|KC's beautiful Union Station|
Last week I traveled with co-worker/friend/mentor Joan Grenier to Kansas City for Winter Institute, which is the funnest of all possible fun book conferences to attend. While Kansas City has many, many groovy things going for it, I think even its fiercest apologists must admit that it's not at its best in February. Especially not when it's bookended by blizzards. (See what I did there? I managed to work something bookish and alliterative into that one sentence fragment.)
Joan and I were among the lucky ones, as we timed our travel day perfectly--missing the storms at both our destination and at home by about 12 hours. Not only that, but since winter travel can lead to many plane cancellations and airport closings, we specifically chose to fly through Minneapolis. MSP is a workhorse of an airport--they don't close for a little snow, wind, or ice AND it's a comfortable and beautiful place to spend a few hours, should your destination airport wimp out and delay flights into it.
(1) Line up near the door while you're waiting for the ballroom to open.
(2) Study the layout of the ballroom and which authors are located at which tables while you wait.
(3) When the doors open, make a beeline for the Rock Star authors, as their lines will be longest. Do NOT pause for booze and/or food. Basically, if you want to get a book signed by Sherman Alexie or Dave Eggers AND you still want time to meet other authors, do those lines first.
(4) There will be lots of authors with nobody at their table waiting in line. This is sad, but there will be time for you to stop at almost all of those authors' tables after you get your Rock Star signatures.
(5) If you must fortify yourself with booze or food, just grab & go as you cross the ballroom from one author line to another. Try to grab foods that won't leave grease stains on your books. For the last two years they've had some pretty amazing madeleines on offer--these are perfect. Two bites will polish off one madeleine. They're light & airy and won't mark your fingers. You don't even really need a napkin.
(6) Above all, make sure you have a commodious book bag so that you always have one hand free to shake hands, hold a wine glass, proffer a pen or business card, etc. (Maybe this should have been in the #1 spot, eh?)
|My hotel room view--love the skating rink and the fairy lights on the trees|
Some Rock Star authors like to chat with each person who comes through the line. While I appreciate this when an author does this in my bookstore with my customers, I would prefer not to wait in line behind 100 other people while the Rock Star author tries to make each one of them feel like a Special Snowflake. I have no idea whether other booksellers feel this way or not, but frankly, I wish there were two lines for those authors: the express line and the Special Snowflake line.
Chronicle Books, it's great. If you're like me and you happen to like all three, it's amazing. Here's a shout-out to Sally Brewster from Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC, who enlisted her husband's help to get a second book signed for me, as they were being fairly strict about limiting them to one per customer.
Lidia's for dinner. Gail Godwin, the author of one of my favorite books this spring, Flora, was at the dinner, so I was doubly excited to be invited. The food was excellent and so was the company:
|Dick and Ken from Oblong Books and Macmillan|
|Cristina and Kelly, from Books & Books and Carmichael's|
|Author Cathleen Schine and me|
(No, the person of whom I speak is not in my photos, and no, I will not name any names. I still haven't even said who is was who sat next to me at the worst author dinner ever.)
|Kelsy from Bank Square Books|
|The cool loft room that Kelsy and I explored with Jessica from Northshire|
|L-R: author Carlene Bauer, me|
|L-R: me, author Jill McCorkle, Algonquin marketing guru Craig Popelars|