In a few weeks I'll be attending Love is Murder for the third time. The author, reader, and book conference may not begin until February 6th but I'm already preparing mentally and organizing my "stuff."
First of all I paid my registration fees and booked the hotel room months ago. Not that I'm that organized, but more that I was afraid if I waited, I'd back out of going. Believe me attending a conference in Chicago in the dead of winter takes real determination. That decision is best made in the fall when the weather is nice and you can talk yourself into the possibility that Chicago might, just might, have an unusually early spring.
Last month I made my decision on whether to fly or drive. I'm driving. Yes, flying is quicker – by a day – but more stressful. I flew to Chicago the first time I went to the conference. The conference was wonderful but the travel to and from was a nightmare.
The Tulsa airport is about 90 minutes from my home during normal weather. The worst winter weather in Oklahoma typically happens in late January and early February. The weather guys were predicting an incoming storm the night before I was to fly out. So to play it safe, I drove to my parents' home (about 30 minutes from the airport) and spent the night there - just to be sure I could get to my early morning flight on time. The first sign of trouble was when my Dad knocked on the guest room door wanting to know where my spare car keys were. Huh? Good soul that he is, he had gotten up earlier than me, fetched my keys from my purse, started my car and scraped about 3 inches of ice off my windshield. He'd had the car defroster going full blast and was standing outside the car chipping ice, when the automatic door locks kicked in. My spare set of keys were at my home along with all my knives, weapons, extra makeup and the hundred and one other things I'd dumped from my purse to facilitate my chances of clearing airport security without a pat-down.
I didn't have time to fetch the keys and make my flight. AAA was called and my Dad drove me and all my bags (I'd luckily taken all of them inside the night before) in his car to the airport. The roads were bad – snow on top of a thick layer of ice. As we pulled in at the curbside drop off, we got a cell phone call. My brother had driven his car into the ditch on his way to work. AAA got a second call, my Dad headed home to deal with that crisis, and I lugged my two bags, laptop, and large purse into the terminal.
For the next thirty minutes I made my way through the security lines, in my sock feet, coat over my arm, laptop out of the bag, blackberry and purse in a tray, and tried to center my thoughts on how much fun it was going to be to hold my first book for the first time.
A couple of hours later I was at O'Hare airport, both hands full pulling two rolling suitcases, my laptop bag over one shoulder and a large purse over the other. The taxis were a floor below the baggage claim area. The only way to get from the baggage claim to the taxi area was an escalator.
Have you ever stepped onto an escalator without being able to hold onto the railing? I was standing at the top, trying to find the courage to make that first step, wondering what the odds were that I was about to kill myself, when an airport worker literally grabbed one suitcase from me and yelled, "Follow me." She went down the escalator without a backwards glance. I had no choice but to follow – she had the bag with all my promo stuff!
Next Thursday – less about the travel and more about the Conference as I countdown to February 6.
Love is Murder Con
February 6-8, 2009
Westin Chicago North Shore
601 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Wheeling, IL 60090