Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Big Book Club Getaway at Mohegan Sun

The first annual Big Book Club Getaway was held this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Conference Center in Connecticut.
Source: Big Book Club Getaway

This is a must event for book lovers!

Whether you are a book worm, aspiring author, or a book club member, if you are an admirer of the written word, this book extravaganza is for you!

I was honored beyond belief to be a part of the pilot conference, and I can only say that if this first conference is indicative of the ones that I hope will follow, it will soon be a premiere event for publishers, writers, and readers, near and far!

Love history? Cookbooks? Magazines? Fiction? Non-fiction? The humanities? There was something for everyone at the Big Book Club Getaway!

Susan McCann of Essex and Colleen LaFrancois of Old Saybrook, organizers of the event, also brought a charity close to my heart on board, as a portion of the Big Book Club Getaway's profits will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

Kristen Cusato, Southwest Director of the CT Alzheimer's Association, emceed the event.
In addition, one of Friday night's featured speakers, included Dr. Gary Small, author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program.

L-R Top to bottom
Gift bags from the Alzheimer's Association, Colleen and Susan
Kristen Cusato, Dr.Gary Small 
Also included in Friday night's lineup, was Chicken Soup for the Soul's publisher, Amy Newmark, who was introduced by one of my favorite independent book store owner's, Roxanne Coady, of Madison's R.J. Julia's Bookstore.

Roxanne Coady
Amy explained the submission and publishing process for Chicken Soup for the Soul.  Did you know that authors retain the copyright to their work? And that no matter how many words or pages your manuscript contains, Amy promises you can 'cut and paste' it into the tiny little submission box!
Amy Newmark was also honored Friday evening with an official Connecticut State Proclamation!
Some of Saturday's highlights included

  • UCONN professor, humorist, and author, Gina Barreca
  • a panel discussion with prominent sex therapists on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
  • and Brad Meltzer, host of The History Channel's show Decoded
L, Gina Barreca, Top R Fifty Shades of Grey Panel, Bottom R Brad Meltzer
Brad Meltzer's talk was truly heart-warming, and included a portion on living your life to its fullest. To loosely paraphrase, "You don't write your obituary, others do that for you.  Instead you must go out and live the life you were meant to live"

And Gina Barreca. Oh. My. Goodness. RUN. Don't walk! RUN! And buy her book It's Not That I'm Bitter. This woman is hysterical! I was laughing so hard I was crying...and so was my husband!

We also attended a panel discussion on books about Connecticut sponsored by The History Press, who feature regional history books written by local authors.

Below, authors Wilson Faude, Wick Griswald, and Eric Lehman share a laugh.
Wilson reminds everyone that history should be fun!

Wick Griswald's A History of The Connecticut River

Another great panel discussion was the Sportswriter's Panel.  This was a wonderful group of 'baseball guys' that gave a glimpse of the "behind the scenes" stories of America's favorite game.  Phrases like "pus-ball hitter" and "he was out on a bang-bang play at home" brought smiles of nostalgia to everyone.
Roger LaFrancois, Mark DeJohn, Todd Civen, Dr. Jeff Brown, Marty Appel, Rick Wolfe
Sports Writers Panel

The Mystery and Suspense Writer's Panel was also a wonderful highlight and it was a thrill to see up close and personal some of my favorite writers!

L-R, Tess Gerritsen, Hallie Ephron, J.A. Jance, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.

I took so many notes from these great women...and I could kick myself because I lost my notebook full of the best quotes and quips.  These ladies are not only great suspense writers, but they also have an amazing sense of humor!  I was pleased to learn that these women all whetted their appetite for the mystery novel, on my beloved Nancy Drew detective series.

Have a place to visit on your bucket list?  Well, Patricia Schulz did! In fact she had a thousand of them that she details in her book 1000 Places to Visit Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List.

Last, but most definitely not least, was the closing author, talk show host and television icon, Leeza Gibbons.

Leeza's book Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings is for anyone who "wants a do-over or needs to re-boot their life" and her inspiring story of starting over at any age is a must read!
Photo Source: Wendy @
L-R Me, Leeza Gibbons, Wendy from CT Bloggers

All in all it was a great weekend, and this will definitely be an annual attend for us!

Note:  I received tickets to this event as a prize offered by one of the sponsoring publishers, however, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

PSST: If you are at Mohegan Sun and find my notebook please return it to me! It has Warner Pacific College on the cover. I think I left it on the fabulous Ms. Gibbons' table! **UPDATE** My notebook has been found! Read all about it HERE !


  1. Great post! Thanks for the shout-out and for covering all aspects of what looked to be an amazing event. Cheers, The History Press

    1. What a great time we had! I will definitely be in attendance next year.

  2. Great picture of you and Wendy with Leeza! how fun that you guys got to go! I love Chicken Soup for the Soul! :)

    1. Hilary, it was wonderful, and we learned so much about the Chicken Soup publishing process...and they are CT based in Cos Cob!
      Leeza was so gracious and charming...and beautiful!

  3. It sounds like a great time! I'll have to check out Gina Barreca's book, it sounds hilarious. Wonderful pictures and so glad you got your notebook back. I'll have to try to attend next year!

    1. Gina Barreca was HYSTERICAL! My husband thought she was a stand up comedian, I had to explain, "no honey, she is a college professor!"
      Sure makes you want to go back to school - if it can be that fun!

  4. SO happy you got your notebook! Great wrap-up! So jealous of you and Wendy with that Leeza picture. Looks like you had a fabulous time. Hope I can make it next year.

    1. You wouldn't believe how much info I have in that notebook, of course, due to my 'serial-killer' handwriting, no one would be able to decipher it, but me! (chuckle)
      Leeza was wonderful, and as soon as we introduced ourselves as bloggers - she said "oh I've been retweeting your tweets all day!" AMAZING lady, and her book, Take 2 is a wonderful read for anyone who needs the push to "start over".

  5. I love the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and would have loved to meet Brad Meltzer and Leeza Gibbons. This must have been quite the show. I'll have to be on the lookout for it next year.

    1. It WAS quite the event! I'm looking forward to attending next year and will definitely give everyone plenty of notice that it's coming!

  6. I want to go next year too! Alzheimer's hits close to my heart as well- my mom's mom died from it 8 years ago and my dad's living with it now.

    On a happier note, I can't stop giggling at Brad Metzler's expression under the 50 shades of grey image. I know it's simply the placement but it's awesome.

    Gina Barreca IS funny. I didn't realize she had a new book but I'll be picking it up!!

    1. Oh my! Not intentional, I assure you! But he does look a little 'shell-shocked' eh-hem!
      And Gina is my new idol!

  7. Sounds like an excellent event. I would love to attend one. There is no way I'm going to make it to Connecticut though.

    1. Elle, never say never! (chuckle) I also read that the event organizers hope to eventually hold these "Book Club Getaways" in other regions.

      Hopefully one will come to your area in the next few years! Wouldn't that be great!

  8. Great write up. I am a book lover and was interested in going (but timing didn't work out.) After reading your write up, I can see it is a MUST! Thanks so much for sharing and I hope to see you there next year!

    1. Nicole, if you're a book lover then this is the event for you!

  9. Oh I love Leeza Gibbons. She's a lovely blonde over 45! Looks like the whole event was interesting.

    1. Shelley, it was wonderful! Leeza was charming and yes, lovely. What a great time!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. This was such a lovely event. I am glad we were able to go during the first year and also meet Leeza Gibbons. I haven't had a chance to write about the event but I do plan on writing about some of the local Connecticut authors and books we saw.

    1. This was such fun and I have to thank you Wendy for letting me know about this conference! Looking forward to your review of the event. Oh I must also thank you for letting me use your picture of you and me with Leeza! The one my husband took is of the light fixtures!


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