Smithsonian, and I enjoyed that. Tons of Coke machines etc are lit though, so it was difficult to take pictures of items etc without glare and back lighting affecting the pictures. Oh well. These are a few of my favorites.

One of my MOST FAVORITE THINGS of the tour was right after the “theater” actually, and it was THE COKE POLAR BEAR. It was SO AWESOME. Animatronic and that sounds … not wonderful, judging by the expressions of people when I tried to tell them about it, but you had to be there. Seriously, World of Coca-Cola, whoever was in that costume when I was there, you are not paying him/her enough. That person was a great sport, and totally animated. Willing to sit or stand depending on the people – hug and be hugged (I totally hugged the bear). It has to pose for pictures, waves, can obviously see out because it blinks, smiles, moves well, and when Jax, Sandi, and I were standing on a landing and it was alone (idiots – people not wanting to be with the bear?!) and it was smiling and waving at us AND I LOVED IT.
No joke – if it had come back to the hotel with us everyone would have lost their shit. In a good way. (I so wished that could happen.) [I also have more bear expressions etc but things aren’t playing nice and I’ve wasted too much time so maybe if I can figure it out later…]

Also cool was as the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, and hello Coke like is Atlanta, a “of the Nations” thing was many? All? Participating countries sent a “Nationally designed” Coke Bottle. Very cool. Those were throughout the open spaces.

And of course, there’s a “factory section” (that I personally just strolled through as it’s not something I’m really interested in/most factory set ups are the same) – and theeeennnnn you go into the tasting room. Sandi had to leave, but Jax and I tasted every single flavor. The standouts (in a bad way) were the vegetable one from Japan, and the ever infamous Beverly, a discontinued aperitif from Italy. I was warned, so when I took a sip, it was bitter but not so bad, but oh man the finish. It is vile.

I actually loved the fancy coke machines near the end – the raspberry vanilla coke. (I’d love cherry vanilla … but I think strawberry coke would not be a good thing.) It was just too much syrup though, and for a few hours after I felt a bit… ill. Despite only having maybe a sip of each kind. (61? Flavors?) It’s a lot of sugary sweet to take in with carbonation. It was a mad house. A ton of little kids running around, splashing… I wished there was a small foot fountain at the end, actually XD because things got a little sticky. You know that … shoes sticking to the floor? That. And kids splashing. I was glad I wore a skirt.

I was also sad that some of the flavors I tasted there aren’t available in the states.

Then, when you leave the tasting area, you get a 8 oz glass commemorative bottle to take home, along with a plastic bag to carry it in, and it opens into (of course!) the gift shop! I wouldn’t recommend buying their “mystery bag” actually. I think I went for the $2 or $3 one? (Mostly I wanted the World of Coca Cola bag, being an idiot forgetting I was already buying something so I’d have one anyway… but that one zip-locked…) Ahem. Anyway, it was just a cheap ginormous coke pen. Meh.The clerk was all “it’s really good” when I was waffling. Ah well. It’s what she’s paid to do.)

So anyway, it’s actually a pretty short, small tour, but I think worth checking out. If you have time and like wandering you can carefully observe each bottle, and pick when crowds are slightly thinner to go elbow your way into the tasting stations. I don’t know that I’d go back, but I am glad that I went at all. So for a one time visit? Yeah – you should go.

Have any of you gone before? Are you a “coke person?” >.> Does anyone here prefer Pepsi?

ETA: Oh oh oh oh oh!!! One thing I SO WISH Coke World had was a motion ride 😀 You know, like in Vegas? I just feel like there’s a missed opportunity here.