Holy WOW What A Weekend!!
(Slick’s thoughts on Lori Fosters Reader Author Get Together #RAGT16)
This was my 4th visit to Ohio and RAGT and I have enjoyed it every year. Each year is very different and this year there was a notable absence of publishers which I found a bit troubling (only Liquid Silver Books were in attendance). I know that times are tough in the publishing industry, I know there are many publishers who have gone out of business or are struggling, but I also feel that events like this one are a great opportunity to meet your customer base, to listen to what they want to read, and to support the authors from your line. That being said, RAGT16 was still a stellar event and one of the better organized events I’ve attended. A HUGE shout out to Lori Foster, her husband Alan, and the whole RAGT volunteer team for everything they do to put on this event.
First off, this is a small convention which makes it a very intimate affair. Each year I go, I see people from previous years along with a few new faces (I love that in the last couple of years, the 1st time participants are given beads to wear so that other participants can identify them). One of the reasons I got to this event over and over is because I’m able to see friend’s I’ve made year after year and to be honest, the authors being there are the icing on the cake.
I love seeing authors I know and meeting authors who are new to me. This year our goodie bags included 8 books by various authors and some really superior swag! Two book signings, one of Friday and one on Saturday allow attendees and outside guests to meet and browse with many authors. I love that this is a two day event because you don’t feel super rushed to see all the authors on one day. A big shout out to Barnes and Noble who set up shop at the event for attendees to purchase books and who give 15% of the proceeds to a worthy charity.
This year’s event was very different in that J.R. Ward stopped by on Saturday for support for her friend Karen Marie Monning (by the way it rhymes with awning) which just added to the excitement of the weekend. My experience with J.R. Ward (and guys I’ve never read her, I lined up to see her so I could get a book signed for Dawn, our blog’s owner) and to take a picture (yes, I realize that’s not something she normally does but she did it there) was fabulous. First off I tell her I’m getting the book signed for Dawn and tell her that she and Dawn blew up my phone when I was in route to Ohio on Wednesday when she announced she was going to RAGT. She told me she remember that whole exchange and said she was so happy she could sign the book for Dawn even though she couldn’t be there. The Warden (as I was told she was called) was so charming and funny and when I told her she’d made so many people happy by being there she said that it was an amazing experience for her because the crowd was so nice and patient. When she got up to take a picture with me (I’m tall but she is even taller than me; I had on flats and she had on at least 4 inch heels) she put her arm around me and then stepped back flapping her arms saying “I’m so sorry, I should have asked if it was okay to touch you.” To which I replied, “You can touch me anytime.” Then we both cracked up laughing. After that she signed books for my convention posse, took pictures with them and then we did a selfie with her that was just so hilarious. I loved seeing this author interact with her fans and even though I’ve never read her before after meeting her she made me want to read her so I will give her non paranormal series a try.
Another gem of the weekend was meeting and talking with Lora Leigh. I’ve never read Lora although I have many, many friends who absolutely love her work. I was getting some books signed for friends and we got to talking and we talked and talked and laughed and talked some more. She was very gracious all weekend and such a cut up; she had us all in stitches with some of her book ideas. I appreciated all the time she gave to fans and the lively, fun and outrageous conversations I and others had with her.
I enjoyed seeing many of my favorite authors like Jessica Lemmon, Toni Blake, Melanie Jayne, Elle Boon, Hildie McQueen, Teri Anne Stantley, Jayne Rylon, Kris Calvert, Heather Long, Virginia Nelson, Melissa Schroeder, Sandy Sullivan, Jocie McKade and Eve Langlais.
This year there was a lot of excitement in the board rooms with games, meet and greets, Tarot card readings, Henna tattoos, coloring contests and so much more. So many authors spent hours and hours in these rooms to meet fans, play games and sign books giving their fans the opportunity to have more time at the book signing to see and browse other author’s work. A big shout out to authors CC Dragon, Viola Grace, Trinity Blacio, Tianna Zander, Monica Corwin, Terri Ann Stantley, Stacy McKitrick, Eden Ashe, Meg Cooper, Jenika Snow, Cecile Tellier, LeTisha Newton, JJ Lore, Dianna Love, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, Hildie McQueen, Darynda Jones, Eve Langlais, Donna McDonald, Robyn Peterman, Jayne Rylon, Sandy Sullivan, Catherine Beaumont, Lynn Raye Harris, Zoe York, Renee Vincent, Kiara Rounda, Wendi Zwaduk, Maddy Barone, KaLyn Cooper, Errin Stevens, Monette Michaels, Kelli Evans, and Tina Holland for giving your time and sponsoring all the boardroom activities.
One thing that is pretty great about RAGT is the meals that are offered and this year Melissa Schroeder hosted a Welcome Luau on Thursday night which was fun and festive. Breakfasts were hosted by Jenika Snow and Sam Cheever and while I didn’t make it down for those (a bit early for me) I was told they were well attended and lots of great prizes were given out. Friday’s Brown Bag Lunch (one of my favorites of the weekend) was hosted by Sylvia McDaniel, S.E. Smith, Geri Foster and Kris Calvert. Toni Anderson and Rachel Grant sponsored Saturday lunch and Saturday’s yummy dinner was sponsored by Karen Rose.
A huge highlight of the weekend was the Disney Costume Party on Friday night hosted by Sharon Hamilton and Catherine Beaumont. The excitement for this part was off the hook and the costumes were INSANE! Truly a memorable event!! Costumes, specialty drinks available, a DJ with some awesome tunes, and prizes all made up this fun and fantastic evening.
Saturday evening’s bingo party was hosted by Jessica Lemmon, Jennifer Chance and Elizabeth Bemis and a good time was had by all in attendance.
A huge part of RAGT has always been the money raised by the raffle for various charities. The baskets that are donated by authors (both attending and not) and by participants are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere and it never ceases to amaze me the generosity of the convention attendees. It was announced on Saturday evening that up to that point we raised over $20,000 for One Way Farm (a group children’s home for abused and neglected children). For more information about this special place check out their website: http://www.onewayfarm.org
Every year I look forward to RAGT as it is a conference I can affordably attend, meet with my friends, talk books and seeing authors is just the bonus. #RAGT17, I hope to see you next year!!