Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hosting a Readers' Luncheon!

Debby at the Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon
Debby Giusti here!
Is your writing chapter – be it ACFW, RWA or SINC – looking for a way to promote local authors?  Perhaps your library wants to provide an informative and enjoyable afternoon for patrons.  Maybe funding is needed for a new program or special charity.  No matter the reason, hosting a readers’ luncheon or similar reader event is a great way for writers and readers to mix and mingle and talk about books and the craft of writing while generating revenue for a worthy cause. 

I contacted a few folks who have organized programs I’ve attended and asked them to provide tips on hosting a reader event.

The Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon is held the first weekend in May at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  Many of the authors arrive on Friday and lodge at the Embassy Suites that adjoins the conference area.  Heart of Dixie RWA chapter members join the authors for dinner that night and often visit in the lobby until late in the evening.  The next morning, readers line up early and wait for the doors to open, hoping to grab a seat at their favorite author’s table.  

The writers provide books and small gifts for the people sitting with them and also donate large baskets or totes filled with books and other goodies for door prizes.  The chapter provides additional baskets that are raffled off as well as “get your name in a book” chances where the winner’s name ends up as a character in a future novel. In addition, each attendee receives a bag filled with books and promotional material. A nationally known, best-selling author is the guest speaker, and a book signing follows the luncheon. 
Heart of Dixie
Kathy Bone has chaired the Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon for the last four years and shared the following suggestions for hosting a successful event. 
Kathy Bone! Thanks for providing detailed
information about hosting a
Readers' Luncheon.
1. Have a contingency plan in case of a catastrophe.  Last year, Huntsville was hit with a devastating tornado seventy-two hours before the luncheon.  The city was without power for weeks, and the event had to be rescheduled.  No wonder Kathy put this bit of advice first.

2. A reliable assistant is key.  "At first, I handled most everything from registration to promo to you name it by myself,” Kathy admits.  Unfortunately, one year she was hospitalized just a few weeks prior to the luncheon and realized no one could take over for her.  She learned the importance of delegating, which—as she says--draws more participation from within the chapter.  “It also saved my sanity,” she adds with a laugh.
Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon 2009
Sherry Werth, Debby and Kathy Bone
3. A registration coordinator is a necessity.  “Keeping a running e-mail list of attendees allows you to contact them in the event of cancellation or an emergency, but mainly keeps the lines of communication open,” says Kathy.  “Informed attendees are happy attendees.  The more involved they feel in what's going to happen at the luncheon, whether it's the author list, book signing info, menu, parking, directions, the more eager they become and feel a part of the celebration.”

FYI: In case of a major catastrophe, such as the tornado, the luncheon coordinator should have a current list of those attending along with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses in order to contact them about any change of plans.  In addition, the coordinator for the following year can use the list to send out announcements and invitations, which helps to grow attendance. 
Peggy Webb, Kathy Bone, Trish Milburn and Lynn Raye Harris
Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon signing 2010
4. Everything needs to be done in advance! “Seven months prior to the event, the luncheon coordinator should be in contact with authors to get confirmation of attendance,” says Kathy. “By January, ISBN information should be collected for the bookseller, the coordinator should meet with venue POC, and PROMO requests should be sent out to various online loops with whom chapter members are involved.  Three months prior, invitations are created and printed, and the following month, e-mails go out to alert previous attendees to watch their mail boxes.  Invitations are then mailed out, and another round of PROMO requests hit the Internet via chapter members' loops.  PROMO is collected a month before the luncheon and separated for filling goody bags as well as creating raffle baskets for the luncheon.” 

5. Promotional items.  “Usually 2-3 books are included in each bag, along with author book promo,” she says. “A PROMO committee member will accept these mailings and bring them to the venue the day before the luncheon where the goody bags will be filled. PROMO items are also given to the basket chair person to be included in the raffle baskets.”
Kathy chats with Author Ramona Richards,
currently fiction editor at Abingdon Press
6. Manpower! According to Kathy, each luncheon committee should consist of the following positions: Luncheon Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator, PROMO chair, Basket chair, Two Registration Co-Chairs, Author Gift chair (person responsible for providing author gifts for attending authors), Invitation chair, Decoration chair (for decorating luncheon tables, etc...), and Bookseller chair (helps bookseller before, during and after luncheon).  Each of these committee chairs will have volunteers under them the day of the luncheon.

7. Special guests. “Travel arrangements are made by the guest speaker, but the Luncheon Coordinator arranges for the hotel reservations, ensuring someone will be available to escort the guest speaker back and forth to the airport.”  Kathy advises making hotel arrangements, to include a reservation block for authors and chapter members, approximately five months before the event. 

“We have an online reservation link created so authors have easy access to making their own reservations,” Kathy says.  “This has been a great asset to our event.”  The Luncheon Coordinator reserves a room for herself and the guest speaker as soon as the block is arranged. She also ensures name tags are created for attending authors, as well as chapter members.
Mary wins my author basket.
 “Our luncheon has grown in size, from 144 to182 attendees in four years,” says Kathy.  “We've learned to better access online resources, advertise the luncheon on the chapter website, use online PROMO requests to help create over 40 raffle baskets, post bookseller posters detailing the event, leave stacks of invitations at book stores and other retails shops, and include invitation postcards in other event goody bags.  The key is promotion.  I can't stress this enough.  Let readers know this luncheon is all about them.  Include readers.  They'll love the chapter for it and be devoted to it from that time forward.”

In conclusion, Kathy adds, “Luncheon planning takes an accessible budget, a trustworthy committee, and a willing leader.  A love of books will take care of the rest.” 

To learn more about Kathy, visit her at:

The Heart of Dixie’s 15th Annual Romance Readers’ Luncheon will be held on May 5, 2012, featuring New York Times Bestselling Author Lora Leigh.  Check out the chapter website for more information:
My first Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon, 2007.  Far right is
Christy Reece, now a New York Times Bestselling Author! 
The Southern Magic RWA chapter in Birmingham, AL, holds a similar readers’ luncheon each November.  The current chairperson, Lisa Dunick, says, “Actually, I am one of those people that had no idea what a readers' luncheon was when I took on the chairmanship. I'd only been in the chapter about a year and hadn't attended one before I took over.” Callie James--a Seekervillager who had previously chaired Southern Magic’s Readers’ Luncheon—passed on a wealth of information to Lisa.  
Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon 2011
The chapter wanted to grow the event, which, according to Lisa, was a huge challenge.  “You need to keep the ticket prices reasonable but still be able to cover the cost of food and facility rental. If you want to have an event that is professionally catered, don't expect to make a lot of money--if anything--on the ticket sales unless you can sell A LOT of tickets. But then, too many tickets mean you have to pay for a larger space, so it's a strange balance.”
Callie James won my basket last year.
Start by knowing what you hope to achieve, says Lisa. “We made the conscious decision last year that the luncheon was  to promote our authors and the romance genre, and that as long as we broke even on costs, we'd be happy. In previous years, they made a lot more by going with a less expensive venue and by using volunteer labor to serve, set up, and clean up. If you're just starting out, you need to make sure you know what your goal is. If your goal is a large profit, you need to ensure your food/beverage/facility fees are very reasonable. But above all, you should expect that the first year will be a building year.”
Southern Magic 2011
In regard to getting the word out, Lisa says, “Advertising is HARD. I used mailchimp, which lets you create lovely html emails and helps you track how many people open the invitations. Getting the word out early and often--especially by word of mouth--is essential to ticket sales.”

She also adds, “Don't skip on the baskets. When I took this over, I had no idea what a basket was and why it was important, but most of our profits came from those ticket sales. In past years, they sent someone out to buy things on sale, but I discovered that there are wonderful, wholesale basket distributers online that sell high-quality merchandise for much less than I even found at dollar stores or in clearance bins.”
Debby chats with Linda Vickerstaff
at the Southern Magic book signing.
 Lisa advises asking for donations early. “We had so many lovely authors send boxes of books and other goodies this past year, and because I also asked presses and publicists, we were able to get some sponsors for things like the swag bags and an e-reader we raffled off.”

Follow Lisa on the Southern Magic blog:

Be sure to check out this year’s Southern Magic Readers’ Luncheon, which will be held on November 3, 2012, in downtown Birmingham.  New York Times Bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon will be the keynote speaker, and Southern Magic member and New York Times bestseller Diana Love will give the welcoming speech.  Find more information at:
Murder in the Magic City attendees listen to
NYT BestsellingAuthor Erica Spindler.
I was honored to be included in a group of mystery and suspense authors that participated in Murder in the Magic City, held in Homewood, AL, just outside of Birmingham, on February 3, and Murder on the Menu, in Wetumpka, AL, near Montgomery, the following day.

Murder in the Magic City is hosted by the local Sisters in Crime Chapter and chaired by Margaret Fenton, who calls it “a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference.” Close to 100 readers listened to a series of author panel talks, enjoyed a delicious box lunch and bid on baskets provided by the SINC chapter.  Bestselling Thriller Author Erica Spindler and Bestselling Mystery Writer Carolyn Haines were the guest speakers.  A book signing concluded the day-long event, and the money raised was donated to the SINC Chapter’s charity.
Murder on the Menu attendees support
the Wetumpka Library and meet new authors.
The following morning, the authors traveled to Wetumpka for Murder on the Menu.  Former bookseller and long-time friend, Tammy Lynn chaired the luncheon and signing.   More than 130 readers took part, and the proceeds benefited the town’s Library.  The authors were treated to an early lunch with the mayor and chief of police and her deputy and then rotated tables during the actual luncheon to speak individually with the folks attending the event.  
Debby and Margaret Fenton at Murder in the Magic City.
Margaret Fenton has organized Murder in the Magic City for the last five years and says, “People want to hear authors they know of and have read.  We get two relatively big names every year, and then 10 or 15 or 20 midlist authors who need the exposure.”

She also mentions the importance of a good hotel.  “We used one in the past that was a TOTAL nightmare.  They didn’t tell me they rent out spare rooms on the weekend to teenage girls.  They left food in the elevator and pulled the fire alarm all night.  I can’t tell you the humiliation and embarrassment I felt coming downstairs at 4 AM to find my guest of honor and one of my FAVORITE writers screaming at the desk staff.”  Margaret now uses a hotel that provides excellent service and is relatively inexpensive.

Read about Margaret’s debut mystery, Little Lamb Lost, at her website:
Tammy Lynn
Tammy Lynn brought Murder on the Menu to Wetumpka and modeled the event after a similar “moveable feast” held during the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance fall trade show.  She says, “Knowing authors could make their travel dollars go farther and would be more likely to participate if two events were back-to-back, I contacted Margaret Fenton, explained my idea about collaborating on invitations and a partnership was born.”

Tammy would be happy to mentor any group that wants to copy the Wetumpka format.  Contact her at   
Three Debs:  (L to R) Debi McCarley, Debby Giusti and
Mystery Author Debra Goldstein at Murder in the Magic City.
 Debi McCarley works at the Wetumpka Library and helped to find authors for both events. Along with her invitations, Debi says, “I also included information about our town and the library. I think the most important information that needs to be stressed is how the money from these events will be used. Our focus this year is on upgrading our summer library programs.”

In addition to the Alabama events, I’m proud to announce that Seekerville friend Barbara Vey--you know her from Publishers Weekly’s romance blog BEYOND HER BOOK, --
is hosting her first annual Readers’ Appreciation Luncheon.  
Barbara Vey and Debby at RWA Nationals 2011
Barbara sends the following invitation to her Seekerville friends and readers everywhere:

“Join us as we welcome 38 authors to Wisconsin for an afternoon luncheon filled with fun, gift bags full of books and door prizes. We will also be raffling off an acoustic guitar with accessories, a full color Nook and many baskets filled with books and other items. Not only will you enjoy lunch at an author table, but this event includes a book signing with NYT best seller Heather Graham and the 38 authors attending. Proceeds from this inaugural reader event will benefit local libraries. Enjoy a girl’s day out with a room full of your best friends who love books.”
The luncheon will be held at the Oak Creek Community Center, in Oak Creek, WI, on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. 
For more information go to :
Your registration includes lunch with an author, tote bag full of books and goodies, exclusive book signing and free door prize ticket.
I’ll be there and I hope some of you will be able to attend.  If you sign up early, you can request to sit at a specific author’s table.

Thanks to all the wonderful folks who provided great information about hosting reader events.  Now grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some of the Valentine’s Day chocolate I brought along with the delicious breakfast bar that’s open.  Tell us about reader events in your local area.  Each person who comments will be included in a drawing for one of my Love Inspired Suspense novels, your choice.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti 


  1. All this sounds like great fun. I just wish I had a chapter less than a hundred miles from me.

    Coffee's ready.


  2. Wow Debby you sure know how to party! Those women work hard for these events! Kudos!

  3. It would be so fun to attend one of these!

  4. I may never host a reader's luncheon... But I want to GO!!!! All those amazing pictures! All those books! All those fun people!

    Why, oh, why must I live in East Podunk??

    *sigh* Well, at least I got tor ead about it in Seekerville!

  5. Thanks for the coffee, Helen.

    Maybe you should host an event in your local area? Then everyone will come to you! :)

    How's the eye? Your foot? Hope you're mending nicely!


  6. Hi Eva Maria,

    My hat's off to all who have hosted reader events. Yes, lots of work, but those who attend, whether readers or writers, have a delightful time.

    And raise money for a good cause.

  7. Hi Abbi,

    How far are you from Alabama? Any events in your local area?

  8. Virginia,

    You're right about lots of books. Everyone goes home happy because they have something new to read. Plus, they've made new friends and learned a bit more about their favorite author and the publishing industry.

  9. Debby, thanks for the tips. I know I'll be using them. I'm so exciting for the first luncheon here in Wisconsin. Thanks for coming and I can't wait to see you here!

  10. Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for stopping by Seekerville. I'm excited about your Readers' Luncheon and know it will be a fantastic event!

    See you April 10th!

  11. Deb, what a wonderful idea! I may just move to Georgia to be part of that awesome GRW and do the cool things you guys do.

    I love the attention to detail and the RESPONSE. Amazing, heart-warming and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this in detail because even though I'm a pantser author, I'm a detail-witch when it comes to throwing parties and/or sponsoring events.

    I've even been known to scold people.

    I'm cringing, admitting that.

    Lovin' on the chocolate and I brought some of those chocolate-stuffed croissants because Valentine's should never be a one-day celebration!

    Oh, wait.

    I might have mixed that up with Christmas!

  12. You're right, Ruthy! Share the Valentine love for more than one day. And the chocolate.

    Yummy croissants. Thanks!

    With all the information provided, we could sponsor a Seekerville Readers' Luncheon. Now wouldn't that be fun!

    But where would we have it?


    Upstate New York?

    Missouri or Indiana?



  13. Barbara Vey's Readers' Luncheon is just before the Romantic Times convention and only 1 1/2 hours from Chicago where RT will be held this year. Just as Tammy mentioned in my blog, Barbara is scheduling her luncheon to save travel time and dollars.

  14. Being able to attend something like this would be an amazing experience. My face would hurt from smiling so much! My husband suggested I try something like this but I don't know if I could. I'm always telling him about all the book signings going on that are too far away. I have a few signed books by authors that I have won on line but have never met any.

  15. Jennifer,
    KY has two big events. Maybe Missy will stop by later and tell us about them. I think she's planning to attend one this year near Bowling Green.

  16. Debby, thanks for sharing the insider info on the luncheons. It takes a lot of planning and organizing. :) I love all the pictures. What a great way to connect with readers. :)

  17. Fabulous ideas, Debby! Definitely a keeper post!

  18. As someone who has hosted events and attended events, I applaud all the hard working folks who make sure the authors and readers have such a marvelous time. You can tell just by looking at the pictures.

    If we could just find a way to have a Celebrating Seekerville event in a central location!

    Peace, Julie

  19. That sounds great. Thanks for all the wonderful information about hosting a luncheon. So many details to think about. I'm sure we would have it in my area, but I wasn't aware of it. Thanks for the great post.

  20. These luncheons sound like a lot of fun, Debby, and a great way to connect with readers. Not sure if I would want to plan one, but a definite yes to attending.


  21. Thanks for doing such a wonderful blog post on our events in Alabama, Debby! We really appreciate the exposure. ;)

  22. Hi Lindi,

    Think about going to the Southern Magic event in NOV. I always have a nice time, and the people are so warm and welcoming.

    BTW, Seekerville, be sure to read Lindi's debut, HER BEST CATCH, from Belle Books. I couldn't put it down!

  23. Hi Glynna! Have a great you have snow. GA is warming up with heavy fog this morning.

  24. Julie, what type of events did you organize? Are you an event planner? Hmmm? Sounds like a fun backdrop for a romance story.

  25. Debby, I want to come down South and play with you!! All the exciting luncheons and events-- you're making me drool.

    Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse inside the machine that creates opportunities for us to experience the excitement of hobnobbing with fans and authors alike (wow, what a sentence, LOL). I've worked behind the scenes for various various local luncheons and conferences and can attest to the amount of planning required into making it a successful event.

    I loved all the pictures, and what gorgeous give-away baskets!!

    No doubt, Debby Giusti is the Seekerville social butterfly!!

  26. Hi Cynthia! I'm not sure how many Readers' Luncheons are held around the country. Sometimes authors will host private events for their readers, but IMHO, the big events are more fun.

  27. Hi Kirsten. Bet there are a lot of authors in the DC area. Any events you've heard of that would be fun for Seekervillagers to attend?

  28. Kathy, thanks for providing such detailed information, and for hosting wonderful luncheons! I always have such a fun time in Huntsville!

  29. Hi Audra!

    Yes, the events take a lot of work as Kathy and Lisa and the other gals pointed out.

    Can't imagine doing it for four years, as Kathy has. Or five years, like Margaret Fenton. She's taking a break next year, but hopefully Murder in the Magic City will return in 2014.

  30. I'm totally living in the wrong town! I need to make a trip down south and go Readers' Luncheon hopping!

    The closest thing here is when I hold a Literacy Cafe at my schools. I get grade sixes to dress in black and white and work as waiters. A few are made hosts and hostesses and they dress up really spiffy and greet and seat the parents. We serve cookies and tea and have tons of 'well-known' school authors read their works at a live mike. LOL -- I guess we have a ways to go!

  31. Debby, there's a lot of planning and effort that goes into a reader's luncheon, but how worthwhile! It sounds like so much fun! Kathy's tip about having others helping the person heading up the event is wise. Many hands make light work, but they also make important saves when something unexpected happens. :)

    I loved all the pictures and suggestions provided in here. Not that I plan to host one anytime soon, but I have a lot of respect for those who do. :)

    I forgot to say it yesterday, but I WANT CHOCOLATE. :)

  32. Wow, Debby, these luncheons look like such fun!!! We have nothing comparable in my area but I want to come. Fun photos! You are one lovely lady--inside and out.


  33. I hate to admit it, Debby, but I haven't really paid much attention to these types of events in this area. After this post, I'm determined to become more aware.

    Sorry, I couldn't help.


  34. WOW and DOUBLE WOW ... I'm so tired now, I'm going back to bed!!

    What an incredibly HUGE undertaking for you ladies, especially with all the WOW FACTORS you include -- I am totally and unequivocally BLOWN AWAY by the creativity, details and work you ladies expend in hosting a reader's lunch. Talk about incentive to come!! I sure wish I'd been to one with you, Deb, because they look like events of a lifetime.

    Where's my caffeine ...


  35. Oh, I want one of those pretty baskets! Looks like so much fun and a lot of work.

  36. Thanks for the wonderful blog, Debby. I've been to each of these events at least once in Alabama and they're so worth it!

    I can tell you after coordinating the SM luncheon for a few years, it can be quite a bit of work but so worth it. I think Lisa's advice in determining your goal first is key.

    And I loved my basket last year!

  37. Why is there nothing in Phoenix like this in the winter? i'd think that authors would love to take advantage of the sun!


  38. Oh, Kav, your event sounds delightful! You're teaching the children so much and allowing them to read their work to an enthusiastic audience. Fantastic.

    I'm sure the moms and dads love every minute!!!!

    Good for you!

    Plus, you're building authors for the future!!!! YAY!

  39. Jeanne,

    Lots of chocolate scattered around Seekerville today. Help yourself!

    Can you imagine having the tornado hit right before such a big event? The tornado was terrible, but Kathy also had to worry about contacting all the folks planning to attend, many from out of town. I had my reservation but couldn't make the rescheduled luncheon, which I hated to miss.

    1. Oh, I've got to give a hearty thank you to my registration chair, Cheryl Crisona. She worked hard and did a fabulous job contacting our attendees. Couldn't have happened without her help because I had no access to Internet or phones. So important to have a committee during an event this size and we learned a tremendous lesson last year. ;)

    2. But on a sadder note: we missed out on having Debby join us. :(

  40. Janet, you say the sweetest things! Hope you got a special Valentine from hubby!

  41. Kirsten, I have a feeling you've been involved with large functions through your job. No doubt you know how much effort goes into planning an event.

  42. Julie, the coffee's delicious. Thanks to Helen!

    You need to come south, honey, to have fun with the belles! :)

  43. This sounds like great fun, Debby! And it definitely sounds like a southern thing with all that warm hospitality :)

    Oh, and lest I forget:


  44. Jamie, Readers' Luncheons ARE fun!

    I love shopping for my baskets and seeing how all the goodies look with shrink wrap and a big bow.

  45. Hi Callie,
    You did a fantastic job as the Southern Magic luncheon coordinator! Lisa had high praise for the wonderful info you passed on to her. I'm hoping folks in other parts of the country might decide to follow your lead.

    Glad you won my basket! :)

  46. Marianne, organize it and we'll come! :)

  47. Hi Jan,

    Chocolate and books...a great combination. For our mid-morning snack, I've brought chocolate fondue with strawberries and pound cake to dip! Yummy! And no calories because it's cyber-food!

  48. I want chocolate.

    The hotel nightmare cracked me up. The hotel manager should've warned ya'll that they let teenage girls stay there. LOL.

    I admire those of you who help put on luncheons and conferences. I'm sure unless you've worked one, most people have no idea of the time involved making those things come off.

  49. Connie,

    Tossing chocolate kisses your way!

    Can you imagine how Margaret felt! YIKES!!! She now uses a Drury Inn, which was wonderful. Before the AL "murder" weekend, I'd never stayed in that particular chain, but I plan to when we travel from now on. Lovely room. Soda machine in lobby open 24/7. Free WiFi and computers. Nice breakfast bar included with the room. Microwave and fridge in the room. Free snacks and drinks served for a couple hours in the evening. Plus, the service was great!

    Of course, Margaret pampered us and made everyone feel right at home. I got to know some new mystery authors and enjoyed hearing about their publishers and awards.

  50. Debby! I can't believe you don't have a picture of me!!! LOL!

    Kathy Bone is fabulous!!! (My local RWA chapter, Heart of Dixie, hosts this readers luncheon.) She kept the luncheon running smoothly for several years and turned her magic wand over to Kim (drawing a blank on her last name) this year. Kathy is a sweet, dear friend, too, and very close to getting published.

    The Reader's Luncheon is really fun. I've hosted a table for the last two years. It's a great networking and publicity opportunity, but mainly is a fun way to meet readers and make new friends. I give away copies of my book to people who sit at my table and get to know them. And people win prizes, and it's fun to see them get so excited. :-)

    1. Aw! Melanie, you are the sweetest! Thank you for your kind comments. Again, couldn't have done it without our wonderful volunteers at HOD. And Kimberly Ward is taking over for me this year. We've got a great 15th Anniversary Luncheon planned for May 5th, 2012 at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville. Check out the Heart of Dixie website for details. ;)

  51. Great post, Debby! Hope to see you and Missy in May!!!

  52. What fun, Debby! I know how much I've enjoyed going to the Huntsville Reader's Luncheon. I look forward to going to Birmingham someday as well!

    (Waving at Kathy Bone!!)

  53. What a great event idea. I would love to go to one of these, though the thought of hosting one seems a bit more than overwhelming.

  54. OH MY GOSH.

    All those details floor me. My hat's off big time to people who organize these. Wow.

  55. Yes, Debby! I'll be at the Southern Kentucky Bookfest again this year! It's a great time! They have writing workshops on Friday as well as children's book day (a huge room full of authors for a signing).

    Then there's an all-day book signing on Saturday as well as sessions with authors. I was thrilled to sit on a discussion panel last year with Teresa Medeiros, Molly Hunter and Sam Ford.

    For anyone near Bowling Green, KY, I hope you'll come this year! April 20-21. The website is

    This year's big name guests are Carl Hiaasen, Heather Graham and Patricia Reilly Giff.

    I wonder why I don't get my name listed up there with the big dogs? hahaha ;)

  56. Melanie, I won't be able to make it this year. It's too close to the Ky booksfest. And I don't want to miss that one because I get to stay with my parents for that one (Bowling Green is my hometown). :)

  57. Great post, Debby---and a great look into all the WORK that goes on to host one of those luncheons. Wow! Sounds like such fun to attend one (and your gift baskets looked beautiful!). ~ You are one BUSY lady, but when your schedule "slows down" a little *grin* we need to meet for lunch again--I've missed you! ~ Enjoy the peach cobbler I baked (just took it from the oven). Hugs, Patti Jo :) p.s. My daughter Amy really enjoyed reading your book THE CAPTAIN'S MISSION (even took it on her honeymoon and read in between sightseeing!).

  58. I found out too late last year that South Dakota has a Book Fest, too. It's in Sioux Falls this year, so closer to Rose and Mary Connealy than to me!

  59. How do you...
    no, I should ask, do you really...

    No, that's not it either.
    Are you honestly telling me...

    Oh forget it. I can't even get my husband to have lunch with me. Unless he's REALLY hungry.

  60. JAN DREXLER! South Dakota has a book festival? Tell me about it. I can get to Sioux Falls.

  61. I just went and emailed the South Dakota Center for the Book about this.

    ROSE? YOU OUT THERE??? We could do this!

  62. I'm with you, Mary. Mind-boggling doesn't begin to describe the amount of planning that obviously goes into events like these! I'm amazed and impressed!

    These readers' luncheons do seem like great opportunities for authors and their fans to get to know one another.

    Has anyone heard of the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, TX? This is a huge annual event that my friend Carla Stewart has participated in before, and it sounds like a blast!

  63. I am giving a speech in a library in april. Sac City, Iowa. I don't think there is food involved.

    I am brining Lorna Seilstad and Judy Miller with me though.

    I really hate giving speeches. I do my best to lower expectations when I agree to attend. Lower them DRASTICALLY.

  64. Impressive the amount of detail and effort channeled into these events. Kudos to Kathy Bone. Her labors are Herculean and admirable.

    I placed second in the Dixie First Chapter Contest so I have an affection for the ladies of The Magnolia State RWA. I remember the devastating tornado that hit the area and worried about the members. After an email, I found everyone was safe.
    A myriad of students from our local St. Bonaventure University, packed up a huge amount of supplies and headed down immediately to help rebuild homes. Schools and churches in our community held fundraisers, collections, etc., to support victims of the tornado. The rapid mobilization of our community to help theirs--I'm sure stands as a micro-event mirroring the macro-measures across our wonderful country. The America I know is great, made of average people just like you and me, and despite our vast geography, Americans do pull together in times of need.

  65. Debby, I LOVE this post!

    Have I mentioned I am a closet, frustrated event planner? Organizing anything makes my little heart skip a beat. When I did an internship at a botanical gardens as a marketing assistant, one of my tasks was to organize a festival at the end of the summer for artists. I had to contact all the artists, organize their placement in the gardens, keep them apprised of anything new, etc. Yes, it was was hard work, but I LOVED it!

    So, Debby, I'm on board with your idea of a Seekerville Readers Luncheon. Nebraska seems like a great location to me since it's centrally located in the U.S.! (and it's not like I live there or anything...)

    Who's with me?

  66. Just checked back in. LOL, Debby, it's funny you should say about event planning. Our office is so small my "other job" is event coordinator for the Navy Museum and Cold War Gallery. Don't know how it happened, but it's been...interesting. :o)

  67. Stephanie, we just had a readers luncheon. There were four of us in attendance.

  68. Shame on me, Melanie! Sorry I didn't have a picture of sweet you.

    I've had a number of broken cameras over the last few years and have "lost" photos because of them.

    Next time we're together, I'll take lots of pics of you!!! I promise. Okay?

  69. Mary Connealy, you must have found the link, but just in case you didn't, here's the info re: the South Dakota Book Fest.

    If you and Rose are going, I could drive over to East River and join you. I hate doing these things alone!

  70. Stephanie, you plan the Seekerville luncheon and I'll try my darndest to be there!

    (Just make it within driving distance, okay?)

    (Of course, my dear husband always says that anything is within walking distance if you have enough time.)

  71. Missy and I have driven to Huntsville together and have shared a room at the Embassy Suites, which makes the weekend even more fun for me! :)

    Missy, can you tell us about the book festivals and events in KY? Pretty please!

  72. Julia, check your local area or statewide to see what's available. You might find something similar.

  73. Debby, this is too cool. The pictures are just plain fun!!!

  74. Hi Jessica! You're so organized, you could host an event. :)

  75. Thanks for your very sweet comment, Elizabeth B.! And major congrats on placing 2nd in the Dixie First Chapter Contest! Good luck with your writing. ;)

    Most especially let me thank you and your peeps for coming to our aid last spring. I know your outreach meant so much to everyone here.

  76. Missy, thanks for sharing details about the KY Southern Book Festival. I was at Bible Study for a couple hours and am trying to catch up. Didn't see your comment earlier.

    The two-day event sounds great!

  77. Hi Patti Jo! We DO need to get together!!!

    Hug your daughter for me. So glad she liked THE CAPTAIN'S MISSION.

    Thanks for the peach cobbler. YUM!!! It's smells heavenly!

  78. Jan, thanks for the info about the Sioux Falls book festival.

  79. Mary, readers would love to lunch with you. Come to Alabama! Okay?

  80. Kathy, we'll give a shout out to Cheryl Crisona for her work on registration. As you pointed out, a readers' luncheon--especially one as large as the Heart of Dixie event--requires a LOT of folks working very hard to make it a success.

    Of course, a savvy chair person is essential! You did it all so well for four years!

    Thank you!

    And thanks for sharing all the info and inside tips with us.

  81. I hope someone from the RWA Greater Vancouver Chapter picks up on this idea! It sounds wonderful.

    Many aspects also remind me of a different kind of event I co-chaired several years ago -- a national specialty dog show. All the same kind of pre-planning for venue, hotel, special guests, gift baskets, seminars and a banquet, etc. It's a huge amount of work but so rewarding when it all comes together.

    BTW, I have Valentine's cupcakes leftover from yesterday to consume with Helen's wonderful coffee if anyone's sweet tooth needs satisfying this morning.

  82. Ugh sometimes life in a small town SUCKS! I'm pretty sure there's never been a reader's luncheon anywhere near me...any volunteers to start one up? LOL

    XOXO~ Renee

  83. Wow! Tons of good (overwhelming) info! I think I need a nap now. Or maybe a spot of tea. Wait! I think Helen has coffee! Pass the pot, please.

    Thanks, Debby! :D

  84. Debby...
    I don't think I've ever stayed at a Drury Inn, but I'll remember it's a great place if I get the chance.

    I've never ever heard of the girlfriend weekend, but I do know Jefferson is supposed to be a cool place to stay. My sister and brother-in-law go there about once a year.

  85. I'm not even going to try to read all the comments ;).

    I will say that I'd love to go to one of these but the thought of coordinating makes my headache even worse ;).

    Love y'all!

  86. Yay, Mary! A writer rendezvous thanks to Seekerville! How fun is that!

  87. A girlfriend's weekend? Sounds fun, Myra!

  88. Kathy, I hated not being able to join you on the rescheduled date!

  89. Mary, you do so many events and speeches. You're amazing!

  90. Elizabeth, well said. I agree about folks in the US being the best!

    How wonderful your town and St. Bonaventure reached out to folks devastated by the tornado. God bless everyone who pitched in and made a difference to those stricken by disaster in Alabama.

  91. Yay, Elizabeth! Congrats on your second place in the Dixie First Chapter Contest!

  92. Oh my gosh, Stephanie! You love to plan events! How fun!


    So, are you volunteering to chair the Seekerville Readers' Luncheon?

  93. Kirsten! I knew it! :)

    You do everything!

  94. Jan, Mary and Rose...another Seekerville event perhaps? Stephanie, can you join them?

  95.'re our first reservation!

    Love your hubby's comment! LOL!

  96. Oh, Debby, I was kidding about having a picture of me! LOL! I didn't attend the readers luncheon until the last three years or so, and I think you and I were at only one luncheon together. I don't even think I had my camera with me! You are sweet. :-) Will miss you and Missy this year.

  97. I definitely think Stephanie has volunteered to chair a Seekerville readers luncheon!!!

  98. Carol, send a link to your Vancouver Chapter!!!

    Bet you had fun with your dog show!

    Thanks for the cupcakes! Perfect for an afternoon snack.

  99. Thanks again, Debby, for the chance to share what I've learned. I enjoyed coordinating HOD Luncheons. Lots of work but the benefits far-outweighed the tasks and I had an opportunity to meet a great bunch of authors, like you. ;)

  100. Talk it up, Renee. You never know who might be interested. Bet your library would love to partner with you!

  101. Linnette, have a cupcake along with your coffee.

  102. Hmmm....

    I would be willing to chair such an event IF I had a committee to work with... or if it were just joining Jan, Mary and Rose for lunch, I could do that, too :)

  103. Connie, the Drury in Birmingham (actually Homewood) was lovely.

  104. Carol M, sorry about your headache. How 'bout a cookie? Cupcake? Chocolate?

  105. Melanie,

    We have a big family event planned for the same weekend as the HOD luncheon so I won't be there this year. Hope to make it next year.

    Are you going to Southern Magic in NOV? I'm planning to be there.

  106. Kathy, so glad you could be with us today!!!

  107. Stephanie...

    Okay. Now we need to find a committee to work with you!!!

    Just kidding! But it is something to think about, and wouldn't it be fun!

    The best bet would be to hold an event the day before a National Writing Conference. ACFW perhaps? I'm just thinking out loud! :)

  108. CONNIE, when we lived in Texas, we used to drive through Jefferson on our way north on vacation and would sometimes stay over in one of the lovely B&Bs. I never had a chance to visit Beauty and the Book, but my friend Carla says it's a fun place! Kathy Patrick, the owner, is also the founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.

  109. Great post, Debby! I'd love to attend a luncheon, as a reader and as a writer. Sounds like fun but so interesting to read about all the work involved.
    Thanks for all the details.

  110. Hi Larissa!

    New pic? Very nice!

    You'll have to go to one of the AL events. Both are great!

    GRW had one a few years ago when the National RWA Conference was in Atlanta. We didn't hold our own conference that year and opted for a readers' luncheon instead, which was a fun change.

  111. So fun to read about all these luncheons/events. If Seekerville comes to Chicago, I'm in!

    Two members of Windy City RWA hosted a Lady Jane's Salon. The format is patterned on the same event that's been a New York City staple. About 35 women attended and 4 romance writers read from their books. A bookseller had a little area set up where we could buy the author's books and get them autographed, and if it couldn't get any better, it was held in the loft of a store called Le Chocolat du Bouchard. We purchased our own handmade chocolate snacks and settled in to listen to the readings with the fragrance of decadent chocolate circulating around us...Yum. Close to perfection!

    They raffled books, a Kindle Fire and coupons for massages and more chocolate. The night was intimate, yummy, and great exposure for the genre. They plan on holding these salon's at the same location every other month.

  112. I should add that if there are any published or soon-to-be published authors in the SE that want to attend the Southern Magic Luncheon this fall, they can contact me through the VP link on the Southern Magic contact page.


    Thanks for a great article!

  113. Im late coming today. partly cos my computer wouldn't connect to the internet. I love the idea of the reader luncheon's I wish I could attend one as it would be so cool to meet some authors.
    Thanks for sharing.

  114. Wow, Debby, mad skills. Those born with the organization gene are impressive; and if you do have a Seekerville luncheon, I'm in. It doesn't even matter where you have it, I'll come. I owe Tina some bat cookies, so I'll do snacks.

  115. Mary, Did you volunteer to give that speech? I thought you were going to sit on your hands.

  116. Debby, I organized VBS for 500 children, silent auctions, fund-raisers, retreats...did I mention VBS for 500 children?

    With folks talking about a Seekerville event, I would be happy to be on the planning committee. Just saying!

    And I think you just gave me an idea for a character I have been working on!

    Peace, Julie

  117. I live in a small town and I don't believe we have any reader events in town. We may have some in the next big city but I don't know if there are reader events there either. Guess I have some sleuthing to do.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  118. I think all of us small-towners should get together! Oh, wait, we're in small towns ACROSS AMERICA! :D

    We could send in pics of ourselves, sitting at empty tables, with one author each. We'd all win a basket!

    Seriously, my goal is to make a big conference and a readers' luncheon (now that I know that they exist) sometime in the next two years.

    Like the article by Michael Hyatt... I have a VISION.

  119. Lyndee,

    Thanks for sharing the info about the Lady Jane Salon! What a fun night!!!

    Chocolate too! :)

    Check out Barbara Vey's event. It's located about 1 1/2 hours' drive from Chicago and should be a wonderful day.

  120. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for stopping by. We're all amazed at what you've done! Can't wait for the next Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon! Always a delight!

    Thanks so much for all the great info you provided.

  121. Stephanie Rae,
    Our second reservation for the Seekerville be announced at a later date! :)

  122. VBS for 500 kids! Whoo-hoo, Julie! That's impressive!

    And you'll be on the luncheon committee...if we ever host a luncheon.

    I'm excited! :)

  123. Cindy, sleuthing would fit right in with the Murder in the Magic City event I attended!

    There's mystery in the air! :)

  124. A vision, yes, Virginia!

    Don't you love that article by Michael Hyatt!!! I keep passing out copies to folks I know.

    Readers' Luncheon, conference and debut novel! Very cool!

  125. Thanks for breaking this down, Debby! But it looks like it's much more fun as a participant than as an organizer. Hats off to those ladies who volunteer to do it.

  126. Thanks, Debby. this looks like so much fun to attend - but tons of work to produce. I helped set up the RWA literacy autographing last summer and just unpacking all those books took hours!

  127. The Phoenix RWA hosts a Chocolate Affair every year for readers and provides free workshops for writers, too.



  128. Thanks, Aly, for telling us about the Phoenix affair...with chocolate! Sounds like fun!

  129. Debby, this sounds like a wondeful opportunity for people to volunteer to help out at these types of events.

    Please don't put me in the drawing as I already have all of your books.

  130. Debby,
    Thanks for the tip about Barbara Vey's event. I did the mapquest on it and I'm 2.5 hours away since I'm really southwest of Chicago. Something to think about, esp since you'll be there!

  131. Debby,
    You always give us such great information!! Thanks!!

  132. I would love to attend a luncheon one day.


  133. Lisa was so smart to post that Southern Magic is looking for authors to attend their luncheon, which usually falls the first week in November. Great luncheon with fantastic authors!

    Heart of Dixie's luncheon is still accepting authors. You can go to the website and contact the new luncheon coordinator, Kimberly Ward, to learn more.

    Thanks again, Debby, for showcasing all these events!!

  134. Lyndee, I hope you can make Barbara's luncheon. I know it will be lots of fun!

    Waving to Liz and Marybelle!

    Kathy, thanks again for all your help with this blog. Your information was fantastic!

  135. Dear Merrillee, Thanks for telling about the Reader's luncheon in Ky, near Bowling Green. Even though it's Ky, that's still a good 4 hours away. I'll have to give it some serious thought.