Recap 1: TTP 19 weekend

I’m not sure anyone — Nora, the staff at Turn the Page, the readers who came out, me — was prepared for TTP’s 19th Anniversary signing.  There were some positive signs it would be a success: A stellar line up of authors including Stephanie Evanovich, Christine Trent, Maya Banks, Linda Lael Miller, Shiloh Walker and Jennifer Armentrout.  The weather was cooler than normal.   The summer event is perfect is part of vacation planning.

So we all thought it would a long afternoon, but the reality was astounding.

Nora and I drove into town around 10:45 (the usual arrival time).  Early enough so Nora could sign pre-sold books and meet the other authors.  Sometimes it’s early enough that we can pop into Gifts Inn BoonsBoro to see what’s new.

Not this signing.

At 10:45, the line of people was still around the corner from the store.

TTP line up
The line to get into Turn the Page.

When we came into the back of the store, Maya was already hard at work signing books. Nora put down her bag and we dove in: I handed her books, she signed then I re-bundled them. We worked fast to make some room on the counter for the other authors. Peeking out from the shipping room you could see the line wound around the annex as customers waited to pay.

The system worked out over the last 19 years for line management is pretty simple: each ticket has a letter and a number.  Each letter of the alphabet represents a group and there are 25 tickets in each group.  For example, the first group in for the signing is A1-25. Doing it this way means people don’t have to stand on line all day (though there was substantially more standing time this signing) and the staff can give customers a fairly good idea of when their group will be called.  The staff gives out tickets from the time the store opens until 2 pm.  Customers usually shop then pay then go off to see other stores or get lunch while they wait.

Word was tickets to the letter K were given out before noon, so we knew we’d see 300 people.

The big concern of the day was Nora’s right wrist.  Typing daily for 35 years will bring on some repetitive motion weaknesses, but then you add in the sheer number of books Nora’s signed for Turn The Page subscribers, customers and signings since last fall (a number that’s pretty much tripled in a year) and her wrist gave out a week before the signing.   Kat, Nora’s amazing daughter-in-law, showed her how to wrap it securely so she did that Saturday morning.  Then Nora added a gorgeous wrist cuff to downplay the wrap but she was worried about it holding up. Just before the signing started,

Jason and I consulted and he fashioned an ice pack that lay on the table, giving Nora a place to rest her wrist during breaks.

A view of the line.
A view of the line inside the store.

The signing started at just about noon.  The first group always includes Inn BoonsBoro guests who receive A tickets as part of their stay. Some stayed on Friday night, some would stay on Saturday night, but all were very happy.  Excellent reports of wonderful breakfasts and leisurely wine and cheese the night before.  Excited explanations of where guests stayed. Not too many reports of ghosts.

The afternoon featured a fun mix of the familiar faces of our regular signing pals and enthusiastic newbies.  We fell into our regular routine:  Jason takes the books, hands them to Nora who signs them while I take photos with cameras or phones and make conversation.

Word filtered up that the letters had gone through M, then through P (a previous record) then through R (unknown territory).  They had to make new tickets!  Finally we learned the letters went to 2 in the T group.

That’s over 490 people. Passing through a tiny bookstore.  All. Afterngalaxy 271oon. Long.

We had two breaks so the authors could stand up and get some feeling in their legs. I couldn’t sit down because I’d never get back up.   Jason had to make a second ice bag for Nora’s wrist.

We had some small dollops of champagne after 4 pm to help everyone get through.

And get through we did.  Six and a half hours of meeting, greeting, writing, snapping.  Nora’s been at this for three decades and it was the longest signing she could ever remember.

What helped more than anything was the constant flow of smiling, patient readers who waited alone or in groups.  (Believe me, the solo readers had new pals by the time they were done.)  Their energy was unflagging and brought us all along for the ride. galaxy 278

I didn’t get a chance for a group photo of all the authors when we were done because by 6:30 pm everyone — staff included — needed to get to a place to relax.  But Nora did pose for this great shot with the fabulous Maya Banks.


Oh, did I mentiongalaxy 284 that the day of the signing was also my birthday?  I’m not exactly sure I’d ever envisioned spending a birthday with 492 Nora Roberts readers, but it was a splendid day in many ways. After the signing was finished, Nora and Bruce had arranged for some birthday cake for me — shaped like a bottle of Patron tequila. The limes were marshmallows.  The cork was rice krispies and the cake inside was yellow with butter cream frosting.  And the cake was from Kristi’s Bakery, next door to the Inn.

Sunday morning was the second Fall into a Story Brunch with Nora, this year held at Vesta. After the long haul on Saturday, it was so nice to have a chance to sit down and chat.   Nearly 60 people attended and about two thirds of the attendees had not come to the signing because they knew they’d get the chance to speak to Nora at the brunch.  Jeannie King ran two raffles — one to sit with Nora, the other for the chance to win one of five gift baskets.

In between courses, Nora and I stopped at every table to chat, take photos and for Nora to sign a few books.  Then after the meal was done and the baskets won, I browbeat everyone into sitting down while I took a panoramic photo from the kitchen area. And that, my friends, was TTP weekend.  Up next, RWA.  In several parts.

galaxy 291
The brunch goers.

17 thoughts on “Recap 1: TTP 19 weekend”

  1. Wow, what an exciting, exhausting weekend you all had. I really want to come see the bookstore, inn and resteraunts, the whole lovely town really. And would love go to a signing, but I know I would have fled the crowds long before my turn came up. It’s so wonderful what you all do. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Just reading that made me tired! Has Nora explored voice-recognition software, that would do the typing for her? Your birthday cake looked delicious!

  3. How perfect it would be to stay at the Inn for Friday and Saturday nights and attend both events next year for the 20th…. I can dream, can’t I? 🙂

  4. Although the lines were long and the store was very crowded and hot,, a sisterhood was formed. I am a Facebook friend with astranger I was next to in line. We had lunch at Vespa’s.
    We were all united in our admiration of Nora. We were happy to orbit her sun. I’m just glad that none of my daughters or daughters-in law were there to complain and make me leave. I loved it!

  5. It is on my “bucket list” to get to Boonsboro for a signing. Laura, your report certainly proves that Nora is a wonderfully gracious and real person, that she would to sit all those hours, with an icepack on her wrist, just so she could sign all those books for her fans. I do hope to meet her in person some day!!

  6. Congrats on the signing. Does Nora ever come to Canada. Have been reading her books longer than either of us would like to admit. The J.D.Robb are my favorite.

  7. Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy Biiiiiirthday dear Laura, happy birthday to you! Darling cake, busy day, next year when you are old enough to drink you will get a real bottle of Petron to drink. LOL

    Thanks for sharing the day. Hope Nora’s wrist has healed and everyone made it home safely.

  8. I was in Q group. All of the authors were so wonderful and gracious even though they had to be exhausted. I had a great time. Thank you all at TTP for a wonderful day (along with Kristi’s and Vesta).

  9. Happy Birthday Laura! What a way to spend it! Visiting the Inn, staying in the Eve and Roarke suite and going to the bookstore are all on my wish list. Thank you for keeping us updated on the wonderful things you guys do!!!

  10. The word “epic” comes to mind after reading this! Wow! What a weekend! I’m very glad to know Nora’s wrist came through for her.

  11. I’m glad you had such a tremendous turnout. I was lucky I guess to get into group G. Kudos to all the authors for hanging in there for such a long day.

    It was my first time going to a book signing at the store and I thought it was great. I dragged my husband to Boonsboro for our anniversary just to meet Nora Roberts and the other wonderful authors. It was a very long distance to travel (we are from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) but it was well worth it. I didn’t know what to expect but, while we were standing in line, we met two lovely ladies from the area who have attended many times over the years and they were nice enough to show us the ropes 🙂 I think the staff at the store did a great job and were very friendly. I had called ahead to reserve my books so when I got there I just had to pick the bundle up and pay. So thanks for that! Laura, you did a great job. Your conversation while waiting for Ms Roberts to sign all my books made me feel a lot less nervous. So thanks all round again for making my anniversary and vacation special.

    I am looking forward to going back again sometime. Lori Foster is one of my favourite authors, so maybe September if I can convince my husband to drive down again lol.

  12. My mother was in MD visiting my sister and extended her stay so she could make the book signing. Thank you for making it such a special day for her!

  13. Thanks for your perspective Laura. I would like to give the perspective of a regular. IT WAS NUTS! I just couldn’t wrap my head around so many people. The line to purchase books was wrapped all the way around back to the front door. At times it was gridlock. All that being said, I LOVED IT! The staff and authors were great. Everyone was patient and friendly. It is still an amazing time that every fan should try at least once. I am fortunate enough to come on regular basis and have met some wonderful authors over the years. The staff has gotten the process down to a science. From Jim at the door to the staffer regulating the signing line. As always, you did a great job making everyone feel special when they meet Nora and keeping the line moving, as some of us, slow it down a bit 🙂 I felt bad for Nora with her wrist issue. I know she struggles with that from time to time. I like the suggestion of her trying the voice recognition software occassionally. It might feel weird to her at first, but it would give her wrist a break every now and then.

    It may have been an exhausting birthday, but I would guess it was a memorable one. Hope you were able to enjoy it. I’m sure you slept good that night. Happy Birthday and see you in September!

  14. Thanks so much for the recap and pictures. TTP signing weekends are when I miss the old ADWOFF board the most.

    I’ve stayed at the Inn but not had the chance to attend a Nora signing yet. One of these days…

  15. A stay at the Inn, a signing and a visit to Vesta and Dan’s restaurant and being a tourist visiting surrounding areas has been on my bucket list for two years now. Since finishing my cancer treatments, I’ve been trying to get there but just haven’t be able to manage it yet as problems with aftereffects and other life issues crop up. But I WILL!! Thanks for the recap. So many people and it sounds like it was chaos but fun. All the authors at this signing are my favorites and I read all their books and so would have liked to meet them! Oh well….there are always fabulous authors at Nora’s signings, as well as the privilege of meeting Nora, to look forward to and I will stay in one of those fabulous rooms at the Inn one of these days for sure!!! Thanks for sharing!

  16. It was a great time and i was in group s right before the two t’s. Brunch was great. Next year i want to stay at the inn in the Eve and Roarke room. Just one question does Roarke come with the room

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