Another one of those firsts that come along with a first novel: my first ever book signing, followed closely by my first ever book launch party. Both were a blast, and the turnout from friends and neighbors was a little mind-blowing.
First, the signing, which was held at 3pm on Sunday, Sept. 7, and was put together by the wonderful Meredith Rogers, community relations manager at the State College Barnes & Noble. We think about a hundred people show up for my combination reading / signing / discussion. To start the Q&A, I handed out index cards with questions that Kathy had helpfully written out. Such as question #4: “There’s a steamy sex scene in chapter 14. Who were you thinking of?” And #5, a followup to #4: “You have children who can read. They have friends who can also read. So… what were you thinking?” (Okay, I admit it was a double scam: I wrote the questions myself.)
Henry Gong took these pictures (thanks, Henry!)
We sold out of all the books B&N had on hand, as well as 19 books I’d brought from my publisher (Meredith sold those, and she paid me back in books when her next shipment arrived). Frankly, the best kind of problem to have.
Then after 90 minutes of signing (I sign as slowly as I write fiction), it was off to the really fun part, the beer and chili party at my house. We had over a hundred people wandering through. At one point, Jim Morrow asked me, “So, all these people were strangers before now?” I said, “Yep, they were all brought together by the power of literature and a love of science fiction.” Jim said, “Well, it looks like they’re bonding.”
Jim, his wife, Kathy, and son Chris had stopped by on their way home from Pittsburgh (they hadn’t even turned in their rental car yet or freed their dog from the kennel). And so many other friends! Our neighbors, my coworkers from Minitab, the various psychologists we hang with, various Delafields, and the random assortment of folks we’ve met over the course of 18 years in this town. I got a little verklempt.
A shoutout to all the people who helped this thing come together. We borrowed tables and chairs from our neighbors the Heiningers (who, conveniently enough, had just rented a load of them for David Heininger’s retirement party two nights before). Altheda Hughes and Jody Crust made extra chili, Wendy Moran and Kimber Hershberger made cookies, and my mother and sisters sent an edible bouquet (but strangely, no edible underwear), my daughter’s boyfriend Mark stayed late to stack tables… and probably lots of other people I’m forgetting. Oh, my kids — they were great. But most of all, my thanks goes to my local PR agent, that Lady O’ the Lists, the supremely organized whirlwind known as Kathy Bieschke. I am stunned.
My only complaint about the whole affair is that people didn’t drink enough beer. I have enough in my house to support several more parties. Which raises an interesting question…