Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the scandal involving Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford. I’m not blogging about him today and lord knows, New York City has had its share of politician-related disgraces, but the subject of my post is Toronto.
I had the privilege of spending a few days in Toronto for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The reason for the trip was an author event called BookBuzz. You might remember that I co-founded the BookBuzz author event with fellow authors Samantha Stroh Bailey (“Sam”) and Francine LaSala at our inaugural event in New York City in May. The Toronto event was the second in what we hope will be a long tradition of author/reader mix and mingles. At the outset, this is not a blog about Toronto BookBuzz as much as a blog about my personal experience in Toronto. If you would like specific information on the event and the participating authors, I recommend checking out the following blogs:
Let’s start at the beginning.
If you’ve ever flown into the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, you know that it is on an island and there is a ferry that takes you into Toronto. I thought that was totally cool. Sam lives in Toronto and was kind enough to save me cab fare by meeting me at the airport and giving me a ride to my hotel. During the drive, she played tour guide pointing out the different neighborhoods we passed. (I tried not to laugh when she had to call her husband repeatedly for directions. Apparently, it was the first time she had ever driven to that airport. I didn’t even know the city had more than one.) One observation I made about Toronto is that parts of it remind me of Seattle, Washington, mostly the waterfront and a building that looks just like the Space Needle!
I stayed at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel (referred to by the locals as the “Delta Chelsea” for reasons unknown to me J ). The hotel was enormous and bustling with energy but the service was very friendly. I dropped my bag in my room and headed to one of the many restaurants for lunch where I was robbed blind—$20 for a turkey sandwich, an apple and a cup of coffee! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering I’m a New Yorker, but sheesh! After lunch, I took a brief nap and then showered and got ready for the party. I was meeting at Sam’s house and heading over to the party at The Crest from there. Another observation about Toronto is that the traffic is off the hook. In a really bad way! What I thought would be a twenty minute cab ride took close to an hour as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The cab driver told me that Toronto had the worst traffic of any city in North America. He wasn’t kidding. And the cab smelled bad to boot. I was so excited to finally arrive at Sam’s house that I literally fell out of the cab along with my bag of books.
After a tour of Sam’s house and a small glass of quality Scotch, we called a cab and set off to the party at The Crest.
Have you ever grown super fond of a person you’ve never actually met and finally been given a chance to meet face-to-face? If so, were you nervous? Well, then you can imagine how I was feeling. I’ve been in the situation before, but each time is unique since each “virtual” relationship I make is different. I was both excited and scared to death to meet my fellow BookBuzzers in person, especially, Samantha March, Kaley Stewart and Cat Lavoie, having gotten to know them so well online. I must confess that the initial introductions were awkward for me, but after drinking my first Pink Stiletto and taking a deep breath, I realized these women were the same people I had countless conversations with on Facebook, Twitter and via email and I had nothing to fear.
The party was beyond awesome! We had a great crowd and I got to talk to enthusiastic readers, sign some books, and get to know my fellow authors better. I was even interviewed by a couple of journalists who were reporting on the event. A slide show of all of the author’s bios and book covers ran continuously and every so often, I looked up and saw my picture on the wall. It was surreal (and a little embarrassing)! At the start of the party, there was discussion of an after party but by the time the event was over, we were all zapped of energy. With a promise to meet for brunch the next day, we all retired to our respective houses/hotel rooms, although most of us were so high on adrenaline that we couldn’t fall asleep.
Stay tuned for Part Two!