I didn't set out to do something big. I just wanted to have a great book launch for my new book, Memory of Monet, and I wanted it to matter - to do some good. Since I've felt such a connection with Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), I thought throwing a silent auction in conjunction with my book launch was the way to go. I never knew how much support I would receive from local businesses, friends, family, and even strangers. I will be forever grateful for all the people who helped pull this off!
My good friend, Alix, made these beautiful flower arrangements for each table. They were what pulled everything together for the decor.
My sweet Mom and Dad came into town from Washington and helped me by setting up, preparing food, and doing whatever I asked. My dad helped to hang these jar lanterns to give the room a bit of a rustic feel.
Over 100 people showed up and we barely had tables for everyone. I was so grateful all guests were gracious enough not to complain about the tight space. Miri Gallery was such a fabulous place to host the book launch. I wanted to use a real life gallery because of the art references in the book. I lucked out that a mutual friend knew the owner. And his wife is also an author - Sarah Beard (I'm reading her book, Beyond the Rising Tide, and loving it!)
I used to not be huge cake fan, and I had mixed feelings about cupcakes. My mind was changed! These cupcakes from Flave Bakery are gourmet and the best I have ever eaten. EVER. Their flavors are to die for. They even do tasty and gorgeous cakes too.
They had four different flavors that night including Red Velvet Cheesecake, Chocolate Sin Pie, Banana Biscoff, and Raspberry Truffle!
Sorry, I couldn't resist one more picture. These were sooo good!
I love it when authors support one another. This rising star on the left is Brittany Shannon. Her Conquest of Canaan series starts with the first book, Og. This book is a religious historical fiction with spiritual conflict and adventure all rolled into one.
I had so much fun making these place cards for all the guests. I love how the gold accented with the black and white 007 spy-like decor. Alexandra, the main character in my Remembrandt series, would be proud.
We kept the lights low and the spirits high (with only sparkling cider). For those that have read my books, James Daly would approve of our choice of drink! And don't I have the most beautiful friends? Whitney had a baby only a few weeks before this picture and looked amazing!
Literature is my food of choice!
Stacks of my books . . . my happy place.
Each guest went home with these cool spy-inspired tuxedo little boxes filled with chocolate covered almonds. I may have gained a few pounds while filling the boxes because they are so good!
My writing friend, Amy, and her husband Jefferson. Jefferson Montoya is a musical genius and he provided some guitar and vocal entertainment for the night. He also writes custom songs (he turns love letters into songs!) for people at GiftedSongs.com.
Marissa is looking very gorgeous in green! She is a fabulous seamstress and Harry Potter enthusiast like me. You have to see her amazing costumes at her shop at RaeGun Ramblings.
My oldest son was a waiter with some of his friends, so my daughter, Charly, wanted in on the action, bowtie and all.
My son, Elijah, just hanging out patiently while we waited for dinner.
A spy in training . . .
My sweet friend, Mary, with her husband. Mary is in my writing group and I can't wait for her books to be published!
Three-year-old Alana has been a handful of late. Funny side note . . . I found two gorgeous midnight blue dresses for the two youngest girls (Alana and Olive) to wear to the book launch. An hour before, I got the girls ready and sent them off with my husband to the book launch. When I arrived fashionably late, Alana was no longer in the dress I had picked out for her and changed her into for the evening. Apparently she decided she didn't like the dress and daddy didn't notice she had changed. Oh well!
Writing friends are the best friends because they are there from the beginning seeds of an idea all the way to the publishing process!
Operation Underground Railroad was our charity for the night. O.U.R. rescues children from human trafficking.
Each table had a program with all the donors for the night. Our silent auction wasn't as organized as I would have liked, but we made over a thousand dollars for O.U.R.!
My brother, Shae, and his wife Christine were there as support.
It was a busy night for me, but I loved that everyone else got to sit and chat with one another.
Kara and Whitney are in my book club, Delicious Reads. We all love books.
My sweet neighbor, Linda, has been a cheerleader for me since we first met. Jared was one of my beta readers for Memory of Monet. It was awesome to get some male insight on my book.
My friend, Cheryl, and her husband, Michael, were such a happy sight. I'm so glad everyone dressed formally for the night.
Liz and her husband, Rich, came to support me too.
I'm was so impressed that everyone listened as I told about O.U.R. and made bids on the silent auction items.
I have no idea what was going on with my expression here, but it was so fun to read a little excerpt from Memory of Monet.
Though it is hard to see in this photo, the artwork behind me are masterpieces that influenced all my books. All the other walls in the gallery were filled with pieces of art from local artists including Andrea Taylor, Carin Fausett, and Laila Garza.
Kelly, Alix, Kara, and Whitney all came dressed so beautifully.
I nearly forgot that the night was a book signing too!
My sweet friend, Krista, is an aspiring author and a fabulous singer. Jefferson let a few of us do a little karaoke at the end of the night. I wish we would have had more time! I could sing all night.
Alix and Kelly have been some of my best supporters and are just all round fabulous people. They started a book box subscription company last year, LitJoy Crate, that is an absolute hit! I am hoping in the future to have one of my books in their boxes :)
Angie is one of the most beautiful people I know. Not only did she do my makeup for the night, but she is always stepping in to help me out whenever I need it. I love people who take charge and help out without even being asked because I'm such a stubborn person and have a hard time asking for it.
Me and my future spy.
My hubby doesn't love to read, but he still supports my book obsession.
Mandy and Carina run with me (or I should say, run ahead of me because they are so fast) brought their husbands, Matt and Stephan. I'm so glad that there were so many guys that came to the gala!
I loved the ambiance of the night.
Me, my lovely aunt, Patsy, and my mom. I couldn't have done this night without my mom. She often hides behind the scenes, working hard for everyone around her. This night was no exception.
My little baby, Olive Grace, had so much fun being passed around to family members the whole night. She's my tiniest little cheerleader.
I was so exhausted at the end of the night, but so appreciative of all the love and support of family and friends. I learned a lot about myself and others as I wrote the Remembrandt series. I feel like this book launch gala was a happy ending to an amazing writing journey. But don't worry, there is still more to come. I'm currently working on a fantasy novel and I have two contemporary fantasy novels that are complete that I plan on starting to look for an agent for this year.
Thanks again for all the people who came and those that have read my books. Remembrandt will be on audio in a few weeks (you will be able to get it on Audible). Listening to the words of my book, read by a fabulous narrator (Austenne Grey), makes me so happy. It's like seeing a masterpiece finally hung on a wall.
I've included below the excerpt I read from Memory of Monet at the gala. This excerpt inspired me to put together this gala, to go outside the box for a book launch by making it a charity gala too. Tim Ballard, the founder of O.U.R., started his organization because he felt there wasn't a group that was doing enough to rescue these children. At the gala, I spoke to everyone and told them how I felt we all have the ability to make a change, to do something that only we can do.