Friday, May 24, 2013

Reading aloud to total strangers ... No Sweat!

I knew I had the Book Expo coming up. I was an attending author, but when I arrived, I wasn’t on the schedule. An Omen! I should have cut and run right there. But as I turned to escape, there she was … the marketing arm of Intrigue Publishing. And she recognized me.
So they set up a table for me (actually, I had to set up my own table). I don’t know why since the only book I had was the galley copy, and someone actually wanted to buy it. I should have taken the money and run. But I decided to throw myself into the fray.  
The author before me was a Medium; you know—a guy who channels ghosts and spirits. Tough act to follow. But I stepped up, remembered to introduce myself, remembered to mention the title of the book, gave a bit of background, and all was well.
Then I started to read.
Now when I practiced on my two dogs, they gave good feedback, head tilts, wagging tails, and the occasional ear scratch. Murphy, my Lab, actually growled at the neighbor when he started his lawnmower because it drowned me out.  In front of them, I did OK.
 When I found myself in front of a bunch of faces staring up at me, I tried to draw on speaking techniques I learned in my college Speech class; don’t make direct eye contact, look at foreheads, put your head on a swivel, talk to the back wall. And it worked … until I began reading from memory instead of the page. When I used a name I had changed, I lost my momentum. I began stumbling over a ten-word sentence instead of just ignoring the misstep and moving on. The more I stumbled, the more nervous I became. Like a man in quicksand, I began sinking fast. I hurried to the first period I could find, and stopped reading, apologizing profusely for butchering the English language in the process.   
It was ugly.

Then, people I know and trust, LIED to me!
"You were good…."
"You did fine…."
"I have it on video."
"We really didn’t notice how bad you screwed up."

"Don’t worry—nobody knows who you are anyway!"

Thankfully, that last comment is true.
And, I can always change my pen name if they ever find out.


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