Last night was the book launch for my novel Lost on the Prairie. When I first realized the pandemic was going to mean that I wouldn’t be able to have a launch at McNally Robinson Booksellers the way I’d always dreamed, I was disappointed, but last night I understood the silver lining was having so many people at my launch who never could have attended otherwise.
There were friends and family and former students and colleagues of mine from Victoria and Saskatoon and Toronto and Chicago and so many other places. There was even someone from Cornerbrook Newfoundland who signed in for the launch. I belong to a professional organization called CANSCAIP (The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and was so pleased with how many members from across the country had joined the launch. Thank you to CANSCAIP for all the publicity you did for my launch.
John Toews from McNally Robinson Booksellers began the evening with a treaty acknowledgement and told everyone about all the different ways they could order or buy Lost on the Prairie from their store. John along with my marketing manager from Heritage House Monica Miller organized the whole evening and I was so appreciative of the way they handled all the technical and logistic aspects so I didn’t have to worry about them at all. John introduced Harriet Zaidman who was hosting my launch.
Harriet did such a great job of introducing me, interviewing me, and fielding questions from viewers. Harriet had supplied me with her great questions ahead of time. I loved the way they made me think about my book in new ways.
I read a short section from the book where Peter almost drowns and then I showed a few photos of me with my grandfather Peter Schmidt whose immigration journey to Canada provided inspiration for my book, some photos of my grandparents together and then a photo of my Great Aunt Alma whose note in her memoir about my grandfather’s lost train car set me off writing this book in the first place.
After I’d answered some interesting questions from viewers we did a round of thank- yous and the launch was over.
My sister had dropped off a bottle of champagne earlier so Dave popped the cork while I tried to respond to all the texts and e-mails and social media messages from people who had tuned in for the launch. It was so great to hear from everyone and at one point when I had read a particularly moving message from Tara, one of my former students, followed by another one from my niece Hannah, I just started to cry because I realized how incredibly blessed I was to have such a ‘village’ of people who cared about me and my book.
I found it hard to concentrate all day leading up to the launch, so I cleaned my stove which I hadn’t done for months and months and that was a big hard job that required lots of elbow grease and left little room for anxious thoughts.
This morning at 8:30 I have a dental appointment to start working on a crown I need, and then I will go and visit my Dad in his personal care home, and in the evening my writers’ group meets online. So life will be back to normal.
I am really looking forward to the next phase of spreading the word about my book. I have already received expressions of interest from seniors homes, schools, libraries, museums and book clubs to come and have conversations and do presentations about the book. I will thoroughly enjoy that and just hope that pandemic restrictions will lift enough so I can do those kinds of visits in person.
One thing that I am hearing from people who were at the launch that makes me very happy is how Lost on the Prairie is becoming an intergenerational book and not just one for kids. Two people responding to my launch told me they were reading the book aloud to their parents who are in nursing homes. Many grandparents told me how they were reading the book to their grandchildren and parents told me how they were enjoying the book just as much as their children. I absolutely LOVE that.
You can read all about my book on my website maryloudriedger.com