Monday, May 31, 2010

Playing Dress-Up

This year at RT one of the Aspiring Writers was drafted into the Mr. Romance competition. Meet Andrew Shaffer. He never expected his week in Columbus would include strutting on stage in front of hundreds of screaming women, but he was such a good sport. I invited him to share a bit of his experience with us here. Take it away, Andrew!


One of the unexpected highlights of my Mr. Romance 2010 competition experience was getting the opportunity to play dress-up.

I normally dress conservatively – my daily outfit includes a faded t-shirt, a pair of ill-fitting blue jeans, and sneakers. If I leave the confines of my home office, I might throw on a Yankees ballcap. I had packed a suit for the RT Book Lovers’ Convention in case I needed to impress an editor during a pitch session, but had otherwise brought all of my clothing in a small, carry-on suitcase. When I arrived in Columbus for Bobbi Smith’s pre-convention writer’s workshop, I had no idea that I would also need a dozen other outfits for the four-day convention later that week.

Although I was attending as an aspiring romance novelist, I was drafted into the Mr. Romance male modeling competition [full story here:]. As part of our contestant duties, we were required to attend the nightly dinners and dances, each with its own theme; our week was to end with the two-hour onstage Mr. Romance “mangeant,” which would include a minimum of four costume changes.

I called my wife, who was still back in Iowa. She was scheduled to come to Columbus for the last two days of the convention. “I need to ask a favor,” I said. “I’m going to need a couple of dress shirts, some jeans that kind of fit me, a western shirt, a cowboy belt buckle, a cowboy hat, a pair of chaps, and a vampire cape.”

“You need all of that? What is going on?”

“I’m going to be in a male modeling competition. Plus, there are these balls every night that I’ll need to attend,” I said. “And on second thought, we can skip the chaps.” I wasn’t exactly aware of what the going rate for a pair of chaps was, but guessed they might be expensive. While I wanted to be the best cowboy that I could be during the mangeant, I had to balance my vision of authenticity with the vision of my credit card statement.

“I’ve got to let you go,” I told my wife. “The costume shop down the street closes in half an hour, and I still don’t have any wings for the Faery Ball tonight.”

For next year’s RT in Los Angeles, I’m going to check so many bags of luggage filled with costume changes that Lady Gaga’s going to think I’m overdoing it. While I’m not sure yet if I’ll be competing in Mr. Romance 2011, it’s better to be safe than sorry -- the next-to-last pair of out-of-season faery wings that you can buy at a discount costume shop look as cheap as they sound. That’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice.

Thanks, Andrew. If you'd like to know more about Andrew Shaffer's upcoming non-fiction title Great Philosophers who Failed at Love from Harper Perennial, visit his website.

Facebook: Andrew on Facebook
Twitter: Andrew on Twitter

If you have any questions for Andrew, I think I can convince him to pop by and leave an answer.


Gillian Layne said...

How adorable, and what a good sport you were! Best of luck with your writing. :)

Kim in Baltimore said...

Aloha, Andrew! Thank you for being so flexible during RT! I regret that I have missed you this year but hope you return next year to LA as a writer and cover model!

So here's an obvious question - has the publicity helped you or hurt you?

EmilyBryan said...

One of the things that really endeared Andrew to the RT crowd was his wit. His interview during the competition was hysterical.

St. Andrew said...

Thanks, Gillian! I *try* to write adorably.

St. Andrew said...

Kim...I will be in LA next year as a writer (my non-fiction philosophy and love book will be out by then) and as a member of the Faery Court. I *doubt* I will actually end up in the Mr. Romance competition again, but never say never!

And the publicity has been overwhelmingly positive. I was originally concerned that my book wouldn't be taken seriously if I was taking my shirt off onstage, but my publisher, editor, and agent have been behind me 100%.

The best part of the experience was meeting so many writers and readers at RT...I'm usually shy and have a hard time "networking", but the experience helped me come out of my shell.

Anonymous said...

I remember getting to the convention and noticing there werent many guys. I knew the people were stressing about it and looking for more conteststants. The next day, I see this guy at one of the mixers wearing a MR.ROMANCE shirt and Holding up the wall with this "What am I doing here?" look on his face. I approached him, said Hi and gave some friendly advice on how to SURVIVE this week. I could see the Nervousness in his eyes and voice. Told him the Key is to just be yourself, Friendly and talk with these ladies. Have fun and remember that they are as shy and nervous as you are.

The rest of the week, I would see him Dressed up for every event, socializing with everyone, having the readers love him at panels and ALWAYS HAD A GROUP OF WOMEN TALKING TO HIM. No I wasnt Jealous *eyes look left, then right* But anyways, Long story short, by the end of the week, everyone was a fan of ANDREW.... Including Myself.

I cant help but think "Did i get Hustled by this kid? Was he wearing his poker face in the beginning and then had a ROYAL STRAIGHT FLUSH this entire time? Did he really know what he was doing?" Hahaha, because even though he didnt get the title of MR.ROMANCE, or any CASH, I think he CLEANED HOUSE that week. And we were ALL WINNERS by Having this Awesome Person be involved in this competition. I truly mean that.

Cant wait till Next Year and see what kind of GAME he brings. Lol. Much Love

Charles A.K.A. Mr.Romance 2009

St. Andrew said...

Thanks, C-Paz! I couldn't have done it without your pep talk.

cories said...

Your wife is a saint! And you should go with a good pair of chaps. Although you probably can find anything and everything in LA.

Nynke said...

Great Story, Andrew (and Charles!). And that quote on OliveReader, “Did you bring any shirtless photos of yourself?” - really had me up in stitches :).

EmilyBryan said...

Charles! Thanks so much for popping over to my blog! Because of your generous heart, you will always be my favorite Mr. Romance.

And you looked great on the cover of LORD OF DEVIL ISLE too!

EmilyBryan said...

Cories--I agree. There should be an award for the wives and sweethearts of these guys as well.

EmilyBryan said...

Nynke--I bet "I don't have any fairy wings" probably wasn't something Andrew's wife ever expected to hear from him either!

St. Andrew said...

I think my wife is more concerned with me being on the Faery Court than in the Mr. Romance competition. ;)

St. Andrew said...

Nynke...thanks for checking out the Olive Reader article. Next year, I'm learning my lesson and bringing some professional shirtless photos. With airbrushed abs.

Nynke said...

As every man should... ahem ;)