An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones
Book Launch Retrospective, May 24, 2017
Where is the Writer?
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 7PM, at the Springfield Library. Many of the guests had arrived. Denise DeVone and Kathey Piedl, my two friends who were acting as hosts, stood behind an entrance-facing table decked with cookies, home-made lemonade, and water.
At a book-covered table, perpendicular to the first, was David Mitchell, my life partner, ready to sell a book to anyone who wanted one.
But where was I?
For me, the most important aspect of any event is the food! So I stayed up too late making ratatouille (next time I will prep the day before). At one point, I had more ratatouille than pots to cook it in. (It turned out very well.) The afternoon of the reading I made the spinach crustless quiche, but sensibly made the two pans of not-too-sweet oatmeal cookies, and the fresh fruit bowl the night before. All recipes are available on request.
Since it was a book launch, I thought I should spend some time on the reading. Practicing it aloud, I worked on the excerpt for two weeks. After receiving unsolicited, but helpful, critiques from our nineteen-year-old son, Hiroshi, I felt it was ready to go.
I arrived with the books at 6:30 (I had permission to set up at 5PM, but I was making the quiche.) With our son’s and my friend’s assistance, I unloaded the books.
Anxious about spilling food on the books, I had made a separate trip for the food. That’s where I was at 7PM.
Now I knew what had happened to the missing Monarch butterflies. They were all in my stomach! Those creatures made it impossible for me to eat my usual multigrain bread, peanut butter, and blueberry sandwich that afternoon. I settled for a plain piece of bread.
The Writer Arrives
I arrived at 7:15 and nervously greeted a few people. Being late and not having enough sleep were the main reasons for my anxiety. The reading started at 7:45 instead of the previously scheduled 7:30.
Gathered in the library were about twenty people from many different areas of my life: my family, my political group, my Reading Group, the Springfield Library Book Club, my spiritual community, my sisterfriend from the college where I used to teach, my now-defunct small business group, and friends who fit into none of these groups.
Once I had made a few jokes about the late start, my anxiety subsided. I felt the love in the room. After thanking all the people who had made the book possible, I read an excerpt that introduced the book then skipped to my mother reading the riot act to one of her employers.
It was well received, although I didn’t transition out of the reading smoothly enough so people were caught up short when it ended. Insightful audience questions followed. Near the end of the question period, a splendid potted plant arrived, sent by one of my high school buddies.
(Nearly) Locked in the Library
We were having such a fine time, the librarian had to–as my grandmother used to say when a suitor overstayed his time with one of her daughters–“call time” on us so they could close up. My life partner was inundated with book sales as people raced to buy books before the librarians locked us in overnight.
At the next event, I will start on time, leave more time for bookselling, and I will definitely not stay up until 2AM cooking!
But for the book launch of my first book, I’d say it went pretty well.