So, what have I learned from my first two panel appearances as a soon-to-be-published author?
Don’t wear a dress that is straight and above the knee, that’s what.
The first panel was at the trendy Pot Kettle Black in Manchester and as soon as I spotted the lofty, steel, boy-band stools, I knew I was in trouble.
At just a tad over 5ft, launching myself into the air onto a small half-circle is not an elegant manoeuvre. Then I had to shift to one side to be able to entwine my feet round the low bar, revealing the knees I inherited from my lovely, Hobbit dad.
It only took one glance along at my fellow panelists and at the audience in front of me to realise I was undoubtedly the oldest in the room. Being a ‘newly-discovered’ author at this stage of life qualifies me as the diversity element of the evening.
Anyway, it was great fun and I found I loved it although I did hear my mother’s voice saying ‘Sit down, Shirley, it isn’t your turn,’ but oh, for once, it really was.
Just two days later, I was in a much lower chair at the wonderful Wirksworth Book Festival with friend and fellow-author, Tricia Durdey -great book, The Green Table, but this time I was in front of people who knew me and that was scarier than any high stool, I can tell you.
But, both went well, I think and yes, Hay, I can fit you in next year… I’ve always wanted a long stemmed rose.
And who knows, maybe I’ll have sold some books by then and will be able to afford a dress that covers my knees.