Posted June 8, 2011on:
So last weekend was the biggest literary festival in the Northeast, the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago. I drove out as usual, but this time my son was not with me. He had summer classes, so my daughter went with me instead, which was useful as my daughter is much more sales-oriented than my son, so we were able to handle the crush of customers and keep track of what we were doing much better. That was important as we were experimenting with a new pitch and had more than usual to keep track of. Can you spell BOGO? Well, actually, you can since I just spelled it out for you. On the other hand the stuff we had to keep track of over there meant we had less to put out over here, so we were able to fit the rest of our books on the table in a much more pleasing display. Not crammed.
Friday was the long drive, a 14-hour trip through 6 states. NY and NJ are okay, about 2.5 hours total and done. Pennsylvania is a bit harder to take, a 4.5 hour trip that is enjoyable at first but you really can’t wait for it to be over by the time you’re done. It doesn’t help that parts of PA put up mile markers every tenth of a mile, so you’re forced to watch the pot boil and we all know watched pots take just forever to boil. (And I have that same trip to look forward to next month when I go to Pittsburgh for Confluence. Except that the roads will be worse and it’ll take me 7 hours to get out instead of 4.5. These last 2 years I’ve gotten home from Confluence at 2 in the morning, after leaving at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon. What the hell all those cars and trucks are doing on the road at that hour I don’t know.)
Anyway, I also realized that my first trip through Ohio years back I must have been diverted way the hell north through Cleveland, which explains why the trip that year took so much longer than any other year. There isn’t much to say about Ohio and Indiana except that they’re flat. And there was an accident at some point, a tandem trailer that tipped over and crushed some poor car. I hope there was no one in the passenger seat. I met a lady at the next rest stop who decided to buy a copy of St. Martin’s Moon because it isn’t every day you get to meet the author. That was nice.
We were at a Days Inn again this year, and my publisher and all of her authors gathered there as well. We got into the hotel parking lot just as they were getting into their cars to go to a restaurant for a dinner together, so naturally we went along. It was more of Chicago then I’ve been able to see so far, since previous trips involved highways that took me to and from the event with little opportunity to see anything. Then we went back to the hotel and basically crashed until the next day. Thanks to some construction we were turned around but managed to get there right behind the rest of our group, who had, like, directions and stuff. Cheaters.
The weather was not cooperative. We’d been told it would be cool and rainy, only it was hot. We were all overdressed for that day. Like every other PR for the last few years it rained, but we had several tarps and some good notice, so when the skies opened up we had everything under cover and all the boxes off the ground. And the people of Chicago don’t let a little rain stop them. The following day was a lot cooler, and of course we were all underdressed for that weather, especially towards the evening when we were in the shade and Dearborn Ave became a wind tunnel off the lake. We sold about twice as many books on Sunday as we did on Saturday, so I’m not complaining at all.
There were several of us there, Echelon being the sort of publisher that really makes an effort to get its authors out and about. Sean Hayden, Gale Borger, Jen Wylie, Bob Goldsborough, Claudia Whitsitt, Luisa Buehler, Marlis Day, Jenny Turner, Sam Morton, Norm Cowie, and Martin Bartloff were on the other three sides of the tent (yes I remembered them all and yes they’re in order), along with a lady who wrote children’s books and seemed very nice, but whose name I never got. She’s identified in several of the photos everyone else managed to take. Usually when my back was turned.
The trip back was a bit longer than the trip out, since I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before and that really sucks for driving 800+ miles. But we survived. This post is the longest piece of writing I’ve done since then, so I must be feeling better now. We managed to sell over a hundred books, and gave away even more ducks! I also came up with a story idea. Martin and I had been talking about pantsing v. outlining at dinner, and I imagined (while driving home on Monday) him proposing a line to see if I could pants a story out of it. Which I did. But I really want to finish Ghostkiller.
How was your weekend?