Tomorrow I greet a bunch of strangers and hopefully regale them with the story of my 37-year journey writing the Lisen of Solsta series. This is hard for me (like it isn’t hard for everybody?). It’s hard because I have an anxiety disorder. It’s hard because I’m a zaftig woman, a very zaftig woman, and people tend to judge me as not terribly bright on first impressions. It’s hard because I’m an introvert who is uncomfortable in groups of unknown people. It’s hard because… Oh, damn, it’s just hard.
I’ve prepped my presentation. I’m planning on speaking off the cuff, but I’ve written out notes to keep me on topic (and not wondering off on some tangent or other and using up valuable time—an hour is a lot but not unlimited). I’m taking a few props. I chose not to use PowerPoint this time as I’m not familiar with it and couldn’t think of more than one slide I’d actually want to put up for this particular “lecture.” So I’ll be passing around the various self-published versions of the story—one of which I actually printed and bound myself with the help of my father—for them to ooh and ah over. (I’m not actually expecting oohs and ahs, but a little appreciation of my commitment would be nice.)
I’m taking a sign-up sheet in case they want to be notified of the publication of book 3 (hopefully near the end of December). I have a hand-out of my web sites and sites that might be helpful if any of them want to self-publish. I have four pens, a sign that says “Please make checks payable to…,” and a butt load of book marks. Oh, and books. Yes, I’m taking plenty of books. Just in case, you know. And a single printed-out manuscript copy of a scene from Fractured.
Do you know how hard it is to pick a sample to read in front of a group? When an agent or publisher requests sample chapters, they mean chapter 1 through whatever number of chapters they ask for. Easy-peasy. But for a reading, I feel that a true taste of the spirit of the book is required. This meant finding a scene where Lisen was at her outspoken best, but one where I wasn’t giving the bank away by reading it. I tried several scenes from both published books and finally settled on the end of Chapter 6 from book 1. Lisen is telling off the sooth who got her into all this trouble in the first place, and it contains a lot of questions that I do eventually answer (but not until the end of book 3).
So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow (Saturday, November 22)—at a library in Ontario, California, shaking inside but smiling and breathing deeply to keep the nerves from sending me running from the room. I plan to bring my MP3 player so I can listen to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” before I begin—you know, just to shake out the cobwebs. I’d like to find someplace private, say, the bathroom, where I can dance like white girls dance. And then I’ll step out and shake the room up. Well, at least I hope so. Wish me luck.