Discover more from Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith
Book Tour Diary
Not the newsletter I planned for today, but maybe the newsletter we (I) need?
Friends, I had a different newsletter planned for you today. (Yes to everyone messaging me: It’s on Michelle Obama’s new kid drink!)
But between traveling for two book tour stops last week (more on that in a minute) and a lockdown at my kids’ school yesterday (everyone is safe, but we didn’t know that for over an hour and just fuck this country’s lack of gun laws!)—that piece is going to need another few days. So thank you for being the kind of community who gets that. (Reason 947 why I love writing a newsletter more than juggling the immoveable yet often nonsensical deadlines of freelance writing!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about community over the past few weeks of this book happening and then, life happening around it/in the middle of it. My local community (and farther-flung best friends) who showed up for the launch. The instant community that springs up between myself and other authors also launching a book this spring, because we all get the specific kind of tired this is. The perpetual community of my various group chats, with newsletter colleagues, with best friends, with mom friends, with book club friends. And then yesterday: The unexpected community of sitting in a coffee shop with three parent friends, everyone numb and panicked and refreshing their phones, waiting for word about what was happening in the school. We could have stayed home alone, but it felt better to wait together.
I don’t have any profound thoughts about how we all live with the perpetual threat of school shootings. I don’t even have any coherent thoughts about book writing, or fat politics, or diet culture, right now. I also don’t have a graceful pivot from one to the other — it turns out that my kids were never in any real danger yesterday, but it doesn’t feel that way to our bodies and it so easily could not have been that, because America. But I do have a lot of great photos of community in action over the past few weeks. And I know that showing up for and with each other is the only way we make it through any of this.
So here’s a little photo diary for you of some of the recent book events and book-adjacent fun. And thank you, as always, for being one of my most treasured communities.
Here I am with the wonderful Kelsey Miller, who moderated my pub day event (which now feels like five years ago, but actually only three weeks!) at McNally Jackson at the Seaport, which is a beautiful bookstore in NYC just a block from my sophomore year dorm. The neighborhood has changed a little in 20+ years! The Express where I bought my Going Out Tops in 2001 is now a very bougie food hall! (Not mad about it.)
One of my very best friends, Kate Tellers, the person who taught this introvert how to be a public speaker, regularly texts me moment-appropriate Indigo Girls song lyrics, and brought her Queens Mom Friends (some of them live in Brooklyn but they all spiritually identify as Queens?) who are also BT readers. They took me out for margaritas and guacamole afterwards and I love them very much for it.
Here I am with my beloved Crystal Maldonado, who moderated my event at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT last week. This one was special because I grew up right next door to Madison and will never not feel nostalgic on the Connecticut Shoreline, especially in springtime. And I worked at RJs through high school and college, so it’s always lovely to go back for a book event. Here we are chatting about that (and the time Crystal stood in line there for five hours to meet Lauren Conrad!).
Here we are getting ready to talk. I used to set up stools for author events right there!
Doing a hometown event also means the possibility of awkward encounters with people you went to high school with and thankfully there were none of those, but there were some lovely old friends there and family. Here is me signing a book for my 15-year-old niece! She is the greatest kid (and my own kids’ personal hero).
Then it was on to Boston, for an event at the Museum of Science with the brilliant . We texted so much about what we were both wearingand then forgot to take a photo together because we spent the whole pre-event hour just chatting backstage. But we do look nice ON stage, too.
I also forgot to get a photo with my sister and brother-in-law who came out for this one and brought their housemate and her cute baby, and honestly, what kind of photo diary even is this. I did make my sister take some pics of me signing books under this giant Mars though, because when will that ever happen again?
SO many Burnt Toast readers came out for this one and I loved meeting every single one of you.
And then the next day, Lynn and I had breakfast with a bunch of other amazing authors who were also in town for an event and when I try to sum up the joy of this morning, all I can say is: What is the Bechdel Test except it’s four moms not talking about their children for two hours straight. (We also did not talk about men but that seems less surprising.) We did conspire quite a bit about setting boundaries and getting paid and it felt fucking radical except it really shouldn’t. Authoring can feel very solitary a lot of the time, so hooray for writer community, especially other women writers trying to make the whole process less opaque. Also: All the shakshuka!
If you don’t already follow their work in all of the places, at least make sure you’re reading their books and their Substacks:author of Mother Brain who writes author of Essential Labor and Like A Mother, who writes author of Want and Flight, who writes author of Momfluenced, who writes
OK, friends. Thanks for rolling with this little photo album of an essay! We’ll get back into the real work later this week with a podcast episode about fat activism and fat community. Love your people. It’s the start of everything else.
Don’t worry, I’m thinking about a whole separate newsletter about book tour clothes.