So, I’m writing this on the train home, having just finished my very first author talk and I am absolutely buzzing! It was an amazing experience and, surprisingly, one I actually enjoyed! I was quite nervous, but I didn’t let those horrible squirmy butterflies get the better of me, and facing my fear of public speaking has left me ecstatic. I can’t thank Lisa from the Pen to Print project enough for being such a lovely host and all the staff at Dagenham Library for making me feel so much at home. You were all great and made the experience more relaxed than I was expecting.

With how elated how I am right now I should probably leave it before I reflect on what went well and what I might need to improve on, and I probably will write another blog post later when I have, but for now, here are my immediate thoughts:

1. A good host makes all the difference

Lisa who hosted the session and asked me lots of questions, was so outgoing and friendly it was like chatting to an old friend, pretty much from the moment I met her. She asked me some great questions and it was lots of fun!

As this was my first event and I haven’t actually had a bad host before I’m not exactly an authority, but Lisa was so good I can easily imagine how hard it would have been if the host wasn’t as quick to fill silences or pick up when I’d run out steam talking. Lisa was fab and I really hope her bosses know that! I might have to email them and tell them!

2. Definitely prep ahead

I’m so glad I did! Having an idea of how I wanted to answer questions meant I wasn’t just rambling on for ages. I was fairly decisive and managed to curb my enthusiasm so I didn’t witter. I wanted to make sure I gave some hints and tips and made the event worthwhile for those who were there, whether they were aspiring writers wanting to learn, or a reader who is more interested in how the book itself came about, how hope they all came away with something.

3. Deciding what to write in people’s books is hard!

This event was quite small and I’m not well known enough to have to sign loads and loads of books. So when I sign books I want to write something nice — something personal. But knowing what on the spur of the moment was very hard. I think I might need to plan this a little more in advance so if someone hasn’t told me something specific I can pick up on, I can write something without it being the same each time.

4. Making eye contact is definitely important.

It made the whole thing feel so much more than just me rabbitting on. I felt like I was actually connecting with people who I was so grateful too for making the time to come and listen to me.

5. Remember, you can’t get it wrong!

The night before it suddenly occurred to me that I can’t actually get it wrong! It wasn’t like was having a job interview where you have to remember everything. I was going to talk about my book and my journey to publication. No one knows that better than me! And even if I sometimes jumped backwards and forwards a bit, being a person and chatting like one meant that people saw the real me.

As terrifying as it was, I’d love to do it again even though it is nerve-wracking as hell! Right now I’m so proud of myself for facing a fear and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier the more I do it. As soon as my train gets in and I’ve got the kids bathed and in bed I’m going to have a big glass of wine and take a deep breath! I think my shoulders are finally coming back down from around my ears as the tension releases from my shoulders! And finally, I’d really like to say a great big happy, shouty thank you to everyone who attended today, you made it such fun and I really hope I’ll get to meet you again soon.