Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Facing our fears...whatever they are

Sixteen days from now I face one of my greatest fears. Sitting behind a table with a pile of my books, in an actual bookstore, hoping like crazy someone will show up and actually buy one of my books. But, you know what I’m starting to learn? This fear is a result of something far deeper. It’s the same thing that feeds my anxiety of getting out from behind my PC and venturing into the world as a bona fide author. A real, honest-to-goodness author. I began to understand this fear a bit more after my first meeting with a bookseller. Suddenly I was incredibly shy (more so than my natural shyness), my heart was pounding, my face was burning – all because I was about to admit I was an author.

You see, the problem is embracing this new identity, this great, dream-come-true identity that I have longed for since a child. And suddenly I’m afraid to step out into the light and admit what I am. An author. A writer. A creative person.


I have no advice, no report from the trenches since I’ve yet to leave the confines of my peaceful home, but if you’re like me and you find yourself approaching a milestone you’ve worked hard for, whether it be sending out that very first query, or pitching to an agent, or going to your first book signing, and you find yourself more shy than normal, anxious, afraid, or all of the above, then remember this:



It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
Talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
People won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people
Permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

--Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson



So my greatest fear is not the booksellers. It’s not a book signing, or a reading in front of a hundred people, or the fact that I’m a naturally shy/introverted person. It’s an inability to believe I have the right to be successful, to believe that I am worthy and deserve this, that I am ‘powerful beyond measure’.


So when I’m sitting behind that table, I’m going to keep telling myself that it’s okay to let my light shine.


Hmm. Maybe I should hand out sunglasses.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Erotica Writer Steps Out of Her Comfort Zone



Please help me welcome this week's guest blogger, Cari Quinn, fellow Wild Rose Press author. Learn more about her here.

Cari wrote her first story - a bible parable - in 2nd grade, much to the delight of the nuns at her Catholic school. Once she saw the warm reception that first tale garnered, she was hooked. She attempted her first romance in junior high, long before she'd ever read one. Writing what she knew always took a backseat to what she wanted to know, and that still holds true today. Cari's genres of choice include contemporary, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, urban fantasy and paranormal. Recently she discovered erotic romance. Oh, how far she's come…

Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

I used to have one of those. As a classic introvert, writing seemed like a profession tailor-made for me. I could sit behind a screen and make up worlds to daydream in, and I soon discovered that sometimes they even PAY you for the fruits of those labors. Whoa! I could make up a pen name and let my imagination loose.

So I did. And lo and behold, my imagination turned into a bit of a she-wolf. Soon she wasn't content to circle around the arena of no-holds-barred sex, she wanted to jump in, teeth bared and go to town. What's a good girl who went to Catholic school for eight years to do?

Well, this one got a pen name and wrote her first erotic romance, that's what. ;)

Full Disclosure was released on November 6th at The Wild Rose Press' Wilder Roses and getting used to even a small amount of attention has been a steep learning curve. I'm not exactly someone who covets the limelight, nor am I one to bare my innermost thoughts. Yet intimate words I wrote are being read by all kinds of people, some I know, some I don't. And these people are paying for the right to read those words, so there's an expectation that they won't, you know, suck. Although sucking has a place in erotic fiction, I'd rather not see that particular word in a review. ;)

I like pushing boundaries, especially my own. I'll admit to more than a little trepidation at the knowledge that people I know will be reading my explicit writing, but I knew what I was doing when I sat at my computer and dialed up the heat to scorching. At the time, the day when I would have to "face the music" seemed far off, but now it's here and I'm learning to deal.

It's a nerve-wracking experience. It's exciting, too. And I've found the more I put myself out there, the easier it gets. My CPs tell me I'm good at writing erotic romance, so I'm determined to stop blushing and fretting over who might read the extremely naughty words in my novella and consider the fact that maybe some of those people might enjoy them. That maybe my book will help readers escape for an hour or two. Perhaps they'll live vicariously through my characters sexual journey toward an emotional connection that goes way beyond the physical. Hopefully, Holly and Alex's story will also allow my readers to create their own fantasies, which is the way great dreams begin to take flight. After all, once upon a time, I fantasized I'd be a published author.

And now I am.


Next week, Nov. 18: Debut Pocket Books author, Kelly Gay, discusses the insecurities many shy  writers face.

Friday, November 6, 2009

WRITING: A Solitary Pursuit?



Please help me welcome this week's guest blogger, my friend and fellow Pixie Chick (aka 2008 Golden Heart® finalist), Avery Beck.

A two-time Golden Heart® finalist, Avery writes contemporary romance for Samhain Publishing and is currently celebrating the release of her second book, For His Eyes Only. For more information about Avery or her books, please visit www.averybeck.com.


There’s a common misconception that writing is a lonely career, with romance novels specially reserved for bored housewives or spinsters with fifteen cats. Writing is antisocial, quiet and private—after all, it’s just the writer and her computer. Right?


Wrong. Once you’re published, it’s you and the whole world. At the very least, it’s you and the millions of people on the Internet. Google me or my books, and up come pages and pages of results. Search images, and there’s my face plastered across the WWW dozens of times over. Ack!



Promotion is a must in this business. Readers can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it. Authors are encouraged to do workshops, signings, contests, guest blogs, social networking, you name it. Online and off, there are a barrage of opinions on each book, whether they be intelligent critiques from seasoned reviewers or scathing posts about how much “this book sucks”—written by anonymous twelve-year-old boys. How many people visit my website every day? Read my blog? What about the readers who might come across that scathing post from the twelve-year-old boy and believe a book is horrible…and the hot, explicit excerpts available to Mom and Grandma with the click of a mouse?


ACK!


For writers who expected to hide behind book covers and Word documents, finding ourselves in the public eye can be a bit intimidating. But books are entertainment, and authors are entertainers (though most of us, sadly, go without the bling and the red carpet), so take a breath and consider how to make the most of being “out there”.


Take advantage of the opportunity to edit yourself. In college, I took a required public speaking course. The planned, written-before-delivery speeches were fine and good. However, I also had to give two improvised speeches—as in, the professor handed me a topic and five minutes to come up with an argument to present to the entire class. Oh, boy, did I stink those up. In fact, I bailed on the second one and told the guy to give me a zero, because seriously. I don’t do improvisation. Being the center of attention is nerve-wracking enough with preparation!


When it comes to shyness, the best part of being a writer is that much of our interaction takes place in print. Our stories are revised multiple times and approved by editors before they go public. Online, we can use the magical delete button and rewrite sentences, entire posts or emails before hitting “send”. The computer serves as a great filter to help you put your best self forward. Unlike my miserable speech class, you have time to make sure you say what you mean—tactfully—and avoid foot-in-mouth syndrome later.


Make friends—and not just to raise your Facebook tally. Facebook is a useful tool, of course. But there are myriad ways to meet readers and other writers, all without having to worry if your shoes are cute, your breath fresh and your opening line interesting enough to carry a conversation. Comment on blogs, join forums, and if you find someone you enjoy talking to, send an email about a topic of interest to both of you. Ask questions. Give compliments. People I’d never met approached me at RWA’s national conference because they recognized my name from online communities. My fellow GH finalists and I greeted each other with the kind of squeals and hugs usually reserved for long-lost friends—and we didn’t have to fumble for a reason to approach and say hello. We already knew each other because we’d participated in joint activities online.


Frankly, just don’t give a damn. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is this: do what you need to do, and don’t worry about anyone’s reaction. I have a bad habit of hesitating to do or say things because I constantly think, “What if he says this? What if she does that? Oh, surely they’re going to laugh at me.” You know what? It doesn’t matter. You get nowhere fast trying to please everyone. Blow off the bad reviews, the internet pirates, the journalists who pull bits and pieces from your interview answers to make romance novels sound like the trashiest things ever.


If you spend your career trying to hide from that stuff, you won’t get your name or your books in front of your audience. And isn’t that the point of being an author?


Writers: what do you think? Has author-dom brought on more attention than you expected? Readers, do you care how much effort an author puts into public appearances (online or off), or do you just want to pick up a good book?


Next week: Debut erotica romance author, Cari Quinn, talks about busting out of her introverted comfort zone to write and sell erotica!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Upcoming Guest Bloggers

I've been a bit MIA lately--can you say FLU? If not me, then my family members. Here's what you can look forward to on Once Written, Twice Shy.

Nov. 6--Award-winning Samhain author Avery Beck will talk about ways authors can get over shyness because of the promotional demands and how much our names are "out there," thanks to the internet.

Nov. 13--Debut erotic romance writer, Cari Quinn, talks about how an introverted "good girl" stepped out of her comfort zone to write erotica.

Nov. 18--Debut urban fantasy author with Pocket Books, Kelly Gay will talk about overcoming her shyness with booksellers.

Nov. 23--This has nothing to do with shyness, but I'll be discussing ways to make your Thanksgiving just a bit healthier. Recipes included.

See you then!