My book launch party was filled with many surprise guests and references to Dungeons & Dragons

My most recent novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, published ten days ago on September 8. Originally my book launch party was slated for September 10, but that was the date of the Patriots home opener at Gillette Stadium, and I have my priorities.

My publicist understood completely, so the launch was moved to September 14.

A few weeks later, I had to point out that September 14 was Rosh Hashanah, and given the fact that my wife and many of my friends are Jewish, this date would also not work.

Please not that it wasn’t my wife or my in-laws or any of my many Jewish friends who noted the conflict, even though the date was made public and added to calendars for more than a month. It was me, a former Gentile turned reluctant atheist, who first realized the problem.

After I realized the conflict with Rosh Hashanah, we moved my launch again to September 17, which was last night. It meant that I needed to leave Colebrook, CT in the midst of a weeklong trip with my students to a YMCA camp to return home for a few hours, but that was fine.

Better than missing the Patriots game or disrespecting my wife’s holiday.

It was a terrific evening, and I thank each and every person who attended for making it a fantastic night. One of my friends counted well over 100 people in attendance, and I had many surprise guests, including:

  • My aunt Paulette from South Carolina, who I haven’t seen in almost ten years and have only seen a handful of times in the last 30 years. She and her husband were traveling to Niagara Falls to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and made a detour in order to attend the event.
  • Sarah, a high school student in Rhode Island who I have been corresponding with for almost two years about writing and publishing. I visited Sarah’s high school last year – where my former high school vice principal and nemesis is now principal – and she returned the favor by making the almost two hour trek to Connecticut to join us for the event.
  • Sara, my friend and author from Vermont, who has now driven more than two hours to attend my last two book launch events.  
  • My superintendent, who told me that he would try to attend the event, but knowing the schedule of someone in his position must keep, I hardly expected him to make it. His willingness to give up an evening to support my work meant a lot. 
  • Many of my fellow teachers and colleagues, including one who had just returned from our YMCA trip hours earlier and was sitting in the front row.
  • Maybe best of all, dozens of my former students, many all grown up and some who left my classroom just last year, all sitting or standing (there was a large standing-room-only contingent) in support.

Rather than reading from my latest novel, I spoke about how a high school teacher and an assignment on satire turned me into a writer and launched my first business, and how 20 years later a friend's request that I play Dungeons & Dragons with him and some buddies saved my writing career. I also recommended some books (including The Boy Scout handbook), took some questions, handed out some prizes, and signed many books. 

It was an incredibly fun night and well worth the wait.  

Upcoming appearances

On Saturday, May 31, I’ll be speaking at the Barnes & Noble at the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, CT at 2:00 PM. My agent will be with me, so if you have any questions for her, I’m sure that we could pester her with a few.


That same evening, Speak Up will be at Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford, CT for a charity storytelling show. I’ll be telling a story about my high school days along with seven other brilliant storytellers.

Proceeds from the event help to send four middle school students to London this summer to compete in an international literature competition. Three are my former students, so I am thrilled to be able to help them

Tickers can be purchased here.


On Saturday, June 7, I’ll be teaching a workshop on publishing at the Mark Twain House. I’ll be discussing the path that a book travels from the first words written on the page to its first appearance in a bookshop. Including in the workshop will be the sale of the book, the author-editor relationship, the complexities of publicity and marketing, the finances of publishing and much more. Perfect for the curious reader or the fledgling writer.

Call: (860) 280-3130 for more information & ticketing or click here for tickets.

On Monday, June 30, I’ll be attending a Moth StorySLAM at The Bitter End in New York hoping to tell a story if the tote bag is kind. The theme of the night is Money.

On Saturday, July 5, I’ll be performing in The Liar Show at the Cornelia Street Café in New York.

At each show, four performers tell short personal stories, but  one of the storytellers is making it all up. The audience then interrogates the cast and exposes the liar to win a fabulous prize.

Information on the show and ticketing can be found here.


On Saturday, July 19, Speak Up returns to Real Art Ways. The theme of the show is Who’s the Boss? Tickets are not yet available, but mark your calendars. It is sure to be an excellent show!________________________________

On Monday, July 21, I’ll be competing in a Moth GrandSLAM at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Tickets not yet available.

My eleven year old publicist

One of my students arrived to school on Friday with a business card in his hand.

“I booked you a speaking gig,” he told me and handed me the business card with the name of a manager of a Barnes & Noble bookstore where I have never spoken before.

“What?” I asked. “Are you making this up?”

“No,” he explained. "My mom was buying your book again, and I told the person at the counter that you were my teacher. They’re celebrating their 20th year in business and wanted an author to speak, so they said they would love to have you. So I said yes for you. Here’s the information.”

barnes and noble

In addition to the printed text, the manager of the store wrote his name, the date of the appearance and some other necessary information.

The kid booked me a gig.

I always tell me students that when they become independently wealthy, I would not be averse to them becoming my patrons. This isn’t quite patronage, but it ain’t bad for an eleven year old.

It makes me think that I’m not taking enough advantage of my army of small soldiers.

My book launch included three very special people

Last night’s book launch at Barnes & Noble was wonderful, and I thank all of my friends and family and fans for their support. We had about one hundred people in attendance to hear me read a smidgen from MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, tell some stories related to the book, recommend some of my favorite books, and answer some interesting, challenging and probing questions from the audience.

Included in the audience were three former students who were in my first class fourteen years ago. When I taught these three students, I was teaching second grade and they were seven years old. Today they are are preparing to enter their junior year in college, and yet whenever I launch a book or premier a musical or direct a Shakespearean play with my class, they always seem to find a way to be there.

I cannot tell you how much this means to me. 

Brandon was my first most difficult student, so he is also one of my most memorable students of all time. He was a handful to say the least, and he would have been a handful even with a decade of teaching experience under my belt. He was a class clown, a rambunctious boy, a slightly disinterested student and perpetually happy, which made it almost impossible to punish him. No matter what I did to make him suffer and learn his lesson, he would continue to smile. 

Today Brandon is studying to be a surgical physician's assistant and doing great. He has a mature young man who continues to impress me every time I see him. At last night’s launch, I charged the audience to go home and write something and make it a habit that they never stop. Before I had even returned home and paid the babysitter, Brandon had written about something he had overheard that night and sent it to me for my review.

I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was to see it.

If only he had been so quick to complete his homework assignments in second grade.

Liz is the reason that I teach Shakespeare to my students. I was having an especially difficult day in class. No one was listening to my instructions, students were unfocused and loud, Brandon was probably causing trouble, and so in an act of desperation, I shouted, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!” The class went quiet, everyone stared at their wild-eyed teacher, and then little Elizabeth, seven years old at the time, said, “What does that mean?”  I took a deep breath, calmed my nerves and explained that the line came from a play entitled Julius Caesar. Then Liz asked, “What’s the play about?” I began to summarize the plot of the play to the class, and for the first time in what seemed like a week, my students were paying attention to me. Seizing on the moment, I gathered them at my feet and told them the entire story of Julius Caesar and his tragic fall from grace. When I was finished, the class was staring at me in utter fascination. They asked if they could perform the play, and thus my career in children’s theater was born.

Liz was one of my best and brightest students during that first year of teaching, and she remains so today. She is also going to be a junior in college this year, and as expected, she is doing remarkably well.

Allison is one of the few students who I had the pleasure of teaching for two years in a row. After teaching second grade for that first year, I was moved up to third grade and about half a dozen students moved up with me, including Allison. I call them “The Tainted Few.” Allison was a quiet but inquisitive student  who wore the same purple sweatshirt almost every day and never stopped smiling. She has thankfully left that purple sweatshirt behind and is now attending college and studying marketing, though she also wants to pursue a career in set design and lighting. More than just my former student, Allison has become my friend and an informal member of our family. She is now the primary babysitter for our children and a fixture at family events. Clara refers to Allison as her best friend, and I couldn’t imagine a better best friend for her. 

When I began teaching elementary school fourteen years ago, I never expected that three of my tiny second graders, who who were still learning to read and write and behave, would continue to be such an ever-present part of my life. There were many other former students in the audience last night, and each of them mean a great deal to me, but these three former students from my first class own a special place in my heart. They serve as a reminder of who I once was and who I am today, and they have taught me that the bond that forms between a student and a teacher can last long after the students  have left the classroom and moved onto bigger and better things.

It’s not something they tell you about you when you’re in college, studying to become a teacher, but they really should.

The paycheck isn’t great, but the benefits are incalculable.