Tired of traveling east for signings and events, The Dalles author AJ Harmon is bringing 68 of the top romance novelists in the country closer to home.

“I get invited all the time back east,” Harmon said.

“Every time we go somewhere, we have to fly all day to go to a signing so I thought it would be fun to do something here.”

Although Passion in Portland isn’t until September 12, Harmon is urging people to buy tickets now.

She’s also looking for volunteers, who will get into the event for free.

Highlighting the list of authors that will be at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Portland is Melody Anne, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the series “Billionaire Bachelors.”

Harmon reached out to Anne on Facebook and then the two met at a signing in Mississippi.

“She’s one of those writers who every romance author wants to grow up and be like,” Harmon said. “I’m a big fan. I came across one of her books and then read all of the others. She’s a great lady and really willing to share knowledge with other people.”

Other popular romance novelists attending Passion in Portland are Cassia Leo, who made the New York Times best seller list with her “Relentless” series, and T.K. Leigh, whose series “Beautiful Mess” was a USA Today best seller.

Some of the authors will also be bringing their cover models to the signing.

“We’ll have some pretty hunky models there who will take off their shirts and pose for pictures,” Harmon said.

The event begins at 12:15 p.m. for those who purchase an author stalker dinner and VIP event pass.

That $57 ticket allows patrons to be among the first to meet their favorite authors, all-day access to the event, a swag bag, three raffle tickets and to join the authors for dinner and entertainment in the Grand Ballroom.

“The dinner is really fun because everybody is laid back,” Harmon said. “There’s a cash bar so a half hour into it, everybody is really happy. There’s Karaoke. It’s just going to be a party. We’ve modeled it after the things we don’t like about other signings and are doing the opposite of that.”

The money raised in the raffle will go to benefit Bradley Angle, a nonprofit domestic violence shelter in Portland. The grand prize is one paperback from every author at the event.

VIP event package and day passes are also on sale. For $15, attendees will get into the event at 1 p.m., receive a swag bag and three raffle tickets.

The signing will then open up to general admission, which is free, at 1:30 p.m.

Harmon, who moved to The Dalles in 1994 and raised her two kids here, became a romance novelist on a dare. Challenged to write a book better than the one her friends were discussing, Harmon self-published her first romance novel “First Class to New York” after just six weeks. A month and two more books later, Harmon quit her accounting job because her Amazon check was bigger than three months salary.

“People laugh when they find out how I got started,” Harmon said.

Now a USA Today bestselling author, she published her 14th book, “A Choice for Claire,” earlier this year.

Her 15th book called “Chicago” comes out in mid-July.

Including Passion in Portland, Harmon is scheduled to attend 15 signing events this year.

“We are hoping to make this an annual event in Oregon,” Harmon said. “It’s just a fun thing. If you read romance novels, this is a big deal.”

For more information including a complete author list or to buy tickets, go to passioninportland.com. To volunteer, email Harmon at aj@ajharmon.com.

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