Grind Joint launched last Saturday at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. The plan was to post a recap here on Monday, but I wasn’t ready. I told myself it was due to a busy day and travel.
I’ll begin with an apology. This should be about the event, and I’m afraid it’s going to be more about me. So it goes. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and have not found a way to adequately express how the day went from my perspective. Anyone who was there and wants to give a more objective account, comment away.
Saturday morning’s events started Friday when The Sole Heir and her mother (aka The Good Ex) made an unannounced appearance at my parents’ home. I had been under the impression they had a conflicting obligation, booked well before the launch date had been finalized. They were wholly unexpected.
And, they bore gifts:
With Saturday already guaranteed to be a good day, The Beloved Spouse and I approached MLB with a spring in our step. I almost tripped from stopping short when I saw Charlie Stella and the lovely Princepessa, Ann Marie, already inside. (Charlie had made many assurances and apologies about his own previous commitment. This was, by the way, the day’s only surprise of which The Beloved Spouse was unaware. I can’t trust anyone to give me the straight story.)
(Charlie Stella with not The Princepessa.)
Laurie Stephens of MLB is the perfect hostess for a virgin author. All I had to do was pretend to be personable (I think I fooled most of them, with one notable exception, the old sonofabitch), do my reading, answer questions without overtly offending anyone, and sign some books. I was made to feel not only welcome, but like everyone was genuinely happy for me to be there. Laurie’s introduction set me up well, she got the Q & A rolling, and stepped in during a brief lag. She was an enormous help and was, is, much appreciated.
The surprises continued to walk in. An uncle I see once a year, if I’m lucky; twice a year, if he’s not. Two dear friends, unknown to each other, came all the way from DC. The Good Ex’s mother and father were there; her aunt and uncle drove in from Philadelphia. My parents’ neighbors came, bringing their grown daughter and a visiting relation, who bought a book and took it back to Canada, establishing Grind Joint internationally.
The event went well. I had some small concern about the reception of how I depict my fictionalized town—everyone there would, of course, recognize it; they live in or near it—so I began with a brief bio and described how the germ of an idea, based on personal observation, grew into the book. Heads nodded. They got it. We sold 25 of the 30 books that had been ordered, which certainly exceeded my expectations; I hope Laurie and everyone at MLB was similarly pleased.
(Charlie Stella, Laurie Stephens, your humble correspondent, Rick Ollerman)
Before we left for lunch, The Sole Heir had one more surprise:
In the end, Mystery Lovers Bookshop and Stark House had an author event; I had much more. The effort and expense undertaken on my behalf was more than gratifying; it was, and is, humbling. Words cannot express how much this has meant to me. It was the single most joyous day I can remember. (No offense to The Sole Heir, but she was born via C-section after 34 hours of induced labor; the first thing I did when I got home was throw up.)
Publishing is a weird business. We may already have sold half of all the copies Grind Joint will ever sell. This could have been my final launch; there may never be another contract. I could reach the bestseller list, win an award, garner national media attention, get a movie deal, whatever. Doesn’t matter. Everything after this is gravy.