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Washington Romance Writers Pre-retreat Mega-Signing draws more than 150 people

April 29, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Nora Roberts signs one of her books at the Washington Romance Writers Pre-retreat Mega-Signing at Turn The Page Bookstore in Boonsboro on Friday.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

If a prize was given for whoever came the farthest for Friday's Washington Romance Writers Pre-retreat Mega-Signing, Rabbi Arthur and Simi Zuckerman would have likely won — although their presence at the Turn The Page Bookstore in Boonsboro was more of a detour.

"We were in the area, but when my wife saw this, everything stopped," said the Portland, Ore., man, noting that they had been touring Civil War sites. "All of a sudden Boonsboro was on our list."

Chatting with first-time authors like Anita Clenney and more veteran scribes like Mindy Klasky, more than 150 people, the vast majority of them women, waited patiently to get the latest romance novels signed by more than a dozen authors.

At the end of the horseshoe of tables sat nationally known romance author Nora Roberts of Keedysville, posing with fans for photos and working on a case of writer's cramp signing autographs.

"The people that come to these signings are serious readers," said Janeen Solberg, the manager of Turn The Page, which is owned by Roberts' husband, Bruce Wilders.

Jodi Riggenbach was proof of that.

"I happened to click on the Internet and saw Nora Roberts was here," the Kent, Ohio, woman said. "Sherrilyn Kenyon is also excellent."

Sisters Lauren Gerelli and Sheryl Supernavage of New Jersey drove to the event.

"I call myself a Nora virgin," said Gerelli, who had just started reading the best-selling romance writer, but got three books signed.

"She actually was the reason I started reading," said Supernavage, who got eight or nine tomes signed by her favorite writer. The 19-year-old said reading Roberts as a child a decade ago opened the world of books to her.

Author Anita Clenney had a resume that included secretary, real estate agent, pickle factory worker and stay-at-home mom before she penned and had published "Awaken the Highland Warrior," which she described as a "time-travel romance."

Her second book comes out this fall and a third in 2012, she said.

"It's my first book, my first book signing and my first trip to Boonsboro," Clenney said.

"It's a great opportunity for a new author to get exposure," Solberg said.

Next to Clenney was Alex Rickloff, who was pitching her third book, a "Regency paranormal" titled "Earl of Darkness." Several of the authors said their works are set in the Regency Period, which preceded the Victorian Era in Great Britain.

"'Braveheart' meets 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,'" was how Michelle Willingham described her latest novel, "Claimed by the Highland Warrior."

For something slightly different, Mindy Klasky was offering "To Wish or Not to Wish" about an actress who finds a magic lamp and a musical production of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."

Down the row of novelists was Roxanne Rustand of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, author of "Murder at Granite Falls."

"I think I'm the only one here who writes inspirational romance,"  Rustand said. There are readers who want the romance and adventure with a "faith element" and without the overt sexuality, she said.

Rustand seemed to be getting along well with Sally MacKenzie, whose titles include "The Naked Viscount," "The Naked Marquis," "The Naked Earl," and so on.

What did she do before becoming an author?

"I wrote regulations for the federal government. Remember 'Ketch-up is a vegetable?' That was me," MacKenzie said, referring to a somewhat infamous regulation in the school lunch program during the Reagan administration.

The Washington Romance Writers Retreat is being held this weekend in Leesburg, Va.

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