I don’t even know where to start! I had such an amazing time at KissCon last weekend, which is the first time Avon has done a full weekend of events connecting authors and readers. They really outdid themselves!
Full disclosure: I’m a former member of the Avon Addict program, during which time I was regularly sent arcs and finished copies of Avon titles, though the program had no connection to KissCon. I was there as a regular paying reader, but I thought I’d mention it since I’m definitely a biased Avon fan!
Anyways, the event was amazing. I had so much fun attending the different author panels and meeting a bunch of other readers. Though sadly, I was having so much fun that I barely took any pictures! Definitely check out #KissCon on social media if you want to see any. I especially love the pictures Alyssa Cole took in a clinch pose wearing the dress from the cover of A Prince on Paper!
If you haven’t heard of it, KissCon was a three-day conference hosted by the romance publisher Avon this past weekend in Chicago. I want to say about 500-600 readers came out to do panels and mixers with about 30 authors. There were three different levels of tickets you could buy: Butterfly Kiss, Smooch Kiss, and French Kiss (aren’t the names great?). Each ticket corresponded to more days at the conference and more books and perks along with your ticket.
KissCon started with the swag bag, and as a French Kiss ticket holder, I got six arcs in my welcome package, along with some fun swag and a free audiobook download. I was so excited to see The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe in my bag, as I’m a HUGE fan of hers! And I would have been freaking out about Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep if I hadn’t already read a digital arc. It was an amazing read, and I really can’t wait for Crush the King!
Below is a picture of a bunch of the swag I collected throughout the weekend. The red “That’s What She Read” tote, the water bottle, and the “How to Write Romance” notebook were all in the welcome tote, while the “Official Wine of Questionable Decisions tote, hate, and wine koozie were handed out after the Babe-sponsored party on Saturday. I think most of the rest of it I got from the authors at their signing tables.
Here you can check out my full book haul! In addition to the arcs I got (pictured top left), I brought a bunch of books from home to get signed (pictured right). I also picked up a fair amount, too (pictured bottom left), including A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole, which isn’t out until the end of the month! And Eloisa James had some extra copies of her upcoming release, Say No to the Duke, so I snagged one of those in her signing line. I’ve been really loving the Wilde series and can’t wait to read this one! Plus they gave us all signed copies of Rebel by Beverly Jenkins along with a cute mug at the breakfast on Sunday!
The bulk of the event was panels, and my only complaint is that there were so many great ones that it was incredibly difficult to choose which one to go to. But I had a lot of fun attending a round of never have I ever, listening to authors talk about clothes in historical romance, discussing kick-ass heroines, drooling over all of the food in romance novels, and geeking out about our favorite fairy tales. And those are just a few of the panels I attended! There was such a great range of topics covered in the panels, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to go more in-depth on specific topics in romance. Plus the games were a lot of fun and a great way to get to know some of the authors!
There were also a few social mixers with the authors. I actually have no idea what to say to them beyond “I love your books!!” but I did get pulled into a few conversations with them and other readers. It was great to get an opportunity to talk to the authors outside of the signing line, and they were all so nice. There was an ice cream social on the first night, and then a party with a vintage theme the second night (we got three cans of wine in our swag bags, too!). And the breakfast on Sunday (my friend snagged us seats with Alyssa Cole!).
One of the main highlights of the weekend was definitely the Spectacular Signing. As a French Kiss ticket holder, I got early access to the signing, and I used the time to talk to some of my favorites like Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Alyssa Cole (how amazing is her swag?), Alisha Rai (her dedication is referencing this panel!), and Sally Thorne (I love the Joshua button!).
I also picked up this signing poster, which I thought was such a great idea for Avon to sell at the event. It was a good icebreaker to talk to some of the authors whose books I enjoyed but didn’t have copies of, and I wound up collecting so many that I decided to go for it and just collect them all! It’s such a nice keepsake.
I had an amazing time talking to all of the authors, but I wanted to highlight how cool it was to have Lorraine Heath, who used to write teen romances under the pen names Rachel Hawthorne and Jade Parker, sign some of my old favorites from high school. I was especially excited to have her sign The Boyfriend League, since the heroine is still one of the only heroines I know of named Dani! I also brought in my old copy of The Season by Sarah MacLean, which was my first Sarah MacLean book. They’re repackaging it and selling it in mass market paperback now, which is what made me ask my mom to dig it out of my closet for me (thanks mom!).
The last event of the weekend was an author breakfast where Avon highlighted a bunch of upcoming titles. Their art department is on fire, because the new books coming out have some of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen in romance. Let’s just say there’s going to be a lot of cover buys in my future, and my Goodreads TBR is overflowing— as if it wasn’t already!
The weekend was super overwhelming, but in the best way possible. What describing the panels and events doesn’t capture is how amazing it was to hang out with other readers. Seriously, meeting other people who love romance as much as I do and getting to talk about it in person was really what made the event as much fun as it was. Hopefully we can stay in touch on Twitter and do this again next year!
One of the highlights for me was getting to meet my friend Jenica from Firewhiskey Reader in person! We started blogging around the same time and became friends pretty quickly, but we’ve never had a chance to meet in person before now. Seriously, so much fun! And I have to shoutout my book club buddy Holly. She flew in for the conference, too, and we had so much fun together as well!
I’m completely wiped out from the conference, but I had such a blast and hope Avon decides to do it again next year. I know it was a ton of work for the Avon team, but they really outdid themselves and put together an amazing conference. Now don’t expect to hear from me until I emerge from the pile of books I picked up last weekend!