Month: June 2017

Going Live – What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

As it happens, nothing too awful. When I embarked upon my first live Q&A session on Twitter and Facebook last week, there was (in my mind) potential for all sorts of diabolical subversion. But it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was almost fun. To make it actually fun, there are a few things I would have done differently and certainly some aspects I wish I had thought about more carefully. But overall – whether you are a writer, artist, musician or creative of any kind – putting yourself on a live interactive forum is a fabulous (if somewhat nerve-wracking) opportunity to reach your audience in a different way. For anyone thinking about doing it for the first time, here are some thoughts…

Plan ahead. Sounds obvious, but worth mentioning. Give yourself time to jiggle up some interest on your blog, social media, whatever. Specify a date and times – I went for a Friday evening 7pm – 9pm. I would recommend going no longer that two hours, believe me, it’s exhausting. I didn’t get around to answering absolutely all the questions, but you can always apologise and promise to arrange another session.

It’s all about the questions. Some people will send you questions in advance (see above) and this is a good thing, you at least have a chance to prepare some relatively sensible answers. If you are worried about not having enough questions to fill the time, have a few on standby as back up. Think of things people ask you often about yourself or your work and use this opportunity to share your thoughts. Get friends on standby to ping across a question or two to get the ball rolling or pick up the pace.

Although you can never be quite sure what questions might crop up, you can probably guess some likely themes. As I writer, I usually get asked what I most like and dislike about writing, how/when I started, who are my influences… that sort of thing. Have a little think on such things and make a few notes beforehand.

Technical practicalities. Or perhaps that should be practical technicalities? Either way, you need to know that your equipment works and you know how to use it. This was the biggest downfall on my part. I had planned to ‘go live’ from my laptop and spent quite some time setting it up with good lighting, making sure there would be no background or spill sound and ensuring I had room to move without tripping over cables and whatnot. Having only ever used Facebook Live on my phone – and never attempted the ‘go live’ feature on Twitter – I realised too late that there was no live button on my desktop versions and my phone was not fully charged.

Obviously, I managed, but was kicking myself for not at least having a technical run-through before the event itself. By this point, my hands where sweaty, I was finding the Twitter Live feature cumbersome and the whole thing was nowhere near as slick as I had planned. There was much uttering of ‘bugger’ as I tried to end the broadcasts and also unintended random shots of ceilings and floors as I wrestled with the technology. Not ideal.

Many hands make light work. For the next broadcast, I will certainly enlist the help of a willing assistant. Even an unwilling one will do. Whilst certainly not impossible to accomplish single-handedly, I personally would have appreciated an extra pair of hands on the night. Having someone else hold the camera would have been easier. It would have been nice to have another set of eyes on the questions that came relentlessly across both platforms. A bit of moral support. That sort of thing. Anyone prepared to give up a few hours of their time will be royally rewarded with shepherds pie and wine.

I won’t bore you with the whole spectacle, but here are a few clips from the live Q&A. Lots of room for improvement, but lots of lessons learned – not least of which is don’t tell people you don’t know who Sally Phillips is, as you will be immediately bombarded with endless links.

Hide & Seek – Part Five

The heat of the afternoon sun was unrelenting, broken only by the occasional zephyr of coastal breeze gasping across the terrace as Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings politely sipped tea with Lady Bottomclutch. Poirot noted that the tea set at Somersby Hall was very different to that of the tasteful Wedgwood found at Queens’ College in Cambridge; this was a gaudy gilded affair, probably originating from China and purchased, no doubt, by the family in order to portray an air of exotic stylistic leaning. Hastings, meanwhile, noted that, although the tea was very good, a small gin or similar would be more preferable at this juncture. Lady Bottomclutch had received them both with good grace and had turned her attentions directly to the dashing Captain in a most unexpectedly warm manner. Whilst Hastings was initially delighted to be the focus of proceedings for once, the Lady’s familiarity was becoming unseemly at an alarming rate and he didn’t quite know where to put himself.

Pardon, Lady Bottomclutch,” began Poirot, hoping to deflect another attempt at the pawing of Hastings’ knee. “But did your butler Derbyshire not mention the purpose of our visit?”

“Hmm?” Lady Bottomclutch retracted her wandering hand and hid her blushes behind a tea cup. She was an elegant woman of a certain age, clearly past her best and rather like an old oil painting in need of refurbishment. “About the maid, wasn’t it? She’s very busy at the moment, I’m afraid.”

Oui, madame, so I am given to understand,” Poirot retained his usual charm but his moustache had an edge to it. “We do not wish to intrude on your formalities, merely to pass on the message most important from Cambridge, oui?

“Oh, I say, the good Captain can intrude on my formalities any time he pleases!” Lady Bottomclutch  descended into ribald giggling that caused the sharp rise of Poirot’s eyebrow and a mild terror in poor Hastings.

Just as Poirot began to think that the afternoon was lost entirely to farce, onto the terrace burst a tall and gangling young woman, dancing and spinning and throwing her tapering limbs in every direction. She was a curious sight, dressed as she was in an over-sized tweed jacket that had seen better days and a battered flat cap upon her chestnut curls. She looked to be about twenty-two or so, but she sang and capered like a small child, her guileless eyes limpid pools of pure innocence and joy.

“Clara! My dear girl, can’t you see we have guests?”

Clara ceased her windmilling and hopped into position before Poirot and Hastings, hands clutched before her, bobbing her knees in what she expected was a formal greeting.

“Hello, gentlemans!”

“Good afternoon, mademoiselle,” replied Poirot, raising a tea cup in salute.

“You have a peculiar voice!” retorted Clara, suppressing an embarrassed chuckle.

“Clara, this is the famous detective, Hercule Poirot,” Lady Bottomclutch said gently. “And his assistant, the ravishing Captain Hastings!”

“Oh!” Clara gasped. “Have they come for the party? I do hope you will stay for the party – it’s fancy dress! You can borrow one of my costumes, if you like. I have a great many.”

“I’m sure they would love that, my dear,” soothed Lady Bottomclutch, patting her daughter’s hand. “Why don’t you run along now and see to Pippin? I’m sure that he must be missing you.”

Clara nodded and, offering a little wave to her guests, skipped away back towards the house.

“Pippin is her little dog,” explained Lady Bottomclutch. “She won’t have children of her own, poor thing, but she is a very affectionate girl and don’t we all deserve a little love in one way or another?”

C’est vrai, madame. She is a charming young woman.”

“And she is right, you know, you must come to the party this evening,” Lady Bottomclutch said, with quite some enthusiasm. “My youngest son is returning from the army for a few days and I do like to make a fuss. He will arrive on the train from London this evening. Perhaps you will be able to offer him some career advice, Captain? And I know my guests will be delighted to meet the famous Captain Hastings and Hercule Poirot!”

Poirot shifted a little in his chair, repressing a mutter and reaching for his tea cup.

“I’m not sure we’re properly prepared for fancy dress,” replied Hastings, warily.

“Oh, don’t mind that,” Lady Bottomclutch waved a hand. “That’s just Clara’s way. She has a predilection for dressing up, I see no reason to suppress it.”

“And we will have an opportunity to speak to your maid Maggie, when she is perhaps not so engaged with the preparations?” asked Poirot.

“I dare say,” replied Lady Bottomclutch, her lips stretched into a tight line of vermillion. “But if you want to know anything about the maid, I suggest you speak to my husband. Lord Bottomclutch is very attentive to certain members of the staff.”

Any Requests? Lucy Brazier Live

Friday 23rd June 2017 7pm – 9pm live from Cambridge, UK

Wine makes everything more entertaining

Believe me, I’m just as sick of talking about my new book as you are of hearing about it. Buy it, don’t buy it, tell your friends to buy it – we all know the drill. However, publishers have certain expectations and never let it be said that I am one to disappoint. This Friday (emboldened by wine, no doubt) I will be appearing live on Facebook and Twitter for the viewing pleasure of you, dearest readers. You can ask questions about writing, books, what I had for breakfast (I like food-related questions) or just pop by to say hello.

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Questions about breakfast most welcome

Perhaps you would like to see one of my much-vaunted impressions? Disclaimer – I can only do two, a dalek and a cat.  Perhaps, Like FictionFan, you would like to know about hats. Anything. Everything. Whatever.

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The first time I wore a hat

There will be videos. There will be mischief. By god, there will be shenanigans. Join me…

Twitter – use #QPorterGirl or @portergirl100

Facebook – like the page and leave a comment

… or just leave a note right here in the comments section and I will include it in proceedings.

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There definitely won’t be any of this

Not for the faint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition

I almost forgot… buy my book, blah blah…

UK Edition

US Edition