Wednesday, November 20, 2013

7 Tips for Public Speaking

I used to do a lot of public speaking competitions when I was in school - prepared speeches, impromptu speeches, debates.  Along the way, I learned a few things about getting up and talking to a room full of strangers.

1.  Eye contact is good.  But forget the ol' adage about picturing people naked.  I can think of few things more distracting when giving a speech or workshop.  Here's what I do, especially if it's a big crowd.  I look just over people's heads.  Looks like I'm looking at them, but I'm not.

2.  Instinctively raise your voice by looking at the back wall.  This tip came courtesy of the late True Davidson who was one of my contest judges.

3.  Move around.  Not a lot, but some.  Few things are more boring than seeing somebody stand in the same place for an hour.

4.  Avoid fussing with glasses, jewelry, your water bottle, papers...anything, really, that makes folks start to pay more attention to what you're doing than what you're saying.  I remember one workshop where the speaker kept unscrewing, then re-screwing, the lid of her water bottle.  Just about drove me nuts and I have no memory at all of her workshop except for that.

5.  Rehearse, but not too much.  You want to sound competent and in command of your material, but you don't want to sound like a robot. 

6.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.  This is NOT the time to wear those fantastic new pointy-toed pumps.  Or that shirt that looks good, but makes you itchy around the collar.

7.  Most importantly, try to relax, especially if it's in a workshop environment.  People want to hear what you have to say, or they wouldn't be there.  And having been to several workshops myself, I can tell you that you really have to do something pretty foolish to earn the enmity of the room.  Nervous?  That's fine.  We sympathize.  Lose your place?  Laugh and get back on track, and it's all good.  Don't have the answer to a question?  Admit it.  Nobody expects you to know everything.  Slam a genre in a roomful of readers and writers of the genre?  That's just plain foolish.  But you really do have to do something that extreme to lose the room, so try to relax, look at the back wall, move around a little, and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Night Out With Authors

The next Night Out With Authors is Monday, November 18, featuring Kelley Armstrong and Ann Lethbridge and our first Open Mic for Writers.  Same time, same place.  Details here.  Hope to see some familiar faces!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beneath the waves

This is the day my Dad, a veteran of World War II, is a rock star.  He goes to the school where my sister is a teacher's aid to talk to the kids about his experiences.  First, their minds are boggled that somebody from WWII is still alive.  Then they ask for his autograph.  And write lovely thank-you notes to him for serving our country.

He stopped by this morning and I asked him what he was going to talk about today.  He was in the navy, so today he's telling them that the men who died at sea don't have graves, so there are no white crosses for them.  Yes, there are memorials, but they are not "beneath the crosses, row on row."

They lie beneath the waves.

May they all rest in peace.   

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Handouts, Free books and More!

If you're attending my workshop What Lies Beneath:  Adding Layers to your Characters and Conflict

for Toronto Romance Writers this 

Saturday, November 9, 

at the North York Central Library
 Room 2/3
from 1 - 4 p.m. 

there'll be handouts, free books and me, doing my lively, entertaining best to share some of the things I've learned about writing over the course of 20+ years as a published romance author. 

I'll also be raffling off two tickets to the next Night Out With Authors, featuring Kelley Armstrong and Ann Lethbridge.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Really Big News!!!

I'm thrilled to announce that I've signed a new contract with Harlequin Historicals for two medieval romances.  Yes, I'm back in Merry Olde England!

CASTLE OF THE WOLF is tentatively scheduled for summer, 2014.  The sequel doesn't have a title or release date yet because I just started it.  If you follow me on Twitter, that's my National Novel Writing Month project.  Except I'm extending my NaNo experience into December, because of other things happening this month.

So who's the Wolf?  No, he isn't a werewolf or shape-shifter.  Rheged of Cwm Bron is a Welsh knight known as the Wolf of Wales because when he fights, he's fierce. He wasn't born noble and has had to earn his title and estate. But he puts his future in jeopardy when he impulsively abducts a Norman lord's niece. 

Who's the lady?  Thomasina (aka Tamsin) of DeLac.  When her uncle betroths her to a notoriously cruel lord, she tries to refuse, until her uncle threatens to make her beloved cousin take her place as bride. But Rheged takes Tamsin before the wedding can occur. 

There's a lot more to the story than that, of course.  And several more characters.

It's wonderful to be back in the publishing world after my long, but necessary, break.  I feel energized, refreshed and excited, and not even the daunting prospect of Chapter One, Page One could dampen my enthusiasm.