Celebrate Books Party

Howdy, all.

So, Far From Here releases in less than a week. Craziness. Insanity. I can hardly believe it. And yet, can I let you in on a little secret? Book releases are anti-climactic. There’s no fanfare, nothing much happens, and for the most part when an author releases a book baby into the world, the only person who notices is the writer herself (or himself). After the years that went into writing said book (from concept to rough draft to publishable manuscript), and the entire process of tightening it up for press, and then the months of publicity and marketing and hoping that reviewers will read and love your work and that booksellers will buy it by the truckload, the actual pub date is barely a sneeze on the radar. Ah-ah-ah-nah. Forget it, the sneeze has passed.

It’s not depressing so much as it is bewildering. I just birthed a baby… A book baby, mind you, but a baby nonetheless. How can life just go on as normal when my thoughts and feelings and deepest (until-now) unspoken wonderings about life and love and how it all fits together are branded on the page for all the world to see? *GASP* What have I done? People might actually read what I wrote!

I know, I know. That’s the point. But I still have to reconcile myself to the very public nature of my work every time a new book comes out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting, too. Thrilling and heart-pumping and giddy–I usually spend release day floating through the house with my feet a couple inches off the ground. But it’s a mixed bag of emotions. At least for me.

This year, I’ve decided that I want to do something special to mark the release of my fifth book. I’m not having a book launch party. I’ve only ever had one (for my debut novel After the Leaves Fall), and it was a ton of fun, but ultimately it was just a party with my friends where we drank good wine, ate amazing hor d’oeuvres, and passed the book around because we could hardly believe it was real. We do that all the time (well, minus the book passing part). And a physical book launch party limits my guest list severely since most of you live flung across the globe. So…

Instead of having a book launch party, I’m going to have a Celebrate Books Party. I LOVE reading, I have since I was a very little girl, and I adore sharing my passion for books with other people. I think reading is a necessary, downright fundamental part of living a whole, healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. Reading helps us understand ourselves, empathize with each other, and interact with the world around us. Reading stirs the soul.

Here’s what I want YOU to do. On Tuesday, February 7, I would love it if my readers would help me celebrate the release of Far From Here by giving away a book. It can be a book from your personal collection, or something that you purchase from your favorite bookstore. You can give it to a friend or a stranger on the street. The idea is to pass along the joy of reading, and if you choose to buy a Sandra Boynton board book for your toddler or dig up your favorite dog-eared copy of Hamlet for your college English professor, know that you are giving a gift that will leave the reader changed! For how can we read a great book and not come away just a little bit different?

Here’s what I’M going to do. First, I’m going to ask you to share your stories with me. Next Tuesday you’ll be invited to leave a comment on my blog and tell me who you gave a book to and what book it was. From the pool of people who comment, I’ll let the random number generator pick three (one for each of my boys!) and I’ll send out signed copies of Far From Here to the winners.

Second, I’m going to invite you to purchase Far From Here for a friend (or for yourself!), and I’ll donate books to the Christ Our Hope orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia based on how high the Amazon ranking gets. If Far From Here makes it into the top 10,000 in either paperback or Kindle format, I’ll donate 25 books. If we hit the top 1,000: 50 books. And if we make it to the top 10, I’ll buy 100 books for the orphanage. And you can bet The Tale of Despereaux, one of my all-time faves, will be in the bunch. (Thus the photo above.)

Here’s the catch: to drive up the Amazon ranking, you must purchase Far From Here on Tuesday, February 7 from Amazon.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores (I try to do lots of book purchasing from mom and pop shops, and my all-time favorite date is still browsing the shelves at my local B&N with Starbucks coffee in hand), but for the sake of ease, this seemed like the best way to do it. Amazon posts their book rankings on their homepage and on each individual book site, so it’s very simple to follow.

So there you have it. This feels good to me. It feels like a great way to celebrate not just my own book release, but books in general. I hope you participate! I’d love to hear stories about how you gave your favorite copy of The Prophet to a perfect stranger on the bus. Or how you sought out a beloved childhood book and presented it to your kids when they got home from school. Of course, I’d also love to hear that you bought a copy of Far From Here, and randomly sent it to your mother-in-law with a note that simply says: Enjoy.

Thanks for reading!


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