Story Time


As Faith mentioned yesterday, David and I will be appearing at Ravencon this weekend. I’m not particularly introverted or quiet – heck, I tend to be the goof in the room more often than not. And this is not a huge con – it’s small and charming and I’ll be surrounded by lots of people I really like. So why am I so nervous?

Because I’ll be reading from my own work for the first time.

Unless you’re a big name author with a print run in the hundreds of thousands, the publisher is not likely to spend much on promotion and advertising of your book. It just isn’t cost effective for them. Most authors have to do quite a bit of their own promotion. Developing a web presence, making friends with local booksellers so they feel like handselling your titles, and going to cons are all part of the process of getting your name out into the world.

Cons are great fun. When you’re not serving on panels, you can attend other ones that appeal to you. You can meet and connect with fans and writing professionals in a more relaxed setting. Sometimes you even get fed candy from Australia! If you have the chance to attend a con, I recommend you take it.

But back to my nervousness…my first con was ConCarolinas last spring. I served on panels and signed books and had a marvelous time. When the program coordinator for RavenCon got in touch for scheduling me this spring, she asked if I’d like to read from my own work. “Sure!” I said. “Sounds great!” But now I’m terrified. This isn’t like serving on a panel with two or three other people to bounce off of. This is me, all by myself. What if no one shows up to listen? What if a whole roomful of people shows up? What if I choose the wrong thing to read and they’re bored to tears? Why would anyone want to hear little old me read in the first place? Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!!

The anticipation of reading my own work out loud feels a little like the first time I had to dance on the Renaissance faire stage. The faire is outdoors, and you can see each and every face in the crowd. There’s no shadowy offstage area for hiding, no room for missteps under the bright autumn sun. As a dancer, I had to learn to plaster on the personality and charm the audience so that even if I spun left when all the other dancers spun right, somehow it looked adorable.

As writers, we’re used to spending time alone with our own thoughts. We’re not always used to putting ourselves out into the world for all to see. It’s dangerous and scary. But I want to charm the audience into reading my work and thinking I’m wonderful.

So I’ll take a deep breath, make a choice of some exciting section from the new book, force my knees to stop shaking, plaster a smile on my face and read ’til I’m hoarse. Even if my husband and my best friend are the only ones who show up. Besides, it’s good practice for when I’m insanely successful and have to read to crowds of thousands.

Hey, a girl can hope. 😀


11 comments to Story Time

  • Misty,

    ConCarolinas was my first con thought. I find it ironic because I listened you, David and Faith talking about how a writer writes (I was the guy in the wheelchair).I had a lot of questions about writing. I never asked because I was afraid due to my speech impediment. So, I know how you feel.

  • Robin Weeks

    I’d come to hear you read. I loved Mac Kestral. It’s been a while since I read it, but one part that stands out is the attempted mutiny of the crew. Magic, action, betrayal, the love interest is there…. I’d recommend that one.

  • I’d be there too if I could! Cheering and hooting (in a good way) and clapping like mad (at the right times, of course.)
    But Misty darlin, you have read your work in a group to me (and a certain other much more important writer) and I made you cry. I MADE YOU CRY! Could it get worse? No. So. You will wow their socks off. You will make them laugh and cry. Read a scene with plenty of smells in memory of Bob.

  • Beatriz

    I’d be there if I could, Captain, probably yelling “yalla!” which would be quite helpful, I’m sure.

    You’ll be marvelous. And look at it this way– at least you don’t have to read while spinning a cane or fire!


  • If my schedule allows, I’ll absolutely be there. Not that you’ll need the support — you’re going to do great.

    I remember preparing for my first reading at a con. I couldn’t decide what passage to use, so I asked Nancy (my wife, for those of you who don’t know). I went to her and said, “I can’t decide what to use for my reading.” And she looks me straight in the eye, totally deadpan, and says, “Orson Scott Card has written some good stuff. Why don’t you read some of his work….”

  • Misty, you will do fine! You are a hoot, and people will enjoy what you’ve written.


  • Off topic, but anyone know any places looking for dark Outer Limits-ish/dark future short fiction between 3000-8000 words? Last place I sent to went belly up about the same time I sent it to them.

    And for a little on topic, as far as reading in front of people, I recommend plenty of water standing by. I haven’t done what you’ll be doing, but I have read/run a game for a bunch of strangers at a Con and it makes my mouth go desert-dry every time.

  • Is Weird Tales still in business, Dan? Possibly them.

    I know what you mean on the con front. I’ll be running two games of Castles & Crusades at ConCarolinas, and I’m an introvert by nature. Still, I’ve done it before, so I know it will be ok.

  • They’re closed till Memorial Day, but that does give me time to see if my short(s) need any more work. I’ve reworked them a couple times and don’t want to overwork them. I’ve got a good dark future type piece and a couple zombie tales, but not sure how zombies are doing lately in the market. They could be swamped with ’em lately.

  • Daniel >> You could try for a fairly good listing which is kept current.

  • Ah yeah. Sort of forgot about ralan. That was where I got the one I sent to last time. Can’t blame them though. The company I sent to actually literally disappeared around the same time I sent. Found out later they still owed a bunch of people money, so I guess it was a good thing I didn’t get an acceptance.