You've watched me walk my journey from "aspiring author" to "published author" -- a few stalwart of you have actually been here for more than a decade, from the humble beginnings of this blog. I've expressed my gratefulness time and again, and today I simply want to share with you the magic of my long-awaited book release party.
Mind you, the hiccup of Tor Teen pushing back my release date by two weeks brought me to tears, mostly because of the party, which I planned almost a year in advance. We had the venue, the menu, the deluge of RSVPs. How could I possibly move my party?
But I didn't have to (and it would have been silly to try). On Tuesday, September 10 (which also happened to be my dad's 86th birthday), I gathered with family and friends at one of my favorite writing haunts -- The Frothy Monkey in Franklin, TN -- and we celebrated Stormrise and the spirit of never giving up. I don't think I've ever felt so loved and supported in my life (and that's saying a lot, because I have often felt very loved and supported).
And, so, without further ado:
The Release Party (in pictures)
The venue is a wonderful old-house-converted-into-coffee-shop, and I've always loved the vibe. The amazing staff set up this space for my reading. On the mantle, you can see the gorgeous poster that Tor Teen sent to help celebrate my release!
The Parnassus Books rep arrived -- with books! 4 boxes of Stormrise, which my beloved husband Eric was more than happy to help carry upstairs.
The moment I first saw the finished copies. No further explanation needed. :)
Okay, I was a little excited. More than a little.
All the beautiful books!
The poster was such an unexpected gift. I love it more than words can say. I love that sweet girl on my right, too--she's my youngest.
All five of my offspring were there, including Maggie (far right), who flew in from Denver. (Maggie is also a writer, represented by Danielle Burby--so we are agent sisters as well as mother and daughter!). I love these humans with every inch of me; they bring me so much joy.
There were so many dear, dear people there, and there's no way I could showcase everyone. This guy, though, deserves a special shout-out. Sean and I have known each other since high school, when we did theatre together. He flew in from Pennsylvania just to be at the party, and his enthusiasm (and love for me!) was like a thousand fireworks.
(I had to add this, to show you how far back we go. We had the leads in Carnival in 1982.)
The love of my life. Eric and I have been married for 31 years. He's watched me -- and stood by me -- from the beginning of my long journey. It means so much when he says, "I'm proud of you." (And by the way--do you see the AMAZING STORMRISE PENDANT
around my neck? You still have time to preorder Stormrise
and be entered in a drawing to win one just like it!)
Deviled eggs, smoked salmon on toast points, chicken salad bites, a huge antipasto platter, and tiny cupcakes. Divine!
When it was time for the reading, my amazing and beautiful sister introduced me. For as much as she hates microphones, she's an absolute natural at working the crowd. (Also she spent hours shopping online to find me the perfect dress for this party--and then she bought it for me. Because that's who she is.)
Eric wrote a soundtrack for the excerpt of Stormrise I read. Marriage isn't a perfect science, but at times like this, I really feel like we're the dream team. :)
More than one person commented that I didn't seem nervous. I wasn't. Must be that theatre background.
This photo right here? It's my favorite. Know why? Look at my husband's face. He's looking at me with that expression! Am I blessed or what?
A portion of the crowd. People from so many seasons of my life were there--from my friend Sean, who has known me from high school, to members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, to people I sang with decades ago, to current neighbors, to ballet-mom friends I've made over the years, to gals who were in my ballet classes, to a dear friend I've known online for a long time but had never met in person (she, like Sean, flew in to be there!), to my sister who has known me her whole life. It was...incredible.
And here it is -- me, living my dream. You know how sometimes (most times) it's hard to smile for pictures because it feels so forced? Nope. My face sort of smiled on its own all night...a natural response to the rivers of joy welling up from my heart.
Another favorite. These two have profoundly impacted my life over the past few years. Tucker is the director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, and his wife Mary directs the Blair Children's Chorus at Vanderbilt University (and also fills in for Tucker sometimes with the NSC). They're incredibly talented, with hearts fiercely motivated by their passion for music education and excellence. After lying dormant for too many years, my musician-self has blossomed and reasserted itself, and I have these two to thank.
This gal has been a whirlwind of enthusiasm and support. Her husband took this picture, and you can tell he's an artist because look at the composition of this photo! (Also, if you peek out the window behind us, you can kind of see people's heads. We rented out the entire upstairs of the venue, and that included their nifty back deck. I, of course, never got a chance to go out there, but I was happy to discover evidence that people did enjoy themselves out there!)
Had to include this one, too. Another super-supportive friend with a big heart (and a big beard). I have seriously never been in a room full of people cheering me on to the degree I experienced on this evening.
It was a glorious evening. I came away grateful, joyful, blown away, and exhausted. Because introvert. But, oh--it couldn't have been more perfect. Truly.
And now you've had a little taste of it. Thank you for joining me.
(Photo cred: Cathi Cormack, Bill Clifford, Tom Soranno, Angela Pasquini-Clifford, Rachel Boehme, Eric Boehme)