Posted in Authors, Books, Monday Blog

Are Author Signings Worth Attending?

The Mystic Author Signing Event Hosted by Abby P. Cook and Lisa Ravenscroft at Foxwoods Casino

This weekend, I attended MASE (Mystic Author Signing Event) with four other authors with my publisher, Limitless Publishing, and about 50 other authors both self-published or signed with other publishers. The event was hosted by Abby P. Cook and Lisa Ravenscroft of Abby & Lisa’s Book Blog. These two ladies did an awesome job arranging the event that took place in the Grand Pequot Ballroom at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Left to right. Limitless authors Alison Mello, Marianne Rice, Jennifer Allis Provost, and Debbie De Louise
Limitless Publishing authors left to right: Jennifer Allis Provost; Alison Mello; Marianne Rice; Apryl Baker, and Debbie De Louise

This was my first signing with other authors and the first event to which I had to travel. I drove up with my husband who assisted me at the table I shared with Jennifer Allis Provost. Seated next to us were fellow authors, Marianne Rice and Alison Mello. Apryl Baker, NYTimes Bestselling author also with Limitless Publishing, attended the event and signed a copy of “The Ghost Files” for me.

It took us 4-hours with a stop to drive from our home on Long Island, New York to Mashantucket, Connecticut where we were booked at the Two Trees Inn at the group discount for the event.

Me at my MASE Table.

Although the weather driving in was overcast with some drizzle, the day of the signing was sunny and warm. That might explain why attendance at the event wasn’t as high as expected. However, it was great seeing the eager readers who passed our tables and asked us to sign their tote bags or homemade autograph books. It was also wonderful to meet fellow authors, some of whom we’d only communicated with online and others whom we’d never heard of before. Following the signing, the authors gathered for a delicious buffet turkey dinner and got to know one another better.

There was also some time for entertainment, as those traveling to the signing and staying over, as we had, were able to participate in some casino gaming, visit the Pequot Indian museum, Pick up souvenirs or gifts at the Tanger Outlets or other Foxwood shops, and dine at the many fine or casual restaurants.

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Kitty Slot Machine that Meows
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My husband, Anthony, wearing his new hat from Native Nations

Since my husband and I are not gamblers but we still wanted to try our hand at casino betting, we opted to play the slots. We set limits and didn’t exceed them, but the machines seemed to be against us the first night. I also left my phone in the casino. Luckily, it was recovered by Security. My luck improved Saturday night when I found a cute cat slot machine that even meowed when I won. I was excited to cash out my big win of $20, but I spent much more in the gift shops. In the Native Nations shop, I purchased some special Totem stones, t-shirts, and Indian herbal tea for my daughter as well as an Indian doll for my daughter’s friend whose family she stayed with while we were away. My husband found a hat at the same shop. Another store sold adorable Pusheen items, and I couldn’t resist the cat slippers with a tail and the mug that I used to store raffle tickets from my giveaway at the author signing.

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Rainmaker Square

We also enjoyed our stay at Two Trees. The inn had a nice restaurant where we dined for breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday morning. The grounds are lovely with a gazebo, deck chairs, stone bunnies, and babbling waterfalls. Throughout Foxwoods, there are also beautiful statues. I particularly enjoyed the Rainmaker area as well as the Theater section of old-fashioned storefronts. I took a break from my dieting for a special treat at the Cake by Franck store where I ordered a strawberry custard pastry.

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Strawberry Custard Pastry from Cake by Franck. I hope my Jenny Craig Counselor doesn’t see this.

Regrettably, there wasn’t enough time to visit the Pequot Museum, and there weren’t any shows that weekend of interest to us. All in all, it was still a worthwhile experience. While I didn’t sell all the books I came with or break any jackpots in the casino, I met a lot of people, both authors and readers. I hope to attend many more signings in the future.



Posted in Monday Blog

Have You Ever Participated in a Sakura Matsuri Festival?

2016-04-30 09.10.00My daughter and husband both share an interest in Japanese anime. When I saw a Japanese festival advertised a few weeks ago that was taking place at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I thought it might interest them. Although I am not a fan of anime, the event known as Sakura Matsuri is also known for its spring celebration featuring the blooming of cherry trees. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has hosted it for 35 years.

2016-04-30 10.07.56This was the first time my family and I attended Sakura Matsuri or even visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Because we were warned on the garden’s website that the event becomes very crowded, we started our day early and arrived there before the gates opened. Since we’d also purchased our tickets online, we were able to use an express entrance, but the event didn’t start until 10, so we still ended up waiting.

2016-04-30 10.19.492016-04-30 10.27.33Checking the program that was online and also listed in the brochure distributed at the festival, most of the shows my daughter wanted to attend, which  included cosplay discussions, were taking place on the Osborne Garden’s J-Lounge Stage later in the morning. Since we had some time, we checked out some other areas of the gardens including the lovely Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden before heading to the main attraction — the cherry esplanade lined with cherry trees where visitors took photos among the beautiful pink blossoms. We also strolled down the lilac walk where the flowers’ heavenly perfume scent surrounded us.

sakuramatsuripockyWe stopped for an early lunch at the Visitor Center where my husband ordered a Bento box of chicken teriyaki and my daughter just opted for a hamburger. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but also tried the delicious pocky chocolate sticks with my daughter and got hooked on them.

2016-04-30 12.00.10In the Osborne Garden, the azaleas were also in full bloom. As we walked, we saw performers as well as visitors in costumes that ranged from Japanese geisha girls to anime characters my daughter enjoyed naming.

sakuramutsuricatsakuramatsuricatsCircling the Osborne Garden were vendors selling Japanese items and souvenirs. As a lover of all things cat, the table displaying kitties with solar-powered wagging tales was a big drawer to me. Although the Yura-Yura cats were costly, I couldn’t leave without choosing one. I also purchased a Tenugui, a Japanese cotton towel, that has many purposes including hanging for decoration. There were an assortment of choices featuring the vibrant art, and I was able to find one with ninja cats, cherry blossoms, and a pagoda to remind me of my time at the  Sakura Matsuri festival. My daughter, also a big souvenir shopper, found a hat headband that appealed to her that was also more than we’d planned to spend.

2016-04-30 13.16.53After watching a few shows including a funny Japanese comic named Rio Koike, the festival was getting very crowded, so we decided to leave. On our way out the gates, my daughter commented that she’d had a great day because it featured her two loves — nature and anime.

If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or to a Sakura Matsuri festival, I would recommend both. We had a beautiful spring day and, although we missed some of the other attractions — the bonsai and doll museums as well as the tea ceremonies and other demonstrations and exhibits, we look forward to visiting another time.