Printers Row Lit Fest LogoI’ll be going through a bit of withdrawal this weekend. It’s the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Literary Festival and for the first time in years, I won’t be there. Attending this wonderful two-day event was something I did with my daughters, but this weekend they’re traveling in Europe. Knowing it wouldn’t be the same without them, I decided not to go.

Photo of the Chicago Writers Association tent at Printers Row Lit Fest

But if you’re a book lover (whether a writer or a reader or both) and you’re in the Chicago area, be sure to check out Printers Row Lit Fest. You’ll meet authors, editors, publishers, members of writing organizations and instructors of writing programs. You can sample foods by chefs, attend panel discussions, and, of course, buy books. If you do go, please be sure to stop by the Chicago Writers Association tent and tell them I say, “Hi!”

If you’re busy this weekend and can’t attend Printers Row, I hereby challenge you to attend at least one other literary event this year. While you can read about your favorite author online, it’s so much better to meet them in person. In Madison, we’re lucky enough to have the amazing independent bookstore Mystery to Me which hosts local and nationally-known authors throughout the year.

The cover of The Griffins of Castle Cary

For instance, my friend Heather Shumaker will be discussing The Griffins of Castle Cary, her adventure book for children ages 8-12, at Mystery to Me on Wednesday, June 19, at 7 p.m. She’ll talk about her writing process, sign books, and give away special prizes for young writers. It’s the perfect opportunity for your children to meet an author.


In Madison, we also have the Wisconsin Book Festival. This year, the festival runs from October 11-14 (and all year round) and includes such notable authors as James Patterson, Megan McDonald (author of the Judy Moody series for kids), and Margaret George. In years Photo of Kristin and Garth Steinpast, we’ve seen Scott Turow and Michael Perry, and I got a chance to geek out when I met Garth Stein, author of one of my favorite books, The Art of Racing in the Rain.


Cover of Beneath the Flames

Authors love to have parties to celebrate the birth of their new book. These book release parties are a great way to share the joy of their success. I recently attended the launch party for Author Gregory Lee Renz’s debut novel Beneath the Flames at Boswell Books, in Milwaukee (another great independent bookstore that hosts live literary events). It was wonderful hearing how he wove tales of his years as a Milwaukee firefighter into his action-packed novel.

In Naperville, Illinois, they’re lucky to have Anderson’s Bookshop. The staff at Anderson’s somehow manages to bring in big names, including Stephen King. We were a few of the 3,000 fans who got the chance to see him a few weeks before his 70th birthday.

There are so many opportunities to meet your favorite authors and pick their brains about their story ideas, characters, and a typical writing day — I hereby challenge you to take advantage of those opportunities. You won’t be sorry!


Where I’ll be this summer:


UW-Madison’s Write-by-the-Lake – June 17 – 21, 2019. At this heaven on Earth for writers, I’m taking Tim Storm’s Class: “Engineering a Successful Story Structure” which will help me pull Bill Conner’s story together for Abbey’s Ride for Life: The Bike Ride That Saved 240,000 Lives, Plus 1. I’m also moderating Thursday afternoon’s Open Mic when attendees share their amazing poetry and short stories. Can’t wait!


Crime Fiction Author Panel – Saturday, July 13th, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Sharon Public Library, 11 North Main Street, Sharon, WI. I will join Sandra M. Colbert, author of Chicago Bound and the Kate Harrison Detective Series, to discuss our books and our writing. We’ll also be available for book signings!


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