Monday, October 23, 2006

The Illinois Womans Press Association Book Fair

On Saturday, October 21, I was one of thirty Illinois authors, most of us little known, presenting our books at the annual IWPA fall book fair. This event was one of the many Book/Author events featured in the city's and the Chicago Public Library's Chicago Book Festival, October 2006. As a relatively new author, I enjoyed the fair very much. Does that mean that I sold a lot of books? No, but I still found the event very interesting.

For one thing, the setting, the Randolph Cafe of the Chicago Cultural Center, is a wonderful place. The Cultural Center itself, where I am often an information desk volunteer, is a building worth visiting for its architecture, mosaics, and marvelous Tiffany dome, as well as for the many exhibits and events presented there, most of them free and open to the public.

On Saturday, the cafe featured thirty large tables covered by purple cloths (the IWPA color), and each of us set up his or her own book and information displays. Fifteen of us were IWPA members, and the rest other authors and publishers from throughout the state. Many visitors passed our tables, and many stopped to chat with us and look at our books.

The emcee, Cheryl Corley of NPR's Chicago Bureau, did an amazingly efficient job of interviewing each of us on stage. She was able to interview thirty of us with interesting questions and good humor throughout. I'm sure that my lack of media experience showed in my interview, but Cheryl's skills really saved the day. I was impressed.

Another feature of the fair that impressed me was the diversity of both the authors and their books. Various races and ethnic groups were represented, and our books ranged from children's books to fiction to self-help to inspirational and spiritual topics, as well as other non-fiction titles. Chicago's diversity and the diversity of Illinois writing were on display.

The officers of the IWPA, including president Suzanne Hanney and event chair Marianne Wolf (also an author); my fellow Cultural Center volunteers; the staff of the Shop at the Cultural Center: all deserve praise and thanks for their hard work.

Get more information about IWPA and its parent organization, the National Association of Press Women, at or I'll hope to see you at next year's fair!

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne


marianne Wolf said...

The fair was a wonderful afternoon. I enjoyed learning so much from the authors. Meeting each one was a treat for me.
I hope it will be held next year, same month, same place.

clh760 said...

I hope that Renaissance Court, one of Chicago's senior centers which meets in that building, was open that day. They cater to arts-related activities and have a very active writers group. I'm sure they would have enjoyed learning of your memoir and about its production.

seniorwriter said...

I have just started to check out Renaissance Court. There seems to be some degree of separation between the Department of Aging and the Department of Cultural Affairs (I'm not into Chicago politics at all, so that may not be true), but I have just inquired about Renaissance Court's writing activities. I'll look into it further after the first of next year.

Last year at this time, I had virtually nothing to do; this year, I seem to be busy all the time! Oh, well. This way is better!