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Buns and Roses for Literacy

Last weekend I traveled to Dallas to participate in the tenth annual Buns and Roses Tea  and I have to admit I was more fan-girl than author! The event benefited the Richardson Library’s Adult Literacy Center which seeks to transform lives by providing English as a second language instruction to adults who live or work within Richardson—a suburb of Dallas—and its school district.

It was an honor to meet one of my very favorite authors, the very lovely Lorraine Heath!

It was an honor to meet one of my very favorite authors, the lovely Lorraine Heath!

Best-selling author, Lorraine Heath, is a member of the RALC committee, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a HUGE fan of her books. It was such an honor and a privilege to be invited to join the twenty-five romance authors from around the country hosting tables at the event.

 

The authors in front of the hand made quilt that author Katharine Ashe won in the silent auction. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The authors in front of the hand made quilt that author Katharine Ashe won in the silent auction. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The weekend kicked off with a fun book signing at a local Barnes & Noble store. I’ll let you in on a little secret: book signings are scary. I’m always nervous that no one is going to show up, but with fifteen other authors there to keep me company, it was a party.  AND readers showed up! Of course, they may have just stepped in off the street after hearing what a good time we were having. 🙂

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel bar for  some libations and to relax before heading out to dinner at the beautiful home of one of the RALC committee members. There was a lot more laughter throughout the evening, not to mention some great food. Committee members, VIP readers, and authors mingled and chatted as everyone got to know each other. We talked about books, food, football, food, families, and, did I mention food?

I met lots of new friends including historical romance authors, Lily Dalton and Shana Galen.

I met lots of new friends including historical romance authors, Lily Dalton and Shana Galen.

The following afternoon, it was time for the big event. Over two hundred readers adorned hats (author Katharine Ashe’s table wore tiaras!) and headed to the ballroom for an afternoon of fun.

Author Lori Wilde's table had fun with candy lips!

Author Lori Wilde’s table had fun with candy lips! Kandy Tobin, photographer.

We sipped tea (author Diane Kelly’s table sipped moonshine!) with readers, signed books, and bartered on some very impressive auction items including a trip to Scotland and a gorgeous handmade quilt commemorating the event. Tessa Dare delivered a heartfelt keynote while emcee, Candace Havens, kept the audience laughing.

One of the highlights of each year’s tea is the keepsake bears that are outfitted in a unique costume. Guests hold up twenty dollar bills to secure one, but they go fast.

The 2015 Buns and Roses Keepsake Bear. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The 2015 Buns and Roses Keepsake Bear. Kandy Tobin, photographer.

The folks on the committee are still tallying up this year’s contribution, but they estimate they raised more than $10,000 for literacy programs. Additionally, Barnes & Noble is making it easy for readers to contribute to the cause. Just use the code #11685054 (at checkout) while shopping online or in-store with from Oct. 1-14. To learn more about the RALC, go to http://www.ralc.org.

Be sure to make your plans now to attend next year’s Buns and Roses Tea! I know I am.

 

Getting Real with Readers at Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Luncheon

bvrlWhile I’ve been to forty-six of the fifty states, I’d never been to the city of Milwaukee until this past weekend.  The wonderful Barbara Vey invited me to her fourth annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon and, to put it simply, it was a blast!  Honestly, the only thing that would have made it better was if I’d been a reader coming to the lunch.  With sixty other authors in attendance, I had more than my fair share of fan girl moments.

The weekend started with an awesome dinner hosted by the WisRWA (the Wisconsin Romance Writers) at one of the area’s more famous restaurants–The Packing House.  Later that evening, we went back to the hotel to introduce ourselves to readers.  Each author was given a random question to answer.  As you can imagine, quite a lot of fun was had answering the questions.  That was followed by a cocktail party and a book signing featuring members of the WisRWA.

But the real fun began on Saturday.  That’s when the authors headed to the ballroom to decorate their individual tables.  All I can say is that there are sixty people who are MUCH more creative than I am!!  Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the tables.

 

Check out the Granny Bus on Nancy Naigle and Kelsey Browning's table!

Check out the Granny Bus on Nancy Naigle and Kelsey Browning’s table!

Aren't these cute?

Aren’t these cute?

Creative, huh?

Creative, huh?

 

Key note speaker Tess Gerrittsen brought Rizzoli and Isles hats for her table!

Key note speaker Tess Gerrittsen brought Rizzoli and Isles hats for her table!

Cherry Adair had an entire ecosystem on her table!

Cherry Adair had an entire ecosystem on her table!

 

Mary Burton's table was really sweet!

Mary Burton’s table was really sweet!

When in Wisconsin... Of course I had a football on my table!

When in Wisconsin… Of course I had a football on my table!

The fabulous readers at Table 44:  Barbara, Windsong, Bobbi, Alyce, Dani and Judy.

The fabulous readers at Table 44: Barbara, Windsong, Bobbi, Alyce, Dani and Judy.

Readers buy tickets to authors’ tables in advance.  (Tickets for the 2016 luncheon go on sale August 1 and they sell out FAST.)  Each ticket comes with a chance to win one of the awesome door prizes donated by the authors.  Mine was a beach bag filled with everything you need to read by the pool or ocean, including my complete backlist.  Others included Kindles or being named a character in a author’s book.

barbara vey 1Then it was on to the raffle baskets.  Barbara puts on this luncheon not only to connect readers with their favorite authors, but to raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of her late mother.  Over $10,000 was raised benefiting ACS last weekend!  The day was capped off by a book signing open to the public.  My Out of Bounds series of books sold out pretty quickly, but it was fun to stick around and chat with fans and readers.  Over $8,000 in books were sold!

There are lots of opportunities to connect with authors at events like Barbara’s.  The RT convention begins in a couple of weeks in Dallas.  (The prodigal son is graduating from college, so I won’t make it this year.)  Tickets are still available for the Heart of Dixie Luncheon in Huntsville, Alabama on June 13.  I can’t wait to connect with readers there! Also, I’ll be at Lorraine Heath’s tenth annual Buns and Roses Tea in Richardson Texas on October 4.

Thanks Barbara and thanks Milwaukee for a wonderful time!  See you again soon!

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