Thursday, July 16, 2009

ALA in Chicago

Let me say from the start, this was the best conference experience I have every had -- barr none.
I landed in Chicago at 6:30 pm, Saturday, July 11 so I had to miss the Lerner Publishing dinner I'd so wanted to attend earlier that afternoon. But I did manage to catch the end of the nonfiction author panel dinner. My old friend Hester Bass and her husband were also able to attend, and that was a special delight. Stephanie Reynolds and her associates from the University of Kentucky were also eating there, so that was a treat. And several of my friends from the Highlights Foundation's Writers Workshop in Chautauqua, NY were also at the table. So late or not, I got to reconnect with a great cross-section of amazing writing friends.

My amazing roomates, Christine Taylor-Butler and Gwendolyn Hooks and I walked from dinner to our hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and checked in. Our floor, the 16th floor, was dedicated to Prince and featured one of his beautiful silk shirts and a guitar. I loved Prince when I managed an LA record store in the late 70's and early 80's, so that was cool. But not half as cool as the two women I roomed with.

On the morning of the 12th, I went to the HarperCollins Author Breakfast at the Intercontinental six or seven blocks away, but what a beautiful walk. Chicago is such a vibrant, lively city, even on a Sunday morning. From the breakfast, I went to the panel at the McCormick and MAN, were there a lot of people there. More than 300 folks filed in to hear us share information on nonfiction books, and it was just astonishing. You can see in the photo above, me sitting waiting for my chance on the stage, flanked by all those talented librarians. WOW.

I signed at Lerner after the panel had concluded, had lunch with a bunch of wonderful people, then signed at Sterling after lunch. My signing at Sterling went long -- a good thing -- so I closed the conference down that day. By the time I got on the bus for the VOYA reception at the Marriott, I'd missed it entirely. Disappointing, because my friend Andy Smith -- Andrew Smith on his books -- was going to be there.

Anastasia Suen and April Pulley Sayre were kind enough to invite me to join their party at dinner, so I shared a booth with them at Beppo's on North Rush with some online friends including an old pal of mine, Chicago local Esther Hershenhorn and the very charming editor of Cricket Magazine and her dauther, her daughter's boyfriend and an illustrator I THINK was part of their art department team (forgive me for not knowing -- I crashed the party).

After dinner, I walked back to the Hard Rock and met my roomies. They were headed to dinner, so I had a glass of ice water with them and enjoyed the grand company at a table outside -- a beautiful little Irish restaurant and pub.

My wake up call on Monday was at 4:00 am for the 6:00 am flight -- a little too close, but I made it. I slept most of the way home, but I was so incredibly happy. This was the best possible way to enjoy a wonderful conference. And I'm grateful to everyone who helped ot make it such a success -- including my "boss" who helped me cover the cabs.

Thanks, everyone, for the really exceptional time.


  1. I agree -- Best Book Conference-Thing ever. An amazing week, and an amazing city. Too bad we missed each other... and I'll keep my fingers crossed you'll be going to the Southern Festival of Books in October.

  2. I kept hoping you'd call from that party. Bummed. Maybe next time.