Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice


I do not know why it has been so hard to write this post. Really, it should be the easiest one ever: When I woke up on Wednesday, August 24, Powerless was no longer on pre-order. Friends reported having downloaded it on their e-readers, making me an officially published novelist, woohoo! It has been wonderful, and a little bit surreal, and a whole lot of nerve-wracking. All the things!

Yet it has been strangely difficult. Several times I have sat down to put down my thoughts, and each time I’ve gotten up and walked away. “That’s not right,” I’ve said, though I could not explain why. In all likelihood it’s just my brain getting in the way. So, rather than drafting it out in a document, then pasting it here, I’m just going to write from wherever it is these things come from.

The launch was wonderful, and there’s one person in particular I have to thank for that: my amazing wife, Susan. We ended up doing the whole thing ourselves (more on this later), and she picked up the ball that I definitely dropped and ran with it, planning the menu, doing most of the food prep, conceiving of the favors and decorations–pretty much all of it. And it was beautiful. The food was plentiful and tasty, the decorations looked great, people loved the swag. I cannot thank her enough. And I owe her big time. I also owe the Magpie and the Catbird. They pitched in, helping to prep the food, schlep the food, make the decorations, set up, sell books, etc., etc., etc. I am so fortunate and grateful to have these three amazing people in my life.

The event itself was wonderful but, like a wedding or hosting a major holiday at your home, it was over just like that. We had around thirty people attend, and most stayed pretty much the whole time (about two hours). While I spent most of my time parked at a little table talking to people and signing books, I did observe a lot of socializing among the crowd (one of the benefits of the small community, I suppose, is that everyone already knows each other, or they get introduced and discover there’s only one or two degrees of separation between them), and I think everyone had a good time. For the first fifteen minutes or so I worried that we were going to go home with all the food, but then someone started eating and we only went home with some of the food. Whew! One of the highlights of the night was having four members of my old writer’s circle in attendance. It was great to see them and to catch up, as much as time would allow, at least. Some of them were there when I first started writing Powerless, and it meant a lot to me that they came. When it was all over, we packed up the car (twice; it’s a small car and there was a lot to move), went home, and I collapsed into bed, my first day as a published novelist both memorable and exhausting.

I do have some thoughts on the whole idea of in-person launch but I’m going to save those for another post (related note: if you’re wondering where the pictures of the event are, well, we just forgot to take them. More on that in the post on ‘thoughts on the whole idea of an in-person launch’ post still to come). I just want to close by saying it was an amazing day. I hope our guests had fun and that they enjoy the book, and that there’s another opportunity to do this down the road. In the meantime, thank you to the folks at The Smithy/Cooperstown Art Association for allowing us to use their space; Lisa at Breaking Night Press for publishing me; my wife and kids for…well, everything; and you, for reading. More to come!

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