Friday, June 30, 2017

Standing Room Only: Ode to a Beautiful Book Launch

The saxophone player ran scales as I set up the book table with the help of a few of my girls. (These things can't happen without a team behind you!) Nerves had settled in the pit of my belly, but listening to those notes fill the space as we decided whether to stack books on the table or line them up on the shelf calmed me and allowed a little thrill to tickle down my spine.

It's really happening. The day is finally here.

Nearly three years of my life have been dedicated to the creation of The Church in the Wildwood and every day (since I typed those first words on November 1, 2014) has been leading me to this important moment.

It's launch day.

Everything was ready—or as ready as it could be. I had 37 books for sale (that's what was left of the 70 I ordered) and deep down, my wish was to run out; I wanted to have to take orders because there were none left. This felt like a silly goal, like I was setting myself up to be disappointed, but I refused to let it go.

I had a clear plan for the evening: intro, reading, signing, cake, band. Easy.



I didn't anticipate that by 7:05 I'd be sitting behind the table signing books, having already sold more than half!

The café beginning to fill up before the official 'program' began
People kept coming, keeping me stuck behind the table and unable to greet attendees (I'm not complaining!) until finally, the café owners dimmed the lights to signal 'It's Starting' and Pam (M.C. extraordinaire) took the stage to introduce me.
 
When she arrived during the set up earlier in the evening, she asked how I'd like to be introduced. "Nothing formal," I'd said. "Just be yourself." She'd taken a clipboard and blank paper and begun to write what she would say.

And oh, such nice things she said! I have no idea what any of them were—that was approximately the point I left my body in order to survive the public speaking that would follow her introduction—but I know she was generous with her compliments and I was overwhelmed with the desire to put my hand over my heart to make sure it didn't burst from my body.

The crowd applauded as I stepped onto the platform. (Whoa!) The stage lights were so bright I couldn't see any faces (blessing!) but I could tell the place was full—every chair taken, and nearly every square inch of floor claimed by a body. Standing room only! (What in the world?) I said some things—again, I don't remember what—but they laughed at one point so maybe I'm out-of-body-witty and I didn't even know it. (Ha!)

Then, after a band member lowered the microphone for me (I'm just that short and adorable), I dived into a reading of Chapter Fourteen. It's a heavy section, but it's powerful and rich and I chose it because it shows the vulnerability of my favourite character without giving anything away regarding the main plot.


I clearly remember writing that chapter—the research it took and the depths I had to mine to find the right way to speak for the character—but there's just something fresh and empowering about reading your own words aloud to a room full of people who came specifically to hear you do that very thing. It breathes new life into those words, taking it from a black and white narrative to a full colour experience.

"I can't believe you chose that chapter," my husband said later. "I was tearing up as you read it...I was so caught up in the story."

After I left the stage, the cake was served and I took my place behind the table once again as the band filled the background with their bluesy groove.


It's a strange thing, to sign your own name over and over again, but I balanced that by sending my personal copy of the book around the room, asking guests to sign it for me as a memento of the evening—such a precious thing to have now that the night is over.


It wasn't until the next day that I sat down and read through all the beautiful messages. I cried when I read the one from my daughter, and then I couldn't hold the tears back as I went through the rest. I found signatures from people I hadn't even known were there and people I wouldn't have ever expected to come and even complete strangers who were there because they loved literature. I mean, wow!

I feel so loved, so supported and encouraged. I'm overwhelmed by the response. I'm thrilled that I only have two copies left. And I'm humbled and amazed by the messages that are coming in every day from people who have already read (and loved) the book.

I want to thank everyone who showed up—your presence meant the world to me! I want to thank my husband for his ceaseless support and my children for being on their best behaviour (and being so darn good looking!). I want to thank the band, The Usual Suspects, who donated their time and their talents to creating a wonderful atmosphere. I want to thank my girls—you know who you are—for showing up early to decorate and being there to handle book sales so I didn't have to worry about it. And finally, I want to thank Kevin and Michele, the owners of The Garafraxa Café, for being tremendous hosts and so willing to champion community artists.

That's enough. It's my curtain call. I'm off to work on the next Wildwood installment. Stay tuned for The Ghost of Iris Carver. Writing is to be a big part of my July 2017 plans!

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