In the summer of 2004 while cruising around the Internet looking for agents, etc. for my book which was in a very infant stage, I discovered Book Expo. This is the major publishing event in the country abounding with all the new titles, celebrity authors, new authors, and a wonderland for wanna-be authors like me. And so without thinking, I recruited my pal Season, grabbed my discombobulated book proposal, and went to Chicago.
I was in awe for the entire time. There were more books than I ever imagined were even in existence on the floor of the gigantic McCormick Place Convention Center and publishers I’d never heard of. And in a state of euphoria and wishful thinking while looking at a lucky author’s book cover in gigantic lighted board form…I said…next year…that will be me and Sadie.
Next year…summer of 2005….I was again at Book Expo…this time in New York City…and I was there as an author with an AGENT…a CONTRACT….and to meet my publishers. Talk about WONDERLAND! It was amazing…as I listened to the plans for MY book…and wandered around the convention center thinking…next year…I WILL be here with MY BOOK!
May….2006….Sadie and I were invited to Book Expo by our publisher. We get the invitation early in the year…February I think…and we accept IMMEDIATELY! We spend months thinking about it…will any one want to meet us…to get us to sign their book….will they have a poster of our book cover? As the time drew near, details of the plans for Book Expo trickle in and our excitement grows. My publicist sends a funny note…”Patti…Sadie now weighs 20 pounds…just tell the hotel she is all hair.” Seems the hotel had some sort of dog weight restriction. Not to worry, Sadie is as good as me at pulling off weight deceptions by this time.
Finally the time comes and we are in the car driving to DC. As we pull up in front of the elegant Mayflower Hotel we are greeted by uniformed door men and immediately everything is taken care of for us. My embarrassment was profound though that despite numerous bathroom stops including one IMMEDIATELY before entering the city…Sadie had the nerve to unceremoniously poop right on the sidewalk! I was appalled, but the staff was not affected as I quickly scooped the mess up they opened a container for it to be placed in, took our luggage, and hustled us into the lobby as someone outside calmly sprayed off the sidewalk. Check in was easy as Sadie in her usual manner totally unaffected by her breach of etiquette stood on her hind legs supervising the check in procedure. As I watched she was told that they gave her and her “Mom” an executive Suite as they felt she would be more comfortable there. Lucky for us they had not witnessed her blatant display of bad manners outside the door. As soon as we got in the room she frolicked to the window as I asked her “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!” But how could I be upset…she was responsible for snagging this beautiful and spacious suite for us.
When our friend Season arrived, we went outside to get a cab and get over to the Washington Convention Center to see what we were going to be doing. The cabs were all lined up out front, and the doorman summoned one and opened the door. The driver said he would not take “the dog”…and his gestures and head shaking caught the attention of the security guy watching over the front of the hotel. He came over and told the cab driver that “if you don’t want to take all of our guests…you are not going to take any so get your cab out of here.” To which the surprised driver stammered as the guard thumped on the cab’s room signaling him to skedaddle. The next cab pulled up…the driver asked if there was a problem as the security guy opened the door and signaled for all of us to get in the cab…and answered the new driver by saying…”There’s no problem if you get these ladies over the the Convention Center.” And the driver said “OK” and we were off.
When we entered the convention center we collected our exhibitor badges the publisher had arranged for us including one for Sadie and proceeded in the bedlam of event set-up to find our booth. As we hurried to the area where our booth was Sadie was distracted by the sights, sounds, and smells abounding in the confusion and before we knew it…there we were at HCI’S fabulous booth and we stopped in our tracks…really…and tears filled my eyes as I looked at my book cover…larger than life…lit up in lights. My dream…my wishful thinking…all the work and believing I put into this book with my little dog urging me on…providing ispiration…and I was completely overwhelmed and never I have never felt more rewarded for anything I ‘ve ever done in my life than at that moment….it must be how Dorothy felt when she reached OZ at the end of the long yellow brick road.
We were greeted by everyone on our book team and this was their first time to meet Sadie. She licked everyone equally and jumped all over showing her joy. Our publicist Kim thought Sadie was such a good representation of the book she gave us a lot of book markers made specially for our book to go pass out. And hand them out we did…to everyone who even looked at Sadie and that seemed to be EVERYONE!
We got our appearance times confirmed and walked back to the hotel as it was a beautiful evening and for once Season and I both had on shoes that actually made this possible. We asked the Concierge at the Hotel to suggest a restaurant where we could dine outside with Sadie and he told us about a Thai restaurant within walking distance of the hotel and off the three of us went. It was a wonderful place with a nice outside patio and Sadie was warmly greeted. After a good dinner, we walked back through the beautiful evening…stopping at a park for Sadie to run around…and then it was off to bed as tomorrow would come soon and we needed to be ready.
The opening day of Book Expo was amazing as I had experienced before, but this time…my badge said AUTHOR and so did Sadie’s. We signed books at our booth and met people. We did interviews with the media that had been arranged, posed for photos, and then it was time to go to the big autographing area where all the “real” authors signed books. I felt like I was in a dream as Julie…the Author Liaison for HCI…hustled me and Sadie and Season through a maze of corridors to an elevator…through some storage area and then emerging through a black curtain to the autograph arena! It was PACKED and the line for our table was miles long! (at least it seemed so!) The times for autographing are strictly enforced and we were rushed to the table and books started appearing before me and before knew it the time was up…but the line was still long. I asked if they could give the remaining people a book and I would sign them outside the area so the next author could take over. After all…these people came to meet us and we did not want to disappoint them.
While wondering around the convention floor during times we were not signing books…we saw lots of people we knew from TV…Anderson Cooper was there…I said hi to Paula Poundstone because I thought I knew her…reminded me of someone and it turned out she reminded me of herself and I didn’t know her actually, but she was a good sport and greeted me warmly. We saw Wink Martindale and he told us about his dog. I got a pat on the back from Jim Belushi we collected a lot of books to take home with us.
As our duties for the day ended, we joined the line outside waiting for a cab. This time…our feet and paws were just too tired to attempt the walk back. Nervous about getting a cab after the incident at the hotel…I explained to the DC Policewoman that we might have a problem…and she looked at Sadie and addressed her remark only to her…”Look at me honey” she said…”Do you think any old cab driver is going to give ME a problem over you?” We laughed as she handed us into a cab without incident.
Again we asked the concierge for dinner advice, this time off to a Japanese Restaurant with a walk through DuPont Circle. The restaurant had a lot of dogs tethered to the exterior fence and we were lucky to get one of these popular tables. Water was brought to all three of us and we ordered and consumed a delightful meal. We stopped in a dog-friendly Barnes and Noble on the way back and signed store copies of our book. We stopped at a tiny grocery store and I splurged on a pear tart to take back to the hotel.
The next morning, Sadie and I were out early, me getting coffee at Starbucks on the way to the park…her frolicking in the morning sunshine happy and content…we were together in our nations capitol and our book was doing well…things were good.
We took the bus shuttle back to the convention center later that morning for one last signing. As the event wound down…our spirits did not. I still cannot believe how lucky we’ve been. We got a great agent…she sold our book to a great publisher…we had been at Book Expo as authors. The drive home from DC was uneventful and reflective…Sadie slept…I thought about it all. Dreams really do come true….and sure they also do end…only if we forget to be grateful and remember how it all began. A trip to PetsMart…a little dog that turned my life around. And hey I signed so many books at this event I couldn’t bend my thumb without great pain…I had to get a cortisone shot in my thumb. My doctor wanted a book signed though and thinking it all over…it was worth it!