The Midwest's Largest Book Fest!
I cannot even begin to describe what a joy it was being in the company of thousands of readers...yes, real readers, not other snobby writers or wanna-be writers. I have not felt such elation since I naively undertook the path to professional authorism.
Everyone should experience the thrill of this type of connection at least once in his or her career, no matter what you do for a living. The anticipation, the camaraderie, the connection will recharge you.
Yes, that's me, Lisa Lickel, above, behind the table smiling at a real reader, photo courtesy of Nicolette Pierce, my author friend and tablemate.
Printer's Row Litfest isn't even that old, relatively speaking, since its inception in 1985. Here's the skinny from the site:
The Printers Row Lit Fest was founded in 1985 by the Near South Planning Board to attract visitors to the Printers Row neighborhood (once the city's bookmaking hub). By 2002, it had grown to five city blocks (on Dearborn, from Congress to Polk), attracting more than 200 booksellers from across the country displaying new, used and antiquarian books and featuring more than 200 authors participating in panels, discussions and a variety of other programs.
As part of its ongoing commitment to the written word and its support of literacy and literary endeavor, the Chicago Tribune purchased the Printers Row Book Fair in 2002 from the Near South Planning Board. Recently renamed to be the Printer's Row Lit Fest, it is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest-drawing more than 150,000 book lovers to the two-day showcase.
How I got involved: Those of you who know me as a Wisconsin Writer might gasp if you read the part of the tent header above me. Yes, it says Chicago Writers Association. Little did I know that when I set a couple of my stories in Illinois places, gained an Illinois daughter-in-law, and got involved with Wisconsin Writers Association that I'd end up connected with this great group of writers. I don't live close enough to do a lot with them, but they have some great programs and outreach, and I enjoy being part of the group. Last year I was too chicken to sign up for Printer's Row, but this year, when the call went out I took a spot right away--like, last February 1. Seriously. To my joy, Nicolette signed up for the same time frame and we hitched our carts together and moseyed on down. She sold her first book before we finished setting up. GO NEXT YEAR!
Top Ten Highlights:
1. The company. I loved the drive with Nicolette, getting to know her better and her awesome navigation skills. She and my GPS bonded big time.
2. We happened upon the PERFECT day, weather-wise.
3. Morning was good; we had a 10-2 time slot, and we could tell the mood changed after lunch. The morning was serious bookaholic shoppers; the afternoon was strollers.
4. Meeting fabulous people like Mary Allen and Cynthia Clampitt face-to-face.
5. Being recognized by name!
6. Spending time with fun folks in tent and watching the variety of salesmanship.
7. Selling thirty books.
8. Being in the company of thousands of READERS!
9. Being able to change a hundred dollar bill at 1 PM.
10. The parking story: That was probably my biggest fear was where to park and if it would cost a zillion dollars. I accidentally missed the turn-off into the above ground lot I aimed for and entered the scariest haunted-house dungeon you ever did see. Like, the guy saying "That'll be nine dollars please," and waving us on down the spiral ramp into the sewer. We did not ask for change. He points to the last berth available, a narrow slot between two pillars. "There." Then he points to a narrow staircase and leaves. Dripping water, echos...the whole nine yards. I'm still laughing at what we did.
Not so great things:
Not having a reliable Internet connection to work my new Amazon register--though I expected that and Nicolette with her smart phone and Paypal swipe generously saved me.
And, really, LeVar Burton couldn't have come by to say hello? I am put out. But I still plan to return next year.