Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bookstores and Babes

The last evening of my Chicago stay, I had a reading at Women and Children First bookstore. I came straight from the Back of the Yards event and so ended up arriving half an hour early: shucks darn, I thought, guess I just have to browse this adorable bookstore! Good thing I only had half an hour, otherwise I might have bought a dozen books instead of only four. (I think I’ve got this New Year’s resolution thing down…just make resolutions that involve doing something you already love. Like buying books. I’m such a genius!)

It’s a little nervous-making, having a bookstore reading not in your hometown. It’s just too easy to picture nobody showing up…especially on a freezing, snow-blowing night. But people did show up, bless their tough Chicago hearts. And among them came the Babes!

The Babes With Big Books, that is. Almost a year ago, this Chicago-area book club won copies of Ten Cents a Dance through They read the book and then invited me to call in to one of their club meetings. What a blast! These avid readers gave me a warm, open-arms Illinois welcome; it was so much fun to finally meet some of them in person. Thanks, Babes, for helping make the reading a success! Thanks too to my friend Jenny, a friend and fabulous writer whom I met at a writing workshop here in Portland, for coming out in support, and laughing in all the right places.

Here are the Babes and I: That’s Amy, Karen, me, Meredith, and Kimberly. I feel incredibly lucky that these wonderful women won my book—you all are an author’s dream!

A top shot of the victory rolls. (Thank God I didn't write a book set in the early ` WAY I'm EVER doing a beehive!)

Chicago was over, but no time to rest; the next day, I headed to Cincinnati to spend a few days with my brother’s family and do a book signing at a Borders bookstore. A book signing is different from a reading: my role was to sit at a table at the front of the store, greet customers as they came in, and if anyone was interested, talk to them about Ten Cents. Now, most folks see someone in `40s getup at a table piled with books, and they get this kind of spooked-deer don’t make eye contact don’t make eye contact oh look at this incredibly interesting thing way on the opposite side of the store thing going on. Which I don’t blame them for, as I in all my introversion would undoubtedly do the same thing. But I was the author; this was no time to be introverted. I smiled at everyone and offered free bookmarks, and if people stopped to chat, I gladly (and gratefully!) chatted. Marjorie, the store manager, brought me coffee, which helped fend off the cold (twenty degrees outside, and me in front of the big double doors swooshing open and shut constantly; after forty-five minutes, I couldn’t feel my feet). In just over an hour and a half, all the books were sold. Whoo-hoo! Many, many thanks to my brother Matt, Marjorie, and all the staff of the Borders in Mason, OH—you guys rock!

And then it WAS time to rest. Tons of good food (my sister-in-law Janet is an awesome cook), hours of wonderful conversation, intense Scrabble games with my nephews, and my first-ever episode of The Bachelor, which happened to be the finale (Jason, you fickle, fickle man, how could you?)

And then—after a fifteen-hour three-airport two-delayed-flight odyssey—sweet home at last. For now, Chicago, goodbye…but I had an incredible time, and I'll be back--I know it!


Sara Fletcher said...

It was so fun to see you in Chicago!!! More exploring next time for sure :)

Melissa Marsh said...

*squeal* I love your hair! Gorgeous! And it looks like you had the best time. Congrats!

sally nemeth said...

If you ever DO set a novel in the early beehive 60's, might I suggest what the B-52's finally had to do before they nearly went bald with all the hairspray and teasing - BUY A WIG.

Fab 'do, fab photos, fab city. I'll be there in May, 'cuz I ain't no dummy. Chicago in the SPRING!

Lisa Nowak said...

I'm awed by your fashion sense. I don't know if I could handle the historical garb and hairstyles. I wouldn't know where to begin.

You might be onto something going to Chicago in March. Most people go someplace warm like Mexico then have to come back to a dismal, drippy Oregon spring. But once you've endured 18-20°, even a below average 45° day in Portland must seem balmy.

lkmadigan said...

Awesome recaps, Chris!

Jenny Seay said...

Laughing in all the right places is one of the things I do best!

Christine Fletcher said...

Sara, you're on! ;)

Melissa, I did have a wonderful time. I still can't quite get the rolls the way I want...more practice!

Sally, if it came to beehives, the wig would be the only way to go. I've seen the YouTube tutorials on how to do a real 'hive--it's amazing people had any hair left.

Lisa, I didn't know where to begin, either...and if it wasn't for the internet, I still wouldn't! But between Google, YouTube, and the Fedora Lounge, I managed. It helps that I think `40s fashion is fabulous.

Thanks, L.K.! :)

Jenny, it was so wonderful to see you in Chicago. I hope we get to host you in Portland one of these days!