That is why I was excited by an email I received this week. I received an email from the public relations company representing Jeff Kinney. Does that name sound familiar? Well, if you have a kid between the ages of 5 and 13 your kid probably knows his name because he is the creator of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
The newest book in his popular series is The Third Wheel and it hit the bookstores on November 13. Jeff and his team are pulling out all the stops to promote this book with "The Third Wheel Book Tour" where he is traveling across the country in a huge bus and hosting dance parties to celebrate the book release.
And somehow yours truly got on the guest list. That's right. The email invited me to a private meet and greet session with Jeff where we could ask questions, take pictures and get his autograph. I about crapped my pants. Then I told Gomer and he about crapped his.
You see, in my house there are a few things that are sacred: Legos, American Girl dolls and Wimpy Kid. The Wimpy Kid books are some of the first books Gomer ever read. They are the only books he reads again and again. These books have inspired more creativity out of Gomer than anything else. He will spend hours reading the books and then he loves to tell us the funny stories from the books and then he spends a few more hours carefully copying the pictures. (Don't worry, they're for his own use, Mr. Kinney and your legal team, I promise.)
I quickly replied that of course the Punch family would be honored to attend such an event and then I held my breath. I kept waiting for someone to contact me and tell me there had been a horrible mistake and I was no longer invited. That call never came. Phew!
The morning of the event I was listening to my favorite radio station KCUR and I heard that they were going to interview Jeff Kinney in the upcoming hour. The Hubs and I sat down to listen. What an amazing story Jeff Kinney has. Let me just give you the short version: He had a popular website where he'd feature his Wimpy Kid stories. In the meantime, he worked on his manuscript for the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for almost eight years and then finally he went to Comicon and met a publisher. He showed him his work and immediately the publisher signed him up and they put out the first book. It hit the New York Times Bestseller's List and has never left. Jeff Kinney has sold 83 million copies of his books and has still kept his day job as an online game developer and designer. He created the famous children's website Poptropica.com - another Gomer favorite.
One of the points Jeff made during his interview was that he always says "Yes" to a book purchase because it encourages a love of reading in his sons. I couldn't agree more - that's why Gomer owns all of the Wimpy Kid books.
I had to let Jeff know that Gomer is his biggest fan, so of course I tweeted KCUR while he was on and they read my tweet on the air. Jeff got a little nervous I was going to punch him in the throat. As if! Gomer would kill me!
After listening to the radio show I was even more pumped up to meet him. We picked up the kids from school and headed down to the book signing. We got there and met a few other bloggers while we waited for Jeff to arrive. We were greeted by Jason, the publicist who is traveling with Jeff. Jason told us that there wasn't much time, but we could hurry and meet Jeff on his giant tour bus. We ran (really, we ran - Jason is fast) out of the building and across the street to a giant rock star tour bus where we all crammed inside.
|Can you imagine pulling into a rest stop and seeing this in the parking lot? I wonder how many autographs Jeff Kinney will have to give in bathrooms on his tour.|
Besides the book signing there was also a party in the basement of the venue. The publisher hired a DJ and provided refreshments. I heard one passerby exclaim that it looked like a "rave." Obviously that yahoo has never been to a rave. It was clearly a middle school dance that Greg Heffley would attend. There was a drawing contest where kids competed to draw their favorite characters and then were judged by the audience. Thank goodness Gomer and Adolpha have been practicing for so long, because they both aced their competition and won t-shirts (it would not have been pretty in our house if only one kid won a shirt).
|Three years of Gomer practicing his "Greg" finally paid off!|
It got me thinking. My story is not so different from Jeff Kinney's. We're both humorists who found our audience online first. He's sold 83 million books. I've sold . . . a percentage of that. He's on the New York Times Bestseller's List. I'm on an Amazon Bestseller's List for a particular genre slash subcategory slash niche. He's traveling on a really exciting book tour. I have not done a book tour, but that doesn't mean I haven't planned it already though.
First - no kids allowed, of course. I would roll up in my Honda minivan (surely Honda would let me borrow one again for my book tour). I would be greeted by let's say 50 adoring fans and a couple of people who saw a line forming and just got on it thinking there might be free stuff at the other end. We would rent a room at a Holiday Inn near an airport (because those are usually cheaper). There would be plenty of boxed wine for everyone and plastic wine glasses. I would rent a couple of those coin operated massage chairs. There wouldn't be a DJ, because loud music bothers me, but I would like to have "Magic Mike" playing on a big screen at one end of the room - with the sound off, of course. How could that not be fun? Eh, a girl can dream, right?
I want to thank LKPR, Inc. and Jeff Kinney for including the Punch family in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid festivities. We had a great time meeting Jeff Kinney and spending some quality one on one time with him. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for my kids and they will always remember that.
I really admire how hard Jeff and his team are working to promote this book and I know their days can be grueling. I was afraid that Jeff would be too busy working and he might forget to bring his wife a nice present after all his time on the road. Luckily, I took care of that. As we left the bus, I left two copies of my book Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat with Jason. Jeff is welcome to read it too, but it's really a gift for Julie Kinney. I hope she likes it!
Gomer is already three quarters of the way through the book and he'll be doing a guest post in the next few weeks with his review of the book. If you have a Wimpy Kid fan and you can attend one of the book signing events in your area, I highly recommend it!
If you're interested in purchasing The Third Wheel click here.