Friday, September 27, 2013

The Big Book Club

Hank and Hallie in front of Michael Jordan's poster
LUCY BURDETTE: Last fall, I received an email from Colleen Doyle LaFrancois inviting me to participate in a BIG BOOK CLUB event at the Mohegan Sun Casino here in Connecticut. I LOVE book club events. And the Mohegan Sun is a blast. But February…when I was in Key West...not going to happen. I was so disappointed! But now the Big Book Club event part two is scheduled for October 27 in Old Saybrook and they have plans for an even bigger event in February 2014.

As it turns out, both Hallie and Hank attended the Mohegan Sun event and had a wonderful time. And Colleen is here today to tell us what's on tap for the event at THE KATE (which by the way, is the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, a totally gorgeous facility).

: Thanks for asking, Lucy ... and better yet, thanks for participating!  We are really excited about our first ever event at The Kate, which provides a beautiful and very intimate setting for this fun program.  Doors will open at 10:00 a.m. and YOU will be first up at 10:30 to discuss The Key West Food Critic Mystery Series.  Can't wait to hear how Hayley Snow came to life as your heroine. 

Then, at 11:15 we will hear from Suzanne Palmieri (aka Hayes), an "up and coming" author from New Haven who has a really amazing personal story that she will tell our guests all about.  Suzanne is the author of the new book, "The Witch of Little Italy," an engrossing tale about love, family and witchcraft, and also "I'll Be Seeing You" which she co-wrote with Loretta Nyhan, although they've never met in person.

At noon, Bliss Gourmet of Westbrook will be serving delicious boxed lunches (included in the ticket price) and the cash bar will open for business! For October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there will be fun interactive art activities by The Drunken Palette (now with studios in downtown New London and in Westbrook at The Shops at Waters Edge) to benefit The Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation.

After lunch, we'll hear from Psychic Medium Angelina Diana who will speak about spirit communications and perform random readings throughout the audience. Buckle your seatbelts for that one!

Next we'll hear more about witches from Brunonia Barry, NY Times bestselling author of "The Lace Reader" and "The Map of True Places." 
By now everyone will be hungry for something sweet, so Bliss will be baking up some of YOUR key lime cupcakes from "Topped Chef" for a quick afternoon coffee break.

Finally, B.A. (Barbara) Shapiro, author of "The Art Forger" will be interviewed by Olwen Logan from The Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts about her very popular book which centers around Boston's infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist and the high-stakes world of artists and art collectors.

A portion of all book sales by RJ Julia Bookseller will benefit the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation.  Tickets are $55 for the full day's events and can be purchased at

LUCY: That sounds like a wonderful day! And the Mohegan Sun event this year promises to be even bigger and better than last year--you have a new partnership. Tell us about that.

COLLEEN: YES!  We are thrilled to announce that we are working with The Mark Twain House and Museum (MTHM) to present this fabulous encore event on February 21-22, 2014  The staff at the MTHM are pros at putting on large scale author events, recently hosting Stephen King at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford for over 2,500 ticketholders. We will also be hosting a fun after-hours party called Books and Bars, which will take place in one of the resort's nightclubs.  Last year, Hank was our surprise guest at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain where readers shared their comments about  "The Other Woman."  It was really a blast and we can't wait to do it all over again in an even BIGGER way this coming February.  

LUCY: thanks for stopping by Colleen...Okay, reds, raise your hands if you're coming! And tell the truth, if you went to an author event at a casino, how would you really spend your time?


  1. These events sound really exciting!
    And if I went to an author event at a casino, how would I spend my time? At the author event, of course. . . . .

  2. Oh Joan, that's the right answer:). Actually I never make it long in a casino--too noisy and crazy!

  3. Good news is that the author event at Mohegan Sun is in the beautiful Convention Center ... You can't hear a sound from the slot machines. But, the casino floor is right around the corner for those who like gaming, as well as tons of great shops and restaurants!

    Hope to see you at The Kate, Joan!

  4. The Big Book Club Getaway team LOVES the Jungle Red Writers! Hank Phillippi Ryan and Hallie Ephron were outstanding at our launch event at Mohegan Sun in Feb! Very much looking forward to hearing Lucy Burdette at The Kate on
    Oct 27th!

  5. Sounds like a great event for a worthy cause. I wish I could be there.

    (and not just for the cupcakes).

  6. Joan: I hate casinos. Gambling makes NO sense to me. Money is hard enough to earn; why would I throw it away? I also hate to shop (there's lots of shopping) or play video games (those, too). And yet I had a complete blast at this place. It's an experience. The space and the architecture is eye popping. And the people watching alone is priceless. Plus there's a ton of excellent and reasonably priced food. Disney without the rides.

    It didn't hurt that our room was probably the most luxurious I've ever stayed in. 2 TVs. 4 phones (one by the toilet). Comfy comfy beds and bedding.

  7. The Mark Twain House & Museum is excited to welcome our JUNGLE RED friends to The Big Book Getaway this February!!!!

  8. Even though I got married in Vegas (that was enough of a gamble!) I also really don't care for the noise of casinos. I'd definitely spend my time at the author event, probably sitting next to Joan and finally meeting face to face!

    And man, those cupcakes sound fabulous.

  9. Wow, that sounds like a blast. I'd go if I lived there, and I'd attend the author event too...I'm not a big fan of casinos. I don't get them either. Perpetual nighttime tinged with desperation -- not my scene.

  10. If I could go to one book event—no, any event—this would be the one. It's theme, participants, and location say it was made for me. I would give almost anything if I could be there.

    I am a dedicated supporter of Indian gaming and have followed my friends through the process of investment in their communities that provides great entertainment and space for cultural activities. I have enjoyed the entertainment, enrichment and gaming at tribal casinos from Massachusetts to California.

  11. Karen, so interesting--you were married in Vegas? Tell us what kind of a wedding it was? such a fascinating fact about you!

  12. Reine, another interesting fact about a Red! I have to agree--the entertainment at these local casinos is amazing. We went to hear Judy Collins and James Taylor a couple of years ago--fantastic concert!

    Lisa, probably the worst Bouchercon Mystery convention I went to out of many was the one in Vegas. Hallie can tell you--we could hardly see in our rooms, the light was so dim. They wanted everyone at the machines, not upstairs in bed reading. LOL

  13. Oh my god, Lucy, that sound horrible! Too dim to read in bed easily? That's practically a sacrilege in my book.

  14. Lucy, my husband was a widower and I had been divorced and single for a long time. He is a wildlife photographer, and at the time he lectured for the Audubon Society on their personally presented natural history series tours. He was going to be in Vegas for a lecture in the middle of a two-month tour, so in October when he asked me to marry him it was "Will you marry me, on March 1st, in Las Vegas?"

    We planned to get married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel (which is still there, but moved further down the Strip), and to stay at Circus Circus, which was just across the street. I flew out the night before, and we went to the courthouse that morning to get a license. So easy, three questions: Are you 18? Have you ever been married? Are you married now? In Ohio we would have had to proffer both a death certificate and a divorce decree, among other things.

    My aunt drove up from Phoenix to stand up for us, and afterwards we all had lunch at Circus Circus while watching one of the acts. That night we were taken to dinner by the local host, and we didn't tell him or anyone at the lecture that we had just gotten married that day. That was the first of a million times since that I was introduced as "Steve's lovely wife Karen". And it will be 32 years this coming March.

  15. What a cool story, Karen ... Congratulations on 32 years of marriage!

  16. I love that story Karen--you were such a great sport and adventurer!

    I know Lisa, it was awful. And I forgot to say, there were smoking allowed all through the casino--we are so spoiled not being used to that...

  17. Colleen, how do you select the sites for The Big Book Club events? Will they be at the same locations each year? I haven't been to The Kate yet, but it sounds wonderful.

    I am especially interested in how The Big Book Club came to be and how you decide what to do at each event.

  18. Karen is always going on adventures. I'm glad that some of them bring her to Arizona. She is a fun and lively gift of friendship.

  19. I've only been to one casino in my life. Six months after Katrina I was in New Orleans for a meeting and to volunteer to help the reconstruction. The casino had just recently reopened and we walked in. It was pretty empty. I walked around, put a few dollars in a slot machine, got $5 back, and left.

    I'm so NOT a gambler. So, like Joan and Karen, I'd be at the author events, I'm sure.

  20. I've just signed on to do the February Big Book Club and I have to say, after hearing more of the details from Colleen, I'm very excited!

    Me, I'd be at the author event at a casino. I was raised with the dictum, "The only sure way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket."

    If Ross can get away from school and come with me, however, that may be a whole 'nother ball of wax...

  21. Hi Reine,

    The start of the Big Book Club is kind of a funny story. I own a small marketing company and also produce special events. My husband is a former pro baseball player (and currently a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in their minor league system). He is also a Director of the World Baseball Coaches Convention held every winter for the last ten years at the Mohegan Sun which draws over 2,000 coaches. I had gone to the baseball event year after year and thought to myself that there should be a program like this geared towards women. It always seemed that the guys enjoyed the weekend away as much as the subject matter. Susan McCann, my partner on this project, is the owner of Essex Books ... and I LOVE to read. We brainstormed about how to use the baseball model for book lovers, and that's how the Big Book Club got its start. Now we are also planning smaller events in unique locations like The Kate. We would love to take this to other cities if you know of another venue(s) that could work!

  22. Yay! We are so excited that you can make it, Julia! Hank and Hallie, we'd love to see you back at the Mohegan Sun, too! John Searles, Editor at Large for Cosmopolitan and book critic for The Today Show will be joining the mystery/suspense lineup as well. His new book is called, "Help for the Haunted." I just started it and it's VERY creepy ... love it!

  23. This all sounds fabulous! Wish I could go, but alas, my time on the east coast is over for probably another year now. If I could, I'd be at the author event. Not a gambler and can't stand the noise and smoking of casinos. It's just personal taste. I've friends who work in them down in Tahlequah and here in KC.

    As a matter of fact, at a meeting with my agent in NYC last weekend, she suggested I write a mystery series set in a casino.

    These book events sound fabulous, though, and the Feb. one with all the Reds--well, I'll just gnash my teeth in frustration at missing it and go sit quietly in the corner to pout.

  24. Looking for your mail now,Colleen..can you send it again?Love to come in Feb! oxoxo

  25. Colleen, thanks for the explanation. I wish you would bring The Big Book Club to Tucson. Phoenix might work better—good venues in both cities.

    I'm crazy about baseball, especially if it involves the Red Sox.

  26. But you probably meant closer to home, Colleen…