Are you looking for someplace to showcase your writing?
If you’re a newer writer (and there are a lot of us out there, you’re not alone), you may have heard other writers mention readings. I’ve posted some advice on performing readings before, here on The Storyside, as well as sharing my first experience with it.
You may have read that story of my first reading and laughed at how nervous I was . . . but now that you’re thinking of stepping up in front of a crowd yourself, you’re anticipating your own knees doing some knocking. It’s okay, a little stage fright is natural, and something I still feel, every time.
Let me tell you about Worcester Storytellers.
The fourth Friday of almost every month, at around 7:00 pm, a group of people get together at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, Massachusetts, for a reading. There, in the back room of the little book store that’s bigger in the inside, there are writers, both published and un-, poets, and folks who are just there to listen. There’s a featured reader—someone whose name goes on the Worcester Storyteller’s Facebook page for that month, hogs most of the spotlight, and gets to shoulder most of the pressure—but first they have an open mic.
Put your John Hancock on their sign-up sheet when you walk in, and they’ll call your name, giving you five minutes or so to take to the front of the room and share a little of your work with the dozen or so people (maybe less?) in attendance. Once open mic is done—and I’ve been there twice so far, seeing a few people each time—a short break is taken, during which they pass a hat (everybody throws in a few bucks to pay for the featured author’s gas, and maybe dinner), and then the main author takes the floor. You can purchase the readers’ books at the register, if you so desire (there’s no obligation), and they’ll be happy to sign them for you before they leave.
It’s the most low-pressure public reading you’re likely to find. The audience is small—though even a small audience can look huge, when you’re the one standing before them about to share your own stuff—and friendly, filled with public readers themselves, who make excellent listeners. If you’re looking for someplace to ease into public reading, or you’ve done it before and are looking to practice, or even if you simply enjoy reading your stuff to people and want to do it in a in a comfortable atmosphere, and Worcester, MA is within your reach, you might want to give the Worcester Storytellers a try.
Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines. His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012.
His latest work is a collection of short stories entitled Echoes of Darkness, published by Books & Boos Press (2016).
Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words.
More about his work can be found at www.RobSmales.com, or you can look him up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Robert.T.Smales.