If you live in the Long Island area and have some time this Thursday night at 7 p.m., you might want to drop by the Hicksville Public Library where I’ll be talking about my new mystery, Sea Scope. In addition to showing the book trailer and reading some excerpts from the book, I’ll also be hosting a lighthouse contest for prizes and will be giving away a free, autographed copy of my book to a raffle winner. No registration is necessary. Just come on down. I’d love to see you there, and maybe you’ll win a prize or two.
On Thursday night, June 22, I presented an author talk at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library on Long Island. The program, sponsored by their Friends of the Library group, was part of their summer reading events. It was my eighth library appearance, and I will be speaking again at my home library, Hicksville, on August 18.
After being introduced by Jeannine Sharkey, a librarian at Plainview, I further introduced myself and spoke about how I started writing, my books including my Cobble Cove mystery series that include A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and my latest, Written in Stone, published April 2017 by Solstice Publishing.
I explained that since I was a young girl, I’d always loved reading, writing, telling stories, and cats. My love of books brought me to the field of librarianship in which I’ve worked for 25 years. My love of cats started me writing articles for pet magazines such as Cat Fancy after I graduated from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island where I majored in English and Library and Information Science and also wrote for the student newspaper, The Pioneer, for which I received a journalism award for my feature writing.
I shared the history of my first published story and novel. My first published story was a mystery in the Cat Crimes Through Time anthologycalled Stitches in Time and was a time travel tale that involved Betsy Ross’s cat. In 2008, I self-published Cloudy Rainbow, my first novel, that was a romance with some paranormal elements and a cat named after my beloved Floppy who passed away that year at 15.
After Cloudy Rainbow, I told the audience that I stopped writing for a time while my daughter was young and I focused on my full-time library position. In 2015, after a patron who’d read my book persuaded me to write another, I took advantage of my library’s new Gale Courses online database to take several publishing courses and ease my way back into writing. Two months later, writing in the early morning before work, I had completed the first draft of what was to become the first Cobble Cove mystery, A Stone’s Throw. I sold that book to a small publisher, Limitless Publishing, and it was published in November 2015.
Not initially intending A Stone’s Throw to become a series or a cozy mystery, I decided to continue the story of a librarian, Alicia and a newspaper reporter, John McKinney, in the small, fictional upstate town of Cobble Cove, New York with a second book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. I changed publishers at this time to Solstice Publishing who now have published the three books in the series and also several of my short stories in anthologies of various genres including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and romance.
In February 2017, I related that I also published a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, and my story, Saving Snow White, appears in the latest anthology from Solstice, That Summer Day, that was published just a few days before my talk on June 21.
I pointed out that all my books and stories include at least one cat and sometimes a dog. The Cobble Cove mysteries feature a Siamese library cat, Sneaky, and Fido, a golden retriever. The audience found it amusing when I explained that Sneaky has his own blog where he “scoops the shelves of cat litterature” and where he has interviewed a variety of other cat characters. His blog can be found at https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com. I also created a Facebook group called Cobble Cove Character Chat that is hosted by a different character from the series each month and where group members can enter a monthly contest for prizes that range from Amazon gift certificates to copies of books.
Although I had some technical difficulties with my Powerpoint slideshow, I was able to display some of my book covers and the newspaper articles that were written upon their releases. I also read some excerpts from my mysteries and the blurbs of my stories. In addition, I played the book trailers, short clips, to each of the Cobble Cove novels.
I ended my talk with information about my future publishing plans. I am currently querying agents for my psychological thriller, Sea Scope, and have completed a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, that I hope to edit and submit for publication in a few months. I may also start the fourth Cobble Cove mystery soon.
When I asked for audience questions, one guest wanted to know why I like cats so much. I explained that I like other animals but am especially fond of cats because they have unique natures, are quite intelligent, and can intuitively sense when you are sad and need comforting. I am far from alone in this interest for felines, as they are often characters in books, art, and online videos that go viral.
The evening wrapped up with a raffle for an autographed copy of Written in Stone. The winner posed for a photo with me.
I make my debut author talk this Friday, January 22nd, at the library where I work as a librarian. Since I was scheduled to speak, I’ve been a nervous wreck. I realize most authors and first-time speakers experience this fear. Here are some tips I discovered for easing my discomfort and that will hopefully result in a less anxious presentation.
Knowing that it’s best to talk naturally and interact with an audience, I didn’t write an entire speech. Instead, I prepared an outline with flexible discussion points and some simple questions I could ask for feedback from the audience. Since I’ll be talking about the publishing process and then reading excerpts from my book, A STONE’S THROW, after I thank the person introducing me and the people attending for coming to hear me speak, I plan to ask who is there to learn more about publishing. This question can be answered by raising a hand. I will then follow it up by asking who is interested in hearing about my book. Finally, I will attempt to find out if anyone is there for another reason. With these type of questions, I get to feel the audience out and also see where to focus my talk.
When preparing the outline for my presentation, I’ve arranged to display slides to correspond to each point of my talk. I was lucky to have the library’s computer technician’s help in setting up some of my book teaser graphics and Tips for Publishing notecard into Powerpoint slides. The library also recently invested in a wireless microphone, so speakers could walk around the room and not be tied to the podium. This will make it easier to interact with the audience.
My outline is flexible and can be adjusted as I talk. I plan to leave room after each part of the talk for audience questions. Beforehand, I will arrange a table with handouts, a display of my books, and raffle tickets where those attending may enter their names to win an autographed copy of A STONE’S THROW. I will choose a winner at the end of the presentation. I’m also asking those who enter the raffle to include their email addresses if they’d like to be kept up-to-date on my upcoming books and appearance schedule.
Since I’ve put a lot of preparation and thought into how I will present my talk and the way the room will be set up, this will alleviate some of my fears. Another way that I am trying to reduce the stress and jitters of speaking before a group, a fear that I’ve learned is quite common for everyone, is by taking the advice of those who speak regularly. I’m taking an online Gale Courses public speaking course called MASTERING PUBLIC SPEAKING. I will have only taken a few lessons before my talk, but the instructor’s advice has been helpful so far. In addition, I’ve found several books at my library on the topic including the classic Dale Carnegie books on public speaking.
I have to admit that I won’t be totally relaxed on Friday, but they say that’s normal. Nervousness can be channeled into a productive presentation as long as it doesn’t freeze you up and cause stage fright. Nervous energy can actually help your address. Below are a few tips I’ve picked up in my class, from my readings, and suggestions from others familiar with talking in front of an audience:
There’s nothing wrong in saying it’s your first time speaking. People will understand and sympathize with you if you let them know. Also, don’t be afraid of making a mistake or missing one of the points in your talk because most people will not notice it except you.
As you speak, it’s best to maintain eye contact with one person instead of looking out over the entire group. You can select one person from the left, center, and right side of the audience and direct your talk to each of these people individually as you move through your presentation.
To make your talk more entertaining, you might inject humor into some of the material or your interaction with the audience, but only do this if it comes naturally.
Don’t rush your talk. Speaking fast can cause stuttering and incoherence. It’s best to speak at a moderate pace. Slow down if you find yourself talking too fast.
Do a dry run of your talk in the place you will be speaking as close to the date as possible. It’s very important to be familiar with the acoustics and physical set up of the room. It will also make you more comfortable knowing the layout of the space.
If anyone has any additional speaking tips, please comment on them. Fingers crossed I will break a leg at my first author talk. If anyone is local and would like to come support me, I will be speaking at the Hicksville Public Library at 1 pm on Friday, January 22nd.