Last week I was in Chicago for two book signing events. Both were extremely local to the setting of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Like right on the street where she lives, the real Avenue of Dreams. Like at the neighbor’s house. Like I kept expecting to look up and see Lucy.Olivia Newport The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

Several serendipitous occurrences brought me delight.

1. Surprises. One of the most fun was when instead of handing me a book to sign, a woman set before me an uncorrected proof of my own book. She represented a local media outlet and had received the spiral-bound mass of pages ahead of time in order to review the book and promote the book signing event.

I always wondered what the publisher sent out to advance readers. It was fun to see it. (Wish I had taken a picture to show you, but I didn’t.)

2. New networks. The next day I was signing books at a farmer’s market and a perfect stranger approached me with a big hug. “I’m Mary Beth.” Three days earlier, my sister had showed my book around at an extended gathering for her husband’s side of the family. Mary Beth was there. It turns out she lives in the neighborhood of the signing and knew all about the local farmer’s market where I would be. She turned up with a copy of the book ready for my signature.

3. Unexpected opportunities. At the airport waiting for my flight home, I ran into someone I used to work with, who was waiting for the same flight. We hadn’t seen each other in years. I happened to have one copy of the book in my backpack. I foisted it on her, of course, as a way to quickly answer the question “What have you been up to?” She ended up sitting right behind me on the plane and read the book the entire way.

My favorite question to hear these days is, “When is the next one coming out?”

The answer is January 1. The title is The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Can’t wait until I can share the cover with you.