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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Launch at Another Story Bookshop | Main | WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? video plus a challenge to post your OWN answer with #WhereAreMyBooks hashtag »

WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 1): Good Beginnings, Larry The Driver and his Teacher, Colin Firth and Other Perks

For an index of all my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour recap posts, see

Saying good-bye to Jeff before leaving on my book tour

In early May 2015, Simon & Schuster Children's was kind enough to send me a book tour to help celebrate the launch of my first solo picture book, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? In this multi-part book tour report, I'll be sharing not only some of my fun adventures but also some of the things I've learned personally and professionally along the way.

The photo at the top of this page was taken by the driver who picked me up for the airport. Jeff was incredibly patient that morning! I confess I was a wee bit stressed right before leaving, mainly because I was trying to figure out how to fit everything into my carry-on luggage. My carry-on included one change of clothes, one pair of shoes (I wore boots during travel, in case of inclement weather), my portable projector, a laptop, presentation materials (including some printouts and sketches in case tech failed) and a copy of my book.

I suppose I could have opted for checked luggage but I also knew from last year's NAKED! book tour that I could survive with just carry-on, and that it helped reduce travel stress and time at airports.

While I was having a "DISASTER I JUST REMEMBERED I NEED TO TAKE XXXX AND NOW I CAN'T FIT EVERYTHING IN AND THE CAR IS ARRIVING ANY MINUTE AAAAAA," Jeff helped me repack so everything would fit. He keeps me sane, that husband of mine.

On the way to the airport, the driver was unexpectedly cut off by someone else and we nearly had a collison. Instead of thinking, "we could have been hurt!" I thought "I could have missed my flight!", which shows you where my mind was. But then I was at the airport and checked in and everything was good.

I even got to see some of The Kingsman, a movie I've really wanted to check out. Plus starting a book tour with a little Colin Firth can only be a good thing. Don't tell me what happens; our flight landed about 15 minutes before the end of the movie.

After turning on my phone when we landed in Chicago, I received two text messages which made me happy:

The above text meant that the Bell roaming plan I had signed up had indeed kicked in. Last year, something went wrong and I ended up not knowing for sure whether I was being charged crazy-expensive roaming charges whenever I posted. Then I received this one:

Whoa, how cool, I had a chauffeur! 

I had Music Express car service through most of my book tour, by the way, organized by Simon & Schuster. I really liked this service because I always got a heads-up on text and via cell phone that my driver was waiting, and this info always included a cell number where I could text or phone that driver if I needed to.

And YES, I know how lucky I was to have a driver!! I was already feeling lucky to have a book tour, since I know how rare that is these days. 

Anyway, I'm still enough of a newbie to also get a kick out of seeing MY NAME on one of those airport driver signs when I arrived. Here's Larry The Chauffeur, waiting for me at the Chicago airport:

I asked Larry if he could watch my bags while I visited the airport restroom (it wasn't a long flight, but we were waiting for a gate a long time) and wow, the Chicago airport has magichanical toilets:

Don't worry...I promise not to go into such detail for the rest of my book tour report. 

During the ride, Larry and I chatted about what I was doing in the Chicago area as well as about books and reading. Larry told me the challenges he had with his reading as a child, how much he appreciated his grade school teacher for taking the time to coach him and how he owes so much to her. Yay for teachers!

I love these kind of unexpected conversations and treat them like gifts. 

Larry dropped me off at Hotel Arista Lifestyle in Naperville, IL, and it ended up being my favourite hotel of the whole trip. I felt veryvery spoiled, especially when I checked out the tub. And there was a tv in the bathroom mirror!!

And unlike many hotels I've visited in the past, it had power outlets o'plenty. Even a power bar right beside the bed, yay:

Hotel Arista also had my favourite bathroom amenties of the trip. Loved these:

By now, some of you may be thinking, "Wow, must be nice to be a pampered author/illustrator."

And yes, I DID feel well taken care of by my publisher. But my publisher is also smart, because these perks and knowing I'd be able to get a good night's sleep help a great deal in smoothing over the rough bits, and keeping up my energy levels when I need it. Without that energy, I wouldn't be able to do as good a job when talking with young readers.


The next morning, I ordered a hearty breakfast to start off my first full day of presentations. Also ordered some extra fruit to keep in the room for snacking:

And I used one of the hash browns for a quick doodle on the hotel stationery:

I love the "Write your own story" tagline, so couldn't resist.

Continued in Part 2...

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