What a great day I had! As far as I'm concerned, the first ever Book & Author Tea, sponsored by the Long Island Women's Agenda and Long Island Woman Magazine, was a smashing success.
The program was the brainchild of Debbi Honorof, former board member of LIWA and currently the book review editor/reporter for Long Island Woman Magazine. I met Debbi when she interviewed me for the publication. She's a terrific lady and we became fast friends. Shortly after that she told me about this idea she had for doing an event for Long Island women authors. The next thing I knew, the event was organized, complete with corporate sponsors (Stony Brook, Astoria Federal Savings, and NEFCU), a venue, an impressive roster of authors I was honored to be among, and a kickass publicity campaign. Is that not amazing? I'm just in awe of Debbi and so proud to be her friend.
There were about 120 attendees at today's event, which is extraordinary considering the fact that the cost was $55 a seat. (In my experience, it's hard to get people to show up for a free reading, let alone one with a pricetag!) Erica Garay of LIWA welcomed the crowd and introduced Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who made the opening remarks. (In case you don't know, she's a local hero here on Long Island. In 1993, after a crazed gunman on the Long Island Rail Road shot and killed her husband and injured her son, she was thrust into the limelight and later into activism in gun control, which led to a political career. As a personal aside, my sister was on that train, in another car. But that's a story for another day.)
Debbi Honorof then moderated a panel discussion among fiction authors Cynthia Baxter (REIGNING CATS AND DOGS MYSTERY SERIES), Carol Hoenig (WITHOUT GRACE), Victoria Lustbader (HIDDEN), Alyson Richman (THE LAST VAN GOGH) and yours truly (SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA). We each got to read a small snippet from our books, answer questions from the moderator and then took questions from a very literate and engaging audience.
That was followed by Erika Duncan, founder of Herstory, explaining her bold and fascinating women's writing program.
After that we signed books and chatted with the attendees, before Debbi interviewed the inspiring Brooke Ellison about her memoir (MIRACLES HAPPEN). Brooke read a passage that was so powerful and poignant it seemed like everyone in the room was moved to tears.
Following Brooke's reading, Debbi interviewed Delthia Ricks, author of BREAST CANCER BASICS AND BEYOND, about writing nonfiction.
I hope the folks attending the event had as much fun as I did. I met wonderful people--from sponsors to authors to attendees--and am so grateful to have been included. If the event is repeated next year, I urge everyone in the area to attend. It was unforgettable.