Several Saturdays ago, the library here in Okeechobee sponsored a book party for me to celebrate my newest book, Dumpster Dying. The setting for the book is rural Florida in a town much like Okeechobee. I was excited to be able to talk about the book and do a book signing. But I wanted to do something unusual for the people who attended so I made up raffle baskets. Each one featured items that might be associated with a character in my book. For example, I had one entitled "Cocktails with the Widow Davey." Lucinda Davey is the widow of the man found by my protagonist in the country club's dumpster. Lucinda is quite a woman, big in every way, voice, hair, make-up, and emotional presence. Her basket contained fake nails, purple nail enamel, red lipstick, a martini glass and the makings for a pucker sour martini. A good friend of mine won it (it probably wasn't her first choice!). I asked her the next day if she'd tried out the polish or lipstick and she said she was giving those to her granddaughter. I assume she'll keep the fixin's for the martini.
The other baskets included "Fishing for Dead Bodies with Donald" (the guy basket), "Belly Up to the Bar with Emily" (my protagonist, a bartender), Vicki's After Interrogation Rescue (with a Key lime pie recipe and ingredients to make it), and "Get out of Jail with Clara" (complete with champagne, glass, bubble bath, and razor).
It was a great book party. I had so much fun putting the free raffle baskets together and people seemed to enjoy winning them too. The laughter in the room was the best return on the minimal investment of time and money I made on those baskets. I intend to do the same when I return north and do programs on the book there.
The best outcome, however, was the ten year old girl who came to the party with her social secruity card and birth certificate to prove she had the same name as my protgagonist. Sure, she bought a book for herself and her firend, but the best thing she did for me was to give me a big hug. Wow! I don't know which one of us was the most excited.