book readings

My First Zoom Reading

I watched a horror movie recently called “Host”, which was about a group of young people holding a séance on Zoom. The entire movie took place on a computer screen divided up into about a half dozen sections, one for each person. Of course, being horror, all of them were bumped off by the end in rather creative ways considering this was basically a Zoom meeting. I was curious about this movie ever since I read about it since how can you make a Zoom meeting scary? Plus, I’d been reading about virtual book conventions, and I wanted to try one but I was intimidated by the whole online thing.

Well, I participated in my first Zoom virtual book reading last week! It was a bit frightening since I had no idea how to use Zoom. Turned out it was easy as pie. I already had Zoom on my computer. Just click on the email link and go. It was an odd experience since I was in my living room at the time, but at least I wasn’t dressed in my jammies. LOL I have the free account so I can’t host a meeting that lasts any longer than 40 minutes, but since I didn’t host this event I was able to stay on the entire hour. I had turned my phone to “Do Not Disturb” and hit the “silent” button so it wouldn’t ring while I was in the session. I was the first to read. I’ve done live readings before, and this one was a little less nerve-wracking for me since I was in the comfort of my living room. I read from my horror comedy “Trailer Trash Zombies”, and I made sure to glance at the screen occasionally so it looked like I was making eye contact with the readers who were likely dressed in their jammies in their living rooms, LOL.

Instructions included practicing ahead of time, which I did. I timed my reading which was about seven minutes long. I then read the story out loud all the while keeping track of my speed since I tend to talk like a Gatlin gun when nervous. Don’t wear white or small patterns. The camera does not like them. Also, wear light makeup so that you don’t look like boiled perch on the air. I don’t wear makeup, but I did wear some blush and lip gloss. Other instructions included to have front lighting so your face isn’t in shadow. I did okay with that although I had no way of obtaining front lighting. I was visible.

Reading when you can’t see or hear the audience is an interesting experience. The audience and other writers were on mute while I read aloud. There was a chat function on Zoom that came in handy. I later read comments people were making, and they clearly enjoyed my story. Some asked questions, and all the writers gave informative answers.

I definitely want to do this again. Zoom is here to stay, including once Covid restrictions lift. I have a feeling Zoom or other similar programs will become part of future conventions when they are once again held live and in person. For those unable to attend in person, why not attend a Zoom presentation at a discounted price? The summer convention season is about to start. It’s time to get ready to party – and do book readings and panel discussions remotely. It feels a bit odd doing it all from home, but it works for me. That said, I miss the intimacy of conventions. Nothing beats hanging out with old friends you see at these events every year. Until Covid restrictions lift, we will be seeing more virtual readings and virtual conventions. They are here to stay, and I now welcome them.

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Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her two cats. Her LGBTQ paranormal erotic shifter romance novel “Full Moon Fever” is now available for purchase at Amazon and other book distributors. Her collection of erotic fairy tales, “Happily Ever After: Twisted Versions of Your Favorite Fairy Tales”, is also available at Amazon. Her horror comedy “Trailer Trash Zombies” appears in “Jester of Hearts”, an anthology of comedic horror. You may of course find it at … you guessed it … Amazon.

Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/b76GWD

 

Being An Introvert In An Extroverted Profession

I attended yet another writer’s convention about a week ago, and I am still exhausted. Conventions are hard work! I talked up other writers, discussed my books, spoke on a panel, shared little plastic glasses of sparkling wine I had brought with me, and ate saugies in the quad at night. This con was held at a university. Saugies are delicious hot dogs found in Rhode Island. They are not your average hot dog and they are a fixture at this particular convention.

I did all this while being an introvert.

Writing is an odd profession for an introvert. On the one hand, it’s a very isolating vocation. A writer spends hours, days, months alone in front of a computer (or typewriter, or notebook) clacking away while creating new worlds. You live inside your head. It’s a very comfortable space to be in if being around people normally gives you the hives.

On the other hand, writers these days must self-promote if they want to make a real go of things. Most writers I’ve spoken to are introverts, yet they are required to read excerpts in public in front of people. Crowds! Panic may easily set in. Then they are expected to sell books at tables at conventions, all the while talking up the people who stop by in the hope that they will buy your books. Talking up strangers! Panic may easily set in. They socialize at parties even if they suffer from crippling social anxiety. Your mouth turns to dust while you stand there trying to figure out what would make a good start to a conversation, hoping you don’t sound like a blithering idiot; especially when you’re either talking to someone you haven’t seen in months or someone you know only through Facebook.

It’s not easy.

I like having an ice breaker, and lugging around a bottle of bubbly asking people if they’d like some is a great way to open a conversation. Last year, my husband and I brought homemade limoncello and we used it to talk people up. When folks heard “homemade limoncello” their eyes went wide and they said, “Oooh, I’d love some!”. Then I asked them how their latest book was coming along. That’s an easy question since writers like to talk about their work. Most people like to talk about themselves. I’m a good listener, too, which helps me when I suddenly clam up and I have nothing to say especially about myself.

The on and off nature of socializing when you’re a writer can be very off-putting and exhausting. Being an introvert, I needed time to decompress. I did that by returning to my room and taking a nap or surfing the web. I had a glass of wine. Relaxed a bit. Once I felt replenished, I returned to the con to socialize some more. It wasn’t that hard once I got my lips working to form a few coherent words.

Little voices ran through my head, saying things like, “I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I want to hole up in my room and never come out.” Those voices were wrong. I did feel like chatting up people. If I stayed in my room for a long period of time I’d get bored. My husband was with me and that helped. He’s more gregarious than me. We approached people we knew together and when they smiled and their faces lit up that was enough to bring me out of my shell. Sometimes they were in a crowd of people I didn’t know so introductions were made. Sparkling wine was passed around. We made new friends.

Although I always feel alarm before attending a convention, book reading, or publishing event, once I get there and chat up a few people, I calm down. I actually have fun! That’s the key above all for me – it is fun to be around people. In small doses. But I have a great time and it’s good to touch base. Then I can return home, inspired by my convention experience, and write refreshed.

Then I wait for anxiety to set in for the next public event. Rinse and repeat. But in the end it always turns out well.

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Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her two cats.

Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/b76GWD

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