Today I have the pleasure of opening up the blog tour for Witch Dust by Marilyn Messik alongside Jules at Little Miss No Sleep. My thanks to Kate at Thick as Thieves Publicity for inviting me to be a part of the tour. I have a fab guest post for you in just a moment after we’ve take a look at what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
“A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck . . . “
For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill. But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.
From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the very much happier she’s going to be.
Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives.
Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.
BOOK LAUNCH SPEECH OR ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
Statistically, public speaking apparently ranks higher in stress terms than almost any other activity. Quite what the parameters were for research that produced this startling fact, I’m not sure. I find it hard to believe addressing an audience could cause more angst than say, a visit to a man in a mask who runs out of the room whilst zapping you with x-rays, before returning to do things with a needle and drill. However, there’s no doubt, whilst there are those who like nothing better than a captive audience, the reactions of others range from it being a minor chore to a knee-knocking, sweaty palmed endurance test.
Of course, before you stand up and give a speech, you need to write the wretched thing and if at this moment you’re sitting in front of a blank screen, fingers poised, you’ll be aware this is often easier in theory than practice. Despite having produced upwards of 90,000 for your latest novel, you might find yourself stumped at being stumped by the couple of hundred you’re seeking for this. There are though some general rules:
- Keep it short. You may well have put blood, sweat, tears and the best years of your life into composing your book, but when it comes to a speech, shorter’s always safer.
- Never start your speech with ‘A is for . . .’ this induces a dreadful sense of foreboding in your audience who immediately see where you’re going with this, and promptly lose the will to live, let alone listen.
- Try to start with a small joke – although you’re not on the Edinburgh Fringe so don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles. And when I say a small joke I mean it, there’s a time for shaggy dog tales and this isn’t it. If you’re lucky enough to get a laugh, savour it. Let people chuckle before you hurtle onwards and upwards. Which brings us to another important point . . .
- Speak slowly. SLOWLY and CLEARLY! And remember, if you gabble, you have to breathe more rapidly. Rapid breathing obviously leads to swifter inhaling in order to remain conscious and upright, and although an indrawn breath is normally no problem, up close and personal to a microphone, trust me, it can sound truly alarming.
- Body language is every bit as important as anything you’re saying. Raised shoulders are a sign of tension. Not a good look, and it’s a known fact that when people are watching you, many of them will unconsciously mimic your movements. Bearing in mind most of us aren’t swan-necked at the best of times, think how a roomful of ears on shoulders is going to look. Do everyone a favour, shake those shoulders down.
- If you’re nervous, don’t hold your notes. Place them securely on the table in front of you. The sight of a shivering sheaf of papers tends to unnerve the audience.
- Even if you’re not nervous, your body will still probably react to the situation with a shot of adrenaline, putting you in a bit of a fight or flight mode – handy back in the ice-age, snout to snout with a sabre tooth, but possibly superfluous to requirements right now.
- An adrenaline rush often gives you a dry mouth, so if you feel your lips sticking firmly to your teeth, panic not, just reach for your handy pre-placed glass of water. NB: bear in mind you need to pause properly to do this as swallowing and breathing in at the same time only leads to sustained choking and possible panic all round!
- A glass of wine may help relax you prior to speaking, but know your limitations. Sliding gently under the table, five minutes before you’re introduced, isn’t going to do anyone any good.
- Finally, don’t forget to include everybody as you speak. Look up, make eye contact, and smile, smile, smile. Most people are instinctively polite, they’ll smile back and you’ll all feel more cheerful, even if your speech is truly dreadful.
Thanks Marilyn. Such an interesting post and to be fair, as someone who has to present to large teams of people quite often, I can relate.
Witch Dust is available to order from the following retailers:
About the Author
Marilyn was a regular feature and fiction writer for various national magazines when her children were small. She then set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods from home, before opening first one shop then another. When she sold both shops she moved into the world of travel, focusing on Bed and Breakfasts and Country Inns in New England, USA. Her advisory, planning and booking service flourished and she concurrently launched a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour accommodation guide. In 2007 she set up a copywriting consultancy, to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect.
She’s the author of the Little Black Business Book series and the novels Relatively Strange and Even Stranger. She’s been married to her very patient husband for more years than he deserves and they have two children, five grandchildren and, somewhat to their surprise, several grand-dogs. Her writing style has been described as ‘A cross between Stephen King and Maureen Lipman.’ although, as she points out, she’s not sure either of them would be remotely thrilled to hear that!
Be sure to check out some of the other blogs taking part in the Witch Dust blog tour