Wednesday, May 21, 2008

HEART OF DIXIE READERS' LUNCHEON




Ever been to a readers’ luncheon? The Heart of Dixie Chapter of Romance Writers of America hosts a gala event each May in Huntsville, Alabama. Fellow Steeple Hill author, Missy Tippens and I left Atlanta Friday morning and drove to Huntsville, arriving in time to check into our hotel – the beautiful Embassy Suites in the heart of downtown – before we headed to the main library for a bookseller and librarian tea. We spent the afternoon talking books and enjoying the delicious finger food HOD provided, thanks to Andrea’s catering.

That evening we had dinner at the Jazz Factory. I sat next to Roxanne St. Claire and across from Sherry, Stephanie and Jean – HOD gals who I’ll be seeing again at the RWA Conference this summer. We got back to the room in time to call our hubbies and wish them goodnight before we turned out the lights and got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we gathered in the lovely Van Braun Center where each author was assigned a table. I brought goodies for the gals who would sit with me – cute notepads and note cards, a Craftie Ladies highlighter/pen and chocolate as well as copies of my latest release, MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA. The doors opened at 11 A.M. and eager readers swarmed into the room, finding seats at their favorite author’s table.

Dianne Hart, Rachel Lewter, Anita Mays and Dawn Eby joined me, and it was wonderful chatting with them. A special treat was having two dear friends who I’ve known for years come to the luncheon. Alice Mingo and I lived across the street from each other at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Dorothy Newman was a neighbor at Fort Irwin, California. Seeing them brought back so many memories of when kids were young and so were we! Thanks, Alice and Dorothy, for being there for me on Saturday!

HOD luncheon chairman Kathy Bone also sat at my table. Kathy’s a beautiful woman who did an excellent job organizing the event. Lunch was delicious, and Kathy and the other HOD members made all of us feel so welcome. Thanks, Kathy! You and your committee did an outstanding job!

After lunch we got to hear Roxanne St. Clair talk about her life as a writer. Rockie is a doll! She’s upbeat and outgoing, and she never meets a stranger. An added plus for the weekend was getting to know her better.

Following her speech, drawings were held for the author baskets. Mary Freeman won mine! More baskets—all piled high with books—were given as raffle prizes, and five lucky people at my table went home winners. A booksigning followed the luncheon and the proceeds went to aid literacy.

If you’ve been to an HOD function you’ll know the gals from the Writing Playground (www.writingplayground.com). Marilyn Puett, Kera Sinclair, Danniele Worsham, Kimberly Lang, and Alexandra Frost worked throughout the weekend to ensure everything was flawless. Thanks for making it all look so easy!

HOD divas Linda Howard, Beverly Barton and Linda Winstead Jones presented Kim Kerr, writing as Kim Lange, with flowers and a charm on the sale of her first book. Kim organized the bookseller and librarian tea and is the go-to gal for every HOD function I’ve attended. It’s great to see her hard work pay off with a sale to Mills and Boon!

Southern Magic ladies and dear friends, Carla Swaffard and debut author Christy Reece, with a three-book contact to Ballentine, were there as well as librarian Irene Charles and her sister Sarah.

Missy and I hated to say goodbye to Huntsville friends, both old and new, but we had a long drive home. Of course the miles flew by since we had so much to talk about as well as plans to make for next year when we’ll be heading back to Alabama for another Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon. Hope to see you there!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

14 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

Reading your account of the luncheon was like living it all over again. It WAS a terrific day, wasn't it? It was great to see you again and to meet Missy. I sat at her table and I've made a new friend.

We hold this every year and welcome authors and readers alike. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet your favorite authors in an intimate setting. And the raffle baskets are awesome!

Thanks for all the kind words about our event. I hope to see you in San Francisco and again at the luncheon next year.

Marilyn

Debby Giusti said...

Marilyn,
I'll be back next year for sure! Your Readers' Luncheon is the nicest day for writers and readers alike! Plus everyone is so friendly and sweet!

I'll look forward to seeing you in San Fran!

Give my love to everyone in HOD!

PamelaTracy said...

I wish I could have been there. I always feel so pumped after sharing a day with readers and writers. We will have a blast in San Fran!

Debby Giusti said...

Pam, the HOD event is worth traveling long distance to attend! :) You're right, we'll have fun in SF.

BTW, sorry I didn't log on to Seekerville last week when you were a guest blogger. I feel so bad!!! I was swamped getting ready for my out-of-town trip and failed to check the blog! Hope you enjoyed the Seekers!

Problem Child said...

I'm so glad you had a good time! I always worry, ya know!

Debby Giusti said...

Problem child, no worries. Okay?

MaryF said...

Debby,
It was lovely to meet you; and I was thrilled to win your basket...all those delicious books!

I wish I could make it to San Fran; but I will live vicariously through others.... (and try not to whine too much) Then there is next year for the HOD lunch...! (Do you wonder if they'll ever have RWA here in Huntsville...its a thought)

I hope to talk with you some more; Thank you again :)
Mary Freeman

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by the blog. I'm so glad I got to meet you!!! You're a doll!

I think RWA 2009 will be in Nashville! Not far from Huntsville! And it's going to be at the Opryland Hotel! Woo-hoo! Won't that be fun?

smiln60 said...

I was so inspired by the entire event, and blessed to sit at your table. I've been working on drafts for my children's book(s), and doing research. I had one I knew I wanted to do, now I want to do an entire series.
Sounds like you are living a great life, and I glad you had a good experience in HSV, I'll be here next year!!!
Had I know you were at the library on Friday, I would have been there too.....LOL.
Thanks for the inspiration, the web-site info, and the wonderful conversation.
A memory was made that I will never forget. My best friend in the whole world invited me to go, and she knows what I need more than I do sometimes.
Thanks again for everything,
Rachel Lewter

MaryF said...

Nashville...That definitely works a WHOLE lot better for me :)

And Opry Land hotel is a fantastic place to be...(I love it at Christmas)

Missy Tippens said...

What a great summary, Debby! The trip was wonderful! And you're a great roomie. :)

Hi, Marilyn! I enjoyed meeting you, too!

Missy

Debby Giusti said...

Rachel,
I logged off late last night and your comment wasn't on yet . . . maybe it was a glitch with my computer! So nice to see you here today when I rechecked the posts!

Good luck with your writing! I'm proof that anything is possible! :)

Looking forward to seeing you next year!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Missy,
Didn't we have fun!!! Let's do it again next year. You're a doll to travel with and a great roomie!

Dianne said...

Hi Debby, I too enjoyed last Saturday...I've been trying to leave a message here for days...but I can't seem to get it to take...maybe this one will...Anyway.. it was wonderful meeting you and getting to know you. I can't wait to read you new book that you so graciously gave to us at your table. After yours I plan on ready Missy's... She too is a lovely lady. I hope we can keep in touch...May God Bless you and your endeavors
Dianne