This coming Saturday, I have my very first in-person appearance since my latest novel, Beyond the Ghetto Gates, was published, to be followed with another two within the week. I honestly wonder if I’m ready to be in the same room with actual people.
Beyond the Ghetto Gates launched on April 7, 2020. I think we all know why I missed out on every in-person event that I’d planned – including the party I wanted to hold to thank people who contributed to the novel in a variety of ways, my major launch party where I’d had a full Jewish Italian menu planned, a number of book store appearances “in conversation” with fellow authors, and a number of book clubs and women’s meetings.
Since all this was planned for the spring, I’d gone out and bought a few on-sale dresses, in lovely florals and bright colors. I never got to wear any of them. (And as I’m writing this, I wonder – will they still fit?)
Naturally, not one of my planned in-person appearances happened.
Instead, I ended up sitting in my chair in my study, connecting with people over Zoom. In many ways, this was the silver lining of the pandemic – I could “visit” with folks much further distant, including California, Florida, Chicago, and Connecticut. There were no masks needed. And even for the local events, I didn’t have to drive – a boon, now that my old eyes don’t like to be out behind the wheel at night.
Instead of wearing dresses, I ended up picking out my nicest blouses and fun earrings, since all you saw of me was from just below the neck. Dare I admit that underneath them, I was wearing sweatpants? Or that I adjusted my Zoom camera to smooth out my appearance?
But I have to say – I did miss the excitement of being there in person, of being buoyed by the audience’s response to my presentation, of being able to sign books afterward. I found myself watching – in those little Zoom squares – one or two members of the audience who showed their participation on their faces, since that was all I could see.
It was always a disappointment when people blacked out their screens, but having attended a few online presentations on my own, I do understand it. How else can you sit there and have a snack or a meal while enjoying the talk?
So starting next week, it’s back to in-person events. I’ll be speaking at B’nai Keshet in Montclair this Saturday around 11 AM, giving a talk on Assimilation vs. Maintaining Jewish Tradition (a perpetual theme of mine in my writing). You can actually Zoom into this talk if you’d like – the best of both worlds! Then, on Monday at 1:30 PM, I’ll be speaking at the West Orange Library. And finally, on Friday at 8:30 AM, I’ll be with my very first book club at a local school.
I guess I’ll go try on some of those dresses. Nice to get out of those sweats!