Monday, April 12, 2010

Literary Event Recap

As some of you know (OK, so maybe just the So. Cal. Bloggers), my library's fourth annual literary event was this past Saturday. Once again, for the fourth year running, I was on the committee that begged lined up the authors that attended and was put in charge of moderating the romance panel. So how did it go? Pretty good. There were some bumps in the road, but at least from my perspective (I couldn't clone myself and attend every single panel discussion after all!) it seemed to be well-received.

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 beg approach about doing our 2011 event. Hopefully by the time RWA Nashville rolls around, I'll be well on my way of getting things locked down for Year #5.


nath said...

Wooohooo!! I'm glad it all went well for you Wendy!! :D It sounded very interesting! Wish I could have been there, sigh.

Oh lucky you!! Got your hand on a book you really wanted :D That's always fun :)

Relax and enjoy your downtime :P

JamiSings said...

You know, I'm kicking myself for not paying more attention. Had I realized Dean Koontz would be there I would've gone! I'd love to buy a copy of Odd Thomas and get him to autograph it.

Renee said...

Awesome, Wendy! It sounds like it was a blast (at least for the attendees). I'm sure you were working your butt off! Tho' I'm glad you're reaping the rewards with that Laura Levine book.

I so wish I could have gone, but I had to do that test administration over at Fullerton. Hopefully, we can catch up in person before RWA!

Wendy said...

Nath: There's nothing quite like getting your hands on that hotly anticipated book :)

Jami: They had so many of his titles on sale, I'm not even sure now what was available. Did see an interesting reprint edition of Lightning, that I read eons ago and remember enjoying a lot at the time. Of course, it's been so long now - who knows if it would hold up for me.

I haven't read Koontz in ages, and have decided I need to give his books another look. Thank heavens for audio.

Renee: Most of my "hard work" was put in months ago when we were securing the authors. The day of the event I mostly just had to concentrate on getting through our panel - which hopefully went well. I think it went well - but heck, I wasn't sitting in the audience either :)

JamiSings said...

Well, I like Koontz cause his books tend to be more hopeful then that if Stephen King. Though sometimes he annoys me with "Everyone finds someone and there's always at least one main character who had as awful a childhood as he did" shtick.

You know, it only just now dawned on me that you must work for the OC Library system. I thought you worked for LA County for some reason! That means you and I both must work for the same library system - unless you're Newport, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, or Santa Ana. I better watch what I say here from now on! LOL

Tessa Dare said...

Hey, I had a great time on Saturday! I think our panel went well, too...I remember nodding sagely at a lot of what you and HelenKay said. The rest is a blur.

I found the whole day to be great fun and very inspiring. Thanks for inviting me!

And I hope Linda is okay!

Wendy said...

Jami: We do have the same employer. If you don't tell, I won't tell :)

Tessa: It's always a blur! I remember flubbing the introductions and that's about it!

I have heard from Linda, and she's doing MUCH better. So all's well, that end's well.

HelenKay Dimon said...

Wow. Thank you! I had a fabulous time. You and Tessa did such a great job. I love talking romance novels with smart women. And I'm almost over my envy for Tessa's cool bookmarks. Very excited to get my hands on her upcoming releases.

Wendy said...

HelenKay: Tessa always has the BEST bookmarks. Sooooooo purdy.

JamiSings said...

Well, Wendy, I guess that means unless someone realizes I could be America's Susan Boyle (except I'm a dog person and I have been kissed) before then, you and I will probably run into each other at HQ one day. And you may greet me by slapping me upside the head with a Western. ;-)

Gail Dayton said...

Okay, I know I'm not commenting in the right place, but I'm not sure where the right place is. I've enjoyed your reviews, and I liked your Harvey House bundle, and will get the other one when my computer is back from the shop.

Thing is--I like Western Romances too. And since you were kinda disappointed by the last one you read, I thought I'd ask if you've read THE LONE TEXAN by Jodi Thomas. (All her books have Texas or Texan in the title, so it's easy to get them confused, but this one was out in 2009.) Anyway, it's a Western Historical Romance, AND it's a RITA finalist. In case you missed that.

I'm trying to read as many RITA finalists as I can get my hands on, and just finished this one today. It's a goodie, which you might enjoy, (even if she fails to say anything much about the fact that Galveston is on an ISLAND--and I know she knows good and well that it is, but only mentioned having to leave town on barges once. I'm assuming the copy editors made her take it out all the other times). The story is good. (The geography just confusing. But if you're not familiar with Texas geography, you won't care.)

Wendy said...

Gail: I haven't read the Thomas yet - but it IS in the TBR. I bought it new last year, and yep - there it languishes on my book case. Sigh.

Every year I tell myself I should pull the RITA finalists I have out of my TBR to read before Nationals, and every year I don't. Looks like this year will be another fail...since I just agreed to judge a contest. Which means I need to get my butt in gear, and offline, and work on getting some reading done!

Glad you liked the Cheryl St. John bundle! I hope your computer woes are solved soon. I start to get the shakes when I'm computer-less.....