Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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Fans get face-to-face with romance writers

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    Sylvania-based author Sara Portman and her daughter Claire, 12, greet potential customers Saturday at the Glass City Author Event at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo. Co-host Kim Beal said about 450 tickets were sold or given away for the day. About 90 authors, several of them local, were present to meet fans.

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    A series by the author Pittsburgh-based author Cindy McDonald is on display for purchase at the Glass City Author Event.

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    Sabrina Samples, center, Kate Allanson, center right, and Kayla Ries, right, drove over from Cleveland together to attend the Glass City Author Event.

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    Author PJ Fail, center, greets fans at the Glass City Author Event Saturday at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo.

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    Author Chelle Craze keeps an eye on her daughter Harmony, 2, as she mans her booth at the Glass City Author Event Saturday at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo.

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    Robin White of Delaware, left, and Keri Sugerik of Avon Lake, center, talk with author Constance Phillips of Perrysburg, right, at the Glass City Author Event Saturday at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo.

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Fans of contemporary romance novels, erotic fantasy, and everything in between got the chance Saturday to meet their favorite writers.

Mingling in the main hall of the Seagate Convention Centre were hundreds of people — mostly women — who came from the Toledo area and out-of-state to get autographs of authors, pick up bookmarks, keychains, and other swag during the Glass City Author Event.

The autograph session gave devotees of romance paperback and digital publications the opportunity to talk face-to-face, getting updates on the writers’ upcoming releases and pick up free downloads for books.

Sara Portman of Sylvania was among the nearly 90 authors attending the one-day fan-fest event. She will have her third book for a historical romance series based in England published next month.

"You will find a good mix of writers here," she said. "Historical romance readership is huge. Romance novles in total is over a billion dollar industry."

Ms. Portman, who holds an accounting degree from the University of Toledo, said her writing style falls on the less steamy side of romance novels. However, she said she doesn't allow her 13-year-old daughter to read her work.

"It is on the less graphic side but they do have love scenes in them," she said.

The author's books are set in Regency, London — a community where she studied while attending college. She said she read a lot of historical romances before she embarked on her writing career.

"I have always written. After college I wrote recreationally on the side as a hobby," she said. "I then started writing and got involved in the Romance Writers of America."

In 2015, she received the organization's Golden Heart award given to unpublished writers for the unpublished manuscript of "The Reunion", which was published on Sept. 26. Her second book in the series "The Brides of Beadwell" was released last week.

Averie Perkins drove from Baltimore with her sister and mother for the authors convention. She said she reads everything from erotic romance to paranormal either in paperback or e-book. She said she typically consumes about 20 to 25 books monthly.

"I am an A-to-Z reader," she said. "If something catches my attention I will purchase it or write it down. Before the day is over I will probably walk away with some books."

Catherine Jeanette Baty, the author of romance mystery and suspense with gay characters, said she embarked on her professional career after her Twilight fanfiction caught the attention of a publisher.

"I just wrote for fun. They came to me and as a result I had my first book in the Warfield Hotel Series published," said Ms. Baty,  a 61-year-old mother of two from West Carrolton, Ohio near Dayton

“I am a middle-aged, old white woman writing about gay romance,” she said. “To be honest I find it very romantic. This is what I read. I have several favorite authors. When I started writing I said, ‘I can do this.’ I think there is something special about two strong male characters coming together and forming a loving unit.”

Contact Mark Reiter at markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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