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This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News

Knowledge Oasis School

May knowledge spout forth like a builders hose spraying sand off a concrete patio. †Another dramatic week at the Knowledge Oasis School unfolds. It turns out that the long-term staff, (pyramid plasterers), have successfully got rid of three Principals and are doing their best to oust the present one. We are all incarcerated in an unfinished block of flats overlooking a Shell petrol pump and a roundabout. Anyway, through the grid of a mobile phone mast I can see distant palms.

The staffroom is buzzes with Machiavellian intrigue. Pupils are dropping off like flies. One boy said that he prayed for a girl to leave and she did. My class was cancelled when they didn't show. A baldy sargeant major dominates morning assembly and yells at the new 'conscripts'. To be honest, it's very entertaining.

Turning to more peaceful pursuits, Vanessa's blog contains useful tips about public speaking and meeting the author. It is a remarkable achievement to write a novel, promote it at a book launch and scaringly give a presentation at the Parisot Literary festival. Well done, Vanessa.

Alyson has posted a link in Bits and Bobs from Prima magazine which is looking for stories about real-life experiences. Don't hold back on your overseas adventures.

Nicola's latest book is really going strong Ė huge congrats again for her prestigious and successful output.

Finally, Vesna has given us the opportunity to get writing with inspirational prompts. You can take your pick from architectural design, a parable about wealth and happiness, key words. There are various photos of a stunning pink tree, cutesy pug, empty shell, and Hollywood starlet making an impression. No time like the present to let the muse flow.

Rolling in the Aisles: Giving an Author Talk
Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad writing author readings

I wouldnít say they were exactly doing that at last weekendís Parisot (SW France) Literary Festival, but I did make the audience laugh a few times. I was there to talk about my recently-published debut novel, The House at Zaronza.†

Doing an author talk and/or reading can be intimidating if you donít have much experience. And public speaking generally is daunting unless youíre one of lifeís extroverts, which Iím not. I have done quite a lot of it in past incarnations, sometimes to quite hostile audiences, but it still makes me nervous.

Here are a few tips:

Agree how the session will run with the organisers. Where is it being held? How big is the venue and how is it laid out? How long have you got? Will you take questions during or after? What are you going to talk about? Make sure you provide flattering biographical details for their introduction.

Prepare well in advance. As a last-minute merchant, I surprised myself by preparing my talk and choosing the readings a week before the event. This gives you the time toÖ

Practice. Getting the timing right is crucial. If itís too short, the discussion will peter out. If you go on too long, heads will nod in the audience. Read your chosen passages out loud and check how long they take to read.

Jokes: should you use them or not? If youíre not used to cracking jokes, itís probably better not to try. You should be yourself and not try to project a different image. However, if you feel comfortable, the odd, carefully-chosen joke can break the ice. Itís acceptable to take the mickey out of yourself, but not out of the audience.

Speak slowly. I have a tendency to go off like a rocket, so I type SLOWLY in large font across the top of my notes. If you read passages from a novel or a short story, allow dramatic pauses at appropriate places and donít gabble.

Engage with the audience: donít keep your head down in your notes. Look around while youíre speaking and look people in the eye. Ask the audience the occasional question thatís relevant to your talk: e.g. how many of them have read a certain book, been to a particular place, are writers themselves. That makes them feel more involved.

Question time: with luck, you will get a lot of questions. People always want to know about how authors tick. Try to give concise but informative answers. Donít drone on and deprive some of the audience of their chance to contribute.

Afterwards: if youíre signing books or the organisers arrange coffee or drinks, continue the dialogue. For example, ďYou raised an interesting point about x, and Iíve had a few more thoughts.Ē People remember you for showing an interest.

Finally, enjoy it. Authors need exposure and visibility and doing talks and readings is one way of getting them. The audience is usually with you and wants you to do well.††


This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad site new

Well, I hope the weather is better where you are this Monday. We are just waiting for another typhoon to strike central Japan, typhoon no. 19 or Vongfong (where do they get these names?). Fortunately for us it has weakened considerably and shrunk in size but it is still likely to be a wet and windy night.

Sally has provided this week's prompts in Monday Muse with four very different subject matters so maybe one will appeal to you.†

Paola has written the blog about "Losing the Muse". She is finding it hard to write four weeks after her move to Accra and has been beating herself up over it. Personally I think it takes me that long to get over a holiday so I think she should still give it time.

The October Writing Challenge is still open with some different competitions to aim at. There have also been a couple of new ones added to original list so have a look and try one of them!

And Marit has pride of place on the Bragging Stool having self-published 'The Loss' which started out here as a Monday Muse.

Finally Jill has pride of place on the bragging stool with her Heaven on Earth piece having made the cover story in Ireland's Own and a long listing in the Doris Gooderson short story competition.

Nicola has a story in an anthology called the Robot Chronicles that is doing well on Amazon.

I think the informal meeting on Sunday fizzled out with everybody busy but the next formal meeting will be on 26th October.†

I hope everyone has a good writing week and hopefully better weather than me!

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Monday, October 20, 2014
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Recent Blog Posts
Rolling in the Aisles: Giving an Author Talk
Posted by Vanessa Couchman

I wouldnít say they were exactly doing that at last weekendís Parisot (SW France) Literary Festival, but I did make the audience laugh a few...Read More

Losing the Muse
Posted by Paola Fornari

Four weeks into our new posting in Accra, I came across this paragraph in a blog post:

†There are so many perks to this...Read More

Wish Me Luck
Posted by John Eliot

Wish Me Luck

I must admit, when I checked the planner for this week finding I was due to write the blog, it was...Read More

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