Alert Nerd Press Spotlight: Reading Rainbow

Alert Nerd Press Spotlight: Reading Rainbow

May 20

One of our not-so-secret Ultimate Alert Nerd Press Dreams is to someday host a “Greatest of Grok“-type night of live readings, featuring the contributors giving voice to their various creations. I mean, can you imagine Ken Simon (actually trained in acting!) reenacting his childhood telephone obsession for all the world to see (Connected, issue #2)? Or Matt Springer (once commandeered the stage in a school production of Godspell!) mixing high comedy and plaintive drama to put on his best “lady in love with Cthulhu” voice (Love, Lovecraft Style, issue #3)?

Geography and other annoying factors make this Dream kind of an impossible one, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the day it might happen. I actually had the chance to do a bit of on-the-spot prep earlier this year and I will now share this tale with you.

In February, I was asked to do a reading from One Con Glory at the amazing Brave New World Comics as part of their “Geek Singles Night”* party-thingy (which is, by the way, a very FUN party-thingy, complete with loud music and Mexican Cokes). As soon as I agreed to do this, however, I realized that I actually had to practice or something, because my “acting” experience consists of a ragingly hammy performance as Lady Macbeth at summer camp when I was 12 and some cringe-worthy sketch comedy in college and let’s not talk about this anymore I’m getting really embarrassed just typing these words.

So I made my office pals — Janelle, Jenelle, Jessica G., and Jessica J.** — huddle around a conference room table and watch me read a 5-minute sex scene. (Yes, I know. I chose the fucking sex scene. I was all, “Go big or go home!” or something to that idiotic effect.) I read fast and furious and stuttery, heat creeping up around my ears, hands sweating profusely and making the book all slippery. Laughs happened mostly in the right places, polite applause followed.

Jessica G., the Real Life Actor of the group — and a really excellent enthusiast when it comes to helping others out in their creative endeavors — had the most advice.

“Punch this word, Sarah — PUNCH IT. IT’S A FUNNY WORD. And hold for laughs! Don’t bulldoze all over the laughs, girl! Take a breath!” [Demonstrates breathing.]

“Okay, okay,” I said, making a lame attempt to emulate her expert thespian inhales and exhales. “I can do that! I can, like, breathe!”

Probably, I started hyperventilating at some point during these exercises, but bolstered by the advice (PUNCH IT!), I was starting to feel a teeny bit more confident. And this, the Jessicas and Ja/enelles informed me, was Step #1 to delivering a successful reading!

In fact, I was so confident, that I agreed to an encore practice performance. On our way out of the conference room, we passed by the office of another co-worker, Kevin. Kevin was not in said office. But friends/co-workers Lesley and Emily were, and they eagerly beckoned us inside.

“Practice on us! Practice on us! We’re bored! Just use Kevin’s office! Kevin’s not here! Kevin won’t mind!”

“Well, but…isn’t that weird? With Kevin not being there and all? With me actually not knowing Kevin that well?”

“No, no way! Kevin won’t be back for a while anyway! KEVIN WON’T MIND.”

So I did and it was the same thing with the sweating and the blushing, but I felt like my voice was a little louder this time and my breathing was a little better and my pacing wasn’t quite so bull-in-a-china-shop. I was reading, reading, reading and there were bigger laughs and it was all feeling very good and then who should barge in at the most embarrassingly graphic point in the text (I believe it was something about “pumping”), but…Kevin. The actual owner of the office.

What could be more embarrassing than having someone you don’t know all that well walk in on you when you’re reading a sexually-graphic (but in a funny way!) passage in their office, which you just happen to have commandeered for the most self-indulgent of practice sessions?

Well, if you’re me? Not a whole hell of a lot.

Here’s the greatest part.

Kevin gave us all a look that was basically like, “What the fuck are you guys doing, oh never mind, I don’t even want to know” and then closed the door, leaned against the wall, and went, “Please continue.”

So I did. And when I got to that word Jessica G. liked so much? I PUNCHED IT.

I remembered this experience at the actual reading — the encouragement of my friends, the way things started to feel better with more practice, the infinite patience of Kevin. I remember it whenever I have to get up in front of people. I will remember this when we make the aforementioned “Greatest of Grok” reading happen someday.

All you other contributors better get to work on PUNCHING IT.

*btw, you don’t have to be single to attend Geek Singles Night. Here is my husband, obviously having a blast.

**Totally their real names, very confusing office.


  1. janelle


  2. janelle

    (because i am in it)

  3. Jessica G.

    yay! Sarah, you are a rock star!

  4. Jeff

    I’m definitely on board with doing a ‘Best of Grok’ thing. Maybe during SDCC one year? All of us east coasters can chip in on a giant-ass van and road trip like crazy, listening to Springsteen the entire way.

  5. I agree with Janelle–greatest story EVAR! (made me LOL)

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