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.


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.

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