Well, actually, I’m back from Chicago now, but here are some highlights from the trip!
First, Book Expo America, the reason I was there. I’ve never attended BEA before. I was told it’s not as big as it used to be. I’ll have to take everyone’s word for that because the event seemed enormous to me, a giant warehouse-sized space filled with all the people who make books happen, from the writers to the publishers, and all the agents, editors, publicists, reviewers, sellers, librarians and readers in between. (Oh, and the illustrators. There were more than a few of us there.)
I signed a lot of books, something I’ve never done before. Fortunately, Marci Shimoff, my partner on “Inkspirations for Women,” is a pro. I studied her badass ways, and by the end, I too was able to sign and chat at the same time. We signed books until we ran out, which I think means it was a success.
When I was off duty, I wandered, wide-eyed, through the aisles asking authors and publishers to tell me about their books and filling up two tote bags full of stories that sound amazing. This was not only my first time to BEA, but my first time to Chicago. Before I left, I asked my Facebook friends to suggest places for me to visit, and they gave me one bazillion suggestions, which is more than even we could manage in two days, but we tried!
During our first free day, we walked all over Chicago – through Grant and Millennium parks, by the Wrigley and Tribune buildings, down the Magnificent Mile, and out to navy Peer. We went to the Double Door and heard Mavis Staples sing, had dinner at Andy’s Jazz club while listening to the Mike Jeffers Quartet, and ate the best deep-dish pizza I’ve ever tasted at Lou Malnati’s. We ducked in briefly at the Billy Goat Tavern, but left because there wasn’t anything on the menu for vegetarians.
On our last day, we did the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, and it was amazing. I didn’t get any pictures because I was so enthralled with the history and art of the buildings, but if you’re ever in Chicago, I can’t recommend the boat tour enough. Then just before we had to catch a taxi back to the airport, we stopped by the Hancock building (which we’d seen on the tour) and had a drink in the Signature Room on the 95th floor.x
Dear Chicago, you are beautiful! Here’s one last picture of me and Chad, high in the sky and under your spell.