Monday, July 16, 2012

Speaking--Me? by Linda Kozar

Remember those daydreams you used to have about getting your first novel published? The publishing house sends a limo to pick you up. (Hey, I've seen that in made-for-TV movies, okay?). The limo ushers you off to a glamorous New York bookstore where there are looooooong lines of adoring readers who don't mind waiting for hours for the privilege of having you sign your book. The publishing house is happy. Your editor is happy. You're happy. And rich. Did I mention rich?

But if and when your book gets published, the reality is you will be traveling around doing book signings, staying in chintzy motels, eating greasy fast food and counting the days till you get home. And when you're not doing that, you are promoting your book all over the internet, begging folks to do blog tours, doing radio interviews by phone, and inviting people to virtual parties on Facebook and Twitter.

Besides all that, authors are often called upon to speak to women's retreats, writer's groups, book clubs, retirement communities, etc. Most writers I know are comfortable behind a laptop, but not so comfortable in front of a crowd of people. Are you?

If not, you've got to take steps to change that. I did.

The first step I took was to put together some speaking topics. I co-founded a writer's group back in 2005, with a friend of mine. There were ample opportunities over the years to teach workshops and get comfortable in front of large groups. Experience is what makes you comfortable. And how do you get experience? One meeting at a time.

Over the years, that list expanded. Here is a list of my speaking topics:

·  Speaking Topics:
1. Actively Pursuing God
2. The 411 on Journalism
3. Bio-Hazards
4. Fifty Ways to Say Yellow--Writers tend to use the same old, same old
instead of finding more creative ways of describing worlds real or imagined. Fifty
Ways To Say Yellow utilizes The Synonym Finder in a lesson and practical creative writing exercise designed to expand a writer's word universe.
5. Another Opening, Another No
6. Cliché Clutter
7. Playground for Poets--Playground for Poets covers the bare basics for anyone
interested in writing poetry. Examples from an eclectic assortment of poetry (even
Slam) and simple explications help any amateur poet develop a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that move verse and hearts.
8. Figurative Language
9. Wrap Yourself in His Presence
10.  Writing For The Righteous--Writing For The Righteous: A Reality Check List For the Inspirational Market, is a guide for those who want to write for the inspirational market. It covers motivation, terminology, Christianese buzz words, Bible versions, what Christian Publishers want, Guidelines, Bible Research sources, Christian writer's conferences, resources, a checklist and more.
11.  The Club of the Pubbd
12.  Happy Endings
13.  Chocolate Covered Blurbs: The “I Want to Buy That Book” Eye Candy
14.  Keeping Your Balance On Your Platform

The second thing I did was join Toastmasters. It was a real commitment for me to be a part of this group as they met at 7:00 am. Now, going to a meeting at that hour is one thing, but actually speaking that early in the AM is quite another. I stepped out of my comfort zone with a wide yawn.

My goal was to achieve my Competent Communicator, by completing a series of ten speeches. I made it through eight before I stopped going. Will I go back? Yes. What I learned helped me immensely, but I have a lot to learn when it comes to public speaking, so I do plan on going back at some point.

For now however, I feel confidant in the type of speaking I do. Teaching a workshop doesn't have as many constrictions. The speaking style can be informal. No one is timing you and nobody's counting how many times you say 'ah' or 'uh':)

If you are an author and haven't considered speaking, consider it. Speaking is a great way to share your writing knowledge and expertise with new writers, as well as meet and greet readers and fans.

Linda Kozarauthor of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (2009 Howard/Simon & Schuster, print/digital), Misfortune Cookies (2008 Barbour Publishing print). Misfortune CookiesA Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail “When The Fat Ladies Sing,” series (2012 Spyglass Lane Mysteries digital). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, a local ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed, and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For the Journey Christian Writers Guild. She led a weekly women's bible study in her home for 14 years previous to one she co-leads now, (5 years) called "Babes With A Beatitude". She and her husband Michael, married for 23 years, have two lovely daughters in college and a rat terrier princess named Patches.

Member ofCAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas. WoodsEdge Community Church, The Woodlands, Texas.



  1. I adore speaking! I have had a few fun opportunities to do so at my church, but would LOVE to learn how to get more opportunities.

    Toastmasters is a really good tip as well. I have toyed with the idea in the that my kids are school age I should look into it more seriously.: )

    1. Traci--Great, you're ahead of the game if you have some speaking under your belt. Keep up the good work. (Also, Toastmasters is wonderful!)

  2. Wow! Very inspirational post Linda! You really know what it takes to get out there to your public. I've spoken at my Writers Group as an author but no where else. I like the fact that you have so many topics to speak on too. Can't wait to read them all!

  3. Thanks Nancy--I'll bet you're wonderful at speaking. Get out there, girl!

  4. Good post as always Linda. Doing e-books only I don't think the idea has ever come up. I mean I don't actually have a hard copy book to talk about. However, things are always subject to change, and the more I read you guys the more I learn. Thanks.

  5. Linda,
    This is really timely. My debut book was in Oct 2011 and I've been to a few bookclubs. However, I've still have a case of the nerves when I speak. I have a book club next wednesday and I was wondering what I could do to make it easier. I also thought of joining our speaker's club in town, but I don't do early so I don't know about that. I'm going to practice on the dog for next week. LOL
    Debbie Malone

  6. Thanks C.L.--you never know! Like the Boy Scouts say, "Be Prepared!"

  7. Deborah, the good news about Toastmasters is they meet at all different times. One club might meet in the early am, another for lunch and another in the evening. I know you can find one that works with your schedule.

    Besides being prepared (with your speech on index cards or printed out), one thing I learned was to take a deep breath on your way to the front of the room. The extra oxygen helps!