We were hot at Printers Row Lit Fest

June 15, 2017 • Posted in book tour, careers/jobs for people who are blind, memoir writing, public speaking, writing by

From left to right, Wanda Bridgeforth, moi, Anna Nessy Perlberg, and panel moderator Nancy Sayre, Editor/Publisher at Golden Alley Press. (Photo by Bev Miller.)

I assured the standing-room-only crowd at our Getting Your Memoir Off the Ground session at Printers Row Lit Fest Sunday morning that their wait for 95-year-old panelist Wanda Bridgeforth would be worth it. “Funny thing was, Wanda Jr. was waiting for me upstairs,” Wanda told me later. “And I was waiting for her downstairs!”

My sister Bev and an entourage of other friends were on the lookout for Wanda, too, and just as the crowd in room 4008 of Jones High School started shuffling their papers and fidgeting in their seats, Bev came in with good news. “Wanda has entered the building.”

The temperature outside was in the 90s, and Wanda entered without a sweat. The crowd cheered. After greeting her new admirers with a hearty, “I’m here!” Wanda settled into a seat at the front table next to Seeing Eye dog Whitney and me, and we were off.

Wanda was on our panel with Anna Nessy Perlberg, a fellow writer who also shares stories of life’s challenges and joys in the memoir-writing classes I lead in Chicago every week. Anna and Wanda are both featured in my new book Writing Out Loud and both of them read essays during our panel.

With her daughter’s help, Wanda Bridgeforth self-published her memoir, On The Move. Writing Out Loud and Anna Nessy Perlberg’s The House in Prague were both published by Golden Alley Press.

I shared tips on getting a memoir started, and Golden Alley Press publisher/editor Nancy Sayre spoke on the pros and cons of self-publishing, of working with a major publishing house, and of working with an independent publisher.

Our panel flew by, and friends there told me later that audience members were jotting notes down throughout. The last question during our Q&A was whether writing a memoir taught us something about ourselves that surprised us. I answered with some blah, blah, blah the way I do, and when I turned it over to Wanda, she started with, “Well, the thing I learned was…” She just couldn’t find her words, so we all held our breath in anticipation. And just like at the start of our presentation, the wait for Wanda was worth it. “I learned I could do it!” Anna responded with an exuberant, “Me, too!”

And of course I followed up by looking toward the audience and chirping, “And you can, too!”

Audience members stood in line afterwards to have us sign our books and ask nancy Sayre more questions. And I’m still receiving emails from Wanda’s new fans: they’re special-ordering copies of On the Move.

Audrey Mitchell On June 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

.It was a wonderful event…interesting and thrilling at the same time. Glad to be there to share it with you.

Beth On June 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Thrilling? That is high praise. Thank you for being there, Audrey. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Jenny fischer On June 16, 2017 at 8:50 am

Beth. What fun. Proud of you and your memoirists!! Cheers!!

Bev On June 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

It was a treat to meet Nancy and learn more about the publishing world and to hear a couple of memoirs included in your new book read so enthusiastically by their authors. I’ll never forget the myna bird story shared by Wanda and Wanda Jr at your book signing. What a pair!

Beth On June 17, 2017 at 1:41 pm

I feel so fortunate to have Nancy Sayre as my editor at Golden Alley Press. It was good to hear that many in the audience were taking notes, they got a free lesson in book publishing from an expert.
And yes, we are very lucky to Know Wanda and Junior –what stories!
Thanks for being there, Bev. Especially for taking photos!

Annelore Chapin On June 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

It gave me hope to know that “IT” can be done. And pride to know all of your wonderful writing students. A truly inspiring event. Thank you

Beth On June 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Totally my pleasure. Thanks to you and Roy for being there for us.

nancy b On June 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Such a great thing for Beth to give these seniors a chance to tell their stories. The audience was very enthusiastic and attentive. Great event!

Beth On June 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm

We are all so fortunate to be able to hear these stories, and so grateful to the writers in my classes for taking the time and energy to put their life stories down on paper.

Janet May Sterling On June 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

So very glad to read the full report! 😉 Sounds like there’s plenty of famous people to go around on this book!!!

Beth On June 20, 2017 at 8:14 am

You know, I *still* haven’t sat down and counted how many writers from my classes are mentioned in Writing Out Loud. I do hope all of them get their 15 minutes of fame…

Leave a Response