This blog post is updated after having read excerpts of The Dire Deeds on Aug. 7th at Eugene Pagan Pride in Oregon. This was my first gig as a writer of fantasy fiction! I want to share what I learned from my first public reading–and there’s so much more to learn!
It was a truly sweet occasion — a smallish community gathering with vendors, food trucks, workshops, and entertainment. I was on the entertainment roster. I followed a dance class given by the Two Rivers Morris dancers (a tough act to follow) and served as “warm-up” for a comedy show.
I began my reading at noon, as temperatures were rising, and though shaded in the pavillion, I found certain aspects of the situation personally challenging. For one thing, I am recovering from major surgery and it had been over a month since I’d been on my feet for such a long time (about 45 minutes). I forgot to bring a chair!
Lesson Learned: Bring a chair even if you don’t think you’ll need it!
There was also the background noise of a food truck generator. I have a difficult time with machine noises in any setting. They cause me to lose focus and sometimes even create anxiety. I hadn’t even thought about noise, or the distraction of people talking through my reading. Some people actually did that, but fortunately a friend of mine got up and asked them to please move their conversation. That was helpful.
Lesson Learned: Be prepared for noise. And prepare to ask people to please take their conversations to another area of the event during my reading.
I had a nice, smallish group of people sitting around on lunch tables under the pavilion. Some left in the middle, some came in the middle. This did not worry me. I was there to do the job. However I realized later that I needed to do a much better job of introducing myself and describing the context of the book, before launching into reading.
Lesson Learned: Do a better job. Realize that people attending a reading have not been steeped in the world of my characters for over six years, as I have been. This is crucial. And when I read during my online Book Release Party today, I am going to remember to provide this context first.
The one thing I am glad about was that I said a land acknowledgment before beginning. I could have done a better job of that too, but including a list of the native peoples whose lands I’ve occupied from childhood on is something I’ll keep.
Lesson Learned: Prior to planning the reading, I realized that it’s not enough to simply acknowledge the people and land of the present moment, but to understand my own lifetime of occupation and bring that into any statement of acknowledgment that I do. Here is where I have lived and grown:
• the lands of the Kumeyaay (San Diego);
• the ‘aina of Kanaka ‘Oiwi known as Waikiki Ahupua’a, Moku o O’ahu (Waikiki, O’ahu). I lived on Lipe’e’pe’e Street near the Alawai Canal.
• the lands of the Ramaytush, Ohlone, and Muwekma (San Francisco Bay Area);
• the ‘aina of Kanaka ‘Oiwi known as Waiakahiula Ahupua’a, Moku o Keawe (Hawaiian Beaches/Hawaiian Shores subdivision, Pahoa, Puna District, Hawai’i Island);
• the lands of the Southeastern Pomo (Glenhaven, north shore of Clear Lake, Clearlake County, CA);
• the lands of the Kalapuya and Confederated Tribes of the Grand Rond (Eugene and Springfield, Willamette Valley, Oregon).
All in all, this was a great experience and a good way to learn and become more skillful in presenting my books and characters to readers. I congratulate the organizers and volunteers of Eugene Pagan Pride for a very lovely event. I am glad they asked me to participate!