Hello, and welcome back! I hope you´re all getting in some reading time. That´s a bit scarce here these days--first was packing and the moving; now it´s the unpacking. But I´m keeping hope that one day soon I´ll get to do a bit more reading than the last week or so.
In the meantime, I´ve been pondering a question a reader posed recently, about whether conferences really can be for readers. I say, emphatically, yes. Even if it isn´t billed specifically as a reader conference, there are probably things there for readers--like booksignings, which we discussed a few weeks ago. However, there are some gatherings out there with panels just for readers.
The biggest is the annual Romantic Times Booklovers´ Convention, this year in Orlando, FL and for the eighteenth time. Not only do they plan whole tracks of workshops for the readers--including one last year with the parents authors and cover models and a discussion about collectible books--but there are hundreds of authors there, willing to schmooze and visit and sign your books. Oh, did I mention the official booksigning? Last year´s was enormous, filling a room with rows upon rows of authors and stacks of their books for sale. Locals came bearing their well-loved copies of fave authors´ books for signing, and anything they didn´t have, they could buy, courtesy of the sponsoring bookstore. And this year´s author list is even longer than last year´s, I believe.
Another annual gathering we´ve discussed briefly in the past is Celebrate Romance. This is one I haven´t yet made it to, and this year´s is already done, but I know the planning is already underway for next year´s. This year, they had such authors as Mary Jo Putney, Nicole Jordan and Patricia Potter attending or speaking, and the entire two days revolves around speaking with or listening to the authors and other readers about what is happening in the industry, what the readers like or dislike most, and just mingling. Though only in its fourth year, I suspect this one will be around for a long time to come, so keep your eye on them.
While Romance Writers of America (RWA) doesn´t have any workshops specifically for readers, they also have a huge booksigning at each year´s conference. But I know there are a lot of romance readers who are aspiring authors as well, and all of these conferences are a great way to learn more about the craft of writing, and writing romance in particular.
And besides these larger ones, check out your local area: many of the large chain bookstores have readers groups that meet regularly. And if they don´t already have a romance readers group in yours, I´d bet they would be willing to offer time and space if you´ll help get the group started.
And until next week, happy reading!