Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Heart of Dixie Readers Luncheon 2009

by Debby Giusti

Friday afternoon, I drove to Huntsville, Alabama, with fellow Steeple Hill author and longtime GRW friend, Missy Tippens, for the Heart of Dixie Annual Readers Luncheon, on Saturday, May 2. Bigger and better than ever, this year 168 folks attended the event! Luncheon coordinator Kathy Bone, along with a great group of HOD writers, made the day one to remember.

It’s always fun to see old friends, like Irene Charles who won my basket at the first Readers Luncheon I attended back in 2006. Irene came with her sister Sara Ryan and good friend Karen Harris. Thanks, ladies for sitting at my table! Windy Millwood and her aunt Anita Kimball also joined me along with HOD writer Jean Hovey. Jean and I met at last year’s luncheon and ran into one another at RWA last summer. Jean and Stephanie Jones write together as Alicia Pace. Good luck, gals, with your submissions! (Table lineup above left to right: Karen, Irene, Jean, Sarah, Windy, Debby, Anita)
Louisville belle Annie Jones (above left) heads south for the luncheon each year. She and Writers Playground web mistress Marilyn Puett are old friends and get-together for the event. Missy and I had dinner with the Playground gals as well as other HOD members on Friday night. We sat at Vicki Lewis Thompson’s table and fell in love with her immediately. During her speech on Saturday, Vicki called herself an “introverted exhibitionist” and explained how the two sides of her personality often get her in trouble. Vicki said, authors need to “shift somewhat as the market changes.” Today’s books have more action and a faster pace, but readers still love a strong Alpha Hero. Vicki and I posed for the photo below before she gave her speech.This year, I donated a beach basket for the author drawing and Dana Crosslin (below right) was the winner. Hope you enjoy all the goodies, Dana!

Missy (R) and I met up with fellow Steeple Hill author Ramona Richards (L) for this photo. So good to see you, Ramona!
Linda Howard received the Heart of Dixie Mentor of the Year Award. Thanks, Danniela, for snapping this fun shot of me with Linda Howard (L) and Linda Winstead Jones (R).
Here’s a picture of Luncheon Coordinator Kathy Bone (R) and HOD writer Sherry Werth (L) looking so cute! I bet Kathy was breathing a sigh of relief to have another successful luncheon in the bag!
Lots of the Birmingham Southern Magic writers attended in support of Christy Reese who’s debut RESCUE ME is out this month. GRW member Trish Milburn came down from Nashville, and we had our picture taken (below) before lunch.
I want to give a shout out to Melanie Dickerson and Julia Muscari, Dianne Hart and Anita Hart, who were at the luncheon and made a point to say hello! Always good to see you!

If you’ve never been to a HOD Readers Luncheon, you’ve missed something special. Plan to attend next year’s event, May 15, 2010, when Julia London will be the speaker. I guarantee you’ll love every minute!

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

book 2 in Debby’s Magnolia Medical series,
is on sale May 12th.


Terri Reed said...

Hey, what a great idea to blog about the luncheon. Yours sounds like a lot of fun. I just attended my local RWA chapters Readers Luncheon with guest speaker Lucy Munroe. I didn't occur to me to post about it. I will next time I'm up.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Terri,
As I was writing the blog last night, I wished I had taken even more photos. I saw so many good friends and wanted to post all their pictures. Can you tell I had so much fun!!!

PamelaTracy said...

What a treat to see you and Vicki Lewis Thompson. She lives just a few hours away from me. Sounds like fun. Wish I could have been there.

Smarty Pants said...

Great writeup, Debby! I thought I'd dodged most the photos, but there I am holding your basket up. :) It's always great to see you. Thanks for joining us again this year.

Debby Giusti said...

Vicki is so sweet! Missy and I both enjoyed getting to know her. Please tell her hello for me next time you see her!

Debby Giusti said...

Hey Smarty Pants,
I included the photo 'cause you were in it!!! Had such a fun time. Loved being together with the Playground Gals -- you all are the best!!!

Thanks for making everyone feel so special! Don't forget M&M in Atlanta this fall. Should be another great conference.

Hope you and all the Huntsville folks are doing okay with this storm that's rolling through the South. I'll have to turn off my computer soon the way the sky looks. Stay safe, everyone!

Sherry Werth said...

Hi Debby! Thanks so much for the wonderful writeup! It is always such a pleasure to see you and Missy each year. I just wish we had had more time to talk. I plan to attend M&M this year so maybe we can catch up again at that time.
We're having storms today but I wanted to check in and say Hello and Thank You for helping to make the luncheon a great success. : )

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Sherry!
Let me know if you want me to email the photo to you. You and Kathy look so cute!

We'll get togther at M&M for sure!

Missy Tippens said...

Great photos, Debby! Mine are still in my camera. I need to post them.

I had such a great time at the luncheon! It was great to see all the Alabama gals (and those from Tennessee and elsewhere). And Vicki was such fun! It was great getting to know her and Rhonda Nelson and Mary down at our end of the table.

Debby, it's always so much fun to travel with you! Thanks for the brainstorming while driving. :)

Y'all should have seen Debby at the book signing. She had this huge line, and I was calling her a rock star. :) She's so nice and is so great at forming relationships that she always has fans return to see her.

Thanks again for the luncheon recap, Debby. I'm going to link over here from my blog.


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Missy,
Thanks for stopping by and for linking with your wonderful blog!

Missy's a true Southern belle and the sweetest gal I know!

She also writes great books and has a new Love Inspired coming out in June! Be sure to pick it up if you want a fun read that will tug at your heartstrings.

Kathy said...

What a great blog, Debby! Thanks for giving a shout out to the Heart of Dixie. ;)

Of course, our luncheon wouldn't be the same without you in attendance each year. Getting to talk to you is always such a treat and your prayers sure do wonders! If you've never had the privilege to sit at one of Debby's luncheon tables, you're in for a treat. I've been blessed to be able to sit at her table two years in a row. Her table was full this year by the time I finally got to find a seat. (sigh) You're just getting so popular!!!

I can't go to M&M this year, but I'll be in DC this summer. Sure hope I get to see you there! ;D

Jean said...

Hi, Debby!
It's always a treat to see you and I am feeling very special since I got to eat lunch with you--not to mention the advance copy of Protecting Her Child. Stephanie and I will be in DC and M&M. We are working on a humorous realistic contemporary right now, which is quite the departure from fantasy. We are not used to our heroes needing a plane to fly.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Kathy,
Love the Bone photo! So cute!

You did such a fantastic job chairing the luncheon. What I said in the blog is true -- each year it gets bigger and better! That's because of all your hard work.

Looking forward to seeing you in DC this summer!

Debby Giusti said...

Jean, you and Stephanie are the cutest writing team I know! Looking forward to seeing you in DC and at M&M!!! Keep me posted on your writing and submissions. I know lots of editors are interested in what you two are producing. It won't be long!

Linda said...

Giving up a child to adoption is hard, but then to find she's pregnant, widowed and in danger isn't what you want to hear when you are on your deathbed. Gotta know the ending.

Love to read all your comments after seeing each other at your luncheon. Good friends having a great time!

Lynette Eason said...

Hey, count me in next year! I can't believe I didn't know about it this year. I'm going to put it on my calendar now!