Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My First Reading (Or How I Learned Shouting SEX! VAMPIRES! ZOMBIES! SEXY VAMPIRE ZOMBIES! Always Draws a Crowd)

A few weeks ago I offered to help out at the Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America booths at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival. I thought I would just take an hour or two in a booth to tell people about what the organizations did. Meetings, community of writers, blah blah blah. Then I received an e-mail telling me I would be one of five authors featured in the festival and that I was supposed to do a reading. That hundreds, possibly thousands would be at the festival. Needless to say I was a little daunted by this prospect. I hadn't been in front of an audience since high school in my acting days. What if I burped? What if I forgot how to read? What if I was boring? So the day before I practiced three times, only stumbling a few times but quickly covering up like I was taught in acting class. I was as ready for the hundreds who might show up as much as I could be.

I didn't need to worry. I forgot that my life is ruled by Murphy's Law. 

It was pouring down rain, freezing, windy, and there were maybe three people in attendance while I was there. The day before, fine. Beautiful. The day I'm supposed to shell my baby, not so much. At least I was only there for about an hour, my poor fellow authors had been manning the booths for hours. Kudos to them. Us brave and freezing five walked over to our deserted reading area. We were the only people in the audience. It was a bummer. One author decided not to even go. I so didn't blame him, we were performing for each other. The whole purpose was to sell books, hard to do when you have no customers. The first two authors went, just giving a general overview of their books. I panicked. I hadn't prepared anything but my reading. They each spoke for about five minutes, my planned reading was ten as I was told to do. The entire thing was a cluster fuck from the get go. But since I had nothing to lose I decided to go big then go home.

My turn came third. I had my book marked to my reading, I looked great, and I wasn't nervous at all. Until I decided to implement my master plan I had come up with ten seconds before. I got behind the microphone, and smiled at my fellow authors. "I'm going to try something. I apologize in advance." Then, into the microphone, as loud as I could I bellowed, "SEX! VAMPIRES! SEXY VAMPIRES! ZOMBIES! MURDER!" The people working the booth beside the reading area, including three teenagers, all looked over at me with surprise. 

I heard one ask, "Did she say zombies?" 

"Yes, ma'am, I did! Zombies! Everyone loves zombies! And sex! Come on over!"

And damned if four other people, including the teens, came over and listened as I did my reading. I was kind of afraid to look at my fellow authors in case they disapproved of my antics, but I did almost double our audience. And the teens stayed after my reading to listen to my fellow Midnight Inker and semi-mentor Alan Orloff (Killer Routine, Killer Campaign) do his stand-up. They even giggled at his jokes. The cherry on the cupcake was that those same girls came over to me after and asked how they could buy my book. So, in the end, I had two potential sales by making an ass of myself. Got a good story out of it too.

So that was my first reading. The glamorous life of an author, huh?


Alan Orloff said...

Jenna, your carnival barkering was one of the highlights of the festival. That and the donkey, of course. And the bagpipe guy was pretty cool, too.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Good for you! I suspect the fellow authors were envious.

Jennifer Harlow said...

Alan, I missed those last ones. You rocked it out of the park too w/o making an ass out of yourself. Kudos

Kathleen-I hope not.