Readers & Ritas Countdown Week 1: Origins by Gwen Reyes

Posted October 2, 2013 by Felicia S in Readers N Ritas / 23 Comments



Hi y’all and welcome to my Readers & Ritas Countdown Week 1!  I have asked Gwen Reyes (one of the lovely planners for the event) to stop by and tell us how Readers & Ritas got started.  I have been to several of these conferences and look forward to them every year!  At the end of the post, I will give you information on who is attending and how to buy tickets!



The origins of Readers & ‘ritas

In the fall of 2004 Sara Reyes launched Fresh Fiction as a place for readers to keep up-to-date with their favorite authors and find out about the newest trends in popular fiction. In those early days all she had was an idea, ambition, and an endless supply of coffee. By 2008 she had learned the key to success was rallying those readers she’d cultivated by bringing them together for live events. Book clubs and monthly Saturday teas had been the norm for years, but the time was ripe for an event that brought to life the spirit of Fresh Fiction.

A new conference for readers by readers hadn’t been done in a few years, and the ones that were still around had bloated beyond their original concept to include writing tracks and pitch sessions. We didn’t want to talk about the craft of writing, we wanted to talk about the books we loved and the genres we wanted more of. As readers we wanted to leave the creation of characters to the talented, amazing authors we loved. But we also wanted the opportunity to ask them all the questions in the world about what it’s like to be the creators of our most cherished worlds.

Back to the fall of 2008. That year Sara and I sat on the board of a local Dallas literacy tea called Buns and Roses. Our assignment involved bringing Sherrilyn Kenyon to the fundraiser. She was a huge name even then and the thought of taking her away from her writing schedule for a two-hour tea was troubling. Our thought was if she and the other Buns and Roses authors were already planning to come to Dallas for the whole weekend, why not tack on a Saturday conference for readers to meet them? It would be a perfect blending and would encourage additional ticket sales for the Sunday tea. Sara and I made up our minds, and with some help from a team of dedicated book club members, we got to work.

Readers & ‘ritas was a daunting task. It felt at times overwhelming and impossible, but also exciting and fresh. That first year wasn’t a success by any stretch of the word, but the thirty people who came had the experience of a lifetime with Sherrilyn, JodiThomas, Jade Lee, Dakota Cassidy, Jaye Wells, and Lauren Willig. The intimate group rubbed elbows with authors, yes, but mostly they spent time with each other, building bonds that unite them to this day. During that inaugural year we didn’t do panels, but rather topic roundtables, including how a book cover goes from concept to completion and the care and feeding of your books. But the one thing that has stayed the same all these years is our margarita happy hour with authors. You can’t have Readers & ‘ritas without the ‘ritas!

Over the weekend of November 8-10 we’re excited to celebrate another milestone for Readers & ‘ritas—our fifth anniversary (We were just so awesome in 2008 that we took 2009 off to recuperate). Sherrilyn Kenyon, who has become like family to us, is once again our Guest of Honor, but we also have nearly forty authors joining the 200 attending readers from all over the country. Our panels have grown, our genres vary from paranormal romance to suspense to young adult, and I personally love watching people fight over seats at authors’ tables for lunch. But at the end of the day we all still gather together in the ballroom with our margarita glasses to toast great books, great authors, and life-long friends.

2013-04-29 09.13.10Gwen Reyes is the Executive Director of Readers & ‘ritas, an annual weekend gathering of readers in North Dallas. She plans over fifty events in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for readers and authors as the Fresh Fiction Events Director. At some point during the week she finds time to watch and review movies for,, and, and writes a weekly soap opera column for FYI Television (that’s newspapers!). You can see her monthly on WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas” as the Literary Contributor for the segment ‘Buy The Book.’

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Readers & ‘ritas Executive Director
Celebrate Passionate Literary Obsessions in North Texas!
November 8th – 10th — Hilton Garden Inn, Allen, TX

Follow us on Twitter: @freshfiction  @readersnritas

Book Divider

Here are the attending authors for 2013: Shannon K Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, Jade Lee, Connie Cox, Winnie Griggs, Nikki Duncan, Heather Long, Morgan Fox, Diane Kelly, Liliana Hart, Tracy Deebs, Lorelei James, Jenn LeBlanc, Karen Erickson, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Mary Burton, Liz Talley, Sasha Summers, Candace Havens, Sylvia McDaniel, Roz Lee, Felice Fox, C.J. Ellison, Melissa Bourbon, Tonya Kappes, Nancy Naigle, and Missy Jane

You can go here to Register

In the weeks to come I will be featuring Connie Cox, Nikki Duncan, Heather Long, and Missy Jane!  The final week I will talk about my past experiences at Readers N Ritas!  Seriously this is one of my favorite conferences and you won’t be disappointed if you come!

I am going to be giving away a signed copy of Styxx!  Yes I will stand in line for you people! (If for any reason Sherry can not attend Readers & Ritas I will still giveaway a copy of Styxx and also another signed book by one of the other authors in attendance)


  • Open Internationally–I will pay for the shipping since I think this was an AWESOME book
  • Must be over 18 due to subject matter
  • Only one winner will be chosen
  • Ends 11/10/2013 at Midnight CST

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Felicia S
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23 responses to “Readers & Ritas Countdown Week 1: Origins by Gwen Reyes

  1. I had no clue Readers and Ritas was so huge! I remember way back when Rachel Caine attending one of those and thinking to myself, “oh man, if only…” I’m in Michigan so it would be a haul for me to attend.

    Now I know I need to add it to my “bucket list”, too!!! I would love to speak more about the world and characters and less about the writing aspect that we end up with at signings…

    …I’m so entirely jealous, Geeky!!! Can we switch lives for a few days??? Working at a library isn’t so bad 😉

  2. What a great post, that was fun to read. And it sounds like such a great event to attend. But if I ever do get to the States, I want to go to Authors After Dark. It has so many of my favourite paranormal authors, it is staggering.

  3. Oh the fun you will have & the bookish shenanigans that will be had. You are getting your bookblogwalkers on to negate all them Rita’s 😉

  4. Stephanie F.

    The conference sounds like a blast, unfortunately I’m on the other side of the country lol. I’d love to attend RWA and AAD which I’m hoping to make next year.
    Thanks for opportunity to win such a fantastic book.

  5. Oh sounds like such a fun conference and you always make me jelly when you go! Still love hearing about your adventures though. 🙂 Really enjoyed this post and seeing all the work that goes into one of these. My complaint? It’s not near me. 🙂

    btw, Not sure I should answer the question… I’ve only been to one and so I have nothing more to compare it to! LOL

    • It does that extremely well! In fact, my favorite times at the conference are hanging out the hallways talking to other readers and talking about our book boyfriends 🙂

  6. 2011 event was highlight of my year and sadly may be the last time can attend thanks to husband changing to lower paying employment my “hobby” comes last so we can pay bills.

    Thank goodness for used bookstores!

    Felicia meeting you and other bloggers was for me as fun and exciting as meeting some of my longtime favorite authors!

    • Oh that was a wonderful year! I have many fond memories from then even though I knew it was a topsy turvy year for you personally. ((( hugs )))) on the hubby’s job change though hopefully it comes with perks of less stress and more home time!

      I hear you on the used book stores!

  7. Will you take all my other books I want signed in line with you? 😉 Can’t wait for Readers & Ritas! Hotel room booked, although I didn’t get the discount.