I don’t usually do “book launch parties” when I have new books coming out. The one time I had one, I uh…didn’t even sell books. I just had a party at my house and invited my friends to come over and celebrate with me.
But I decided to have one when my Haunted Library series came out. Or rather, my friend Karen, who does the teen programming for the Coralville Public Library, suggested we have one AT THE LIBRARY. She said the Teen Advisory Board could help plan it. We could have activities for kids. I could do a presentation or two. And…we could sell books.
This was a launch party I could get excited about…because it would be a library event. And Karen is really fun and creative. What author wouldn’t want her planning their launch party? (Yes, she was the inspiration behind Grandma Karen in my Haunted Library series!)
And for me, there really is no more appropriate place to launch a series called the Haunted Library other than at the Coralville Public Library. That library was my home away from home. I met my writer friends there twice a week for “write-ins.” Much of the first three Haunted Library books were written there.
I was also an active library volunteer. I led teen writer’s workshops. I helped with teen book discussion groups. My dog and I were a registered pet partner team and we started the R.E.A.D. program there. I was even president of the Friends of the Coralville Public Library for a couple of years.
I ended up moving to Seattle a few months before the series launched, but that didn’t stop me from having my official launch at the Coralville library. It was a good excuse to return for a visit just months after I left. And it was soooo worth the trip back!
These are the fabulous teens that helped out with the party. The three in the front had a sleepover at Karen’s house one night and read Haunted Library #1 out loud by candlelight so they could brainstorm ideas for the party. (I was AMAZED by everything they came up with!)
They built the whole party around the “ghostly glossary” that appears at the beginning of each book:
They invited kids to “pass through” from the main room where I would be speaking to a smaller room full of ghostly activities (and of course there was a teen volunteer stationed there to help with the “pass through”):
Once they arrived in the activity room they could put on bracelets and “glow” like the ghosts in my books:
They could shrink and expand. Here they’re “swimming” like Kaz and the other ghosts:
If they wanted to feel “skizzy,” there were teens on hand to help with that, too.
They even set up a “cabinet” where kids could make shadow puppets like Claire and Kaz do in chapter 9 of book 1:
There were ghost stamps/tattoos:
Pictures for coloring:
Directions for folding origami birds:
And as you can see, they didn’t skimp on decorations for the library, either. Ghosts and paper cranes hung from the ceiling and there were coloring pages on all of the walls. (BTW, I took a bunch of those paper cranes home and put them up on my ceiling in my office!)
I spoke (twice!) about the series and my new life in Seattle. And I read an excerpt from the first book:
I signed books:
There was cake:
And afterwards I got to go to dinner with the teens who did the majority of the planning and the children’s librarian (unfortunately, I didn’t get to see “Grandma Karen” because she was biking in Tibet!) :
I don’t know what to say, Coralville Public Library, other than THANK YOU!!! What a great party! Thank you for showing me I haven’t lost a thing by moving away…my world has expanded, not collapsed.