We are currently preparing for our Readers & ’Ritas weekend, and now’s the time to think back over the journey we’ve taken to get here. I’ve always loved reading, especially romances, and I love meeting people to talk about books, so it made perfect sense that I’d find ways to get readers and authors together. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter: fine alone but perfect together. And what could be better than a weekend just for readers and authors? The idea hit me one day as I was spending a weekend with crafty women trying to make another scrapbook. Unfortunately for my family’s history, I am horrible at putting together photo albums. It just isn’t my thing. But I loved going away for a craft weekend. The camaraderie of the women was always great and fun, and the conversation would inevitably turn toward what we were reading. That was where I shined.
And so, I thought, why not ditch the crafts and just sit around and talk about books? Voilà! We’d talk about our favorites, drink some margaritas, eat some homemade snacks and just have a fabulous weekend away from our families. A girls’ retreat.
Not so fast! Someone asked: “What about authors? We could invite some and instead of just talking to them on the phone, they would be with us in person. They’ll tell us all about their next book and we’ll be the first to know EVERYTHING! It will be fun!” Sadly, I knew from past experience that that chances of authors doing anything more than teasing us by dropping hints were about nil, but I was game to invite a few authors I knew from book club encounters and we could at least try to trick them out of scoops.
From those ideas—craft weekends without the glue and book club encounters—the idea for a readers weekend was born. Okay, it was a bit larger and more involved, but nevertheless, in October 2008, we had a Readers & ’Ritas weekend with 35 readers and a couple of authors. We talked about book covers, the care and feeding of books and collections. We plied the authors with margaritas and unsuccessfully attempted to learn deep dark secrets of goings on in the upcoming books. But we had fun and it was a hit! After recovering, we plunged back in to planning and the event has grown every year since.
Four of our first Readers & ’Ritas authors are still some of our favorites, and they all have recently released books. Like of all these authors’ fans, we have to wait to find out what happens in the new books.
Eagerly awaited by all Dark Hunter fans, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Styxx (St. Martin’s Press, September 2013) is the story of Acheron’s twin brother. Like most twins, they aren’t always the best of friends, and now that dark forces are reborn, it’s time for Styxx to prove his loyalty and find a lasting love. As always, Kenyon includes all the elements of great storytelling to keep a reader up ALL NIGHT LONG.
Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love’s Rise of the Gryphon (Pocket, August 2013) “is the fantastic continuation of the Belador series. The action starts on page one and blows you away to the very end. With all of the characters that are involved in this series it might be possible to lose the thread of the storyline, but authors Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love have a mastery with words that won't let you get lost. Even though this is part of a series this book stands alone perfectly.” Evalle Kincaid must find out more about her background and save her friends from destruction while her relationship with Storm grows complicated to say the least.
Travel back in time to the time of the Pink Carnation, I mean, the battle with the Napoleonic French, in the 10th installment of the Pink Carnation series, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig (NAL, August 2013). This time, two young school girls go missing and it’s up to the father of one and a spinster companion to Jane (aka Pink Carnation) to overcome their differences and join forces to track the girls and bring them back safely. Throw in some spy shenanigans and a few modern-day mishaps with some romantic overtones and you have a perfect mix of historical and contemporary. I can never wait patiently for a new Pink Carnation book.
They say Westerns are dead, but I know I’m not alone in looking forward to a new book each year in Jodi Thomas’ Whispering Mountain series. In Promise Me Texas (Berkley, November 2013), Beth McMurray learns the truth while eavesdropping on her soon-to-be husband, who’s bragging about marrying her for money. Impulsive to a fault, she runs off with a train robber, pretends to be his wife and gathers together a band of unlikely companions in her escape home. It’s a trademark Thomas adventure yarn and not to be missed.
Have you ever attended a readers’ weekend? You’re all invited to join us in Texas—you’ll be glad you came! This year we’re joined again by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love as well as 38 other authors. You can find more information at Readers-n-ritas.org.
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.