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.
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.
Erotic Romance Author – http://saschaillyvichauthor.com/
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 promotion 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.
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.
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:
Revise manuscript (a little)
Cash my check
Review and OK the edits
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
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 email@example.com
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/
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
http://darkroastpress.com/forbidden1.php - Forbidden Views, Volume 1 http://darkroastpress.com/baristachoice.php - Barista's Choice (Free e-book sampler)http://darkroastpress.com/apocalypsewoman.php - Apocalypse Woman http://indyplanet.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3943 - Systematic (Issue #1)
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.
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?
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 stories with the world.
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.
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:
Youtube Channel (so you can see my other book trailers)
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?
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!”
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 Stella Cameron Scarlet Boa winner (MOONLIGHT BLEU)
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.
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/.