The fourth annual gathering of Celebrate Romance was held May 4-6, 2001 at the Doubletree Guest Suites - Perimeter in Atlanta, Georgia. Celebrate Romance is a unique gathering of romance readers who share their love of the genre on-line through various web sites, bulletin boards and e-mail discussion lists. They get together to meet their cyber-friends in person and discuss their favorite thing: ROMANCE NOVELS.
Paranormal romance listers were there in fine form. Among the para authors in attendance were RITA Nominees: Karen White, Christine Feehan, and Elizabeth Keys (aka Susan and Mary Lou), as well as the wonderfully talented Terri Brisbin, Ann Lawrence, Rosemary Laurey, Barbara Sheridan, J.C. Wilder and Linda Kay. PNR readers included Sara Reyes, Leslie Tramposch, Barbara Hicks, Janice Bennett, Katherine Schlem, Donna Combs, Raelene Gorlinsky, and Kathy Boswell to name a few. Quite a few other folks were surprised to learn that they too love paranormal romances, once we explained what the sub-genre included <g>. Paranormal romance is alive and kicking!
Beginning with the Friday evening reception, PNR listers got to meet other in the flesh, some for the first time ever. The attendees got to savor astounding appetizers provided by the hotel, while being entertained by the fabulous and fashionable new author, Stephanie Burke, who regaled the crowd with "Things NOT to Say to a Romance Author". We learned that romance authors are not old, tired, nor do they wear glasses just to look smart <g>. She was a hoot. Stephanie writes paranormal and erotic romances. Dancing Willow Publications will be releasing her first book in the near future.
Writerspace's Beverly Latham, known to romance listers as B.B. Medos gave the reader's presentation, "How to have a Balanced Reading Diet" while the guests played the "Brain Game", a tongue in cheek comparison of our reading habits to the U.S.D.A. Food Pyramid.
Reader's then split off to various planned activities. A junk food fest was help upstairs while Book Trade Volunteers sorted requests through the night. The Writerspace/PNR gang and friends headed of to a nearby U.A. theater to catch the opening night of "The Mummy Returns" and outing arranged by Preeti Singh of BSJ and Romantic Science Fiction and Fantasy. Talk about your paranormal romances! Mmmmmmmm. One PNR list author was noted to say that the film's heroes had very nice teeth.......and buns, indeed!
Saturday morning was spent listening to author and reader presentations. The dynamic Mary Lynne Nielsen served as Mistress of Ceremonies introducing in turn: Keynote Speaker - Mary Jo Putney, Guest Authors - Patricia Potter and stephaie Bond. The Reader's Presentation "Fiction Writing and Society" was given by PNR lister Katherine Schlem.
After an early luncheon, folks broke into smaller discussion groups while the authors traveled from room to room and spoke on topics: "Push/pull of wanting something different in plots, yet not always findng it easy to support", "The current trend toward hotter romance - are they hot enough or not even warm?", "More and more books being written in series - like or dislike?". It was a great opportunity to speak directly to the authors as well as having the authors talk directly to their readers!
The culmination of the afternoon was the book swap, Paranormal Romance discussion group which met in the courtyard, and the Writerspace reception.
What happens when you mix a crowd of voracious romance readers and popular authors (most of whom have only "met" online) together with a little food and computers with live access to the Internet? You not only get a roomful of near-strangers acting like old friends, but also a international party! One where the larger community on the internet can interact and observe an event from any place in the world. In other words the Writerspace Tea.
This was the second annual event hosted by Writerspace at the Celebrate Romance Conference. While folks were chatting and enjoying treats, including a cake sent by Stella Cameron, readers lined up to chat with Diana Palmer and have copies of her books signed. Cissy Hartley and Sara Reyes drew names to give away novels by many of the wonderful authors hosted at the Writerspace.com. The final drawing was the PNR gift bag of nearly forty books Donated by our incredible paranormalromance authors packaged in a colorful autographed beach bag donated by Paraphernalia's own Barbara Sheridan. Susan McCoy was the delighted winner of the PNR drawing. Our thanks go out to all the listers who donated items.
The live chat was also hosted at www.writerspace.com in a special chatroom. Party attendees dropped into the chatroom to say hi and to talk to folks at home about the Atlanta party.
Following the tea, conferencers again split of to enjoy various planned activities and the Atlanta night life. One group carpooled to the rustic Blue Willow, while others enjoyed seafood at the bustling Atlanta Fish Market. Yum.
Sunday morning folks had the opportunity purchase books written by attending authors and having the signed while Linda Hurst gave a reader's presentation entitled "Beauty and the Beast". The winners of the CR door prizes were announced as tired but happy conferencers said their final goodbyes to friends old and new.