Lift Your Glasses, Lift Your Hearts

elise

It’s a calm contentment, this feeling inside.

(That isn’t exactly the vibe my picture is giving you. I was striking a confident pose at the time)

The calm contentment comes later, now that the emotional confetti has settled from the air.

The third novel waits alongside its brothers in my home’s Harry Potter closet (we have a fantastic cupboard under the stairs!) nestled in its box, filled with the words that I hope will ignite and capture the imagination of many minds yet to read it.

This past weekend I threw a large party to celebrate the book’s “birth.” (I’ll admit I don’t think I’ll ever lose the Baby Analogy for this sort of thing.) We designed it to be as fun as possible.

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Having fun talking and eating!

There was a tea table with scones and cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches, an assortment of tea and lemonade, cold ham and fruit.

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Baby Michael is awed by the fresh flowers my friend Carrie brought. Me too!

I gave a short speech and talked about how I’d threatened this year to take a break from writing, and how my community of friends had strongly protested. I talked about making plans for my future and getting thrown a curve ball. I choked up.

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You see that cucumber sandwich on her plate! Delicious! Thanks, Scott!

My family’s a capella quartet sang a few songs. You know what’s fun? Surprising friends who think they know you. Lots of people told me afterwards, with big grins, that they’d no idea I sang in a quartet. I love the sound of blending musical notes with my mom and my siblings. For a moment our hearts and our voices are one.

There was a photo booth with costumes so that guests could snap a picture of themselves being silly and putting on fantastical guises. (I brought my husband’s Claymore sword. There was a belly dancing skirt and an Elizabethan veil and lots of cool hats. Let’s just say the costumes rocked.)

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“Is this the peak? Are you on top of the mountain right now?” a friend asked me. She’d called me a supermom, noting everything I’d done to get this book out there while staying home to care for my son. Honestly, I think all moms are pretty super. I was happy. I was excited to see everyone. But it didn’t feel like the “high” of my first book. It felt like something more familiar. Something less mysterious, but no less valuable.

It wasn’t about sales (Friend: “Is your book on the New York Bestseller list yet?” Me: Heh. No.”)

It wasn’t about popularity. I invited a bunch of friends, but I didn’t chase down RSVPs. The ones who thought it was important made a point to come.

It was about doing something I needed to do and allowing others to celebrate it with me. I admitted that writing a book and dealing with the business of publishing was incredibly difficult. My son has tried to physically push me away from my laptop when I’m in the midst of dashing off an email.

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But I also knew that if I didn’t write at all, I’d be going a different kind of crazy. Not to mention the inevitable mush if would make of my brain…

Lastly, but by no means least, I realized at this launch party how deeply indebted I am to the throng of friends who raise their hands to help me.

I had about ten folks helping me set up the house before guests arrived. They polished silver, lit candles, arranged food, brewed coffee, laid out costumes, connected sound-systems, manned the books table, and laughed and loved on me in a dozen ways that were invisible to me as I rushed around.

My heart was gladdened by the love and delight I saw in so many faces.

These people were proud of me. They were joyful with me.

It wasn’t about the book itself, though I’m assured that the book is good (by somewhat biased sources). It was more because I’d written the book and they wanted to be happy with me.

It’s a beautiful distinction.

Thank you for toasting to me and Guardian of the Gold Breathers, my friends! That you for lifting my heart with the hope you have for my future. Thank you for another safe delivery of a written work into the great big world!

I just love this guy.

I just love this guy.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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