Last year I went to my first RWA conference. It was a great experience, I met some amazing women, attended informal sessions about the craft and business of writing, and came home with dozens of books.
I didn’t really understand the difference between the RWA and RT gatherings. On paper, they seem remarkably similar: authors - published and fledgling - attending, informative sessions, and signings and big social events celebrating the romance, and in the case of RT, YA communities.
That’s on paper. In person I was stunned by how different the conferences are. RWA is about the business of romance: writing, publishing, and getting paid. There’s a reason it's called the “RT Booklovers Convention.” RT is about the reader, all about the SQUEE!!
However, I suck at fangirling. I have zero SQUEE!! game. Like none. My inherent shyness and lack of SQUEE!!, prevent me from rushing forward at the end of a session for the express purpose of saying “I love your books,” or getting books signed, or dear god, getting a photo taken with authors by the elevator.
There’s some business and learning going on at RT but it’s mainly an opportunity to let booklovers (see: truth in advertising) meet the writers they love, have fun, and play games. Literally, play games.
RT has a ton of sessions where booklovers can play games hosted by the authors they love and win prizes. Some of the prizes are amazing; some lucky RT attendees went home with new iPads/tablets. But you have to play the games, which honestly, I avoided. I don’t excel at excitedly throwing up my hands or shouting out answers. I lack SQUEE!! on several levels.
Now that I understand what RT is, I know it’s not really for me. And that’s ok. I learned a lot in the craft sessions I did attended, I added authors to my TBR pile that I didn’t know before, but am now excited about, and I met up with some friends I’d met at RWA last year. That said, I would highly recommend attending RT to any demonstrative fan of the romance and/or YA genres. But bring your SQUEE!!