Publication Party and Book Launch

The day of the book launch also brought one of the wettest days the bay area has seen all year. So thank you to all my friends, family and colleagues who came out in the pouring, unrelenting rain to help celebrate Cherry’s debut.

Diesel Books of Oakland was incredibly welcoming to us bringing food and drink to make it more festive. Matt was a trooper carrying the egg rolls, summer rolls and beverages in through the rain. In my 37th week of pregnancy, I can’t lift much of anything anymore without activating the Braxton-Hicks. And I’m suspicious these aren’t Braxton-Hicks anymore and this little boy is going to arrive any day now, instead of mid-April, as estimated.
I had really wanted to make the party family-friendly, which is why I encouraged our friends to bring their toddlers, so Amelie would have playmates. We didn’t count on Amelie falling asleep on the way to the bookstore, which made us suspect she hadn’t napped at preschool. For those who do not have children, an unnapped toddler is an unpredictable X-factor. She can be cheerful, or she could be a terror. And you have absolutely no control over which way it goes. So Matt stayed in the car to give her some precious minutes of sleep, while I prepared inside.
The bookstore soon filled with former and current students, colleagues, friends and family. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew drove in over two and a half hours of rainy traffic from Sacramento to be there for the event. I felt incredibly grateful and appreciative for sacrificing their Friday night to be with me.
I wasn’t planning on reading much, but the chairs and podium were set up for a traditional reading and discussion, so I quickly picked out three short scenes I felt best represented the feel of the book. Hopefully, it enticed more readers to buy!
When Matt carried Amelie inside, we should have known. Friends began approaching her to say hello, some who haven’t seen her in months, and she immediately burst into tears, running behind me or Matt to hide. She didn’t want to play with her friends. She didn’t want a snack. She didn’t want to look at books in the children’s section. We even offered her a seat next to me during the reading, but we knew she was a ticking time bomb. We weren’t sure what to do. We had to start the event.
During the reading of the first scene, Amelie wandered off from Matt and walked right up to me at the podium. Our friend Donna had brought me a bouquet of flowers, which Amelie had promptly taken for herself. So while I continued to read, Amelie held my hand with one hand, and her bouquet in the other, looking suspiciously at the audience, wondering why they were staring at her.
I got through the first two scenes, reading confidently and hopefully compellingly, all while holding my daughter’s tugging hand. For a brief few minutes, I thought I could do this–keep her calm and finish the reading. It would not only be a victory for me, but for any other working writer-mom who has been told that children did not belong at literary readings.
But of course I had to push it by trying to read the third scene. By this time, Amelie had had it. She began pulling harder at my hand, whimpering, making it clear that she wanted me to stop and pay attention to her.
The audience was delightfully receptive to her interruptions, but eventually, I had to give Matt the signal to come up and get her. The exit was not smooth: Amelie kicked, screamed, wailed all the way out the bookstore. All while I was reading a scene where a UN worker was assuring terrified Vietnamese refugees at a Malaysian refugee campm to remain calm and that everything was going to be all right.
Once Amelie and Matt had exited–which did make me sad that the two most important people in my life could not stay for this event–the reading and q&a went much better. I have no idea if I was coherent, but that’s the great thing about reading in front of an audience comprised mostly of people you already know: they don’t care. They are just happy for you. And that is an incredible feeling.
So thank you again for making the publication party for Cherry such a success. I will remember it for a long time to come.

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