For me, one of the highlights of 2012 was attending the very first LoveLetter Convention back in May. The conference was organised by the fantastic team of the LoveLetter Magazin and took place in Berlin-Spandau, which is about a 20-minute train ride away from the city centre. In other words, it’s just close enough to enjoy the sights of the big city, but also small enough to make somebody like me feel thoroughly comfortable (I’m so not a big city girl).
Spending two whole days in the company of romance readers and other romance writers was a treat in itself. In addition, the trip presented me with the opportunity to test my new sketching skills: I only brought my new instant camera and a sketchbook. The advantages of bringing a sketchbook became obvious quite early on: back at home, I had covered the first pages with a map of Spandau and had marked where the station was, where my hotel was, and where the conference would take place. Thanks to doing this map, I didn’t need to consult a map once I had arrived in Spandau.
The next big advantage of bringing a sketchbook became obvious when I took a walk around Spandau that first afternoon and did some quick sketches: not only does sketching make you look closer at things, but it also makes other people talk to you. It’s amazing, really. Complete strangers will come up to you and start a conversation and tell you things about the stuff you’re drawing. 🙂
This became even more obvious when I went to Berlin the next day. My first stop was the famous Alexanderplatz (I can’t say I was impressed …), where I sketched the “Alex”, the TV tower and then went up the Alex. I was lucky enough that the first view I had when I stepped up to the enormous glass windows was of the Brandenburger Tor – and so I started sketching, while around me people hastened around, taking picture after picture with their digital cameras and not taking in the sights at all. I received A LOT of funny stares, but when I moved on and started on the cathedral and then the “Fat Hermann” (a watertower), I suddenly heard somebody saying behind me, “Oh WOW, look what she’s doing. She’s drawing.” And another voice, “What? What is she drawing?” “The Fat Hermann,” I said and showed them. By that time, half a school class of fifteen-year-olds had assembled behind me and stared at me as if I were a two-headed calf or something. Then they took pictures of me (definitely two-headed calf!) and my sketches: I suddenly had become one of the sights of Berlin. *ggg*
But it didn’t stop there: Once I was back down on the ground, I spotted a donut shop and decided to have a donut lunch. In the shop, a young woman started a conversation with me because she had seen me sketching up on the tower. The whole experience was just surreal. Nice, but surreal.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on a tourist bus tour, which took me past the most important sights of Berlin and several of the very cute Buddy Bears, which you can find all around the city. Of course, we also saw the famous Checkpoint Charlie and the remains of the Berlin Wall, and I covered several pages with quick, rather shaky sketches.
On Saturday, the conference started and because I was moderating panels throughout the day, I didn’t get to do a lot of sketching. However, I did manage to squeeze in a quick drawing of our fantastic dinner at the restaurant in the Zitadelle Spandau, a Renaissance fortress. The next day more panels followed. It was fun, but hard fun: I had initially thought my task merely consisted in introducing the panelists. As it turned out, I was also supposed to ask them interesting questions. So I had to improvise (a lot!), which kept me on my toes (figuratively speaking). By the end of the day I felt pretty much wrung out, so it came as a wonderful surprise to find that two girls had left a whole box full of donuts in the conference office for the conference team. Wheeee!!!! I definitely needed that sugar rush! 🙂
One of the best things about such conferences is to meet new people and people you’ve already met before; to chat with readers and authors and editors and publishers; to talk romance almost nonstop. So it won’t come as a surprise to you when I tell you how much I’m looking forward to this year’s conference. 🙂 I will once again moderate the panels and *fingers crossed* this time I might even have a new book to sign.
And of course, I will bring my sketchbook.
(Btw, if you’d like to take a look at somewhat bigger pictures of the sketches from the mosaic above, hop over to the Flickr album)