First off, thank you everyone who has posted a comment, emailed me privately, or spread the word about the sneak peek inside Confessions of a Little Black Gown via the links in the comment section that will take you to Facebook, MySpace or your favorite social site, because your excitement is my excitement. And yes, that cover is to die for gorgeous.
But also coming up is fan-fueled conference, Celebrate Romance (“CR2009” to those in the know) February 27th – March 1st in Portland, Oregon. Now let me say, I have never had a chance to go to CR, but everyone I know who has gone has loved it. It was even in Seattle one year, the same weekend I was slated to speak in San Diego. CR and I have been like two ships passing in the night, but this year is different. I am going to be there and I hope as many of you who can, will make your way by car, plane or train to Portland, Oregon as well.
So to convince you that this is the romance loving conference you want to attend, I asked my good friend Valarie Pelissero to give you an insider’s view of Celebrate Romance. Here is what she had to say:
EB: Why Portland?
VP: Because Portland is a fabulous city with a great romance reading community, and since CR2009 will be our last year for our fabulous conference, where better to have it?
EB: I won’t argue with you there. I adore Portland. What can fans expect?
VP: First of all there are no writing workshops. This is a fan focused conference with round-table discussions and keynote speakers. This year’s schedule looks likely to run much like last year’s:
Friday – registration from 5:30pm to 7pm where you get a bag full of books. (What could be better?) Dinner at 7pm where both authors and fans mingle. There is usually some type of event after dinner on Friday night.
Saturday – Breakfast, then fun discussions with attending authors, followed by lunch and another fun discussion panel. Then we had a few hours free for the Advanced Book Trade or to rest up for the evening.
Saturday evening is my favorite part of CR, a multi-author booksigning at one of the bookstores and then dinner out (this dinner is not part of the conference fee). We all had a fun time, and not only did we get lost going to the restaurant, but we got lost trying to find our way back to the hotel. Not everyone came, but most of us did and we had a lot of fun.
Sunday – Breakfast and a few more author talks, then we have the author booksigning where readers can purchase books from one of the bookstores who will be on site and then we draw the raffle baskets. I love the raffle baskets. And it is over by noon and everyone has to say their goodbyes until next year, only this time will be our final goodbyes.
EB: I’m in. You know how much I love raffle baskets. I also love hanging out with readers and other authors. Who’s coming so far?
VP: The keynote speakers include, Cathy Maxwell, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over eighteen historical romance novels, and Jane Porter, the bestselling author 30 novels (five for Grand Central Publishing and 25 for Harlequin). The complete list of authors can be found at the CR website.
EB: Val, explain to everyone how CR differs from other gatherings?
VP: CR is first and foremost a fan conference. Both the authors and the readers come as fans and we all become fan-girls for the weekend. There are no writing workshops, just fun, fun, fun for everyone. Prior to attending CR in 2006, I had only been to a few local booksignings and writing workshops to see my favorite writers (even though I don’t write), and since I didn’t write, I felt a little out of place as everyone was talking about their latest work in progress and getting an agent. I love that CR is someplace were readers can talk to other readers as well as the authors about what we all love about the romance genre in general and the specific genres we love the best. I have been able to meet and read new authors that I probably wouldn’t have tried before CR.
EB: Now I’m a huge fan of Portland, as it is one of my favorite getaway locations, but as a native, can you add to my positive vote for the City of Roses?
VP: First of all, the conference will be held at the Benson Hotel right in downtown Portland and downtown Portland is a beautiful city. There are plenty of things to do within walking distance, as well as a lot of bookstores to visit. Powell’s City of Books is just a few blocks away from the hotel and for those who don’t know Powell’s Bookstore, it encompasses an entire city block. Also across the river is Barnes and Noble at the Lloyd Center Mall, and the MAX line is free to ride from downtown to Lloyd Center (convenient, huh?). The Pioneer Square mall is also just a short walk away, as is the Willamette River which has a great walking path, and generally the end of February is not too cold in Portland, but it will probably be raining, but then again, when isn’t it? The best reason to visit Portland? There is NO Sales Tax in Oregon!!!
EB: Yeah I love that no sales tax. You forgot to mention my favorite yarn store, Knit Purl, which is also downtown. But now that we’ve got all the scoop, how do folks sign up?
VP: Go to the website: CR2009. Registration is open now, so register for the event, you won’t want to miss it! You can make your reservations at the Benson anytime, just remember to mention Celebrate Romance so you can get the conference room rate.
EB: Thanks, Val! I just went and registered and made my train reservations. Can I just say that if you do come, Val is the best guide to Portland. She’s given me more gold plated restaurant recommendations than anyone I’ve ever met. If you want to go out to eat, ask Val. See you all at CR and even if you can go, spread the word through the social sites to help make it a great success!