Travels with Heather, Part 2

Still with me?  Onward!  (Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, today’s post is guaranteed 100% potty-free…)

The last of my trio of recent trips was a local one.  Well, sort of local.  Long-distance local.  Because PIES & PREJUDICE was nominated for an Oregon Book Award this year (my friend Emily Whitman’s wonderful book WILDWING was the winner), I was invited by Literary Arts, the organization that sponsors the awards, to go on a mini-book tour.  I jumped at the chance! For one thing, it’s an honor to be asked, and for another, it’s just plain fun.

So I packed my suitcase, and off I went to a stretch of the Oregon coastline I’ve never seen before:  North Bend and Coos Bay.

I have to admit it’s cool to blow into town and see your “wanted” poster plastered everywhere. Here’s one on the window of Ciccarelli’s, the restaurant where we ate the first night.  (Yum!)  One of the best things about these tours is the chance to get to know some other Oregon writers.  I was incredibly fortunate to tag along with two delightful and incredibly talented people — George Estreich, whose book The Shape of the Eye, a moving, heartfelt memoir about raising a daughter with Down Syndrome, won the award for creative nonfiction; and Geri Doran, a poet whose lovely collection Sanderlings was a finalist in the poetry category.

Our fearless guide for the tour was Susan Denning from Literary Arts.  She’s a peach.

And she was a willing partner-in-crime, too, when I suggested we skive off and do a little sight-seeing.  We made a beeline for the ocean, of course, and landed in a great spot called Shore Acres State Park.  Can you believe this view?

There used to be a fancy mansion perched on this cliff, the home of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis Simpson, but it’s long gone.   Too bad.  Like Emma Hawthorne, I’m a sucker for old houses, and I would love to have seen it…

All that remains are pictures, alas.  Oh, and the estate’s formal gardens.  Which brought Susan and me to our first dilemma of the morning — which to visit first, the gardens or the beach?

We opted for the gardens.  All I can say is, wow!

I want a fountain like this one in my garden:

And rhododendrons like these:

And a Japanese pond like this one, please:

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

There was a greenhouse, too, where we admired a variety of beautiful flowers …

… and gawked at a VERY odd plant that looked like a pussywillow wearing a feather boa:

Does anyone know what this is?  I’m clueless.

When we were done touring the garden, it was time to hit Simpson’s Beach.  Oh joy!  We were the only ones there!

Is this gorgeous or what?!

Such a stunning setting definitely called for kicking back, relaxing, and soaking up a few of those rare Oregon rays …


It’s times like this that I’m convinced I have the best job in the world.

I could have lingered in this beautiful spot all day, but there were workshops and readings and school visits ahead, so Susan and I reluctantly pried ourselves away and headed back to civilization. I taught a writing workshop that afternoon, followed by a group signing at the lovely North Bend Public Library, then the following day I visited a couple of schools, including North Bend Middle School, where I hobnobbed with the fabulous librarians from there and from North Bay Elementary School:

Oops, there’s that purple shirt again!  Where’s Megan when I need her?  I really have to go shopping…

The students gave me a fantastic welcome, as you can see.

They’d all read my SPY MICE books, and I had a blast talking to them about my path to becoming an author, and about books and writing.  And then we brainstormed some fractured fairy tales together, which was great fun.

The kids also made some beautiful notes and letters and artwork for me, too, which totally bowled me over:

You can’t tell from the picture, but this one below is 3-D!  Glory’s (the mouse’s) nose and ears have a sort of sandy texture added to them.  Really cute!

An entire class collaborated on that one, and on this amazing collage below.  I’m planning on getting it framed to hang on my office wall:

See why I’m convinced I have the best job in the world?

Meet me in St. Louis … and Minneapolis, and Chicago

Confession:  I am a truly pathetic blogger. 

I had the best of intentions when I was on the road recently, honestly I did.  But real life is so deliciously distracting.  There were friendships to renew, and amazing booksellers to meet, and wonderful schools to visit, and delightful readers to talk to, and new cities to explore (Chicago, you know I’m talking about you).

Plus, most of the time I forget to bring my camera.  Or if I remember to bring it, I forget to take pictures.  (Like I said, pathetic.)

Still, I managed to document a few highlights:

Pudd'nhead Books in Webster Groves, Missouri

Who can resist a bookstore deep in the heart of Twain territory with a name like this?  Or one with a sidewalk sign like this to greet an author on the night of her book signing?

In Minneapolis, one of the schools I visited was Holy Spirit, where I received a welcome fit for royalty.  As I entered the lobby, not only was I serenaded by a talented young violinist, but I was also greeted by this flock of charming young ladies and their hand-decorated signs:

Talk about feeling special!

The following day brought more delights as I traveled to the town of Wayzata.  Imagine working at this bookstore:


and having beautiful Lake Minnetonka there to greet you whenever you stepped outside:


I wouldn’t get any work done at all, would you?

Chicago was my last stop.  Oh my.  Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco, but I definitely left mine in the windy city.  Of course, the fact that it was 70 degrees the entire weekend I was there didn’t hurt.  Nor did the fact that I was ensconced on the 35th floor of a hotel overlooking Lake Michigan.  Here’s what dawn looked like from my room:


And here’s what the world’s most perfect room service breakfast looked like when it arrived a short time later:


You’d faint if you knew how much it cost.  I just about did.

Somehow I managed to forget to take pictures at wonderful Main Street Books in historic St. Charles, Missouri, and at the amazing Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois, and at totally awesome Anderson’s Bookshop in Downers Grove, Illinois.  And where are the pictures of me with all the fabulous young readers (and their moms and dads) who came to see me?  And the pictures of me at the numerous schools who welcomed me so warmly?  And me with all my new bookseller friends? 

Pathetic.

Next time, I’ll be a better blogger.  That’s a promise.

Fall 2009 Author Tour

Woman with suitcase

 

 

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go…

I’ll be hitting the road soon on my first-ever book tour!

In the lineup this fall are Portland,
St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Chicago — check out the details below.  Hope to see you there.

 

Tuesday, October 13th 

Barnes & Noble
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
1317 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR  97232
(503) 249-0800

 

 

Thursday, October 15th 

Barnes & Noble
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Vancouver Plaza
7700 NE 4th Plain Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98662
(360) 253-9007

 

 Sunday, November 1st  

Main Street Books
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
307 South Main Street
St. Charles, MO 63301
(636) 949-0105

 

 

Monday, November 2nd 

Pudd’nhead Books
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
37 S. Old Orchard Ave
Webster Groves, MO  63119
(314) 918-1069

 

 Tuesday, November 3rd

Barnes & Noble
7:00 p.m.
West County Mall
113 West County Center
Des Peres, MO 63131
(314) 835-9980

 

 

Thursday, November 5th 

 The Bookcase
5:oo p.m.
607 East Lake Street
Wayzata, MN  55391
(952) 473-8341

 

 

Friday, November 6th

 The Book Stall
7:00 p.m.
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL  60093
(847) 446-8880

 

 

 Saturday, November 7th

 Anderson’s Bookshop
2:00 p.m.
5112 Main Street
Downer’s Grove, IL  60515
(630) 963-2665

  

 

Tuesday, November 10th

 A Children’s Place Bookstore
7:00 p.m.
4807 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 284-8294

(Joint appearance with Cindy Hudson, author of
“Book by Book:  The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter
Book Clubs”)