Wednesday, May 11 with Arlo Guthrie singing “City of New Orleans” in my head, I boarded the Am Trak headed to Chicago. There I planned to connect with friend and author of BANK NOTES, Caroline Giammanco, for the BEA 2016, Book Expo. Our publisher, W&B Publishers had included our books with six other titles on the indie book display.
One of the bright points of my journey was a stopover to change trains in St. Louis. This gave me the pleasure of catching up with long time friend, Kent Martin. Thirty minutes sped by and it didn’t seem like over thirty years since we’d last seen each other.
All together the trip took over ten hours with all of the stops. I enjoyed sightseeing and unfettered writing time on my netbook. Not only that, I didn’t have to use up battery power since the trains are equipped with outlets and free wifi.
My son Christian and his sweetheart, Sarah, opened their home in Evanston to Caroline and me which saved us a lot of room and board. Since I don’t see my kids as often as I’d like, this was a joyful bonus for me.
We bought three-day passes for the CTA and Sarah gave us instructions. We would take the purple line, transfer to the red line on the way and visa versa on the way back. We pretty much had the hang of it by the end of the first day.
From Evanston to downtown Chicago is an hour commute. However, with two chatty women, it never seemed that long. Friday brought us a surprise when we found ourselves on the purple line express which stopped sooner than the day before.Not being familiar with streets and stops we were unsure of what to do. A young man came to the rescue and told us we could indeed take the red line from that stop to our destination.
When I thanked him he said, “Shabbat shalom.” I wondered how he knew I was Jewish until I remembered my ubiquitous Star of David around my neck. I returned the greeting and he showed me his Star of David, a locket with a picture of his parents and another of his son. He asked where we were from and I took a copy of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME from my bag to show and told him about the expo. His face lit up. He told me he was looking for gifts for his family and my books would be perfect. After we boarded the train, I gave him my card. He generously shared some of his life story in which his Jewish faith played a huge part. I hope one day to hear from him again. At any rate, I won’t soon forget him.
The expo was a great place to make connections and develop a feel for the industry. There are so many facets to it and I have so much to learn.
Seeing PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME on display gave me a surge of pride.When I started writing the story, I had an idea and what I considered a lofty dream. Would anyone really be interested in my Havah and her trials? Nonetheless, I kept at it—writing, rewriting and pitching to various agents, until Jeanie Loiacono found the story worthy of publication.
Other trips, conferences and book signings loom large on the horizon as Havah’s journey continues in FROM SILT AND ASHES and the third book in progress. The title of it has become my motto, AS ONE MUST ONE CAN.