Reader's Favorite Awards
If you’ve been paying attention to the Mess over the past couple of weeks - and shame on you if you haven’t - then you know a couple of weeks ago the girls and I ventured to the chaotic city of Miami to celebrate with author Taylor Fulks as she accepted her Reader’s Favorite Gold Award. Reader’s Favorite is “the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the internet,” and now thanks to Taylor, I now know about them. To be honest I didn’t before, but that’s because I haven’t done my homework as I should.
Reader’s Favorite was founded by Debra Gaynor, who at one time was a librarian for the public school system as well as universities. She was also a reading coach for young children. Her love for books led her to open her own reviewing company in 2002 which went full time in 2005 and eventually became Reader’s Favorite. As she discovered while coaching children to read, “A good book not only educated children, but made them want to pick up another. This applies to adults as well. The more good books we read, the more good books we want to read.” After attending my first Reader’s Favorite ceremony, I’m glad Debra went for her dream.
For Taylor, the event started Thursday night, but the girls and I along with author, Margie Miklas, didn’t arrive until Friday. After getting to know each other at bayside Marketplace, we attended the writer’s meet and greet at the Residence Hotel lobby. The authors who had won an award had their books displayed as well cards and flyers. A harpist was in the corner playing music to entertain and the lobby was already done up in its Christmas finery. Everyone mingled and shared their writing stories as well as their business cards. I wasn’t part of the ceremony, merely a guest of one of the winners, but I carried my cards as well and yes, I did pass them out. So did the girls. And we met some fantastic people. I even met some people who I’ve interacted with on social media and had never met in person before such as Charity Parkerson and Darlene Quinn. I didn’t even realize Darlene and I interacted with each other until I returned home and started looking some of these people up.
It’s always amusing watching a group of people interact, especially when most have never seen each other before. There were your shy wallflowers and your overly flamboyant, look-at-me types. Mostly, however, there was your middle of the road personalities who just wanted to have a good time and bask in their success. I couldn’t blame them. These people deserved the recognition.
We also met some new friends, such as Deepok Menon from India, Kandy K. Scaramuzzo from Texas, and Irina Argo. Teri had picked up a flyer of Twirling Naked in the streets and No One Noticed by Jeannie Davide-Rivera. She was so touched by how it was written that she just wanted to meet the author. We had that chance a little later and Teri was extremely excited. “I just want to hug you. Can I hug you?” And she hugged her. Jeannie and I talked a few days later and while she didn’t remember me right off, she did remember the hugger.
After mingling some more and meeting writers from all over the world, we were ushered into a small room where four guests were going to be able to share some of their expertise with everyone. We stayed for the first, but not having had dinner and my watch saying it was 9:30, we skipped the rest and headed for dinner. No offense to the other writer’s intended, but my stomach would have drowned out the speakers.
The next night was the big night. It was the ceremony for the authors to be able to receive their recognition and just awards. Everyone was dressed up in their best outfits as we waited to go inside. They were not going to open the doors any sooner than the five o’clock we were told to be there. It gave everyone a chance to mingle some more.
Once inside everyone had name badges to put on and there were stacks of bumper stickers for the authors to take that announced them as an award winner. The seats were lined up all over the banquet room with a stage and an area designated for pictures. There was a cash bar and later there would be a buffet. It looked like they had gone all out.
I watched as a tall, thin, black man walked around and although I didn’t see him at the meet and greet, he looked familiar to me. It was one of those things where out of context you fail to recognize someone you have seen repeatedly. As it turned out, the context I was used to seeing him in was on the television. Eriq La Salle, an author in his own right, was there to share as well, and it was exciting to hear the things he has going on. We even met another online friend, Jeanette Vaughan. There were other speakers besides Mr. La Salle, the same ones from the night before, and then the awards were passed out.
At this point it reminded me quite a bit of a high school graduation. People lined up according to sections and handed their name badges to the MC who then read it off to the best of his ability. We clapped and cheered. Cow bells and horns were not brought in so in that aspect it lost the high school graduation feel. However, to my dismay and annoyance, once some people received their award, they began mingling again and soon drowned out the announcer. It was as if they received their award and didn’t care about anyone else. It was rude and showed a definite lack of class. I was disappointed, can you tell?
Once the ceremony was over, about an hour and a half, everyone was congratulated and then the buffet was opened up. It was finger foods, some I even recognized. We bought some water, filled a small plate and sat and ate as we mingled some more. Still, finger foods only last so long so after about another thirty minutes of sharing stories, the girls and I said our goodbyes and escaped for a Fuddrucker’s. I needed a hamburger.
Overall, it was a great event and we were glad we went. We’ll be there next year as well; hopefully, as one of the invited winners.
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