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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.