Two weeks ago was my book release party for Calls for Submission. And, as usual, I’m blogging about it in a totally timely manner. The delay in posting doesn’t diminish how amazing of a night it was! My book had been out for exactly a month by the evening of the reading, but it didn’t feel REAL until I arrived at Midtown Reader and found my books on the New Arrivals table.
That was when it finally hit me: Holy crap, I made a thing. This thing. This beautiful, weird little thing.
And that was just the first of many pleasant surprises. Friends I hadn’t seen since high school were there, and since we were all the types to forget about going to reunions, it was lovely to get to see everyone’s faces and catch up (albeit way too briefly!) on the past 17 years. My mother and brother were there, too, and I think Mom especially enjoyed seeing how all of us kids had grown up.
After some cupcakes and wine, owner Sally Bradshaw gave a wonderfully warm welcome and introduction, and I babbled way too much about the Florida Gothic before diving into “Dive in Me,” a Gothic tale set basically in Tallahassee, and co-written with my small times bud, Jesse Bullington, whose mother was also in the audience!
My friend was really kind enough to take pictures for me, and she did a pretty excellent job documenting the night. But there is one photo that never was taken, and it was what I saw after I read the concluding line.
“Dive” is almost too long for a reading, and every other time I’ve read from it, I have usually had to stop right when the getting was good, or jumble a lot of stuff together. But I read it from start to finish that night, about 20 to 25 minutes total, and when I began I was already intimidated that all the seats were mostly full. But when I finished reading and looked up, all seats were taken, and the store was full of standing friendly faces I hadn’t seen come in while performing! I’m glad I didn’t noticed, or else I might have froze and blown the whole thing. Heh.
I signed ALL the books and we pretty much cleaned house. While signing, many people told me they hadn’t visited Midtown Reader yet, and they had fallen in love with the store as much as I had. This, probably, more than anything else really felt great because after having gone without an independent bookstore for, well, basically, ever, I really want Tallahassee to come out and appreciate what Sally and her wonderful staff are creating for us. This is the lodestone of a strong literary community, and since it’s opening in November, I have already noticed the difference Midtown Reader is making here.
Check out that banner in the back! My publisher, Pelekenisis, sent it special delivery from California and it really was a special touch and showcased the cover art well, which was a real hit.
I received many compliments on Joan Horne‘s cover, which was really cool because Joan is also a Tallahassee-native and long-time bud. While she is doing her kick-ass thing in L. A., it felt like having her there with me. I felt that way about Molly Tanzer, too, who wrote the Intro for Calls for Submission, and of course, my “Dive in Me” co-author, Jesse. I realized that night that I was carrying around a lot more of Tallahassee in my little book than I realized, given not only the material of some of the stories, but just the love and involvement it got from close childhood friends. And the fact that even more family and friends, like Lisa, Jesse’s mom, came out to help me celebrate this crazy achievement was one of life’s rare joyous feelings that I am grateful to get to experience!
Because most of the time you feel like you are doing this in a vacuum. It’s easy to think no one takes you seriously or cares about what you do in the shadows, but thanks to Midtown Reader, my beautiful friends and family, and the new friends I made that night, including staffers Darrell and Reid, I realize that I had that all wrong. And I am humbled and grateful for the love and this community!
THANK YOU all for coming out, buying books, and helping me launch this bizarre baby into the world! THANK YOU Midtown Reader for throwing one heck of a shindig! XoXo
And if you are reading this from Tallahassee and haven’t been to Midtown Reader, yet. Get thee to the bookstore! (They may still have a signed copy or two of Calls for Submission, left, you never know).