Saturday, October 25, 2014

Novel Update: I Came, I Saw, I LitCrawled



So last Saturday, I had what might be considered my first promotional event.

Saturday night marked the end of a full week's events in the San Francisco Bay Area known as LitQuake.  LitQuake is some sort of harvest festival for people who love to read.  I really don't know how else to describe it.  It started with a an official launch party on Friday the 10th, then showcased reading and writing events all over the Bay Area.  The piece de resistance was LitCrawl, a 3.5-hour event in San Francisco that was capped with a closing party.

LitCrawl occurred in phases.  Phase One lasted from 6 to 7 pm.  Phase Two lasted from 7:15 to 8:15 pm.  Phase Three lasted from 8:30 to 9:30 pm.  My reading was part of Phase Three.  Each Phase took place in two dozen different San Francisco venues, mainly along Valencia Street between 16th and Mission and 21st and Mission.  

How did I volunteer to be part of such a massive event?  Mainly by accident.  I was at a Historical Novel Society meeting back in the spring and volunteered to be part of the event.  Hey, anything for exposure, right?  Well, except that I thought I would be handing out leaflets or manning a booth, not *GULP* reading to an audience.  What if I chose the wrong section, one without any drama or action?

I just decided to go for it.  I chose a section of the novel I thought would work for a 10-minute read (the first Arthur chapter, the one before this one) and hopped on BART for my merry journey.

I arrived early and was able to attend one Phase Two event, in a large bar/restaurant/music venue called The Chapel.  Chairs lined the stage and there were several rows of chairs in the audience.  And they were filling up fast.  The theme was the Four Elements.  Soon, multiple writers were seated on the stage, where an MC introduced them.  Holly crap, they had an MC??  She had a prepared routine with jokes and everything.  And each person she introduced sounded as if they had descended from the highest ranks of writerdom.  Contributed to the Atlantic, Publisher's Weekly, won this prize or that prize.  I became painfully aware of the fact that among the group of historical novel readers, I was the only one who wasn't unpublished.

That said, the writers were all humble and funny, and not the slightest bit intimidating.  But man, that place was full.  By the time I left, there was not an empty chair, and people were packed in the back besides.  By contrast, my reading venue was of a more modest size, but that actually suited me better.  I think I would have wet myself if I had to sit up on a stage and face an audience that size.  My location was in the Antelope, a boutique for women's accessories, many of which were antiquated enough that it seemed like a fitting setting for historical fiction readings.

People began trickling into the venue before the official start time.  I awkwardly placed the fliers that I'd whipped up (advertising this blog!) near the front for them to take.  After some chatting with my fellow readers, each of whom is awesome and whose works I will link to here, it was time to read at last.  There was no stage or rows of chairs; just a microphone, and people sat wherever there was room.  It felt more intimate and somehow more literary that way.

Anyway, I was the second person to read, and it was... fine.  I had to look down the entire time, and I don't think I read for as long as I could have, but when I finished, the audience gasped.  I ended on a dramatic line, so that was a good sign; it meant that I had their attention.

In the end, it didn't lead to a surge in emails or inquiries.  Most of my fliers remained where I left them.  But I felt cool.  I felt literary.  I felt like a real writer.

Can't wait to go again next year!    

The above image was taken by juliaf and is royalty free.

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