Detroit Diary The GLIBA trade show


Morning BBQ, Bookstores in Airports, & Red Cowboy Boots:
Life on the road at GLIBA’s trade show


Monday, October 7th, 10:48am:

On Friday, Algonquin has me all set to board a plane for Dearborn, Michigan, en route to visit GLIBA—the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association–which will be my first trade show. Dearborn! My first trip to Dearborn! I proceed to email several co-workers with the following: Dearborn is known for its Automotive Hall of Fame and the ever popular Henry Ford Museum. Jealous of my upcoming adventures? No one responds to said email.

Thursday, October 6th, 6:42pm:

Having accepted that I am absolutely incapable when it comes to packing (I might need a ball gown! Or a bathing suit! Or a ball gown that tears off halfway to reveal a bathing suit!) I decide to pack early so I will be fully ready to go in the morning.

Friday, October 7th, 6:38am:

Fell asleep watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” Something about Cristina telling Owen she could no longer be a doctor. How could I fall asleep twelve hours ago? Do I have an iron deficiency? Should I be eating more red meat? I spend the next thirty minutes flinging black dresses off hangers, and packing not one but two pairs of ankle boots into my roll-on suitcase.

8:00am, en route to Raleigh-Durham airport:

Realize I have forgotten to pack deodorant.


Raleigh-Durham airport has a used bookstore across the kiosk from its Borders! A used bookstore! I contemplate purchasing a slightly warped copy of “Twilight” for ten dollars as a gift for my younger sister. Then realize I have only five dollars in cash on me. Second thing to check off my what-I-forgot-list—didn’t make it to an ATM before the airport.


Walk past Carolina BBQ pit. Is it too early to eat BBQ in the morning? My friend Becca would say no. The woman in line ordering a half-order of ribs would say no. Pause and contemplate getting a BBQ sandwich for breakfast. Seriously think about getting iron levels checked out.

10:32am, the plane:

I was hoping something like this would happen before takeoff. Sadly, our safety instructions are routine.


Start reading hilarious book for spring list, Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker. Vow to have it finished by the time plane lands. Promptly fall asleep until wheels touch down in Dearborn. Is there a chance I could have mono? How many times can a person have mono in her life?


Detroit! My first time in Detroit! As I make my way to the taxi stand to meet Algonquin author Caroline Leavitt, I am transfixed by the airport’s light and sound tunnel. Realize five minutes into tunnel that I have totally been to Detroit before, en route to Japan. Blame iron deficiency for lack of memory?


Neither Caroline’s nor my hotel key seems to work. A strange man approaches us in the hallway. Let me, let me! he cries and before we can say anything, he tries first one door, then another. As if he we haven’t tried before. Undeterred, he gets on his cell phone. I’m friends with the manager, he explains. Room 1004 and 1006! There’s a problem! he yells. Get someone to fix this right away! We are dumbfounded; he disappears soon thereafter. Welcome to GLIBA?


Lunch with another Algonquin author, the fabulous Jay Varner. I’m not taking any chances with whatever iron imbalance is going on with my system: I order the burger. If a burger shake were an option, I would have ordered that, too. Jay lives in Charlottesville now, my old stomping grounds. We swap stories of the downtown mall, JPJ, Grisham sightings at the UVA basketball game. Burger craving satisfied…for now.


Caroline is a speed demon signing copies of her book, Pictures of You, for booksellers. What should take at least an hour has us there for no more than twenty minutes. Which leaves us with a bit of down time before I’m due to escort her to her author feast…


Somehow, I am now running late to pick up Caroline thanks to the riveting documentary on gang wars on the History Channel. Fact of the day: ‘breeding’ means selecting a future gang member(s) for your gang. This I did not know before.


Notice Caroline’s amazing red cowboy boots from eBay. Vow to get myself a pair. After iron levels are checked out, of course.


Meet Jay at the cocktail reception before what ends up to be his standing room only reading, for his memoir Nothing Left to Burn. Offer to buy him a drink beforehand. Order drink, only then realize the bar is cash-only.


Sit at Author Feast with both Caroline and the absolutely charming former sales rep Charlie Boswell, who ends up being Caroline’s escort for the evening. Before the evening begins with Caroline rotating to several tables of booksellers, listen to Executive Director Jim Dana give a tear-inducing retirement speech in which he chronicles his start as a bookseller, his fight to defend freedom of speech in the ‘80s (thus being labeled, “The Porn King of Ottawa County”), his creation of GLIBA, and now, in the new chapter of his life, joining the Peace Corps to teach English in Africa.


Too busy talking to Scholastic young adult author Siobhan Vivian about her third upcoming novel and the fantastic booksellers of the Michigan area to focus on dinner. Somehow manage to get in half a piece of cheesecake before joining Caroline at the personal signing booth.


Caroline has managed to personalize every book at her table. We stay until there are no more books left to sign. I bid her goodnight and make it back to my room to watch the final thirty minutes of the History Channel’s gang documentary.

Saturday, October 8th 8:00am

A bit sleepy-eyed, Caroline and I stand outside waiting for our cab. Three men dash into the hotel, yelling at the top of their lungs, then run outside moments later, one of the men waving a tuxedo from his arms.


At the airport, the airport security guard tells me she loves my outfit. Fantastic way to start the morning! Siobhan ends up in line in front of us and we chat about future upcoming conferences and tours while stripping ourselves of jackets, cowboy boots, and scarves.


I bid farewell to Caroline, then make my way to my gate where I discover there is a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, the only one of its kind on the East Coast (I asked to make sure). I order a large ice blended mocha to remind me of home, drink the sugary caffeinated drink, then promptly fall into a deep sleep on the plane, my head lolling against the kind gentlemen sitting next to me. I really must get my iron checked.

Jay Varner and The Reading Room

Varner and company

The coveted boots

Caroline Leavitt at signing!

Leavitt in Action

–Megan Fishmann, Publicist

6 Comments On This Post:

October 15, 2010
9:50 am
Caroline Leavitt says...

You are a goddess, Megan!!!

October 15, 2010
10:36 am
Leora Skolkin-Smith says...

well-done! I felt I was right there with you!

October 15, 2010
11:08 am
Clea Simon says...

Great fun – and I was thrilled to finally see the famous boots!

October 15, 2010
12:36 pm
John Mesjak says...

I’m not used to being the shortest man in a photo – how did I end up between two such tall authors?

I had no idea you were suffering such a complete physical crisis when I met you, Megan. You did not appear to be any less of an amazing publicist in action!

October 15, 2010
12:58 pm
Charlie Boswell says...

wonderful diary, wonderful pics, wonderful authors (Leavitt, Vivian, and Varner), and the very best regional every year.

October 15, 2010
4:11 pm
Jen - Devourer of Books says...

I had never met or heard of Jim before that night and his speech totally moved me to tears, although I promptly forgot about them thanks to the amazing authors who cycled through my table. It was so nice meeting you, Megan! You didn’t even seem like you were suffering from low iron levels. I mean, you recognized my blog name right away!

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