Well, my friends, it’s hard to imagine this, but not only has the time for the Starlight Journal release party arrived, it has passed, and so has an entire month! And in that month we also hosted a second book launch. (Yeah, we might be a bit crazy sometimes. More on that launch in a later blog post!)
I spent SO much of 2018 working on creating this journal, and then on creating a magical party experience to launch and celebrate it, and then simultaneously creating the cover and interior for Tell City, that I’m frankly not quite sure what to do with myself now that it’s all over. So I’m taking this time to rest and do my best to really intentionally and thoughtfully plan out 2019.
But for now, I wanted to share some memories and photos of the magical glittering night that was the launch party. For me, this launch party began long long before the end of October, but after about October 13th, it became my entire life. Every spare second I had I was gathering (or often making) pieces for the decor. I spent time combing the Goodwill aisles looking for trays and candles and vases to spray paint, and then multiple days spray painting everything I’d gathered for decor plus a giant piece of fabric to be a cape (plus some extra accidental things like my self, my boots, two friends’ yards… and then also my water bottle…I got a little bit obsessed with the galaxy aesthetic I was achieving with my spray paint 😂😅….no regrets!)
I laughed in my friends’ faces when they tried to make plans with me three weeks before the launch party. (Sorry Aron, and probably several others.) I cried a LOT, out of stress, from the weight of feeling like way too much was on my shoulders, and most frequently I shed tears of joy and relief when someone that I hadn’t expected suddenly had my back in ways I couldn’t have anticipated (Thanks especially to Mike, Jacob, Kat, Colleen, Beth, and Megan.). The community support for this project launch was truly an incredible thing to behold. I was truly overwhelmed with love, and some days only remembered to breathe and eat because of my amazing support system. (Shoutout to Mike for almost single handedly keeping me fed for about 3 weeks there, and to him and many others for continually literally reminding me to breathe.)
Towards the end of October, Kay and I went on a “creative retreat” that was originally supposed to be a full on restful vacation. It was still restful. And it was still magical and wonderful, but it was no vacation. I wove dreamcatchers and we put together book marks and most notably I built my crown for the party on that trip. I went to a Halloween party the weekend before the launch and took my dreamcatcher supplies to finish up what I was working on at the party…we also at the same party combined stashes of essential oils and candle scent oils, concocting the “smell of starlight” in a spare bedroom, and waltzing the different combinations around the party, forcing everyone else to smell and lend their opinions on whether “tangerine” or “grapefruit” was the missing ingredient for the elusive scent.
And speaking of capturing starlight in all its ephemeral forms, one of the funniest memories for me was probably what happened in the group chat a couple of weeks prior to the big day. In thinking about music, and drawing a large blank, I turned to my group of trusted advisors for help with music. And I got the best possible question in response:
“Are you looking for songs that mention stars….or songs that sound….twinkly..?”
To which I responded: Both? Both is good (gif included). Mike then huffed about my requests being vague and my instructions unclear. The best moment though was when Megan joined the conversation by just laughing hysterically at how preposterous we were both being, and then totally nonchalantly saying “No worries. I got this.” And boy, did she. She built an incredible playlist that I still listen to sometimes because I love it so much. 💖
Probably the dirtiest secret of this whole launch is that, due to the many different attempts at getting a proper and CORRECT proof copy for this journal, from many different and varied sources, I ordered the limited edition copy run more or less sight unseen, which is a horrifying and stressful experience I recommend to no one. But, it was a learning experience for certain. Basically what happened is that I ran out of time. The supplier I had planned on using when I set up and started promoting the party fell apart (quite literally) at the last minute. So I had to switch gears in production well after I had already sold pre orders and booked the venue. The date was locked in, but the book production was suddenly a giant question mark.
I ended up going through IngramSpark to print on demand and do a smaller run of 50 copies, but this left ME with the task of gilding the edges, which was itself an entire string of failed experiments, saved only by Kat in the 9th or 10th hour.
So there I was, at the literal 11th hour (and in fact until 3am), on Halloween night (so, three days before the launch party), taking shelter from the drizzly rain in my aunt and uncle’s garage (and also handing out candy to confused trick or treaters). I was armed with a makeshift workstation I had crafted out of wood, boxes, and trash cans, 50 books, three cans of gold spray paint, three sets of clamps, scrap wood ,and book cover protectors, and one of my best friends on the phone for hours talking about everything from Minecraft world building to book club to politics and spirituality and countless things in between. Finally, exhausted, I loaded everything up, drove home, and collapsed in bed.
The weekend of the party had finally arrived. My apartment was a TRUE disaster, with half crafted decor items, piles of books and boxes of decor absolutely everywhere. I had finished the celestial globe that I considered more or less the decor centerpiece only days before the event, and I had amassed so many different decor pieces that were stashed in ALL available storage space in my apartment that even I didn’t know what all I had. Beth arrived Friday evening to find my frantic self dying my hair and trying to finish gathering together all of the things that had to go to the venue in the morning, while simultaneously mid-fashion crisis over what I was going to wear.
See, I had been working for MONTHS with Leila, a friend of mine who is a dress designer, to craft the perfect “Starlight Dress.” And though it was done, and hanging in my bedroom, and I knew it was beautiful, I was having a crisis of self doubt most likely brought on by extreme exhaustion and stress overload. So my dear dear friend became my anchor, as I flittered around her fretting over nearly every possible detail, while she calmly reassured me over and over again that everything was fine, that the dress WAS perfect, that in fact I LIT UP when I put it on (which was ultimately exactly the words that reassured me). Eventually, with as much prep done as could be done, and after having reviewed the schedule for the next day umpteen times, we nervously went to bed. I don’t even know if I slept.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early with immediate and ridiculous chaos. A friend and co-worker had months before promised not only to attend the party, but to bring along her telescope so that we could have an observation deck if it was nice and clear. (It wasn’t. Of course. But, we couldn’t know that until it was too late. And anyways, the telescope still provided good aesthetic at least!) However, sadly she had woken up that Friday morning with a terrible flu. But she was determined to get the telescope to me, even if she couldn’t join the celebration herself, and so we had planned for her to drop it off first thing Saturday. So we woke up Saturday morning to discover that the street in front of my apartment (in fact, 90% of the streets that form the route from my apartment to the venue) was closed off due to a race. Not only that, but because of this closure and because it was a marathon race through the city, the cross streets were all closed too. And of course, Elizabeth lives on the OTHER side of Meridian from my apartment. So we began the day with the chaos of her trying to find her way across one small but crucial street, while sick, to deliver the telescope that ended up being futile except for decor. Ha. Let’s all pause for a moment of respect for her dedication.
Telescope successfully delivered and packed in my car, Beth and I got around and headed to Starbucks to get coffee and breakfast (because…grocery shopping? hahaha what was that?), which LUCKILY was on my side of the street, so we were able to get there. Getting back, however, proved a challenge because until then, we hadn’t realized that the cross streets were also blocked off. They were open to us leaving from the alley, but closed to anyone trying to enter them. It was truly a mess. Luckily we went on our coffee run though, because that gave me the opportunity to learn to navigate my way through a sketchy looking back alley and winding parking lot of a community center just to find my way back to my own apartment parking. A feat which quickly became extra valuable when maybe 15 minutes later, Megan called me in an all out panic because she was trying to get to my apartment to help us load up and go to the venue….but ALL of the roads were closed!
“No no wait! I got this. I just had to do this myself! Where are you now? I’ll walk you through it, but it’s gonna be weird, so just go with me here….” And I sprung into human GPS mode. The Chestnut Praline Latte I handed her along with the hug of relief when she finally arrived helped us both too, I am sure. Two crises successfully dodged, and it was only 10am. We were in for a long day.
The next challenge, of course, was that after we loaded all three of our cars full with boxes of books, decor, and other party supplies, we had the happy task of navigating halfway around the city to get around the race closures. In the end, a 10 minutes jaunt up the street to the venue became a caravan of highway detours where we took about 30 minutes and went a little west and very far south so that we could ultimately go east and slightly north. The real challenge was that we couldn’t use GPS, because the GPS was telling us to take the closed off race routes, and though I knew the streets well enough to more or less map it in my head, I was taking many highway streets and had two other drivers who were not at all familiar with the highways to know the route I had mapped. So, trucker caravan style, we turned our cell phones into walkie-talkies and I led the caravan both literally and also via human GPS on the phone. In the end we all concluded that traveling in a caravan while on the phone with the other drivers is far and away the BEST form of highway travel. You can work together to get around busses, and other such shenanigans!
More than a little frazzled, and running 30 minutes behind already, we finally arrived at the venue, Studio Alchemy, at about 11am, and began the tedious task of unpacking the cars and the boxes, with the happy and surprising company of some local very free range chickens! I am so much a visual person, that our first task was just to literally unpack everything and see what we even had to work with. While we did this, Addie (artist, friend, and owner of the studio venue) cleaned and tidied around us. Then began the task of putting the decor up and together, which I literally could not have done without the help of a veritable army.
Sarah and Kayla both arrived around noon, and Kayla took it upon herself to single handedly decorate the stairwell. Sarah ran out to get us all food, while Beth set up the Paypal point of sale app on my iPad and I signed 50 books. Neena, arrived shortly after with her small family, goo gone, and command hooks to hang lights, thank goodness, and immediately they set to work stringing lights, cleaning goo stickers off candles, and generally helping to make the place look magical. Halfway through the afternoon, we abandoned the idea to make glowing cloud lanterns (at, ya know, the last possible minute) and instead Neena and her munchkins spray painted the lanterns with the same galaxy colors, which turned out beautifully.
Kelsey and Jeff arrived soon after with galaxy colored rice crispy treats and gold painted rock candies that Kelsey had made, plus the sumptuous galaxy chocolates custom made by Bloomington Chocolate Co for our event! They also helped immensely in the set up of tables, table cloths, food, photo booth, signs, and lights. Some clever group of this army (though I’m not even honestly sure who exactly) had the brilliant idea to use some of the string lights to create a constellation pattern on the ceiling, which quickly became an involved but ultimately spectacular feat of engineering and coordinating. Aron and Nicole arrived mid afternoon and pitched in as well, and I learned that Nicole is especially good at keeping people focused and on task, which I appreciated immensely!
Before I knew it, it was 5 o’clock. Every corner of the place was shimmering with galaxy or starry decor, and it was time to lock up and run home to change and get ready, so that we could be back for food and vendor set up by 6:30. This we did while blasting a medly of the wonderfully appropriate “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco, and “Rewrite the Stars” from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.
Slightly behind, but looking way more put together and starlit (have I mentioned that Leila custom made me the perfect Starlight dress? Or that I made a starlight cape? and a crown? Because….go big or go home, right? Right!), we arrived back at the venue to find another small army of wonderful friends already hard at work setting up the food table, mixing the signature “Starlight Cocktail,” and even creating a tray of glasses with starry gold sugar rims. The other local vendors arrived and set up their tables of starlight related handmade goods, everyone chatting amiably.
We turned on the last string lights, lit the last candles, sprinkled the last of the gold table gems around everywhere, and turned out the lights. It was breathtaking, and truly just amazing that after so many months of dedicated hard work from me and so many others, here we finally were. Launch day. It was here. The books were signed, the lights were out, the art was hung, the perfect twinkly playlist was exactly the backdrop I wanted, and the place had truly become as magical as I had always envisioned it.
To be completely honest, I was so frazzled at that point, that it is only truly in looking back, in looking through the pictures and the videos, that I truly have paused to take in and appreciate just how enchanting and magical it all was.
There was really only a moment or two between when the setup was “done” and when the place seemed to be flooded with guests. It’s truly a strange sensation to not only know EVERYone at the party, but to be THE reason they are there and THE person everyone wants to see and talk to. There’s a weird thing that happens where because everyone is there to see you, you don’t end up feeling like you got to talk to much of anyone for more than about 5 minutes. I think I only ate anything because Leila prepared a plate of food for me and put it in my hands. Every time I tried to make my way to the food table, I was sidelined. I don’t think I spent more than a second at my sales table, either. Megan, Beth, and Kristen get heaps and heaps of my gratitude because they manned that table and ran it the entire night like pros. I literally couldn’t have done it without them, and really, picking up or buying the books was the true reason all of these people were there!
I managed to drift about a bit and mingled with everyone. The atmosphere and really the entire party was an astonishing combination of bustling and cozy all at once. People really seemed to be enjoying the books, enjoying the decor and activity stations, and connecting with each other in marvelous ways. Its heartwarming to know that I was able to facilitate and foster so many connections in the Indianapolis Art community. Old friends Addie and Scott were unexpectedly reunited and got to catch up. Kay was able to connect with some librarian friends of mine about her recently self published novel. And most impressively, a brand new and at first uncertain artist who had answered our call out for Starlight related arts good, was able to connect with and sell her first ever painting- to first time art buyers, no less!
It was a magical night all around. Aside from the food and drinks and vendors and connections, we had an activity table in the center with dream catcher crafts, a group collaborative painting, and some loose activity and journal prompt pages from the journal. I had been really nervous that no one would want to participate in these activities, but every time I looked over, the table seemed to be full. I did a live Q&A and got to answer some great questions about the creation of the journal, it’s inspiration, and my favorite pieces.
We had a local tarot reader, who frequently had a line of people waiting to see what was in their stars. We had LED hula hoops and other flow props being used by seasoned pros and curious newcomers alike. The dance of their lights twinkled along with the live musician on the “observation deck” for part of the night. Sadly, it was far too cloudy for the telescope to be used, but I think it sill provided the perfect aesthetic for the cooler outdoor party.
Before I knew it, it was 11:30pm. Time for the raffle drawing, oracle scavenger hunt, and costume contest winner prizes to be given out. Harrison was the first to figure out the final oracle clue and so he won the scavenger hunt. The costume contest prize went to Addie for her (pun intended) truly stellar Andromeda constellation costume. The attention to detail and intention behind every part of it was breathtaking. Then to my delight, the person who I thought was a clear runner up for the costume contest for her also glittering attire held the winning raffle ticket and so got a second journal, Night Sky candle board and candles, a night sky art print, crescent moon bath bomb from Lesley Saligoe Botanicals, (seriously I love everything she has!), and a small box of Bloomington Chocolate Co’s special Galaxy Collection truffles! I think she was over the moon!
After that, everyone slowly filtered out, Sarah and I had an impromptu dance party, and my magnificent sales team informed me that the books were very nearly SOLD OUT. We were down to I believe only 5 at the end of the party, and those quickly sold in the week after. We did a small amount of surface level cleaning, then went home and rested.
It was done. Done and only beginning, all at once, as I would shortly come to discover, but that is perhaps a story for another blog post. <3