The Best of Us.


“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
~Oscar Wilde

Know what I love? Book signings.

Really, what can better than gathering with an enthusiastic group of readers and celebrating the authors and stories that have brought us together? Everyone clutches a book in their hands or on their lap, fingers wrapped around a treasure trove of words, of stories, of inspiration, and then we get to hear from the person who made that very book come alive. It is sunshine for the writer’s soul.

Last night, I had the chance to attend an event with Sarah Pekkanen (who, if you’ve read my posts, you’ll know is one of my favorite authors), Jennifer Weiner, and Elizabeth LaBan. It was held in a lovely school, came complete with the most delicious (and huge!) cannolis, and featured a fabulous Q&A session. We heard from all three talented women – about their books, about their writing processes, about their journeys to publication, about their advice and anecdotes – and above all else, what struck me was the sense of unadulterated love for the craft of writing. Sarah, Jen, and Elizabeth exuded that love and so did everyone in the audience. My favorite comment of the evening came courtesy of Sarah, who talked about learning more through the writing than through the planning. I just … adore that. Yes, we can plan a novel. We can brainstorm, we can outline, we can research, we can plot timelines and turning points and milestones for our characters. And we should. We should know our stories like we know ourselves. But the real learning? The real journey? The real sense of who our characters are? How can we truly know that until we’re writing their tale? They have to tell us who they are. They have to show us. Sometimes – or, perhaps, often – that comes when we’re in the middle of a scene. One of the things I think is most special about writing is how the characters can surprise us. I’ve had people look at me strangely when I say that – “how can a character surprise you if you’re the one writing about them?” – but I honestly believe it’s true. Our characters lead the way. We’re there to help them along the path.

I had the chance to chat with Sarah for awhile afterwards, both about her awesome books (seriously, you guys … run, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of all four of her novels … you won’t be able to put them down, they are that fantastic!) and about my publishing quest, and I will always be so thankful for her kind words and sincerity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the writing community, from those who are already published to those who aspire to and work towards that goal every day, is like no other. It’s warm, it’s welcoming, it’s wonderful. Sarah didn’t have to spend so long talking to me, but she did. She didn’t have to ask me about my own books, but she did. She didn’t have to say such encouraging things, but she did. Words can’t express my gratitude. She is truly a class act, gracious and genuine all the way.

Sarah and me

I left the event feeling so inspired. I couldn’t wait to sit down at my desk again this morning and continue writing (more about that in another post … I can’t even believe that I’m nearly two-thirds through this first draft!). That, to me, is what a book signing is all about. It takes the love, the joy, the pride we feel in writing and wraps them up in a neat package. Or maybe not. Maybe what it actually does is take those things and set them free into the world. And, again, I say: what can be better than that? Sarah’s new book is titled THE BEST OF US, and I think that’s a perfect way to sum up a book signing: it brings out the best in all of us.

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14 thoughts on “The Best of Us.

  1. Aww! This post warms my heart. I too love book signings, for precisely the reasons and good feelings you talk about here. It just fills you up with writerly energy, you know?

    I keep meaning to check out Sarah Pekkanen’s work, so this is a good reminder. Also, I’ve seen Jennifer Weiner in person, and isn’t she hilarious?

    • Absolutely! It’s like the air is alive with adrenaline. How can you not be inspired?

      I think you’ll really like Sarah’s books. SKIPPING A BEAT is my all-time favorite – the ending made me cry more than once! – but they’re all excellent. Oh my gosh, and yes — Jennifer had us laughing out loud. She’s so quick-witted!

  2. This warms my heart, too. Sadly, I have never been to a book singing (yet!). I’ll have to add Sarah’s books to my ever-growing list. So glad you had a good time and that your writing is going so well. :)

    • Oh, you have to go to one someday! They’re kind of like a vortex of writerly happiness. I highly, highly recommend Sarah’s novels. I’ve loved each and every one.

      And, as always, thank you! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it once the draft is finished!

  3. Once you’re inspired, it’s almost like you are on top of the world and ready to tackle anything that comes your way! It’s definitely a wonderful feeling. I will have to pick up her book and check it out. :)

    • That’s such a perfect way to describe it! It just fills you with sunshine and determination, you know?

      Yay! All of her books are wonderful!

  4. I am dying to go to a book signing, I think it would be truly awesome :) Glad to hear you got to meet one of your favourite authors and to speak with her! That must be thrilling to have received encouragement from her. Hope you had a blast and can’t wait to hear about the progress on your draft.

    • Oh, you must attend one someday! They are definitely awesome. It’s so interesting to hear about the authors’ writing processes and to get behind-the-scenes glimpses into what inspired their work. And getting to chat with them afterwards? Best part! :)

    • It was an excellent group — the three of them played off each other so well and really offered such interesting insights into the industry. I couldn’t help but be inspired!

  5. I completely agree…I love how you describe book signing as sunshine for the writer’s soul. I’ve also felt rejuvenated and motivated in my own writing after going to a signing. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a room, amongst other readers and book lovers, and getting to talk to the writers. I love our community and how we constantly help raise each other’s spirits.

    • That’s one of my absolute favorite things about the writing community – there’s such a genuine sense of support and compassion. Everybody bolsters each other up and, like you said, raises one another’s spirits. It’s just awesome! :)

  6. Shari, that is SO COOL! I would love to meet my favorite author at a book signing but I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon, seeing as she is J.K. Rowling. LOL. What a great experience that must have been! I can see why you came out of it feeling so inspired!

    • Hey, you never know! My sister actually met J.K. back in 2007. Scholastic was running a contest and the winners got to attend a book signing at Carnegie Hall. I’ll never forget my sister’s reaction when she found out. We were driving somewhere and she let out such a scream when she got the call that it’s a wonder I didn’t drive off the road. :P I hope you get to meet her someday, too!

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