Monday, February 24, 2014

Big Book Club Getaway Recap & Giveaway

So this weekend was so much fun! I went to the Big Book Club Getaway on Friday Night and Saturday with a friend of mine. It was almost overwhelming just walking around and spotting so many of the authors you read just mingling!
The event started on Friday night after registration (and they gave a us a goodie bag filled with books and goodies) with the Pillow Talk panel featuring authors Cathy Maxwell, Elosia James and Laura Kay, we even had a surprise appearance by Dr. Ruth! I was a little unprepared and didn't take any notes or picture but just enjoyed the discussion.
The night continued in one of the pubs in Mohegan Sun called Lansdowne and featured Tim Federle and Tom Acitelli. They also had a Literary Trivia, which we weren't able to participate in because we couldn't hear over a Bachelor party seated next to us, but it was still fun to be surrounded by book lovers. I did however miss having Tim Federle but was able to find the event coordinator who contact him, and he was kind enough to meet me the following morning.
I was a little more organized on Saturday and took some pictures (please excuse the quality I forgot my camera so used my phone which takes horrible pictures).
Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the keynote speaker in the morning.
She told us about her life and how she came to be a sex therapist. She is amazing and overcame so much.  She is also very funny and totally takes over the stage as soon as she has the mic. I purchased her book Musically Speaking and had it signed by her, while there she urged me to come around the table to have a picture taken with her, an amazing way to kick off an exciting day!
The first panel of the day I attended was the Romance: Steamy Stories Panel
from left to right: Cathy Maxwell, Laura Kaye, Elosia James & the Moderator Nick Hahn.
While it is the same panel from Friday night, it was a different discussion. While on Friday night the discussion leaned more towards the genre itself and this discussion seemed to be more about the process and what makes the genre so strong. When asked what makes the romance genre so powerful Cathy stated 'voracious readers will eventually find romance because there are no limits in the genre.' Laura felt that so many people read romance because the 'genre is hopeful'. Cathy also added that 'love can carry you through the dark moments.'
When asked what their process for writing was it seemed that the consensus was that they were all pantsers. Laura stated that she likes to write like she reads and has no idea what might happen on the next page or where she is going.  Eloisa urged 'don't start writing romance unless you really love reading it.
Friday night I had purchased books by each of the authors and had them signed (thank goodness because their lines were rather long on Saturday).
The next panel I attended was Ellora's Cave Erotica
from left to right: event coordinator/moderator Jacques, Diana Hunter, Karen Stivali, and Tara Nina.
This was another fun panel and I found the authors to be extremely approachable and so kind (the gave me all kinds of goodies to pass along to you). It was interesting how they had been so honored to be treated as equal authors at this event, it is sad that they should be surprised at that as they are authors.  One of the questions presented to them was what to say when someone compares the erotic romance genre to porn. Diana Hunter said 'what we write is fantasy, fantasy is what readers want to live vicariously, not literally'. Tara Nina stated that 'fantasy is escapism, and it is not porn because it has a plot and there is a lot of romance involved. there is no connection in porn while erotic romance is all about the characters and their connections.' When asked how they keep each new story unique Karen Stivali stated 'everybody's story is different and to keep the novels they write unique they need to find what makes each character unique.'
After the panel I purchased Cabin Fever by Diana Hunter, Meant to Be and Long Distance Lovers  by Karen Stivali and had all three signed. Tara Nina has ebooks available online.
I decided to continue with the romance theme with the Kiss and Tell Panel
left to right: Kristine Rolofson, Natalie Charles, Kristan Higgins and Shannon Stacey & the moderator (sorry I can't remember her name).
I hadn't read any books by any of these authors but my friend is a huge fan of both Kristan Higgins and Shannon Stacey. During this panel they discussed where they get their inspiration and what sets the romance genre apart.  Kristine Rolofson said that she 'starts with setting and prefers small towns' she on cross country drives she would randomly stop in small towns to get a feel for the settings and the people. She also said she likes to write about 'woman taking risks to save their families'.  Natalie Charles said she is new to the process but she admits she steals a lot from real life. Kristan Higgins said 'I love people so I go from there'. Shannon Stacey said that the 'characters need to be authentic and unique'.  They all seemed to agree though that the tend to eavesdrop for inspiration (so be careful what you say at dinner!).
They also discussed the difficulty of long series and mapping. They do often have a drawn map of the particular town as well as a list of each of the characters and their traits. This was a very fun panel and I forgot to write notes because we were all laughing throughout.
After the discussion I purchased Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey, I also had a copy of Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins signed.  I received a copy of Burden of Desire by Natalie Charles in my goodie bag but had forgotten it at the hotel room and couldn't get it signed.
The next panel I chose to attend was Delicious Writing
left to right: Suzan Colon, Giulia Melucci & event coordinator/moderator Jacques
I admit I didn't take notes at all during this discussion, I just wanted to hear about the food! Both authors had written memoirs that involved recipes. I found Suzan's story very inspiring, she had lost a high end job and was forced to make ends meet on only one income.  She had discovered her Nana's recipe box from the Great Depression and started cooking her way through with her mother. Giulia Melucci's story was different, cooking had always been a part of her life and her memoir talks about the meals she made for boyfriends, though the relationships later ended. 
It was interesting hearing about their different cooking styles, Suzan happens to be much like me and needs a recipe to follow (at least for the most part) which Giulia had what was referred to as the cooking juju and could just wing it (much like my hubby).
After the discussion I was unable to find Suzan's book Winter Cherries (it must have already sold out) but I had picked up Giulia's book I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti and had it signed (I was the only one in line at the time so was able to share the story of how on our first date Hubby made me homemade meatballs, sauce and spaghetti).
The final discussion panel I attended was Magical Fiction
left to right (don't look at the pictures in the back): Karen White, Suzanne Palmieri & Sarah Addison Allen.
This was an interesting panel and I wasn't sure what to expect because I hadn't read any of their books or even read a synopsis.  When I think magic, I guess I think more of high fantasy, merlin, etc. but what they seemed to write was the more every day magic (while there is a little magic in their books). When asked what they write about Karen stated her characters 'need an external event to change their lives, to drive them to a new beginning'.  Suzanne said she likes 'a chance to take a moment or a memory and rewrite it, make it take the what if path.'  Sarah stated 'fiction is what we want to be real'.  I found they had very inspirational things to share with us.  Karen at one point said 'we all have within us that which makes us stronger' and Suzanne said 'everything is a restart, everything is a redo, treat every day as a chance to rewrite your story'.
When discussing writing Sarah said 'follow your voice, not what is popular at the time or what will sell. Reader respond to emotion so make yours authentic'.
At the end of the discussion I purchased The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen and had it signed. I am really kicking myself for not purchasing The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri when I had the chance but I will just have to add it to the wishlist.
The final speaker of the weekend was Debbie Macomber
I was a little late into her talk because I was waiting in line to get The Peach Keeper signed. That said, Debbie Macomber is a true inspiration, the hardships she had to overcome are remarkable.  She told us about the struggle to get her first book published and the knocks she took in that process. Her talk really set in that determination to get to work on my own writing and to not give up on things that I love.
After her motivational speech I was able to get both Wyoming Brides and Inn at Rose Harbor Signed.  I also happened to be in the right spot to catch a picture of Debbie signing books while her husband Wayne talked with Dr. Ruth in the background

I can't believe what an amazing 24 hours that was, not to mention how much I crammed into such a short period. I have already marked that I will be going again next year, and will be a little more prepared to share it with all of you!!
So I know you are dying to know what all I walked away with so here is a couple of pictures for you . . .
all the signed books
some of the goodies from the bag and additional books I purchased.
 Now I am sure you are all excited to see the goodies I have for you!
Isn't that awesome?! First prize includes all that is in the picture (penguin classics bag, Laura Kaye Hard Ink magnets, various book marks and postcard swag, pens, cups, etc. Drink coozie signed by Tara Nina, Signed postcard by Karen Stivali, and a short story signed by Diana Hunter, full page Ellora's cave print out signed by Karen Stivali and another one signed by Tara Nina). Note: many of the giveaway items are from Erotic Romance authors and their novels are explicit.
I have a second prize which will include various book swag from the same group of authors.
As always there are some rules:
~Open internationally (you are responsible for customs fees beyond shipping)
~ Must be 18 or over
~ Must respond within 48 hours of winning
~You must be a follower
~ You must post (see instructions in rafflecopter)
~ Giveaway runs from now through March 3rd at 12:00am EST
~Rafflecopter will randomly select the top 2. 


  1. Oooh! Exciting! I would love to go to a signing. The first author that comes to mind is Kirsten Hubbard because she's a travel author and I adored Wanderlove. I would love to do what she does. :) Thanks for the giveaway!! *mwah*

    1. I don't think I have read anything by her but sounds like she has a fun job if she gets to travel to destinations she is writing about!

  2. That sounds awesome! And all those books you bought and got signed! Ha! It sounds so familiar! At the thing I went to last week I wanted to buy every single book by every single panelist I heard speak. But that was just not going to happen!

    1. I didn't even buy a book from everyone that I wanted to, and of course after we left I was kicking myself for missing the opportunity LOL!

  3. This looks amazing!!! I love bookish events! I'll share this post on my Sunday link up!