Saturday, January 29, 2022

Public Speaking for Authors - Part One - By Jeanne Burrows-Johnson


ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE...and it awaits the imprint of your brand!

The success of a branding program rests on harmonizing the look, sound, and feel of all of its components, including the setting in which an author speaks publicly. While you may not be able to completely control the physical environment of your presentations, you can enhance the overall positive impact of the experience for yourself and your audience.


If you have never spoken at the venue, you’ll be relying on the event’s organizers to provide the correct information regarding lighting, voice amplification, and projection of materials you’ll utilize to highlight your speaking points. In addition, they’ll be scheduling the podium, table, and/or chair from which you’ll speak. If possible, visit the venue in advance of the event. While this may be easy in your hometown, it can be impossible when you’re working in another city [let alone country]. Therefore, it’s good to arrive a day in advance of your presentation. If you’re lucky, you will be delivering your remarks at the hotel in which you are staying. As this is seldom the case, travel with the basics you require to be effective.


Depending on your height and weight, and position in relation to the audience, you may need to modify your hair, clothing, shoes, and/or accessories to maximize your facial and overall visibility. Speaking engagements often occur in rooms with a stage that is at least a step above the floor on which the audience is seated. This enhances your visibility as a speaker, but it means you must look good from the top of your head to the bottoms of your shoes. And although many stages are carpeted, older wooden or tiled stages may have uneven surfaces, for which you will require sturdy and slip-resistant footwear.


Sole presenters in a public venue usually have access to a podium. Free-standing or tabletop, it should offer sides that mask your script, notes, watch, and other items you may need to reference. Unless a free-standing podium is constructed of a tubular frame, it is probable that you’ll be visible only from your chest up. That gives you more flexibility in your stance and movement of your feet. If the podium is comprised of a hollow frame or positioned on top of a table that has no tablecloth, you will not have that luxury.


The quality of your natural speaking voice can be either an asset or detriment in public speaking. Depending on your audience, even the strongest of voices expressed in the wrong tonal range can be hard for some listeners to hear properly. Many podiums are set up with a microphone fixed in position. If you learn you’ll be using a hand-held mic, you may want to obtain a small stand in order to free your hands for gesturing, pointing to overhead projections, etc. Having said this, I must note some presenters like to speak off the cuff rather from written material and prefer a handheld or wireless mic so they can roam freely—sometimes even moving within their audience. 

Be aware that the effectiveness of the microphone you use [especially lavaliere or headsets] can depend on your neckline, arrangement of hair, and any chain or necklace you wear. Also consider that dangling earrings and loose watches or bracelets can interfere with sound projection. Having a strong voice may lessen the need to provide your own electronic equipment. However, if you are embarking on a lengthy tour, you might consider acquiring sound equipment that can make you more independent of the facilities in which you appear—if it is compatible with the speakers to which your equipment will be connected. In making such a decision, you will want to seek the input of an electronics specialist.


Will you be able to set up a display that greets and enlivens your audience? At the minimum, you should be able to drape a banner over the front of a podium [using double sided tape, if nothing else]. I carry the banner from the release of my first book. I also travel with varied sizes of my shipping boxes on which I can place color-coordinated tablecloths to create elevated surfaces for displaying signage, products, and handouts. Stands of varying proportions allow me to maximize visibility across a room. Of course, be cautious about displaying valuable items which could disappear… 

Enlargements of colorful book covers, pictures of previous appearances, and banners with both your image and the works you’re presenting make a wonderful background for highlighting fliers, future project descriptions, and business cards. I always order hardcover books with embossed jacket fronts which are durable event samples [and are popular with libraries concerned with their collection’s longevity]. By presenting them on stands, as well as on the tabletop, I am inviting people to pick them up. If there’s a theme to your work, you can add decorative items that reinforce such a reference. As most of my work centers on Hawai`i, I display a shell lei or two, a golden fish business card holder, and tablecloths that harmonize with my book cover colors.


If you’re speaking in your hometown and have checked out the venue, you’ll know what you need to carry with you. The one thing that may affect your preparations is a change in the size of your audience, thereby impacting the number of books and handouts required. When traveling to a long-distance destination, try to send a box of books and promotional materials ahead to a friend, colleague, or even the hotel at which you’ll be staying. Generally strategize the items you should carry personally, rather than check into a plane or train’s luggage compartment. 

I recall my gratitude for arriving in Hilo, Hawaii, two days ahead of an engagement following a trip to the U.S. mainland. I was performing Scottish Highland Dancing and was shocked to learn that my costumes were never transferred from my original plane and thus they sat in Honolulu for a day. As an author, I now keep the following items with me personally when traveling to author appearances: memory sticks and master copies of materials needed for display and distribution; one copy of pertinent books and project samples; one small tablecloth and a shell lei to personalize my displays; a couple of copies of a short biography; two 3 x 5 inch cards with an introduction of me and my presentation; a name badge with large print and pertinent professional organizational pins; a beautiful artificial orchid for my hair; and, one elegant jacket to dress up even an emergency wardrobe purchase if my luggage does not arrive with me!

Jeanne Burrows-Johnson is a published author who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. To find out more about Jeanne, go to her website at:

Monday, January 17, 2022

My favorite science fiction cats in space - by Vijaya Schartz


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As you can tell from my book covers, I have cats in many of my Science fiction novels, even in those not featuring a cat on the cover. Most of these cats are telepathic, and it’s not by accident. We all know cats have a sixth sense… and nine lives to boot.

I love cats, and if I had to go on a long voyage through space to another planet, I couldn’t imagine not taking a cat as a companion. I would also want to seed that new earth-like planet with cats. It makes perfect sense as I couldn’t imagine life without these beautiful creatures.

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Marshmallow in BLACK DRAGON is a cuddly ball of fluff who helps the hero cheat at cards and charm the ladies. His favorite reward is synthetic tuna.

But some of these cats are enormous, and readers not familiar with my work sometimes ask: “How is it possible to have such big cats on a spaceship, or a space station?”

Alpha Space Station in the movie Valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Obviously, they have the wrong idea of the size of an interstellar ship. Since there is no limitation to size in space, ships can be the size of several football fields. As for the space stations of the distant future, we are not talking about our tiny ISS orbiting earth, but about space stations as large as entire cities or small moons, like artificial planets orbiting alien suns or gas giants, and supporting millions of people.

The Byzantium Space Station as I imagined it.

How do cats happen to be in space or on other planets?

Sometimes my fictional cats are wild and native to their alien planet, like Tibeta and her cubs in Angel Brave, the Smilodons of Azura, a planet teeming with large predators. I pity the hero, Keoke, who has to face this deadly family of cats.

Tibeta, the sabertooth Smilodon cat in Angel Brave

Sometimes, like in the Chronicles of Kassouk, the big cats are the result of a human experiment gone out of control, and are trained and used in battle, or kept as pets.

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There are also the big cats experimented upon, who are genetically modified and electronically enhanced to communicate telepathically with their owners. They usually become companions for bounty hunters, like Akira’s cheetah retriever in AKIRA’S CHOICE, or the telepathic cougar helping Fianna catch the bad guys in ANGEL MINE.

In MALAIKA’S SECRET, Raja, the lion guarding the temple, was rescued from illegal smugglers of exotic animals.

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In SNATCHED, my heroine has to face a native saber-tooth tiger in the jungle.

In ALIEN LOCKDOWN, set in the Andromeda galaxy, my protagonists face a native predator called a bearcat.

There are no significant cats in my medieval fantasy series CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends, but I must mention for dog lovers, that I have a heroic dog named Kopek in DAMSEL OF THE HAWK, book 7, which is a standalone in the series.

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But there are more cats to come in my future books. In ANGEL SHIP, Book one of the Blue Phantom series, to be released in the fall of 2022, the heroine, a warrior princess, has a telepathic feline bodyguard with a keen sense of peoples’ true character.

In the meantime, you can find all my books at online retailers. amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
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Monday, January 10, 2022

Academy Award Winning Movies 1928-2020: How Movies Have Changed Through the Years - by Diane Holloway Cheney

 The history of the Academy Award ceremonies and awards is captured here for each passing year. Important themes and movies of lasting value are examined for additional ideas, sights, dialogue, stars, cast selections, racial issues, inside relationships, and musical impacts. Keep this book close by to re-watch important movies.

Diane Holloway Cheney, Ph.D. is a member of the American Psychological Association, Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, American Film Institute, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and Sundance Institute. She wrote The Mind of Oswald after working at Parkland Hospital in Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's assassination, and many non-fiction books.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Donald Trump, Robert Mueller, Christopher Steele: Mogul, Enforcer, Spy - by Diane Holloway Cheney


This thrilling page-turner describes the lives of the most controversial men of our era and how they impacted each other. We now realize that the greatest threat to our country can come from within as well as those not in our own country. Can an administration ignore laws and attack democratic institutions without damaging democracy?

These shocking revelations are not without some humor to brighten what are otherwise dark and scary truths.

Diane Holloway Cheney, Ph.D. was director of a psychiatric hospital in a Dallas suburb, led the Dallas Police Department in setting up their first assessment center for higher ranking police supervisors, and was appointed the first Drug Czar of Dallas by the Mayor. She wrote The Mind of Oswald after working at Parkland Hospital in Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's assassination. She also wrote Analyzing Leaders, Presidents and Terrorists, and I Was a VIP on 11/22/63 and many non-fiction books.