I’m so grateful to my friends Richard and Ginny Beards for hosting a Book Launch yesterday at Richard’s eclectic used bookstore, BookPlace, in Oxford, PA. Richard has been an English Professor at Temple University for over forty years and this bookshop is his weekend hobby. He is an expert on Children’s Literature and rare books. BookPlace is an amazing little shop that feels like a clubhouse. In the back of the store, they’ve designed a space that features an art gallery where they hold author readings and signings.
Ginny and I first became friends through a critique group. She is a former English Professor at Penn State, a writer, a poet, and a professional editor, and she’s become a constant source of encouragement when I have bouts of self-doubt about my writing. Ginny’s guidance and support has meant the world to me. Every serious writer should have a friend and mentor like Ginny.
I’d been to BookPlace only one other time, a few months ago. Ginny had invited me for an author signing. As I was chatting that day with some local book lovers, Ginny jumped in with a smile, “Jim, you have to meet someone.” I excused myself and she led me out front and introduced me to a gentleman with glasses and an old Phillies cap. “Jim, this is Mark Bowden. Mark, Jim Breslin is a fiction writer.” I nearly choked with embarrassment. Mark Bowden, the bestselling author of Blackhawk Down, the long-time Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair! We had a very nice chat for fifteen minutes that day. Meeting Mark and so many Oxford book lovers that day showed me how much of an impact this great little bookstore has in building a cultural community in this rural town.
But back to yesterday. I was a bundle of nerves as we set up for the book launch. An author’s biggest fear is what one friend of mine deems the “Spinal Tap” moment, an event where nobody shows up. So I was thrilled at four o’clock when a grade school friend who I’d not seen since 1978 showed up! For the next three hours, I met and mingled with dozens of friends, some who I had not seen in twenty years. I met new folks who’d heard about the book and the book launch and stopped by. I met a local writer who I’d been Facebook friends with for the first time. My mother even surprised me by flying up from Florida for the event. We had a festive time and even sold a few books. Thank you again to Richie and Ginny for hosting, and thanks so much to all who attended. It really was a special day in my writing life.