A few years ago, I suddenly had an urge to make a wish list that I wanted to accomplish throughout my life. The first thing that popped out of my head was to own at least a signed copy of any one of Nicholas Sparks’ books and meet him personally. It may seem farfetched since I live in the Philippines and he lives in North Carolina, but if one is passionate about something, nothing is impossible. I even planned to visit USA in the future and attend any one of his book signings just to make my dream happen. Little did I know that God had a better plan for me.
I was subscribed to Nicholas Sparks’ newsletter and after receiving his April Newsletter through email, I was ecstatically surprised to find out he’ll be coming to the Philippines this year! I immediately asked my parents that whichever day the book signing event will fall on, I will definitely not miss this one. I cannot just let this opportunity slip out of my grasp. Thankfully, my parents agreed. After months and months of waiting, National Book Store finally announced that on the 28th of October, they will be hosting the Nicholas Sparks book signing to be held at the Podium.
I was so excited anticipating the day of the book signing event that I even marked my office calendar with a heart drawn on it, too. I couldn’t help it; I’m just an avid fan of Nicholas Sparks! I even made sure I finished the new book before the event, and fortunately, I finished reading it on time.
When The Best of Me was released in all National Book Store branches, the book came with a coupon. That piece of paper I took a shot with the book served as the lucky draw coupon. It also contained the mechanics for the event, informing the buyers that upon registration, each person had to present the coupon to be eligible for the lucky draw. The first fifty (50) early birds who arrive at the event will automatically be allowed to exchange their coupons for a guaranteed signing pass. For the rest, once they participate in the lucky draw, a winning stub will earn them a signing pass. At first, National Book Store will only accept 700 signing passes, but they later on increased it to 1,000 signing passes.
It was kind of a relief for National Book Store to increase the number of signing passes to be distributed. When my sister, my friend, and I arrived at the Podium around 8:45AM, a long line had already been formed despite the fact that the mall’s opening schedule is at 10AM. I wanted to be included in the first 50 early birds, but to no avail, it didn’t happen. I never expected a lot of people to be that early. Anyway, time seemed to pass by slowly while waiting under the heat, but when 10AM struck, we were finally allowed to go in.
The first 50 early birds already took seats while we fell in line again for the lucky draw.
I was actually amazed by how organized and secured the process of the registration and the waiting line were. The marshals and security guards were surely prepared and they handled it well. Kudos to the fans, too! They understood the mechanics of the book signing event and they were very patient waiting for hours while they still put a smile on their faces. The wait may have been long, but they found a way to comfort themselves even just for a while. The image above showed some fans in line sitting as they wait for the registration to start. The line, in fact, reached up to the fifth floor of the mall.
Around 11AM, the registration began and upon my turn, I was able to draw a winning stub and was numbered 115. My sister and my friend were numbered 114 and 116, respectively. Before I drew from the ballot box, I was actually a bit nervous while feeling confident at the same time that I’ll earn a signing pass. Good thing my guts didn’t failed me at this desperate hour.
Around 4PM, my sister, my friend, and I found a spot on the fourth floor to get a better view of the stage while we waited for the event to start. The second floor, where the event would be held, was already occupied by the fans. The same goes for the third floor.
As I looked around the mall to ease my boredom, I noticed a group of girls working on a poster for the event. I think the poster read: LIFE HAS SPARKS BECAUSE OF NICHOLAS. In my opinion, the statement was thought and structured creatively and at the same time, inspiring, too.
When the clock struck 5PM, fans began to stand up and from what I witnessed, a fan from the crowd screamed which made a bit of commotion that led to some other fans screaming as well. In fact, it was only a false alarm. The fans were just getting excited. Haha!
And then the moment the fans had been waiting for, including me, had finally came true. Crowds began to gather more closely to catch a glimpse of the famous bestselling author Nicholas Sparks. Watching the crowd two floors above made me think of a swarm of bees trying to pick nectar from a single flower.
When Xandra Ramos-Padilla, the Purchasing Director of National Book Store, came out on the stage, the fans had gone extra wild – screaming here and there, holding up their cameras to try to capture the special moment. Ah, the feeling of adrenaline rush.
Finally, after giving a bit of introduction to Nicholas Sparks and his works, Xandra Ramos-Padilla called on to Nicholas Sparks to enter the stage. The screaming just increased a hundred times more! And here he was, waving at all his fans as the fans waved back, I included.
Then there was a short segment of Question & Answer portion wherein Nicholas Sparks was asked about his new book, The Best of Me, his writing process, his perception about love, and lots more.
Afterwards, Xandra Ramos-Padilla introduced a special guest to Nicholas Sparks. This special guest was the first early bird to arrive at the venue. Shockingly, the girl stood in line since 2AM in the morning! That action itself proved her determination to meet Nicholas Sparks and she was deservedly rewarded. From what I remembered, Nicholas Sparks signed three of her books that she brought and he even hugged her! What a lucky girl. The girl was besieged by the situation that it brought tears to her eyes. I’m sure Nicholas Sparks made her day and the outcome of her patience was definitely worth it.
And then we proceeded to the book signing segment. To avoid any possible problems and uproars, National Book Store divided the signing pass stub by batch. The first batch would consist of those who had signing passes numbers 1 to 50. The second batch would be those numbered from 51 to 100, so on and so forth. So my sister, my friend, and I were in the third batch. I was so excited and nervous that my body got warmer and my knees started unbuckling a little bit. I had never been that close to a celebrity.
I couldn’t believe I had an opportunity to personally meet Nicholas Sparks face to face. Excitement was even an understatement. Because of this immeasurable feeling, I couldn’t get to say more meaningful statements or remarks. The only words I uttered were: “Loved all of your books.” I was so mesmerized by his mere presence and handsome look that it left me speechless. I even forgot to shake his hand! Sigh. Either way, at least he thanked me and I was able to take a picture with him.
At the end of the day, I was more than happy to own a signed copy of a Nicholas Sparks’ work. After years of waiting, my dream has finally come true. I couldn’t ask for more. And I never regretted to have attended this event.
This is the first book signing event I have ever attended.
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks is the first signed copy I get to own for the first time in my whole life.
The first of my wish list: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.