Posted in A Stone's Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Limitless Publishing, Solstice Publishing

Looking Back to 2016 and Forward to 2017

When the year ends, it’s very common for people to reflect on what they accomplished in the previous twelve months and what they’d like to achieve in the future. As I look back at 2016, I realize how blessed I’ve been both personally and professionally. Not only did I publish my third book and several short stories, but I wrote two other novels that I hope to publish in 2017. More importantly, I’ve made many new friends among fellow authors and readers and strengthened the friendships I already had. My family and library co-workers have been supportive of my endeavors, and I’ve begun to actually feel like an author and not someone whose hobby is writing. 2016year

debbiehicksvilleMy year in review starts in January 2016 when I gave my first author talk at the Hicksville Public Library on my first Cobble Cove mystery, A Stone’s Throw. Not having had any previous public-speaking experience, I was very nervous. It was the day before a major snowstorm, but more people attended than I imagined. I thought many of them would be shopping for food or staying home. Those that came were patrons I already knew who were interested in hearing about my book. I found that I was among friends and my fear of talking in front of an audience diminished. I even started enjoying myself.

bn412162In March, I spoke again. This time, at my local Barnes and Noble store to a small group composed of several of those who attended my library talk as well as a few friends and co-workers. Their support meant so much.

mase4festivalshotJune was a busy month, as I traveled to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut to attend the MASE (Mystic Author Signing Event) with other authors of my past publisher. Although I did not talk at this event, it was my first time at a signing. A few weeks later, I was one of three local authors who attended the Levittown Library’s Summer Reading opening festival and signed books in the “Author’s Garden.” While I did not sell many books at either of these events, I met some wonderful people including local authors and now good friends, Lisa Diaz Meyer and Kimberly Amato. The month capped off with my being awarded the Cat Writer’s Association Glamour Puss Award sponsored by Hartz Corporation for my article, “Brush your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health.” BADGE_WhiteSpecialAwards

In August, I signed with Solstice Publishing for my second Cobble Cove Mystery, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and spoke at the Levittown Library’s summer closing program.

pioneerstoryIn September, the C.W. Post Pioneer newspaper published an article about my books. I was especially thrilled to be featured in the paper that I had worked on as a secretary and Features editor when I attended college.

northbellmore4betweenarockandahardplacesolsticecover

 

In October, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was published, and I gave an author talk at the North Bellmore Public Library.

An article bout my mystery series appeared in the Hicksville News in December, a week before I spoke there again about my new book and my publishing journey. Right before Christmas, Between a Rock and a Hard Place hicksvilledecember16authortalkamazonbestsellerawardwas #18 on Amazon.com’s Top 100 list for cozy mysteries.

 

 

2017year

I already have some plans for this year and quite a few dreams.

In January, I will give an introduction to my mystery series for the Hicksville Library book club who will be discussing Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

seashell-stone-finalIn February, my short historical/paranormal romance, “The Seashell and the Stone” will be published in an anthology of love stories by Solstice Publishing.

In April, a local church book group will be featuring Between a Rock and a Hard Place for their book discussion, and I will be attending the talk.

In May, I head out to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the Cat Writer’s Association Conference.

In June, I will be attending Book Expo America in New York City.

sea-scopecoming-soon-written-in-stoneI also plan to publish Written in Stone, Cobble Cove Mystery #3 and Sea Scope, my standalone psychological thriller that I am querying with agents in the hope that they will recognize it as worthy of a contract with a large publisher. Of course, I also have many ideas for new stories, books, and articles.

I want to thank you all for being part of my 2016 and hope you will stay with me as I continue my writing journey.

thank-you

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, Uncategorized

Public Speaking Tips for Nervous Authors (and other speakers)

publicspeakingI 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.

2015-11-26 16.08.21My 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.