“All ABOARD! All ABOARD!” The booming voice recanted in the somber haze of a grey June day. Up the steps I clamored, overnight bag and tote in tow, onto “the Vermonter,” Amtrak’s steely vessel, propelling me south bound into the swarm of New York City, its full volume pace, a stratosphere away from my sleepy hill town lifestyle in New Hampshire. But, I was excited, Book Expo America was my destination, USA’s largest expo and the publishing industry’s “White House” of showboat of glory.
Every major publisher, literary agent, trade journal and book distributor would be there, plus thousands of librarians, book buyers, authors, press agents and industry trade people. My publisher had me slated for an 11:30AM author signing on Wednesday. For three days I agonized over what shoes to wear? Living in sneakers and flat, rubber soled plain-jane comfort shoes for a decade now, my lower back aches a mere two hours into even a kitten heel! OMG! Eight hours at the Expo on my feet was a fright! I packed three alternatives, just in case.
We looped through Massachusetts, familiar terrain soaring by, outside the wide train windows. How much roomier and comfy the Vermonter was than a plane ride! I even got a load of work done.
Rounding a train bend, on the final stretch, I watched Manhattan loom above the East River, a familiar sky scape to me, having lived the first 33 years of my life on Long Island. We rattled through Queens and into the tunnel, my heart catching a tad, memories of my departed dad awakening in me, as he commuted to NYC for over 55 year of his life.
Hello New York! Up the escalator onto 7th Avenue I went. A gaggle of construction workers, their requisite yellow hardhats, signposts of my youth. I even received a flirtatious wink and smile from one fellow! “Some things never change!” It’s all part of the big city banter.
7:00 PM, NYC was a mass of commuter chaos. I jockeyed for a cab and eventually, 30 minutes later, arrived at my childhood friend’s doorstep, home for the next two days.
Arriving at the Javitz Center on Wednesday at 10 AM, the place already overflowing with people, the second floor was a sea of 2500 booths and crayola colored displays of zillions of books everywhere your eyes landed. The artist in me resonated with the vivid palette, yet my nervous system was in sensory overload within the hour, the enormous drone of thousands of voices hovering incessantly. And then there was the issue of lights! Everyone had these dangling, projecting, brilliant watt lights associated with their booths. Too much! On the other hand, the bigger publishers had comfy sofas and had laid plushy carpet down. Ahhh! Of course I sat at their locales periodically.
My 11:30 author signing went great. Even a queue formed to receive a copy of “Out of the Woods” from me. Very fun to meet so many folks and watch my “baby” make its way into the hands of librarians, book-buyers, agents, and more. Every copy was dispersed within 45 minutes. “A success,” I was told by my hosts, Midpoint Trade.
I spent the rest of the day chatting away all over the Expo. It’s like a mammoth “meet and greet.” No introverts allowed! The color code on our badges alerted me to who was a publisher, exhibitor, author, agent, press, or else. Let me say, my mind was a swirl with all the conversations, hand shakes, and business card exchanges I finessed in a seven hour period. It was interesting to listen to the “Goosbumps Series” author, R.L. Stine, explain in a talk how he outlines his books-just like me! And to meet the dashingly handsome author, Tom Reiss, of “The Black Count.” But, the biggest thrill was a CBN news reporter, Carolyn Gusoff, tell me she’d like to do a segment on Lyme disease with me on Long ISland when I am down in August! Wow! Thank you to my distributor, Midpoint Trade, for hosting me at your booth. All of the reps were helpful and supportive. Plus, you helped teach me how to “work the expo!”
I practically crawled out the Javitz Center door, dog tired at 5 PM. The taxi cab line was hideously over a block long! Laden with two grossly over stuffed totes, and feet as sore as could be I haggled with a livery car driver (the ex-NYer never leaves ya!) and soon we zig zagged through traffic back to the Upper East Side.
Thinking we would sup in a small charming french bistro around the corner, in a now semi-trance state, Terence jolted me back into consciousness with the ebullient announcement that another long ago friend “is in town to join us for dinner!” (OMG! I had hoped to meander over in my ortho-heel slippers.)
Oh well-the city never sleeps! A shower and voila, there I found myself basking in the company of my insanely hilarious, charming dinner companions, savoring delicate soft shell crabs, and being tended to be the sexiest raven haired waiter I’d ever seen in too long of a time span. What a marvelously scintillating way to cap off the NYC whirlwind. I was glowing with pleasure, truly fathoming the enormous difference in my life, compared to the deathly sick spate of years bedridden with Lyme. Life holds many miracles.
Jostling homeward on the rugged train tracks the next day, I simply sat in silence for the first hour-contemplating the merriment of my big city experience at the Book Expo, processing all the information I’d taken in and cherishing my beautiful life tucked up in our hamlet. Four hours later as the greening hayfields emerged and Vermont’s hills arose in softened curves, I felt a gentleness and peaceful relaxation ease into my body.
“There’s no place like home,” wafted in my mind. Though “Out of the Woods” is taking me far and wide on so many stupendous expeditions, I can’t help but reason that, I love the beauty and creative inspiration of my “country mouse” life. However, no rest for this gal- I’m whizzing off to Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH on June 23 for a signing and Lyme talk, and then down to Mass Eye and Ear, Boston, on June 26, and Dover Library on June 27.
The pace is full and steady this summer and I am enjoying meeting all you wonderful folks who come to my book events. See you there!