The noir fiction thing at Soya e Pomodoro in Miami went well. Even for me. Barely. A little more on that later, but here are a few highlights:
-- Edna. Edna Buchanan looked great in this shimmery silver jacket and gave a spirited reading of her newest novel, which hasn't been published yet. The said that when she sends it out, she'll go through the usual post-partum depression. At one point during her reading she worried that she was going over on time (there were seven authors there) and said something like, "If I could hold you all at gunpoint, I'd read you this entire novel. I love these characters so much." She meant it and you could feel it and that was a cool moment.
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-- Paul Levine, another former Miami Herald reporter turned novelist (and Hollywood guy), is a natural public speaker who provided some good entertainment (and isn't that what these things are really about?). I laughed out loud when he mentioned that he worked for Herald "before its demise ... before it died." Ah, good stuff.
-- Vicki Hendricks read from her story in Miami Noir, which included a sex scene involving two women, one a near-midget, the other a near-amazon. Damn it was funny. If you haven't read Hendricks, who also works as an English professor at Broward Community College, do so. Now.
Everyone -- Lynne Barrett, James O. Born, and James Williamson -- had their moments. And the folks at the Florida Center for Literary Arts were wonderful hosts (with special thanks to Lissette Mendez). Also Nicole from Books & Books was an absolute joy. As for me, let's just say it was a bit strange. I've done a lot of public speaking by now and usually I'm moderately pleased with it. Not this time. Just didn't click or connect. Wanted to sit down as soon as I got up to the microphone. I could give you excuses, but it was just the way it went. You know what saved it from being an utter disaster? The material. One attendee told me she bought my book just to see the ending of the story I was reading. And when I merficully read the last line, which involved the firing of a rifle, I swear Edna Buchanan sort of gasped. I don't know if she was just appalled at my speaking at the same event with her or if the story startled her. I'm going with the latter. And I was tentatively invited to do a panel discussion in front of another literary group.
Never doubt that Woody Allen was right: Eighty percent of success is showing up.