Thursday, June 22, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CHOOSE ME! [or is it HAPPY ANNIVERSARY?]




ON TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2006, Choose Me turned one year old. Unlike horse and dog years, in book terms, one year is old for a book. Everything that is supposed to happen to a book has to happen in that first year—according to the publishers. The first week’s sales determine whether the book will be a bestseller or not. Mine was not--at least not according to the publishing world's terms.

NONE OF THIS matters to me. At the last minute, I decided to have a birthday dinner for Choose Me. I made a quickee Publisher postcard invitation and passed it out at the graduation party of one of my little cousins (who are more like nieces and nephews to me). I even made a homemade birthday hat for the book :).

EIGHTEEN MEMBERS OF my family—from my four-year-old grand-nephew to my 64-year-old favorite aunt who just had back surgery last week and was still in pain—joined me for dinner at Café Central, one of the restaurants featured in the book. We talked, we laughed, and we ate—not in any particular order. I quizzed them with a question on the book: Who did Eva have lunch with at Cafe Central in the book? Nobody passed but that’s okay. (Eva has lunch with Maya and Simone after she runs into Adam for the first time after their break-up.)

CAFE CENTRAL IS a Puerto Rican restaurant which has been in existence since 1950. It has survived despite the closings of many of the mom-and-pop businesses in the area and the current gentrification. They have the best jibaritos (delicious steak sandwich with plantains in place of bread, onions, lettuce & tomatoes) and my sisters and I used to frequent it when we worked nearby. While the owner of the restaurant has never spoken to us, the waitress asked who’s birthday it was and congratulated me. Even on Tuesday, he passed by our pushed-together five tables several times and never once asked how things were. Some would consider this rude but I just chalk it up to his ignorance about restaurant etiquette—even though he’s been in business for 56 years. Why am I giving this restaurant free publicity despite the owner’s "lack of knowledge?" Because I have great memories of the place. And now I have even more.

I AM BLESSED with a wonderful, supportive family. They all came out to support a silly little thing like the anniversary of my book, coming straight from work, or after taking care of kids all day long, or while recuperating from back surgery--pillow, pain--killers and all. They understood that I couldn’t foot the bill and all chipped in. One day I will treat them all to a “thank-you party”--one day.

AT THE END of the evening, my family offered a few words of encouragement and pieces of advice. My cousin, Elvia, said that even if the book didn’t sell a lot of copies, everyone’s still proud of me; my aunt asked that my next book be in Spanish so she could read it (yuh, okay, that’s going to take me a while); and my super-Christian uncle gave me the title for a future book: Looking for a Few Holy Men. I told him I only needed one(!); they all thought that was funny.

Thanks, Familia! Love ya! Thanks for making Choose Me a bestseller in your hearts!

2 Comments:

At July 08, 2006 4:32 PM, Blogger Cheri said...

Happy "Choose Me" birthday Xenia! And, like your family I think you should be really proud of yourself and the book too. It's a great story, you are a wonderful writer and it is the first of many or at least more I'm sure. *I changed that 'many' thing, because I'm not trying to write tons of books, don't know about you--a few good, stories would suit me fine*

Anyway, "Choose Me" received great critical acclaim and is an offering you can be proud of and that matters a lot. Promotional skills and consistency plays a huge role in the success of some first-time offerings and others may do well because they gained a following before the genre became so crowded. Irregardless, I consider this to have been a blessed year even though neither of our books became 'best-sellers'. And, who would want a best-seller first time out, anyway. You might well be chasing that first-time success the rest of your life and that could prove a daunting and creatively frustrating task.

Know that I really enjoyed our tour time last year, and believe the best is yet to come!
God Bless...
;-) Cheri

 
At July 09, 2006 5:04 PM, Blogger uRge said...

Congratulations. It's always good to have family behind you.

 

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