Book Launch – a Rock Star Night

Succulent would describe this past week. Juicy with a hundred to do’s on my To Do List before my first ever book launch. I had been planning for several weeks, trying out new recipes, making sure all the invitations were sent, organizing the music and running slideshow, preparing a gift box prize filled with bits and bobs from my book, picking up glasses, ironing table cloths and a legion of other tasks in between.

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Come Thursday morning, all was ready for the gallery. As we were setting up, an older gentleman wandered into the gallery wondering what all the fuss was about. Friendly and curious, I told him about my book. He looked at the English title, not having a clue if he understood it at all, though he smiled and looked fondly at me. That was enough to make me feel proud.

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Guests began to arrive at the launch when in walked a little old lady. I greeted her, “Välkommen,” I said. She wiggled past me as though trying to go unnoticed. An hour later, I saw her with a glass of wine, and an hour after that, I watched curiously as she weaved through the crowd headed toward the wine table. Apparently, she enjoyed immensely the hors d’oeuvres. Not a soul knew who she was and she clearly wasn’t the least bit interested in meeting the author. I’m not sure why, but I got such a kick out of it. She made me smile.

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Meanwhile, the gallery had filled to the brim with family and friends – a turnout, I didn’t fully expect. Everyone was happy and relaxed, mingling with people they’d just met and others who laughed at jokes they’d probably heard a hundred times. The 1930’s-40’s slideshow was getting noticed and probably drummed up a few conversations. Certainly the trivia quiz created a buzz. Nibblies were getting devoured and wine settled nicely into many a hand. Flowers and gifts floated in to the point I could start my own flower shop. It was lovely.

Swedes love speeches, so we had a few. I suppose they were really introductions more than anything, but they made me smile – again. I thought I would be nervous to speak in front of this big crowd, but I wasn’t. It felt right and good and relaxed. Here I was, celebrating my first published novel with so many of the people I care about. They came to show their support and that meant the world to me.

DSC_0480There was plenty of bookselling and signing. It was surreal to me that there should be a queue to have MY signature. I felt honoured and humbled at the same time. There was even a French university student who popped in off the street. He watched the speeches, chatted with guests, bought a copy and stood in line happily to get my signature and seemed chuffed to bits to meet me. ME! I felt like a rock star. Again, I smiled.

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It was a magical night, one I will remember always. If this launch were just a fleeting moment, one never to repeat itself, I would know that I have amazing people in my life who help me rise to the occasion. I am beyond excited for people near and far to read my book. Fleeting moment or not, I hope it’s the first of many to come. Thank you for making it a fantastic launch.

The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley – Welcomed into the world at Galleri Scandinavia, Göteborg, Sweden, May 7, 2015.

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Trivia Quiz from the Launch 

Yes, it was challenging but not impossible. Congratulations Lisa Jarnskog – highest score

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NOTE: Answers are at bottom of this blog post.

1) In which sea is the Isle of Man situated?

__ North Sea

__ Caspian Sea

__ Black Sea

__ Irish Sea

2) Where is Tobermory located in Canada?

__ Quebec

__ Ontario

__ Nova Scotia

__ Newfoundland

3) What nation never introduced rationing during WWII?

__ France

__ New Zealand

__ Italy

__ Canada

4) What is the name of the small island situated off the southwest tip of the Isle of Man?

__ Anglesey

__ St. Patrick’s Isle

__ The Calf of Man

__ Jersey

5) What is the Tobermory community known as?

__ The fresh water scuba diving capital of the world

__ The Scottish Copycat

__ The Manitoulin connection

__ The big wash basin

6) What article of clothing does not fit the 1930’s?

__ above the knee skirt

__ ostrich feather cape

__ wide brimmed hat

__ silk full length gown

7) What is the emblem of the Isle of Man?

__ The Manx cat

__ The Three Legs of Man

__ The Manx Kipper

__ The Laxey wheel

8) Which distress signals did the wireless station in Tobermory, Canada pick up in the first half of the 20th century?

__ The Empress of Ireland (Collision – 1,012 deaths)

__ The Titanic (Iceberg – 1,503 deaths)

__ The Kiang Ya (WWII mine – 2,750 deaths)

__ The Kiche Maru (Foundered – 1,000 deaths)

9) When did Canada enter WWII?

__ Same day as Britain

__ 1 year after Britain

__ 6 months after Britain

__ 7 days after Britain

10) Which item was not rationed in Britain during WWII?

__ Tea

__ Soap

__ Coal

__ Carrots

11) Which film was NOT made in the 1930’s?

__ The Wizard of Oz

__ Gone with the Wind

__ Casablanca

__ King Kong

Quiz reference: http://www.funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz29619521e8e70.html

Answers: 1) Irish Sea, 2) Ontario, 3) Italy, 4) The Calf of Man, 5) The fresh water scuba diving capital of the world, 6) Above the knee skirt, 7) The Three Legs of Man, 8) The Titanic, 9) 7 days after Britain, 10) Carrots, 11) Casablanca

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18 Reasons to Follow Your Dreams

  1. Your day job is seriously getting in the way.

When your dream becomes so important to you and you are frustrated that you cannot devote more time to it, you need to ask yourself what place that dream has in your life. If your day job drains you of all energy that you have nothing left to give at the end of the day, then there is something wrong. If what you love to do most is suffering at the hands of that job and you feel forced to make a choice, doesn’t your dream have an equal right on the scales?

  1. You begin to realize, why not me?

It’s easy to believe we are not worthy of the kind of success that others may have. It seems surreal. Yet when you put it all into perspective and view your dream as a series of steps and challenges, then formulate a plan, you realize that it is attainable. At least the possibility is there. The key is to change the word from “dream” to “goal”. It’s hard work. You just have to decide if you are willing to do what it takes. In my case, that has meant years of writing, many rejections, but picking myself up and doing it again and again. What’s the expression? “Success is when preparation meets opportunity”.

  1. You realize that making the decision is the hardest part.

Oh, the joy in finally making a decision! Once you’ve made it, you will see that the hurdles lined up in front of you are simply challenges that need to be addressed one at a time. This was exactly the case before my family left for a three-year expat experience in the United States. The “what if’s” were strangling. Once we made the decision, we took each task as it came and got through it. In the end, it was an amazing family adventure that we will never regret.

  1. You’ll find courage inside that you didn’t know existed.

Fear can be a powerful emotion, but ask yourself if you want to get to the end of your life not knowing if you could have done it. Failure after trying your best is never failure to me. It is gratefully a learning experience, a stumbling block at most. If you want something badly enough, you will make it happen.

  1. You will finally be doing what makes you happy, not what others expect of you.

It’s your life. You have one opportunity to live on this Earth. Why shouldn’t you make it the best experience possible? Why shouldn’t you do what makes you happy?

  1. You’ll prove to yourself that it’s okay for dreams to change.

Who said that we are programmed to have only one career our entire adult life? We are constantly evolving as individuals. Think of that first boyfriend/girlfriend you had all those years ago. You are a different person today. You probably wouldn’t even glance their way now. Why should we not change professionally? Being a writer is one of my three professional dreams that I have had in my life. Would anyone out there know for a second that I desperately wanted to become an architect at one time? I spent half my childhood drawing floor plans for houses and office buildings. I had a need to use my creativity then and channeled that energy into story writing in my twenties. A stable career in teaching won over, but the drive to write has never been stronger than it is now. It’s more than okay for dreams to change – it makes us richer as individuals.

  1. You will find that you are capable of things you never thought possible.

When you follow your dream and hone your skills, you will surprise yourself time and time again. The more I read and write, the stronger I become as a writer. After I had written a number of children’s books, my dream was to write a novel. Did I think it was possible? Not when I was younger. When I realized that I could not only complete a novel, it meant that it was possible to write a second and a third. Was it then possible to get published? With each dream, you can build on it a little bit more making it grow into something truly beautiful.

  1. You will wake up eager to work.

Need I say more?

  1. A smile will creep into your face, surprising you every time.

I’ve had many moments since the offer of publication of my book where I am driving my car and that one song comes through the speakers that makes me gush with tears of joy. I left a meeting recently for my book launch securing a venue that I didn’t think was possible. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I walked down the street. You will also feel that joy because you won’t believe you are really doing it. You are not only following your dream but you have made someone sit up and notice your passion.

  1. Even if your decision disappoints someone, there will be many more who will be inspired by your choice.

Sometimes the easy route to take is the one expected of us. It is hard knowing that you may disappoint someone close to you, but it is far worse not honouring your dreams and what you love to do most. You will be surprised how time will allow those whom you have disappointed or perhaps stunned, adjust to this new you. They will grow to appreciate and admire your strength. Meanwhile, you have a following of others who have been inspired by your decision, some of whom will take action and follow their dreams.

  1. Not a businesswoman-bone in your body? Think again. You will be surprised at what you will learn in supporting and promoting your dream.

When you are passionate about your dream, lack of knowledge about the industry will not stand in your way. You do what is necessary to make it happen. You research. You meet people who do know about the industry. You learn whatever you can from them. You research more. You attend conferences. You put your shy or uncomfortable side away for the time being and take the bull by the horns. Some idioms are a pleasure to use! You walk straight up to that famous author or that well-known agent and ask what they can do for you. You’ll be surprised what fabulous advice you can get. I’ve done it and I take every single word and learn from it.

  1. Everything you do will feel better.

The food you eat will taste better, the sun will shine brighter, colours will take on a whole new meaning – even your stride will feel lighter.

  1. You will feel greater joy in the little things.

When you are comforted in knowing that your dream is not just alive, but is working hard for you as much as you are working hard for it, you feel a sense of relief and freedom to appreciate things you may have overlooked in the past. When I used to go for walks, my mind would be churning with the stress of all my responsibilities, but now I’m much more able to let it all go and find the small moments during my walks that bring big inspiration. I’ll never forget watching a single droplet of water on a twig that hung for dear life, and conjuring up one of the most beautiful sentences I had ever written.

  1. You will begin to look at things with a different perspective.

People will begin to look different, more interesting. You will likely judge less and accept more at face value. Yet on the same token, there will be a curiosity, perhaps even more so for writers, to look deeper, wonder what’s behind that face. You will realize that everyone has a story to tell.

  1. People will enjoy your company more.

Who doesn’t like to be around a positive, relaxed person? I’ve been known to get myself all wired up – no denial there – but there’s a colossal difference between being with someone who is negatively wired than being with someone who is excited and exuberant about his or her work. It just feels good.

  1. It will feel great to be with yourself.

Most of us know the weight of unhappiness and stress, but when you make your dreams attainable goals and follow through consistently, you begin to look at yourself differently. You feel positive and accomplished in reaching even the tiniest goal. For me, that might be conquering the toughest sentence to construct in my writing or finding that perfect word to describe a feeling. That can be enough to make me walk away on a high for the rest of the day, while patting myself on the back.

  1. Your happiness will be contagious.

Just like the feeling of walking past someone on the street – those who smile at you make you feel good, those who ignore your existence make you grumble inside. Your attitude and fulfillment will show in your expression. It will lessen the aging lines on your face and make your eyes brighter. Don’t you love that feeling when you cannot stop laughing, so much so that others begin to laugh and they don’t even know why?

  1. Despite the million reasons you may have not to follow your dream, there is always one monumental reason to do it – it’s what you love.

What is stopping you from following your dream?

Dreams

My plan was to write a post on the continuing saga of a girl living abroad but I will throw all of that to the wind this morning. Instead, after receiving the news last night that my book has gone to the printer’s, there is only one subject this morning that interests me and I hope will interest you – since we all have them… dreams. Not the kind that swirl images haphazardly through your head making you more tired when you wake up than when you went to bed, but rather the dreams you concoct from a variety of ingredients throughout your childhood; a sprinkle of gym class here, a dash of brotherly nudging there, a well-rounded cup of sisterly and parental encouragement, two heaping tablespoons of planning, a very reliable alarm clock and a whole tumbler full of desire. Once baked at the highest possible temperature, but knowing just when to simmer, you suddenly find yourself with a pot of perfectly brewed “goal”.

That recipe worked nicely for my dream of getting to the top of the rowing world all those years ago. And I was close, a few times just shy of a medal at the World Rowing Championships. There are no words for the intimidation I felt as I glanced left and right of me in the starting gates at those enormous hairy under-armed eastern block rowers. But it was in coming third in the Commonwealth Games, that was perhaps a pivotal moment for me as I realized that third didn’t seem good enough, that somehow all of this was not my dream but something expected of me.

So I started growing a new recipe for myself, one that was sometimes spicy and other times filled with far too much coziness. But it was my recipe, my dream, no matter how unexpected it was to others. I was lucky enough to have a leftover bag of sisterly encouragement. Every time I’d doubt myself, I’d just add another scoop. Somehow, that bag never seemed to empty. And lo and behold, that recipe baked many stories along the way, stories that started to get noticed. Now, my tasty recipe, turned dream, turned goal, is now the beautiful soufflé it was meant to be, The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley, now at the printer’s.

A very grateful writer