Teresa Goes To Gally

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Whedonista in L.A. Part 1: The Reading and Lessons Learned

Published February 25, 2011 by Teresa

Photo by Mike Bucher

I was nearly pissing myself with nervousness.

After having planned the event from across the country, sight unseen, I was finally in L.A. last week and pissing myself, because I actually had to go through with the damn thing! After all, I’m a nobody! I’d done very little promotion, and I had no idea what kind of clientele The Talking Stick would have in on a Tuesday night. I Tweeted and Facebooked as much as possible, then sat back and hoped. I didn’t expect a big crowd.

I just didn’t want to be reading to no one but the cashier and the kitchen staff, you know?

I needn’t have worried. :)

The Talking Stick is a great, homey coffeehouse in Venice with a stage that’s set for all sorts of music and spoken word events. It’s not tiny, but it’s not enormous, and there was a respectable group of people already there when I arrived with my friends (and hosts for the week), Heather and Alexis.

Alex & Heather attentive. The rest, unattentive, but captive! Photo by Mike Bucher.

Nervousness set in anew when the rest of the friends I expected were held up in traffic (the first in a series of lessons about L.A. traffic sucking hardcore), but after waiting an extra 15-20 mintues to start I finally had to get on with it. With the world’s biggest knots in my stomach.

Which is funny, because I’ve spent years as an actor and am a karaoke whore. I don’t get nervous in front of people. Well, I didn’t. Apparently, I do when I have to read them my writing. :)

Photo by Mike Bucher.

LESSON #1: Give yourself time to make sure your microphone and stand (and water) is exactly where you need it.

The gentleman behind the counter, who was the most awesome hippie ever, helped me with the music stand, but I adjusted my own mic, quickly, and I adjusted it wrong. The top of the stand stayed loose, and I ended up holding it up for much of the first story I read. After a while, I just took the mike off the stand and held it, which made me feel like I was doing stand-up. Except that my short story wasn’t particularly funny. Speaking of…

LESSON #2: Make sure you time your selection ahead of time. Don’t read anything over 20 minutes long.

I thought my short story would clock in at about 20 mins or so. So, imagine my horror when I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that I’d been reading the same story for over 40 minutes! Never mind the audience, I wanted to boo myself off stage!

However, once I got to the story’s climax I looked out at people’s faces and saw that they were interested and right there with me. So…it was a little long getting to the exciting stuff, but once the exciting stuff started happening, the folks were into it! So, yay! But in future…

LESSON #3: Don’t read a “new” or “in-progress” piece unless you’re famous.

I thought it’d be a good idea to read something more current than what’s in my chapbook, as my chapbook stories are older and I like to think I’ve improved as a writer in the intervening years. The thing is, while those stories are older, they’re also polished and finished. As I read “How to Be Ignored at Parties,” I felt each and every place where it still needed editing. It was kinda excruciating. I got through it, and people seemed to enjoy it by the end, but still. If you’re selling a book, you should read something from that book. No one cares about stuff that’s still in-progress unless the author is famous and already has several reliable novels/collections under his/herĀ  belt.

Juliana, Josh, and Amy! Photo by me. (See how it's not as good as the others? That's how you can tell.)

LESSON #4: Practice really does make perfect.

My friends who’d been stuck in traffic arrived at the tail-end of my story, which ended up working out as they’re the real Whedon fans, and I wanted them to hear my essay from Whedonistas. I’d read my essay over and over beforehand, not really in the interest of practicing so much as in amazement that it was actually going to be in a book, but that prepared me for the reading anyway. I was so familiar with the piece that by the time I read it at the Talking Stick, I was able to pretty much act it out like a monologue! :) I still had to look at it from time to time, but I was able to engage more with the audience.

And for the record, the audience grew considerably between my first and second selections! After the rest of my friends arrived, other folks came in, and as I read my ode to Joss Whedon, which is also my geek “coming out” story, I started getting supportive comments from the audience as people started shouting things like “It’s stupid to hide who you are!” and whooping or clapping when I was talked about their favorite Whedon show. I got a really warm round of applause at the end of that piece, which was amazing, and afterwards my friends and I hung around for the music act that came on after me.

And then, something awesome happened.

As I went to the back of the store to get sugar packets for coffee, a gentleman named Jose stopped me to tell me how much he enjoyed my reading! Then he said “You know, I haven’t read much sci-fi in a while. I used to read it all the time when I was younger. Listening to you made me want to pick some up again!”

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel! (Though I’ll certainly try) It was such a thrill to think that me reading my little old story and essay made someone rethink their entire relationship with a genre. I inspired someone back to sci-fi! ME. :) And that, right there, is the power of the written word, mo fos.

And yes, it was only one person. And yes, the “crowd” I read for wasn’t enormous. But I’m of the mind that affecting one person is just as important as affecting a room full. And that if I – random freelance writer going to a state where few people know her and setting up a reading to share her work that no one has heard of – can do it, anyone can.

For another take on my reading, check out this generous review of it at ChinaShop Magazine! It’s where the Mike Bucher photos are from!

And the Winners Are…

Published February 8, 2011 by Teresa

The contestants...

The Send Teresa to Gally drive is officially over, and I’d like to send another HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who bought a copy of On the Ground Floor in the past couple of weeks in order to help. You’ve helped me buy a plane ticket and provided me with the getting-around money I needed to join the Whedonistas panel at Gallifrey One, and I am so, so grateful.

The drawing... (the shirt I'm wearing does not mean I endorse the movie advertised. It came in a swag bag I got today, and I'm wearing it to sleep.)

Other than posting crappy pictures of me in my pajamas, the purpose of this post is to announce the TWO lucky winners in my drawing for free copies of Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them! I entered the name of everyone who bought a copy of On the Ground Floor, or who otherwise supported my Gally effort, between January 17th and February 5th. Then I swirled the folded pieces of paper in a little bag and chose two of them at random! The first one was…

KATRINA HILL!

And the second was…

JILL PANTOZZI!

CONGRATULATIONS, LADIES! You have each won a free copy of Whedonistas that I will be snagging for you at Gallifrey and getting signed by the panelists (including me!). Thank you so much for helping the effort and for getting me to Gally!

I wish I could shower each and every one of you with presents for being so nice to me! Thank you again, and stay tuned for news of my L.A. itinerary and more! :) TO GALLY!

TERESA GOES TO GALLY: Last Week to Enter and Win!

Published January 31, 2011 by Teresa

February 5th is SATURDAY, so this is the last week that your purchase of a chapbook will enter you to win a free copy of Whedonistas! I hope you’ll consider it, as 1) I’m proud of the stories in On the Ground Floor, and think you might enjoy them, and 2) you’re gonna want to get your mitts on Whedonistas, as it’s going to be a great book!

Also, there’s been a new development. While the Send Teresa To Gally effort put me over my goal, and I was able to purchase my plane ticket, the price of the plane ticket went up slightly from when I originally priced it. I also just found out today thatĀ I have to pay to get into Gally! I didn’t realize that was the case, and it was totally an assumption on my part that I wouldn’t have to. I should’ve planned better. In any case, it’s $75 for the weekend and $40 just for the day of my panel.

Suddenly, that “extra money” I thought I had isn’t so very extra anymore. But I refuse to be discouraged about it! :)

If you’ve been meaning to purchase my chapbook, this week would be a great time to do it! You’ll both be helping me hugely, as well as entering to win a wonderful little prize for yourself!

Thank you so much for your continued support! And if you’d like to get your hands on a chapbook, CLICK HERE and follow the instructions!

TERESA GOES TO GALLY: Win An Autographed Copy of Whedonistas!

Published January 28, 2011 by Teresa

Today was the day! I purchased my plane ticket to L.A. I’m officially going to Gally and will be in Los Angeles from February 13 to February 20th!

Already, it’s looking to be an eventful week:

MONDAY (14th) – most likely a big karaoke gathering. Still being planned, but details will be posted far and wide for anyone in town who’d like to see me and/or hear me rock White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, or Baby, I Love You by Aretha Franklin.

TUESDAY (15th) – I’M DOING A READING/SIGNING AT THE TALKING STICK! Thank you, Amy Ratcliffe, for the suggestion of venue. I’ll be reading some fiction and my essay from Whedonistas starting at 6PM. It’s FREE. So if you are in town, and can’t go to Gally that weekend, or want to see me and hear a story I’ve never read/published anywhere before, please stop by and say hello. I’ll have copies of On the Ground Floor to sell/sign, and you’ll be able to pre-order a copy of Whedonistas, too!

FRIDAY (18th) – The launch party for Season 2 of the most amazing webseries to come along since The Guild, Awkward Embraces! Seriously, check out this show and donate your cubits so they can keep it going! It’s amazing. I just mentioned to a friend of mine that if you watch this show, you will completely understand who I am. She watched it and agreed.

FRI-SAT-SUNDAY (18-19-20th) – GALLIFREY ONE. ‘Nuff said. The Whedonistas panel is on Saturday the 19th at 3PM on the Second Stage (Atlanta/Boston Rooms). Watch in amazement as I look totally out of place sitting next to people way cooler than me! :)

And in addition to all that, there will hopefully be quality hanging with friends time, a hike through a canyon (I hear there are these things called “canyons” in L.A.), touristy things (I’ve never been to L.A. properly before), lunch with my ChinaShop editor (whassup, Barbie!), and some interviews I’m hoping to conduct while I’m in town. I’m tired just READING all that….

And I can’t WAIT.

Now, as I’m going to be there a full week, and my friends in town all have jobs and lives, I’m going to be on my own most days while people are at work, and will probably be taking a lot of public transportation and/or cabs to get around. Then there’s food. And getting into said touristy things. There’s also the convention itself, as well as buying alcohol, which is extremely important…

So, if you’d still like to help as Teresa Goes To Gally, please purchase a copy of On The Ground Floor by February 5th, as I could still use some extra funds to make sure I can get around and not starve. :) As an added incentive, two lucky customers/donors will be chosen at random to win a copy of Whedonistas autographed by members of the Whedonistas panel! Plus whatever other swag I can snag at Gally. (Yes, if you’ve already donated, it counts toward this prize, too!)

Special thanks to Olga Branson and Sylvie-Anne Goulet Casey, who have generously donated since my last blog post. Love you ladies!

And thank you all so much for your enthusiastic support and kindness.

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