Wednesday, February 25, 2015

CHICAGO DIARY

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

A few weeks ago, I went to the ALA (American Library Association) Conference in Chicago. I had never been to the conference before, and was going there to introduce my about-to-be-released novel LIKE A RIVER.

My flight into O’Hare was uneventful, just the way I like a flight to be. It had been many years since I’d been to that airport, and it took me a while to get my bearings, but soon I was in a taxi heading to my hotel.

I wasn’t scheduled for anything until a 7 PM dinner with folks from Boyds Mills Press, and it wasn’t even noon yet. It gave me several hours to have a reunion with dear friends (and former Swaggers), Juliet Bond and Gina Gort. I hadn’t seen them in over 3 years and getting reacquainted was wonderful!
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Kathy (far right) reconnecting with former Swaggers in Chicago.
Around seven, several of the BMP folks and I walked to the Exchequer restaurant, an old-fashioned gangland-themed place that served deep-dish pizza and ribs. The dinner was low-key and delightful, and everyone present made sure all my needs were met.

Snow was forecast, though not a single flake had fallen. But I was informed that my 5:25 PM flight for Sunday afternoon had been cancelled and I had been re-booked for a Monday morning one.

By the time we left the restaurant, snow was beginning to fall, and I chose to skip the walk back to the hotel in favor of sharing a cab with a few others.

Sunday morning found me glad for the cancelled flight. Snow was still falling, or more accurately, blowing sideways on powerful winds. The news called it “a blizzard.”

I shared a taxi to the convention center, marveling with a bit of trepidation at the way the driver maneuvered the cab through traffic on the snow-covered streets.

But the conference was extraordinary! So many booths! So many books! Just my kind of happy place. I signed Advance Reader copies (ARCs) of LIKE A RIVER, while people apologized to me for the small attendance. Since this was my first time, I had nothing to compare it to.

Boyds Mills Press hosted a luncheon to introduce its Spring, 2015 catalog. My best guess estimated the attendance at about 60, and I shared a table with some librarians from Texas. Senior Editor Liz Van Doren regaled them with the catalog’s picture books, and Gail Jarrow followed with a talk about her non-fiction book on Typhoid Mary (FATAL FEVER). I closed with a short talk on LIKE A RIVER, from which I also read a few pages.

Original plans would have seen me gathering my things together and heading to the airport, but the cancelled flight kept me at my hotel. And my flight the next morning ended up being cancelled also.

My overnight stay in Chicago ended up being a three-nighter. But the BMP folks took great care of me. And on Monday, I got a chance to visit with friend Jennifer Sommer, who had driven in from Dayton on Sunday. Driven through the blizzard that cancelled flight after flight at O’Hare! What a woman!

On Monday evening, I had a chance to discuss revisions for my next novel with editor Carolyn Yoder, who was also grounded an extra day by the blizzard. An unplanned productive use of time.
Kathy with Carolyn Yoder at the ALA Conference's Boyds Mill Press booth.

I finally got a flight home on Tuesday morning, with a not-terribly-long delay on the tarmac at O’Hare. I had books with me to occupy my wait time. (A prepared reader seldom gets bored.) 

I was glad to get home, but I have wonderful recollections of good food and great people I spent time with. My introduction to ALA is one I will never forget.

8 comments:

  1. Glad you had such a good time in Chicago, Kathy, despite the snow! BTW, I haven't been able to find "LIke a River" on Goodreads so I could mark it and review it there. AM I missing something?

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    1. I'm not sure,but does Goodreads wait until a book actually launches (which LIKE A RIVER doesn't until April 7)?

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  2. You made the best of it! And it gave you extra time with your editor.

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    1. Sounds like a lemonade situation, right?

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  3. Thanks for letting us live the trip vicariously.

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    1. Thanks, Ann. Btw, when will you and I manage a reunion? It's been far too long.

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    2. Would love to be part of that reunion! Sounds like your first ALA was a great success, Kathy, even with all the snow. Probably the first of many...

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    3. Thanks, Kim. I hope to go to ALA again sometime, but next time I will try to be prepared for every possibility. They tell me next year it will be in Boston.

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