A Literary Soiree
I’d been planning this book release party for Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story for a long time before the book came out. I made a special table cloth, printed recipes off the internet and ordered a special Lithuanian beverage. Fed Ex delivered the Krupnikas to my house in an interesting container that looked a little like a bomb. Because it’s alcoholic an adult has to sign for it. Fed Ex guy stepped inside. Buddy promptly sat on his foot and smiled up at him with a tennis ball in his mouth. His tail thumped on the floor. Fed Ex guy is so terrified of this vicious dog he doesn’t take his eyes off Buddy, doesn’t even look at me. He thrusts the clipboard my way and says, “I need to see your ID.” I didn’t say anything, just stared at him until he finally looked at me. He blushed crimson and said, “Uh, just sign here.” “I thought so,” I said.
My eldest daughter Sally loves to cook and try new recipes. She volunteered to drive from Silver Spring, Maryland, to help me cook for the party. I shopped for potatoes, onions and beets in astonishing quantities. Donna, the Lithuanian in the book, learning what we were doing, said we needed a potato grinder. A what? “Five pounds of potatoes, blink, blink, all done,” she explained.She loaned us her potato grinder. My friend Chris came to help peel potatoes. My kitchen turned into a science lab. We ground potatoes in the potato grinder, fermented beets, squeezed water out of potatoes with cheese cloth, molded zepplins and learned that Russet potatoes actually are russet colored (when they are ground) due to high iodine content. You knew that?
Donna’s family sent a “cake of many horns” from a Lithuanian bakery in Chicago. When they tried to explain to me how it was made, I googled it. You’ve got to see this for yourself. Google “cake of many horns Lithuania” and you’ll see it. You might not believe it, but you’ll see it. The only thing I could say about this amazing cake is, I’m sure the guy that invented this isn’t the same one who cleans the oven.
Sally also brought a beautiful cake she’d made. The design of my book’s cover decorated the top of the cake in icing. Sunday morning I loaded the car to start the many trips over to the church to get set up for the party. Buddy’s always ready for a ride. When I blocked the side door of the car so he couldn’t get in he leaped into the front seat and landed on the cake box. It was a Marley Moment.
I made individual centerpieces for every table, all relating to the book: flags, dolls, Pysanky eggs, pictures, and ordered a large floral arrangement for the food table. It was expensive, but my plan was to put it on the church altar when the party was over. Saturday evening, however, I went to Mass and stared at the bare altar. Lent had just begun on Wednesday. No flowers on the altar for 40 days. I shouldn’t have splurged on that centerpiece.
Lithuanian music played in the background while our guests sampled all the foods and beverages. I gave a brief presentation and a video about the cover was available for anyone who wished to watch it. You can see it on my website. Thursday, I’ll tell you about the guests.
Not all my books get this kind of party. Each one has had a particular kind of “launch” appropriate to the book. But they also have a long-term sales plan. Selling books isn’t a one time party, it’s ongoing.