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Books & Tea Reader Event

Hello everyone! I just love libraries. The hushed peace, the smell of so many books packed together, just
 waiting to be opened. And I love tea. The warm, calming sensation that comes with sipping (silently) the subtle flavors of suntanned leaves steeped with honey, or sugar and cream, or just plain. Books and tea, a perfect pair.

 

I was recently invited to participate in a Romance Writers Tea Party at my local library. All the libraries in my county were part of the program. Three romance authors were invited to each party to rotate between tables where attendees drank tea/lemonade, ate cookies and strawberries, and asked us questions. It was a marvelous event!

 

 

 

The library had copies of our books on the table, and we could bring others for purchase as well as our free swag for attendees. Keeping with the tea theme, I made paper tea bag/chocolate holders with my web site and book covers on the outsides. I set one at each attendee spot, along with my book marks, notepads and pens. Inside one of the paper tea holders, I stamped a shamrock. Whoever sat at that table spot won a free copy of my book, CAPTURED HEART.

The tea party was held in the library conference/children’s program room and started out with everyone mingling, getting refreshments and choosing a seat. One spot, for the author, was left open at the three tables. The librarian introduced each of us with a brief bio, which we provided to her.

Collage for CAPTURED HEART – Scottish Historical Romance

I started off at each table showing some of my collages, which I use to help me write, and discussed my process. It was very casual and attendees asked questions throughout, although the very on-top-of-it librarian had a list of potential questions on each table. At twenty minutes, she encouraged us to switch to another table, although we all ran over.

At the end, attendees were able to fill up on refreshments, take a look at the books, sign up for newsletters and talk with each author if they had individual questions. And a couple people bought my books. It was a unique, fun way to meet new readers (even if you don’t like tea). If you are a librarian or have a local library, you could suggest a Romance Writers Tea as an outreach event.

Here are a few details about my particular experience:

  • Three authors were invited to attend each event. Each author received a $100 honorarium.
  • Between 15 and 20 readers attended each tea party.
  • The library made up fliers and a poster for each entrance into the library. They asked for reservations so they would know how much food to have.
  • A beverage station was set up with hot water, various tea bags, sugars, creamer/milk, lemonade and ice water.
  • Attendees were asked to bring their own tea cups but could use the paper ones provided.
  • Cookies and strawberries were set out with napkins and little plates.
  • Tables had table cloths and simple center pieces (I brought my own tea pots for the center pieces).
  • I’m the only one who wore a hat, but a library could suggest hats as part of the fun.
  • The event took about one and a half hours.

Have you ever attended a similar author event in your area? Were there interesting features/details that made it even more fun?

For more information about Heather McCollum, including her homemade Chai Tea Latte recipe (link below), please check out her web site and sign up for her newsletter http://www.heathermccollum.com/

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Show and Tell Wednesday: Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon

Two weekends ago, I made my yearly trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for what is coming to signal the beginning of conference season for me: The Annual Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon.

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I knew this year was going to be a blast when the event sold out within 48 hours of tickets being available. Readers told me about how they teamed up with people designated to stay up until midnight and buy luncheon tickets.

Friday was the warm-up event with an Author Q&A. With 61 authors, it’s actually quite the line-up. No one knows the question they’ll get and answers range from heartfelt to witty to outrageous. But you know what I found super-cool? Jason Mott and Eloisa James and even the keynote speaker, Tess Gerritsen all sat in the Peanut gallery with the rest of us and went through the same activities. (OMG, I was two seats from Tess Gerritsen!)

author_qa

The Q&A was followed this year by a cocktail hour and the WisRWA booksigning. If there wasn’t enough madness already, WisRWA was happening in parallel to the luncheon. I think that booksignings should ALWAYS be combined with cocktail hour. Yes. Make it so. 

angie_shawntelle_jeannie

Obligatory selfie with Shawntelle Madison and Angie Fox

The next morning was the start of the luncheon. Authors showed up as soon as the doors opened at 8am to start setting up their tables. And you can see why:I went with an Asian steampunk theme for mine, giving away handmade steampunk books to my table. I spent the previous week putting these together. Nice, eh? (Glue everywhere. So much glue.) 

steampunk_book

And I had the not-so-clever idea of assembling a centerpiece made out of 147 wooden parts. Which took me about two hours, just piecing things together. Because Jeannie is not right in the head sometimes. It was, however, a strangely relaxing two hours, just fiddling with puzzle pieces and not having to worry about anything else. 🙂dragon_boat

 

Here was my fabulous table this year. Doesn’t everyone look happy? I know they call it a Reader Appreciation luncheon, but a an author, I felt a lot of love filling the room. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came. I had an AWESOME time.

And for an added surprise, one of my readers turned out to be rising star Sonali Dev, author of A Bollywood Affair. Sonali, I think you should sit in the hot seat next year. I want to go and get some swag and win some raffle prizes….and fangirl all over some authors. 

jeannies_table

Now, I may have gotten into the crafting, but I tell you, my table was not even the most decorated by far. In fact, I felt a little underdressed! My favorite table? This pretty in pink number here:

pretty_in_pink

Beth Albright, where were you when I was planning my wedding? My decorations didn’t look nearly that good on my big day.

Tess Gerritsen, doctor, mega-bestselling author, creator of Rizzoli and Isles, all round super-woman, convinced me during her keynote speech that research, curiosity, and a twisted imagination is the way to fame, fortune, and awesome books. I was completely enthralled by her talk — from running mummies through CT scans to going on safari in Africa.

After the luncheon, it was straight to the booksigning where I got to see some familiar faces from previous years and say hello to many new readers. Barbara Vey really encourages the guests to try out new books and the readers really take it to heart. It’s always so encouraging as a newer author to not be sitting all by your lonesome twiddling your thumbs.

And the best part? Over 10,000 dollars raised from the raffles and booksigning for The American Cancer Society. A good day for a good cause.

The Barbara Vey luncheon is definitely my favorite reader/author event hands down. What’s yours? What’s your favorite part of author/reader meet-ups?  Any events you would recommend?

Show and Tell Wednesday is a weekly feature which features images and a short post sharing something about them. If you’re interested in doing a guest post, check out the additional info and guidelines HERE.

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