Monday 5 June 2017

Love Letter Convention Day 1, Berlin 20th May 2017

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend the Love Letter Convention in Berlin, this is a convention for romance readers and it had around 40 authors attending. Obviously, being in Berlin, a lot of those authors are German and haven't all had books published in English but there were a few big name American authors attending so my friend Aly (of Aly's Miscellany) and I decided to attend.

Aly & me

Although I've known Aly for about 6-7 years online she lives in Romania so we've never actually met face to face before and it was absolutely brilliant to finally get the chance to meet up in real life! Neither of us have ever been to Berlin before either so we met up a couple of days before the convention started to give us time to explore the city a little too. It's such a beautiful city, so much history but it has a really relaxed atmosphere and feels much less hectic than London. There were lots of little cafes and restaurants that all had outside tables and we were really lucky to have beautiful weather too. I've included a few pictures to give you an idea of the amount of things we managed to fit in.

Charlottenburg Palace

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the 
Brandenburg Gate, part of the Berlin Wall at the Topography 
of Terror and the Fernsehturm TV Tower

Museum Island and the Berlin Cathedral


On the first morning of the convention we arrived at about 8:20am and were able to register really quickly and collect our goodie bags with plenty of time to grab a coffee and get a much needed caffeine hit before the first panel! I was pretty impressed with the goodie bags too, we knew that any books would likely be in German (and of course they were!) so we gave those away immediately to some of the German girls who were in the queue behind us which saved us carrying them around all day - especially since I already had a backpack containing about 15 books for the authors to sign! The bags themselves were really nice messenger backs though and they included all sorts of fun bits like mugs, tote bags, postcards, pens, pencils, bookmarks and even a pack of coffee. The bag is actually a lovely keepsake and the next day we spotted people getting their bags signed by the authors they met, I wish I'd thought to bring a sharpie to do the same thing!

The first panel we went to had authors Samantha Young, Cora Carmack, Jay Crownover, Monica Murphy, Annie Stone and Mona Kasten talking about their books and recommending some of their favourite new adult reads. I have to admit I was pretty rubbish at taking notes so I can't go into much detail but I do know that Samantha raved about Kyland by Mia Sheridan and Cora recommended Easy by Tammara Webber (I can second that because it was an excellent book - my review is here if you're interested).

Cora Carmack, Jay Crownover & Samantha Young

There weren't any English speaking panels in the second session so we had a bit of free time but that really worked in our favour because we were able to hang out with Samantha, Cora, Jay and Monica for a bit and get our autograph books signed. This was the second time I've met Samantha so she's already signed my On Dublin Street series but I'd brought my copies of Losing It and Faking It for Cora to sign. I also really love Monica Murphy's Game for It series that she writes under the pen name Karen Erickson but I only have those as ebooks so hadn't brought them with me.

Margaret Mallory & Ann Aguirre

Our next event was a Q&A with Margaret Mallory and Ann Aguirre where we got to quiz both authors about their upcoming books. Margaret was a new author for me but she really kindly gave Aly and I a copy of her novella The Gift so I'm really looking forward to reading it. She writes historical romances set in Scotland and it sounded like she's done a huge amount of research to get her historical details accurate. I'm curious to see how she manages to blend real historical figures into her stories.

I'm a huge fan of Ann's writing (I'd carried 12 book all the way from London with me for her to sign!) and one of my questions for her was has she ever considered revisiting the Sirantha Jax world perhaps focusing on some of the other characters. I was very excited when she confirmed that she had an idea for Sasha (March's nephew) but that it was a YA story and since it's not one she's been contracted for she's not sure if/when she'll ever get around to writing it. When asked about the Apparatus Infernum series that she writes with her husband Andres under the pen name A.A. Aguirre she confirmed that they do have more ideas for books set in that world but Andres has been incredibly busy with his day job and there hasn't been room in his schedule to actually write them yet. He was in the audience though so hopefully hearing our enthusiasm for the series has given them both a bit of a nudge!

Andres and Ann Aguirre

After the Q&A it was time for lunch but I was able to grab Ann and her husband Andres for a couple of minutes to get my massive stack of books signed. Ann had also given me a copy of the first book in her self published paranormal romance series, The Leopard King, which I was really excited about because I really loved that book and had wanted to get it in print.

Aly and I ended up wandering just up the road to one of the local cafes for lunch and it was nice to have a little bit of a break from all the people to be honest. Love Letters isn't a huge convention like some of the American ones so its not too overwhelming but it could still get a bit crowded in the corridors and waiting to go into some of the panels and events and I really find being around so many people stressful. After we'd eaten we went back to the convention and were able to find seats in the outside courtyard. It gave us the chance to chat with some of the other readers, bloggers and authors who were there which was fun, we met some lovely people and I'm sure we'll be keeping in contact with a few of them!

The next panel we went to was with Martina Gercke, Jay Crownover, Samantha Young, Monica Murphy and Ann Aguirre and they were all talking about their favourite book girlfriends and boyfriends so of course it was a really fun panel. I managed to take better notes here (mainly because I was trying to note down recommendations of books I need to buy!) but I didn't get everything so here are a few highlights.

Q: Who is your favourite underrated hero?
Samantha Young - Jay from Six of Hearts by L.H Cosway
Jay Crownover - Oz from The Studying Hours by Sarah Ney (she likes that the series is about wrestlers)
Ann Aguirre - Nicholas from Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway (he's a crossdressing hero!)

Q: Three necessary qualities in a hero:
Monica Murphy - Kind, protective (he can be a bit of a jerk sometimes but he has to always be there for you) and hot (sexual attraction is a must).
Martina Gercke - Good in bed, makes you laugh and makes you feel important.
Jay Crownover - He needs to have a purpose or a goal in life, something that defines who he is as a man.
Samantha Young - Charismatic, they've got to have that special something about them. It's important for couples to be special to each other for a reason, they each give each other something that the other one is missing.

Q: Two characters you'd want with you if you were stuck on a desert island:
Sam Young - Mac and Jericho Barrons from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Monica Murphy - Anna and T.J from On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Martina Gercke - Jamie from the Outlander series by Diana Gabsldon
Ann Aguirre - Eve and Roarke from the In Death series by J.D. Robb

There were lots of other books and series mentioned but I can only write so fast so I didn't manage to catch everything, hopefully you'll find a few recommendations there though!

Clockwise from top left me with: Ann Aguirre, Cora Carmack, 
Monica Murphy, Jay Crownover and Samantha Young

After the panel finished we went to one of the Blind Date sessions where we got to spend time with a few different authors in the space of an hour. We got matched with Jay Crownover, Cara Connelly, Annie Stone and Margaret Mallory and had the chance to chat with them all about their latest books and what they have coming up in the future. Aly and I shared a table with a couple of readers who had travelled to Berlin from France and I was so impressed with the way everyone was able to switch to talking in English. I've always been useless at learning languages & I really think it's because we don't start learning them young enough over here.

The final event of the day was a romance quiz where we sat at a table with Ann Aguirre and Kelsey Sutton. We were given all sorts of different categories (like lawyers & billionaires) and had to match up the character names with the authors who created them. It turns out that our team was a pretty hopeless bunch as even between us we hadn't read most of the books that were mentioned but we had a lot of fun trying to guess the answers. We were never going to win any prizes but we were relieved not to come last (I think there was only one team with a lower score though so it was close LOL).

Overall we had a brilliant first day, the fact that I'd got all my books signed meant I wouldn't have to carry them all again on day two and we'd managed to spend time chatting with all of the authors we'd been hoping to meet and lots more. We had been invited to a blogger event that evening but because it wasn't announced until very close to the convention we'd already booked to do a tour of the Reichstag building that evening so we had to leave before it started. It was a shame we couldn't do both but I'm glad we didn't miss the tour because the Reichstag was beautiful.

I'll post about the second day soon (should be tomorrow if I can get it written in time) but hopefully this has given you a taste of what happens at the Love Letter Convention. I think you'd definitely get more out of it if you're a German speaker (makes sense considering it's in Berlin right? LOL) - only two of the authors had any English copies of their books available (and none were on sale in the convention bookshop which was possibly an oversight as I know we weren't the only ones looking to buy!) and there were a few sessions where there were no events available in English so we didn't have a full schedule - but I thought they did a good job of trying to be inclusive for international attendees.

A lot of the staff spoke English and they were all incredibly friendly and helpful when we had questions, they'd made an effort to set up panels and meet and greets with the English speaking authors and made it clear on the program what events we'd be able to understand. I would definitely consider going to this convention again in the future. It's not cheap by the time you add in flights and accommodation but if you combine it with a holiday like we did (& I DEFINITELY want to revisit Berlin!) then it's not too bad. I think for me it would depend on which authors were attending though. Kresley Cole was supposed to be there this year (Aly and I were both gutted when it was announced that she was no longer attending) and they've had authors like Nalini Singh and Larissa Ione in the past who are both favourites of mine but author's I've managed to meet before. Lara Adrian (who I also love and have been lucky enough to meet) has been confirmed for next year but I'm not sure I'll be able to afford two years in a row. I had a brilliant time though and we got chatting with other readers from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria (not forgetting Aly is Romanian!) so it was a real European adventure.

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