A Quarantined Book Release Party

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that a lot of people, a lot of families are struggling and suffering in terms of physical and mental health and finances due to the COVID19 outbreak. This post is in no way meant to be a “woe is me–I couldn’t do the thing I want to do” kind of thing. On the same note, I do believe we can complain and sit in our own self-pity about whatever we want. Our lives are constantly affected in new ways and I do my fair share of complaining these days, especially about the country’s toilet paper situation.

But no complaints here. This post is a “thank you,” a tribute, an acclamation to my wife.

Any fantasy I’ve ever had about releasing a book and throwing myself a party to promote and announce the work (but most importantly, to receive pats on the back and congratulatory nonsense from friends and family because hey, I did this and I’m allowed to be thrilled about it) died on March 13. That was the day the state of Michigan started promoting staying at home, and it was eleven days before my book was set to be released. Should I change the date? I thought about it for a little while but decided I didn’t want to do that. Too much time and energy and late nights and editing and revising and creating had gone into getting it ready for that date. The release was already delayed a few times for technical reasons. I was sticking with March 24 knowing that none of my fantasies about the launch would be realized.

And trust me, I’m a dreamer, so I have fantasies about everything. I imagined all of it: the miraculous sale of millions of copies of my book; #1 spots at the top of best-selling lists; the dreamt-about-too-many-times instant contract with Disney to turn my work into an animated short or feature film; and a friendly invitation to appear for a guest spot on Sesame Street. None of those things were going to happen, you know, because of COVID19 (and only because of COVID19, right?).

But something I never imagined took place instead: I got a surprise book release party with my wife and my kids.

I knew my wife had something in the works when she ordered me to spend an hour or two away from her and the kids and quarantined me in another part of the house (which I have to admit was nice in and of itself since alone time for any of us is rare these days). But I didn’t know exactly what they were up to until the big reveal that night.

What I didn’t know is that something greater than anything I imagined was going to take place.

When I was called to the basement for the big surprise, my kids jumped out of their hiding spot (after I pretended not to see them hiding under a desk, of course). They were wearing purple shirts, the same color Flora wears in my book, Moon Puppets. And they taped yellow cut-out stars to their shirts to make them look even more like Flora. I couldn’t believe it. Not only were they just as enthusiastic as I was, but the fact that they left the paper stars on and didn’t destroy them right away (the younger one lost hers while dancing a little later) and were genuinely excited to wear and show them made me feel better than any contract with Disney could have made me feel. So I felt emotionally richer, obviously not financially richer, okay? Let’s not kid ourselves.

My wife hung banners that she made with the kids to celebrate the release of the book. And she baked chocolate chip cookies to represent the moon and made star-shaped grape Jell-O cutouts.

“She’d use the cookies as the moon and the Jell-O as the sky. Her first attempt proved scrumptious, I gave both of them a try!”
That’s for all you Moon Puppets fans out there!

Then my older daughter presented me with a gift. When I opened the box I found a small pipe cleaner model of Flora herself. I couldn’t believe that she made the fragile little doll. It made me so proud to see that she was inspired by something I created to create her own special thing. The moment captured the true essence of the whole self-publishing process for me: create something positive and put it out there without fear of judgement.

I mean look at this! The kid doesn’t even know what Etsy is!

I couldn’t believe the detail to their party, it didn’t matter that no one else was there, that I wasn’t sharing the moment with more people, strangers even. It mattered to my family, to my wife, to make sure I got a book release party for my first book. A party so good, I’m not sure I deserved it.

Top 10 Blog Post Ideas for Bloggers with a Blog Who Should Be Blogging

Starting a blog can be daunting. I know this to be true because I just started one. As a new blogger, one thing I tend to do is check other blogs and websites for inspiration on what I could post. There are so many longstanding, reputable blogs out there with excellent advice and posts about blog topic suggestions. Most of them have even been written in list form to make reading easy and fun. So I figured, why not use that as inspiration and give it a try! I present to you, ten blog post ideas you should be blogging:

Share photos from your recent travels.

The mountain air was so crisp and the smell of pine reminded me of Christmastime even though I took this picture in August 🙂

Did you travel somewhere recently? I bet it was nice. Show everyone a picture. Tell them how crisp the mountain air was and how the smell of pine trees reminded you of Christmastime even though it was August. And of course the weather was a perfect sunny day in the high 60s, right? Your readers want to see this stuff. It’s a good break for them from staring at a blank page trying to write and create their own work. They’ll appreciate knowing that someone else went outside and took in some fresh air for a change. If you haven’t traveled anywhere recently, simply Google Image Search “mountains” and look for a photo that doesn’t have copyright protection. Post and make things up about it. Don’t worry, you won’t have enough readers to call you out on stealing a photo. And if you ever do, you make sure to stick with telling them that you were the original taker of that photo. Practice saying, “Well, yeah, of course I knew those were mountains in Nepal because I took that photo when I was in Nepal.” You don’t want to clam up if that problem ever presents itself.

Share your political views in the most controversial way possible. This is great because it finds your readers and builds a base fast. And don’t worry about offending anyone. Keep in mind, if you’ve turned someone away from your writing, they’re the problem, not you. And you didn’t want them reading your words anyway. You’ve got a better fan base for it, and now it’s only filled with people who agree with you that the existence of animals is purely for human consumption and how extinction is just nature’s way of running out of something on the menu. You’ve found your niche and you’re looking good. Please your crowd. Stick to your convictions and make no apologies!

Post a picture of your food and share just how amazing it was with everyone.

Sorry, I already ate my lunch before I took the picture. But just look at that olive oil, fennel, and little bit of meat droppings that were too small to pick up with my fork. Scrumptious!

Food is amazing. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! People love food. Show people what you just ate and tell them about it. “That curried cauliflower wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. Boy, that fennel sure did taste good on the zucchini. And the meatballs! Oh, I wish I would have had enough to share before I ate it all.”

Tell your readers about a dream you had. Everyone will love reading about your dreams. Oh, especially the one about how Ian McShane tricked you into staying at the restaurant after it closed by purposely screwing up your bill because he knew you would complain about it. Then you both grew wings and turned into giants and flew all over the lake with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. You then battled each other to the death but you’re not sure who won because you woke up. This type of post works well if your blog is still a baby. Readers can expect, or at least hope, that any other future post you publish makes more sense than that one about your dream.

My [insert body part here] smells like [insert smell here] after I [insert action here]. This is an excellent one for beginning writers for two reasons. One, it gives you some practice at working within the beautiful and strange realm of similes and metaphors. For example, a simile would go something like this: “My feet smell like Doritos after I pick up cheese with my toes and feed it to my puppy.” That can even be followed up with a metaphor, like this: “I like when my puppy licks my Dorito feet clean.” The second reason for this kind of post being good for beginners is that it introduces you to your readers in a fun and unique way. Readers want to know about your hobbies so they can judge you better.

Tell your readers about your pet. Just like food, people love pets, but for different reasons (you may pet your food but don’t eat your pets, please). And just like your dreams, people love hearing about your pets. Of course they want to know about your puppy and how he ever-so-gently removes cheese from between your toes with his cute puppy teeth. Oh how it tickles! Post a picture of that crazy nonsense, sicko. Your readers will eat it up. No, not your feet cheese. I just mean that your readers will enjoy the post about your pet.

Who is your favorite character from the 1982 cult classic, The Beastmaster, and why? Spoiler alert: it’s the ferrets because they’re so stinkin’ cute! They’re cuter than your puppy, even.

Give up and post a bunch of gifs. People overuse and abuse gifs. You know how you’re annoyed when people say “Yeah, baby” in that Austin Powers accent or repeat decades-old quotes from Jim Carrey movies? Well, those are the audible versions of gifs. But people love gifs. So make sure to use them often.

And if none of those ideas that I’ve listed inspire you, post a Top 10 list of something helpful and informative! But double check your list to make sure you included all ten suggestions. I mean, how embarrassing would it be if you don’t have the right amount of things listed, am I right?