Saturday, October 10, 2015

The NYC Chronicles: About the Book Launch

It went great. Really, really great — no thanks to me or my novice-ness and general lack of prepared-ness, no. This landmark moment and its success was due entirely to two groups of awesome people:

Dedication page,
The ones who helped make it happen: 
  • fabulous publisher
  • fabulous dushi, to whom the book is dedicated,
  • fabulous Curaçao expats living in NYC who a) invited all their friends and basically shepherded them to the event, and b) introduced me to 
  • fabulous La Casa Azul bookstore owner & staff, and
  • fabulous PR people at the office of the Dutch consulate in NYC, who were beyond instrumental... Let me put it this way: without the DCNY, we would've had a book launch without books; and
  • assorted sites who shared the event, among them an ultra-flattering mention in NYC's Village Voice.

But what's an event—any event, but especially a book launch—without an audience? And we struck gold there.

Our beyond-wonderful audience.

  • friends who came in from as far away as Boston and Texas—and even Curaçao! And exclusively for the launch! Man... oh, man. Thank you doesn't even come close to beginning to cover it...
  • decades-long friends who, having read zero-zilch-nada of my work—and who, given the distance in time, had no real investment in supporting me—showed up anyway, all smiles and enthusiasm and good wishes;
  • ex-colleagues from that other life I once lived in the financial industry—and their friends, from as far away as SPAIN!
  • aforementioned Curaçao expats—a director at the Huffington Post, a director of Sugar Hill Children's Museum, an anthropologist professor at NYU, and a marketing strategist—some of whom showed up with friends, and even visiting Curaçao family;
  • perfect strangers who, somehow, heard about this book launch by an unknown author and not only gave it a shot but participated wholeheartedly in the conversation about this mystery island called Curaçao.

A blast, I tell you. No debut author has a right to expect a show of support at this level.

And then there were all the people who couldn't be there but wanted to, and sent awesome vibes of goodwill and confidence through the airwaves. I'm convinced all those positive thoughts conspired to create a bubble in space/time where nothing could go wrong.

Or, okay, not much could.

We had a moment of panic when the train we were on skipped the 103rd Street stop (a hundred meters from the bookstore). Maybe we got on the wrong train, we thought. The local vs the express or something. So we went on to the next stop (116th), crossed the tracks, and got on a train going back to 103rd — after double-checking this one did, actually, stop at 103rd.

Outside the Dutch consulate
after picking up the books.
(We were still on track, time-wise,
which is why I look so relaxed.)

Instead, 103rd zoomed past our windows while a blurry voice on the intercom said, "We've received confirmation there will be no stops at 103rd due to ongoing construction. The next stop on the line is 86th street."

Shit. Shit.

86th street is seventeen blocks away from 103rd. And it was 5:15; no way we could walk that (even if we hadn't had a suitcase with 50 books to roll along) and make it to the bookstore before 6:00—and even if we did, I certainly wouldn't be in any condition to give a speech—or even say Welcome—before passing out.

(Oh, man. The Speech. Well, we'll get to that.)

So we did the only thing we could: the four of us—my Super Dushi, my friend from Texas and my other friend from Curaçao—piled into a taxi (only later we'd realize how lucky we'd been to find one at 5:15 pm on Lexington... Like I said, good vibes make a huge difference) and high-tailed it—as it were, given rush-hour traffic—to 103rd. Good we knew exactly where we were going (thank you, phone GPS—how did anyone ever get anywhere without you?) because the taxi driver spoke enough English to say thank you and yessir, but not much more.

So we made it, roller suitcase chock-full of books and all, to the bookstore at about 5:40. (Instead of 5:00, as I'd originally planned... What's that saying about plans and god and evil cackling? Yeah.)

And people were already there.

So instead of having a nice moment with Aurora, the bookstore owner, to meet and get to know each other a little bit, or to meet her staff—or even, dammit, to take in the beautiful space and the shelves packed with amazing Latino authors—it was a rush-rush "Nice to meet you. Where do you want the books?" "Yeah, me too. Do you have the consignment form?" "The price's missing." "Where do I need to sign?" "What genre do you want these listed as?" And in between people kept arriving; people I had only traded emails with but never met face to face, people I didn't expect to see, people who had come a long way—whether through time or distance, or both—to support me. So of course that turned into a mass session of interrupted catch-up and introductions and ICAN'TBELIEVEYOU'REHEREs and photos and group hugs...

One of the amazing Curaçao People photos—with, unfortunately, a couple of main players too far back
in the shadows to see properly (and with the Curaçao flag held the wrong way around... we were that excited).
Publisher Matt Potter of Truth Serum Press is the gorgeous guy on the left, back row.

And then Aurora gave me a nudge. "I think it's time."

To Be Continued.


  1. See! You were so worried and look at the positivity and all for your book and you! I think it is great that you got mentioned in the Village Voice-that is quite the big thing. All these people coming from so far away must have made you feel over the moon. Your book will do well - with your friend from the Huffington Post to other magazines and blogs and the people wanting to read your book-you should be proud despite the last minute panic due to the subway.

    1. Thanks so much, Birgit! Yes, indeed—over the moon is exactly right :) And, most of all, really, really grateful :) Thanks for the enthusiasm!

  2. Hi Guilie - sounds just amazing .. and oh gosh going past the stop not once, but twice ... way too awful .. I'd have been having heart attacks ... just so pleased all went off so happily and it was obviously successful ... that's great ...

    Looking forward to part 2 ... no wonder you're so happy! Cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you, Hilary! Haha, yeah, that double-miss at the subway was the stuff of nightmares :D But it all worked out in the end, even with the rush. And the staff at the bookstore was fantastic about picking up the slack... I got lucky :)

  3. How awesome. You had an amazing turnout...and the perfect location! Congratulations.

    1. "the perfect location" — you're not kidding, Stephanie :) The Casa Azul, both the place and the staff, were wonderful, and way beyond anything I'd a right to expect. Ha—even the weather cooperated :D The bookstore is distributed and decorated in such a way that it feels more like someone's (admittedly book-packed) house. The space really contributed toward the general atmosphere of coziness and informality... I'd do an event there anytime :)

      Thanks for the visit!

  4. This is oh so cool. I totally envy your experience there.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Thank you, Lee! It was a wonderful thing, all-around and overall :)


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