Readers Luncheons, like the one Southern Magic is hosting on November 7th, have played a huge role in my writing career. I attended my very first readers luncheon sponsored by our local library and organized by my Southern Magic sister, Tammy Lynn, about seven or eight years ago. It was called Summer Lovin' and I met a number of wonderful romance writers who shared their love of the genre and their enthusiasm for writing with me. This is where I first met Dianna Love and her words of encouragement started me on my writer's journey. Since that luncheon Dianna has been a constant source of encouragement and support for me. I would not be where I am today without her.
I attended my first Southern Magic Readers Luncheon that same year. I met a couple of my historical romance writing idols - Karen Hawkins, Lyn Stone, and Gayle Wilson - to mention a few. Meeting them, telling them about my favorite of their books, and simply talking writing with them let me know, without a doubt, I had finally found my people ! Through Karen Hawkins I found The Goddess Blogs, an online community of readers and writers, many of whom are my dear friends to this day.
I've attended many readers luncheons since that first one and there is nothing like gathering with fellow readers to let you know your obsession with books is not yours alone. Readers are a tribe unto themselves. We talk books and authors the way Southerners talk football and barbecue. Favorite authors become favorite teams. Favorite genres become favorite flavors. And we all want to share the reads we consume over and over again.
Reading is comfort food for the heart, the soul and the mind. Those of us who read look upon those who do not as poor, unfortunate creatures wandering alone in the dark. How on earth do they survive? Why to those of us in the South that's like living in Alabama and not rooting for either the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Auburn's Tigers. Is that even allowed? Sacrilege!
In this age of instant everything and the supremacy of all things electronic, fast, efficient, and fashionable according to the Kardashians (God help us!) reading could get lost in the shuffle. After all, Kanye West said he's never wanted a book's autograph. Isn't that the last word on the entertainment value of reading? (Actually I am fairly certain that is the last word on egotistical ignorance, but I leave that for you to judge.)
And now I have come full circle. This year, for the very first time, I will be co-hosting a table as a published author at Southern Magic's Readers Luncheon. And I do apologize for my full-fledged geek out, but that is just TOO COOL FOR WORDS !! If all goes well, my second novella will be out in print in CHRISTMAS REVELS II. Even better, our speakers are two people who have been so supportive and helpful to my writing career and huge inspirations to me. Darynda Jones is a fellow 2009 Golden Heart Finalist aka my Ruby Sister! Lexi George and I found out what a critique group was all about after hours in Tammy Lynn's bookstore in little old Wetumpka. Tammy Lynn and I reading the infamous "weenie in a bag scene" in the middle of a Mexican restaurant and laughing until we cried is one of my favorite writing memories.
Readers events are vital to authors. They give us a chance to meet the people who make all of the frustration, tears, late nights, chocolate binges, spreading butts, hair pulling, and worn out fingers worthwhile - the readers. The community of book lovers is indeed a tribe. And you, darling readers, will always be the chiefs!