Mr. Awesome and I were incredibly fortunate to attend this year’s Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane, WA. What an amazing experience it was!
First of all, the historic Davenport hotel in downtown Spokane is truly stunning. With Tiffany glass, ball rooms inspired by different countries and original gilded carvings through the structure of the building, it was truly a sight to see. Even our room was gorgeous with a lovely carved
wooden king sized bed, a huge bathtub (yay at my bringing bath salts with me!) and even a phone in the bathroom! OF COURSE I took a pic of the phone in the bathroom. Initially I assumed this was in case someone needed help, but then it was pointed out in one of my FB posts that phones in bathrooms are requirements for a hotel to be considered a four or five star hotel. Who knew, right???
The first day of the conference was for the authors in what I like to refer to affectionately as “Author Camp”. This is where the authors all got together to learn the official rules of Low Tea, learn about the different confections served during Absinthe & Abigails and learn how to be dealers at historic gambling games, complete with vintage pieces and even old pennies to gamble with. Author Camp was so much fun and allowed all the authors to get a chance to chat it up with one another while we helped assemble all the book bundles we’d be giving away. And it was just the tip of the iceburg to whet our appetites for the days that would follow!
The second day was officially registration day. While we weren’t needed for volunteering, the authors did at least have an opportunity to dress up in our historic finery and welcome the guests at check in. This was also when our gentlemen who accompanied us were able to finalize their registration as well. Part of being a guest author meant we had to send in several fun items for readers:
1. Books (as per part of the book bundles we assembled in author camp)
2. A charm for each reader to guess who the author was who sent it
3. A ‘historic’ gift for each attendee.
I was I was beyond delighted when I learned that not only did the authors get a charm bracelet with all those gorgeous charms, but we also got to have one of the HRR gift bags filled with treats from each author. As if that weren’t enough, Mr. Awesome had a completely separate goody bag specifically for gentlemen. Seriously, the small tokens and thoughtfulness of this conference being put together is far beyond what I could have possibly expected. You’ll see as I go through the rest of the days. I did a live ‘unboxing’ of my HRR treat bag on my FB page — feel free to check it out on my FB page https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/ – it’s the first video on the page. I’d post the link, but technology is hard. LOL
Think the charm bracelet is gorgeous? Well, I’m giving one away (and it’s valued at almost $400!!) see the bottom of the post for info on it)
That evening, we had a wonderful welcome reception for an hour and a half where the authors and readers were free to mingle with each other and anticipate the incredible fun the remaining four days would bring.
The third day was the first official whole day of the conference with several workshops running side by side. These were divided into two paths: the lady’s path and the gentleman’s (though both sexes could attend each other’s workshops). Eliza Knight and I taught a fun workshop on the historical use of herbs in medicine where we taught a little about the insanity of some historical practices, and shared samples of herbs people could see, touch and smell (never take a deep whiff of valerian root — lesson learned there LOL). We even went over some of the herbs that could be used to poison and cause physical discomfort (hello, plot twists!!). There was so much interest expressed in our workshop that Eliza and I put together the entire workshop into blog posts that will release in four series on her blog, History Undressed, so make sure you check it out (starting Wednesday, October 11th and going on for four Wednesdays – we had a lot to cover LOL): http://www.historyundressed.com
Up next, I got to attend Eloisa James’ hat making class. I had no idea what to expect and was delighted when I found a little black cap amidst piles of ribbons, feathers, fake animals and tulle. We were told to decorate however we liked and that higher was most often better. Here are a couple pictures of my hat, which I wore later on that day to Low Tea.
Next I went rogue and attended the gentlemen’s class on how to be a gentleman by Delilah Marvelle where I was taught the 14 point shave (and given a barber’s razor sans blade to practice with!) and how to tie a cravat (cravat included). At the beginning of the class, we all had received a ‘fate’ which decided who would receive prizes. Every person had their station listed on it. I was an earl, which is nice and all, but not NEARLY as great as Mr. Awesome was KING. Through the remainder of the conference, he was referred to often as “King John”
That afternoon brought Low Tea where each attendee had their own unique cup and saucer and an array of delicate sandwiches and desserts to sample, including currant scones with clotted cream. Delicious! This was located in the gorgeous Isabelle room of the hotel where a portrait of French lady named Isabelle has been hung. Like all items in the hotel, this painting has a story and a past. Many years ago, gentlemen would come down to the Isabelle for drinks and manly chatter. As the French were not especially well liked then, it was not uncommon for booze-inspired men to aim their champagne bottles at poor Isabelle’s face and pop the cork. The painting had many repairs and her head is back in good order. However, if one looks closely at the painting, several dents are still visible where errant corks missed their mark. As if the food and the tea weren’t already treat enough, each attendee received a small coloring book (drawn by Renee Bernard herself) and tube of colored pencils and a beautiful jeweled pin from Delilah.
That evening was movie night at the Bing Crosby Theater next door where Delilah made an excellent cigar girl (passing out candy cigarettes) and we watched an old black and white movie called If You Could Only Cook. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a black and white movie and I absolutely loved it. If you haven’t seen that one yet, I highly recommend it!
There was so much going on at HRR, I really can’t fit it all into one post. Really, I should have divided them up into even more, but that’s way more of a blog commitment than I’m used to giving, so you guys are kinda stuck with REALLY longs posts (sorry LOL).
I AM giving away a bracelet with all the wonderful author charms on there to one of my newsletter subscribers. I will also be giving away an HRR bag of goodies to one of my newsletter subscribers. Additionally, I’ll be having Joanna Shupe as my Featured Author and will be giving away an ARC of her upcoming release, A Daring Arrangement. I’ll also be sharing the first chapter of my upcoming release, Highland Ruse AND the recipe for the healing balm. OK, there’s a LOT of good stuff in my upcoming newsletter, so make sure you’re signed up to have a chance to win all these great treats: http://eepurl.com/biji1j
Stayed tuned for part 2 of 2…um….eventually! 🙂
What was your favorite thing about HRR2017, or what were some of your favorite pics/events you saw people posting about?