It turned out to be a Happily Ever After for the Love Inspired Reader Luncheon in Tampa yesterday. The weather was outsmarted and all the authors managed to arrive safely, even though the Atlanta authors’ plane landed a mere 1/2 hour before the event was supposed to start.
About 50 people attended with a few arriving about 2 hours early. Readers tend to get a little excited when meeting their favorite authors and even some new ones. Before the doors officially opened, attendees were allowed to register and were given their tote bags filled with goodies. It was very heart warming to see groups of readers rummaging through their bags looking for treasure. Several found books they were obviously happy to receive because they were scattered around the hallway, with their noses in books, not even noticing the others around them.
Before the food arrived, with an author at each table, the luncheon turned into a variation of speed dating authors. Each writer moved to a different table about every 10 minutes so the readers to get to know more about them on a personal level. Talking to the readers later, they told me this was one of their favorite parts because they don’t like to just go up to an author and “bother” them and it was a great way to discover new authors.
I was fortunate enough to sit with Valerie, 84, a reader who last attended a Harlequin luncheon over 20 years ago with her mother-in-law. I asked her which was her favorite, but she diplomatically said they were both fun, but she didn’t remember a lot about the one in the 90s.
Maria, a Language Arts teacher from the area, is a self published author and came to meet authors and find out more about the industry. She filmed the Q&A session and plans to show it to her 8th grade students today. Maria talked with Dianne Moggy of Harlequin and hopes to get a YA program started for her classes to include Skyping with authors.
The Q&A session was filled with the things readers most want to know about authors. How they got started, why they write, favorite characters. But my very favorite quote of the session came from Marta Perry who was asked about men and romance. “We idolize men. If we wrote them the way they really are, there’d be no dialog!” Amen!!
Bottom Line: Kind of like the mailman’s creed for readers, “Neither snow, nor sleet, nor delayed flights will keep authors from their readers.”