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.

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.


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.


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.

00 lucy 4

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

The Secret Life Of Head Porter

Over-indulgence is a funny thing. Youth has the stamina required to pursue such endeavours, but not the experience to master it as an art. With age comes a more knowing approach to these things, certainly, but wild intentions are often tempered by an uncooperative constitution.

Old College has seen more than a thousand feasts and The Great Feasts number almost five hundred. It takes several days before the old place seems quite right again after The Great Feast. It takes Head Of Catering considerably longer; almost a week later and he is still an emotional wreak. But then the man drinks far too much coffee, the dear chap should consider switching to tea instead. It is far more civilised.

I realise there is little point suggesting this to him as he pours yet another mug of steaming thick liquid that I suspect should rightly be served in little tiny cups. Head Porter and I only dropped by his office with the hope of securing some of those giant cookies he sometimes has, but we have been drawn into a discussion about the woes of the Catering Department. I say ‘discussion’, but that would imply some kind of two-way communication. What we appear to have wandered into is a lecture.

Under usual circumstances we would be happy to chew the fat with Head Of Catering, or at least drink tea until he had finished with us. Just now, though, we are on our way to meet The Dean who has devised a plan of some description. We are not entirely clear on what the plan might entail but apparently he had a dream last night and now everything has become clear. I received this news with a degree of nervous trepidation. The nocturnal workings of The Dean’s mind are uncharted territory and doubtless something not to be taken lightly.

I can spy the giant cookies on a table by the door and am patiently waiting for the lesson on the difficulty of procuring decent dessert wines to reach its conclusion before tactfully drawing attention to them. In the meantime, I nod and coo appropriately. Unfortunately, Head Porter is not devoting his full attention and Head Of Catering is less than amused.

“Here, are you even listening to me, Head Porter?” scolds Head Of Catering. “That’s a bit rude. What are you doing?”

Head Porter looks up, startled, his attention drawn away from his mobile phone which has been holding his attention since we arrived.

“What?” he says.

“I’ve been talking to you, you know, and you’re fiddling with your phone.”

“Oh!” Head Porter exclaims. “That. I have just started using Twitter. It’s an almost constant stream of nonsense and I am just trying to keep up with it.”

“Well!” replies Head Of Catering. “I didn’t have you down as a social media expert. That’s surprising.”

“I am a man of hidden depths, Head Of Catering” Head Porter replies, witheringly. “D’you know, there’s this other thing just for people’s photos and… selfies – is that the word? Selfies. A whole website of people making duck faces and not wearing many clothes. Have you seen it?”

“I bloody well have not!” snaps Head Of Catering “And I’m not sure you should be having any truck with something like that, either.”

“You have to move with the times, you know” he says, a little hurt. Sensing a rather pointless argument brewing, I decide to step in.

“We mustn’t keep The Dean waiting,” I say diplomatically. “We should make tracks. Can we take some of those giant cookies?”

“No you can’t!” Head Of Catering replies. “They’re ear-marked for the Faculty Of History meeting later on.” He eyeballs Head Porter. “I bet they don’t look at frivolous websites.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure” I mutter, not quite under my breath.

“What was that?”

“Thank you for your time, Head Of Catering. We will be seeing you again soon, no doubt.”

“Alright, Deputy Head Porter. Mind how you go.”

We leave Head Of Catering debating the cheese selection for High Table and make our way towards Apple Tree Court and the rooms of The Dean.

“Head Of Catering seems a bit off, don’t you think?” asks Head Porter.

“He’s just a bit stressed, you know how he gets” I reply. “Shame about the giant cookies, though. I would have thought he could have spared a couple. Anyway, what were you on about Twitter and selfies? Have you finally embraced the digital age?”

“I am hoping to track down my daughter,” he explains. “She might have blocked me on Facebook but that’s only the start of it when it comes to the online universe! I’ve set myself up on some of these other sites. I’m pretending to be a struggling musician so she doesn’t know it’s me.”

I must say, I am impressed by both his ingenuity and imagination. He could just about send a text message a few months ago, now he is living an online double life. I hope it is more interesting than his offline one. Although, if you take Head Porter’s word for it, his social media is rather spicy.

“Why a struggling musician?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“I thought a successful musician sounded a bit far-fetched,” he replies. “I don’t want to arouse suspicion.”

“Hmm” I say, thoughtfully. “Okay. Have you had any luck finding her yet?”

“No, not yet, but its early days. On the up side, people send me tweets about gigs and things which look quite fun. I never knew there were so many open mic nights in The City.”

“What an interest!”

“That’s the really clever part about being a struggling musician,” Head Porter tells me, loftily. “I can blend seamlessly into the crowd. No one will expect me to be any good.”

There is a certain logic to Head Porter’s thinking, if you bend the meaning of logic far enough. But anyway. Onwards and upwards to see The Dean.

If I am expecting to get anything more sensible out of him, then I am to be sorely disappointed…