Keli Gwyn
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Sarah Sundin’s Book Launch Party

Sarah Sundin is a masterful storyteller and is one of my must-read authors.

When I received Sarah’s newsletter with an invitation to her book launch party, I got excited. Normally I read such announcements and bemoan the fact that I live too far away. However, a two-hour drive is all that separates Sarah and me, so I sent my RSVP ASAP.

Keli in front of El Campanil theater in Antioch, CA

At 1 p.m. Sunday, August 28, my husband and I arrived at the El Campanil Theatre in the riverfront town of Antioch, California. The heroes in Sarah’s three WWII romances live in Antioch, and portions of the stories take place in the town. In the third book, Blue Skies Tomorrow, the eldest Novak brother takes his gal to see a show in this historic theater, which is on the book’s cover, so it made a fitting location for Sarah’s launch party.

El Campanil's billboard

Sarah worked with the theater management to select a period movie and chose the 1946 film, The Best Years of Our Lives, which shows the adjustments made by three servicemen upon returning from WWII. The final book in Sarah’s Wings of Glory series, Blue Skies Tomorrow, ends with the conclusion of the War, so this movie was a great choice.

John and Marci Seither

A couple in WWII uniforms greeted the guests. Marci Seither is a writer friend of Sarah’s who made the cute 1940s-era aprons Sarah is using as drawing prizes. (Nope. I didn’t win one.) Marci and her husband, John, dressed in the outfits they wear to Moonlight Swing Big Band, a Glenn Miller tribute band. Their attire added to the festive atmosphere.

Keli with Sarah Sundin

It was great to see Sarah again. I interviewed her on my blog several years ago, met her in person at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference soon after she’d received her first contract, and have gotten to know her better online. Being present for the launch of the final book in her Wings of Glory series was such fun.

Sarah signing her books

With some 100 guests attending the event, Sarah had a steady stream of fans making their way to her table. She spent much of her time signing books. I had a stack for her to sign. 🙂

Each guest received a complimentary ticket to the show, a ticket for the drawing, and free popcorn. We filed into the renovated theater and admired the beautiful architecture as we waited for the show to begin.

Sarah with her agent, Rachel Kent

After the movie and the drawing, Sarah signed more books while I waited to get a photo with her. Someone called my name. I turned and found that the person was none other than Rachel Kent, Sarah’s lovely agent from Books and Such Literary.

Keli, Sarah, Rachel Kent, and Michelle Ule

Rachel and her agency partner, Michelle Ule, had driven over from Santa Rosa to attend Sarah’s book launch. I was mightily impressed by their show of support. Rachel and Michelle are every bit as nice in person as I’ve found them to be online.

Keli with Kate Burnett of Christianbook.com

While Sarah was impressed that my husband and I made the two-hour drive to attend her launch party, that was nothing compared to one of her guests who traveled all the way from Boston. Yup! What’s even more amazing is that this guest was Kate Burnett, the social media manager for Christianbook.com. Kate had read Sarah’s books, loved them, and arranged to take a vacation so she could visit California and help celebrate Sarah’s release. Isn’t that one of the greatest author appreciation stories you’ve ever heard?

I had a wonderful time at Sarah’s party and enjoyed meeting Rachel, Michelle, and Kate. My husband and I were able to have lunch beforehand with longtime family friends who are Sarah’s friends, too, having served as her aviation advisers on her second book, A Memory Between Us. Don and Nancy McDaniel appear in that book’s acknowledgements. Isn’t it amazing how writing connects so many people?

• • •

Have you attended a book launch party? If so, what was it like?

If you’ve held a book a launch party, what contributed to its success?

• • •

Win an autographed copy of Blue Skies Tomorrow

Blue Skies Tomorrow with El Campanil theater in the background

To enter the drawing, leave a comment by Sept. 1 and include your email address when prompted. I’ll draw the winner’s name Sept. 2 and post it here as well as in the comments.

Congratulations to Melissa K. Norris, winner of the drawing!

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.
Keli Gwyn

47 Comments

  • Oh, what a great book launch party! I’ve never been to a book launch. I had no idea they got so creative.

  • Jessica says:

    Never had or attended one, but it looks like so much fun!!! What a great time you had. I’ve heard of Sarah’s books before and really need to read one.

  • Yes, Keli! It IS amazing how writing connects so many people. The last book launch party I attended (you were there) was for Joanne Kraft, nonfiction author of “Just Too Busy.” There were a few people attending that drove for several hours to meet Joanne having met her only online through her blog. Love being a writer.

  • Donna Pyle says:

    Wow, it sounds like you had a great time, Keli! I’ve never hosted or attended a book launch, but hope to change that in future should one drop in nearby. What fun!

  • Erica Vetsch says:

    Oh, the party sounds amazing. I wish I could’ve been there!

  • candidkerry says:

    Hi Keli,

    I’ve never been to a book launch, but it looks like a wonderful time and well worth a two-hour drive! I recently purchased Sarah’s book, A Distant Melody, and it’s waiting patiently at the tops of my TBR pile. I’ve heard very good things about her books and look forward to reading soon.

    I also wanted to compliment you on your pretty scarf. What a great way to dress up a white shirt or blouse! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Kerry, I’m a big fan of Sarah’s writing. I plan to study her books and learn what she does that makes them work so well.

      Thanks for the compliment on my scarf. I had on a navy skirt and was after a way to add some red and white for a patriotic look in honor of Sarah’s WWII theme.

    • Sarah Sundin says:

      Kerry – I hope you enjoy the book. And yes, Keli looked darling!

  • I didn’t know there was a book launch party so close to home otherwise, I would have made the drive too. Sarah’s books are in my TBR pile.Can’t wait to get to them! So glad you got to go down and visit and have a wonderful afternoon!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lacie, I wish I’d thought to invite you to join us. Next time. . . =)

      If you visit Sarah’s website, you could sign up to receive her newsletter. That’s where I learned about her book launch party. (If you click on her name at the top of the post, it will take you to her website.)

  • bethkvogt says:

    What a fun, fun book launch! Thanks for all the photos so we got a glimpse of Sarah’s day.
    I attended Donita K. Paul’s launch of DragonSpell, the first book in her Dragon Keeper Chronicles series. It was lots of fun to celebrate Donita before her series took off.

  • Rachel Williams says:

    You all need to start at Book one and go all the way through this last book, Three! They are excellently written, and great books. I’ve read them all. They’re books you’ll want to reread over the years. I plan to.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Rachel, I rarely reread books since there are so many great ones out there and my time is limited, but I plan to read Sarah’s again so I can see what she does to make her stories so good and her characters so likable.

  • What an amazing time and show of support. Makes me wish I lived close enough to come. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all the details and pics, Keli. makes me feel like I was there. Great marketing idea on Sarah’s part.

  • Love the pictures, Keli! I was so excited when I heard about Sarah’s launch party. That is one of the most creative launch party ideas I’ve ever heard. I love how the setting matches the book. I wish I could have been there! They should have put Sarah’s name up on the marquis–wouldn’t that have been fun?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Karen, I think one of the reasons Sarah’s name wasn’t on the marquis was that the movie was open to the public. One woman came just to see it and was swept into the fun of the festivities. She actually won one of the drawing prizes and is going to check out Sarah’s books. I have a hunch she’s got a new fan in that unexpected guest.

    • Sarah Sundin says:

      If my name had been on the marquee, I would have freaked OUT!!! Soooo glad it wasn’t. Karen – someday you’ll need to do a launch party in SF or in a speakeasy 🙂 No?

  • Loree Huebner says:

    How fun! Looks like it was a great time!

  • Linda Templeton says:

    This was my first book launch party and I just loved it! I am quite familiar with the movie, but it was the first time I had seen it on the big screen….I laughed and cryed and sat with many of Sarah’s friends. We cheer her on in her writing, but love her for who she is as a person…wife, mother, friend, bible teacher, volunteer and woman…She is a good example of a woman being all she can be! I say “Keep on, Sarah!” we love you dearly!

    • Sarah Sundin says:

      Linda – you are the sweetest thing! I couldn’t do ANY of this at all without so many supportive friends like you! I love you right back!

      By the way, my housekeeping stinks. Ask Dave 🙂

  • michelleule says:

    It was a lovely day and a great movie, a perfect match for a wonderful series. Sarah does such excellent research that when Rachel and I realized we had forgotten to get the theater address, I opened up the book and we learned the couple went to the movies between A and D street, along Second St.

    We took A Street into town, bent with the road and found ourselves on Second Street. Lo and behold, there was the theater!

    I love it when you can trust historical fiction . . . 🙂

  • What a fun day!
    I loved that my 14 year old could finally meet Sarah since she LOVES her stories as well. I loved seeing all the people come out to Sarah’s book launch. Looking forward to more in the future!

    • Sarah Sundin says:

      Thank you for making it fun! Last night my Bible study group got together and they all wanted to know about the DARLING girl in uniform who made the aprons. They can’t believe you’re the mother of six 🙂

      And I’m so glad I got to meet two of them! Scott is so mature and assured, and Amy is adorable.

  • Carma Dutra says:

    I have read the entire Wings of Glory series and even though you can read them as a stand alone or in order the connection between the Novak brothers and their family is masterfully exhibited and I highly recommend reading them all. I am sad I missed the launch party. I have never been to one but would like too.

  • the writ and the wrote says:

    Going to a book launch sounds like so much fun!

    My e-mail for the drawing is briannasoloski@gmail.com

  • Sarah Sundin says:

    Oh my goodness! I feel like I’m having a second party here on Keli’s blog!

    Keli – What a fabulous write-up! Thanks for being there and for being such a top-notch reporter too 🙂

    What I liked about this party was the two-way publicity – El Campanil has some new fans too! They did such a nice job on the restoration and have fantastic programs there.

  • Wendy Lawton says:

    How I wish I could have been there. It sounds like it was fabulous!

  • Susan Mason says:

    Wow, how exciting! I love that it’s a real place! Did it give you ideas for your launch party, Keli? Cause I’m sure you will have one! LOL.

    Congrats, Sarah!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sue, I paid close attention to all that Sarah did. Since my book’s set in 1870, a movie wouldn’t work, but my mind is whirling with possibilities.

  • So happy that Sarah’s book launch party was such a big success. I loved the first book in the series. The event sounds fantastic with much atmosphere and a clever marketing strategy. I loved The Best Years of Our Lives. Enjoyed looking at the photos. Thank you, Keli.

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    My fan girl experience continues. Wendy Lawton just left a comment. Wow!

    And I gotta share some exciting news I just discovered. Sarah’s newest release, Blue Skies Tomorrrow made LifeWay Fiction’s Top 10 Best-selling Novels list for August–right up there with Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury! Here’s the link to the post where the news was announced: http://blogs.lifeway.com/christianfiction/2011/08/august-best-sellers.html.

    If you want to help Sarah, pop over to LifeWay’s blog and leave a comment like I did.

  • Sarah Sundin says:

    I didn’t even see that! Thanks for informing me. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve never been on a bestsellers list before.

  • This sounds like a series I would love since I grew up during this time.

    Will have to put this series on my to read list for sure.

  • Gwen Stewart says:

    What a fun party, and what great pictures! The book sounds fantastic, too. I sense a new Kindle download coming. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, Keli!

  • This sounds like so much FUN!! I’ve never attended one but when I do, I sure hope the novelist is as creative as Sarah!

  • Sarah’s launch party would have been great, Keli! Thank you so much for sharing all of the pictures. We lived it through your eyes! 🙂

  • Debbie Clark says:

    It looks like the launch party was fun and a great success! Please enter me in the drawing and thanks for the chance to win.

    Debbie Clark
    debbiemcla(at)msn(dot)com

  • I really enjoyed myself at Sarah’s Launch Party of “Blue Skies Tomorrow” and watch the movie; The Best Years of our Lives (1946). Which I so recall watching as a child in the 50’s ( I am a movie-holic). Being at the signing I would not miss it at all!! Was quite an overcoming feeling to enter the theatre after 54 years. My parents ran the El Campanil back in the 50’s which they introduce famous musically artists from Mexico to the Spanish speaking people throughout several counties. We had up to date movies; also in Spanish. What a joy to sit in the audience and take in all the wonderful great memories of being a kid again. The bonus was to watch my friend Sarah to share the joy of the success that God has given her in the books she has written. Many have not have an opportunity to sit back and listen to our veterns talk about what they experienced as young men at war. Sarah is a gentle spirit and lovely lady. God Blessings on her as she continues this new journey in words. One day soon I also will finish my novel..soon. Thank you for posting this Keli.
    Angelina Johnson

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to share in my excitement about Sarah’s release and to those who left a comment.

    I’ve held the drawing, and the winner of the autographed copy of Blue Skies Tomorrow is Melissa K. Norris. (Sorry to be late, but our college daughter got to come home over the holiday weekend, and I plumb forgot to hold the drawing on Friday.)

    Congratulations, Melissa! I’ll be in touch.

  • bonnie leon says:

    I wish I could have been there.It looks like you all had a great time.

    I’m one of Sarah’s critique partners and I’m impressed. Way to go, Sarah!

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