*All photos in this post were taken by the amazing LyndseyLew Photography. If you live in the Fort Collins area or in the Rockford, Illinois area, hire her!
In February, not even a week after my book officially launched, I got to go back to Illinois to celebrate. My event planner, Lauren, set up a book signing for me at the Barnes and Noble in Rockford where I wrote the majority of the first book in the Sweethaven series.
It seemed appropriate then, that this would be the place where I'd come to rejoice in its completion.
(my friend Kelly, who you can't see...she is gorgeous, talented and sweet...and I haven't seen her in years.)
I was nervous the entire flight there and all day leading up to the signing (partially because of the TV interview Lauren scored for me...which was EARLY in the morning and totally fun!)...but also because I kind of had that "what if no one shows up" feeling in the back of my mind...
Like planning a party and then praying people actually come.
(my good friend Sheree, the most fabulous singer you'll ever meet...who cracks me up every time I see her. I love this girl.)
I can tell you without a doubt that there is nothing like coming home. Especially when you have something to celebrate. To be with people who were there when you decided "Hey, I think I'm going to write a novel..." people who didn't look at you like you had an arm growing out of your head...
(We can be sort of serious. Sort of.)
People who read early drafts and still cheered you on...who brought you gifts and stayed at the signing the entire day just because...and then told you they missed you and they were proud of you...
(My sweet friend Ronnie who is my constant cheerleader. What would I do without her?)
And while I know I've blogged about CYT before, perhaps I didn't realize the impact these kids had on me until we moved. Going to my first book signing opened my eyes to how very much I miss working with these guys...(they are SO talented...)
(Evan, JoJo and Peyton...all part of our Godspell cast...and these boys actually purchased my book for their moms. Seriously? I love them.)
I also love that they keep me laughing...and asked me to sign their arms.
I obliged, of course.
These kids (and their parents) won me over a long time ago, and being back to launch my book reminded me of how special it was...I think I miss that side of our life more than anything else.
There's just something about being able to encourage them when they're at this age... I honestly can't write about it unless I want to end up a blubbering mess here at my computer.
And I don't...so I'm moving on...
(Patty & Natalie, the Super-Moms who brought Alex, Addison, Hannah and Kelsey out to say hi...)
...when they remember you and support you and come out to snag a photo with you...
What an incredible experience...and a sweet reminder of how amazing the support of your friends and family can be. All those "what if's..." washed away. I had people to talk to the entire time, a line down the center of the store and we sold out of books...
Jesus is so sweet to me...
I left feeling exhausted, of course, but uplifted and grateful more than anything.
I'll never have a "first book signing" ever again...and I have to tell you, I couldn't have dreamt for a better one.
I flew home the next day with a full heart, completely aware of what Gena Rowlands meant in Hope Floats when she said "my cup runneth over..."
Because it surely did.