Tag Archives: Printers Row Lit Fest

A Little Lit Fest featuring Pitchapalooza

festI made it to Lit Fest!  Given my work schedule and the threatening thunderstorms, it was not a sure thing.   I missed several readings/panels/ workshops that I had on my to-do list, but I got there just in time for Pitchapalooza, which was surprisingly educational.

Pitchapalooza’s premise:  Authors sign up to do a 90-second pitch at the microphone in front of Book Doctors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.   They critique your pitch.  About 20 people did this Sunday, and one lucky pitcher got an intro to an agent.

First things first:  According to Eckstut and Sterry, not one of the pitchers had a bad premise or an unpromising story.   So, everybody’s got talent.

Second:  Listening to pitches really helps you craft your own pitch.  I heard several people make the mistake of giving the whole backstory.  I want to do that – my main character is fascinating!  Others gave the names of all the characters in the book.  Clearly not necessary for pitching purposes.   Plus, don’t give away the whole plot in the pitch.  (But the ending is the reason why my book has the title it does!  I have to explain it!  No, I don’t.)

Third:  The world – or at least Chicago – is full of people who think their own life story is totally worth reading about.  One woman overcame breast cancer and a bad boyfriend.  Another was falsely accused of a crime. (Or was he guilty?  not sure.)  Someone else was homeless and now she lives in an awesome apartment on Lakeshore Drive.  But I have to admit:  all three of these stories could be interesting, if they were written well.

guideLast:  The Book Doctors are in it for the cash.  Buy their book, you get an  appointment to consult with them.  At which time, you will probably be offered the opportunity to become a Book Doctor client.  On the other hand, the book actually looked pretty helpful.  So I bought it.  At full price.  You, on the other hand, can get it at Amazon at a discount.

While at the Fest, I took the opportunity to while away an hour at Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, where I did my part to support the indies by spending $63.47.  Among my purchases:  Julia Keller’s debut mystery A Killing in the Hills, Janet Groth’s memoir The Receptionist, and Seth Godin’s Watcha Gonna Do With That Duck?   So more good stuff to come.

Fest fun commemorated in pictures!

The Printers Row Lit Fest is at the half-way mark, but I’ve had way more than 50% fun.  With just one disappointment (good friend had to cancel… freelancers have little control over their own schedules!) and a few raindrops, the rest was all excellent.

It was a busy day, and I’ll write more tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are some pics to commemorate the day’s wanderings.

First, there were some really cool city dogs wandering about.  Here’s one cute one.  Also, I bought a bunch of books and a T-shirt (from literary threads).   There was  also cool typesetting stuff.  I looked for a big “K” but only found a little bitty one, so didn’t make a purchase here.  I would have liked to do so.  They also had some pre-made artwork… generally not up to my coolness standard.   They did have one that spelled Woof! backwards, but I was offended that the exclamation point was not in the right place. So no purchase there.  Libby Fischer Hellmann is lovely as always at the Mystery Writers of America tent… her session in the AM with Barb D’Amato and Julia Keller was super.  Big Sleep Books:  Noir-y.  Columbia College’s tent had live music!  Sandmeyer’s Bookstore is small but super-engaging, and always there, even when Lit Fest is NOT going on.

John Sandford’s shockeroo… and don’t forget Lit Fest

John Sandford celebrates the maturity of his “prey” series – 21 novels featuring Minnesota cop Lucas Davenport – with a look back at the past.  Construction workers have uncovered the plastic-sheathed bodies of two little girls under a concrete slab, and by so doing, uncover an episode in Davenport’s past that has nagged at him for many years.

And thus the reader slides back to 1985, getting a view of Lucas as a uniform cop, sharp, headstrong, and willing to bend the rules, but still young enough to be willing to set aside his own instincts for the advice of wiser and more experienced colleagues… plus the promise of the career path he desires.  It wasn’t really a quid pro quo, but it was definitely understood that making waves wouldn’t do.  It suited everyone’s interests to consider the case closed with the death of the main suspect.

This is Lucas pre-Weather, pre-kids, and well before the big bucks that came his way as a video game developer.  In fact, in Buried Prey, Lucas is fooling around with his second game and isn’t expecting any big payoff.  He’s still a devil with the women and a loyal friend.

As I mentioned, the girls’ kidnapping was closed when the suspect died, but the mystery lived on.  The discovery of the girls’ bodies led to the realization that the suspect couldn’t have committed the crime, and Davenport’s left with a sick feeling… not only did he miss the opportunity to solve the case 25  years ago, but there’s every likelihood that the real bad guy has been out there, attacking little girls, year after year.

And so he has.  Davenport rejoins his old colleagues to unearth the truth and finds several cases with the same MO… including one where the girl got away.  The killer, cunning but not all that smart, is backed into a corner and is forced to kill again to cover his tracks.  Despite his deep-seated preference for knives, he comes out guns blazing and there’s a resulting shocking death (I’ll say no more). Needless to say, the criminal gets his comeuppance.

Buried Prey will be a hit with Sandford fans and new readers alike.  Although I’ve read and enjoyed the other books in the series, you don’t need to read them all in order to understand the relationships or the backstory in this one.  It’s fun to see the young Lucas… like many crime novel heroes, he has a tendency to be smarter, suaver, and bigger than life.  In this one, his flaws show.

Hey, Lit Fest Tomorrow!  Be sure to go!  I’m totally excited except for the fact that the weather forecast has changed and now SUNDAY is the sunny day.  But I’ve got tickets to stuff and I’m planning to meet my long-time friend Anne there, so I will just stick an umbrella in my tote bag (along with an extra book bag) and get myself on the el.  It will be fun no matter what.

This year’s Lit Fest: Plan ahead!

The 2009 Printers’ Row Lit Fest was the topic for the first-ever Literary Lunchbox blog post… and here we are, two years 140 posts later, about to head to Lit Fest again.  After last year’s rainy Fest, this year’s weather forecast leads me to plan my 2011 Printers’ Row Lit Fest trip for Saturday, June 4.  It’ll be hot and sunny and before the expected storms on Sunday.

Saturday does look like a good day.  There are numerous mystery-themed events on stage, starting out with Murder Most Cozy at 10 a.m. at the Harold Washington Library.  Moderated by FB friend Julie Hyzy, it should be good even though I’m not personally acquainted with panelists Betty Hechtman, Ellery Adams, and Joelle Charbonneau.   I have  few days and a Kindle.

The always-excellent Julia Keller is moderating a panel, A Killer History, at 12:30 pm at Grace Place.  It features personal faves Libby Fischer Hellmann and Barbara D’Amato, with Graham Moore.  (Not that he isn’t deserving of fave status.  I’m sure after seeing him, he’ll be one.)

1:45 will be a tough, tough time slot.  At the University Center, Tasha Alexander is moderating The Future of the Mystery Novel, with David Heinzmann, Andrew Grant, Sharon Fiffer and the lovely-and-popular Luisa Buehler.   At the same time at the Hotel Blake, Victoria Lautman is interviewing Ann Packer, who wrote The Dive From Clausen’s Pier (one of my all-time favorites) and her new and well-reviewed work, Swim Back to Me.  How to decide? It’d be tough, but The Future panel is already sold out (limited seating in this venue requires tickets).  So it’s Ann Packer for me.

3:30 is dreamboat time (you know you agree with me) with the pair-up of Marcus Sakey and Sean Chercover at the Harold Washington Library.  Great authors, enthralling books, and members of the Chicagoland literary-and-articulate-yet-ever-so-slightly-dangerous-mystery-author set.  It’s a small group, but if you’re in, you know who you are.

This is followed by a Pitchapalooza at Center Stage with David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut, coauthors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.  I’m not sure what this entails, but hope to find out before Saturday.  I’ll have my 60-second pitch ready, just in case.

This is a pretty heavy schedule which leaves me little time for wandering through the stalls, looking at books, snapping iPhone photos of the city dogs of various sizes that trail behind their wandering masters, stopping off for coffee, and whatnot.  Plus if memory serves, there’s an awesome bookstore right there (sort of a coals-to-Newcastle kind of thing).  I foresee a lot of frantic dashing hither and yon.

Note to those attending:  events happening at the Harold Washington Library or the University Center require tickets… plan ahead!