First off, what a wonderful, beautiful city!
My first view of it was from above, in my comfy Economy Plus seat I'd been bumped up to. Chicago is silver, just in case you didn't know. For all my worries about hailing a cab, all I had to do was enter a queue with an official taxi sign, and I was ushered to the next available cab. Whew!
The smoke-scented taxi whisked me away. I forget how pretty the northern landscape is until I see it again--the fir trees, red buds, tulips--TULIPS! You really don't see those in Florida unless it's Easter and they're on top of the dinner table.
Chicago's skyline is beautiful. And as we entered the downtown area, I felt like I was in a movie. Doormen stood in front of buildings and smartly dressed people pushed their way inside through revolving doors.
My room--oh my gosh--my room! Walker Books is a generous publisher! My suite YES THEY GAVE ME A SUITE! was on the twenty-second floor and I had a gorgeous view.
After I got settled in, I met up with the Walker group: Melanie Cecka (Thank you, Melanie, for assuring me that leafy green lettuce was not furrowing between my teeth!), Katie Fee (You are too funny!), Emily Easton (When I spotted you on the couch, I recognized you immediately as a fellow literary type), Beth Eller (You are a riot!), and my wonderful editor, Stacy Cantor (Thank you so much for the excellent conversation and breathless fun!)
And now some name dropping! Not only did we dine in an exquisitely decorated restaurant, I laughed and talked with the gracious and warm Kate Messner (right), funny and nice Kirby Larson, Matt McElligott, who had some good stories, Chris Kurtz, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Donna Knoell (educational consultant), Susan Boham (teacher), and Claudia Katz (professor of Children’s Literature). Excellent conversation and food!
The convention center was humongous. Al Gore was there! I didn't see him, but he was there, so I get to drop his name! Henry Winkler was there! THE FONZ and author of the Hank Zipzer books. I didn't see him either!
I presented with Diana Lopez (above left) and it was amazing how well our topics went together. We'd discussed some things in advance, but we never went over our presentation points. We both talked about research, dedication, and the boys we once had crushes on!
I also got to meet Ingrid Law, author of Savvy. Ingrid had a long line of people, and when I broke away to get her book later, her purse was on her shoulder and her water in her hand. She very graciously stayed behind to sign my hardcover of Savvy and later she came to visit me at my signing! I know Ingrid online from Verla Kay's, so it was great to meet her in person! And we share an illustrator! Brandon Dorman illustrated her fabulous Savvy cover and lent his incredible talent to the cover for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets.
I met other editors and other publishers and oh, my gosh everyone was excited about books! (Pictured left to right at the Bloomsbury/Walker booth: Stacy Cantor, Danette Haworth, Emily Easton, Katie Fee, and Beth Eller.) It was wonderful. I felt like that bee girl in the video for No Rain by Blind Melon when she discovers people just like herself at the end of the video. It was hard to leave. I mean that in every way. My suitcase was loaded down with books and nearly tore my arm out of its socket.
This is what my dad used to say about Chicago:
"Put a chick in the car and the car won't go, and that's how ya spell Chickcargo!"