It is one of those things… you know the things that fall into that what authors do list of expectations. In this case that thing was a public speaking event, coupled with a question & answer, and reading of an excerpt from a recent work. You know… pimping your work!
As a professional geek, and chief information officer, I’m frequently in front of a room full of folks doing a Q&A, or exploring some issue. I do this all the time – MEH!
Tuesday was different, this was about me as an author, my journey, and exposing my work in a very public way. I WAS TERRIFIED!!!
And the members of the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club Book Club could not have been more engaging and gracious. If this was to be my first, it could not have been with a better group.
They were engaged, curious, probing (in a good way) in their questions. They wanted to know about what kind of research I do. What I read, with recommendations. The stories I write. Are they novels or shorts – that answer is, yes to both. And they had questions about my personal journey, both as a techie, an author, and its intersection.
And then came the question, if I had brought something for sale today, or something to share. (insert internal gasp) The one question I had been dreading. You see, all through school, college, and my professional life, the one thing I’ve dreaded, and had a block on, is the ability to read my own words aloud.
Anticipating this, and of course knowing that it will happen again, if I’m to continue down this road as a story teller, I printed out about three pages of The Lost Fedora. I practiced for a week, in my living room or office, without an audience, until I felt comfortable with the material. You see once I’ve written something, its out of my head, and I move on to other ideas. Thus, though I wrote it, it’s like reading something cold coupled with the anxieties of exposing some small part of myself to public judgement.
I gave them a basic framing for the source of the story; the tragic loss of a close friend to cancer the year before, and the anthology we decided to produce in his honor. And I dove in. To my shock I wasn’t struck dead by a bolt from the heavens, nor did I flub anything too drastically. And… In opening a door in the story, I left them suitably hanging, wanting more.
The Lost Fedora, is my third published short story. You can find it in the Santa Barbara Literary Journal’s upcoming release The Fifth Fedora, also available on Amazon. This anthology is a tribute edition to a writer who touched so many lives, mine indelibly, Stephen Vessels. Taken from us far far too soon. His story, The Ki Trees, which I riff on, is just before mine the anthology.
Other works we discussed included: Ken Follett’s masterful piece of historical fiction, Pillars of the Earth, the Kingsbridge and Century Series; Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum; Terry Mixon’s two series The Empire of Bones & the Last Hunter; JR Handley’s Sleeping Legion & his anthologies of Bayonet Books; Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels. I’m sure I mentioned others during the course of the conversation, but those are the ones that stuck.
I also referenced a local writers conference – the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. You’ll find me there, when it returns from its COVID hiatus, in June of ‘23.
As to my works. You can find links to my published short stories, Fiddler and #ICETEROIDSURVIVORS? in the anthologies Contact This & From The Ashes, respectively. They’re both linked on my Amazon author’s page https://www.amazon.com/author/rickshaw/ A link to the Fifth Fedora will be on my amazon authors page, as well as on the SB Literary Journal’s site, when released in early September.
My current novel, Tunguska Deception will come out on Kindle in October – fingers crossed!!!
I want to thank the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club Book Club, once again for being such a supportive group, and a great audience. I could not have wished for a better group for my first reading and Q&A session.