A Novel About Lies & Murder – Let’s Party!

Ah, the book launch. When somebody first said the words, I immediately thought of somebody strapping a rocket to my novel and sending it into space. I’m not dumb enough to think that’s what it actually was, but I did have to ask my editor to define it. She explained that it’s a party for my friends and family to celebrate the debut of my book, and that some authors choose to have it in a public place where strangers can attend. And, apparently, there are sometimes theme-related snacks and activities.

My first instinct was to skip the whole thing. Seriously. I’m an odd duck for many reasons, but here’s a biggie: while I relish the idea of attention, when it comes time to plan a party centered around myself, I get a little uneasy. For my own wedding, I mentioned hiring someone to wear a gorilla suit so no one would see me walking down the aisle. It’s ironic because I can talk to anyone on a movie line, I make speeches, I teach, and I direct theater. But this kind of thing? Yikes.

Both Alvina (my editor) and my husband encouraged me to do it, saying that celebrating this moment is important and I would regret not doing it. Probably true. The book was years in the making and my friends and family are super charged up about the whole thing. So I’ll get past my butterflies and throw a party.

Now for the theme. See, my awesome agency (Erin Murphy Literary) has a bulletin board where authors post questions, great news, and bad news. We chatter and offer support. So I asked the group for suggestions. They’re children’s book writers, and many of them write adorable stories. This means their themes have involved decorated cookies, coloring contests, thematically colored punch, and fun music. Sounds sweet, BUT . . .

Skull cake? Skull cookies? Even Hamlet is uncertain (shocker)

My book is based on Hamlet, which it’s about revenge, madness, and murder. I don’t see any theme cakes that wouldn’t terrify my children.

And then Jeannie Mobley (author of the upcoming Magic Carp and fellow EMU Debut-er) sent me a list of ideas that still has me laughing:

1. You have to serve Danishes
2. All the other food has to be rotten
2. ONE goblet of punch has poison in it–which one is it? We will know
by the end of the book launch.
3. I know you have given Ophelia a better story line, but all the same
you could walk around among your guests singing snippets of song and
handing out flowers with weird meanings (be sure to practice your vacant
4. You can play a variation of pin the tail on the donkey, only using
rapiers instead of pins, and an old man behind a curtain instead of a donkey
And of course,
5. You can give a prize to the most inappropriately short skirt worn to
the event.

See how easy this is to plan?

My husband and my guy friends were especially keen on the short skirt contest. I think we might go with Danishes and coffee (who doesn’t like pastry?), a little reading aloud (my heart stops at the thought), book signing (yay), and hanging out with people I love (very good).

Maybe inspiration will hit before July and I’ll still come up with something fun. Or I could just stab everyone and go home. I’ll keep you posted!


Filed under Celebrations, Editor

15 responses to “A Novel About Lies & Murder – Let’s Party!

  1. Mike Jung

    As appealing as the inappropriately short skirts idea is, my imagination is most captured by the idea of playing Accidentally Murder The Old Man Behind the Curtain Who You Thought Was Somebody Else. This is gonna be the best launch party ever…


  2. Michelle,
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Hamlet is without a doubt my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m so looking forward to your book release.


  3. Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    Hey, Michelle,

    Great post! I think we’re all coming to a point on emusdebuts when we’re thinking about launch parties. Yikes! I’m quite certain, however, that your book will sell itself! No worries!

    Jeannie’s list had me laughing my butt off; darn good advice there!



  4. Jeanne Ryan

    Michelle – I sooo empathize with feeling weird about the center of attention thing. But with party ideas like the ones you got from Jeannie Mobley, it almost seems worth it.


  5. This issue of feeling embarrassed by the very attention we should be celebrating was recently discussed at the EMLA retreat that was held in Austin last weekend. It seems to be a common phenomenon borne out of the reality that we are all slightly introverted book loving sorts who aren’t quite used to public praise and self-promotion.

    This is why I think we should seek advice and support from others–maybe even have someone else plan the party for us.

    It is also why I like the idea of a theme party, because tying in to the theme of the book turns the focus on the book and its characters rather than on me as the author.

    For my launch we will be serving Goldfish. And there is a Czech restaurant near my house that might cater some plum dumplings which figure prominently in my story. Food should be easy, activities are a little harder. Maybe we will turn the lights out and pretend we are all trapped in a coal mine.

    Should be fun, right?


    • Michelle Ray

      Live goldfish would traumatize the kids, so I’m guessing you mean the crackers. See? My brain is not cut out for littler kid fiction.


  6. Ahahaha, love #4. (The food options are great, too.)


  7. J. Anderson Coats

    I hope having a theme party isn’t a requirement. Mine wouldn’t be any fun.

    There’d a cover charge to get in, because of the small issue of taxation.

    No food, because there’s a famine.

    And everyone has to clean up afterward, because there’s a military draft.

    Now who wants to come?


  8. Can I come? I love Danish, and Danes, and Hamlet.


  9. Pingback: Mid-Week Reads! | The Nerdy Reader

  10. The Nerdy Reader

    Definitely sounds like there’s got to be some sort of murder mystery game weaved in there somewhere…although that would probably scare your kids too!


  11. Cynthia Levinson

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Go forth, forthwith, and to thine own self (whichever self is the speaker and teacher, that is) be true. In my mind’s eye, I foresee thee greeting thy acolytes–forsooth, let none a knave be–with minstrelsy and poesy. To launch or not to launch? Let it be. It should come to this.


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