Monday, May 31, 2010

Marketing Cheat Sheet for Shy Writers

I'm delighted to have Marie-Claude Bourque on my blog today. Marie-Claude is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search of eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy. ANCIENT WHISPERS was released by Dorchester-Love Spell on May 25. Find more at www.mcbourque.com


HERE'S MARIE-CLAUDE: Ever since I’ve been scheduled to be Rebecca’s guest, I’ve been pondering how it happened that I, the most shy kid ever, have managed to do a bunch of things that continues to make my mother shake her head in surprise. “This is not my little girl,” she says (in French). “I don’t recognize you.”


The truth is I am still the same very shy girl inside but I’ve continuously pushed through it to do stuff that scares me. I went to college where everyone but me spoke English, I learned to teach aerobics, I ran a big gym staff and trained instructors and I gave many Oceanography talks and lectures. And now I try my hardest to network in the writing industry.

It’s scary, it’s hard. All of it, always.

And if you see me at a party, I’ll still be the one hiding, knitting in the chair in the far corner of the room.

But as I think about it, I noticed that the one thing I do after giving myself super scary challenges, is to take a tiny small step forward. I didn’t suddenly turn into an aerobics instructor, I just signed up for a class and hid at the back. Then I taught in front of my friends, then in front of a small class at a local community center, then hit the big health clubs before training instructors of my own.


We can all get there, as long as we don’t panic and start really, really tiny.

I’ve been thinking about what I have been doing to market ANCIENT WHISPERS and I thought I’d go through a few venues to show what small steps we can take to promote our work while staying safe and shy (because frankly I don’t know how to not be shy!)

(1) Advertisement:
The easiest thing you can do is spend money! I have taken both magazines ads and readers blog ads. Those are easy. All you need to do is talk to a designer who does your ad then the person in charge of the magazine. And you pay them, so they can’t turn you down!

(2) Booksellers
I can’t phone them or even email them. That’s too scary. So I send them mail! A nice letter of introduction, send a cover flat if you have them, bookmarks, a sampler of your book (lots of stapling but all done all by yourself away from people!), and you are done! All you need to do is talk to the guy at the print shop for the sampler and the post office people!

(3) Public Speaking:
If this is not your thing, consider doing group speaking first. Either in a panel, group workshop or group signing. Try your workshop first at your local RWA chapter or small venue where you feel comfortable. The group will carry you through and you will find it much easier if you only have to answer a few questions and talk for 10 minutes.

(4) Online:
Of course, online is a great place for shy people but it is still not easy. I still doubt sending a comment sometimes or an email or a Tweet because it makes me feel awkward. So here are a few things you can do:

(a) Paid advertisement on places like Fresh Fiction, Romance Night Owl or Savvy Authors or more expensively Author Buzz. You pay, they do the work.

(b) Blog tour: if you are shy to ask people to be on their blog, you can use a great service at Savvy Authors that will organize your tour for you (5 blogs). Or the easiest is to start asking blogs that have an explicit “if you want to be a guest” notice on their side bar. It is a lot easier to ask when you know they want guests.

(c) Your blog: If you want to promote it but you worry about what people may say, how about just Tweet it (you can do this automatically so you don’t even see it) or post it on your Facebook wall (same there, register your blog on BlogNetworks and let it post automatically – it’s less stressful!)

(d) Email loops: If you are not sure how to engage in conversation, how about just congratulate people with good news and welcome newcomers. Everyone likes to hear that.

(e) Facebook: If you are shy about commenting, start but just “liking” people status. I do that with an author I admire. I am just too shy to talk to her, so I just “like” her status a lot! If you don’t want to talk about yourself in your status, post a quote or your latest word count.

(f) Twitter: Start by Retweeting things. Retweet your friends’ contests to help them out and follow a few industry or news profiles so you can retweet them to your followers. They may find it interesting. And you can also post quotes you like, and your word count.

(g) MySpace: again for your status, you can post a quote or your word count. To interact and reach out to friends, how about finding a beautiful graphic comment and post it on special holiday. No need to even add any messages to that.

The thing with all this is that these are example of small things you can do to get started. The more comfortable you get, the more people you interact with, the more guest blogs you do, these things will get easier and you will be able to go to the next steps: walk to the bookstore and meet booksellers, present workshops and do signings on your own, ask to be a guest blogger to all kinds of blogs and suddenly find yourself really at ease with a huge crowd of friends online.

The world is big out there and you can make it smaller so it feels more comfortable. But always remember, small steps will get you there.

I’d like to give away a signed copy of ANCIENT WHISPERS to a commenter.

So tell me, is there one thing you’d really like to do for promotion but you are too afraid to do? Myself, right now, I’d love to go talk to a bookseller out cold and just introduce myself. I know plenty of writers who do that but I just can’t imagine I’ll ever be that confident. How about you? Anything?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Conference Jitters for a Shy Writer

Please help me welcome romance author Vivi Andrews. Vivi was born and raised in Alaska and still lives in the Last Frontier when she isn't busy indulging her travel addiction. She writes fun and flirty paranormal romances as well as smoldering shapeshifter stories. For more about Vivi and her books, please visit www.viviandrews.com. Also on her website, you can find details regarding Vivi's "Have a Heart" promotion, supporting the Children's Heart Foundation.


HERE'S VIVI: You know that moment in Wayne’s World where Mike Myers and Dana Carvey fall to their knees and cry “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” as they bow to Alice Cooper? That’s how I always feel at writing conferences. One look at some of my writing icons and I turn into a simpering fangirl. I simply cannot think of myself as their peer.

I had a bunch of I’m not worthy moments at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Columbus last month. (There was much gushing “I love your books!” on my part, though thankfully I managed to stop myself from the actually bowing and fawning.)

I find conferences daunting on several levels. I’m nervous around the big authors I admire, I’m spastic around the editors and agents because oh-my-god-they-could-totally-make-my-career-if-they-wanted-to, and at RT there is the added intimidation of the readers – who may or may not have read or be interested in reading my books. It’s enough to make a girl want to hide in her room all week.

The good news is almost everyone at the conferences is just as introverted as I am – so at least I’m in good company. The not-so-good news? I have to muster up the courage to network.

I’m terrible at networking. I love talking about books, but I shudder at the thought that I, as an author, am a commodity I have to sell to editors, agents & readers. Sales has never been my forte. I have a hard time touting my books when more often than not I’m still stunned they got published in the first place. (I’m not one of those confident writers…)

Success at conferences (as I gauge it) involves overcoming my natural instincts. At my very first writing conference, I didn’t know anyone. I’d never been to an RWA meeting or any sort of writing conference. I’d never seen a best-seller or an editor or agent in the flesh. I sidled away from Sherrilyn Kenyon like she might bite me, I clammed up when I realized midway through a fun conversation that I was talking to the Wild and Untamed Agent of the Species, and generally made an idiot of myself in my pitches by being so nervous I could barely breathe. I was tempted more than once to hightail it up to my room and hide.

But I didn’t hide. I sucked it up, fought my flight instinct, and walked up to a table with an empty chair and asked if it was taken. It wasn’t. I sat. Or rather, I huddled there in mute terror until I slowly began to realize the other women around the table were just like me. Aspiring writers, industry pros and devoted lovers of books – especially books of the romance persuasion. They got me.

At that table, I met some of the most wonderful women I’ve had the pleasure to know. I’m still in touch with several of them. I partied with one of them until the wee small hours at RT. They have become my invaluable writing buddies, the best support system a hopeful writer could have, and I would never have met them if I hadn’t manned up enough to take that seat.

These days at conferences I’m better at making myself socialize, though sometimes I still have to fight down the I’m not worthy imposter feeling. But the these people get me feeling that always hits at some point during the conference is worth all my silly jitters.

The moral of the story? Conferences can be terrifying for the shy writer. But if you can get up the guts to crawl out of your shell, the rewards can be amazing. And just remember – your fellow writers are like spiders. They’re just as afraid of you as you are of them.

And if that fails, just picture everyone naked. ;)


Current Release: The Sexorcist
eBook buy link: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/the-sexorcist-p-5463.html

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leave Me at Home

Please help me welcome author Mysti Holiday. Mysti is a very busy SAHM who dreams of warm climates and hot bodies. Most people know she writes, but not what she writes about: sexy men and the wanton women who love them. She's married to a wonderful man who happily sacrifices himself for research, and she spends most of her days dreaming of interesting and unusual situations in which to place her characters. But most of all, she's a sucker for a happy ending. Mysti's erotic romance, SHUT UP AND KISS ME, is available now from The Wild Rose Press. Visit Mysti on her blog, The Menagerie.

HERE'S MYSTI: I have a confession to make... something most folks simply wouldn’t believe.

I’m painfully shy. Shy to the point of being incapacitated.

What? Why are you laughing? Just because I talk to everyone I see, just because I have no problem with public speaking or getting up on stage, and I can even sing in front of people, you don’t believe I’m shy?

I am.

Every time I face new situations, I die a little inside. When I meet new people, I’m terrified. But, the fact is, new stuff is a fact of life. So I can either sit in my house with the curtains drawn and suck my thumb, or I can figure out how to deal with it. Because besides being shy, I’m also stubborn.

Here’s how I learned.

From my earliest memories, I can remember performing. In kindergarten I was in drama and playing the Empress of China ( I still remember one of my lines: “Rise, my subjects.” *G*). In sixth grade, I learned how to play basketball so I could hang out with my secret crush (he was the basketball star ... and I asked him to teach me), and I learned so well I ended up captaining the team. In seventh grade I learned how to juggle. In ninth, I joined choir and drama. As an adult, I took speech classes and worked as a bartender. I’ve always been in the public eye and it’s easy to do.

You know why? Because when I’m the captain of the basketball team or the Empress of China, I’m not ME. Me is shy. Me is terrified of new people and sits in a corner and cries when she’s expected to go outside her comfort zone (which is pretty much anything and everything). The Empress of China is confident and proud and secure. She drapes herself over Me and shows her how it’s done. Me happily stands aside and lets the Empress, or the Captain or the Bartender take over.

It’s make believe that lets me do it. I’m a terrifically private person and very few people know anything about me. They may think they know, but they don’t. They know about the Empress or the Captain or the Bartender, but Me is carefully buried in a place where she can cringe when the Bartender greets a new customer and carries on a conversation, or when the Empress stands on stage and says her lines.

It’s my version of picturing the audience in their underwear. I just become someone else, and it protects Me.

Think about it. Everyone does it. When you dress for work in a business suit, or put on your hooker red lipstick to give yourself confidence, you’re becoming someone else. You’re using props to create a new persona to help you get through an uncomfortable situation. Why not do that all the time?

Today, wear your confident author persona and push through. You CAN do a book signing. You CAN read an excerpt of your work to a group of ladies at your local library. Just pull out the confident author and put her one. Leave Me at home where she’s happiest.

Give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turning a Negative into a Positive


Please help me welcome the fantastic and inspiring Sharon Donovan to my blog.


Hello! First of all, I’d like to thank Becky for having me here today as her guest. It’s great to be here! The subject at hand seems to be shyness and how to best overcome it. I’m learning that quite a few authors suffer from this phobia, thrusting themselves head first into writing to channel their creative muse. I am one of these authors. I’ll share with you my tale of woe and how I turned the tables around to work for me.

I lost my vision ten years ago to diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes fragile blood vessels to grow and rupture in the back of the eye and can lead to progressive blindness. Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of six, a doctor at Children’s Hospital predicted I would be blind before I turned twenty-five. His harsh words haunted my subconscious, affecting every decision I made for years to come. Afraid of life, I became painfully shy, keeping to myself and wondering when it would happen. Where would I be? Should I drive? What if I killed somebody while driving?

These worries screamed in my head on a daily basis to the point of madness. No matter where I went or what I did, there they were. Even though I went on to become a legal secretary at the Court of Common Pleas where I prepared cases for judges in the Family Division, the words played in my head again and again like a broken record. Then one day I discovered a passion for painting, losing myself for hours at a time. No more pain, no more heartache. Peace and tranquility. Painting picturesque scenery became my haven, a place where I could escape those cruel words. Then one day it happened, the initial bout of blindness. For the next two decades, vision came and went. Now you see it—now you don’t. The vicious circle went round and round, pushing me deeper and deeper into a world of loneliness and shyness. Then after one final operation in an attempt to save my vision, I lost the battle.

Devastated, I enrolled in a program for the blind and visually impaired where I underwent a grueling regimen for eight hours a day. But when I was introduced to a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, hope soared for the first time in years. And after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.

What happened to the shyness? It’s still at the very core of me. But I’ve learned that sticking your head in the sand will get you nowhere. Once I began asking for help and reaching out, doors opened. And they have continued to open for me in my writing career. It took me a long time to channel my creative muse into a new outlet, but using vivid adjectives in my writing helps keep memories of the four seasons fresh in my head. I invite you to visit my website where you can read excerpts of my books and reviews. You can also see some of the pictures I painted in my art gallery. I write in two very different genres, inspiration and suspense. Why? The answer is quite simple, really. With all I’ve been through in my life, I feel the need to inspire others through my writing. On days when I feel, shall we say, less than inspirational, I run out and kill someone in the wonderful world of fiction. On my blog, I spotlight a different author every Wednesday. Writers might be shy, but shyness needs to burn off so that the work of the author can shine through. I leave you with these words of wisdom and encouragement: Never give up on a dream. Keep pushing through the barriers, the shyness, the rejection letters, the not so wonderful reviews. What it all boils down to is this. We only get one shot at life and have to make every day count.

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: http://www.sharonadonovan.com/. For the entire month of May, she's running a Zorro Contest to kick off her psychological thriller, Mask of the Betrayer.
www.sharonadonovan.com

Sharon's blog:
http://sharondonovan.blogspot.com If you would like to do a guest appearance, shoot her an email: sharonad@comcast.net

MASK OF THE BETRAYER
AVAILABLE AT WHIMSICAL PUBLICATIONS
On sale for entire month of May
http://www.whimsicalpublications.com/books.html

Friday, May 14, 2010

Embrace Your Inner Sex Goddess


Please help me welcome the lovely and talented Anna Alexander. Anna makes her home in the Seattle area with her two daughters and her overactive imagination. She writes contemporary and paranormal romances that raise the temperature on those grey, rainy Northwest afternoons. Or maybe that’s just the heat coming off the oven as she bakes her infamous cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies. Follow her writing journey at AnnaAlexander.net, Facebook- Anna Alexander, or Twitter- AnnaWriter.

HERE'S ANNA: Family gatherings. No matter whose family it is, the conversation follows a similar pattern. “How’s work?” “What grade are you in now?” “How’s the remodel going?” The question I’m always asked is, “Are you published yet?”

“Not yet,” I respond. “But I was recently named a finalist in the Between the Sheets contest.”

“Great. What is that?”

“Well, I entered a ten page love scene and I was one of the five best.”

“Love scene? Oooo. What was it about?”

“Uh…well…” I can feel my ears burn as my spoonful of vanilla ice cream melts onto the top of Optimus Prime’s chocolate head.

I know for certain that this will not be the last time I encounter such a question. My books contain some fairly racy scenes, and very little is left to the imagination. I foresee a time in the future, after I’ve received the call (see, me being optimistic), when I will be standing in a lovely bookstore chatting with nice people, and someone will approach me and say, “So, you like to tie men up and shave their private areas.”

Regardless of whether I personally enjoy that or not, I wrote that scene, and it will be tied to me forever. Now, do I hang my head in shame and run and hide in the self-help section, or do I lift my chin, smile and say, “Thank you for reading my book. I hope you enjoyed it.”

The answer is smile, of course. Even if my cheeks are on fire, and my eyes glaze over in horror, I will still smile.

So if you are like me, a naturally shy person who is able to describe in explicit detail several uses for extra-virgin olive oil that do not involve cooking, how do you overcome that gut clenching, sweat producing, please-world-swallow-me-whole reaction? The key to that is understanding you as a person, and your reader.

The number one rule is write to your comfort level. This, I believe, is most important. Read out loud the sexiest scene in your manuscript in a strong, clear voice. If you can’t do it in the privacy of your own room, then how can you be comfortable promoting all aspects of your novel in public? Listen to your heart, and your internal embarrassment thermometer. If the thought of describing steamy oral sex makes you break out in hives, don’t do it.

Even though it’s the 21st century, people as a whole are still very sheltered when it comes to sex. I can’t understand why it is more publically acceptable to have a movie where someone is violently decapitated over a moving, emotional, explicit love scene. What may be vanilla to you, may be exotic and unimaginable to another. That person may lash out and make juvenile or negative comments to cover their own embarrassment or fear. Smile, nod your head, thank them for their opinion, and move on. My job as a fiction author is to entertain, not to teach, argue, or psychoanalyze their response to my book.

Be proud of your work. Conveying the nuances, both physical and emotional, of a sexually intimate relationship is a talent that takes incredible hard work and skill. The authors who are masters at love scenes cultivate enduring readerships for that reason. Their readers want that experience. If you can deliver that then don’t be afraid of embracing your inner sex goddess. The world can handle a little sexy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Video Blog about Ereaders and Print Books

I'm delighted to welcome multi-published author Catherine Bybee to my blog. Catherine is a number one selling author of paranormal romance. Her latest release, Binding Vows has hit the top 100 list at Amazon's Time Travel Romance. Her book trailers have one top honors at You Gotta Read Reviews Best Book Trailer Awards. A wife and a mother of two boys, one fourteen the other eleven, is busy with countless hours of volunteer work, writing and a career as an ER Nurse.



Anyone interested in Catherine Bybee's previous video blogs check out her YouTube page by clicking HERE. Or stop by her website for more information about her books by visiting her website.