Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crickets? Do I Hear Crickets?

Different people have different goals. So it follows that different writers (who generally qualify as “people”) also have different goals. Some writers go for the heartstrings; others go for the scary. Still others try for some kind of intellectual enrichment or spiritual enlightenment.

Me? I just aim to entertain.

That’s my goal, to be entertaining. I want the reader to put down one of my books and think, “Man, that was one entertaining book!” Of course, “entertaining” is a rather broad, and rather vague, term. One person’s entertaining book may render another reader comatose. But I figure if I’m entertained writing it, then there will be others entertained reading it (I’m not that much of an outlier in my tastes).

What’s entertaining? Hard to describe exactly, but I know it when I read it. I like interesting characters, but not too “interesting.” Suspense. Mystery. Some humor throughout. A personal challenge for the protagonist to tackle. Unexpected plot twists. You know, stuff that compels me to keep turning pages.

My prose may be pedestrian, my settings spartan, but if someone calls my book a “real page-turner,” then I’m a happy guy. As one recent president said, “Mission Accomplished.”

open micI try to achieve the same goal when I do an appearance or book talk. Be entertaining! With that in mind, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and try something new as I promote KILLER ROUTINE. Since the book features a stand-up comic and takes place in a comedy club, I’ve put together a short (very short) stand-up routine.

Now, I’m certainly no comedian (just ask my kids). But in doing research for the series, I had the opportunity to “experience” some open-mic performances. For those of you who haven’t, the quality of the “comedy” is a bit, uh, “uneven.” So my “routine” should “fit” “right” “in.”

My “debut” performance will be this Saturday, at my KILLER ROUTINE Book Launch (If you live in the DC area, you’re invited: Sat, April 16 at 4:00 at the Reston (VA) Barnes & Noble. There will be cake!).

What’s the worst that could happen? I’m already used to plying my trade in complete silence.


Who else has stepped out of their comfort zones when promoting a book? Or anything else?



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck with your routine at your launch, Alan! Sounds like so much fun.

Oh gosh, I think every single aspect of book promo makes me uncomfortable! I'm starting to get used to it all now, though.

Beth Groundwater said...

You are a brave guy, Alan! Attempting a stand-up comedy routine is my idea of torture. I wish you the best of luck. I hope you get a lot of laughs and sell a lot of books. I wish I could be there to see you perform!

Keith Raffel said...

I would LOVE to see you doing stand-up. How about live streaming your performance?

G.M. Malliet said...

Wish I could be there. Your first launch party was so much fun.

The thought of doing stand-up makes me want to run & hide.

Jessica Lourey said...

Yup, you and GWB, taking care of business. Mission accomplished.

I feel like I step out of my comfort zone every time I go to a booksigning, and especially when I'm doing media appearances or presenting to a large group. The best advice I ever got about that was to pretend like I was acting. So, I am Jessie (Jiggy Gravy L Soul) the Author at my events, and she is a lot more entertaining and outgoing than real Jessie.

I applaud your decision to do stand-up. Can you share a joke? If you do, I'll tell you my favorite one of all time.

Jessica Lourey said...

I'll tell it anyhow.

Where do generals keep their armies?

Darrell James said...

To me, doing stand-up comedy would be just about the most terrifying thing I can think of. (Rather face a swarm of killer bees.) I appreciate those who do it well.

"Knock 'em dead," as they say, Alan. Good luck with your latest book.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I would LOVE to be at your launch. I've done standup. Trust me, it's no laughing matter. I still use a lot of what I learned doing comedy when I speak in front of crowds. Knock 'em dead, Alan. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Killer Routine!

Deborah Sharp said...

Omg ... a stand-up routine??? You are a brave, brave man, Alan.
I'm with Jess on this one: I'm out of my comfort zone every single time I ''perform'' at a signing. The fact that the Mama character takes over is a big help (And, yes, I DO hear voices!)
Break a leg, buddy.

Unknown said...

I used humor for years to AVOID stepping out of my comfort zone. Then a publisher asked me to tell the truth about what I was trying to joke about. Putting the absolute truth on paper about real events you want to not talk about can challenge even the most intrepid explorer of boundaries.

Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - Thanks, I'll need it!

Beth - Thanks. Laughs will be good. I think I'll even settle for a few groans.

Keith - You think I want to put my performance on the Internet? Ha!

Gin - Sorry you can't make it. I think it will be all downhill from last year's party.

Jess - That's what I need! A comedian name. Chuck Wagon?

In their sleevies?

Darrell - Thanks. I might bring some bees along, for comic relief. (Actually, I think Saturday Night Live already did that!)

Sue Ann - Thanks for your comment on KILLER ROUTINE! I think I'll try to channel your aura when I get behind the mic.

Deb - Unfortunately, I fear I may break both legs.

Steve - While I'll try to be funny, I may end up exploring the boundaries of silence.

Shannon Baker said...

Good luck, Alan. Good thing I'm not in the DC area or I could come heckle you until you cry. Okay, I would love to be there to support you. Jess--I knew that one. How about my favorite, How is a Scottsman and The Rolling Stones different?

Jessica Lourey said...

Alan, if you already knew the answer to my clever joke, than you are well-equipped for stand-up.

But wait, Shannon knew it, too. Was my joke just not that good? I give up, Shannon. How are a Scottsman and the Rolling Stones different?

Shannon Baker said...

The Rolling Stones say, "Hey, you, get off of my cloud." And the Scottsman says, "Hey, McCloud, get off of my ewe."

Feel free to use that.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Yikes! Good for you.

The closest I ever came to something like that was the time I was to do a program at a Big Chain bookstore. When I arrived the manager told me she had set up a mic in the cafe area, and I should "just start talking." To a crowded cafe of people who definitely did not come to listen to me.

You'll be great! And you'll no doubt get lots of good material for the next book.

Alice Loweecey said...

Break a leg!

Cricket McRae said...

Hearing Crickets isn't always bad -- this one would be laughing, I'm sure. I admire your willingness to step into the limelight. You'll be great.

That live streaming idea isn't half bad, either...

Alan Orloff said...

Shannon - Hecklers? You mean I need to be ready for hecklers?? Nice joke, by the way, if I get into trouble, I'll pull it out.

Jess - What did they call the young Abe Lincoln?

Kathleen - How did that "just start talking" gig go for you? (That's my Plan B.)

Alice - Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of.

Cricket - Oh, no disrespect intended! That streaming video idea may not be half bad, but it sure ain't half good.

Alan Orloff said...

Babe Lincoln.

Jessica Lourey said...

Alan, I think you may want to borrow from Shannon's material. ;)