This week’s question is: How do you prepare for an author reading?
I have a reading with several other authors this Saturday for Bookstore Romance Day, so have prepared a gift basket, gathered not only the book I will be reading from but also most of my other books to take with me. As there will be a table at the front of the store with our books I have packed a display shelf, summaries of each book, and have decided on the excerpt I will read. Obviously, this has to be practiced to allow me to look up at the audience but also practice my inflections to give the piece a real sense of drama.
If you happen to be in Edmonton, Alberta come and say Hi. We will be at Audreys Books Ltd. 10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3J5 at 2 pm. I will read from Life in Slake Patch, which is a speculative fiction romance set in a matriarchal society from a young man’s perspective. Yep, it is certainly an interesting and unique story.
Please comment below with your typical planning for an author reading, we may learn new tricks from each other!
Last week’s post was a 10 minute writing prompt: A bag of multiple buttons.
This past Saturday I had an enjoyable ‘writerly’ day – coffee with a new author friend discussing publishing, promotion, writing and getting to know each other. Then off to an author reading at Social Grounds cafe organized jointly by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and Dream Write Publishing. Although the audience was smaller than I would have liked, they were engaged and appreciative. What more can an author hope for?
I read a section of The Rython Kingdom, which some of you may know is a fantasy romance novella set in medieval England. Go figure I’m English! Anyway the book (e-book if you prefer) is actually two stories in one. The first is the story of my protagonist, Guillem Ruet a famed troubadour and how he finds himself not only relaying a tale to the King but aids in the fight against a malevolent witch aiming to destroy the King and his kingdom. The other ‘story’ is the one Guillem tells the King and his courtiers in the great hall.
Last Saturday I attended a local author reading, it was at a new venue – a local coffeehouse, Social Grounds Coffeehouse. The cafe owner is welcoming all local artisan’s to display or perform giving the community a new place to enjoy the arts.
Although this is not my first public reading, there are always steps to take in preparation.
Firstly, you must determine what you are going to read. If you have several books, will you read from a new one or something you feel will grip the audience.
Will the audience be young or adult? Tailor your readings accordingly OR take two pieces to read just in case. (Which is what I did for this reading)
If there is a time limit to the reading, practice the passages out loud. It doesn’t work well to just read it. Practice inflection and if you are good at them, dialectics.
Make sure to mark the start and finish of the piece you are reading, this will ensure you stay within the time limit.
Remember to take promotional items with you including business cards, bookmarks and of course books. A small amount of petty cash too so you have change.
Props are a good idea for children’s books. I have a soft toy I made for my Rumble book. I did take a couple of ornaments with me just in case children were present and I did read from Ockleberries to the Rescue as well as from The Rython Kingdom.
Depending on the venue, there maybe a microphone, if not it is an idea to either purchase one or borrow one. Some venues have a lot of background noise so you want your audience to be able to hear you.
Remember to smile, look up while reading and engage your audience.
Be ready with answers to questions about your book and your writing.
The event on Saturday was an all adult audience which resulted in quite a long Q&A session.
What tips can you share about author readings?
Not the most flattering photo of Karen Probert and I – just wondering what we we discussing when the camera caught us! There will be another photo to add – hopefully!
Karen is a short story expert – her books and mine can be found at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca – Karen’s: Fragments of Lives & Colouring Our Lives. Mine: Rumble’s First Scare & Ockleberries to the Rescue and also The Rython Kingdom.
New photo from SGC staff – I had to share – loved the captive audience even though you can’t see them all.
Does this describe your experience when you first shared your words? I have a clear memory of reading my very first piece to my writers circle just over four years ago. My hands were clammy and shaking and I was the color of beetroot, as a flush of nervousness took over. Prior to reading this piece I had attended a couple of meetings and just listened to everyone else. The more I thought about reading the more anxious I became but knew I would not grow as a writer if I kept my writing a secret.
To that end I used an online writing prompt – write a five minute piece using – fire, clock, certainty. This was the result.
Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.
Once I had struggled through reading it, I kept my head down waiting for a response – I’m glad to say everyone was shocked by the ending but also congratulated me on a great piece. From that moment on I was catapulted into the writing life.
Care to share an embarrassing moment with us? It can be writing related or not. Did the outcome have a positive affect?
If we are to promote ourselves and our words, reading them to an audience is something we all have to face at one point or another. Being able to practice with friends makes the transition slightly easier, I feel.
This has been a very busy week one way or another so forgive me if I have been absent for a while. My day job had me supporting and instructing new management, my daughter required homework help and my usual weekly commitments had to be fit in. I did however manage to attend two wonderful events. The first was an author reading at a local coffee shop hosted by my publisher –Dream Write Publishing. My nerves were in check, for once, and I read the entire first chapter of my fantasy novella – The Rython Kingdom. (www.smashwords.com/books/view/214247) It received loud applause and lots of nice comments. Other authors from Dream Write read their work and the whole evening was enjoyable and fun. I would recommend reciting your work in public to any author – it is a great way to share your work and actually see your audience’s reaction.
My next event was the annual Words in the Park, held at my local community center. We are extremely lucky to have a very supportive literary community in my home town so this event is now in its fifth year. Local authors get together to share, communicate and sell their words. The feeling of fellowship is wonderful and it is great to see the numerous genres spread out for all to see. You certainly cannot tell what sort of books a person writes by looking at them! I took Rumble with me and he charmed the children as always – he’s such a cute monster.
The winner of the Rumble coloring competition came by to collect her book and hand puppet too. It’s such a thrill to see children interacting with your creation. The photos will be posted at a later date.
So how was your week? Did the words flow – were you able to share them?
When I worked with K-3 writers, I always carried by button tin inherited from my mother. Each student would receive one large button. Next they would draw the person or animal wearing it and glue the button in place. It could be a nose, a toenail, a wing decoration. Anything.Then they would write a story or poem about the character. They had a lot of fun.