A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
Whew! I think I have finally recovered from the jet lag, and time difference of living on an island. Now it’s time to continue with the stories of the events that enrich my life in many ways. I still have several “Maui” tales but I will take a step away from them for the moment.
I hear the call of Books
This past Saturday, I entered the world of Romance as the RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention took place in Kansas City this past week. It was hosted at the Sheraton Crown Center that held about 2,000 people, 4-500 of them authors. Workshops, panel discussions, parties and a formal ball built the theme of the week-long event.
A time change regarding a meeting held at the hotel placed me at odds of taking the long drive back home or volunteering. I chose to stay and help with stuffing tote bags with books and swag, (little giveaways) increasing my curiosity of what the convention had to offer.The sold out event offered day passes, giving others a chance to take part in classes and events up to six p.m..
The Printed Word
My Thursday pass started the morning with “How Sweet It Is,” a breakfast and tote bag giveaway of three books. The first 300 participants, charged with excitement, moved through the doors with cheers and laughter. I chatted with people at my table, as we planned our morning of events.
The Kensington’s Afternoon Books Spree, sparked a turnout that caused a mile long line to form from the event hall to the hotel lobby door. Once inside, women beeline to their favorite authors for free books and autographs. Within an hour, all the books disappeared. Champagne with sherbet, mini pizzas and popcorn were served during the frenzy.
If that weren’t enough, from 4-6 p.m., the E-book, Indie Publisher & Graphic Novel Expo kicked into high gear. With more than 300 authors with e-books, self-published and independent press books participated. The best part of it all were the giveaways; pens, buttons, trading cards, key chains, candy, wrist bracelets and trinkets. By the time I walked out the door, I took home four tote bags of goodies and books. A child never had it so good.
The Main Event
Once again I volunteered for the most intense event of the week, the Giant Book Fair. From 10:45 a.m. until 2 p.m., admittance to outsiders with a library card or five dollars, could attend and purchase their favorite books. If you had books that you wanted autographed, a limited amount were allowed.
At seven in the morning, we (volunteers) unloaded books, preparing the area for the authors before their arrival. In this world of electronic mediums, there is still something exciting about seeing a book and feeling it in your hands. The smell of fresh printed pages and the “crack” of the spine as you open it, cannot be beat. For those of us who gave at least two hours of their time, we could select our favorite books and have the author autograph them before the crowd descended upon them.
At ten, I gathered my choices, running to get autographs. One of my all time favorites, A Knight In Shining Armor, by Jude Deveraux, produced unconstrained excitement. Another fan favorite, Joanne Fluke, allowed the chance to try something new. A very kind woman, she autographed her new book, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder. Before the doors opened, I had obtained books and autographs by Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Cherry Adair and Mary Ellen Taylor.
The announcement over the intercom called all authors to their seat as the countdown before the doors opened to the masses gathered outside. The tables, full of books and swag were ready to go and all volunteers took their places. At 10:30 the doors flew open and the place went wild as people walked, ran, cheered and shouted to their destinations.
Myself and two other volunteers managed the area for Julie Garwood, who had a half-mile long line of people waiting for autographs and photos. To booklovers, these are their rock stars. My energy came from that of the fans that kindly waited their turns. As I kept the traffic moving, people commented on all the buttons and flashing necklaces that I wore. “We’re here to have fun,” I replied.
Before the event ended I once again walked away with a tote bag of books and bling. Authors offered more buttons for my collection while taking pictures or as one did, a mini movie of me. I wore all my goodies with pride as I made sure they (the authors) were not in need of water or snacks.
One day, that will be me on the other side of the table offering trinkets and autographs to my fans. Yes, one day.