Local and national writers/readers connect at 2019 “Author Invasion”

Authors Remy Jones (l) with April Woodard.

by Shawn Nowlin

A prime opportunity was presented for authors and readers to connect when the 2019 Author Invasion was held Saturday, April 6 at Holiday Inn Tanglewood. The concept of the annual event is simple: It provides the opportunity for a variety of authors to meet up close and personal, to network and share ideas.

“These readers come and spend quality time with the authors.” says Roanoke Author Invasion (RAI) Direcror Liz Long. “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,”

“Preparation for RAI begins almost as soon as the previous one is over, from scheduling dates and vendors to opening tables and working on the website for author pages.”

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

“I was thankful I had my elevator pitch ready, she said. 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, 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.”

Authors SF Benson (l) with Char Webster.

L.B. Carter prepared for the 2019 Author Invasion by talking to other authors who already 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.

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 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,” Carrie added; both because of the people who return each year and because of the constant new faces!”

Liz Long’s advice she would give individuals interested in becoming an author, after having been asked was: “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.”