Confession: Until two days ago, I had never been to a reader luncheon.
Now I want to go to them all!
Saturday was the Southern Magic Romance Writers Reader Luncheon, and I knew it was going to be something special when the parking garage entrance broke as soon as I pulled up, and the alternate garage entrance was blocked by the end of a 5K race in Birmingham, and then I had a phone malfunction while trying to call for help because I’m embarrassingly technologically-challenged when it comes to hands-free earbuds.
You know the luncheon is going to be magic when you have to do the Parking Garage Shimmy to be allowed entrance. (It’s like the Rain Dance, except you’re praying to the parking garage gods.) (Sorry, no pictures. I was too busy talking to the police.) (Don’t worry about that police bit. It was all good. I flashed him a romance novel and he shut down the 5K so the line of romance writers in their cars could get into the other garage entrance.) It’s like you’re earning your good time. And considering how much work the organizers put into the luncheon (HUGE kudos to the luncheon committee and volunteers!!!), using my superpowers against the parking garage was a piece of cake.
But back to the luncheon!
It was fabulous. There were at least two hundred women and men there (probably three hundred even!), some authors, all readers. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in years (like Susan Carlisle, whose relatives own a nursery I used to go to before we moved, and Tanya Michaels, who is a fabulous lady who once helped me hone a pitch at a conference, and my friend Denise, a fellow writer whose story is in the top fifty of Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest!). I also co-hosted a table with my wonderful friend and amazing critique partner, Kelsey Browning. (I have failed you all, because I didn’t get a picture of Kelsey’s boots.)
You know what’s at a reader lunch?
Books. Tons and tons of beautiful books! And baskets. Raffle baskets and giveaway baskets galore. At least a hundred baskets. At least. All for the winning by all the lovely readers.
Also amazing speakers and hilariously fun videos and slide shows of heroes and romance writers in their native and not-so-native environments. (And next year? Next year Sylvia Day is the keynote speaker! Mark your calendars for the first weekend in November now!!)
A lot of other people have better pictures than I do and their own stories to tempt you too. Like Larynn Ford, Librarian JuJu, M.V. Freeman, Shiloh Walker, Julie Johnstone, Mina Khan, the amazing keynote speaker Jeaniene Frost, and the fabulous Barbara Vey. (Plus there are the Dark Knight Photography pictures, which are fantastic and really captured the event well!) (And the lovely video with Naima Simone, Carla Swafford, and Heather Leonard is up on YouTube here!) (And the really cool hero slide show that Laura Hayden put together is also up on YouTube here!)
If you’ve never been to a reader luncheon or all-out reader event, find your nearest one and go!
And just so you don’t have to hunt for one near you yourself, I’ve done the work for you. Check this list out, and see if any of them are near you, and go! You won’t regret it. 🙂
Heart of Louisiana’s Annual Romance Reader Luncheon (This year’s is November 16 – less than 2 weeks away, and Maya Banks is their keynote speaker!)
Barbara Vey’s Annual Reader Appreciation Lunch (Every April in Milwaukee)
Heart of Dixie’s Annual Reader Luncheon (Every May or June in northern Alabama)
Colorado Romance Writers’ Romance Lover Tea (I think the first one was last month – don’t know if this is an annual thing, but I hope so!)
(Somebody please tell me I’m missing a few, because reader luncheons are FABULOUS!)
Whole weekend events:
RomFest near Knoxville, Tennesee (a whole weekend in March!!)
The Novel Experience Event in Atlanta (the last weekend in March, and I’m crossing fingers I’ll know soon if I can register for this!)
The Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (The mother of all reader events, in New Orleans in May in 2014)
RomCon in Denver (A great reader event in June)
Authors After Dark (In Charlotte, NC for August 2014)
Arizona Dreamin’ (The last weekend in May)
Readers ‘n’ Ritas (Sponsored by Fresh Fiction, and it’s November 8-10. In other words, THIS WEEKEND! If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, check it out ASAP!)
Hot Mojave Knights Romance Reader Event (Just had their first one in Las Vegas this past October)
Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together (In June in Ohio, and this one’s on my dream list!)
So many fun things to do! Hope you find one near you!
Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!