After asking five different bookstores to help me launch my book, two of them refusing because the point of view of Searching for Love might offend their customers, I decided to organize my own launch. But how? Where?
Thankfully my church, Winnipeg Centre Vineyard (what a community of supportive people!), was willing to let me use the building and the planning began. Invitations: to everyone in and near Winnipeg whose e-mail and/or postal address I have—about 300; Posters: in Christian bookstores, churches and parachurch ministries; Announcements: in Facebook, Winnipeg Free Press’ Faith Briefs and The Tab (a weekly insert listing what’s happening around town). I became well acquainted with the printing services of the UPS Store my son’s friend owns.
Who would come? I had no way of knowing. How many should I prepare for? I didn’t have a clue; it could be two hundred or it could be only five. I decided to be optimistic and plan for 200—it’s always better to have too much than too little.
Organizing an event like this, alone, required a lot of thought and energy and my family’s cooperation. I haven’t been well and become exhausted with the slightest stress or activity so all my attention for the month before was focused on the launch, leaving my family to pick up the pieces and endure the messes I made and the lack of attention I gave them.
My family was (and is) awesome. It took three vehicles to get everything to the church: sound system in Tom’s car; keyboard and computer in Mons’ car; books, food and miscellaneous items in my van. Tom and Mikael came with me to Sobey’s to pick up the food trays I’d ordered (fruit, veggies, pickles/olives and lots of dainties—very yummy at an excellent price) and everyone but me pitched in to carry everything from the house to cars to church, set it all up, take it all down, carry back to the cars, back into the house and put away. I had other helpers. Linda came early to run the kitchen and when Erik couldn’t come (his friend had an emergency), Bonnie stepped in to sit at the book table (thank you, Linda and Bonnie!). Mons provided incomparable background music before and after the speaking. My job was to stay as calm as possible until I stepped to the podium.
My pastor, Nathan, helped begin the launch by calling everyone to sit down (they were enjoying the goodies) and introducing me. He also prayed for me and the book and, because I had been concerned that some in attendance might be antagonistic or hostile (none were), spoke about the courage it takes to do something that is counter to society’s values. Thank you, Nathan. And thank you, God, for keeping all opposition away.
The crowd of guests was small (Tom estimated fifty) but they came from a wide variety of communities that I am or have been part of. If I had sent invitations only to those I thought would come, some of the guests wouldn’t have been there: a woman my mom knew before I was born and whose kids I’d played with as a little girl; my mom’s cousin and the cousin’s best friend, who is married to a very distant cousin of my dad, travelled from Portage la Prairie (over 50 miles away) and Starbuck; a Winnipeg publisher who had taken the time to suggest ways to launch and market my book; many from my church despite the fact they’d been at another church event all afternoon; the pastor from Tom’s church; a couple of women from the retreat I spoke at a few weeks ago and friends I rarely see. The advantage of the smaller group was that I had the chance to chat with each person. That was so much fun.
When it came time for me to get up, I read portions of my book with only enough commentary between each to assist the flow of the story.
Then I opened the floor to questions. Mons had expressed surprise that I was going to do that—what if someone asked a question I didn’t want to answer? Well, then, I’d say I don’t want to answer it. Easy! But there were no uncomfortable questions and I enjoyed the chance to interact with the guests as a whole. To my surprise, a number of people stood up and gave commentary about me—all positive. It was cool, except I feel awkward with praise. Mons recorded the whole thing, including the questions and comments, and I’m hoping to post it here when he sends me a copy and tells me how.
The talking, reading and questions took about an hour. When they were done, I directed people back to the food, drink (coffee and tea) and book table and then struggled to walk off the platform. It seems that when I’ve stood still for a length of time, my knees decide they don’t want to bend. It’s hard to walk that way! I found my way to the book table, kicked off my shoes and sat down until it was time to pack up and return home.
I had a great time and I think everyone else did too. It was a good evening and I had enough energy to go to church the next morning. For those of you who prayed, thank you.