Friday, October 28, 2016

Crispy and Warm: Six Questions for Author Lynnette Adair

Today I interviewed author Lynnette Adair.  Lynnette just published her first novel, The Sea Sprite Inn, with Cat & Mouse Press of Lewes, Delaware.  This book release also has something to do with chocolate chip cookies!  Let's find out what....

1.  Lynnette, you just had your very first book release.  Tell us about the event.  Was it fun?  Was it everything you hoped for?

The Sea Sprite Inn launched at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  I suppose most new authors have self-doubts and I'm no different.  I worried that no guests would show since it was a gorgeous beach day and no one has ever heard of me!  What a thrill to hear my publisher say she had never seen such a turnout at a book signing!  I remember giggling the entire day in disbelief.  
The turnout was over fifty guests!

2.  Jillian -- your protagonist in The Sea Sprite Inn -- is in the process of reinventing herself.  Now that you're a published novelist, does it feel like you've reinvented yourself as well?

I've reinvented myself so many times that it feels frighteningly familiar.  My bio reads like a compilation from an entire neighborhood, and it truly is great fodder for stories.  Air Force veteran, professional ballroom dancer, insurance adjuster, waitress, retail saleswoman, geriatric caregiver...the list is endless.  But THIS time, it's different.  Not so much a reinvention, but the actualization of my destiny.  (Oooo...I like that line!)

3.  You and I met at a lecture sponsored by the Brandywine Valley Writers Group, where you mentioned something about chocolate chip cookies.  What was that about?

I shared my cookie story as a example of a creative way to engage readers.  On September 10th, I had an event at the Hockessin Bookshelf, which is also in Delaware.  I asked my Facebook followers what cookies they liked.  It created a LOT of energy.  People posted their cookie choices and I committed to saving one for them.

I baked the snickerdoodles, posted the pictures, and wrote a mouthwatering description.  I followed the same steps with the oatmeal raisin and ended the day with chocolate chip cookies. 

Battling the fear of no guests, I walked in very early stunned to find people already in line with copies of The Sea Sprite Inn.  They RAN OUT of books!  Super glad I had an extra case with me!  The owner was overheard saying she had never seen such a turnout! 

4.  Well done!  Now, tell us how you connected with your publisher, Cat & Mouse Press.

There's that self-doubt again.  I needed feedback from someone who I wasn't related to, so I sent a submission to the Rehoboth Beach Reads contest.

I was contacted by Nancy Sakaduski, the owner of Cat & Mouse Press.  She asked if I was interested in writing a proposal.  I remember squealing, "Is that even a question?"  I also MAY have done a little happy dance...all right, I danced like crazy while laughing out loud.

In 2016, my short story, The Magical Suit, was published in the anthology Beach Days and my novel, The Sea Sprite Inn, was also published!  Both books are available at local bookstores and can be purchased on Amazon.

5.  What's next for you?  Will we see the further adventures of Jillian, or will it be something different?

Anyone who has ever heard the line, "...but you're sisters, can't you just try to get along?" will understand the premise of the new novel I'm working on.

The story revolves around three sisters who all come home to help one of their own with a devastating diagnosis.  Hearts fill with joy, hearts break, and hears will heal in this story of love, grit and the constant evolution of the family dynamic.  As one of four sisters, I have enough material for an entire series!

Not to worry, though -- Jillian will return to the Sea Sprite Inn along with most of her friends.  I already have two more books planned.

6.  Anything else you'd like to add?

During the renovation of the Sea Sprite Inn, Jillian discovers a World War II ammo box filled with mementos.  She goes on a quest to return the box to its original owner.  The box and its contents will be on display.

Plus, I'll have home-made cookies.  You know the kind...crispy and warm on the edges.  One bite and the melty chocolate drapes between your lips forcing you to moan in delight as you chew.  Those kind of cookies.  Shall I save one for you?

Definitely!  And thank you for your time, Lynnette.  You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.  Her publisher is Cat & Mouse Press, and you can order The Sea Sprite Inn through them.

You can also order her book through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Five Ways to Rock a Public Reading

Now that this guest post of mine has been up on the site for several days, I'm re-posting it on my own blog.

5OnFri: Five Ways to Rock a Public Reading

by Tony Conaway

A guest post on the website 
It’s an old observation, but an accurate one: public speaking is the #1 fear for many people. This, unfortunately, includes many writers.
Public speaking, like most things, is less scary when you’re well-prepared. I’ve been reading my work in public for many years, and here are some things I’ve learned. They may help you.

1) Practice

I go to many readings given by authors, and I’m amazed how often they seem to be unprepared. I understand that, if you’re reading a new piece – or a work in progress – your reading might not be as polished. But you’ve got to read it – out loud – several times before you do it in public. You also need to time the piece, and make a note of that. If you only have ten minutes to read, you don’t want to pull out a work that will take twenty minutes.

2) Select the right piece for your audience

You may have a racy, R-rated piece, only to find out that some of the audience has brought children along. Another possibility is that a recent event would make your piece feel insensitive. What if you’d planned to read a story that involved an airplane crash, and, as you drove to the venue, you found out that an airplane really did just crash? Or (this happened to me) you’re scheduled to read on a Monday night during football season. Monday Night Football is on, and your audience turns out to be entirely female. Will they appreciate your planned piece on boxing as much as a mixed-gender audience would?
The best way to handle this is to have more than one piece prepared. Bring a clean piece and an R-rated piece, or a funny piece and a sad piece. Give yourself options. Even if you’re there to promote your latest book, have at least two sections (clean vs. blue, or funny vs. sad) of the book prepared.

3) Don’t read directly out of your book!

Surely you have an electronic copy of your book – print that out, double-spaced, in large type, preferably on cover stock. Why? Because the lighting where you read may be poor. (At the last Noir at the Bar event I attended, the lighting was so bad the audience could barely see the author!) If it’s double-spaced with large type, it’s easier to read – even in bad lighting. And printing it on stiff cover stock will keep the pages from crinkling as you progress, and make it less likely for them to blow away if someone opens an outside door and lets in a sudden breeze.
I’ve only ever seen one author who could justify reading out of his book. This was a fantasy author who drew over 75 fans to a bookstore reading. Some of the fans were so ardent that they actually dressed up as characters from his books! The author began by announcing, “I’m going to read the first chapter of my new book. I see many of you have purchased it already. Would one of you like to lend me your book to read from? Afterward, I’ll autograph it, noting that I read from it tonight.” 
Unfortunately, I don’t have fans like that, and you probably don’t either. So read from pages, not a bound book.

4) Prepare your script

This is another reason to read from double-spaced pages rather than your book. If you can do character voices (as I do), you can eliminate some of the “he said/she said” attributions – it will be obvious from your voice who is speaking. You also might want to cut or change some words from the book version: homonyms that might be confusing, curse words, or simply words you have difficulty pronouncing. And finally, there is much more room to make notes on a double-spaced page than in the tight confines of a bound book. I make marks and notes on the page, indicating that I should pause here, or look up at the audience here. I even differentiate the dialogue of different characters by typing in different colors. I read a noir story last night at a library event. On my pages, the narrator’s dialogue was in blue, the character of “Colin” had his dialogue in red, and the very loud thug called “Moose” was in boldface. That kept me from getting confused, and my character voices were spot-on.

5) Type your introduction

Someone invited you to speak: an organizer, a librarian, a bookstore owner, whomever. They might or might not be a good public speaker. Make things simpler by handing them your introduction before you start. Do it the same way you prepared your script: large type, double spaced, on stiff cover stock. You’re making their lives easier, and you’ve increased your chances of getting an accurate introduction immensely.
If you’re truly phobic about public speaking, following these tips might not be enough to make these events fun. But you’ll feel more confident if you’re well prepared.

tony-conawayTony Conaway is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and editor. He has co-written ten business books for such publishers as McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and Prentice Hall. His fiction has appeared in eight anthologies and many publications, including Blue Lake Review, Danse Macabre, Rind Literary Magazine, the Rusty Nail, and Typehouse Literary Magazine.
Some of his odder writing gigs included writing a script for a planetarium show, and co-writing jokes used by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. He has blogged often about reading in public; you can find his most recent post on the subject (with links to previous posts) right here.
You can Tweet him at @tonyconaway or contact him at