Local and nationwide writers, readers connect at 2019 Author Invasion

Photos by Shawn Nowlin
Authors Julie Trettel and Char Webster holding a copy of each other’s book.

The opportunity for authors and readers to connect came together on April 6 at the Tanglewood Holiday Inn for the 2019 Author Invasion.

The concept of the annual event is simple: It’s a chance to meet a variety of authors up close and personal as well as give an opportunity for people to network and share ideas.

“These readers come and spend quality time with the authors. Some stay all day just to get in that face time and learn more about our industry, and they’re buying stacks of books, rather than just coming in for one and leaving,” Director of the Roanoke Author Invasion (RAI) Liz Long said. “Preparation for RAI begins almost as soon as the previous one is over, from scheduling dates and our vendors to opening up tables and working on the website for author pages.”

More than 75 authors from all over the country participated in last Saturday’s event. April Woodard, who was born in Salem, has written and published two books as part of The Aeon Chronicles Series.

Nicole Strycharz signing some merchandise for a fan.

“I was thankful I had my elevator pitch ready. I suggest that if an author plans to do an event like this, that they have one because you don’t want to stumble over words. Make it sweet and simple. Grab them with a hook,” Woodard said. “I didn’t expect the event to be so full of readers! It was absolutely wonderful to see so many smiling faces.”

Tina Glasneck expected her first Author Invasion experience to be memorable. What she didn’t expect was the atmosphere to be akin to that of a family reunion.

“I was overwhelmingly surprised at just the sheer amount of joy the readers had in having access to authors and being surrounded by books,” said Glasneck who has authored or co-authored 28 books to date. “The gift of writing is a superpower. Stories can change minds and hearts. Through words, writers give hope to the hopeless and allow readers to experience a myriad of emotions.”

Of the 16 books that Nicole Strycharz has published to date, she considers “The Divorce” and “Yule: A Solstice Tale” her two favorites. Why? “Because ‘A Solstice Tale’ was originally written for my mother as a Christmas gift. She pushed me to publish it and to stretch it into a series. Knowing how proud she is of that book makes my heart explode with love for it,” Strycharz said before adding, “I wrote ‘The Divorce’ while in between projects. It was just an idea that wouldn’t go away, and when I published it, I really did not foresee that it would gain any attention at all.”

L.B. Carter prepared for the 2019 Author Invasion by talking to other authors who had experience with the event. “I was a little intimidated when I first arrived by how many great authors I was surrounded by, but every single one of them welcomed me, gave me tips and ensured I felt confident and comfortable,” Carter said.

Author R.S. Broadhead signing a copy of her book.

One thing that good authors have in common, according to Carrie Thomas, is no ego. “I’m constantly learning from other writers. No one knows it all, and we all understand the struggle and work that goes into writing and publishing a book,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, as long as you know where you’re going. You simply can’t do it alone.”

Questions attendees asked Tia Bach ranged from curiosity (Where do you get your ideas from?) to fandom (Would you mind signing this for me?). “This event never ceases to surprise me, both because of the people who return each year and because of the constant new faces,” she said.

Said Liz Long on advice she would give individuals interested in becoming an author, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. No one simply wakes up one day and decides to get rich off writing books. But if you get the words down, do the work and connect with other great writers in your industry, it’s absolutely possible to get your dream off the ground, even if it takes several years. It’s all about dedication, patience and perseverance.”

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