Happy Halloween! I was at my first-ever major league hockey game last night and the announcer said the average American eats more than three pounds—yes pounds—of candy on Halloween. How’re you doing on your pumpkin-sized stash so far?
If you can roll out of the house after eating all that candy, I’ll be on a romance panel and signing books at the El Segundo Public Library Author Fair, this Saturday, November 2nd from 10am-5pm. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and can tear yourself away from the perfect weather, stop by!
So tell me. What's your favorite candy? (I'm a sucker for Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cups and Ritter Chocolate with Marzipan.)
If you missed out on the Write Publish Profit 2.0 (WPP 2.0) deal back in June and you have serious regrets, you’ll be happy to know it’s back for a limited-time encore, now through October 3rd.
Treat yourself (and maybe a writer friend or two for the upcoming holidays) to this epic deal. More than $5000 worth of writing craft and business tools—including my introductory Scrivener course—for only $49.
Some of my favorite products in WPP 2.0:
Mastering the 10 Universal Hooks ($297 Value) from one of my favorite writing craft teachers, Mary Buckham, teaches you how to create compelling hooks that keep readers wanting to turn the page.
The Productive Writer ($197 Value) will help you hone your writing skills so you're no longer waiting on your ‘muse' to show up.
Love Letters to Writers ($4.99 Value) will give you all the encouragement you need at every point in your journey, especially how to manage negative feedback.
Fixing Your Plot and Story Structure Problems ($3.99 Value) will help you strengthen your story and avoid the common mistakes authors make that turn readers away.
Honestly, I think the Hooks class alone pays for it. Don’t miss out this time, grab Write Publish Profit 2.0 before it’s gone forever. And if you know a friend who might be interested, feel free to tell them about it. Thanks!
Have you ever wondered what to do with Collections in Scrivener? Or maybe you’ve never even heard of them. Come on over to Writer Unboxed today to learn all about collections and what they’re good for!
I recently gave my first public reading of one of my own books. And I didn’t die! Probably largely thanks to three years of Toastmasters in my mid twenties (one of the best personal/professional development things I ever did).
But here are a few other things that really helped make the reading (I think) a success. All of them fall under the category of PREPARATION.
Shocking, I know.
There’s little I can do about that last shot of adrenaline that hits right as I’m about to speak—I guess 50 jumping jacks is out of the question—but being prepared goes a long way toward reducing nerves.
Here’s what worked for me.
1. Know your timeframe and other conditions. Our coordinator gave us each four minutes of reading time. That’s not as much as it sounds like. For my book it ended up being about 800 words/3-4 pages.
Since this was a public library event, they asked us to keep it PG/PG-13 in case there were kids present. Given that I write steamy military romantic suspense, careful selection was required.
2. Pick a passage. My approach was to skim through looking for scenes with both main characters (since I write romance and they share the spotlight) that ended on some kind of hook and contained some action. Not necessarily suspense, just a sense of forward motion, like conflict, sexual tension, danger, a first kiss, or an important realization.
I selected five or six possibilities, restricting myself to the first quarter of the book to avoid spoilers, and then read each of them out loud with my stopwatch app. They were all too long. I chose two that came within a minute of my timeframe and sent both to a couple of friends.
Based on their feedback and my gut, I went with the one that ended with a literal bang—my heroine’s house exploding. (According to a woman who bought my book immediately after the reading, she said she had to find out what happened next, so I think this one did it’s job.)
3. Edit your excerpt. To fit within my allotted time, and—maybe more importantly—make the scene easier to understand, I edited it. I cut a couple of paragraphs of internal dialogue and description that were irrelevant to anyone who hadn’t read the previous chapters. Also, I nixed any R-rated words, per library policy.
4. Practice and Mark Up Your Words! Honestly, if nothing else, do this. A reading is a performance, so once I picked my excerpt, I did at least five read-throughs, both for timing and to practice delivery. The text did not always come out of my mouth the way it sounded in my head, so I underlined certain words to remind myself where to place emphasis for a smoother, more natural flow.
Then, I practiced until my delivery was consistent and I was happy (as possible) with it.
When it came time to read for the audience, I had practiced enough that the flow was mostly solid. The underlined words helped immensely. I relaxed and fell into my rhythm instead of racing through in an unintelligible blur. I made eye contact. I was in the moment!
5. Print the text. Surprisingly, printing out exactly the portion of the book I planned to read was probably the second-best thing I did. Turns out we had to hold our own microphone, so by using printed pages, I wasn’t trying to turn the pages of a book one-handed. I could lay my printout on the lectern, and easily flip pages.
Plus, printing enabled me to have only the words on the page I wanted to read (no distracting cross-outs), and to add my own emphasis (e.g. underlining words) in a clean, readable way.
6. Prep the audience. I didn’t want to start reading cold, so I worked up a short blurb about the book, including where it fell in the series, and then added a sentence to introduce the scene.
I also held up a print copy of my book to show the cover.
7. Breathe. If you’ve done all of your homework, you’ll be in good shape. Just relax, remember that the audience is there because they like you. Or they like books. Or they wanted cookies. Whatever the reason, they’re friendly.
8. Plan for next time. What would I do differently next time?
Look to books outside the first in series or most recent release for the best possible scene.
Mark potential live-read passages on my final revision read-through before publication so I don’t have to spend so much time searching for an excerpt.
If I’m invited to an event where people are giving readings but I’m not one of them, I’d prepare something anyway. Two authors were asked to fill in for no-shows and they had to read with no prep at all. Being ready for the unexpected makes it easy to say yes.
Put my hands on the table when getting my picture taken. 😉
Got any tips or stories of your own? Leave a comment below.
Here’s a quick update on all the fun things happening through the end of the month. I hope to see you around!
Love Romance Reads Interview
I'm over at the Love Romance Reads blog today, dishing about my origin story (as a writer), where I write, some of my favorite authors, and who I admire.
I've included lots of photos—and even a video—so I hope you'll drop by and ask me a question or post a comment!
Military Romance Facebook Party
Join me and ten military romance authors for fun and giveaways on July 30th from 12-6pm Pacific (that's 3-9pm in New York, 8pm-2am in London, and 7am-1pm July 31 in Sydney). We'll leave the party open until Sunday, so no worries if you can't make it live.
Select “Going” on the Facebook party page to get a reminder so you don't miss the fun!
Last Chance for the Summer Bundle of Romance Giveaway
The Summer Bundle of Romance Giveaway has been extended until July 31st! This is the one where I've teamed up with 30+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Romantic Suspense novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!
You could win my novel BLIND JUSTICE, plus books from authors like Sharon Hamilton, Kate Allenton, Blair Babylon, and more—just by following me and other great Romantic Suspense authors on BookBub!