A Creative Careers Expo Reflection

This past Saturday I was invited to the inaugural Creative Careers Expo hosted by District 155 in Crystal Lake, IL. There were about twenty-five tables featuring careers in fashion, make-up, photography, architecture, visual arts, music, dance, writing, and probably others I didn’t get a good look at. I sat behind a table and talked to dozens of middle school and high school students, answering their questions about writing, publishing, or in the case of a sixth grade boy, admiring the folder of work he had brought along to share with me. He was SO PROUD of his accomplishments. I hope he never loses that confidence and enthusiasm.

We’ve all heard of job fairs and career fairs. What was unique about this one, was that it allowed students to see firsthand that YES you can have a career in one of these fields. In my younger years, I didn’t think writing was something I could do because it seemed like something people in another world did. Yes, an author wrote the books I loved but it was hard to fully comprehend there was a person behind those words. I might have met my first author in grad school at Roosevelt. Every professor had published a novel, an article, a short story. But that still seemed something I couldn’t be a part of. They taught COLLEGE and published short stories in literary magazines I had never heard of, and honestly, didn’t really feel like getting to know. My pal, Lori Rader-Day, a classmate of mine in grad school who is about to publish her sixth novel, might have been the first “real” author I met. I had to wait until I was about thirty for that to happen.

I might not be the most successful or famous author, but I am a real one. I’m glad I’m the reason those students didn’t have to wait until they were thirty to meet one.

Book Events: the Good, the Bad, the Awesome

Book Events- The Good, the Bad, the Awesome

Recently, a tweet from a debut author went viral when she expressed extreme disappointment that only two people went to a bookstore event for her novel. Many authors, debut and veterans, expressed solidarity. We’ve all been there and it sucks. It’s not limited to debut or relatively unknown authors. The first event I went to was for a young adult author that had published close to ten books, some of which won awards. There were six people at the bookstore to hear her speak. SIX. Two of which were my friend and me. When I contact a bookstore and ask them if I can do a signing there and they ask what kind of crowd can I draw I want to tell them that story and then tell them the truth: I’ll try my darndest to get people there but I can’t guarantee anything. NO ONE CAN!

In light of that viral tweet and closing out a year where I was actually able to do some in person events, here’s some thoughts:


• I have a book in the world and can talk to people about it!
• Suzy from The Book Cellar
• Bob from the Barnes and Noble in Algonquin
• My fancy purple pen used for signing books.
• Family and friends that came to support me, some on more than one occasion.
• Meeting strangers and talking to them about my book.
• Seeing people I hadn’t seen in a LONG time who had come out to support me and my book (more on that later)


• Feeling like you letdown a bookstore because they ordered 24 copies of your books and you only sold seven. (I can still see the look on the seller’s face as she lugged the left over copies off the table)
• Reaching out to schools, GSA’s, colleagues, family, and friends and only having two people show up.
• Bookstores rejecting you because you don’t have a following.
• Not even receiving any response from a store when you ask if they would be willing to host an event.
• Feeling like everyone else knows how to do this but you don’t (not a fact but a real feeling)


• My parents, who come to every event just like they did when I played sports all through childhood
• My friend, Carrie, who came to an event from Indiana. I hadn’t seen her in seven years.
• My friend, Malachy, who came to my launch at the Book Cellar and who I met when we were students at Roosevelt. I hadn’t seen him in eight years.
• My friend, Lisa, who came in from Minnesota to help me celebrate at The Book Cellar
• Suzy at the Book Cellar who knew how special this launch was and made a cake to celebrate

Attendance at these things are sporadic and unpredictable. It can leave you feeling elated or defeated. But I’ve got some things lined up for 2023. Maybe I’ll see you there!