After several weeks of painstaking preparation, the big day finally arrived ─ the day of my very first book signing! I spent most of it packing up last minute items after getting a facial, manicure and makeup application. Max's brother and father presented me with beautiful flowers before driving me to Barnes & Noble. During the entire ride, I had brief, repeated panic sessions, wondering: Did I forget the pens? Oh, they're right here. Did I forget my brochures? No, they're in the trunk. Before I knew it, it was nearly 6:30 PM ─ the time I had hoped to begin my setup ─ and we were over ten blocks away from the venue. The anxiety continued to build a bit, but slowly subsided when we finally arrived. Upon entering Barnes & Noble, I saw the large poster-sized copy of my book cover in the window. I was taken aback when I saw it. It was like one of those moments one would have when seeing a long lost friend or relative. I was totally amazed to see multiple displays with Camileon at the registers as well as signs with my photo posted throughout the store, announcing the event. Peaches, the Community Relations Manager, was kind enough to give me a few as keepsakes.
Upon entering the event area, I was instantly blown away with how well the event space was set up. I hardly had to do anything at all! I didn't even use the candy dish or table cloth I had brought. Since my event was scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM, I had about fifteen minutes to setup. I was surprised to see three people already seated for the event. They immediately began asking questions after I introduced myself. I guess I may have overindulged a bit, because Peaches politely pulled me aside and said not to do excessive Q & A before the event started. She had a valid point.
Shortly after 7:00 PM, I immediately began to wonder... Where's my family? Where's Max?! Slowly but surely, the seats began to fill and the rest of my loved ones finally arrived. Jenya ─ the great photographer who worked with me to produce the cover ─ also arrived. As I sat there before the growing audience of family, friends and readers, I was filled with an incredible feeling that almost defies description. I realized, at that moment, I was in a place between who I was and who I am becoming. I also realized that although my path seemed incredibly lonely, I wasn't always alone. My biggest surprise came when my high school principal, Ms. Duncan, arrived with my high school teacher, Ms. Kaplan. The former was totally unexpected, but very welcome. I hadn't seen her in twelve years and I am touched to know that I left a positive memorable impression.
After Peaches introduced me, I approached the microphone and addressed the audience. I was slightly jittery on the inside and it probably resonated in my voice at times in the beginning, but it was more from excitement than nerves. I was truly elated and I instantly knew that moment would be one of the defining moments and a highlight, not only in my career, but in my life. I briefly explained how Camileon came to be and some of the emotions that motivated me to write the story. I then read the first two pages of Camileon before segueing into a Q & A session. The audience had some excellent questions! I was asked about my writing process, if my life experiences directly inspired some of the scenes in Camileon, how long did it take me to write the story, etc. Also, readers of Camileon voiced their praise for my work, all the while trying to pin me down on a release date for the sequel. Don't worry. I'm working hard to make that happen soon! I was rendered speechless when my family, former colleagues, teacher and principal expressed how proud they are of me and my accomplishments.
Soon after that, came the signing. I was touched that the first two books I signed that evening were those of Ms. Duncan and Ms. Kaplan. I met some really interesting people, some of whom are fellow alumni of my college. I truly regret not putting out a guest book for the attendees to sign. I guess that's a lesson learned for my next event. Funny thing is, I had a guest book, but got so caught up in signing copies of Camileon, taking photographs and talking to readers that it totally slipped my mind. All in all it was a fantastic event! Peaches, the Community Relations Manager, mentioned that she set up 40 chairs for the event. All of them were filled and people were standing in the back of the event space by the time I started reading from Camileon. She estimated the attendee count at around 45 people. Peaches commended me on a job well done. I truly am honored and grateful that she gave me the opportunity to present at the store. The day of my first book signing is a day I won't forget for as long as I live. To everyone who attended to show their support ─ and to those who wanted to attend, but couldn't ─ I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation!