Speaking in front of more than half-a-dozen people used to terrify me — probably still does when I’m not talking about the mysteries I write. I’m not sure what makes public speaking about books different than public speaking generally but it’s definitely easier. Book crowds are mostly friendly — perhaps that explains it. Yesterday I spoke at a retirement community. People who come to a book talk at a retirement community may be a little hard-of-hearing but they are usually the nicest of all book event attendees. They ask good questions, too.
I anticipated difficulty finding where I was to speak, but the room was easy to spot so I wound up with dawdle time. A nice woman joined me and offered to give me hints about the expected crowd. My biggest concern was being heard; I have a soft voice and they didn’t have a PA system. She assured me the acoustics in the room were excellent and said I shouldn’t worry. She advised me to start late because most people arrived after the posted start time. “Some of us move more slowly than we used to but don’t realize it,” she chuckled, “and don’t start out soon enough.” She reassured me everything would be great unless Bob showed up and was about to tell me more when the first attendees arrived.
People straggled in late just like my friendly advisor warned, so I held off starting. I was just about to introduce myself when a large man on a riding chair rapidly motored into the room. Ladies with walkers parted for him so quickly I feared one or two might fall. “You’re late’” he snapped as he parked at the edge of the assembly and crossed his arms across his ample stomach. My advisor-friend rolled her eyes, pointed at him, and silently mouthed one easily lip-read word. Bob. My mouth went dry.
As I spoke I tried to make regular eye contact with him. I thought that maybe I could win him over by paying him enough attention. He never smiled or nodded. He certainly never laughed at any of my attempts at humor, although others did.
When I finished my talk and asked for questions he didn’t need encouragement. “Why do so many mysteries have circular staircases in them?” he demanded. I had no idea and told him so. “Why do so many writers use wind and storms in their books?” was his next question. I told him movies often subliminally signal a mood with music and guessed writers did the same thing with storms and other weather. “Humph,” was all he said. “And what would you do if someone wanted one-hundred of your books,” he asked in a confrontational tone.
“He’d become one of my best friends,” I blurted out. “Do you want to buy one-hundred books, dear friend,” I asked. He laughed and said, “No, but I will buy one if you’ll wait till I go get some money.”
I waited and he returned, a man of his word. I was told Bob always came to book talks but never purchased a book. Usually when he left it was because he made a writer cry, not because he needed to get money. When Bob came back we had a nice chat. I like him. He invited me back. I hope he enjoys my book.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years. She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.
Her work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure. She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Details and ideas come from her own experiences. Read book beginnings at http://www.goodreadmysteries.com
Nancy’s books are available (Kindle and other e-readers) on Amazon and Barnes and Noble Pubit!