Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:10 (NLT)
I clearly remember the first time I spoke in public. I was a third grader, age eight, and narrated the school’s Christmas play. I wore a navy skirt, white blouse and a red ribbon tied around my collar. My parents were so proud of me that they made me pose in my costume, book in hand as though I was speaking in the auditorium instead of standing stiffly in the living room in front of the Christmas tree, blue glasses reflecting the flash of the camera. Since that time, I have loved public speaking. I like the connection with the audience, making them laugh or cry, teaching them something important. I am blessed in my career to do many talks, some lectures, but mostly presentations of our community’s history in creative ways. I dress up in costume and do first person narrations or moderate guessing games as I seek to tell the stories in a way that the public can relate, too. Even when I speak to a group of Shriners who have just finished gorging themselves on the lunch buffet and struggle against (or in some cases, not struggle, but succumb to) the urge to take a post luncheon nap, I love public speaking. Now that I am “the author”, I have discovered the book club circuit. While there is a monetary benefit as each member is supposed to buy and read my book, the lure of book clubs is in communicating with people who not only love to read but savor the written word. They are my kind of people. We speak the same language. I talk to them about the Atzeroth family and the process of research and writing. I relish their questions about the books and drink in their praise. It is still slightly embarrassing to be asked to sign someone’s book, even more when they want a picture of themselves with “the author,” but overall, I am thrilled when I get asked to speak to a book club. Yesterday, I spent several hours with a book club that was enthusiastic and lavish with their compliments. When I read a sample of Julia’s Story, they oohed and aahed in all the right places. I came home feeling accomplished and a tad bit proud. Tonight, I was invited to do the same thing except the setting was our county fair and the guests not as enamored with “the author”. In fact, as I told stories and read excerpts from the book, people got up and left, talked among themselves and one woman even walked up in front of me blocking my view of the small group of onlookers as she waved and called to her friends to come and sit at a table she had saved to eat their BBQ. I know that the audience was completely different and that the setting was less than spectacular, but I returned home humbled and not so proud. Such is the life of “the author.” I still love public speaking!