The romance panel seems to get better every year, and despite an unforeseen cancellation, I thought we kicked butt again this year. Sadly, Linda Wisdom was not able to join us. Her husband left a message on HelenKay Dimon's voice mail, and the gist of it was "medical emergency." I've since dropped her an e-mail, but if you're reading this blog post Linda we all hope you're feeling better! And we still sold some of your books! That's always good news, right?
Even with Linda's absence, that still left us with two fantastic authors on the panel - Tessa Dare and HelenKay Dimon. A couple of things of interest - both authors got their "start" thanks to online contests. HelenKay entered a Brava novella contest that was held via Lori Foster's web site, and Tessa was part of the Avon FanLit competition. I think the audience found Tessa's experiences with her back-to-back-to-back trilogy releases interesting, and HelenKay had some great advice about finding an agent. The consensus between Tessa and I was that HelenKay is just sheer awesomeness, and a great panel-mate. She'll probably kill me for typing this on a public forum - but someone needs to rope her into more RWA workshops! (Run HelenKay! Run!)
As for their books that sold well? I'm not sure what the starting stock was - but it looked like A Lady Of Persuasion and Surrender Of A Siren sold better than Goddess Of The Hunt. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if more stock of Goddess was on hand given it is book one of the trilogy. Color me surprised, but HelenKay's debut Harlequin Intrigue went like hot cakes! I thought for sure the Harlequin logo would turn up a few noses, but the price couldn't be beat. Also, the mass market edition of Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy did very well - the trade paperback of Holding Out For A Hero, not so much. But again, price was most likely a factor, so not a total shock that the Harlequin and mass market sold better than the trade.
Besides my romance duties, it was my job this year to land enough mystery writers for two panels. I attended both of them, and thought they were both really interesting, well-attended and enjoyable. The highlight, for me, was seeing Laura Levine, whose fluffy, cotton-candy Jaine Austen (no relation) series, is like chocolate cake for me. There she was, up at the front of the room, sitting with the other authors, and she had, in her hot little hands, a copy of Death Of A Trophy Wife, the latest hard cover book that won't be out until April 27.
I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I briefly wondered how badly it would reflect upon me and my employer if I were to tackle the author and wrestle the book away from her.
Thankfully, I didn't have to. She brought along some of her author copies to sell! Squeeeee! So now, I have my very own copy. I've dropped everything, and am reading it right now. Squeeee!
Some interesting things I learned at the event? I need to learn to read faster (so many good books and interesting authors I'm flat-out not reading), Dean Koontz has his own security detail (not surprising really, as he writes the type of books that would bring out some crazies), and Laura Levine, while an ex-television writer, also used to work in advertising and created Count Chocula and Frankenberry for General Mills.
Which probably goes a long way in explaining why I like her books so much. Heh.
Now I have about a month or so where I can breathe easy - before I have to do it all over again. I've already started making a list of authors to