A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful experience of being able to help my good friend Eliza prepare for and host her very first ever book launch party.
Eliza is the kind of person who you know you will love from the moment she opens her mouth. She has this sweetness about her that fills up any room she's in, and the kindness that flows from her actions and words is unmistakably pure. She and her husband, Adam, were the ones to house Toby and me when we first arrived in Los Angeles; Eliza sacrificed her workspace to create a nook so cozy and divine that I still get homesick for it a year and a half later.
And it was only recently that I realized just what a sacrifice giving up that workspace was for her (though she would never admit to it): for the last I-don't-even-know-how-long, she has been working on writing and illustrating her first children's book, Miss Maple's Seeds, and it is the cutest little book you ever did see.
On the day of the book party, we gathered at Eliza and Adam's adorable studio apartment with food and decorations, and spent some time together talking and putting together snack skewers.
It is during moments like that day that I sit back and try to fathom how lucky Toby and I got in the friend department here in Los Angeles. The laughter, the inside jokes, and the general camaraderie are things I never expected to find so quickly and with such abundance when we moved here, and yet here we are. Blessed.
After we finished up with preparations, we hauled everything downstairs and drove a few short blocks to Skylight Books, which is a fantastic bookstore on Vermont Avenue in the Los Feliz neighborhood. This bookstore has hosted some pretty big names, so I felt like a rock star for even being friends with someone who was premiering her book there. We set everything up nice and neat, and then hung out for awhile waiting for Eliza's friends and fans to arrive.
Lovely floral decorations provided by Kelly; cupcakes provided by Jenne
Eliza had admitted to us ahead of time that she was a bit nervous to stand up in front of everyone and talk about her book, because she's not the most comfortable with public speaking, and she certainly doesn't like to talk herself up. But once she go up to the podium and started explaining where the idea for the book came from and answering questions from the audience, it seemed like her nerves melted away; she was so eloquent and you could hear in her words how much she loves what she does. And there may or may not have been a moment of shared tears when she talked about how this has always been a dream of hers, and how happy she was to see it come to fruition.
Then she did a reading of the book for us, followed by a book signing, snack-eating, coloring, and merriment. And an added bonus: my cousin Grace's daughters came all the way up from Oceanside to see me and buy a book! You might remember them from a photo session I did with their family last year; it was so cool to be able to hang out with them and introduce them to Eliza so they could get their books signed.
This kid had his sweatshirt tied around his neck like a cape, and he sat there and worked on his drawing for SUCH a long time; when he had to leave, he asked if he could take some crayons home with him to finish up his work (we said yes, of course)
The gang, hidden away from the crowd
It was an amazing day. I was so proud to be Eliza's friend and to see the result of all her hard work, and I am incredibly excited for what's to come for her; she already has many more projects in the works. Oh, and guess what? About a week after her book party, Eliza texted us to tell us that Miss Maple's Seeds had made the New York Times best seller list! Reminder: this is her first book.
And she both wrote and illustrated it.