Saturday, May 6, 2023

Friendships Across the Miles and Over the Decades

April was a wonderful whirlwind of activity for me. Not only is it a busy time at work and home, but the release of the eighth book in the Nature Station Mystery Series, April Showers, made for an even busier month. However, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I normally schedule one book event per month, sometimes two, but rarely three! April kicked off with the Bishop Hill Book Fair on April 1st. Not only was I an author participating in this event, but I was one of the organizers. Severe storms rolled through the night before, making last minute preparations a little tricky, as we made trips to the basement, and electricity flickered. As I drove to Bishop Hill in the strong winds, cool temperatures, and various forms of precipitation, looking at the devastation the storms had caused, I wondered how the turnout would be. Fortunately, book lovers don’t seem to mind venturing out in the elements to chat with local authors. I enjoyed not only networking with some of my favorite author friends, but also visiting with the loyal friends and family who stopped by to say hello and show their support and made new many new acquaintances as well.  

The next event was a much warmer and sunnier day and was held at the Wordsmith Bookshoppe in Galesburg. I’d spent the morning baking for Easter, so I had to “book it” to make it to Galesburg in time. Luckily the owner, Teri, had everything set up, and I breezed in and had a great afternoon chatting with past teachers, co-workers, dear friends of the family, local author friends, and others. It was a fun and rewarding afternoon. Teri is so supportive of local authors and does a wonderful job with her customers as well. 

My third event was held at Peck Farm Park in Geneva, a park district property. This was an Earth Day celebration and one that is well attended. The rain, sleet, snow, grappa, ice, and other precipitation forms may have prevented some people from attending, but I enjoyed visiting with those who stopped by to chat and to purchase books. I read aloud from “Rachel and Sammy Visit the Prairie,” since this property boasts a beautifully restored prairie, in addition to original outbuildings and an Italianate style house. I brought along an order of Rachel and Sammy books that will be stocked at the park’s gift shop.

While all that was wonderful, it was the meetups that took place that day that really made things shine. The night before I received a message from my college suite-mate, Heidi, telling me she lived within walking distance of the venue. She came to visit while I was setting up, and it was great to see her after several years. I had already arranged to meet my mom’s cousin, Mary, afterwards for a late lunch. Mary arrived in time to help me pack up my goods. It was fun to catch up with Mary and her husband while she showed me some local sites, and we ate a delicious lunch together.

Earlier that morning I had discovered that my friend, Matteo, from Italy was visiting his brother and family in Chicago. It didn’t work out to meet that day, but even better, we made arrangements to meet a few days later. We spent a fun day of hiking at Matthiessen and Starved Rock State Parks and catching up on thirty years of news. We had originally met at an environmental work camp in East Germany in 1990. Later that week I heard from a mutual friend from that same camp, who lives in Denmark. Pia and I had a great conversation--sharing photos and catching up on our daily lives. Ah, the wonders of technology that allow us to stay in touch across the miles. I have been blessed to be able to visit both my friends in their respective countries, as well as when they have visited the U.S.  

I also enjoyed chatting with shop owners when delivering my new releases in April. I have been doing business with some of them since my first book was published in 2010. With all these wonderful social interactions throughout the month we promised to stay in touch and meet up down the road. These are not empty promises on my part. My circle of friends is not huge, but it is long-lasting and loyal. While I am not always in the mood to be social, book events are the exception. Some authors prefer to bypass local events, but I always enjoy them. What perfect opportunities not only to showcase my work, but to also strengthen existing relationships and form new ones. 

The world is a big and scary place, but it is smaller and friendlier when you know there are people who are there for you—across the miles and throughout the decades.

Pictures taken at Matthiessen State Park







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