Chicago presented an opportunity for those who were unable to make the trip to Ghana to get their book club/author fix. Probably because it was the first year, attendance wasn’t as robust as it is in ATL, but that also meant the weekend was a lot more intimate.
We arrived on Friday—after an uneventful plane ride—an amazing feat these days, but Chicago was still reeling from some UGLY weather—storms the day before had caused downed trees, flooding, and power outages. Now Chicago traffic is usually no joke, but it took us 2 ½ hours to make the usually 35 minute drive from O’Hare to downtown in a HOT taxi—there was an oscillating fan clipped to the safety partition, blowing HOT air. Then there was the heat coming from under the seats—nobody wants a hot seat in August. But we got to the hotel in plenty of time to freshen up for the welcoming reception—a casual gathering for the early arrivers on Friday evening.
The good stuff began on Saturday morning with our breakfast speaker, the incomparable, funny and bold Tina McElroy Ansa. After that we settled in for a day of book news and readings from sister authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley who has movie news, Kimberla Lawson Roby, whose Rev. Curtis Black is back, Mary “Sweeter Than Honey” B. Morrison, Terrie Williams, whose book “Black Pain” about depression in African Americans (she scratched the surface of this subject in her Essence article last year) is coming in January, and Eisa Nefetari Ulen whose reading from “Crystelle Mourning” her debut novel was so impressive we can’t wait to finish it. And oh yeah, we read from Gotta Keep on Tryin’. We’re getting used to having those words on our tongues—we’re off to Michigan in October to record the audio book, a first for us. We’re pretty jazzed about that. We capped the conference with a pretty raucous dinner on Saturday night with Tina and Eisa—(no we didn’t get kicked out of the restaurant but we were the liveliest table in the joint—for sure!)
All in all it was a great weekend. Not only did we get to hang out with readers and writers from around the country, but we also got to meet Eddie Levert and co-author Layah Beth LeFlore—who talked about I Got Your Back, the moving father-son collaboration that was finished right before Gerald Levert’s untimely death.
For those of you who belong to book clubs and haven’t attended one of the Atlanta events, we highly recommend you check it (and the author line up for 2008) out. And for those of you who are regulars—see you in Aug 1-3, 2008 in ATL!! We just made arrangements to be there too!
Curtis Bunn, National Book Club Conference Founder
telling us about the trip to Ghana.
Our NBCC-Chicago Class Picture!
Seated l to r:
Eisa Nefetari Ulen, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Terrie Williams, Tina McElroy Ansa, Virginia, Donna, Mary Morrison
Standing l to r: Ken Smikle, Publisher Black Issues Book Review, Susan McHenry, Editorial Director BIBR, Curtis Bunn, NBCC founder
Sugar and Spice Book Club Members with Tina McElroy Ansa: ah the magical
mysteries of the digital camera!