Tuesday, May 13, 2008


If you're a fan of the Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries written by friend and literary dynamo Julia Spencer-Fleming (and you should be) she's giving away free books on her website.

If you aren't a fan yet, I'm giving you a chance to become a fan.

Go to www.juliaspencerfleming.com, read the excerpt for her latest novel I SHALL NOT WANT, and answer this question:

"What job does Hadley Knox swear she's going to take?"

Email your answer to Julia at julia@juliaspencerfleming.com. Five lucky folks will get free books. Tell her JA sent you...

I'm always harping about how writers need to improve their public speaking skills, and I just found out another friend of mine has written a book on the subject. USING STORIES AND HUMOR, by Joanna Slan, is all about grabbing your audience (figuratively.)

Post your most embarassing public speech story here, and the winner will get a free copy.

Last, but not least, I found an extra advance reading copy of FUZZY NAVEL hiding under my desk.

Send me a picture of you holding one of my books. The most creative pic gets the copy. Runner ups get something else for free--I have a few dozen magazines with my stories in them.

Now go have at it.


Simon Haynes said...

I'm a bit far away to be receiving free books, but I'll post my fave public speech story.

I was invited to a largish primary school as part of a reading promotion. There were 700 kids ranging from 4 to 10 years old, all crammed into a big hall with parents and teachers around the walls, and the person who invited me got up to do the intro. It went something like this:

"Morning everyone, and do I have some fantastic news for you today. Hands up if you like Harry Potter!"

(forest of arms)

"And what about JK Rowling, eh? She's a fantastic writer, and wouldn't you all just love to meet her."

(Even the parents and teachers are looking interested now. The kids are barely suppressing their excitement.)

"Well, our guest today is a writer too. Welcome, Simon Haynes."

(Dead silence. I think I even saw tears, not all of them my own...)

Emily said...

Hm... funniest public speaking story, eh?

I was taking an earth science course a few months back, and every week I had to attend a lab. We would break up into groups and try to figure out which rocks were supposed to fizz if we poured acid on them. (A lot of fun, actually—the fizzing, I mean, not the class.)

One morning I woke up late, grabbed the first clean shirt I could find and ran out the door. The thing was, the lab always took place on a Thursday, which is the day I *always* run out of my good clothes. (Laundry day is Friday.)

Only after I was out of my apartment did I realize the shirt was incredibly low cut. But hey, it was clean. I shrugged and walked to class.

That day each lab group had to complete a different task, and then get up in front of the class to report their findings. My group was assigned to study the cleavage of 20 different rocks. Yup, you read right. Cleavage - the manner in which rocks most easily break apart. I had to get up in front of a large group of college students (mostly men) and present my group's findings.

“So we found that quartz does have cleavage” (40 pairs of eyes flick toward my chest) “and that cleavage” (more staring) “has about a ninety degree angle. But this cleavage” (this time even the professor looked) “differs from the other rock’s cleavage... (by now, several guys were grinning shamelessly.)

Soon I was sweating and flustered. Desperately I grabbed the textbook from my lab partner and clutched it to my chest.

To this day, I promptly do my laundry on Wednesday.

JA Konrath said...

That's hilarious, Simon.

Emily, great story. That class sound like a real bust...

Simon Haynes said...

And I thought I was getting a good story off my chest ...

Harker2099 said...

Hey Joe.

Derrick here. Great to see things are still rolling along for you. Sometimes, I miss seeing you throw some strange stuff up on that old place. Either way you are filled with writing wisdom.

Can't wait to see the next one. I'm hooked.

Anonymous said...

Joe, the photo(s) are on the way. I had to take more than one. I couldn't get him to take mine.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks for the contest info, J.A.

My big public speaking engagement was at the ripe old age of eight. I read an original short story I had written about a girl traveling on the Mayflower (the originality still astounds me to this day. Ahem.) Of course, this was read at a state convention in PA while wearing an honest-to-God pilgrim outfit, while on television.

What can I say? a dark childhood.

Chris said...

So, Simon, did JK ever show up?