Before we headed to the family reunion, I had a quick pitstop to make. Jon and I spent the 5th driving all over Utah, trying to deposit children with grandparents, get me to my book-signing, and navigate a horrific traffic jam in a canyon with zero cell service and a dozen family members in different vehicles. It was more than a bit of a monkey circus. And this time, they were my monkeys, and it was my circus.
Jon ended up dropping me off with old friends from Spokane who had relocated to Utah, while he navigated the canyon and children, and I got to spend the afternoon being a nervous first-time author before a book event and enjoying a quiet lunch.
Honestly, I was so worried no one would show up. My friend Brad owns a charming little book shop in Provo called Writ & Vision, and while I had attended events there before, this was my first solo event. It’s easy to get up and talk when you have a co-editor (hi, Emily!) but when it’s all you, and you’ve written a gut-wrencher about the most painful parts of your life, well…
An old friend stopped by before the event began to bring me a By Common Consent (for reals, it’s on the menu!) from Sodalicious. Seriously. They have a soda named after us! If you like Diet Coke with lime, coconut and a splash of grenadine, you’ll swoon. It’s so good. I sipped my BCC Soda while I worried no one was going to show up.
I was wrong.
Brad’s store specializes in collectible and antique books, along with a focus on showcasing Utah artists. The store is charming and eclectic and welcoming. He’d set up a table in front with a large stack of my books, along with cookies and iced lemon water. The pile of books looked forlornly daunting, but he had a few pre-orders set aside already for me to sign for customers who had called in advance. It was surreal.
In the back of the store is a gallery and presentation space. Gradually friends started showing up, and I was happy to visit with people I hadn’t seen in a while. Jon was still running children all over Utah, but I knew he was trying to get back. Slowly, the seats all started to fill—faces I knew and loved well, and more and more faces I didn’t know, but who smiled their encouragement to the butterflies in my stomach.
Here I am looking quite stern, with Steven Peck (a dear longtime friend) who introduced me and waxed poetic about my writing, and Carina (@JetSet on Twitter and a new friend) who pinch-hit for Courtney Kendrick and interviewed me. I’m not sure what I am saying here, but my kids would know not to mess with me, given that look.
It was weird having so many people there to hear me talk, and I hope my answers to Carina’s excellent questions were at least sort of interesting. I was able to meet several new friends, and finally meet some folks whom I have known online, but had not previously met in person, and even more who I didn’t know at all. It was fun, and exhausting, and exhilarating, and terrifying all at once. I wish I had taken more pictures, but there is one picture I’m happy I got:
This is Deanna; we went to kindergarten together in California. She lives in Utah now, and I haven’t seen her in close to 30 years. She came to see me. What an amazing world we live in, where these kinds of connections can be maintained.
Jon got there just as everyone was milling around and socializing afterwards, wearing a “She’s my QUEEN” t-shirt he gleefully found at a thrift store the week before, which he thought hilarious and apropos for the night. I love him.
And with that, we headed off to the mountains for family reunion-ing, no cell signal or wifi, and a week of swimming, 4-wheeling, canoeing, cooking, and no way to check statistics or sales. It was actually just what I needed.
p.s. Writ & Vision sold the whole pile of books.