Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In Which I Figure Out What to Say at my First Book Signing Event

One week from today, I leave for Ann Arbor, MI, where I'll be signing Ashes to Water at Aunt Agatha's Book Shop. I want to be pretty and witty and bright, but this is hardly enough time to get liposuction or a face lift. I can, however, work on my presentation.

In order for you to appreciate how important it is that I get this presentation right, allow me to set the scene. Thanks to a few VERY good friends and generous help from the alumni association at Eastern Michigan University, the people attending are my peeps from graduate school. Most have backgrounds, national titles, and/or careers in...

..wait for it...

Public speaking.

Yup. The Forensics Team from Eastern Michigan University (c. 1977-1981) will be there to wish me well. And I want to do them proud. Now, as soon as I said Forensics, you no doubt went all CSI on me. Not that kind of forensics. I'm talking about competitive speaking in individual events, such as informative speaking, persuasive speaking, extemporaneous speaking, to name a few. Other events are performance based, such as Oral Interpretation of Prose, Oral Interpretation of Poetry, and Dramatic Duo Interpretation.

So, ah...yeah. Tough house. To ratchet the stakes, I used to coach many of these stars. Performance anxiety, you ask? Is the Pope a cover-up artist? (No offense intended to any Popes reading this.)

Then, I read a tweet by Lesa Holstine. Lesa Holstine is a book blogger. She reviews books. I've never met her except through Twitter. She mentioned she attended a presentation by Beth Hoffman, who wrote Saving CeeCee Honeycut, and was spellbound. She was laughing and crying at the same time, she said, as Hoffman made everyone in the audience feel like a friend. 

Well, how in the blue blazes did she do that? I wondered. Did she feed them a hot meal? Offer to babysit their kids? Give bad relationship advice?

So I went to Lesa Holstine's blog for the full story. And I do mean story. In it, Lesa details Beth Hoffman's presentation. And the thing Hoffman did that was so beautifully austere, and personal, and effective, was...

tell a story.

She told her audience the story behind the book, and by being candid, and open, and human, and brave, she made friends and won hearts. It's quite a story. You should read it. And yes, it made me want to read her book, too.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to worry about being pretty and witty and bright (this is where my mother is supposed to chime in and say, but Irene! You're already all of those things, and more!). Instead, I'm going to be me. I'm going to tell them the story behind my book.

As soon as I make one up.

I kid, I'm kidding, I'm a kidder.

You know the great thing about personal stories? Everybody has one. I may not have fought back a debilitating disease like Beth did, or landed the miracle deal-of-a-lifetime from a major publishing house, but my characters came from a place only I know about. And It's a story worth telling. As is yours.

So that's what ahmonna do.

And if that doesn't work, I'll pull up my shirt and show everyone my liposuction scar.


  1. Oh, Irene! What a nice blog. I'm going to pass this on to Beth. You're right. Everyone has their own story, and yours is going to be special. You'll probably have your friends laughing if you just read this blog posting to them. Because it sounds as if they're prepared to be your friends, and support you, before they even hear you. Remember, they know you, and they're STILL coming to hear you!

    Good luck, Irene. We want to know how it turns out!


  2. Sounds great. Then you can cut all of the fluff out of it and do a tighter, cleaner version in Scottsdale. Maybe something with flashbacks and stuff.

  3. Thanks, Lesa. Your comment means a lot to me.

  4. MJB, you got it! Flashbacks AND alternating viewpoints. Plus a couple Pope jokes. I'll kill!

  5. Hello Irene,

    I found your blog through Sandy at You've Gotta Read This! I've spent quite a bit of time in Florida small towns, or as I like to refer to them, FSTs, and your books sound very intriguing! When will you be passing through Columbus, OH? I live near there and I've never met an author named Irene. :)

  6. Oh, BTW, I'm also an excellent parallel parker, having been taught by my high school English teacher/basketball coach/driver's ed instructor. :)

  7. Hi, Susan. At this time, I don't have plans to be in Columbus, but if you'd like to help me set something up, just let me know! Two of my best friends from grad school were from Columbus. I have fond memories of the place. Thanks so much for visiting my website, and for keeping parallel parking alive. Best wishes! Irene

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