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My first book event and the magic of Suckasunny Day

Yesterday was my first ever book event for Deficient, and I had an absolute blast!


I had a blast sharing my debut novel #Deficient with more people than I could have imagined at Suckasunny Day in New Jersey!☀️Thank you so much for your interest in my book… I hope you love it! 💜 If you’d like to read Deficient, please check out the link in my profile or visit #newjersey #njwriters #njevents #njauthors #yafiction #yascifi #superherostory #bookevent #authorevent #booksigning #meetandgreet #booktok #yabooktok #scifibooktok

♬ F**kin’ Perfect (Radio Edit) – P!NK

I woke up at 3am with jetlag, which gave me time to make sure I had everything in order.

  • Foldable table and chairs…✔
  • Pull up book banner…✔
  • Hardcopy and paperback books…✔
  • Free bookmarks…✔
  • Thank you notes…✔
  • Pens for signing…✔
  • Mother who wanted to sit at the table and help out…✔

Still as protective as a mama bear, my mother alerted me to a book-banning movement happening in town. While living in Kenya, I’ve read stories about such bans and the growing suspicion of books that address topics like gender, race, and the Holocaust. That this is happening in my conservative hometown isn’t so surprising, but reading about it and being immersed in it are two very different things. Attending Suckasunny Day as a writer felt like entering a minefield. One wrong step and…BOOM!

My mother and I initially set ourselves up in the back by the cemetery, but the event organizers let us move into a prime spot near Main Street, in between the Avon stand and town podiatrist.

Leah holding the Deficient fort in front of a hazy cemetery…with glamorous hair.

I organized the books and flyers and fumbled with the banner. My mother, Leah, laid out the bookmarks and asked me how her hair looked in the pre-storm humidity. “My hair does not do well in this weather!” she said.

In the neighboring stand, the Avon lady, as she is commonly known, lent me her clips to secure the banner when it kept blowing over in the wind.

“I know a thing or two about these events,” she said. “I’ve been doing them since 2005.”

The first people to visit were a teenage boy wearing an Argentina soccer jersey and a woman who was his support worker. The woman explained that the boy wouldn’t be able to read the book, but she asked about it anyway. When I explained the story, her eyes widened.

“This message is so important,” she said. “I work with people with autism. They are often made to feel like they can’t do things or are missing something. But they have superpowers. It’s our job to help them discover what they are.”

I almost burst into tears. And that was only the first set of visitors!

The second pair to visit were Robyn and her support worker, Sufiya. Robyn is near and dear to my mother’s heart. She used to work at Mom’s hair salon once a week. Robyn giggled when she saw me and said my hair was so much longer than it was before. She picked up a book and flipped through the pages. She told me she loved me and how happy she was to see me again.

More people stopped by. Tara, to whom I dedicated the book, came with her parents and son. My brother and sister-in-law brought their kids, Lucas, Sophia, and Caiden, who melt my heart every time I see them. Lucas said he loved how the book’s cover felt, which was enough to inspire Grandma Leah to buy a book for him (even though I’m pretty sure he has one coming in the mail).

I also saw several friends from high school who I haven’t come across in years. One, Laura, told me that she showed her father a video of my book shortly before he passed away. It triggered a memory he had of witnessing my father on the receiving end of an irate dad at a town baseball game. “He remembered how calmly your father responded to that situation,” Laura said. “Always keeping his cool and never yelling.” I thought of my father, who at that very moment was stranded in Toronto after a wrestling event due to thunderstorms. Watching a larger-than-life wrestler opt for tranquility over physical force must have been a memorable sight indeed.

Another friend, Joyce Anne, with whom I shared the same yellow school bus growing up, pointed out that we hadn’t seen each other in twenty years. She now has a bouncing child named James who was very upset about the recent road paving of Mooney Mountain that stopped just short of their house. Joyce Anne, who recently lost her father, looked fondly at my mother, who was chatting with others.

“Enjoy this time,” she said. “I’ve learned how quickly it can go.”

At one point, I excused myself to use the bathroom, so Mom had to field the visitors on her own. She tried explaining the book to one lady and told her about the superpowered dodgeball scene. “Dodgeball isn’t allowed in schools anymore,” the lady objected. “I can’t read this book!” I think my mother kept her calm in that situation, the way my father had done so many years ago at the baseball game. Laura’s father would have been proud.

Edna, my Honduran friend and dynamite political activist, stopped by and told me how the recent approval of her work permit means she will finally be able to visit Honduras to see her mother after a quarter century apart. Edna invited me to a Hispanic heritage event at the public library that she’s organizing next month so I can share the book. As we stood next to one another for a photo, she kept whispering, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” as though she were standing next to Lady Gaga. I think she was even more excited than I was about the book’s release.

I was delighted to see Mike and Nacie Arnold, parents of one of my closest childhood friends, Danny. Nacie is a wonderfully open-minded and creative woman who was like a second mother growing up and always encouraged our artistic interests. She brought Danny and me to Suckasunny Day the last time I was there in 1994 (to my best guess). Danny and I were little and hyperactive and wanted go to Blockbuster to rent videogames. But I still remembered the day distinctly – the people, the stalls, and the fun handouts. I passed out free bookmarks to people as if I were Opera, hoping to lend them similar memories. “One for you…and you…and you!”

“I’ll definitely use these,” one boy said. “I have so many books.”

I met several of our town council members, many of whom were customers at the hair salon. The town council is one hundred percent Republican, but that didn’t stop them from supporting the book and buying copies for their family members.

As I gave them their signed books, a part of me felt like I was handing them a grenade. Will this be something that offends them irrevocably to the point of wanting to see it banned? Or will it do what I hope it can do – put the reader in someone else’s shoes and inspire a little bit of empathy at a time when so many of us are divided?

Time will tell on that front, I suppose. But for now, I could bask in the pleasantness of the day and the sunlight of Succasunna, New Jersey. The weather channel had predicted thunderstorms, but all we had was sunshine.

“You should really bring a tent to these things,” the Avon lady suggested. “It will protect you from the UV rays.”

I took note of the unsolicited tidbit and thanked her.

“I’ll remember that for next time,” I said.

Signing books at Suckasunny Day in Succasunna, New Jersey. 09-09-2023.
Published inBlog


  1. Nacie Nacie

    Love your memories and reflection of the day! May your creative endeavors serve to open hearts across the land!!

  2. Leah Solis Leah Solis

    It was wonderful to see so many old friends supporting Michael…

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