Public Speaking – Gah!

I like having my voice heard when I speak. It bothers me when I feel ignored or when the company I keep pay half-assed attention to what I’m saying while looking over my shoulders at what is going on behind me or taking what they think are furtive glances at their phones. I enjoy holding a captive audience of one or two or three, whether on a date or out with friends—when it is my turn to speak, of course, as a balance of give and take makes for the best conversations.

I’m not opposed to speaking. I’m quite skilled at it, in fact. I don’t, however, enjoy public speaking—as in getting up in front of a crowd of people. At All.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that at the age of thirteen, I stood on a stage in front of upwards of fifty people and, not only spoke, but sang. Not only did I sing, but it was in Hebrew!! I totally did it for the gifts and the party, but still…If asked to do that today, no way. No effin’ way!! Even that day, I vividly recall my sisters and me unable to contain our laughter when called upon to lead the congregation in “Adon Olam.” I suppose we were cute in our own way, but I doubt it was what the rabbi, cantor, or my mother had in mind.

In order to graduate high school with a Regents diploma, I had to take a semester of Public Speaking. The class consisted of giving a series of oral reports on various topics in front of the classroom. The only ones I remember are “pet peeves” (mine was people who make too much noise when they eat); interview (we were paired with another classmate to role-play the interview process); and a demonstration. For my demonstration, I taught the class how to carve a pumpkin. Only my hands shook so badly, my friend Eric had to do the actual carving. A nervous girl should not be armed with a knife…I received an A- in the class. The writing was consistently spot-on, but my performance left something to be desired. Specifically, the teacher complained that I spoke too quickly. I was trying to get it over with!

But the most memorable public speaking experience for me was in ninth grade when we had to describe some aspect of geography in 3D. I don’t remember much about my actual report, except that I *attempted* to create a globe out of clay. I stood in front of the class and read my oral report. At the end, relieved to have it behind me, I asked the class the required question, “Any questions?” One hand flew up—Dante Golio. With a straight face, Dante said, “Can you repeat that?” apparently referring to the speed with which I spoke. The entire class, including my teacher Mr. Sherman, broke out into hysterics. Mortified and feeling betrayed by my teacher, I ran out of the class and directly to the girls’ bathroom where I sobbed. I’ve never fully recovered.

I write all of this to tell you that on the evening of Thursday, February 12th, I will be doing my first reading at Barnes & Noble in Manhasset (Long Island), along with fellow Booktrope authors Hilary Grossman and Jennifer Gracen. I’ve done my share of book signings and author-related cocktail parties, but this is my virgin “reading” and, yes, I’m quite nervous about it. Excited for sure, but anxious. What if I read too quickly? It’s always been my cross to bear. What if I suddenly lose my ability to read at all and the words just blur into strange characters on the page before me? What I trip on my way to the podium? These questions and more will be answered in a little over a fortnight, along with a three-four page monologue of How Do You Know?.

I will be sure to report back, but if you’re in the area, please stop by to support me (or take pleasure in my discomfort).

BarnesandNoblepicture

with a little help from my friends

Confession: Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been in a writing slump. I’ve always prided myself on my immunity to the dreaded “writer’s block.” Creating ideas and finding the words to express them has never been a problem until recently. I’m about half-way through writing the first draft of Novel Girl, a sequel to Blogger Girl, and while I have a concrete vision of where I want things to go, turning the images I see in my head into words on the page has been challenging over the past couple of weeks. I’ve spent numerous evenings after work, sitting at my favorite coffee shop, and after two hours, I’ve considered it a “productive” time if I managed to add a couple of paragraphs. Writing makes me happy; writer’s block makes me sad. In other words, when the writing doesn’t flow, Meri doesn’t glow.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to take part in the second annual “Beach Babes” weekend in California, near Santa Cruz, at the invitation of the lovely, generous and talented author, Eileen Goudge. Also in attendance were Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, Francine LaSala, and Julie Valerie. These ladies were also at the first annual “Beach Babes” weekend. This year, we added another author, Josie Brown, who fit in so well, I can practically remember her in last year’s memories too.

The mornings were cold, but I spent them drinking coffee either at the large kitchen table of the beach house, sprawled across the couch in the living room, or on the back porch with slippers on my feet, a sweatshirt over my pajamas, and a blanket across my lap. The afternoons got warm and I went for a run with the ocean breeze whipping across my face. (Once. I went running once, but it still counts.) The evenings got cool again, but I was kept warm by the wine, the advice and support of my fellow housemates, and the ever-present (and often inappropriate) humor.

Some of the women read from their works-in-progress—I was too shy as a result of my bout with writer’s block—and I was blown away by the talent in the room and how differently each of us crafted our words. I’m embarrassed to admit that while I listened to them, I was equal parts impressed, envious, and fearful that Novel Girl lacked that something something. But my writer friends who have read all of my novels coaxed me out of my inferiority complex and ultimately out of my writer’s slump. The enthusiasm these authors possessed for their books and for their fellow authors was contagious and I caught the bug. Finally. In fact, I used about two hours of the five hour flight home last night to work on Novel Girl and I’m thrilled to announce that my writing mojo is back. Even better, my talented Beach Babes have inspired me to take it to a whole new and improved level.

Sadly, we need to wait an entire year for the third annual Beach babes weekend, but I am so there. SO. THERE.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as well as some of the newsworthy events I’m sharing below:

Book signing/reading – Thursday, February 12th at the Manhasset location of Barnes and Noble. More information here: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/4829697

Giveaway: Enter for your chance to win up to 40 books in this amazing Valentine’s Day giveaway: http://www.feelingbeachie.com/valentines-day-massive-book-giveaway-2/

 

view from the back porch

view from the back porch

view from my run

view from my run

Eileen's famous "skinny" salad. SO good.

Eileen’s famous “skinny” salad. SO good.

The Beach Babes!

The Beach Babes!

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Guest Blog: From the Author of “How Do You Know?”

It’s been a crazy week, and I didn’t have time to write a fresh post for my own blog, but I did write one for chick lit author, Erin Brady. I’m so happy to have “met” Erin and, after reading The Shopping Swap in just two sittings, I am officially a fan!

Erin Brady

I am so excited today to be able to introduce you to one of my favorite chick-lit authors, Meredith Schorr.  Her books are the best of chick lit!  Her stories are well-developed and her characters are interesting and fun!  If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to check out her books and I’m very lucky to have her as my guest blog today and talk about why she became a writer.  Thank you, Meredith!

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Thank you, Erin, for inviting me to your blog. I’m excited to be here and always welcome the opportunity to talk about my foray into writing.

You know those authors who knew from a very young age they wanted to be a writer? The ones who were scribbling stories with crayons as soon as they learned to read and write? Well, I’m not one of those authors. In fact, my sister used to write…

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Shake it off. Shake it off. Managing expectations with respect to fans

When I wrote my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, I basically winged it. I was walking to work one day when an idea for a story popped into my head. I made the decision to write a book and never looked back. I had no formal training and no experience, but the novel was pretty well received. I considered it a very positive start to my writing career and looked forward to releasing my second novel, A State of Jane.

Everyone who read A State of Jane before it was released commented on how much my writing had improved. The pacing was tighter, the story flowed easier, and the humor was sassy and fresh. I assumed if people enjoyed Just Friends with Benefits, they would LOVE A State of Jane. And many of them did. But then negative reviews came flowing in—Jane was unlikeable, the ending was not satisfying. Some preferred Just Friends with Benefits. Even though I stood by my plotting decisions, I was devastated. How could people not understand that Jane was a work in progress? How could they not appreciate the growth of her character and applaud her independence? How could they not notice how much I’d honed my skills?

My third novel, Blogger Girl, had both a “nice” main character and a more typical romantic comedy storyline. On top of that, I was still growing as a writer. If people enjoyed Just Friends with Benefits, I knew they would love my more polished but equally romantic Blogger Girl. And if A State of Jane wasn’t light and fluffy enough for them, I was certain Blogger Girl would win them over.

The reviews for Blogger Girl were by and large very good. It made it onto about ten blogger’s lists for the best books of 2013, has 111 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 and only one 1 star and zero 2 star reviews. For the most part, it is the fan favorite. Still, there were some naysayers, especially on Goodreads—Kim is too aggressive and full of herself. She’s so insecure! And she doesn’t do any work. One person wrote a review on Goodreads that my writing gets worse with every book. In her opinion, Just Friends with Benefits was, by far, my best book, followed by A State of Jane. She hated Blogger Girl with a passion.

*Sigh* For the love of God, who do I have to sleep with to write a book that everyone likes?

My fourth novel, How Do You Know? was released last month. I thought: this is it. This is by far the most emotional and heartfelt book I’ve ever written, and my growth as a writer is evident. My fans will be delighted! It’s got it all—sass, humor, romance, heartbreak, likeable characters. I’m as good as golden!

And then I had two bloggers who adored Blogger Girl and who enthusiastically agreed to read How Do You Know? decline to write a review because they didn’t connect with it as much as they would have liked. I appreciated their honesty and willingness to refrain from writing a review, but “ouch.” Then the doubts came flooding in. What if I am a bust at writing women’s fiction? Should I stick to chick lit? What if everyone hates this book except my mom, sister, beta readers, and publishing team? But then glowing reviews for How Do You Know? came flowing in: “Meredith’s best book yet.” “Meredith Schorr has done it again.” “I loved this book as much as her others.” My confidence soared again until I received a four star review from someone on New Year’s Eve who said How Do You Know? was engaging enough, but she liked my other books much more. Despite the four-star review, I was disappointed that it wasn’t her favorite.

And then it occurred to me that I’m a multi-published author and to expect every reader to enjoy each of my new books more than the one before is…well…expecting too much. Not to mention that unless I want my previous books to stop selling, I should hope readers will have different preferences so that there is consistent buzz for all of my books. The reality is that not everyone has the same tastes. Some readers prefer pure escapism to depth. Some people love a flawed character they can root for even as they scream at her. Others don’t want a character who might remind them of their own shortcomings. Some folks appreciate an uplifting, but realistic ending; others prefer the fairytale. Some people get a kick out of grown up characters acting juvenile and making fools of themselves. Others think it just makes them look foolish.

The good news is that between four novels, I now have something to please or offend *almost* everyone. I say *almost* because you can’t please everyone. At least, as evidenced in this blog, I have not mastered that skill yet. But as long as I continue to please people more often than not, I will be happy. I’m going to keep writing the stories that inspire me to the best of my ability—which will hopefully continue to improve with each book, even if some fans still prefer an earlier book.