A Reading is a Performance

« A reading is a performance, » said Terry Fallis* in one of his University of Toronto Building An Audience courses.

(Award Gala photo by Danielle Maheu)

Maybe I revive this outfit for one of the readings?
(Award Gala photo by Danielle Maheu)

With three readings coming up over the next few months, I have reviewed my notes on the subject for a few hints that can help prepare the best performance possible:

1. Choose a section that reflects the book / that reflects you as a writer.

2. Make eye contact with the audience.

3. When reading, it’s good to « act » the characters a little.

4. Use your voice as your instrument. Adjust your voice/performance to fit the writing. Change volume – lower the voice for dramatic moments (but not so much as to be inaudible) and raise the voice for excitement.

5. Vary the pace – slow down to add drama; use pauses, let the audience hang before delivering a punchline (coup de grâce), or speed up for intensity.

6. Practice, practice, practice. Before the reading, try out your piece. Practice in front of friends, or in front of a mirror. You can even time yourself, so that you know how long your reading takes.

I’ve been rehearsing my readings, timer at hand, to help me choose the best sections. Want to know which I picked? Feel free to attend any one (or all) of the readings to find out!


*I know, I know, sometimes I should just call my blog a fan page for this award-winning author…

Exchanging Notes and A Reading in September

I’m excited to be reading as part of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative literary evening, called Exchanging Notes, next month. On September 5th, 2013, the TOWC has invited award-winning author (and my one-time mentor) Terry Fallis to chat at the Toronto Reference Library.

Prior to the interview with Terry, two TOWC members will read their work – yours truly is one of them. It all goes down at the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be reading an excerpt of my short story Where Pigeons Roost, about a woman who becomes obsessed with the underground game of pigeon-thwacking.

See you there!

Exchanging Notes: the interviews
with Terry Fallis
Host John Miller converses about the writer’s life and craft with Terry Fallis.  Terry is the author of The Best Laid Plans (Leacock Medal for Humour, 2008) and The High Road.  In 2011, The High Road won CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.”  TBLP is currently in development as a CBC-Television mini-series.  Terry’s continuing publisher, McClelland and Stewart, published Up and Down in 2011.  It debuted on the G&M bestsellers list.  Terry’s 4th novel, No Relation, will be published in May, 2014.  His 5th novel is currently underway.
Terry has extensive experience in provincial and federal politics, and communications consultation with the agency he co-founded, Thornley Fallis.
A.M. Matte and John Warren of the T.O. Writers’ Co-op will read from their work.


Exchanging Notes: the interviews
with Terry Fallis
6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street
Info: towc@live.com

CanadaWrites Humblebrags

It’s February 2013, and CanadaWrites issued this challenge to the Twitterverse: « We’ve been looking at the art of self-promotion this month, and thought we would have some fun with a tongue-in-cheek look at how fabulous we are. »

Tweeps were invited to « Tweet Your Own Horn » and fake (or not) brag about ourselves.

CanadaWrites counted over 1,000 tweets in response to the challenge, with a selection of all-stars here, of which I humbly number, with the following:

[A.M. Matte @ammatte Finally got my autograph stamp! Phew. Carpal tunnel from book signings gets painful. #canadawrites #humblebrag ]


Wonder if I should send my favourite writer and one-time mentor, Twitterbrags judge Terry Fallis, some sort of literary bribe in order to win this one?

An intimate reading

Fallis-class reading

A.M. Matte reading "A Treat"

I’ve heard it asked before: What if you plan a reading and no one shows up?

The answer: It’s not the quantity of people who attend, it’s the quality.

I had the opportunity to read my short story « A Treat », about a young girl who desperately wants her older sister’s approval and is willing to do anything – even buy her an ice cream treat – to get it, in Terry Fallis’ Building An Audience For Your Writing class at U of T this week.

There were only three other people in the room, but they gave me their rapt attention and insightful feedback on my writing and my performance. They asked probing questions about my characters’ motivation and gave me tips on how I can make reading excerpts of the written word more compelling.

The best thing about a small yet captivated audience?  You can read more material. Case in point: we had such a great time at our reading that we’re doing it again next week.


Effortlessly Inspiring

Terry Fallis and A.M. Matte at the University of Toronto

You know what it’s like when you wait a long time to meet a celebrity / favorite artist and you’re disappointed once you’ve met them?

I don’t.

Because while I waited a year to meet Terry Fallis, award-winning author of The Best Laid Plans, The High Road and the much-anticipated September 2012 release Up and Down, he managed to exceed my lofty expectations of him.

Fallis, who is teaching a U of T continuing studies class on Building an Audience – marketing for writers, is as genuine and as funny as I’d imagined him to be. He is knowledgeable and self-deprecating, and he picked up on my fandom immediately. I didn’t even have to ask him to sign my copies of the aforementioned novels, he offered.

For five weeks, Fallis will school a small group of writers in various marketing methods, including optimizing social media, self-publishing and podcasting, and mastering the art of the reading. He gleans his material from his PR experience as well as from practical examples from his own progression as an esteemed Canadian author. We were so taken with the first class that we stayed past the end time, discussing authors’ web presence and blogs. I love when learning is effortless and inspiring.

And lest this post seem like an attempt to butter up a prof for a good grade, let it be known that I’ve already finished my Creative Writing Certificate; this course is just candy. But should Fallis hand out grades, I expect to earn an A.