Reader and Author Get Together (RAGT) is an annual conference put on by Lori Foster in
Cincinnati. It’s pretty popular because they limit the amount of entrees to 400 (or close to that) at only $50 a ticket! It’s a pretty good deal because the authors usually sponsor all the meals, you get a ton of books and swag in you bag, a $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, t-shirt and this year we got a pair of LuLaRoe’s as well. All you really have to have otherwise is transportation and money for you hotel room. Now that’s not to say you don’t want to bring money, but that’s a whole new subject I will get too soon.
There are lots of events like two different book signing times: one on Friday and one on Saturday for 2 hours each. Of course Barnes & Noble set up shop to allow you to buy books in case you didn’t bring yours or didn’t get one in your bag for a certain author. Now, I am not saying they have every author’s books at the event, but they have quite a few. The first day the big names were Lori Foster, Karen Marie Moning, and Jill Shalvis. I hit up Lori (with a 50 minute wait) and Jill (with a 25 minute wait). Now Jill’s line was long, I just happened to get in it at a good time. I swung around and visited a few new to me authors just so I could say hi.
The second day was the highly anticipated author signing with J. R. Ward. The line started forming right after lunch with signing not opening until 3 pm. I jumped in her line after an event was cancelled. Around 2:25 pm. I was pretty far back, but not as far as the line ended up going, as they started wrapping it down hallways. At around 3:10 pm J.R. Ward walked in with a group of people surrounding her. Not a big deals since Karen Marie Moning had a ton of assistants with her. Did I forget to mention the J.R. and Karen’s line were mixed together? There isn’t much exciting to tell about the line except it is true that J.R. Ward does have a security expert with her that blocked everyone from entering the bathroom when she did. They apparently didn’t clear it out first, but they were not letting anyone else in while she was in there. Can I just say that J.R. Ward is one of the liveliest authors I have ever met. She freely took pictures with all who asked in line. We had a super fan behind us in line and J.R. Ward broke out from behind the table and came over to her hugging her so excitedly. If you look closely at my picture you can see the security guard behind us watching 🙂
Let’s talk raffles! RAGT supports many good organizations. One is a animal rescue, which Lori Foster sells a benefit book for (no raffle for this one). The big one though is for One Way Farm. Authors, readers, sponsors, publishers, bloggers…you name it and they donate it with over 200 baskets and gifts. Tickets are 2 for $1 and people buy them in huge numbers. We put our name on them and put them in the little bags associated with each giveaway. There are so many that they have to hold three sessions to draw names. And if you think this is small, let me tell you it is not. They raised over $22,000 just in raffle money this year to help One Way Farm. It is such a worthy cause and they bring tears to my eyes with the stories they tell us. One child gets to write a letter and it will break you heart. While I wasn’t a winner with 300 tickets, I don’t look at it as bad, but as something I freely gave. I wish I had taken a picture to express just how big this really has become. Imagine a ballroom lined on the outside with tables and shelves. Completely covered. So covered they set up more tables in the hallway covered in even more.
Now to the fun stuff (if you didn’t think what I have already said was fun). Panels. I will say I have only experienced two RAGT, but this one wasn’t as well organized. The first day I went to 3 morning session – played Mad Libs and won twice, Cards Against Humanity (I suck at this game) and Telephone. It was going all good, then in the afternoon, events started getting cancelled with no one bothering to post a note. Okie Dokie. Then evening events got cancelled. I really was kinda bummed to stand in line only to not do much of anything.
The second day started off ok….once again I was playing Cards Against Humanity PG style this time and bored outta my mind. Sorry, it wasn’t even fun because we had a teenager in there thinking she was all that, sitting next to her mom. I can keep it PG, that wasn’t my problem. My problem was this teenager talking the entire time taking over the show and her mom just as bad. But ok, I moved on to Bingo, with romance places. Lost like crazy, but found some new authors I want to try out. Moving on…everything pretty much got cancelled after that and by the evening I was once again playing Bingo (normal style) with O69 making all the women breathless….or at least the announcer. Let’s just say I was ready to get out of there.
So I have give a few impressions after two years of panels. These are in small conference rooms that don’t hold a lot of people. Maybe 6-8 conference rooms packed with people sitting on the floor. Then rooms cancelling and more people piling into these room. This was the norm for both times I went. I wasn’t impressed this year with what they had us do. It was mostly games and they were all the same games, just different room.
Food – I can’t complain much because these authors go out of there way to pay for these meals and I know it can’t be cheap. Most of them to get their name in front of you. Kudos to all of them and I am very thankful for everything I got to eat, try and moan because I was too full. The first night we had pretzels and browners (which I hadn’t eaten supper). Friday morning was bacon, eggs and fried potatoes. This also happened to be the same breakfast for Saturday. Lunch Friday was a taco bar, then supper was fried chicken and ribs. Saturday lunch was make your own deli sandwich, while supper was Marco’s pizza. I don’t think my shorts will fit me this summer! And it was all included with my entry fee. Thank you very much for all who sponsored those meals.
Evening parties were a big thing. I guess romance readers like to cosplay. The first night was 80s themed with the pretzels and brownies finger foods. It was fun, but I didn’t dress up. I spyed and author we had on the blog last week cutting up the dance floor…can you guess who?
The second night was come dressed as your favorite Hollywood star. I didn’t stay long for this one as it really wasn’t my thing. Another DJ and dancing, so I headed back to my hotel a little early.
The last night was BINGO which I covered earlier.
So to wrap up, I had a great time. I connected with two women I met my first time going and made some new friends in others I met for the first time. I can’t say I made any author connections, but that’s ok. Can’t win them all. I spent time bored, and some time laughing so hard I cried. But most of all, I got to hang with like minded men and women who love books.