Monthly Archives: April 2012

Chicago Spring Fling

Barbara Vey -- April 30th, 2012
Guest speakers Dianna Love, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Simone Elkeles

Guest speakers Dianna Love, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Simone Elkeles

This past weekend I attended the Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling.  Held every other year, it’s one of my favorites and not only because it’s within driving distance.  This sold out conference had something for everyone, an easy laid back attitude and was smoothly run.

 

The writers workshops were well attended and recorded, so no one had to feel like they might be missing something.  After the party atmosphere of RT a couple of weeks ago, Spring Fling was all business as writers were lined up to learn their craft and sell their books to prospective agents and editors.

 

YA author Simone Elkeles was the kick-off speaker and pulled no punches as she told her story of getting published.  She attributes a lot of her success to her local RWA group.  Simone just completed a 3 week European tour, where her books sell extremely well, and she told the story of the a 14 year old girl who stood in line for 2 hours to meet her and then started to cry.  I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that your books are having an impact on readers.

 

After Simone’s talk, the three keynote speakers who included Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Dianna Love did a Q&A for the audience.  The moderator asked great questions that kept the speakers on their toes and the audience entertained.  EX: Do your books start with an idea or an outline?

SEP:  Never an outline.

DL:  I’m a plotter…I get an idea that’s unusual and go with it.

SE:  What’s an outline?

Question:  A mistake you made and how you fixed it?

SEP:  Argued with editor about every revision on first book.  Learned not to argue, just say, “Oh.”

DL:   Told her story idea out loud and someone picked it up.  Keep your ideas to yourself.

SE:  Found out “Perfect Chemistry” cover was a stock photo that was also used as an STD ad.

 

Agent Panel

Agent Panel

There were agent and editors panels, but unfortunately they were at the same time as the bookseller/librarian get-together.  I opted for the latter.  This group was so interesting that I wish I would have had a chance to meet them all.  I did connect with Monique who runs her library’s book club.  They do it kind of different.  A theme is picked and readers can read any book that fits the theme and then discuss it at their meetings.  Monique does provide suggestions for those who need a list to choose from.

Editor's Panel

Editor's Panel

 

 

 

 

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Librarian Helen Pinder

Librarian Helen Pinder

A while ago, I downloaded the Overdrive app for my phone and iPad, but I finally met someone who could explain to me how to work it.  Librarian Helen Pinder from West Chicago was there with her mom (who is a librarian at a different library) and she set me up so I’m now able to download both books and audio versions to my devises.  Can’t wait to try it out at home.

 

I stopped in the Kensington Spotlight where Martin Biro was telling authors not to write for the trend, but hot right now are firemen, cowboys, Texas and it’s always good if a cat is involved.  He assured writers that Kensington accepts unagented authors and all queries are read.

 

Luncheon Keynote Dianna Love related writing a book to fishing (something else she loves).  She grew up with tools instead of dolls and quickly learned she could find any answer in a book.  Knew she was destined to become a writer when she couldn’t write a grocery list without a twist.

 

Barbara Vey and Courtney Milan

Barbara Vey and Courtney Milan

There was a very successful book signing and I was fortunate enough to sit next to Courtney Milan.  She had an app on her iPad so she could sign e-books.   Even though she is a traditionally published author (love her historicals), she also had a self published book that was selling like hot cakes, so she then showed me her credit card reader that attached to her iPad to take payment for those books.  I tell you, I always seem to come away from these conferences learning something new.

 

Lots of smiles from writers who were asked to send in partials and full manuscripts, but I noticed one in particular who was bouncing around because four people asked to see her work.

 

Susan Elizabeth Phillips finished off the conference by telling the attendees that “innovation is the author’s job, not the editor’s.”  She assured everyone that “We are all individuals and one size does not fit all.”  Susan also talked about reviews.  “No one is going to like everything you write, some won’t like anything you write…get over it.”

 

Conference Committee

Conference Committee

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Cici Edwards Workshop Chair wasn't around for the group photo

Cici Edwards Workshop Chair wasn't around for the group photo

 

Awards were given for the Fire and Ice Writing Contest and you can find the winners here.  There also was a silent auction benefiting “Literacy for All of Us.”  The event raised over $4200 and is receiving matching funds from the Sol R. Kaufman Family Foundation.  Kudos to the conference committee for the amazing job they did on a very success Spring Fling.

 

Bottom Line:  Today is National Honesty Day…wonder how many people will participate in this?

 

Saturday Matinee

Barbara Vey -- April 28th, 2012

Immortal Storm by Heather Bserani

Elena, Woman of Courage by Linda Weaver Clarke

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ9UNqCGlQs

Passion Wears Pearls by Renee Bernard

Beatitude by Larry Closs

If you have a book video you’d like considered, please send it to me at bvey@publishersweekly.com with Book Video in the subject line.

It’s OK to Read Romance Novels

Barbara Vey -- April 27th, 2012

Earlier this week I was in the airport and as is my usual custom, I asked the woman next to me what she was reading on her e-reader.  I explained who I was and why I liked to know (to discover new books, authors and just because I’m nosy).   She nervously answered, “Nora Roberts….I know it’s trash.”

 

I felt horrible for her.  It seemed like I had asked her to divulge a dirty, dark secret.  I quickly assured her that I loved reading romance, but she still felt she had to defend her reading choice.  “See, I read lots of other stuff too,” as she thrust her e-reader at me so I could check out her library.  It was true, there was a wide variety of books and authors.  Lots of the same things I read.

 

We talked about books and I showed her some I picked up at the conference I’d just been to, but the lingering shame was still there.  I tried everything I knew to let her know it was ok to read whatever she wanted, but obviously, I wasn’t going to change her mind.

 

Now I felt bad.  I didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable and I don’t think they should feel that way for anything they choose to read.  I wanted to drag her to the nearest romance conference so she could be among her own people.

 

After doing this blog for five years, I would have hoped that some perceptions would have changed and maybe they have for some people, but not enough.  I can now see, more than ever, how e-readers have taken the shame out of reading a book in public that you might not have otherwise.  It’s too bad.  I like watching others get enjoyment from books and I like to know what they are reading.  I now find myself more reluctant to ask and that just goes against my nature.

 

What would you have done?  Are you still defending romance?  How’s that working out for you?  Do you get tired of defending it or do you still feel there’s hope to educate people? 

 

Bottom Line:  I’m always happy to share what I’m reading…that’s just who I am.

Not So Charming Prince

Barbara Vey -- April 23rd, 2012
Not the best Prince Charming

Not the best Prince Charming

Movies and books have the same job.  Tell a good story.

 

Yesterday Andrew and I went to see Mirror Mirror.  I wanted to see it because I’m caught up in the whole, “Once Upon a Time” thing that’s going on lately.  Love the television show, so I thought I’d give he movie a chance.  It wasn’t very good.  Andrew warned me because he doesn’t like this director’s work. but I don’t normally follow directors, so I thought I’d like it.  It was visually stunning.  Great costumes.  But Andrew pretty much hit the nail on the head when he said the prince wasn’t very likeable.  I knew I didn’t care for him, but wasn’t sure why.  Actually, he wasn’t very nice.  So, when Snow White meets him she only notices his looks.  Is that enough to get you on board with the hero when he’s got nothing else going for him?

 

It was really quite boring over all, which is too bad because I really wanted to like it.  And as I’ve been thinking about it, it explains why certain books grab me and hold on tight while others I forget soon after I’ve read them.  For me it’s the characters.  If I really like them, I care about what happens to them.  I worry about them, I cheer for them.

 

Unlucky 5

Unlucky 5

Saturday we went to the movies to see Cabin in the Woods.  Now that is totally at the other end of the spectrum from Mirror Mirror.  It’s billed as a horror movie, but since I don’t do horror, I was reluctant.  Andrew talked me into it (with an assist by Marjorie Liu).  I have to admit that I really enjoyed it.  Yes, it was basically a horror movie…5 young people spending the weekend in a lonely cabin, but it’s so much more.  Joss Whedon took the horror genre and turned it upside down and sideways.  It was really a funny, clever movie (just ignore the buckets of blood).

 

I was drawn to the characters and found myself rooting for them in a story that made me forget what was going on around me.  This is what I want from my books.  Make me care about the story and the people and I’ll share your books with everyone.

 

What makes you care about the characters?  What makes you indifferent or dislike them?  Met any heroes that you couldn’t figure out why they were the heroes?  Did it matter to you?

 

Bottom Line:  Sorry to leave Atlanta, but next up is Spring Fling in Chicago.

 

Monday Giveaway

From Romance University: Military romances are hot, but not many authors are actually in the service. Army company commander JESSICA SCOTT is unique among romance writers. Find out about her unusual career path on Monday at RU. To celebrate the six month mark of her debut, Jessica’s generously giving away six digital copies of BECAUSE OF YOU!

Saturday Matinee

Barbara Vey -- April 21st, 2012

Before the First Snow Walter M Brasch

Angel’s Blessing by Carol Marlene Smith

American Smile by Cody Young

No Reins by Angie Skelhorn

Kooky Cookery by Bryan Ballinger

Phantom Diaries Series by Kailin Gow

If you have a book video you’d like considered, please send it to me at bvey@publishersweekly.com with Book Video in the subject line.

Appreciate the Journey

Barbara Vey -- April 20th, 2012
Dan BlankDan Blank

My friend Dan Blank shared a sweet and inspirational post on his blog today. Here is an excerpt:

We rush.

Moving towards our goals.

We write our books.

Craft our songs.

We pursue our creative journey.

Push our foot down a little more on the gas pedal, hoping to shave off another 5 minutes from the trip.

We envision what it will be like when we arrive.

We tell ourselves stories of the future, becoming blind to the present moment.

We work harder, and dance less frequently.

We struggle, we wait for the “payoff” down the road.

As I work with writers, trying hard to find an agent, get a book deal, and establish an audience, I am reminded.

As I take a walk with my 1.5 year old son, I am reminded.

Appreciate the journey.

It goes on and I encourage you to read Dan’s entire post here.

 

Andrew age 5

Andrew age 5

This is not just for authors, but for all of us.  I’m in Atlanta today to spend the weekend with my son for his 30th birthday.  30th Birthday!  When did this happen?  How did 30 years pass me by?  I clearly remember the day he was born.  I remember the day he took his first step, said his first word, lost his first tooth, kissed his first girlfriend (that I know about), got his driver’s license, graduated from high and college.  But I also remember the many times I said, “Hurry up, we’ve got to move along, don’t dawdled.”

 

I’m not sure I dawdled enough.  There are too many times I wish I could go back and hug loved ones a little longer, enjoyed a family moment a little longer, laughed with friends a little longer.  Obviously, I can’t, but what I can do is think about what Dan said and “appreciate what is.  Not what could have been.”

 

Bottom Line:  Here’s to appreciating the journey!!

 

Discover A New Love

Barbara Vey -- April 18th, 2012

Sourcebooks announced their Discover a New Love online book club last week.  The book club will allow members to join for $9.99 for six months and receive one digital book a month (out of four featured selections).   This month includes an historical, a paranormal, a contemporary and also a surprise me category.  They even plan to offer advance reading copies of books to members along with sharing an already issued book that may have been missed.

But discounted books is not the only thing that comes with the book club.  There will be discussions with author that members can participate in, parties with multiple authors and giveaways galore, a newsletter, blog and author showcases.

 

I’m thrilled to let you all know that Sourcebooks has asked me to act as media consultant to Discover a New Love.  I’ll be writing a weekly blog for them, hosting the author chats and coordinating the parties (because you all know that if anyone can throw a knock down virtual party, I can).   Hopefully, you’ll all be rested up from the Anniversary party, to stop by in June for the first one.  Not to worry, I’ll still be keeping up with my PW blog, going to conferences and reading all kinds of books.

But really, it’s all about the books.  Sourcebooks is reaching out to other publishers to have them join in the online book club.  This can only be great news to readers.  A great chance to read authors you already know, but also the amazing opportunity to discover new authors and genres.  I’m really hoping a lot of the publishers decide to get in on this.  I’m all for discovering new authors from everywhere.

 

I can remember, years ago, belonging to the Doubleday Book Club and getting a new book every month.  It was like receiving an adventure in my mailbox.  Now it’s even easier by receiving that monthly book on your e-reader and there’s a whole online community ready to share their thoughts with you about it during the author chats.  I know there were a lot of books I’ve read over that years that I wanted to ask the author questions about, but other than write them a letter, there was no way to get that answer.  Well, things are changing and the readers are the big winners.

 

The books will also be able to be moved from one device to another and shared just like a paperback book.  Most readers I know say, “You’ve got to read this book,” and then lovingly pass it along.  Now they’ll be able to do it with the Discover a New Love books.

 

Personally, I like this program because it’s so reasonable that I can gift these subscriptions and share my love for books.  Plus, once a month, when they receive a new book, they’ll think of me.   So, my first purchases will be to my sisters (Dee, Chris, Lori, Sally) for their amazing help at my reader’s luncheon, my daughter-in-law (Jennifer) for her birthday and Joysann (the terrific BHB blurber) for all her contributions.

 

Bottom Line:  Although I’ll be working on this project, it will in no way skew the way I feel about all books.  As a reader, I read a book…not a publisher.

 

 

RT Convention Part 2

Barbara Vey -- April 16th, 2012

Everyday at a convention you get up and think, “What day is it?”  I was lucky enough to run into Virna DePaul in the breakfast line and she asked me to do a video for the HEA USA Today blog.  Virna writes paranormal and romantic suspense.

 

 

Leora Jenkins, Joan Schulhafer, Tina DeSalvo Callais, Linda Greene

Leora Jenkins, Joan Schulhafer, Tina DeSalvo Callais, Linda Greene

 

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Beth Ciotta and Mary Stella hosted Romance Scattegories and being the competitive person I am, I needed to get in on the action.  Even though my team was brilliant, the judging committee didn’t always agree with our reasoning.  We lost at the game, but had a riot playing it.

 

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The Cow in the Sourcebooks offices

The Cow in the Sourcebooks offices

Located in nearby Naperville, IL, Joysann and I were invited with the Sourcebooks authors to tour Sourcebooks offices.  They had a couple of party buses to take us over.  I’ve never been in a party bus, but it kind of reminds me of a moving strip club with black lights, neon, sparkly stuff and a stripper pole.  Yes, I did say stripper pole and even without having any alcohol, it didn’t take much encouragement for me to try it.  I would have never made any money at it.  It’s always interesting for me to see the inner workings of any publishing company but Sourcebooks is real homey and has a waterfall in it.  We got to vote on book titles and book covers.  It’s amazing how many different views people take of these things.  They even have a cow in their office.  (Look for my Sourcebook announcement in tomorrow’s blog.)

 

Now I really need a waxing

Now I really need a waxing

Stopped in at Club RT where authors sit at tables and readers can just come up for an intimate chat.  They also give away a ton of door prizes all day long and vendors line the walls selling everything from jewelry to clothes to book covers.  I discovered Frank from OnSeeker was selling author apps that could be downloaded to mobile devices.  I have to admit that it was pretty cool.  It’s almost like a mini website with tabs for books, appearances, news, links to blogs and almost anything else you can imagine.  You can check out how this works by searching for “Desiree Holt” iOS app store.

 

The always delightful Nancy Naigle had a display that featured her and other authors.  You got to spin a wheel for prizes and never being one to pass up a chance to win something, I got lucky number 7 which gave me a fake mustache.  Of course, I put it on, but I’m happy I don’t have to wear one all the time.

 

In one of the several Author Chats, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jodi Thomas and Francine Pascal answered talked about their backgrounds and books, and answered questions about building creating the places in which their characters reside. When asked about maintaining continuety as they right their connected books, Susan Elizabeth Phillips she uses Facebook and Twitter. If she has a question about what character in which book, she just asks her followers who come right back with the answer, as her readers are the experts.

 

Michele Haul winning her award

Michele Hauf winning her award

 

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RT gives awards for just about everything under the sun, but it doesn’t matter because these authors deserve all the recognition they can get.  I was told you can find the winners online at the RT site, but I couldn’t find them, so if anyone has the link, please post it in the comments section.

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Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso

Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso

Avon’s Indigo Lounge was advertized as “a cool, bluesy Chicago evening.”  And it was.  A large room with lots of appetizers and waiters passing out champagne while readers raced to their favorite author’s table to receive a free signed book.  I talked to Zoe Archer and she and her husband, Nico Rosso have an interesting publishing arrangement.  In their new series, she will write the first book (Skies of Fire) based in Europe and he will write the next one which will be a steampunk western.  They will take turns, back and forth, on the series.  I can’t wait.  No one went away from this event disappointed.

 

The Giant Book Signing is always a premiere event.  It’s also Teen Day when teens can sit in on workshops and meet all their favorite authors at the book signing.  Big names at the signing were Anne Rice, Sue Grafton, J.R. Ward, Nalini Singh and Susan Elizabeth Phillips among many others.  The checkout line was so long it rivaled some of the lines at Disney World.  No one was complaining though as they clutched their signed treasures.

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After the booksigning, joysann encountered a girl about 15 years old carrying a huge backpack that was obviously loaded and heavy, and asked her who her favorite author was that she saw this day. She said “Oh, no, I can’t… Everyone was so nice. This is the best day of my life!”

 

Some authors at the signing:

Anne Rice

Anne Rice

Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton

Anne Elizabeth

Anne Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RT and Heather Graham’s Night of the Stars Gangster Café Talent Quest began with a buffet dinner that had amazing selections of pasta and sauces, and other fixings. The sketch was fun and crazy and chaotic, and the costumes, as always, were stunning. With molls and murders and music from Chicago, attendees were given a chance to figure out who the killer was and win trip expenses and attendance at Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans in December.

 

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Carina Press held a Cocktail party to celebrate their first anniversary, with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and lovely cheese cake. To enter the drawing to some fabulous prizes, including e-readers, participants were given clues to match books to authors, and there was very enthusiastic participation.

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Harlequin Party (Photo by Emma J. Schulte)

Harlequin Party (Photo by Emma J. Schulte)

 

After was the huge Harlequin Dance Party with a DJ and a packed dance floor, and, of course, several door prizes that had everyone trying to read their ticket numbers in the dark.  They had giant screens that displayed the Harlequin Logo, but I wondered why they weren’t flashing book covers from their many attending authors.

 

All in all, RT put on a pretty darned good event.  Way more activities than any one person could do in a day.  You really had to pick and choose what you wanted because of the terrific variety.

 

Bottom Line:  Too much to do, too many to see, too little time…will try harder next year.

 

Giveaways

 

From GET LOST IN A STORY -  Tues—Wayne Jordan: 2 copies of TO LOVE YOU MORE, Wed, Thurs, Fri—Jillian Stone’s debut giveaway of THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK

 

From Mia Marlowe:  Mia Marlowe’s HOW TO DISTRACT A DUCHESS is a free Kindle download! You can get it here.

 

From Dianna Love and Mary Buckham:  Free download of Break into FictionYou can get it here.

 

RT Booklovers Convention Part 1

Barbara Vey -- April 15th, 2012

The RT Booklovers Convention is bigger than ever.  At least it seems so this year as you try to navigate the hotel to find the ton of workshops, mixers, parties and any kind of event you can imagine.

 

It was kind of nice having to drive only about an hour to get here.  Even though it was the first day of the convention, the place was packed because RT offers Early Bird special tours and special classes for writers.  But Wednesday was the official kick off day.  Registration buzzing, as usual.

 

 

Marcia James, Liz Pelletier and me

It seemed there were 6-8 workshops or events scheduled at the same time.  After spending the first couple of hours greeting everyone I ran into, I did a workshop with Marcia James and Liz Pelletier (Entangled Publishing) on Niche Marketing.  Our room was pretty packed considering all that was going on, but we talked about how to find that certain group that your book will fit right into.  We even managed to disagree on a few things which made it more interesting and only proves that there’s more than one way to do something.

Captain Linnea Sinclair

Another simultaneous event that rocked was the increasingly popular Intergalactic Bar & Grille hosted by a crew of sci-fi and fantasy authors. In a huge room left with standing room only, Captain Linnea Sinclair led fans and enthusiasts through games in which you had better know your book, movie and TV show sci-fi trivia to win any of the many, many prizes. Energy was high, hilarity ensued, and a good time was had by all. (Hosts: Linnea Sinclair and her interstellar crew: Cie Adams (aka Cat Adams), Catherine Asaro, Marcella Burnard, Robin Hobb, Stacey Kade, Isabo Kelly, Liddy Midnight, Janet Miller (aka Cricket Starr)

Suzanne Lazear, Karina Cooper, Eden Bradley, Natalie Zaman, Deborah Schneider, photo by co-hostess Leanna Renee Hieber

Suzanne Lazear, Karina Cooper, Eden Bradley, Natalie Zaman, Deborah Schneider, photo by co-hostess Leanna Renee Hieber

 

 

 

 

There was the Steampunk/Gaslight Fantasy Party

 

 

 

 

 

Author Desiree Holt

The big party of the night was the Ellora’s Cave Step Up and Stomp bash and they had the best swag.  A t-shirt, workout pants and a hat with a really cool logo (at least I really liked it). EC authors were introduced individually, and some found ways to dress up the event. A performance by some talented hip-hop dancers set the bar for the dance floor, but that didn’t slow the partiers down.

 

Mystery Chix and Private Dix

 

Mystery Chix and Private Dix

Hosts: Lori Armstrong aka Lorelei James, Laura Caldwell, Carole Nelson Douglas, Rosemary Harris, Alma Katsu, Julie Kramer, Bob Mayer, Rick Mofina, Andrew Peterson, F. Paul Wilson, Sarah Zettel

 

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Cathy Matuszak and her bonny sons, Max, Zach, and Jack

 

Clan McFae and a Magical Scottish Fling

Clan McFae: Amanda McIntyre, Sahara Kelly, RG Alexander, Catherine Asaro, Eden Bradley (aka Eve Berlin), Kathleen Grieve, Kim Killion, Cathy Matuszak, Liddy Midnight, Janet Miller (aka Cricket Starr)Sharon Page, Andrew Peterson, James Rollins, Susanne Saville, Faith Smith

 

 

 

Enjoy the pictures.  There’s so much to write about, but it seems like I’m always running somewhere.  Tonight, instead of sleep, I’ll write more to let you know what’s going on and there will be lots more pictures.

 

Bottom Line:  Conventions should come with 48 hour days.

Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon a Rousing Success!

Barbara Vey -- April 11th, 2012
Bags of swag ready for readers

Bags of swag ready for readers

All I can say is, if you missed the luncheon this year, you missed a lot.  But have no fear, there will be a second luncheon, April 27, 2013 with James Rollins as the keynote speaker.

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Special author cupcakes (thanks Dee Schrader & team)

Special author cupcakes (thanks Dee Schrader & team)

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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Tuesday’s luncheon proved that the Milwaukee area can get pretty riled up when it comes to authors visiting.  About 250 readers started lining up at 9:30 a.m. for the 10:30 meet and greet at the Oak Creek Community Center including readers from Australia, Canada and many different states.  You could tell you were in Wisconsin when the food arrived with portions large enough to feed at least two (all delicious).  The crowning glory was the arrival of cupcakes for dessert, all flagged with the author’s book covers.

 

royal table with Victoria Alexander

royal table with Victoria Alexander

 

Each author had 7 avid readers at their tables and with all genres represented, everyone seemed to get what they wanted and more from their intimate encounters.  The authors attracted many new readers and the readers learned there were many more authors out there than they had been reading.  Conversations were lively as authors brought favors for their tables mates including crowns, book bags, books, note pads, booklights and candy.

 

A Packed Room

A Packed Room

There were a couple of tables devoted to young adult readers with 7 kids ages 12-17 hanging on every word of the authors.  Even editors came up and discussed books with the youngsters getting their take on what they enjoy reading.  Austin Maier, 14, was thrilled when YA author B.A. Binns offered to send her book to him.  “I can’t believe an author would want to send me her book.  I can’t wait to read it!”

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The adults weren’t doing too bad either.  As they entered the event they were treated to a tote bag that included eight books, note pads, pens, bookmarks, trading cards, post cards, excerpts, calendars, and many discount coupons for businesses.  A special thanks to the authors who supplied the totes, Kristen Painter, Victoria Alexander, Roxanne St. Claire and Louisa Edwards.

 

Heather Graham

Heather Graham

The crowd was all warmed up by the time keynote speaker Heather Graham made her way to the stage.  We couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural speaker.  In her trademark style, Heather managed to entertain the group with stories of her beloved New Orleans, crazy men that sew their wives together after they are dead and mentions of her quirky home state of Florida.  Particularly entertaining was the electric chair story of the man who’s hair caught fire during his execution and having it called cruel and unusual punishment.  The next day paper’s headline was, “Electric Chair Deemed Unsafe.”  Heather also announced that her Writer’s for New Orleans Conference will be held December 14-16th.

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A lucky winner...Jenny St. Germaine

A lucky winner...Jenny St. Germaine

Anticipation was building for the amazing door prizes that the author’s brought.  Lucky readers walked away with baskets of books, gift certificates, scarves, treasure chests and of course, chocolate.  Next up were the drawings for the raffle baskets donated by authors, author blog groups, publishers, local business, the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Admirals, Kindles, Nooks and a Kindle Fire.  In addition, an amazing acoustic guitar with all the accessories was donated by Blue Flame Music.  All proceeds go to local libraries.  People frantically checked their tickets and screams could be heard from the winners.  Congratulations to all!

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Jacqui Sue-Ping said it best, “And apparently there are times that putting horseshoes up one’s a$$ really does work! I won a door prize and two raffle raffles including an arc from Suzanne Brockmann a gift basket from Virginia Kantra, 20th anniversary edition of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and so much more. Complete icing on a lovely cake of a day :-)

 

The finishing touch was an incredible book signing.  Not only were the authors able to sell and sign their books but programs (donated by COS Productions) were given out to everyone with author bios that were signed by the authors and kept as collectables by the readers.  I was more than a little surprised when I was asked to sign a few.

Getting ready for booksigning

Getting ready for booksigning

 

My sisters and me with a poster dedicating the luncheon to my mom.  Sally Lisiecki, Chris Mattice, Lori Basterash, Barbara Vey, Dee Schrader

My sisters and me with a poster dedicating the luncheon to my mom. Sally Lisiecki, Chris Mattice, Lori Basterash, Barbara Vey, Dee Schrader

It was an incredible event and punctuated even more by the throngs of readers who lined up to tell me how much they enjoyed the event, had no idea what to expect, were pleasantly surprised and wanting to know how to sign up for next year.

 

I can never adequately express my gratitude to the many people who gave them time and talents to help make this event so successful.  The list would be endless.  So, let me just say that I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart and I look forward to working with you all again next year.  Get some rest.

 

Bottom Line:  I have no doubt it will be a sold out event.