Where do I begin to tell you about AD 2011? At the beginning perhaps? Yes, I’ll start there, for it is a glorious moment. I met an extraordinary woman, Kris Tualla, at an RWA chapter meeting who thought it would be a great idea to have a READERS conference on the odd years because our chapter does a WRITERS conference on the even years. She asked at the table if anyone was interested in being on the committee. My hand shot up before my brain had time to think. The conclusion would have been the same however. I love working on conferences! I LIVE for staff development!
Now Kris is a Big Picture, Shoot for the Stars lady. I LIKE that. I tend to do the same. Example: “Let’s build a little model Lenape Indian village” turned into a scale model Lenape Village outside my classroom on the expansive grassy area! And it lasted through the entire year, snow, ice storms and all! And the kids lead tours of the village for the other students. SO, Kris and I were a match made in heaven. And Arizona Dreamin’ came to life. We had to keep reminding ourselves, keep it simple, keep it small. Bumps along way were no deterrent for our motley crew- Tamala, Liz Munoz, Kris, and Me, along with Melanie Tighe, our fearless Bookseller, and a host of others who got involved precisely when we needed them. Please don’t kill me if I didn’t mention you yet! Credits will roll at the end!
On to the big show! Well, it began with registration in the lobby. I hear everyone was very orderly and polite. Readers got to pick which author’s table to sit at – mine was filled except for one seat. Understandable. The bookstore opened, and drumroll please…. JIMMY THOMAS did a photo shoot with a model from 3-4 pm! (Fans self)
Let’s talk about that photo shoot, shall we? Fascinating! Once we got past the voluptuous breasts of a delightful woman with a fabulous Australian accent, it truly was a wonderful education about how covers are ultimately made. We saw fluid, sensual motion from Jimmy and his model, and then sudden comments murmured to her to move a certain way or flip her hair or cover her, ahem, nipple, reminded us that this was a job, and a hard one . Then the fluid motion would start up again and stop as the photographer would redirect the pair and change his position. The sensuality and eroticism we see on a cover is captured in a fraction of a moment. Seriously. The photographer stopped and showed us what we saw, but through his camera. It looked so different. The camera caught what our eyes could not. The magical moment.
Now for our fabulous dinner! Every author who sponsored a table decorated it. Other authors conducted a panel during the dinner where they told us a bit about themselves and then answered questions. My readers were so much fun! Lost everything on my table was given away by the end of dinner. I stuck a tag under their seats with what they won. SO much fun!
After dinner came the Book Clubs! There were 6 half- hour clubs in 6 rooms. Most authors spoke for 2 sessions and the readers were absolutely fabulous. I talked about how I became an author, my inspiration, the series, the origins of the Brethren, and Brethren Beginnings. Some whipped out their Nooks and Kindles right then and there at my sessions to buy my book. Others bought when they got home. And most are friends on facebook now.
Back to Jimmy! He was on hand for attendees to take their picture with him, all for the sake of charity. What a guy! I’m sure you’ve all seen my photo by now, but I’ve put it here anyway because, well, I LIKE IT. (insert cheesy grin) Story is, I was running all over the place in between sessions, making sure all things were running smoothly. I breezed in, I was told, “Go get your picture taken.” So I sat down, thrilled to be sitting, and of course, next to Jimmy. He was so comfy! I could have stayed like that for hours! Thanks, Jimmy. I needed that.
We had a bookstore run by Melanie from Dog-eared Pages Bookstore. It was fantastic, and included not only books to buy, but also 8 raffle baskets all to benefit Huntington’s Disease research.
With the sessions over, it was time to draw raffle tickets and then on to Romance movies, wine, and snacks. Well, we never got to the movie because we had too much fun talking! My aunt and her friend brought wine, cheeses, crackers, and chips and we got tipsy and hilarious. And Melanie got cornrows done my Tamala. Very impressive given how much wine she had! We wrapped it up about 3 am. Uh huh, you heard me right.
Breakfast the next day was delicious and provided by the hotel. It was so hard saying good-bye to all the new friends I’d made in just 48 hours. Because of the huge success, we’ve decided that Arizona Dreamin’ needs to be EVERY year, not every other year. So, look out! Here comes the website where you can get up to the minute details on next year’s event!
Hope to see you all there next year! And by the way, to see larger pictures, go to my facebook page and under photos, look for Arizona Dreamin’ 2011.
Melanie Tighe (Dog-eared Pages Bookstore)
Terri Baker (Morgan’s friend and editor!)
Monica (Kris’s daughter’s friend!)
Nannette (Kris’s bestie)
Me (hee hee)