Launch Party and Giveaway Winners

What a weekend! Friday, friends surprised me with a gathering to celebrate Ellen’s Broom. (Thanks, Dom, for organizing it and everyone for coming :)) Sunday afternoon, I went to set up for the Ellen’s Broom launch party at Quail Ridge Books & Music. I was excited, but a little nervous too. Would it be a success?

One of the Quail Ridge promos for my launch party.

From the moment I arrived, that worry was put to rest. Quail Ridge was ready. Tables were set up for the cakes and crafts. The projector and chairs were in place. Pre-orders were stacked and waiting to be signed. Photos were being snapped of special moments. Thank you, Nancy, Carol, Linda, Rosemary and Warren!

Baker Andrea Gambrell Bigelow, owner of Yummy to Your Tummy Desserts by Andrea, was there when I arrived. She was assembling the gorgeous wedding cake she created for my event. The cake had three tiers – two sweet potato and one pound and was topped by cream cheese frosting. She also made a sheet cake for the kids that featured the Ellen’s Broom cover and a wedding broom for the table display!

Beautiful display showcasing the wedding cake and children's cake created by Yummy to Your Tummy Desserts by Andrea for the Ellen's Broom launch party. My friend Susan lent me her lace tablecloth and vintage pictures for the event.

My buddy, Susan Stewart Taylor, beat me there too. She helped coordinate the cake table, lending the beautiful lace table covering her mother gave her and historic photos of a black family and black couples in silver frames. Karen Barker was next on the scene, pitching in everywhere she could.

Sisterfriends Susan, Karen, Judy Allen Dodson and Linda from Quail Ridge coordinated the craft area where kids made brooms out of pencils and decorated them with red and pink flowers, just like Ellen.

Guests arrived and to my delight kept on coming. I was honored to have everyone there including stand-outs in the kidlit world. Celebrated children’s book author, Eleanora E. Tate, was one of the first to arrive. Tameka Fryer Brown, author of beautiful picture book Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day, came all the way from Charlotte. Frances Wood, a wonderful author who is part of a group of NC authors called WINC with me, was there too. So was Georgia McBride, founder of YALitChat.org, and Dr. Pauletta Bracy.

I was so touched at how many people came out to celebrate Ellen's Broom! There were even folks standing in the back. The store sold out of copies. Grateful and blessed.

The folks gathered to celebrate Ellen’s Broom reflected so many parts of my life. Sister moms, writing buddies, family friends, librarians, teachers, students and folks I met for the first time who already felt like friends. Groups in attendance included families from Jack & Jill – Raleigh-Wake Chapter, Jack & Jill – Durham Chapter, Jack & Jill – Capital City Provisional Group, Mocha Moms of Durham, Freedom Readers, CAT Girls, Medley Book Club. I felt so blessed. Not only were nearly all of the seats taken, people stood around the back of the store!

MLK All-Children's Ensemble sang spirituals at the launch.

The program opened with the MLK All-Children’s Ensemble singing Go Down, Moses and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. They were led by artistic director Randy Shepard. Then, I shared the story of how Ellen’s Broom came to be and read an excerpt from the book. At the end of the program, Linda from Quail Ridge told us that all of the books were sold out! Yay! Several people placed orders for more.

Following the program, Bridgette A. Lacy and Joyce Clark Hicks cut the cake for all of the guests and even saved some for me :). Kids worked on coloring pages created by Ellen’s Broom illustrator Daniel Minter and headed to the craft tables to create their broom to take home. Tameka read her lovely picture book to the kids.

Friends help kids create brooms out of pencils. It's an activity included in the Ellen's Broom craft and discussion guide made by Debbie Gonzales.

I signed books and got to greet some of the nicest people around. Loved all of the hugs, smiles and kind words.  Big thanks to everyone for helping me celebrate the debut of Ellen’s Broom in grand style.

Came home to so many amazing pictures friends had posted on FaceBook. Plus, Quail Ridge sent me a batch of beautiful photos from the launch. Wow! Just so grateful.

So this wraps up my launch celebration for Ellen’s Broom. But it’s not the end. Stay tuned for an essay contest and special tribute to couples who jumped the broom in coming months.

Please keep spreading the word about Ellen’s Broom and sharing it with folks you know. It’s available from Quail Ridge and here and here.

One last piece of business: My daughter drew the grand prize winner of the blog tour giveaway last night. Drum roll please . . . . Congratulations to Marti  for winning a beautiful Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and Ellen’s Broom poster.

Also, because I’m so grateful for everyone’s support, I added two more prizes: signed Ellen’s Broom posters. The winners are: Bola and Rita.

Thanks again for the gift of your generosity, love and support!

Blog Tour Wrap-Up

First, let me say thank you. So many people helped make my blog tour a success. Big hugs and thanks to everyone who hosted me and Ellen’s BroomDebbie Gonzales, The Brown Bookshelf, Doret, Kristi Bernard, Cynthia Leitich-SmithJacquitta McManus, Joyce Moyer Hostetter, Don Tate, Saba Negash, Baron Hilliard, Eileen Heyes, Peter Marino. I always say kidlit folks are some of the most generous people around. And it’s true.

Thanks, too, to all of the family and friends who shared the links with friends, who liked posts and tweeted about Ellen. You’ve made this celebration so special.

Along with visiting blogs, I visited two schools last week and introduced Ellen there. Thank you to the students and teachers at Mary Scroggs Elementary in Chapel Hill and Green Year-Round Elementary in Raleigh for welcoming me.

Later today, I’ll celebrate Ellen in grand style at the Quail Ridge Books & Music launch party! Yay! Program, reading and signing. Music by an ensemble from the MLK All-Children’s Choir, wedding cake from Yummy to Your Tummy Desserts by Andrea, crafts for kids. It’s an event for the whole family. Details here.

One of the most special parts of the week was the surprise party my friend Dom organized for me. Friday, a bunch of friends came out to celebrate Ellen and me. So grateful for their support and yours.

Tomorrow, I will draw the winner of the Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and Ellen’s Broom poster. Please stay tuned for that and pictures from the launch party :).

Thank you for welcoming Ellen’s Broom to the world!

Day 9

We’ve made it to Day 9! Our last top will be the wonderful blog, The Pirate Tree, where I wrote a guest post about how Ellen’s Broom connects with social justice. Thank you, Peter and The Pirate Tree, for featuring me!

Tomorrow, here at Kuumba, I’ll post a wrap-up of the blog tour. Then, Sunday, I’ll have my big launch party at Quail Ridge Books & Music. Yay! Stay tuned for photos.

Remember that anyone who posts a comment on this blog, my FaceBook author page or one of my tour stops is entered in a giveaway of a Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and signed poster of the cover. Also, each day I’ll post a fact about the history that inspired Ellen’s Broom and feature a printable for kids or special link for the family to share.

I’ll draw the winner on Monday, January 16.

Here’s our last fact:

DID YOU KNOW that for a long time jumping the broom fell out of favor. Some people felt that it was too connected to the awful memories of slavery. Then, thanks to books and a TV miniseries that featured it, jumping the broom had a resurgence. It became a way for couples to show that they remembered what their ancestors came through to enjoy the freedoms we have now.

Fun for kids:

For a challenge, try to see how many words you can make out of Ellen’s Broom. Here’s one to start you off – more. Let me know how you do :).

Day 8

Welcome to Day 8! Today, we visit Of Thoughts and Words, the wonderful blog of writer and educator Saba Negash! Thank you, Saba! She interviews me about Ellen’s Broom and offers a book as a giveaway. I’ll say that again: She’s giving away a copy of Ellen’s Broom. Yay! Click here and leave a comment on her post to enter.

Remember that anyone who posts a comment on this blog, my FaceBook author page or one of my tour stops is entered in a giveaway of a Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and signed poster of the cover. Also, each day I’ll post a fact about the history that inspired Ellen’s Broom and feature a printable for kids or special link for the family to share.

Here’s our eighth fact:

DID YOU KNOW that some couples had a church wedding ceremony after registering their marriages.

Fun for kids:

Hot off the press. Here’s an Ellen’s Broom crossword puzzle. If you don’t have the book, they’re available here and here. You can also check out your local library. You may be able borrow a copy there or ask for it to be ordered.

Day 7

Author visits are some of my favorite parts of being an author. That's me after sharing One Million Men and Me with a group of children at a NC elementary school.

Welcome back! For Day 7, we have two stops. First up is an interview at the FaceBook page for Together AsOne, a wonderful organization that celebrates and affirms African-American culture. Next, click over to PRX where friend and author Eileen Heyes interviewed me about Ellen’s Broom and turned it into an audio recording.

Yesterday, I shared Ellen’s Broom with second graders at Mary Scroggs Elementary. Yay! It was my first author visit since its debut last week. The kids were great.

Remember that anyone who posts a comment on this blog, my FaceBook author page or one of my tour stops is entered in a giveaway of a Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and signed poster of the cover. Also, each day I’ll post a fact about the history that inspired Ellen’s Broom and feature a printable for kids or special link for the family to share.

Here’s our seventh fact:

DID YOU KNOW that along with recording marriages, the Freedmen’s Bureau helped formerly enslaved people with food, education and housing.

Fun for kids:

Here’s another coloring page illustrator Daniel Minter created. This one shows Ellen carrying the broom Mama and Papa jumped as families travel together to have their marriages registered.

Day 6

Ellen's Broom illustrator Daniel Minter is an accomplished fine artist who was mentored by African-American painter and muralist John Biggers.

Day 6 takes us to Devas T. Rants & Raves, the blog of my buddy, author-illustrator Don Tate. He interviews Ellen’s Broom artist Daniel Minter who talks about the process of creating the beautiful pictures for the book. You get a peek at the art and even get to see the new Kwanzaa stamp Daniel designed. There’s a cool bonus too – a picture of Don and his lovely bride jumping the broom.

A note about Daniel’s art: It blew me away. He captured the emotions of the characters in such a profound way. Pride, pain, love, joy, he brought those feelings to life.  Thank you, Daniel, for creating powerful pictures that touch the heart. Crossing my fingers for some big awards for you. 

Here’s a quote from him about his work: “My art work is a study of memory, exploring the many ways in which memory is embedded into our past, present and future. It is the interconnection of time that contains the essence of what memory has left behind.”

Remember that anyone who posts a comment on this blog, my FaceBook author page or one of my tour stops is entered in a giveaway of a Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and signed poster of the cover. Also, each day I’ll post a fact about the history that inspired Ellen’s Broom and feature a printable for kids or special link for the family to share.

Here’s our sixth fact:

DID YOU KNOW that there’s a historic  painting called The Old Plantation that scholars think may be a period picture depicting jumping the broom. Check it out here.

Fun for kids:

Inspired by Daniel Minter’s art, author/educator Debbie Gonzales designed a meat tray craft for kids to try.

Day 5

This is a picture of the North Carolina library where I saw the cohabitation register that inspired Ellen's Broom.

Welcome to Day 5! Today, we visit The 3 R’s – Reading, ‘Riting and Research, the blog of amazing author Joyce Moyer Hostetter. Thanks, Joyce!

Remember that anyone who posts a comment on this blog, my FaceBook author page or one of my tour stops is entered in a giveaway of a Stuart’s Creations wedding/anniversary broom and signed poster of the cover. Also, each day I’ll post a fact about the history that inspired Ellen’s Broom and feature a printable for kids or special link for the family to share.

Here’s our fifth fact:

DID YOU KNOW that there have been books and even movies made about jumping the broom. The TV miniseries, Roots, is often credited with inspiring a resurgence after showing a scene that celebrated it. The book, Jumping the Broom: The African-American Wedding Planner, by Harriette Cole was another important title that helped re-introduce it to African-American culture. And last year, a wonderful movie called Jumping the Broom was produced by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Tracey Edmunds, Glendon Palmer and Elizabeth Hunter.

Fun for kids:

Here’s a coloring page created by illustrator Daniel Minter of Mama giving Ellen the broom to carry on their journey.

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