Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Speaking at Delaware Valley College

Yesterday evening I had the great privilege of being invited back to my alma mater (Delaware Valley College -- GO AGGIES!) to discuss my writing. I was super nervous (to say the least) and was half convinced the whole thing was one big mistake (after all, who would want to hear me talk?) until I saw this: 

Could have used that back in my college days to help with all the parking tickets... but I digress. 

Returning to campus as a lecturer instead of a student felt very strange. I made the mistake of exploring the Student Center a little bit, but after I poked my head into the Food Pub and saw everyone inside looked approximately fifteen years old I promptly sat my ass down and shuffled through my papers in a desperate attempt to seem somewhat important.

Within a few moments Lynn Carroll, the fabulous Director of Alumni Engagement, arrived and I helped her carry food upstairs (yeah, you heard that right -- there was food!). I knew I would be speaking at the so-called 'Coffee House'. I was imagining a cozy room with muted lighting, big comfy sofas, and, well, coffee. Picture instead a basic college classroom, with awesome florescent lighting to showcase the big pimple that decided to appear that morning (isn't that always the case?!), four rows of long narrow tables, and a wooden podium that I hesitantly set my folder down on.

Lynn chatted with me while we waited for the students to arrive. She was warm, funny, and engaging - exactly what I needed to get my nerves under control. When people started to shuffle in I recognized a few familiar faces, including an old riding lesson student of mine (who I taught when she was in high school... she's now a sophomore in college... I am so old) and a few fellow equine studies students, one of whom adored my mare Poppy (who is leased to the DelVal Equestrian Center).

[picture courtesy of Winter Storm Photography]

When it was time to start talking, I stepped behind the podium and began with explaining I'm much more comfortable writing than I am speaking (which is so completely true it's not even funny), so if I repeat myself or go off on a tangent or basically come across as a complete and total moron, don't hold it against me.   

I already had a little lecture prepared, so I went right into that. I introduced myself, explained why I'd come to DelVal in the first place, and then talked about my two year journey in self-publishing. I got a few laughs... 

"After I published my first novella on Amazon, I was absolutely convinced I was going to be famous. Oprah would call and I'd become a wildly successful author overnight. Then a week went by and I sold one copy... to my Mom." 

...but more importantly than that, quite a few of the students were actually taking notes. As in, people were writing down things that I was saying. 

As I quickly discovered when I opened it up for Q & A there were quite a few aspiring authors in the audience, and they all had fantastic questions. We covered everything from marketing your novel to handling bad reviews to staying relevant in the digital age of ebooks. It was a wonderfully positive experience all the way around, and I am super glad I did it. 

I also learned that I am, apparently, a big hand talker. Lynn Carroll took some pictures as I was speaking, and she posted them on the DelVal Alumni Page.

Seriously. Look at those hands. 

They're completely out of control. 

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