Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Night at the Salon...

September 29, 2011, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, and both halves of Lydia Dare opened the preverbal doors to Lady Jane’s Salon Raleigh-Durham (a satellite of the original in NYC) in the quaint patio room of a local Irish Pub. From that debut salon until now, Lady Jane’s Salon RDU has advertised itself with the slogan - “Good Company, Great Books, and a Worthy Cause.” (The worthy cause in our case is Heather McCollum’s Shout Against the Whisper campaign, which supports Ovarian Cancer research.)

Sometimes there is truth in advertising. *I* have not missed a salon, nor do I ever plan to do so. I have heard amazing authors read from their work, and I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the other attendees month after month. (And I’m really very partial to the pub’s Chicken Cordon Bleu. Yes, it’s an Irish pub with French chicken. But it tastes so good, I’m not complaining.)

I’ve heard talented authors such as Sabrina Jeffries, Virginia Kantra, Jenna Black, Claudia Dain, and our own Lady Scribes lady – Catherine Gayle (all the way from Texas) just to name a few read at our satellite salon.

But last month…

Last month it was my turn. Well… mine, Mari Freeman’s and Kianna Alexander’s turn. And I was a little nervous.

Ok, more than a little nervous.

Despite my reputation, I’m fairly introverted and never did all that well in public speaking back in school all those many, many (ok, more many’s than I’d like to admit) years ago. PLUS everyone who’s ever heard me read always says, “Ava, you need to slow down a little.”

Slow down?

But I’ve got a rhythm going. If I slow down, I’ll stumble over my own words. And the last thing I want to do is fumble something I wrote and come off looking like an idiot in front of a group of people. Yikes! Besides, my characters talk and think fast. That’s the cadence they have. It just is.

Slow down!

Back in January, Catherine Gayle, Erin Knightley and Olivia Kelly came back to my house after that month’s salon and let me practice my selection for February on them. You know what they said…? Each one of them…? That’s right. You guessed it… “Ava, you need to slow down a little.”

My two new least favorite words… Slow dow—Wait that’s not true. My two least favorite words are and always will be my ex-husband’s name. But “slow down” is now a close second. Perhaps if I could just find a way to make everyone else hear faster...

But I digress.

Over the next month, I timed myself. I recorded myself (Erin Knightley’s suggestion). And I read it over and over and over to myself, to a couple of friends who were willing guinea pigs and even to my teenage son when he was feeling particularly charitable one evening. I had it down perfectly. 14:48 minutes. I didn’t go too fast. I didn’t go too slow. My practice had all been worth it! I was going to be amazing!!

But then the night was upon us. Dinner was over. The first reader had finished and it was my turn. Yes, I gulped. Then I took my spot on a tall chair, and silently chanted in my head, “Slow down, Ava. Slow down, Ava.”

And then proceeded to read a little too fast.

I’m not auctioneer-fast or anything, but it was a little quick. Still, I think people could hear me well enough. At least they all told me they could.
I did promise a friend who couldn’t be there that night that I’d have my reading recorded, and I did. The recording is a little blurry, but if you want a glimpse of what Lady Jane’s Salon Raleigh Durham is like (with an author who should maybe slow down just a little)... can click here to see me read from my latest novella By Any Other Name, which is part of THE BETTING SEASON anthology with fellow Lady Scribes ladies – Catherine Gayle, Jerrica Knight-Catania, and Jane Charles. (I tried to imbed the YouTube video but after 7 straight hours of "uploading," I wasn't confident it would ever work and thought the link was a better option.)

All in all, I had a wonderful time, even in that tall chair in front of everyone. And I did enjoy reading from my novella. BUT, I think I’ll have even more fun listening to Lady Scribes lady Deb Marlowe read from her latest release - TALL, DARK & DISREPUTABLE; Aimee Laine read from HIDE AND SEEK; and Maya Rodale (one the original Lady Jane's Salon founding members) read from her new release - THE TATTOOED DUKE next week at the March Salon. If you’re in the RDU area, you should come hear them too. I'm sure they'll all be amazing!

Have you ever had to speak or read in front of a big crowd? Do you get nervous? Or are you cool as cucumber? Tell me all of your public speaking stories (the good and the bad) and I promise I won’t tell you to slow down. But most importantly, do you have any suggestions of how I can make others hear faster...?

*Originally posted at LadyScribes March 23, 2012