The thrill of being in the audience at author readings is just as thrilling as being “onstage”

Porter group photo

Ever since moving to the Boston area 14 years ago, I’ve been a fan of Porter Square Books. An independent bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that supports independent presses, small book associations, and little-known authors, Porter Square Books has hosted a number of author readings and panel discussions that have drawn my interest. Whenever I attend an event there, I’m thrilled to sit in the audience and listen to authors give a reading or expound on their writing method. I’m practically giddy when I get to speak one-on-one with the author and get the author to autograph a copy of the book for me.

Now I’ve gotten a taste of how the author feels.

Porter Black Lives CoverRecently, three other writers and I gave a reading at Porter Square Books, co-sponsored by the National Writers Union Boston Chapter. We are all contributors to an anthology called Black Lives Have Always Mattered: A Collection of Essays, Poems, and Personal Narratives. I was concerned that very few people would come out to hear us since we are little-known writers. But through the publicity provided by the publisher, 2Leaf Press, and each of us presenters promoting the event through word-of-mouth, email, and social media, we got a decent turnout.

My husband says about 50 people showed up. The most heartwarming moment was afterwards when individuals came up to us with copies of the anthology they had just purchased. People actually stood in line to get my autograph on the book. They had big smiles on their faces. It was surreal.

 

 

My essay on ‘Cognoscenti’ is an example of the benefits of being published online

Cognoscenti LogoA few days ago one of my essays, “Processing ‘Go Back to Where You Came from When Where You Came From is Here,” was published on National Public Radio affiliate WBUR’s Cognoscenti ideas and opinions web page. A writer friend of mine in the National Writers Union Boston Chapter, Barbara Beckwith, had been suggesting for months that I contribute to the site–she’s been published there several times–but I had no interest because I prefer to see my work in a printed publication so it will have an indefinite shelf life. However, by publishing online I’ve been able to get immediate feedback from the public in the “comments” section of the web page and a few people have tweeted the link to my story.

I don’t have a copy of my essay in a bound publication, but it’s reached many more people.

 

Looking to throw a literary party? Let Boston NWU show you how

Book PartyIf you’re thinking about hosting a book party for your organization, but don’t know where to start, let Boston National Writers Union guide you along. Each January, NWU books space for member authors to display and sell the books they’ve had published during the past year. This coming January the party will be held at the Cambridge Family YMCA and will feature William Martin, historical fiction writer and author of ten novels, a brief reading by six NWU authors of new books and a silent auction in which massages and vacation home rentals may be up for grabs.

Of course, a party wouldn’t be complete without refreshments. The event will be catered by a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant.

The book party is open to the public and should help members build an audience within the organization and in general.

The book party is one of the most popular events from NWU. Why not make it a program your organization can sponsor?

Comfort in the Company of Strangers

NWUI’m not the type of person who walks into a restaurant alone and sits down at a table with a group of strangers, but tonight, I made an exception. The occasion wasn’t one of those social networking-inspired group dinners in which unconnected people get together to make new friends. Nor was it a salon-style gathering where the affairs of the day are discussed.

It was the monthly meeting of the Boston chapter of the National Writers Union. I joined NWU a few months ago to make contacts. NWU provides many services, including consultations for writers about to sign a contract with a literary agent or publisher.

New to the organization, I figured I should attend some events to get acquainted with the membership. We met at Christopher’s, a casual dining restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A group of half a dozen writers at different stages of their careers sat around the table giving each other encouragement and tips on markets for getting work published. They welcomed me as soon as I arrived, interested to know what I was working on and enthusiastically discussing their own projects.

Every so often it’s good to step away from the laptop and meet with other writers who are going through similar experiences, dealing with rejection and trying to remain hopeful for publishing success.