Monday, June 8, 2015

BEA 15: Final Recap and How I Got Stuck in NYC

How has a week gone by since I got home from NYC? I must admit that I missed the chaos and messiness of my life, though it took me a full seven days to unpack. I am also so happy to actually be home because I wasn't sure when I would finally get on a flight that hadn't been canceled. But more on that in a minute.

Friday morning I sucked down my coffee and made my way to Skylight Diner to meet Francine, Lynn Marie, and Julie for breakfast. Give me eggs and sausages, and I'm a happy woman, and the sausages were the size of my head. Time sailed by as we talked non-stop and before we knew it, it was almost noon and we had to get to BEA.

There were two things I really wanted to do on my last day there: meet Lynn Weingarten and get a signed copy of her book, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls, which will be released on July 7th and looks like an incredible read, and chat with Catherine McKenzie, a Montreal-based author whose novels I have devoured, and grab an autographed copy of Smoke, her upcoming novel.

I managed to do both while Francine hung out with me and Julie attended every seminar she could fit into one day. We schmoozed, laughed, and chatted our way through the afternoon, and then it was time for me to head back to my hotel for my annual steak dinner with Meredith and her friends. A massive hunk of meat, Prosecco, and giggles, and I snuggled under my covers until morning.

Saturday was present shopping day for my kids and lunch with Glynis Astie. Well, I was very proud of myself for making it to Times Square (and wondering what I'd been thinking making lunch plans on a Saturday in the midst of the crushing muddle) when I realized I had no clue where I was meeting Glynis. A quick, "Where do I go???" phone call and I was eating a not-so-healthy Caesar salad with one of my favorite people. Being around Glynis is like bathing in sunshine, and I was sad to say goodbye to her outside Grand Central.

Dragging a giant Toys R Us bag (and being serenaded with the store's theme song by amused pedestrians), I got back to my hotel, changed, and with Meredith and Julie leading the way, we took the train to Long Island for a barbecue feast at Francine's. Steak, chicken, and lamb chops plus a dance party? It was a perfect night.

I'd had the most amazing time, but I was ready to go home. Yet NYC had other plans for me when, as I waited at La Guardia, thunder clapped, lightning bolted through the foggy sky, and every flight to Toronto was canceled. Thankfully, Meredith came to my aid immediately, and I made it back to her apartment for another night of bonding. I wanted to appreciate the extra time I had with her. Until I discovered that every flight to Toronto the following day, except the last flight out which I was booked on, had all been canceled. Would I ever make it home? Would Meredith have a new, messy roommate to contend with?

I headed to the airport on Monday, ready to hop on an overnight bus if I had to because I wanted to cuddle my kids so much, sat on the airport floor as flight after flight was canceled, and stared at the schedule until everything was one big blur. I bonded with the other passengers who just wanted to get home, and together we released a collective sigh of relief when we boarded the plane bound for Toronto.

And as the plane made its descent, I smiled. My trip might have been over, but my journey has just begun because I now work on revising my next novel until it is the best damn thing I can write, I get to forge new connections and treasure the ones I already have, and I am home where I belong.

Until next year in Chicago!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BEA 15 Recap: Day Two

After such a busy day, I'd wanted to sleep in a bit because with two young kids, I don't often get the chance to loll in bed. But my eyes flew open on Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m. I can't function without my wake-up cup of coffee or three, and my hotel kindly hunted down a coffee maker for me. With my comfy hotel-issue waffle robe, straight hair (which is normally wildly curly) tucked into a shower cap, and jolt of java in hand, I looked out the window at the gorgeous, sunny day. Then I read a few chapters of a book, finally took a shower, and meandered out the door to meet Melissa Amster and Julie Valerie for lunch at the Javits Center.

My hotel was close to Meredith Schorr because we'd be spending so much time together but far from BEA so I hopped into a cab, which moved at a turtle's pace. Maybe it was the construction or the time, but it took an hour for the taxi to brake its way to where I needed to be. I vowed never to complain about Toronto traffic again. By this point, I was starving and had to pee (a usual combination for me), and I was so happy when I met up with Julie and Melissa and munched on my ten dollar sandwich. We sat on the floor, chatting about books and writing and then went our separate ways to do what we had to.

I had a few goals for Thursday: grab a shot of Sonja Yoerg's upcoming novel, The Middle of Somewhere, which had been a giveaway at the PenguinRandomHouse booth and thanks to Sonja, was already on my e-reader. I wanted to take a photo of Laura McNeill's forthcoming novel, The Center of Gravity, from Thomas Nelson, because Laura couldn't make it to BEA, and I wanted to meet Mary Kubica, author of the international sensation, The Good Girl, and see her soon-to-be-released novel, Pretty Baby, from Harlequin MIRA. I also wanted to stroll the aisles and breathe in the books on the shelves.

Sonja's books were all gone -- no surprise there. I found Kaley Stewart, which wasn't hard because she's about a foot taller than me, and she takes a much better photo than I do. So she snapped this pic of me holding one of the last copies of Laura's book, which is now waiting for me on my shelf!

BEA is huge, but it's amazing how many people you run into. I was so happy to see Mark Leslie Lefebvre, director of self-publishing & author relations at Kobo, a friend and huge supporter of mine, and an author whose book Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries was being given away at the Dundurn booth (I managed to score a copy of that after seeing him, which was awesome). I then realized that as much as I wanted to attend Mary Kubica and Pam Jenoff's signings for Pretty Baby and The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, I had little time left to get back to my hotel to change and meet Meredith and Francine LaSala and be ready for a home-cooked dinner at Eileen Goudge's apartment. Eileen is one of the best cooks I know, and there was no way I could be late for that. But I couldn't leave without meeting Mary and Pam so I ran over to their signing booth, where a huge line had already formed. I managed to say a quick, garbled hello. They are both so lovely, and I will absolutely be buying their books when they come out.

I got to Eileen's with Meredith and Francine, and Julie was already there, wine in hand and a huge smile on her beautiful face. We all grinned back. The Beach Babes were together, and we kicked off our shoes and snuggled on the couch, missing Jen Tucker and Josie Brown. After a delicious dinner of lasagna and the best salad I've ever had, we screamed with laughter about the most inappropriate things that cannot be repeated, and my feet were rubbed until I was practically asleep on their laps. These are my girls, and though we only see each other twice a year, when we're together, it feels like home. We tried, disastrously, to take a selfie so thankfully Sandy Kenyon, Eileen's husband and the compulsively watchable movie critic and entertainment reporter for WABC-TV's Eyewitness News This Morning, came home and took a great shot with a camera that was larger than his palm. You know, a proper camera.

With a huge hug for Eileen, Julie, Meredith, Francine, and I left, and after a quick stop to pee and a taxi ride that smelled like a bar carpet at the end of last call, I crawled into my hotel bed.

It had been another incredible day, and I fell asleep with my e-reader in my hand.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BEA 15 Day One

I've been scribbling stories since I was ten years old, but I really started writing novels twelve years ago. In 2012, when I published Finding Lucas, I became an author and a lifelong wish came true. The last three years have been an incredible time in my life, full of ups and downs, pride and rejection. And when I go to NYC for BEA, all of the work, stress, and fear are so worth it. I get to stand on the streets of Manhattan as a writer. Here's my recap of BEA 15 Day One!

I left early Wednesday morning with a grin that refused to leave my face because the first person I was going to see was my incredible agent, Jenny Bent. I hope everyone has the chance to experience the joy and excitement I did when an eleven-year-long dream actually happened. Yes, I've wanted to work with Jenny for eleven years. Every query I wrote was sent to her first, and the authors she's represented over a career spanning more than twenty years are writers I admire and respect. So, when I got The Call from Jenny and she told me what she thought my next novel could become, I knew that my gut instinct was spot-on. Jenny has been by my side through major revisions and she has helped me, from conception to getting-close-to-completion, write the book I have always been compelled to write. She has supported me in every way to create the best book I can, and I will forever feel tremendously lucky to find someone who just seemed to know what I truly wanted to do.

I sat in a very cool bar waiting for Jenny, giddy and a little nervous. But the moment I met her, my nerves melted, and over champagne (thanks, Jenny!), I teared up a few times because how often do we get what we so want? Jenny is as warm, funny, kind, and smart as she appears online, and I floated out of the bar as though helium had been in my glass. She also taught me how to tweet a picture, which was very appreciated. Here's my ear-to-ear grin while with Jenny:

After meeting Jenny, I booted over to my hotel to see Meredith Schorr. Meredith is like a sister to me, and when I'm in NYC, she always tries to make sure I don't walk in the wrong direction (happens anyway no matter what she tells me), gets me safely back to my hotel, and I love hanging out on my bed in my room with her chatting for hours. We didn't stay long because we had to meet Melissa Amster, founder of Chick Lit Central, and Kaley Stewart, founder of Books Etc. and my Toronto gal, at Jennifer Weiner's "Ladies First" event, which we knew about thanks to the lovely Brenda Janowitz. Being at a party with Jennifer Weiner, Jen Lancaster, and Brenda, and meeting Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (whose novel, The Status of All Things, is out today!) and Kristy Woodson Harvey was another amazing moment in a magical day. The cookie I'm holding has a photo of Brenda's novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and I'm sure the book is as good as the cookie.

The fun wasn't over yet! Kaley and I had our birthdays days apart, and holding umbrellas over each other's heads to protect the hair we'd painstakingly styled, Meredith, Melissa, Kaley, and I headed over to a celebratory dinner with Francine LaSala, Amy Bromberg, Julie Valerie, and Lynn Marie Hulsman. I'm still stunned at the beautiful connections I've made with people over the last few years, and I treasure my friendships with the authors, readers, and bloggers I've been fortunate enough to meet. Amy is a sweetheart, and we share not only a love of books but our tiny stature, and Lynn Marie and I can talk for hours about writing. Julie and Francine (who's also my business partner on many editing projects, cooks for me, and lets me crash at her house on my last night in NYC) are part of my Beach Babes crew, who I spend five days with every January at a house in California with Eileen Goudge, Jen Tucker, Josie Brown, and Meredith. They are my family.

And Melissa has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and dear friends ever since I asked her for a review from Chick Lit Central. She even got me a birthday present!

It had been a long, memorable, unbelievable day, and I hadn't gotten to BEA yet! So, check back if you'd like to hear what happened on day two and three and how I got stuck in NYC and couldn't get home.