Friday, December 31, 2010

MIRANDA BAKER: From geek to erotic romance author

Miranda's first erotic romance novella, Bottoms Up, is available from Samhain Publishing. The next in the series, Solo Play, will be released in the spring.

No one ever believes me when I tell them I'm shy, especially when they learn I write erotic romance. (They often don't believe me when I tell them I'm funny either, but they'll get it eventually!) I was geeky as a kid and the feeling didn't disappear when the braces came off and the acne didn't scar. However, even though I still have a book in my purse at all times (and if I'm alone I'll read it just about anywhere), I've grown into my geekiness now.

I embrace it.

What or who am I afraid of? I've got a husband, a house, three kids and a mini-van! I can attend my twenty year high school reunion feeling like I've won the game... or at least I can fake it really, really well now. There are still those brilliant, shiny, mesmerizing people who make me feel two inches tall, and there are plenty of times I walk into a room, see no one I know and wonder if I can sneak into a corner to read my book. Who am I kidding? External measures of success don't matter - it's the stuff inside that counts.

I can't speak for others, but I know my shyness comes from deep-seated self-esteem issues forged in my youth, issues that I'll be writing about for, well, forever. My geeky childhood wasn't perfect, but I wouldn't change a thing about it because it made me the person that I am - a writer. Would I love reading and writing if a book hadn't been my constant companion for the first thirty-eight years of my life? Would I write romance if my parents had a perfect marriage? Would I feel compelled to fantasize if I had lived a series of perfect, larger-than-life social triumphs?

Nope. I don't think I would. So I'll embrace the residual shyness that being a geek casts over my self image and I will continue to write about it - and when I walk into a room full of strangers... I'll just fake it. *grin*

About Miranda Baker: It makes me chuckle to think about all the romantic short stories I wrote in my rather too literary creative writing classes in college. If only one of my professors had steered me toward popular fiction! On the other hand, if I had discovered my calling back then, I wouldn't have gone to culinary school, I wouldn't have met my husband, we wouldn't have had three children and I wouldn't have turned to erotic romance to get my mojo back during all this hair-raising kid raising.

To learn more about my kinky, foodie, geeky little world, please visit http://www.mirandabaker.com.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest Blogger: Delilah Marvelle

Please welcome multi-published romance author, Delilah Marvelle to the blog. Her first book in The Scandal Series releases January 1 with HQN. Book 2 releases February 1. Book 3 releases March 1.

Here's Delilah: I have a confession to make. Despite people thinking that I'm all bells and whistles and oh-so-comfortable and outgoing with people, in truth, I'm not.

No one who is a writer is. We live in our heads and enjoy our own company. That's a fact that we should not only acknowledge but accept about ourselves. If you can't acknowledge it or accept it, then you have a problem. Kind of sounds like an AA meeting, doesn't it? Well...in a way, it is. It's difficult to realize that being shy is, in fact, a problem if you're an author. Back in the old days, when all an author did was write and occasionally show up for book signings, that was acceptable. These days, with online chatting and twitter and heaven knows what, your readers do expect you to not only make yourself available but be happy about it, lol.

In some ways, the internet is a shy author's greatest asset. It allows a shy author to appear quite outgoing. Don't let it trap you into thinking you've found your way out of your AA meeting. Because even though yes, you're interacting with people online, you are still only listening to your own voices in your head.

So here's one simple rule you should always try to apply. It's called EQUAL TIME. What is equal time? It means for as much time as you spend online, make sure you also spend that equal amount of time with people in person. Be they readers, writers or just plain Joe. Because the reality is, we can't be writers and write stories about real people if we don't give ourselves an opportunity to observe and spend time with real people. Log the amount of time you spend online and see if you log that same amount of time with people outside of your family.

You'd be surprised how the shy author in you will sneak away from real people. And if you're hiding away from real people because you are by nature shy, you are missing out on opportunities to be the sort of writer you deserve to be. Equal Time amounts to equal writing. Hope my little rule helps you along your path.




Delilah Marvelle spent her youth studying various languages, reading voraciously, and playing the pianoforte. She confesses that here ends the extent of her gentle breeding. She was a naughty child who was forever torturing her parents with countless adventures that they did not deem respectable. Confined to her room on many occasions due to these misadventures, she discovered the quill and its amazing power. Soon, to the dismay of her parents, she rather enjoyed being confined to her room and finished writing her first historical romance (which was a heart stopping 800 pages long...) at the age of 14. And yes, she is still 14...at heart.

You can find out more about Delilah on her website and her "A Bit o'Muslin Blog."

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Shy Writer

Please help me welcome erotic romance author Sascha Illyvich to the blog:

So you're an introverted writer. And your friends tell you it's a problem. Have you tried drinking yet? That seems to create a life of the party for anyone who tries it LOL! Seriously though, try a stiff drink or six.

Okay, not going to do that? Fine then. It's your career. The fact is, the shy, introverted writer is what most of us are. That's part of why we tell stories. Royalties are just icing on a very nice cake that let's us live in a fantasy world we've created where things don't always go the way they're supposed to. But that's part of the fun. When you look at the regular world and examine every other person, we come to find out that their lives are sad.

Yes, sad. They get up, deal with family, deal with bills, deal with work, get frustrated and come home to do it all over again. But as writers, we don't have to do what they do, exactly.

We craft worlds with superheroes and villains that make us WISH we could have boring, depressing lives. Then, our superhero and his ultra-sexy heroine vanquish the villain and give us a satisfying, happy ending. It's not perfect and the process really forces us to bare a part of our souls, but it's one we enjoy as writers.

I advocate getting out of our comfort zones. You might or might not be familiar with WriteSEX, the erotica blog dedicated to helping writers add a little or a lot of spice to their stories. Most writers in romance are comfortable with writing sex, but many are not. And still the new generation of authors has yet to discover the joys of writing sex. But we established it to help those of you who may not wish to make it publically known that you write smut. The beauty for me as a co-founder is that I’m surrounded by a group of writers who have been where I am. So when I panic, (as I did recently) about a career choice, storyline, plot point or some other nonsense, they're there. For me.

It's rather empowering.

Most writers need to embrace some sense of camaraderie and get over their fears. Organizations like Toastmasters International can help with overcoming fear. Writers of all calibers would do well to invest a little time in themselves for their career.

Sascha Illyvich
Erotic Romance Author – http://saschaillyvichauthor.com/




Erotic Expert – http://www.writesex.net/

Friday, November 12, 2010

What makes author CHRISTI BARTH break into a cold sweat?

If you are shy, writing – on the surface – looks like an ideal occupation. No coworkers, no commute, no cold calling…But the deeper you get into the profession, the truth comes out. Our cold calls are our query letters. Blogging thrusts us into the spotlight constantly. However, I’m here to discuss a topic that can break even the least shy people into a cold sweat – sex (did I get your attention?). Yup, I am a romance author, which means my books have sex. Explicit sex. Well written, sweaty, no holds barred sex. Both because the story demands it, and because it is almost compulsory in romances these days. The promise of a few great make out scenes and one full scale bedroom romp is a great way to sell to total strangers. I’ve no problem with the strangers. I do, however, have a hard time with close friends.

Friends who might give sidelong glances and start picturing things when they see my husband kiss me. Or worse, coworkers, who should DEFINITELY not be thinking about my hot sex scene when we’re in meetings. Most dire of all is the looming specter of family. My father reads my sex scenes. Gulp. When my first book released last year, I panicked. It came out in early December, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around how awkward Christmas dinner might be at our house, once my father finished my book.

And I didn't want him to just turn the page and skip it, because I labored really hard to make it good (truly ladies, is there anything harder to write than a well crafted sex scene?).....but would I be able to look him in the face once he read it? A paradox, I know. He grew up in the 60s, but lived as opposite a life as possible from free love/drugs/rock 'n roll.

The good news is that I panicked for nothing. He read it, and the world kept turning. Did we discuss it in depth? Of course not. As a matter of fact, he just finished my latest release Act Like We’re In Love which kicked up the heat level another notch. More relaxed this time, I was able to turn it into a joke, quizzing him on what made the heroine’s underwear unique for proof he read the whole thing.


My panic level is sky high again, though, as I’m set to be a guest at my mother’s book club. A bunch of senior citizens who have already complained to her about how racy the book is…and yet every single one of them finished it. How on earth am I going to be able to look these little old ladies in the eye when we discuss it? Because they kept reading. Whether because of the sex scenes or despite them, they kept going. They enjoyed the overall story. It gave them an escape, brightened their day. Which means I hit my goal as an author, so I’m going to wrap myself in an extra-thick cloak of dignity and remember they liked it. After all, my characters spent a majority of the book engaged in witty dialogue and a complex plot. The sex scenes probably add up to less than a full chapter out of almost thirty. No reason for me to obsess over it if they don’t!

I'm sure everyone has encountered this. What did you do - how do you deal with it? I'm grateful for any and all suggestions.


Christi Barth spent years performing in musicals, singing about love and giving people a happy ending in every performance. Then as a wedding planner she spent every day immersed in romance. Now she writes it! After winning several writing contests, she debuted her novel Carolina Heat to rave reviews. She lives in Maryland with the absolutely best husband in the world (sorry ladies, but it's true!).

It is exciting to share her love of the theatre with the world through Act Like We're In Love. For all her fellow Broadway fans, favorite shows include Guys & Dolls, Phantom, and The Most Happy Fella. A special curtain call for Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, the show where she met and first starred opposite the love of her life.

For more about Christi, please visit her website.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Signings, Or Welcome to the Jungle

Please help me welcome multi-published romance author Meg Benjamin to the blog.

Here's Meg: I did my first book signing this summer at RomCon (it was also the first RomCon so we stumbled along together). It was one of those mass signing set-ups so beloved of RT and RWA—fifty or sixty authors ranged around a large room, organized alphabetically. Normally, this might be a minor detail, but RomCon had managed to bring in some Very Big Names. Thus, going alphabetically, I was seated between Jo Beverley and Leanne Banks. Elizabeth Boyd was just down the table. Julia Quinn, Carly Phillips, and Brenda Novak were across from us. Gulp.

It’s one thing to be shy around readers. I think that’s sort of a given. But having been placed in the Living Legends group, I found myself totally tongue-tied. I wanted to crawl underneath the table and hide. Instead, I sat and stuttered.

It was fairly easy to figure out who was famous and who wasn’t among the authors scattered around the room. The Famous Authors all had long lines of readers wanting autographs. The not-so-famous had, well, nothing much. By now you may have seen Parnell Hall’s hilarious video about his book signing next to Mary Higgins Clark. That was sort of my experience, only I had the equivalent of Mary Higgins Clark on either side of me and across the room as well. I had a lot of time to arrange my pens, my bookmarks, and my book copies since nobody much wanted to talk to me.

Now it should be said that both Jo Beverley and Leanne Banks were friendly and very nice about the fact that they’d never heard of me. I also saw one or two readers come up to Jo Beverley and ask her what exactly she wrote. Beverley cheerfully explained that she wrote historicals and handed out cover flats of her latest. So even the famous haven’t reached everybody.

But still, by the end of the day my ego was the size of a Tic-Tac. So what advice can I give to those who are heading out to a mass book signing where you will be plopped down with the well-known and beloved? Maybe just to hang in there. Fans in the long lines are bored too, and sometimes they actually look at the books stacked in front of other authors. I had a few Leanne Banks fans take my excerpt booklets—I guess it gave them something to read while they waited in line for Christine Feehan. Practice smiling. Develop your inner Zen so that you can meditate on something restful while watching everybody else’s line. And most of all, don’t let it get you down. Once upon a time, nobody had heard of Jo Beverley either.

Meg Benjamin is the author of the Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing. Book #4, Long Time Gone, was a Romantic Times Top Pick for Contemporary, and book #5, Brand New Me, will be released by Samhain on December 7. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly Maine coon anyway). You can find out more about Meg on her website , Facebook, MySpace , and Twitter . Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at meg@megbenjamin.com.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How Shy is Shy?


Please help me welcome multi-published romantic suspense author Mary Montegue Sikes to the blog.

I love meeting and reading about all sorts of people and can very much relate to the shy ones. The people I’m reading about on your blog don’t seem as shy as I expected, but they may be hiding behind a brave persona.

For those very shy souls among us, I’d like to rant a little about the difficulty of self-promotion, especially in the area of selling books. I know quite a few writers who excel at self-promotion and at book sales. They know exactly where to go and what to say to get the right gigs. With their extroversion, they are able to obtain speaking engagements at conferences all over and at libraries, clubs, and other places in their home communities as well as areas near by.

Reserved folks don’t seem to have such an easy time. The ones I know shy away from self-promotion yet
they know they must do it if they want to make book sales. I’m acquainted with one author who actually feels sick to the stomach when she does book signings. She is just that introverted.

All this introversion started me thinking. Maybe a shy writer should start a blog. That would be the first step. Then he or she should start visiting other blogs and making posts. Eventually the timid blogger would become a guest on some of the other blogs where she/he might gain followers.

The Internet is a safe place for the introverted ones. They gain followers when no one is looking! I’ve been following several bloggers who started out with a very small, under ten following, who now have followers numbering in the hundreds.
How do they do it?

They make a plan. They create something of interest to readers—a book give-away is one possibility. One author even has her dog make the drawing each week.

A Halloween costume party is another promo event I’ve been watching. Post a photo of your costume for the day. Who has the best costume over a two week period. Let blog readers cast a vote. It’s a fun competition for all.

Book covers. Quite a few blogs have competitions for the best covers and the readers decide. The prize is simple. The victor can post about winning the contest for the best romance cover for the week.

I’ve decided the best way to overcome shyness is to bite the bullet. I have a new book out, Night Watch, that was released in early June. Since that time, I’ve somehow avoided the p
romotion my book needed as I let several weeks of trips take precedence in my life.

I appeared on a radio show but didn’t follow through to gain necessary recognition or the book sales gains that might be attached. I’ve had one book-signing that turned out to be a non-event because the bookstore failed to publicize. Lesson learned—no matter what they promise, publicize all events yourself.

Now, I’ve decided to create a blog book tour for my novel. I’ve lined up seven hosts and have a diverse set of posts planned for each stop on the seven different dates. I’ve been watching and learning from other blog book tours and have been impressed with the results I’ve seen on theirs. I don’t know if what I will do will approach their efforts or their results, but I will never have a chance if I don’t try. If nothing else, this can be a practice for an even bigger event in the future.

For now, I know that all writers, introverts and extroverts, must focus and follow through. If you don’t, you fail before you begin, shy or not.

Thank you, Rebecca, for having me as your guest. And congratulations to your sister on her new book!


Mary Montague Sikes is an award-winning author, freelance writer, photographer, artist, and teacher who loves to travel, especially to exotic tropical locations. The settings for her books and articles include Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, and St. Martin. Her most recent research trips carried her to Los Cabos on the western coast of Mexico, to Yellowstone National Park where she took over 500 photographs, and to Carmel-by-the-Sea where she marveled at photo opportunities wherever she turned.

The Fredericksburg, VA native is author of five award-winning books. She presents workshops on promotion and marketing to state and national conventions as well as to many local writers groups. Hotels to Remember, a coffee table book that includes the Jefferson Hotel, the Homestead, and the Hotel Del Coronado is illustrated with her artwork and photographs.

A founding member of Virginia Romance Writers, she has served on the Board of Governors of the Virginia Writers Club and is a member and past president of the Richmond Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Her poem and paintings are featured in Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln, an anthology of work by members of the National League of American Pen Women. She is included in Who’s Who in American Women.

Her paintings are exhibited widely in Virginia and are in private and public collections in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Night Watch, her latest novel, was released earlier this year. Dangerous Hearts, a novella set in Virginia, was released by Red Rose Publishing in June.


www.marymontaguesikes.com
http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/#!/monti7
http://www.facebook.com/people/Monti-Sikes/1020636841

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cover Debut!

Dear readers,
Once Written, Twice Shy normally has a policy about not doing straight promo here, but I'm going to make an exception today--because my sister's cover is out!

Laurie London is my sister, and Bonded By Blood, A Sweetblood Novel, releases in February with HQN. I'm so darn proud of her that I just had to show you her cover.
Laurie wanted to share a cute story about the cover shoot.

Here's Laurie: The art director knew I preferred not to see a discernable face and didn't want fangs. When they showed up for the photo shoot, the photographer had brought a pair of plastic fangs just for kicks and grins. It turns out the pictures they took with the model looking straight into the camera with those fangs on were the shots they liked most. What do authors know? We know words. The art director and photographer know images.

Rebecca here again: What do you think? Isn't the cover hot?

Laurie London is the author of the Sweetblood series, dark, sexy vampire romance from HQN. The first book, BONDED BY BLOOD, is available February 2011. Book two, EMBRACED BY BLOOD, comes out July 2011. A graduate of Western Washington University and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find out more about Laurie and her writing at her website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

THE MAGIC OF WRITING

Please help me welcome multi-published erotic romance author Juniper Bell to the blog.

Thanks for having me on the Shy Writers blog today, Rebecca. I definitely meet the definition, even though some might say a truly shy person would not have become an erotica writer.

Definitely, the people who knew me as a kid would be surprised at my new career. I was the girl who got glasses at the age of nine and hid behind them all through school. In the carpool, I’d sit in the back seat and read, even though my parents scolded me for my rudeness. When I went to my friends’ houses, I’d make a beeline for their bookshelves. I loved libraries.

As a matter of fact, my entire sex ed instruction came from the library. I don’t know what happened to health class. I don’t remember it. But I do remember searching out every bit of information I could find in certain forbidden books at the library. (My parents were apparently too shy to discuss such things.)

People saw me as a bookworm, as the supersmart girl with glasses. They would have been surprised by how many of those books were romances. Not all—but enough so that when I decided to write, that’s where I gravitated.

In my opinion, the hardest part of being shy is the self-consciousness. I hated being the focus of attention. I was always terrified of saying the wrong thing, of making a fool of myself. As long as I stayed in the background, I felt safe from scorn.

But all that changed when I picked up a pen. Writing was addictive. I’m sure all you other writers know the feeling I’m talking about. The power and freedom that comes when you’re the ruler of the world you’re creating. When no one is there to judge or criticize. When you can be bold, be wild, be whatever you want.

Here’s the trick that has enabled me to put out into the world the most private, most intimate of stories. The idea is this: I don’t write the book, the book writes me. The story uses me, my abilities, my experiences, my imagination, in order to find its way to readers. I give it everything I have—but it doesn’t belong to me. It’s not me. It’s a collaboration between me, the reader, and some mysterious magic I don’t understand or control.

Thinking of writing this way has relieved me of that burden of self-consciousness. It makes it easier to do the promotional and marketing aspects of writing. Easier to handle reviews and rejections. It’s not about me. It’s about the story, and the mystery of creation. If someone doesn’t like what I write, I’m sad, but I don’t take it personally.

Some actors say they’re shy. They like acting because it provides a safe zone in which they become someone else. That’s what writing is to me. A safe zone in which I don’t have to watch my behavior. I can become anything and anyone I want while I’m writing. It’s intoxicating. It’s liberating. It’s essential to my sanity.

So for all you shy writers out there, I say, if I can do it, you can. Just remember, the magic of writing is bigger than all of us.

Juniper Bell lives with her sweetie in a cabin in Alaska with no running water and a spectacular view of glaciers. She wound up in the frozen north after leaving her career as a stressed-out Los Angeles TV writer. Luckily, her love for writing survived the move. She soon discovered a surefire way of heating up those long winter nights. Her first erotic romance, “The Extremist,” was published in August of 2009, and since then she’s published three more books, “Doll” and “Training the Receptionist” with Samhain Publishing and “My Three Lords” with Ellora’s Cave. Visit her website, her blog , friend her on FaceBook or follow her on Twitter.

Monday, October 18, 2010

After the CALL--You Mean I Actually Have to TALK to People?

Please welcome back YA author B.A. Binns to the blog.


I expected writing to be hard, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Endless hours spent bent over a keyboard (or paper and pen, I’m still old school for my first drafts), then more lonely hours re-writing and editing. Actually, I found writing my novel the perfect job for an introvert. Especially a raving introvert. I scored in the top 3% for introversion on the Myers-Briggs test, and I’m darn proud of that too. I did join RWA and my local chapter. I even attend meetings, judge contests and get and give critiques. But it’s all strategy. In the beginning I sat in the back and observed. This little introvert was there doing business research, learning my craft not trying to be a social butterfly. (As if I ever could. It didn’t happen when I was young and slim, it’s certainly not going to happen now.)

After attending RWA Nationals earlier this year I patted myself on the back for reaching out to strangers and networking. Little did I know that was only the beginning. And, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get easier with practice, at least not for me.

This little introvert found an agent without really querying when Andrea Somberg from the Harvey Klinger agency loved PULL. After judging my manuscript in the 2009 Golden Rose contest, I signed with her in January and she sold PULL to WestSide books in March. WestSide loved the book so much they were willing to cut corners and rush it into production as part of their fall, 2010 lineup. At that point I thought my work was done.

I put together a list of things to do next:

Sign contract
Revise manuscript (a little)
Cash my check
Review and OK the edits
Collect royalties


I quickly discovered I was hopelessly naïve. While writing PULL I had been my own boss and sole employee, meaning my deserted island was populated by me, myself and I. I reveled in the solitude. The problem is that the act of writing is only part of the author’s job description. If you want what you have written to be read, then writing is more than just a job, it’s a business enterprise. That meant that a lot of steps were missing from my list. And that this shy writer needed to step so far outside her comfort zone she might never find her way back again.


I’d been warned about the thing called promotion. I belong to RWA, my local chapter, and several special interest chapters. I read blogs and studied both craft and the business end of writing. I swear I paid attention, I knew I had to do something to get myself and my book known. But somehow my brain refused to think about what promotion really meant to me. That I would be required to get our from behind my computer, put down my writing pad, and meet people. Total strangers. A lot of them.

My business enterprise needed new positions. I found myself assuming the mantle of director of marketing and director of PR (no, those aren’t the same thing), and added more items to my list:

Set up website and keep it current
Tweet
Blog
Make Facebook friends

Plan a publicity campaign
Press the flesh

Oh, and never forget the need to return to the keyboard and put out the next book. For the past few months these activities have filled my life and crowded out the all important next book.

When people tell you about promotion, don’t take it lightly. Yes, the publisher takes on part of the burden, but a lot still falls on me. People want to know about the author of the books they read, to feel a connection. Name recognition counts in politics and sales. I know I buy more from authors I feel I know. I even considered hiring a publicist. Unfortunately I’m only small potatoes. After our initial discussions she never got back to me with a proposal, so once again it’s me, myself and I.

I’ve turned myself and my car into walking and rolling advertisements. I have engaged in some interesting tweet-fests, tweeteractions, tweet-ins or whatever they should be called, and accumulated over a hundred followers on twitter (I know, I need to have thousands, but it’s a start). Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with old friends and meet new authors, although I’m not sure how I’m doing in terms of attracting possible readers. And I have now shaken so many hands and complimented so many children that I could run for political office. Practice doesn’t make perfect, by the way, it barely makes being out in public tolerable. But even though I can’t yet be called a social butterfly, I do understand why getting out there and meeting people is necessary. And VistaPrint has become my new best friend, although it’s amazing how much “free stuff” ends up costing me.

And I will admit that it’s nice to hear someone say they remember me, even if I have no idea where I saw him or her before. And I received a personal email from a high school youth--my intended audience--who read an ARC, scored my book 9.5 on a scale of 10 AND enthusiastically commented about the story and the characters. He even recommended PULL to his English teacher. Maybe I’m not the raving introvert I thought I was, because I want to go out and give him a giant hug.

I’ll be having small parties with my writing groups to celebrate the release of PULL, all people I’m already friends with and comfortable being around. My local library has sponsored me to speak in November. I’ll be talking the people about the business of writing and call that a party to, bring refreshments and books to sign. Instead I’m planning an online party for my release day, October 27. I’m also planning an on-line party on October 27. Join in via twitter at #BABinns to chat about the book, or about being a shy writer, ask questions about promotion or anything else you desire. There will be door prizes, including gift cards and autographed copies of PULL.

And, somehow, I WILL get back to the solitary joy of writing.

And this time I really mean it.

BIO: B. A. Binns is the pseudonym of Barbara Binns, a Chicago Area author who finds writing an exercise in self discipline, and the perfect follow-up to her life as an adoptive parent and cancer survivor. She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), the Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). She writes to attract and inspire both male and female readers with stories of “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.”

PULL, her debut YA novel, tells the story of a young man’s journey from guilt and the fear that biology forces him to repeat his father’s violence, to the realization that his future is in his own hands. Published by WestSide Books, PULL is available October 27, 2010 at your favorite bookstore or online bookseller.

For more information please visit
http://www.babinns.com/, or email author1@babinns.com

Friday, October 15, 2010

GOING BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

Please help me welcome multi-published romantic suspense and mystery author Chelle Cordero to the blog.

Here's Chelle: I am really a very private person. I normally choose not to discuss many of the ups and downs of life outside of my immediate circle of friends (and even then there is a lot I won’t share). Yet I allow my characters to feel the full range of emotions. Sometimes I have to lend a character some of my emotions… and I kind of feel exposed.

The stories I write have characters who have experienced tragic losses, trauma, crushed dreams, betrayal, abandonment and fear. Deanna is kidnapped, Tom mourns a lost love, Caitlyn lost both parents at a young age, Jake is desperate when a maniac threatens to kill the woman he loves, Layne hides from an abusive husband, Lon is accused of a heinous crime – and each character cries, feels fear, anger, despair and all of those “rip your heart out feelings”.

Although I may add a random memory to one of my character’s lives I often share very little with them, but oh how I share when it comes to tears. In one scene I wrote my character went to speak to his dead fiancé about falling in love again and he cried, and I cried alongside him (sigh, that was hard for me to admit). In another book where one of my characters sacrificed her life for the man she loved and then was accused by the same man for betraying him, she felt despair – and I forced myself to remember all of the frustrations I ever felt for having my well intentioned actions misunderstood. I was the one who lost sleep after researching serial killers and horror for a murder mystery.

I love it when I hear a reader say how they “laughed and cried” or sat “on the edge of their seat” – yet I feel exposed knowing how many of the private motions revealed in my books are actually MY private emotions. When I write I must force myself to go beyond my comfort zone and share these feelings.

Funny thing is, no one is making me share these things – but writing is a need that is tantamount to breathing, and breathing is actually quite comfortable.

Chelle Cordero is a multi-published romantic-suspense and mystery author with Vanilla Heart Publishing and short stories in five different anthologies through VHP and Mandimam Press. She also freelances as a journalist for several local and national newspapers and magazines. Chelle also pens the weekly Amazon Kindle blog ‘Living, Breathing, Writing” available by subscription. Ms. Cordero lives in New York’s lower Hudson Valley and serves her community by volunteering as an EMT with her local ambulance corps. Chelle’s web-site can be found at http://chellecordero.com/

Friday, October 1, 2010

Overcoming Shyness

Please help me welcome romance writer Claranne Perkins to the blog.

I’ve always considered myself a shy person which is surprising because the careers I’ve had as a teacher, a reporter and a fundraiser, aren’t exactly designed for people who suffer from shyness.


As a child, I much preferred doing things alone like reading. When forced to go out and play with the other kids, I would enjoy the games of baseball, hide and seek and Simon Sez, but after about an hour of playing with others, I was more than ready to crawl back into my shell and enjoy a good book.


The only problem was I was naturally curious about other people and was usually the first on the block to meet the new kid and introduce her/him around to the others. In seventh grade, I started writing The Craig and Danny Mysteries to entertain myself with my weekly spelling word list combined with my love of The Perry Mason television show.


I was entertaining myself, but by the second installment, the teacher had me read the story in front of the class. With sweaty palms, a couple of deep breaths and an excruciatingly slow walk to the front of the classroom, I read my story aloud because the teacher had ordered me to. When I finished, I made a beeline for my seat. But the room erupted in applause and I remember thinking, “This writing thing might be a good idea. It was something I could do alone, let others read and be adored.”


As a sophomore in high school, I was still pretty shy, but nosy, and when it came time to do the five-page report on my future career, I was still thinking about being a novelist. Only problem was when I did the research, I found one sheet on “novelist” that more or less said “there are few successful writers and don’t expect to eat much. See Journalism.” That was enough to send me to the school newspaper where I got to interview people and write articles. I did enjoy interviewing others and I was writing alone so again life looked pretty good for a sixteen year-old.

To my sixteen year-old mind I decided to give up the idea of being a novelist until I retired. Then, if I failed, at least I’d have a pension coming in and some way to support myself. I won a scholarship to college that I wouldn’t have to pay back IF I taught for three years, so I went to college, majored in English-Journalism and in four years found myself teaching English to high school sophomore and seniors. I managed to perform in the classroom, but at the end of the day I was more than ready to curl up with a book or my favorite television show alone.
 Somewhere in my late twenties, I took the Myers-Briggs test and learned that my introvert score was only one point higher than my extrovert. By then I had been a successful teacher (high school English) and, in later years, would have successful careers as a reporter and a fundraiser, none of which would be easy for anyone painfully shy.


How did I ever survive, let alone manage to raise millions of dollars? I overcame and adapted and believe me--if I can, you can, too. What I came to understand after taking the Myers-Briggs was that I wasn’t as shy as I thought. I just preferred being alone. Too much social activity sapped my energy and I needed the alone time to recharge.

Extroverts crave social activity, being around a lot of people energize them. Since I secretly admired people who were comfortable in any social situation, I studied them and tried to copy what ever they did.

These are some of the things that helped me. Maybe they’ll help you:

 Introduce yourself to others and ask them a question about themselves. Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves. I found once I introduced myself and asked a question, all I had to do was listen and ask a few follow-up questions. Often, I would start with another person in the room who was alone or looked as shell shocked as I was feeling. Once we both relaxed, I felt free to introduce myself to another person. By the third person, I was pretty comfortable.


Practice. I was always willing to practice conversations. Sometimes I practiced in my bathroom mirror. Sometimes I practiced with a trusted friend. But I did practice so I would know ahead of time how I would react in different situations.


Read books, articles, blogs. One of the first books I read on “shyness” was Barbara Walters' book, How to Talk to Anyone about Anything. I also read about different celebrities who were supposedly “shy” but had great careers like Walters and Johnny Carson.


Set a goal. Decide to introduce yourself to five people and have a five-minute conversation with each. That’s a 25-30 minute social event that you can feel free to leave after your 30 minutes. Next time, increase your goal.


Have some stock questions. Writers like to talk about their books/stories. How they developed their writing careers. Their favorite writers and books. Just ask.

Visit Claranne on her group blog, Blame It On The Muse, Linked In, and Facebook.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Six Levels of Introversion

I'm delighted to welcome Harlequin American author Barbara White Daille to the blog!

Here's Barbara: I’d like to thank Rebecca for inviting me to stop by today!

Chances are, there are a lot of us introverted folks here. It’s not an easy thing to admit, is it?

Rebecca had asked me to touch on how it is for me, as a shy person, to interact with an editor. Fortunately, my editor is fabulous, and we have no trouble communicating, whether we’re talking on the phone, via e-mail, or face-to-face.

I should be so lucky in all areas of my life.

In my writer and non-writer roles, there are times when I need to attend business meetings, workshops, and conferences. There’s no getting around it—all those events can be nerve-wracking, especially for a diehard introvert!

Do you agree?

Just in case you’re not sure, here’s a brief quiz to determine your level of Introvert-ness.

(Extroverts need not apply—but please feel free to leave comments that may help the rest of us. )

IT'S QUIZ TIME!

Six Levels of Introversion



Choose which statement below best describes you:

6. I’d prefer to sit in a packed meeting hall than to give a speech to everyone there.

5. I’d rather spend time in a crowded bar than sit in a packed meeting hall.

4. I’d choose eating lunch with a group of people I don’t know well over spending time in a crowded bar.

3. I’d rather go to tea with a perfect stranger than eat lunch with a group of people I don’t know well.

2. I’d buy a bottle of water and a bag of pretzels from the vending machine rather than go to tea with a perfect stranger.

1. I wish I lived on a deserted island so I could avoid having to make conversation with anyone!

Okay, confession time. Where do you fall on this list?

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing. From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!

Readers can find Barbara at the following locations:
http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com
http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille
https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille

Her October, 2010 book, FAMILY MATTERS, is currently available from bookstores and through eHarlequin.com: http://bit.ly/FAMILYMATTERS

Barbara works a day job but will be back here later today and over the weekend. She’s eager to read your responses to the quiz. Also, shy or not, she loves to chat with readers online, so please feel free to leave comments or questions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

TAKING HISTORY TO HEART

Please help me welcome multi-published and award-winning romance author Beth Trissel to the blog.

Years ago, I was riveted on the travels of Lewis and Clark in the Ken Burns documentary: Lewis and Clark, the Journey of the Corps of Discovery.


Brief description: ‘Sent by President Jefferson to find the fabled Northwest Passage, Lewis and Clark led the most courageous and important expedition in American history. It was the United States' first exploration of the West and one of the nation's most enduring adventures. Journey with them across a breath-taking landscape for an experience that explores the history--and the promise--of America.’

Fascinating. I was so invested in these men, particularly Lewis and Clark, and of course, their Godsend guide and interpreter Sacajawea. After the expedition concluded and Lewis and Clark parted, Lewis struggled to find his way. Seems he suffered from black depressions and was bi-polar, had been dependent on the support of his good friend William Clark for stability. Then it happened. Lewis was dead. I didn’t realize he shot himself in 1809—or was possibly murdered—and I lost it, sat in front of the TV sobbing, much to the disgust of my then teenage daughter Alison.

A friend of hers walked in the room, took one look at me and asked, “Sad movie?”

Alison rolled her eyes. “It’s a documentary!”

But it happened, and still felt very raw to me.

Similarly, back when I was doing research for Red Bird’s Song and read A Sorrow In My Heart, the Life of Tecumseh, about the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, I was devastated to read he was killed in battle in 1813 at age 45. Tecumseh was so awesome and vital to his people. I rushed out into the garden, wiping at tears, and railing against the injustice of life while aimlessly weeding. I should have seen that one coming, but there are tons of notes at the end of the book and I thought he had pages left to live.

So, what do these and my numerous other grapplings with history have to do with Red Bird’s Song? Simple, it’s historical, a poignant romance, and written more deeply from my heart then any of my other books. Many of the events depicted in the story and the inspiration behind it are true. Red Red Bird’s Song is based on events that happened to my early American Scots-Irish ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier and further west. And it’s the first novel I ever wrote and rewrote and learned how to write in the process. The novel began as carefully researched historical fiction with a strong romantic element but evolved into a historical romance, still painstakingly researched and pulsing with emotion. The romance between Wicomechee and Charity throbs with tension & tenderness, passion & angst.

*A bonus for readers, at the end of the book is the account of this Shawnee warrior I discovered in distant branches of the family tree. Yes, Wicomechee really lived and he comes vividly to life along with the others characters in this adventurous romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor.

The romance between Charity and Wicomechee is also inspired by an account I read of a Scots-Irish captive who fell in love with and wed the son of a chief and was later forced back to her white family. Her warrior husband did the unthinkable and left his people to go and live in the English world, but before he could reach his true love, her brothers intercepted and killed him. Heartbroken, she grieved herself to death shortly after giving birth to their daughter, who survived and has descendents to this day, I might add. So affected was I by this heartrending account that it also played out as a profound influence in my historical fantasy Daughter of the Wind.

Obviously when writing a romance, the death of the hero and or heroine does not qualify as a HEA ending, unless you’re Nicolas Sparks. (And don’t tell me he’s not writing romance). More research, dreams, and visions helped me contrive a far more satisfying ending for Red Bird’s Song. Also for Daughter of the Wind, I assure you. After two novels, I hope I’ve worked through the affect that tragic account had on me.

Who cares that it happened over 200 hundred years ago? IT WAS REAL. I suspect I’m what some might refer to as sensitive and deeply attuned to those who have gone before us. My parting advice is to draw from the events and people who touch your heart, either from the present or the past, and interweave this poignant wealth into your writing.

Red Bird’s Song is out in print and digital download at the Wild Rose Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will travel on to other booksellers.

For more on my work please visit my website at www.bethtrissel.com
My blog is the happening place at: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/

By the way, I’m giving away a digital download to some lucky visitor who leaves a comment!
Beth Trissel is a historical & light paranormal romance author with the Wild Rose Press, avid gardener, passionate about the past. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of VA, Daughter of the Stars, with her husband and the wolf pack, as they affectionately call their dogs. *Also love cats. The valley and mountains are her inspiration. Contact: bctrissel@yahoo.com

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Shy Exhibitionist

Please help me welcome dark fantasy erotica author Tyree Kimber to the blog.


The late Johnny Carson was a notoriously shy public figure. In a profile I once watched on television, an acquaintance of his (whose name now escapes me,) said that Johnny Carson was comfortable in front of twenty million people, but never in front of twenty people. While I know I'll never have the kind of fame or audience that Mr. Carson had, I totally understand what they were saying.

I am a performer. I always have been. I'm what you might call a shy exhibitionist. Growing up an only child who was something of an outsider, my imagination ran at full tilt to keep me company and keep me entertained. In high school, having no interest in sports but hungry for the kind of busy life my peers enjoyed I turned to acting, art, music, and whatever else I could find that would give me the attention I craved and in return could bring happiness and excitement to others around me. But I was still shy: I could perform Shakespeare in front of people I barely knew in a heartbeat, but walking up to them and starting a normal conversation with them was ground for an anxiety attack.

As I got older my desire to entertain crystallized around writing and storytelling. It's amazing how different we are in the world that we, as writers, build in our minds. Shyness is never an issue for us there. We have nothing to fear from anyone there because we know exactly what they will say; we know their every secret. In the world around us we never know how anyone will react and it's that uncertainty that can be brutal. When you're onstage the audience will either applaud or they won't. Either way you'll know exactly where you stand. But regular interactions are so much more challenging. There's no script and our audience is so much harder to read.

I'm proud of what I write, but when I first began to experiment with dark fantasy erotica I found my shy tendencies really kicking in. Right or wrong, there's a stigma attached to the erotic genre: it's not socially acceptable. I've never been hesitant to say that I'm a writer, but suddenly the follow-up question of "what do you write?" had a whole new dimension to it! After all, there's no tactful way to say you write tales of angelic orgies and women who couple with demons, is there?

We're never shy in the fictional world in our minds. But self-confidence can still be our enemy there. In my case I'd grown to think of it too much as my private world rather than something I was eventually going to share with the rest of the world and have to answer questions about. If there's advice I can give to a shy writer, it's this: never lose sight of the fact that you're creating for that world you're so wary of. And when you describe it to the friend, family member, or co-worker who asks you are opening an exciting show for a new audience. Take all that fear of the many possible reactions away and you're back to where you are with any audience: either they'll applaud or they won't. Maybe what you write about isn't socially acceptable to some. But if they see your confidence and your pride in what you're creating, maybe they'll start to wonder if perhaps it should be.

BIO: A lifelong resident of the Midwest, Tyree Kimber hung up his electric guitar and poet shirt to become a novelist; although the guitar and poofy shirt still call to him from time to time. His short stories have been released through Dark Roast Press along with the novel Apocalypse Woman, a dark erotic fantasy tale. With Phil Jones and Dave McNeal he is the author Systematic, a post-modern noir comic book series available at IndyPlanet.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

CONFERENCE JITTERS

Please help me welcome multi-published paranormal and erotic romance author Suzanne Rock to the blog.

Here's Suzanne: Hi! Thanks so much for having me here today. To start, I'd like to share a little secet with all of you.

I'm shy. Painfully shy.

I think most writers are. It takes a lot for me to come out from behind a computer and talk to people face to face. I'm not quite sure why that is. It isn't like one time I said 'hello' to someone and they bit me. It's just a part of who I am. I'm introverted. Some would say I'm introverted to a fault.

So, you can imagine what was going through my mind when I went to my regional RWA conference this past March. The thought of talking with other writers both excited and terrified me. Last year I went to the same conference and pretty much kept to myself. With my head down and pen in hand, I attended all of the workshops, guest lectures and agent/editor panels, eager for knowledge. I came home with a ton of things I could apply to my own writing. All in all, I considered it a success. But this year, I knew I wanted to do something different. I had done the lecture thing. This year, I wanted to network. That meant had to talk to real living and breathing people.

Yikes.

Workshops are important, but so is networking. Writing is such a solitary endeavor. For hours we sit in front of a computer screen, typing away the book of our heart. We may have the support of our friends and family, but do they really 'get it?' Do they understand the longing, the frustration, the cry of victory when, after months of agony, we finally filled that gaping plot hole?

This year I did something radical: I stepped out of my comfort zone. In the entire 2-day conference, I only attended one workshop. The rest of the time, I spoke with other writers, all at different stages of their writing career. I had cocktails with an unpublished author just starting to submit her fourth manuscript to agents. Then I had dinner with a self-published author, and then dessert with a 20-year veteran. Coffee with a multi-published ebook author, breakfast with a NY times best-selling writer, snacks with someone who just published their first ebook, lunch with an unpublished Harlequin hopeful, and finally, chocolate peanut butter cups with category romance writer who just made her first sale.

Yes, all of these encounters involved food, but that isn't my point, lol.
What this gave me was perspective. While everyone was at different stages of their writing career, we all shared a common bond: we loved to write. There is something about putting a pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that gives all of us shivers of excitement. We have stories to tell, and emotions to share. We may look different, or act different, but in our hearts, we all share the same dream: to share our sto
ries with the world.

When I went to this conference I was feeling a little down and somewhat inadequate as a writer. I left feeling inspired and energized. I'm so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and approached other writers. I know that my life, and my writing, will be better for it.

So how about you, have you ever had to step out of your comfort zone? What was the result? Tell me about it!

While you think about your answer, check out my newest release from Red Sage, called Dark Deception.

Book Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRw_BspWIXg

About Suzanne: After over a decade in the scientific world, Suzanne needed a creative outlet. She tried scrap booking, cooking, crocheting, painting, and piano, none of which held her interest for very long. Then one of her friends suggested writing. Thrilled with the idea of creating her own worlds, she opened up her laptop and never looked back. When Suzanne’s not writing, she can be found playing with her two daughters, testing her husband’s latest kitchen creations, or curled up with her favorite romance novel in her central Massachusetts home.

Backlist:
Spyder's Web, Loose Id
Up on the Housetop (Book 1 of the Kyron Pack), Loose Id
Cria, Loose Id
Down on the Boardwalk (Book 2 of the Kyron Pack), Loose Id

Dark Deception (Book 1 of the Immortal Realm), Red Sage

You can learn more about Suzanne here:
Website:
www.SuzanneRock.com
Embrace the Shadows Blog: http://embracetheshadows.wordpress.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2982868.Suzanne_Rock
Youtube Channel (so you can see my other book trailers)

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Shy Extrovert

Please help me welcome debut paranormal romance author Renee Rearden to the blog. Renee's first book, Moonlight Bleu, is available now.

Shy extrovert. Sounds like a contradiction of terms, doesn’t it? I used to think so. Until I stopped and considered my chosen careers: official court reporter by day and paranormal romance author by night.

Though both careers require contact with others, for the most part I am my own boss. And therein lays the rub. I work around people instead of for people. Is there a difference?

Absolutely.

Whether you are a secretary in a business office, a sales clerk in a retail store, a food server or even a local bus or taxi driver, a certain level of interaction with people is required. Mastering the skill of social interaction that allows for successful business relationships is necessary. (We won’t even factor in personal relationships—there’s limited word space here!) And though a large percentage of individuals have a “boss,” most job descriptions include an aspect of working for the public: the consumer, the customer, the right there in-your-face live (and usually quite vocal) person.

“Where is this going?” you ask.

Let me explain.

My job as a court reporter is really a step removed from dealing with the public. I sit in a courtroom, stenographically writing down every word said. I rarely speak in court. (My friends would say I never stop talking—but that’s the extrovert element, and we’re not there yet!) For the most part, at my job I’m a piece of educated furniture. Outside of court proceedings, I mostly deal with people by email and telephone. I also prepare transcripts of court proceedings and timely file them. All of this is done utilizing my professional, written verbiage skills.

I work around people.

Writing my first paranormal romance landed me in my home office. Alone. With the door closed. Not even on the “social skills required” playing field. Wasn’t a problem during the creation stage of the novel. Happily, I lived in my head, transferring characters and story onto paper. With the help of an amazing critique partner, and after rewrites, edits, more rewrites and more edits (and close to 100 rejections), I landed a publisher.

Thought I’d done the hard work getting to that point. WRONG!

Promoting a novel is where the hard work really begins because that requires mad social skills. Talking about yourself and your book must become second nature. For an extrovert, that probably isn’t a daunting challenge. For an introvert—well, let’s just say a root canal would probably be less painful. For a shy extrovert, I’m somewhere in between.

Remember I mentioned my friends say I talk—a lot? I do. Just not about myself. I love talking about my friends and their accomplishments, the newest paranormal television series, and, of course, the latest book I’ve read. Unfortunately, none of that helps me get over my discomfort in talking about myself or my novel.

I love being around people. I’m not so thrilled at being the center of attention. And now that I have to promote my work, being the center of attention is not something I can avoid.

So, how do I deal with being a shy extrovert?

Humor. And lots of it. I’ve learned to break the ice with some snippet of amusing conversation—usually an ungraceful moment of my own. People relate, and then offer up some of their own embarrassing moments. Violà! Instant rapport, and everyone else does most of the talking. And during the ensuing conversation, openings present themselves to talk about my book, characters, or even myself.
Stepping beyond my comfort zone hasn’t been comfortable, but I’ve done it. And I’ll keep doing it because not only do I love to write, the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard have been downright interesting. Every time I walk into a light pole while looking the other direction or roll my ankle like a drunk wearing a new pair of heels, I remind myself, “That’s going to make somebody laugh!”

Renee Rearden works full time as an Official Court Reporter, sharpening her skills on the written word. Often described as a free spirit, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. In addition to her day job, being a wife, mother of four daughters, and grandmother to the most amazing little guy on the face of the planet keeps her plenty busy…most of the time.
As a Gemini, her creative side fills the rest of her spare time, keeping her mind immersed in imaginative escapism. Writing paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels offers an outlet for her to share the intriguing stories she creates. Each of them is filled with non-stop action, nail-biting conflict, and scintillating attraction between the people that live in her head.


2007 Golden Rose winner in the paranormal category (MOONLIGHT BLEU)
2007 Stella Cameron Scarlet Boa winner (MOONLIGHT BLEU)


You can learn more about Renee on her website, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Always the Quiet Ones

Please help me welcome erotic romance author Missy Welsh to my blog. Missy's debut, The Summer of Wes, is available now from Loose Id.

There's a story my mom tells of me at age four that pretty much establishes part of my personality: Me and a neighbor girl of the same age came across a mud puddle in the sidewalk. She got right in it, stomping and splashing and making a mess of herself. I went to my mom and asked for permission to do the same. She said no, so I just stood on the sidelines and watched.

Yep, that's me. Even at four years old, I was comfortable on the sidelines. That's me there now, holding up the wall and observing everything.

Another story about me was that around age eight -- the year after my grandfather died -- I used to worry about death to the point of making myself sick. I'm not sure who's idea it was, but my mom would make me sit in a corner alone for one hour each day and get all the worry out. It didn't make one lick of sense to me, so I sat there instead and made up stories. Eventually, I made friends with the tiny spider playing in the cobwebs and told them to him. (Mom cleaning the corner is a tale for another day.)

Seems rather normal to me that I would later apply both aspects of my personality -- the observer and the story-teller -- and become a writer. How I got to writing about gay men falling in love is for my therapist to figure out someday. How to tell family and friends and the occasional stranger that's what I write is an ongoing struggle for this shy writer.

I discovered gay romance or M/M romance about a year ago while poking around the small online publishers. I'd fallen in love with my first gay couple thanks to Suzanne Brockmann's Jules Cassidy and Robin Chadwick characters. I read about them and I wanted more. And yes, more details. (That observer in me is a curious gal.)

I soon found myself enchanted by the storylines that seemed fresh and new for having gay men involved: Cowboys, Marines, hustlers, secret agents, single dads, cops and corporate bad boys. Being gay added another layer of complication to their already complicated lives and I, like millions of other women -- yes, women -- were gobbling these stories up so fast the publishers are having trouble keeping up with the demand for more and better.

So now I was a total fan, but I've always been a writer and I couldn't help giving writing about gay men a try myself. I told absolutely no one. I downplayed my progress and said vague things about plot or character whenever someone asked how the writing was going. I even lied about my "heroine" a few times. I came to realize I was in a closet of sorts about it and didn't like it one bit. "Coming out," though, was unthinkable. Until something happened that basically forced my hand.

A month after my thirty-fourth birthday, I submitted a story to Loose Id...and they wanted to see the full manuscript. I managed to keep a lid on my joy and sent it off, telling myself it might mean nothing. The next month had me going before an editor. My very own editor! And she wanted to get to work ASAP to beef up the external conflict before pitching it to management and maybe making me an offer.

As far as I was concerned, that meant I was in and I couldn’t keep this a secret anymore despite my extreme nervousness over telling someone. There’s only so much Pepto a girl can swallow before enough is enough.

First on the list of people to tell was my mom. She's a terrier with a chew toy when it comes to my writing. Breathe one word about an idea and she wants to know what happened to the other one. The woman has high hopes I'll be on Oprah's booklist someday. When I got the email from Loose Id saying they were passing my story to an editor, I started crying and knew my first phone call would have to be to Mom.

She didn't frickin' answer.

My sister, on the other hand, did pick up when I called her next. I babbled about sending the partial, etc. in and then sending in the full manuscript and then she asked the crucial question: "What's the story about?"

Pretty sure I gave my tongue whiplash as I abruptly stopped talking.

But this is my little sister and she already thinks I'm a little nuts, so... I told her it was an erotic romance -- explained what that meant -- and then confessed that it was about two gay young men, one eighteen and the other twenty-four. After her moment of silence as she absorbed that, my dear sister said, "What do you know about boys that age, let alone gay ones?"

I really do love my little cockroach.

I asked her advice for telling our mother, she laughed at me, and I tried calling Mom again. Probably would've been a good idea to wait until she got home from work, but I wasn't thinking about things like that right then. I was on a roll.

"Oh, really? Well..." she said and then she repeated what I'd said to someone standing in her office with her! I had a mild seizure thinking she was telling her male boss, but it turned out she was telling two of her coworkers and friends. And they were intrigued, laughed, and generally thought I was awfully creative.

Huh.

It was actually much easier to tell the group of strangers that made up my first visit to a local Romance Writers of America chapter. Someone asked, I said, she blinked, and we moved on. The lady who sat on my other side and dressed like she'd ridden a Harley to the library -- she had -- also wrote erotic romance and thought I was a kick and a half.

Palpitations came when I realized two of my college English professors were in the room too...and cue the "would the new people introduce themselves please?" moment where the spotlight clicks on and my head goes empty. I managed to say it all again -- probably looking like a tomato -- and was greeted by a few startled titters and much eye blinking. And we moved on again.

I'd sweat so much I'd had to shower when I got home, but oh, my giddy aunt, I'd confessed my genre to about thirty people at once and lived to tell the tale!

It's getting a little easier every time I say it and I'm fairly well-prepared with statistics and whatnot when people have questions. I've signed two contracts and am working steadily to promote myself and my books, so the process helps remind me of the goal I'm working toward and that it's all worth it to see my words out there for the world to read. There will be moments, I am certain, when the reception won't be so giddy or mild, but I'll plead Scarlet on that one and think about it tomorrow.

Right now, I'm going to go jump in a few mud puddles without permission because, by the time you’re reading this, I'll be able to say I'm published and that's really what matters. And then, ahem, I'll get back to writing.

Missy has been writing since she was twelve and now has a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University that was a gift she gave herself for making it through a Bachelor of Arts in English at her local university. The stories she writes vary from historical to futuristic, but romance has always been the main theme for her. She grew up watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies with her dad and reading her mom's romance novels as soon as she turned her back long enough for Missy to grab one. And let's not forget Captain James T. Kirk, her first bad-boy and the man who taught her how to face danger and walk away grinning. So long as there are men being brave and falling love, Missy will be writing about them. Visit Missy online at http://missywelsh.com/.