Life Cycle of a Writer ~ Jan Brigden ~ the fear and ultimate joy of my first author talk …

Earlier this year, my lovely publisher Choc Lit  announced they were off on tour and would be hosting events at various libraries around the country. On offer was an afternoon of author talks, Q&A sessions, fun quizzes, goody bags, a chance for aspiring authors to pitch their manuscripts to a Choc Lit editor. Oh, and plenty of choccies!

Tour-bus-with-books

When I heard that one of the events would be in Southampton, not on my doorstep, but a place I can get to by train direct from East Croydon, I was tempted to volunteer to be part of the author panel, but couldn’t see past my morbid fear of public speaking. I slept on it, talked to Mr B and as much as the thought of it gave me palpitations, a lingering ripple of excitement in my tummy told me I should go for it; that it would be good for me.

So I fired off an email to the Choc Lit team and before I could bottle out, booked my train ticket.

No backing out now, Jan, I thought.

I was Southampton-bound.

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Alongside me on the panel would be my fellow Romaniac, Laura James, who has written three books for Choc Lit, and Evonne Wareham and Liv Thomas (who writes under the name of Isabella Connor) – both ladies having published two books each. We’d be required to chat about our routes to publication and about our books themselves.

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My book!

 

Hideously nervous, I put together some notes, both detailed and bullet-pointed. Laura had given me a great tip to use highlighter pens for buzz words and phrases.

Other advice I received, all of which I was hugely grateful for, was as follows:

  1. Remember to breathe properly. Might sound obvious, but when I was practising my read-through, this was something Mr B picked up on, along with my habit of saying “Erm!” after nearly every sentence.
  2. It’s fine to slow things down if you feel yourself wanting to canter through it. It also gives you a chance to scan your notes if using them for reference as I did.
  3. Keep your focus on your audience soft as you begin,  until you settle into your rhythm, rather than trying to gain eye-contact with too many people too quickly.
  4. Be yourself. Smile. If you fluff a line, clam up or laugh inappropriately, it will be forgiven. You’re human. It’s your first time.

All of these tips proved invaluable, as did the public speaking/confidence hypnotherapy recordings my best friend sent me which I found really relaxing. Not for everyone, granted, but they did help me to focus on the ‘can do’ rather than ‘can’t’.

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I also drew comfort from my own memories of attending these types of events, sitting in the audience with my pad and pen, taking precious notes and listening to authors talk about their books and feeling so pleased that I’d gone along, as I learned so much. If I could in any way encourage the aspiring authors among our audience and convey to the readers and bloggers among us how very grateful we are for their time and support, it had to be worth all my doubts and fears, didn’t it?

And so off I set, armed with my wad of notes, caught my train to Southampton, which another of my lovely fellow Romaniacs, Sue Fortin, hopped on en-route as she was coming along to the event. We then bumped into Laura at the station and the three of us went for lunch, with both Sue and Laura doing everything they could to ease my last-minute jitters, having both given author talks themselves.

This nice plateful of food helped …

 

Jan Italian Meal

When we arrived at the venue, the rest  of the Choc Lit team welcomed us. I donned my T-shirt and after a lovely meet and greet session, we began our talk.

I heard the quiver in my voice as I began, was conscious of flapping my hands about a bit. I remembered everything I’d been told, though, and managed to engage the audience. We had a few laughs and talked about funny research memories and everyone on the panel had a different aspect and angle which gave the talk balance. I can’t deny I let out a long internal “Phew!” when my turn was over, but if I’m honest, I loved it and felt very proud that I’d seen it through.

FOUR CHOCLITEERS

L to R ~ Evonne Wareham, Me, Liv Thomas (Isabella Connor), Laura James

We then had a fun quiz, lots of interacting and more laughter and the whole event was professionally organised and wonderfully informal. We had some fantastic feedback and even managed to sell a few books. The chocolates kept coming throughout and it was great to meet so many of the people I speak to online.

 

Thank you to everyone at Choc Lit, readers, bloggers, writers and Southampton Library for helping to make my first author talk such an enjoyable, memorable experience.

Should anyone be interested in future Choc Lit library events, have a peep here Choc Lit on Tour for ticket info and notice of who will be in attendance.

Jan  X

 

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#ReadOnGetOn

We’re joining in with Read On Get On and Southampton City Libraries with their campaign to encourage reading. They’re asking everyone to share photos of where they read and to share those pictures on facebook and twitter using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn. All the details can be found on their website here. So here are some of the places we read:

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It's south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up. Daisy thinks so, too.

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It’s south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up.
Daisy thinks so, too.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: Reading in the garden - such a treat after the winter

Sue: Reading in the garden – such a treat after the winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My girls enjoying our local library!

Catherine: My girls enjoying our local library!

 

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

 

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It's moulded to my shape!

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It’s moulded to my shape!

 

So please join in on Facebook and twitter showing us where you read using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn.

 

Southampton City Libraries’ Writer In Residence 2015

I’m delighted to be able to say during 2015, I’m working with Southampton City Libraries to help promote writing and literacy within the community.

Catherine Miller - Writer in residence and mum of (now toddler sized) twins

Catherine Miller – Writer in residence and mum of (now toddler sized) twins

Over my years of attempting to become a published writer, Southampton libraries have been hugely supportive. Everything from assistance with research, helping keep the twins entertained with Tots and Tunes, and assisting me when my printer died and I had to get my partial off to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme.

This year I’ll be spending time in Southampton Libraries getting my manuscript finished and working with the libraries on some events to help encourage writing and reading. I’m going to keep an update of what I’m up to on this blog.

The first thing I’m doing is starting a writing group. As a mum of twins, finding time to write can be difficult. I’m starting Southampton Scribes to help those who want some dedicated writing time and wish to meet fellow writers. The first meeting is this Thursday. If you, or anyone you know are interested in joining, please email me on the address below.

Southampton Scribes
An evening writing group designed for anyone wanting to find writing time. An hour of dedicated writing with the chance to meet and chat with fellow writers. All levels of experience welcome. Writers can choose to work on a current project, or work on a set theme. Meeting roughly once a month on a Thursday at Southampton Central Library.
Please contact Catherine Miller if you would like to join.
catherine@katylittlelady.com