Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reading Primer

Last week, four members of the Saskatchewan Romance Writers (SRW) were the main attraction at a Regina Public Library (RPL) reading entitled, Romancing the Word: An Evening with Saskatchewan Romance Writers. I was waiting to see if Chick Karyn was going to post on the evening but since she hasn’t, I thought I would expand on my personal blog’s pictorial post of the event and show why I believe the evening was so successful.

Quantity of Readers

I’m so glad I was part of a group for my first reading because I don’t think I would have agreed if I’d had to do it on my own. Being part of a group, especially with women I deeply respect, took a lot of the pressure off. So did the fact that Karyn and Susan had never read in public before, either.

Pick a Contact Person

I’m not sure if the RPL contacted Annette directly or if they went through the SRW website, but Annette stepped forward as the contact person. Not only did she do a terrific job keeping us informed by email, she also set up a meeting at a local coffee shop where we got together to discuss the finer details such as promotion, timing, order of read, arrangement, d├ęcor and refreshments.

Promotion

The RPL took care of the promotion. When we had our planning meeting at the coffee shop, Annette distributed large and small posters for us to bring back to our own libraries and community bulletin boards. It was very strange to see my name in print for everyone to see. She also encouraged us to bring as many friends and family as we could. (I managed to bring my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and youngest kid.)

Timing

We agreed to meet one and a half hours prior to the posted time to practice. This was a brilliant idea because it gave us a chance to stand at the podium and actually read. We could fiddle with the microphone placement, see how our papers would sit and just get used to the idea of standing there. When it was my turn to practice, the girls told me to slow down, so I did. I practiced looking up at the imagined crowd every so often. And I decided to quietly slide my paper to the right as I finished reading it instead of flipping it over and having it crackle or rustle. Sure I had to rearrange the papers when I was done, but that one smooth action allowed me to read without a pause.

The reading was from 7-8:30 pm so we gave ourselves 15 mins each to read and introduce the next reader with the final thirty mins for questions.

Arrangement and Decor

The venue was a small theatre with a 3’ high stage and floor space in front of it. Annette did a recon on another reading and told us those readers used the podium on the floor. We agreed to do the same and when I arrived – 15 mins late - with my 11 yr old son, the room was already set up and the others had begun to practice. Beside the podium were two tables, each with two chairs and a microphone. I thought we were only going to sit there for the question period afterwards but no, we sat there throughout the reading. Karyn had brought nice white tablecloths for the two tables and even added a small bowl of roses to set the romance ambiance.

Order of Read

We wanted the audience to be able to differentiate between the 4 romance stories, so we arranged it so there would be a good mix. Susan lead off with her contemporary, Karyn followed with her contemporary suspense, I read from my historical inspirational and Annette ended with her women’s fiction. And even though the first two were contemporary, there was no mistaking the romance flowing from the first from the suspense keeping me on the edge of my seat in the second.

Refreshments

The RPL set up a table with coffee, juice and water, but it was the tray of heart-shaped sugar cookies with pale pink icing provided by Annette that caught my eye and helped set the mood as soon as you walked in the door.

The Result

The RPL staff introduced us and we started reading. Because we’d practiced, by the time we finished, it was 8pm on the nose. The audience then asked us questions for the next thirty minutes in between bites of sugar cookies. It has been rumored that some of the initial questions were ‘planted friendlies’ to get the ball rolling. If indeed they were, it worked, so there’s another tip for you. By 9pm, everyone was out.

My son, JJ spent the evening taking the photos except for the one where all 4 of us appear. The little guy was so tuckered out, he dozed off shortly after we left the city at 9:30 pm and slept for the hour’s drive home.

This reading was very enjoyable thanks to the RPL staff and the planning we (mostly Annette) put into it. Yes, I would do it again.

Have you ever been to a public reading? Is this how they normally go? How many readers do they usually have? Would you host one if you didn’t have to read? What would you read?

Update - It's Mon, March 8th and I finally have access to Blogger back. Thank you Janet for posting this for me.

Anita Mae Draper

7 comments:

Obe said...

I've never been to a public reading but what a lovely concept. I love how detailed your pre activities were. I'm sure it kept you from being hit with nerves. Awesome

Nan

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Anita. It was scary, a lot of fun and a great experience. I would definitely do a group reading again but I'm a long way from being able to do a reading on my own. Like you mentioned, the best part was reading along side writers I know and respect.

I think the things you mentioned, like speaking from the floor instead of the stage, the coffee and cookies, etc. made it a more intimate and casual gathering which took a lot of the pressure off. And being there early and practising beforehand was a must for me and helped settle my nerves!

All in all, it was a very rewarding exerience.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Way to go ladies!

Janet said...

Just a note - Anita is having problems with Blogger, she can't log on and is working to fix the problem. As soon as she's able, she'll stop by and respond to comments.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - kudos to all of you for being so brave and getting out there to declare for all that you write romance. And anyone wanting to view the pictures Anita's son took of the event - check out Anita's personal blog at <a href="http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-first-public-reading.html>www.anitamaedraper.blogspot.com</a>

Janet said...

That worked well, eh?

Anita's Blog

Maybe this time :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
I am so proud of all four of you for doing this. Congratulations on a job well done.

I really like the way you did your planning and practicing. Preparation definitely made a difference.

I've been at readings at McNally Robinson bookstore when someone has had a book launch, but I've never done one of my own. I would do a reading if I could do it in a group like you did. Safety in number, you know.

Again, congratulations. Now I'm off to see the pictures at your blog.

Jana

Anita Mae Draper said...

To everyone who visited last Thurs when I couldn't get on...

I have to stress that the pre-planning was all due to Annette who has attended readings before although I believe this was her first time actually reading.

That's the secret to these events, isn't it... you need to have someone volunteer to handle all the PR and do what needs getting done. Hats off to Annette.

And I've found out since that the route the library took to find us is through the Sask Rom Writers website. When they decided on their topic, they searched local writers groups on the web, saw our site, and got in touch with our president Lesley Anne McLeod who got in touch with us in the southern part of the province. This is just one instance where having an online presence benefitted many people.

Thanks for visiting, y'all come back now, ya hear? :)