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What a great week for celebrations

My ex-Navy hubby and I were driving home from Pensacola last Monday, mulling over what a fantastic weekend we’d just spent at the reunion of the U.S.S. Coronado when I turned to him and said: “and a good time was had by all.”

It made both of us laugh—the grammar is so atrocious. But the sentiment is sometimes so appropriate.whole crew

The phrase is one that has stuck inside my head since the days of working at my hometown newspaper—we are talking WAY back when we had local neighboring village representatives that basically wrote gossip columns on social events in their necks of the country. None of the women could write worth a lick, but they were vital to that era and people read every word of their columns, which often ended with that phrase.

The words seem to pop into my head after any major event that has had me in a slight tizzy leading up to it because of the necessary planning or the hassle of preparation. After the dust has settled, the event concluded, I realize it was all worth it—everyone had a good time.

Such was certainly the case with the Pensacola trip. I did none of the planning—a crew from just after the years my husband served had put the whole wonderful weekend together. But we had to drive two days to get there and it was right before the Applebee’s book launch for mom and me, so the week leading up to the naval reunion was hectic. Still, the timing was perfect because it took my mind off the details of the launch, details that have plagued me for the last month and consumed a lot of my spare time.

Hubby and I didn’t know a soul going into that U.S.S. Coronado reunion. We listened to stories from the ship and swapped life’s details with a large roomful of people and by the end of two days, had many new friends. Meanwhile, I got to taste just a little bit of the part of my dear husband’s life that preceded me: the Navy.

A good time was truly had by all.

And when we returned home, it was finally time for the launch. I was biting my nails by the time it came…absolutely positive no one would come. That it would be me and my mom at a table with a sad little tray of cheese sticks and restaurant patrons walking by wondering why there were balloons.

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We had a blast: the restaurant had put out the red carpet: literally. They’d also decorated the alcove where our event was held, made giant teaser signs with sayings from the books and put out loads of appetizers. Lo and behold, guests started arriving immediately and we had a crowded event the whole three hours. We sold loads of books, but even more importantly, we saw what a great support system we had and how many people still love to read enough to be thrilled to get autographed copies of books.

To Sara McElroy and Dennis Benson of Potomac Family Dining: what a terrific and wonderful launch you gave us. To the local restaurant staff: thank you for all your kind words and your cooperation (not to mention the yummy and bountiful treats). And to Applebee’s Grill and Bar: you really did make it a neighborhood event.

A good time was had by all.

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mixing it up

Two weeks to go until our book launch and I’m wondering how authors who are widely recognized and have a zillion books out ever do it! Somehow I cannot see James Patterson or Mary Higgins Clark keeping an excel spreadsheet in an attempt to keep organized.

Granted this is a first-ever event for both Applebee’s and these authors but I know the same ingredients must go into the mix of many significant book events: much nail biting, hours of planning, scratching at the doors of local media, multiple trips to the post office to drop off invites, many encouraging hurrahs from good friends who remember (when they get those invites) that you write books, quick trips around town to drop off fliers and beg for publicity, hours awake at night as ideas keep popping into your head and … most importantly … pure terror that when you arrive at your own event, the wind will be whistling a lonely tune through the mostly empty room.

I know the terror is unfounded―my husband and child love me enough to show up. My mom and I both have good friends. But this is a party and even though I haven’t planned one in several years, I used a magic formula one of my best friends gave me many years ago: Invite as diverse a mix of people as you can find so that when they show up, they’ll have some interesting conversations. For this party, I reached into every pocket of civilization I could think of to alert people in the community that we were celebrating, and they were invited.

It’s never failed me in the past … and hopefully it will make for a fascinating evening of mingling and fun.

I hope you’ll join mom and me May 14 between 4 and 7 for an evening that promises to be … exciting.–Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Swope Clan in Edgerton

I don’t think I’ve ever received as many hugs in as short a time as I did during a 48-hour period last weekend. I went to Edgerton, my home town, for a book tour with mom and my sister Allyn. Mom and I weren’t the stars of that show; Allyn has kept in touch with many people and has some really close friends who are her cheerleaders. They became our cheerleaders too. But all of us, including those of us not there as pen-wielding celebrities, but rather as supporters, got a huge dose of Home Town Pride, and it was nice to be a small part of that pride.

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Our hostest Susan Herman of Susan’s Hair Flair and president of the Edgerton Chamber of Commerce

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Verna and mom

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Allyn & Sondra

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Mr. Smith (center)

A few highlights:

We were sitting at breakfast the first morning, already happy to be together and sharing laughs when my nieces walked into the restaurant. They flew in from Texas to surprise grandma and grandpa—arriving at 3 a.m. the previous night after a grueling flight on a cheaper airline. Once I saw them, I knew that—no matter the results of our book events—the weekend had just become something I’d never forget.

Our high school English teacher Richard Smith came to the Edgerton Public Library signing. I am quite certain I never hugged Mr. Smith in high school. Hugs were not so plentiful in those days. But neither Al nor I could help ourselves when we saw him. He is the teacher that got us interested in words. He laughingly explained he doesn’t read fiction (though he read our first book) anymore because his life was so consumed by it when he was a teacher. But he still has that delicious acerbic wit that delighted us as teenagers so much that we paid attention to him in class.

Verna Wortkoetter, the friend mom has remained closest to, not only had the clan and some old neighbors over for lunch, she invited some of mom’s old sorority sisters. The gesture was especially thoughtful because Verna was not part of that club. But she knew how important it was to mom, and she knew they’d all soon be trading memories of the parties they had and what had happened to the rest of the crew. I believe my nieces got a taste of grandma’s (and grandpa’s) wilder days by listening to the stories.

My husband saw his first parade, and (as I expected) instantly transformed into a kid. He kept himself from scrambling into the street after candy, but it couldn’t have been easy.

All of us choked up when grandpa struggled up out of his chair to sing the star spangled banner word for word. Alzheimers has nothing over patriotism!

God seemed to be smiling down on the whole weekend as the weather, which is usually hot and humid and miserable this time of year in Ohio, was gorgeous and sunny and cool.

The number of people who told us they were proud of what we’d done was incredible. It just kept coming and coming from old classmates and neighbors and friends of friends.

One of the signings we had was at Susan’s Hair flair right downtown Edgerton in the building that used to house the Edgerton Public Library. As I looked around at that building, I realized that it all really began there with mom pushing us all to learn to love books. Here it was, 50 plus years later, and we were back, signing books we had written ourselves. Thanks Mom, for getting us started on this path.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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