The Bakka-Phoenix launch of Summoned to Destiny
was something that I'd been excitedly nervous about for a good while now--as the frequent mentions here demonstrate. Yet Saturday morning, I awoke almost calm. I puttered around, got ready and headed downtown early, all the while feeling ready. I'd been waiting and waiting for this event and I was glad that it was finally going to happen.
I stumbled into Julie and Roger on the street, and so decided that my timing had to be perfect. Ruth Stuart had already arrived, Michelle West had likely been there for quite some time already (seeing as she works there and all), and Jana Paniccia showed up only a few minutes later. Jana, Ruth and I discussed the number of pens that we had brought (three each), and how we were feeling (nervous, excited, exhilarated), and how many copies we had been requested to buy and sign for people who could not attend (many). Soon Julie rounded us up and, with the addition of Ed Greenwood and some pages of stickers bearing Marie Brennan's signature and more with the cover artists' signatures, we began to fly through a box of books that were to be sent to a store in Vancouver, attempting to get through the entire lot before the launch officially started.
This is where I learned my first signing lesson: don't kneel on the floor grate. It hurts. But seeing as there weren't enough chairs for everyone--or, really, anyone--my choices were either kneeling or crouching. I quickly learned to crouch.
My second signing lesson was not to be near the beginning of a signing cue. My name has many letters, and when I sign it I like to make sure that they're all there, in the right order and at least somewhat legible. This makes me slow
--or, at the very least, slower than Julie and Ed, with whom I shared a signing table.
At this point, all those last-minute things were running through my head: what if no one shows up? What if only people I know show up and no one else cares? Is this pen going to leave big ink splotches on the pages? All groundless.
Because before I'd finished signing stock for the Vancouver store, people had already started to arrive. Some I knew: Carly, bearing flowers; my Gramp; Suzette, my former co-worker from Atkinson. Others I'd never seen before in my life. And the store was filling up and quickly.
(From left to right: Julie Czerneda, Karina Sumner-Smith, Michelle Sagara West, Ed Greenwood, Jana Paniccia, Ruth Stuart.)
Our editor rounded us up quickly and said a few words of introduction, as well as formally announcing that we'd each be getting an archival-quality print of the cover art courtesy of the amazing artists--one copy of which we proceeded to pose behind. Then the masses descended.
Okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating; I'm not entirely sure, seeing as the first hour at the very least is a blur of signing my name, scribbling prayer forms, making sure that I spell others' names correctly and thinking of things to say in every copy. I only made one bad mistake that I know of: I signed my friend Mark's copy on Marie Brennan's story instead of my own. (Still not sure how that happened, as Marie's story isn't even close to my own.) But I managed to fix it ... or, at least, sign it on the correct page and apologize to Marie/Bryn on her page.
So many people attended: newsgroup friends, various family members of numerous authors, close friends, co-workers, total strangers. The two hours absolutely flew by, and I don't think I stopped grinning the entire time. It was 4:30 before I realized that I hadn't eaten or drank anything since that morning, which would likely account for the way my hands were trembling when I finally stopped writing. Chris got me a bottle of water which I downed in record time, and felt much better. The delicious cookies, sadly, had long since been devoured.
It was only in the last twenty minutes or so that we authors could begin to chat, rest our hands and straighten up from all that crouching. The only sad thing about having such a well-attended event is that there was never time to talk to anyone who'd come to see us--and since that was the biggest of the problems, I feel I have nothing to complain about. In the last few of minutes of the event, we authorly types set to signing all the copies ordered from the store by people who couldn’t attend, as well as copies for people who had won some of Julie's contests, and a box plus a stack of store stock. This time I made myself the very last person in the signing cue (and did not kneel on a grate) and so everyone was happy.
When the event was finished most people went out to Jana's relatives' place for dinner and talk, which sounds like it was lovely. I went out with my parents, brother, and friends Sid, Jaki, Michelle and Serge for dinner instead, which was absolutely perfect--as was the gift that my mother had made for me (so perfect it made me cry). At the end of it all I was exhausted, exhilarated and shocked to discover that it was barely 9 PM.
As I said that evening, I had no idea that repeatedly signing my name could be so much fun. Great company, amazing turnout, many copies of the book sold and wonderful people to share the experience with: who could ask for more?