The Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend by Mollie Cox Bryan

I’d only heard about it whispered about among other writers—this mysterious and wonderful reader event organized by Barbara Vey. They said readers came in droves to have lunch with writers. They said that a grand time was always had by all. My curiosity was piqued and I started investigating. I was placed on a long waiting list.

A few years later, my invite arrives. Was it going to be everything I had heard it would be? The simple answer is it was everything I’d heard, and more.

One thing many readers don’t realize about writers is that we adore our readers. And for there to be an event specifically geared toward readers—well, it draws us, pulls us in as if by some magnetic force.

The first day was an author dinner, then an author-question event. Each one of us 60 authors marched up on stage and introduce ourselves to an audience of 250 readers (or so), plus, we had to answer a question that we pulled out of a hat. This event went on for most of the night. It was a great ice-breaker and I found myself fan-girling all over the place.

But the next day was the BIG part of the event—the luncheon.

So, for the luncheon, each writer was sat with seven readers. We all had decorated our tables. Mine table was done in a “Day of the Dead” theme with a focus on sugar skulls. Our readers each received gifts from us. Mine received a copy of SCRAPBOOK OF THE DEAD, a paper bag scrapbook kit I made for them, a handcrafted artist trading card designed and signed by me, little sugar-skull notebooks and charms, sewing kits (provided by Kensington), plus signed DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES cover flats. I had a great time gathering and creating my giveaways.

It was fabulous to sit and chat with readers, find out what they like, and what makes them decide to buy a book (or not). It heartened me so much just to sit back and listen to them talking amongst themselves about how much they love reading and writers. These were hardcore (but fun) readers, with distinct likes and dislikes, which they were happy to tell me about and I was eager to listen.

The rest of the day included a pizza party and games, where readers and writers got even more of a chance to mingle. In between, there was a book signing. All of the writers participated. Readers and writers gathered the next morning as well for breakfast.

Sometimes whispers mean next to nothing. But when it came to the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon, it meant more than I could ever properly convey. I came away from the event with a greater sense of who my readers are, a strong sense of belonging to a fabulous open community of writers, and incredibly inspired to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

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