Earlier this month, I flew to Chicago for a series of continuing education seminars. The mornings and afternoons were spent learning more about the year's advances in web design technology. When the skies darkened over the Boul' Mich', which remained brightly lit thanks to the miles of Christmas decorations, I went to the Harold Washington Public Library or the Barnes and Noble near Roosevelt University. I've spent time at both places when researching and writing my three books, and I can't visit either without experiencing nostalgia for what was produced at their tables and optimism over the projects sure to come.
On December 10, I attended an intimate gathering that had been assembled in my honor by fellow author Pat Hickey, who's got two fine books under his belt and a screenplay on the way. Among the attendees were my old friend and literary hero Richard Lindberg; Kay Henderson, whose great-uncle Johnny Rogers had been an 18th ward alderman and veteran of the early twentieth century gambling wars; singer Terry Sullivan, Pat's lady love, who I hear is the modern incarnation of the great Blossom Dearie, and Nick Novich, who graciously let us use his bar to host the get-together. We clinked glasses, ordered pizza, and dished the dirt on a psychotic writer who belonged in one of his own crime books. We also talked about our future projects: I'm researching the life of Dopey Benny Fein, Pat has a screenplay about the Chicago Stockyard strikes of 1904 in the works, and Rich has finished a comprehensive study of gambling kingpin Big Mike McDonald, who dominated Chicago until his death in 1907.
Make no mistake about it- publishing can be a tough and disappointing business. But the support of friends helps us see possibilities where others just see setbacks, and enable us to hope for a better tomorrow when today brings just frustration.