Did you ever get to meet your idol or someone you really admire? I did in August. Only I didn’t know I admired her yet.
What Does One Do at a Book Launch & Signing?
We entered Boswell Books through the Starbucks entrance on Downer Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at about 6 p.m. We handed over tickets in exchange for our brand new copies of the just released book How the Light Gets In and our signing letter. The letter we got corresponded to our spot in the book signing line. …we were letter, U…ahem. VIPs we are not. We found seats at the back of the mostly filled room and then headed for refreshments. Each of the tiny treats relating to Québec or the book: Poutine (a regional dish) amuse bouches, then bloody red velvet, banana maple pancake, caramel apple and ginger pear cupcakes. We awkwardly tried to balance, plates, napkins, books and iced tea in our folding chairs. As I watched people chatting or already reading the brand new book, I realized I hadn’t thought much about the person Louise Penny before. I knew I loved her books. I knew she wrote deliciously addictive and complex mysteries set in a fictional small town in Québec, but I didn’t know much more. Maybe it was because I felt I knew the characters personally that I never thought to think about her as an author before that night, as if because I knew her books so well, I already knew her.
Louise Begins to Inspire
Louise came out and right away we knew she was one of us. Dressed in a bright summer dress, she was relaxed, personable and hilarious. I guess I didn’t expect hilarious. And timing, man, she nailed timing! It was no surprise when she told us before writing she worked as a radio broadcaster for the CBC in Canada. It was clear she was comfortable talking to a crowd. After she took a picture of the crowd with her camera, we settled in to enjoy her talk. Did she talk about her books? Yes. More importantly she talked about writing and that’s when the inspiration started to get in.
Before attending this book launch I was feeling burnt out. I’d been putting so much into my writing and blog and not making much headway as far as “success” goes. I felt like I was writing good content, but I started to question myself. Did I really want to write? Was it worth it? And then the words she spoke seemed to hover in the air like literary stars, glimmering with promise and encouragement. The biggest star shook me in my seat. She spoke of realizing she was “writing for approval”. She changed her mindset to “write a book that I. Would. Love. To. Read.” Whoa. What was I doing? Writing to get more blog readers. Writing for approval.
More Louise Penny Stars
She spoke of writing her characters and said, “It’s okay if you don’t love them, I do.”
- On writer’s block: “It was the not trying to write that was killing me”
- On writing, “This is a choice. This is a joy. A Dream.” She reminds herself often while writing, this is a blessing.
- She loves Québec and wants to bring it alive for others so they can love it like she does. She reminded me that’s one of the things I aim for in my writing. It’s one of my goals to write so people come to know and love my favorite places and experiences.
- Don’t write a book. Break down your book (or big goal) into manageable pieces. Just run to the next corner.
She was so enjoyable to listen to and laugh with, we didn’t want the night to end. I went to see Louise Penny because I loved her books. I left loving her books and Louise Penny. So here I am. Writing a blog I would love to read, writing to the next corner, and reminding myself that this opportunity is a blessing.
Watch a video clip of Louise Penny speaking about her childhood imaginings that her real mother was the Queen of England.