So it FINALLY happened! Yes, my first book launch for my first book: No, Really, Where Are You From? happened on Sunday September 9th, 2012 in the PCL Studio Theatre inside the TransAlta Arts Barn on Whyte Avenue, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Where do I even start on that fateful day…
What I know for sure is that it was a very emotional day for me. I was nervous, I was thrilled, I was scared, I was sad, I was happy, I was giddy, I was shaking, did I mention that I was scared? I was a bundle of excitement, I was so so sad, but I was also so so proud. It was an out-of-body kind of surreal experience! And it was a special day too! You try to figure all of that out!
My book launch started with a speech from my Master of Ceremony Catherine Jones. I came out afterwards and I spoke about what had inspired me to write No, Really, Where Are You From? Here’s part of my speech…
Wow! What an attractive man! was my first thought, on many many occasions, but seriously, it was my first thought in early 2004 as I watched a man, named Po Bronson, being interviewed by Oprah on one of her shows. As most of you know, I was a total devotee to Oprah’s show since I was 16 years old, but that day in early 2004, something about this man changed my life.
His name is Po Bronson. He was on Oprah’s show to talk about his book, What should I do with my Life? The True Story of People who answered the Ultimate Question. In his book, he talks about his own experience with deciding what to do with his life, and not what society expects of him. I found him articulate, intelligent, sure of himself, passionate, and last but not least, attractive. Not surprising, I bought this book and took it with me on my trip to Africa that May and read it in between adventure full safaris in Kenya, during a cruise down the legendary Nile in Egypt, and in between the breathtaking Egyptian pyramids. But it was during our down time in my tent pitched up near a river full of grunting hippos, and in between my Kenyan safaris, that a seed started to plant in my head.
Prior to that life changing Oprah show, I knew I had this strange feeling I wanted to write a book. But on what? Well, it was shortly after I showcased my 2003 Edmonton Fringe Festival play, The Yellow Peril, that I felt a need to step up the ante. My play was based on the early Chinese immigrants in Canada, based on the coast of B .C. mainly in Victoria, B.C. After The Yellow Peril, I was itching to do something MORE with the topic of the Chinese experience in Canada. I also wanted to explore what might I’ve become if I never left my homeland of Venezuela and grew up Venezuelan, rather than Canadian.
After much soul searching, reflection, and brainstorming, and Po Bronson’s book inspiring me to tell and share people’s stories, I took my first scary step in 2005. My first interview was with Susan Pon. I remember I was so nervous, and I wasn’t sure where this is going to go. But I plugged away, stayed true to my questions, and interviewed the next person and so on.
My questions were refined throughout the last 7 years, but they didn’t change dramatically since 2005. I kept almost all of my notes and old questions, and that’s how I noticed the evolution of my questions (found in the appendix of my book). I wasn’t sure how to find the people I needed for my book, how do I put a book together, should I self publish or have a publishing company do it, will my readers understand what the heck I’m talking about? These and many other questions looped in my head for years, but I later learned that this is part of being a budding author. It will be easier the second time. The experience so far has been priceless.
It was through my writing experience with No, Really, Where Are You From? that I learned what one of my passions is…writing. When I was younger, I do remember I loved to read and my strongest subject in school was Social Studies. I never had a strong feeling of what my passion was or what I can offer to this world in my lifetime, until 2008 or 2009, was when I knew, I found my home. I don’t know if I’m good at it, and really I don’t care if I am or not, but I will try my best and speak from my heart and write about the topic with integrity and respect. I just love writing. I guess I do love it, because I’m a Mexican jumping bean when I start talking about my second and next book.
As most of you know, the other love of my life is rock or mountain climbing. My second book will be about my personal and physical journey preparing and climbing the world’s second highest mountain, Mt.Aconcagua in Argentina, this past February 2012. Similar in format to No, Really, Where Are You From? I would like to stick with the non-fiction narrative and interview people who have strived for their “Everest”, but didn’t make it, and their feelings and thoughts about that experience. What did they learn from it, did they learn from it at all? Did the experience shift their priorities? What were/are their priorities? Are they the same, different? The title of my second book will be: It’s Not About the Summit. I hope I will be celebrating with you all again on my next book launch.
I know I talked a lot and may have already gone over my 15 minutes, but I thank you so much for celebrating with me a very important milestone. Writing this book and putting my pride and joy together and sharing it with the world, has been truly a labor of love.
Finally sharing my book with the world is a bittersweet time for me. I feel like I have to let go of something that has been a big part of my life, a constant in my life for the past 7 years. I feel it’s like taking my child to school on his/her first day of grade 1. I feel scared, protective, but proud. It’s my baby.
Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy the book launch for and the book, No, Really, Where Are You From?
After my speech, the first surprise of the launch is a Chinese lion dance performance. It was a great performance! Thank you Bill Gee for arranging that for me! To honor my Chinese heritage, I also read a speech in Chinese.
The book signing followed. Wow, this was another special moment for me. It was nice to get away from the podium and chat with my friends, as I was signing my book. I’m normally not good at doing two things at once, but I think I did okay in writing and talking at the same time. I hope I didn’t write something that didn’t make sense or misspelled!
The Book Reading was next on the agenda. I read from a few chapters in No, Really, Where Are You From? It was the first time I’ve breathed out my beloved words to the world…
As most of you know, I was born in Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela many moons ago. To celebrate my Spanish heritage, I brought in a pinata to strike at for the book launch. I have very clear and fond memories of hitting pinatas during my birthday parties, and other people’s birthday parties, during the first 7 years of my life. Also, a very important part of the Venezuelan/Spanish culture is the pinata. Like the Chinese lion/dragon dance performance, the pinata (when striked open) will bring good luck to the one who had successfully striked it open. It wasn’t me! It was Nathan Ebbers! Thank you Nathan, and to others I have chosen, for being a great sport!
My book launch concluded on a good note. It was great to have my old and new friends come celebrate with me on this very important and special milestone in my life.
This book launch would not be possible without the help of some very very good friends. I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to June Kolmas, Catherine Jones, Janice Buckaway, Betty Kalathoor, Jason Mathews, and Arden Tse.
I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and special day…
My photographer, Shelby Deep, took these beautiful pictures. She can be reached at: www.shelbydeep.com
You can view more of these pictures from my book launch on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/noreallywhereareyoufrom/