Mankato has an amazing writing community. This south central Minnesota town is bursting with writing talent. Minnesota State University, Mankato has a strong MFA program. The professors publish, and many of the students end up living here, working here, and writing here. That means there are a lot of readings and book release parties. Parties probably don’t do much for sales, and they don’t get media coverage, so why do them?
- They’re fun.
- The networking is fantastic.
- They create buzz and energy for a book.
- The writer gets to have fun playing with the themes, characters, and settings for their books.
On Friday night, Kirstin Cronn-Mills had her release party at Tune Town, a blast-from-the-past Mankato record store. Her book, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, is loaded with music. The main character has a community radio show, and a secondary character is a former DJ who first played Elvis on the radio.
A friend made cookies decorated like record albums. Kirstin created a playlist from songs in the book. A group of friends made a “gold record” for her as a gift. (Confession: I was responsible for designing the label and I spelled her name wrong. Double DUH. Kristin instead of Kirstin. And we’ve been friends for eight years!)
Rachael Hanel, another Mankato writer, is planning her release party for her memoir We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down. I won’t give anything away, but it’s one of the most creative ideas I’ve heard. More about that this spring.
Stephen Shaskan wrote a picture book called A Dog is a Dog. It’s one of the coolest picture books I’ve read in a long time, and his web site rocks. When he does readings in bookstores and schools, he wears a dog costume and brings his guitar. Kids love it.
Lessons for my own release party … someday.