'Dark & Light' Release Party!

My current life in a nutshell: children's books, adorable-yet-out-of-control twins
 and a fun-loving husband who does silly things like grow a weird mustache for "Movember."

A strange and wondrous thing happened yesterday. About 50 amazingly kind and generous people packed into a tiny bookstore in Southwest Portland to celebrate the release of MY book, "Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White."

No, seriously.

It wasn't just a dream I had that I was a successful published author. I even have pictures to prove it. See?

(New or irregular readers: Dark & Light is — all modesty aside — a beautiful and surprisingly profound board book I wrote, illustrated and published as a fundraiser for my son's medical costs. Check out the full version here and feel free to virtually join in on the release party by picking up a couple copies! With simple, progressive images and a multi-faceted storyline, kids and adults of all ages love it!)

I also gave a quick plug for my novella: A Twist of Fate (available in paperback or ebook)!

One of my favorite parts was seeing how my boys just took it all in stride. Like: "OK, cool, yeah, let's all have a big party in this strange place and mama will read us our favorite book. Awesome! That's not weird at all." During the reading, the guys even said some of the words along with me and grinned when I did the sound effects for lightning, just like we do at home.

In fact, several times during the Q&A period, I would start gesticulating with the book and Malachi would get all excited. "Mama's... book... again... please! Read. Again. Please!" he said in his trademark slow and careful diction.

For my introduction, I tried to write a very short speech so that I would remember it, but alas. Paragraphs became blurted-out, run-on sentences, my proverb probably didn't make any sense and I had to pause several times in a failed attempt to keep tears from running down my face. Ah well. At least the Q&A went OK.

For those of you who weren't there, you can pretend that this is how my speech went. Those of you who were there, this is what I wanted to say:

Thank you all for coming. In particular, I'd like to thank my husband who has sacrificed as much if not more than I have to let me follow my dream. I want to thank my family, especially my mother-in-law who takes the boys so that I can work on this project. I wouldn't be the person I am today without them and this project could never have happened without their support.

One of the reasons writers like writing is because they hate speaking. (pause for laughter) They also like writing because it's much easier to revise and tinker and say exactly what it is they want to say.

But perhaps the reason we most like writing is because, unlike speaking, it is an activity that often gets better when we cry. It's funny how our fingers can convey so much more of what's in our heart when we let loose the emotions that shut off our vocal chords.

So, I'm going to do my best but you'll have to bear with me.

There is an old Chinese proverb... that I don't know very well and might not even be a Chinese proverb. So, I'm going to butcher it for you. But it's OK because I'm a writer. I get to call it "poetic license." It's one of the perks.

Anyway, it goes like this: A master and student are talking and the student says: "Master, what does Hell look like?"

"Hell is six people sitting around a round table. There is a huge, delicious buffet in front of them but they are only allowed to eat it with six-foot chopsticks. No matter how hard they try, no one can get the food to their mouths so they are all starving and miserable and full of unrequited desire."

So the student says, "But Master, what does Heaven look like?"

"Heaven is much the same. There are six people sitting around a round table, a huge buffet in front of them that they are only allowed to eat with six-foot chopsticks."

"That's awful, Master!" the student exclaims. "Why would people starve and be so miserable in Heaven?"

"Ah," says the Master. "In Heaven, the people do not starve. They are full and happy. In Heaven, the people cooperate. Each diner feeds another from his chopsticks and no one wants for anything."

That is how I feel about this project. Through your cooperation and support, you all have turned my Hell into Heaven, a curse into a blessing.

Thank you for your support. And please remember that if the story of this book resonates with you it will resonate with your friends, too. Do them a favor and let them know about Dark & Light so they can pick up their copy too!

Thank you!

P.S. Special thanks to Jessie Kirk and Laura Stanfill for the photos you see above! These baby-totin' mamas both did — and regularly do — incredible work while simultaneously caring for two young children.  In fact, the weekend before, Laura held her own release party for Brave on the Page, a remarkable and fascinating collection of interviews and essays from Oregon authors (including yours truly!).

Mama power!


  1. This is awesome, Shasta! I wish you could come to NJ, because we have this great indie bookstore that I know would LOVE to have you! At any rate, congratulations on your book signing and the success of Dark & Light! I am going to ask the children's librarian at the library I work for if she'd be interested in having a copy of "Dark & Light" for our collection.

    Also, I wanted to tell you that I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about writing vs. speaking. It's so true! I've always found writing to be a much better way to convey what I feel, and I love that it can be tweaked until it says just what you want it to. Writing is truly salvation (as Anne Rice says) - in more ways than one!

  2. Anonymous7:22 PM

    This is wonderful in so many ways. Your smile is beautiful and I love your speech. What an exciting accomplishment to celebrate! Well done!


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