Monday, March 19, 2012

Dishing about Readers' Luncheons

Our sister chapter, Heart of Dixie, is hosting its Fifteenth Annual Readers' Luncheon with New York Times Bestselling Author Lora Leigh on May 5.  Several Southern Magic authors will be in attendance. To whet your appetite, past luncheon coordinator Kathy Bone was gracious enough to agree to give us the inside scoop on what goes into putting on a luncheon.


You chaired the Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon for the last four years.  What advice do you have for a first time Readers' Luncheon attendee so that she gets the most out of her experience?


Hi Heather!  Coordinating the Annual Heart of Dixie Luncheon has always been fun, but the most enjoyable part of the luncheon is the joy you see on each attendee's face and getting to meet authors from every romance genre.  I feel very blessed that I had the chance to help make attendees, including myself, happy doing that for four wonderful years.  The luncheon's success, however, is really due to HOD's volunteers.  Without having such a great group behind me and for me, I would have never been able to do what I did during that time.  ;) 
 
Advice for a first-timer?  I still remember my first luncheon as if it was yesterday.  My advice to first time luncheon-goers would be to relax and have a great time no matter which author's table you chose!  I remember how out of place I felt, easy for an introvert like me, when I walked into my first luncheon room.  Bags were in every chair.  Weren't there any seats left, I thought?  I'm embarrassed to admit that I asked an HOD member that very question and discovered that not only did the bags in the seats mean that seat was free, but those bags were goody bags for every attendee.  (Every attendee gets a gift for coming?  Say it isn't so!)  Imagine my surprise.  Shangrila, I tell you!  But I was new.  I was alone.  I didn't know anyone there so I sat at the first table I came to, next to Rita Herron, a fabulous Georgia Romance member.  She was gracious enough to answer all my questions about her writing, where she got her ideas, and more.  Because I allowed myself to experience the unknown, to jump outside my box, I came away from the luncheon a great big fan and immediately joined Heart of Dixie to begin my own writing journey.
 
Going out on a limb, being flexible and adventurous, opened my life to a wonderful world of friendships and fun that I'll never forget. So first-timers jump in with both feet.  You'll be so glad you did! 
 
What was the biggest challenge you experienced in chairing the Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon?



My biggest challenge?  Well, I've had quite a few of those.  Let's see.  I'll start with ACK!  Then I'll add a sidebar of UGH!  LOL! 
 
Seriously, when I assisted Kimberly Lang in 2007, my two youngest kids were still in High School, very involved with sports and cheerleading. 
 
During my first solo luncheon in 2008, my youngest son graduated and entered West Point.  That same year, my oldest daughter graduated from college weeks before the luncheon and my father passed away months before the luncheon.  
 
My youngest daughter graduated while I coordinated the 2009 luncheon and my youngest son was going through a terrible time. 
 
In 2010, I ended up in the hospital for three days one week before the luncheon with a rare reaction from  headache medicine my doctor had prescribed for me.  Bruised up and loopy, undergoing tests for everything from migraines to MS, I did my best to coordinate that luncheon, while entering contests and preparing a full request, at the same time.  (Thankfully, MS was ruled out!) 
 
In 2011, I was still suffering headaches 24/7.  No amount of medicine could dull that pain.  And then the worst happened, our dearest friend and fellow chaptermate Beverly Barton passed away weeks before the luncheon.  And to make matters worse, an F5 tornado plunged Alabama into chaos.  Without electricity, Internet access or phone service, I had to drive into Huntsville just to reach my Registration Chair to try and tell over 180 people the luncheon had been canceled.  Here's where a luncheon committee pays off quadruple-fold.  Due to Cheryl Crisona's dutiful service, we were able to reach as many attendees as we could and reschedule the luncheon for mid-summer.  But nothing could soften the terrible loss we'd experienced by losing Beverly last year. 
 
Yes, I'd say I've had a great many challenges, not the least of which was learning the importance of having an informed committee to pick up the slack if anything goes wrong.  I'm forever grateful to my fellow chaptermates at HOD for helping me serve as Luncheon Coordinator.

What was your greatest success?


Hmmm... You ask hard questions, Heather!  LOL!  I would have to say my greatest success is seeing the smiles on attendee's faces when they enter the luncheon hall and when they leave.  Nothing can replace the joy you've given someone else.

 
I'm sure you have some great stories about your experience with the Readers' Luncheon. What's your favorite?



Oh!  There are stories of what didn't work.  I'll never forget the year that our guest speaker didn't get to eat because her chicken came to her table, half frozen.  ACK!  Or the times the caterer tried to serve food too early.  Or trying to stay healthy enough to do my job and scrambling to reschedule a luncheon at the last minute.  The list goes on. 
 
My favorite would have to be bringing my deepest wish for our attendees to life, hiring a young, muscular hunk to pose for historical romance pictures with attendees! 



Putting together for a readers luncheon must be great preparation for when you take the seat at your author's table.  Where are you in your writing journey?



I grew up writing poetry, but I've always wanted to write historical romance.  I first started writing western historicals but then, loving Regencies, tried writing them myself about four years ago and have finaled in some contests.  I have a few series going and one of those, has been with Harlequin for 19 months.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  Also, thanks to the Harlequin Mills & Boon New Voices Contest, I'm trying my hand at writing a contemporary Harlequin Presents.  Surprisingly, I'm having the best time of my life writing this book!


If we wanted to find you on the web, where should we look?



I have a website at: www.katherinebone.com
 
I'm part of a group blog called Okay, Listen Here, Five Southern Authors Have Their Say, www.okaylistenhere.blogspot.com, shared with fellow authors Jean Hovey, Stephanie Jones, Cheryl Crisona and Lesia Flynn.  I blog on Tuesdays so I hope you'll stop by and say 'hi!' 
 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and pinterest.com too!  I'd love to see you there!  ;)

For more information on the Heart of Dixie's luncheon, go to http://www.heartofdixie.org/luncheon.html 

AND, don't forget that Southern Magic's annual Readers' Luncheon in November 3 with keynote speaker Sherrilyn Kenyon and welcome speaker Dianna Love.  For more information, go to http://www.southernmagic.org/luncheon.html (it is NEVER too early to buy your tickets).

7 comments:

Jillian said...

Wow. You're amazing and such a strong person to persevere in the face of all those challenges. I've found a new hero in you!

Playground Monitor said...

Great post! I love the luncheon. Thanks for all your work.

Marilyn

Lexi said...

All of that, and you put on a wonderful luncheon! Hats off to you and the rest of HOD for all your hard work, enthusiasm, and gracious spirit!

Katherine Bone said...

Hi Jillian! (waves) You are my newest and bestest friend! ;)

Seriously, thank you for your kind comments. You have no idea how much they mean to me. :D

Katherine Bone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katherine Bone said...

Hey Marilyn! Thanks for posting and for your comments. You are one of the reasons why our luncheons are always such a great success.

Hats off to you for your time and talents!

Katherine Bone said...

Lexi, I'm so glad you posted here today and that you were able to join us last year to celebrate your book release, DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE.

We had such a great time, didn't we? Thanks for your comments. You're the bomb! ;)