BOONSBORO — To promote her new J.D. Robb book, "Treachery in Death," author Nora Roberts spent Saturday traveling the world.
First, she chatted with fans in South Africa, then Serbia and Nigeria.
India was on the itinerary, as well as Canada.
And she never left Boonsboro.
It was a virtual book tour — a new and growing phenomenon that's making the Internet a popular destination for meeting your favorite writers.
Wonder where authors get their inspiration? Curious about their hobbies and lifestyles?
By participating in a live video chat, you can have your questions personally answered — and order an autographed book — without leaving home.
Roberts was one of six authors who participated in a 90-minute live stream Saturday morning at Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe.
In addition to Roberts, other authors were Pamela Palmer, Jeaniene Frost, Grace Burrowes, Mary Burton and Stephanie Dray.
The virtual event was held before a more traditional in-store book signing that featured the same authors. Local writers Mary Burkhart Reed and Vaughn Ripley also were scheduled to appear.
The live stream, said store owner Bruce Wilder, is the first of its kind at Turn the Page and was the idea of Pamela Jaffee, senior publicity director for Avon Books.
Jaffee said live streaming "is still very new, still very experimental. But at Avon, we decided to embrace the concept."
This was the third live streaming author event brought to fans by Avon Books, she said. Past events in other parts of the country drew hundreds of online fans.
But she was especially excited about broadcasting live from Turn the Page.
"Publishers clamor to have their authors participate in this store's wonderful events," she said. "With fans lining up through town, we know Turn the Page draws hundreds of readers from around the region."
With the virtual event, Jaffee said there was the potential to reach even more fans, including those in other countries, by bringing the store event to the reader.
"These streaming events seem to be a win-win," she said. "Everybody benefits. Readers and authors have an opportunity to interact and, hopefully, we increase sales for the store."
Jaffee said Saturday's live stream was attended by hundreds of enthusiastic fans from around the world.
Since several authors were paranormal writers, many questions about that particular genre popped up.
Other questions were about the writing process, favorite books and characters, and how the authors relax.
Following the live stream, Jaffee said fans continued to blog and tweet about the event.
"I think they really appreciated being a part of something like this, seeing the authors and listening to the conversations," she said.
"Authors have become much more global," Jaffee said. "A live video chat like this just brings people together and adds to the richness."