Getting INSPIREd – Part Two

What a night. Toronto’s first ever International Book Fair kicked off without a hitch last night, and what an experience it was!

First thing when you walk into the Metro Convention Centre, you’re awestruck by the sheer enormity of the venue. Surrounded by the elated buzz of excitement and thrill, a string quartet added to the atmosphere.

Ascending to the upper levels via the escalator, elegant all-black attired and white gloved waiters carting silver trays of bubbling champagne greet you with a small complementary glass. All flanked by a massive display illuminated on stacked screens.

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Along the way is a stretch of various printing presses that are more works of art then they are relics of history. Each was beautifully crafted and breathtakingly beautiful, compelling you to stop and appreciate just how far we as a civilization have come.

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From there I meandered around, champagne in hand, taking in the vast exanpse of tables and booths. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many books. Many of which I wished I had more time to look over and read. Mildly overwhelmed, I wondered where do I start? Admittedly, I was a bit off guard by the ambience as I’d expected a soiree or elegant cocktail party. In reality it was a pre-launch of the book fair itself with all the booths and tables open and on full display. Never have I been more grateful for the post-baby weight that I am still carting around that prevented me from slipping into one of my little cocktail numbers, otherwise I would have been ridiculously overdressed for the occasion.

Throughout the aisles were tables laden with trays of food, ranging from mini-hot dogs and buns, crisp kettle chips and mouth-watering ooey gooey macaroni and cheese which was surprisingly delicious and (to my relief) not an eye-watering shade of neon orange.

It took me a few passes around the fair but finally, at long last, I managed to find my chapters booth, beautifully presented and bearing a display of the recent works of TRW’s many accomplished members (one of the most well-known being THE Kelley Armstrong):

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There, surrounded by the wonderful women of my writers chapter, I engaged in fun conversation with various members, enjoyed sweet reisling and dove back into the mac n’ cheese (because at this point, after a second alcoholic beverage I am now feeling a tad tipsy, thanks to almost two years of almost no booze due to fitness competitions and pregnancy, it seems my tolerance is now embarrassingly low.)

And after a particularly engaging conversation with an avid reader who shares my love of urban paranormals, I discovered she was related to Jennifer Hayward, also a member of my chapter, and upcoming romance author who made her debut following her winning 2012’s So You Think You Can Write with her novel: The Divorce Party.

Much to my surprise, she was humble, witty and didn’t bat a lash at engaging in a conversation surrounding novel recommendations, Game of Thrones, Outlander and other obsessions. (See photo of Jennifer and fellow TRW author, Anne Lethbridge photo courtesy of Jennifer’s Twitter account).

As the night unfolded, the conversation flowed and the bubbly was passed/poured, I noticed in the distance the growing rumble of drums, the clanking of bells and tinkering of instruments followed the by the rise of a cheering voices. To my amazement, a chorus line of brightly coloured and scantly clad samba dancers, in full festive plumage, sashayed their way from one end of the fair to the other with INSPIRE! members playing various musical instruments behind them.

Really quite an exhilarating sight and the very last thing I think any of us expected to see. Needless to say, the men weren’t complaining and that was certainly one way to thumb their noses at anyone who would dare say that writers and readers are a boring, dodgy bunch who don’t know how to let loose and have fun.

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And so, I wrapped up the evening with a bit of a buzz, both a result of stimulating conversation and my now virgin liver, grateful to the TRW chapter having opened me to so many rewarding experiences that have helped me expand my writing and gain exposure into the world of writers.

Ta for now.

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