Writers on the River is one of those events where you leave exhausted but your heart is fulfilled. Even if you didn’t sell a single book, you know that you’ve helped make a difference in someone’s life, and that’s worth every dime it took to get there and participate in such an amazing convention. So I’ll start off by thanking the organizers for not only allowing me to attend that inaugural year but also allowing me to return again and again. It’s been an honor to be a part of something so meaningful. This year I was blessed with the means to attend and be a sponsor. Evey penny well spent.

Even well-planned events tend to have ups and downs, but I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this event or its organizers. The team of Jillian, Anya, Angie, and Melinda work hard to assure that everything is in place and everyone is taken care of. I can’t speak for the reader side of things, but they always treat us authors with the utmost care and we want for nothing. I have no doubt the readers are just as happy.

The volunteers were spectacular. No matter what was happening, there was always someone nearby in case we needed something. Drink? Need them to watch your table while you take a potty break? Need someone to assure you that you don’t have lipstick on your teeth or your shirt isn’t on backward? They were ready to assist. Thank you all for keeping us sane, hydrated, and saving our underwear.

I swear this year it seemed like there were twice as many raffle baskets. Some of the coolest stuff was being raffled off! There were spa kits, book sets, wine sets, a quilt with all the author’s names on it, blankets… more than I could take in. I buy tickets every year never expecting to win, but always happy that my money goes to a good cause. This year I actually won one of the baskets! It had all kinds of self-pampering goodies, some cookie cutters, oven mitts, a book set, and an Echo Dot with $10 Amazon Gift Card. Guess who has two thumbs and has been bugging the crap out of Alexa since she got home. (This girl.)

Speaking of a good cause… This year Thistle Farms had a table set up so we could see/purchase their products and talk to two of the ladies from the organization. One of them spoke during lunch and her story was remarkable. It was hard to hold back tears as she told how she ended up in dire circumstances, and how she was given a helping hand so she could start a new life. Now she works with Thistle Farms to help others who need that same opportunity. If you don’t know about this amazing organization, check out their website here: https://thistlefarms.org/

The after party was fun, as always. We have a great time dancing, eating more food than we probably should, and catching up with people we haven’t seen in a while. It’s also been a great way to make new friends! This year there was a taco bar, mashed potato bar, and a dessert bar. I’ve been on a diet and let me tell you, that was some serious temptation. I ate slowly and purposefully, enjoyed my food, and managed not to gain weight, despite eating completely off my plan. All that dancing afterward might have helped with that. My feet and back are still nagging me about that, but I can still squeeze my butt into my skinny jeans, so they can just shut it.

But most of all, I have to mention the readers. Where would we be without all of you? These efforts would all be a waste of time. You are ultimately the reason these events are so successful. You buy the tickets, spread the word,  show up with enthusiasm, purchase books and raffle tickets, and support all the work we put into our books and these events. Without you, we’d just be a bunch of crazy people, talking to ourselves all day with no one to share the conversations we are brave enough to put on paper. (You don’t want to see the ones we’re afraid to write down.)

So thank you to everyone involved in this event – coordinators, volunteers, authors, and readers. This has been another stellar year and I’m eagerly looking forward to 2019. I expect more amazing authors, more readers, bigger donations to the charity, and lots of embarrassing photos I’ll probably never live down.

(Many thanks to photographer Eric McKinney of 6:12 Photography for all the great photos he took during the event.)