Home is where the heart is (and where they buy your books)

A few weeks ago, I returned to my home town of Kent, Ohio.  I moved away from Kent, initially, when I left for college almost 17 years ago (wow), but left for "good" when I moved to Atlanta in 2000.  I go back once or twice a year.

My entire family lives in Kent, more or less, and I still have very good friends there.  So when the release date was set for "Pray," it was clear that I needed to have a book release party in my home town.

Since this was going to be fairly early in my life as a self-promoter, I decided to step outside my comfort zone, and set up not just a book signing at the book store in Kent (Last Exit Books), but also a reading at the library.  That was putting myself out there an awful lot, but I figured if I couldn't do it in a town where I knew a lot of people, then I probably couldn't do it at all.

The start of the book release party.
So on Saturday, June 11th, I arrived at Last Exit with a few boxes of books in tow.  The local paper had run a feature on me that morning, so word had gotten around.  Coincidentally, there happened to be an event going on downtown, which is where the store is located, so we probably got better foot traffic than normal.

The signing only last two hours, but there was a strange kind of ebb and flow to it.  I would say that the first half an hour and the last half an hour were not unlike a ghost town, while the hour in the middle was just a constant stream of people -- most of whom I hadn't seen in probably over a decade.

Nicole and I got so caught up in things that we actually forgot to take any pictures, something of a theme for our trip.  She managed to take a few here and there, but we never got a good shot when things were really busy -- so you'll have to take my word for the adoring throngs!

That night was the release party, again in downtown, but this time in a bar, because that's how I roll.  This was for close friends and family, mostly, and went on long into the night, and into the early hours of the next morning.  While I'd been pretty focused on the signing earlier in the day, this was the first time I was able to really spend time with those closest to me to talk about the fact that I had a freaking book published!  Honestly, just typing that is still surreal.

Thankfully, I had Sunday to recover before the reading at the library on Monday.  The reading...well, the reading didn't end up being much of a reading, to be honest.  Only a few people showed up, so instead of standing at the front of a room and reading to them, we formed a circle of chairs and I took questions.  It was actually an interesting experience, which hopefully prepares me to do it again some day.  I really hadn't expected many people to show up -- after the previous events, I didn't think there was anyone left who hadn't already been to see me!  Regardless of the turn out, it was a good experience.

Anyway, it was a good trip and a nice way to start this new part of the "Pray" journey.  We'll see how it goes from here...

(Cross posted to Iprayhardest.com)