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August 1, 2012

A Reader’s Report on the Romance Writers of America’s Literacy Autographing


Kathy Jund, one of our readers in Southern California met up with Carol Fitzgerald at the Romance Writers of America Literacy signing at the Anaheim Convention Center last Wednesday. Here is her report on that event, as well as her commentary on some of the other romance-themed events she attended surrounding the conference.

Was this the first time you attended the Romance Writers of America Literacy signing?

Yes, it was!

Was the evening what you expected?  Please share your thoughts about it.

It most definitely was!  Secretly, I feared with so little time (you cannot possibly imagine how quickly three hours can pass in a forum of this magnitude…), the lines would be so long that we would spend most of the time on the “outside” of the ballroom looking in!  Fortunately, there was no reason to worry, as the crowds were as directed in an orderly fashion and we made our way into the signing room in no time!

I had been looking forward to this event since last spring when I learned that the National RWA (Romance Writers of America) Conference was to be in Anaheim when I attended the Book Lover’s Author signing at the RT (Romantic Times) Convention in downtown Los Angeles. I did not intend to miss the chance of being in a room with over 400 authors, especially since this wondrous event was close enough to be in my own backyard!  I later learned that the Literacy signing fundraiser is the actual opening “kickoff” of the RWA Conference and it is always held on the Wednesday evening of the conference and is open to the public. Although our own personal books were not allowed inside for signing, it was great to be part of the movement where the proceeds of book sales that evening would assist in supporting organizations that help provide the gift of reading to anyone who wants to receive it.

It was literally a “literary smorgasbord” of authors at the Anaheim Convention Center. The room was very large and there was definitely space to move among the rows of tables.  The organizers distributed listings of the attending authors listed both alphabetically and by table number; these also has been made available online prior to the event. I referred constantly to my own marked-up copies (prepared weeks in advance in anticipation of the event) that were  highlighted in bright yellow, as well as marked with stars and hearts, ensuring that I would find the location of some of my all time favorites, as well as a number of new authors I have read and enjoyed this past year.  The authors in attendance were gracious and even took pictures if asked, it was clear to see they genuinely enjoyed being among their readers as much as we enjoyed being around them.

What authors were you most looking forward to meeting?

I was definitely looking forward to meeting Elizabeth Lowell for the first time!  I have been an avid fan of hers for years and this was a wonderful opportunity to meet with her in person.  These days with social media and email, we fans have the chance to interact with our favorite authors electronically.  However, nothing compares to a face-to-face encounter, it certainly makes passing on a quick hug much easier!  She was great!

Also on my list were Lisa Jackson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sabrina Jeffries, Cindy Gerard, Carolyn Jewel and Nora Roberts (if there was enough time and the line was not too long)  along with Victoria Alexander, Tina Gabrielle, Mia Marlow, Kieran Kramer, Brigid Kemmerer and Jennifer Estep.    

Did you know any of these authors prior to the event?

I certainly can say I have previously met and warmly call the following authors my friends --- Lisa Hendrix, Delilah Marvelle, Caridad Pineiro, Stephanie Dray and Olivia Gates.  I managed to track each one of them down during the event and was able to spend some extra one-on-one time with these fine women after the event.

Did you get to see everyone you wanted to see?

Unfortunately, time ran out before I managed to get to the table where Nora Roberts was signing and as can be expected with an event this big, there were quite a number of other authors I had hoped to meet but didn’t get a chance to.  I hope the opportunity presents itself again in the near future.

What were the highlights of the evening for you?

I was so excited to have my daughter Amber-Starr with me to share in all the excitement and energy that surrounded the room!  Amber often accompanies me to individual author signings and most definitely our annual mother/daughter (and all the friends we can get our hands on) weekend date for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, but to be able to watch her put the faces to all the author’s books in our library was priceless!  This was my idea of Disneyland, even though the “real” one was just down the street!

Most certainly, one of the big highlights of the evening for me was finding Carol from in the crowd; I had been on the lookout for her!  One of the most fun things of the evening was when Carol, my daughter and I tracked down Lisa Jackson.  It was a “turquoise party” to be sure!!  I could not wait to tell her how much I enjoyed her upcoming hardcover release (YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW), finally coming out on Tuesday, the 7th.  She said it was her new favorite (her prior one was SHIVER) and it is certainly mine.

Your daughter was with you.  Is she a romance reader as well?  If so, what authors does she enjoy the most?  

Yes, Amber-Starr is a romance reader too, although she prefers to “listen” to her books on tape while she is driving.  In So Cali, you can put in some serious reading time driving the California freeways, and a three-hour (each way) jaunt to Las Vegas definitely is a great way to pass the time with a book!  She likes to go into our neighborhood public library and scour through the books on tape although sometimes it is hard to find a whole series at one time.  When she is on vacation though, she does enjoy reading “books” and can often polish of five or six!  She has been hooked on the J.D. Robb series as well as Janet Evanovich and has listened to Susan Elizabeth Phillips to name a few.

Did you attend any other events during the Conference?  If so, tell us about them.

Yes, I did actually! Although we did not attend the conference itself, my daughter and I did attend a cocktail party hosted by the wonderful author Sabrina Jeffries. The party held a few hours prior to the Literacy signing was in a nearby hotel a short walk from the venue. The theme was “Christmas in July” and everyone in attendance was treated to a red goody bag and a copy of one of Sabrina’s backlist editions. We enjoyed watching everyone checking the tables and the surrounding area to see which copies they might not have in their own personal libraries. The appetizers were scrumptious and the specially crafted “Sabrina-tini” was heavenly!  Fun was definitely had by all!

Amber-Starr and I also attended the Kensington Publishing Company’s Author party held on Thursday evening, and quite an evening it was for “star-gazing”, all the terrific romance authors who write for Kensington.  An air of “family” certainly abounded as everyone, from the authors to the CEO of the only family-owned publishing company celebrated the introduction of the new all-digital line of books known as eKensington.  Both Lisa Jackson and her incredibly gifted sister and fellow Kensington author Nancy Bush also came and it was so exciting to see them both together in the same room!  A wonderful goodie bag, contained among other things souvenir cookies with the covers of many of the author’s books, it certainly would be a shame to eat them!  I wonder how long the ones I have will be safe before I do!

A vacation weekend in the middle of the week…memories of this event will last a very long time!