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, décor and refreshments.
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.)
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.
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 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