Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GLENYS O'CONNELL: A little Q & A

Q. Thanks for being here today. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A.A Short bio? What to say? What to say? I write romantic suspense and have several novels published. But I regard myself as a writing "Jill of all Trades" and have also written children's fiction and non-fiction, and following my interest in counselling and psychology, I've had two books on mental health issues published.

Back to fiction -- I've written two or three one-act plays -- two of them have been produced on stage, and one has won several awards, including a best drama award as the author of a play translated into Irish Gaelic! I've written many articles, web content, and a series of hypnotherapy scripts as well as ghostwriting several books. I started out my working life as a journalist and covering the crime beat for a large daily paper in Ontario fed my interest in psychology, so I took a degree and further qualifications as a counselor.

I'm also putting together a book on novel writing based on my online writing course: Naked Writing - the No Frills Way to Write Your Book, and I'm excited to be taking the plunge with Indie publishing on that one! But romantic suspense and mysteries will always be my first love - they fulfill my craving for romance, crime and excitement! I've lived and worked in the UK., Ireland and Canada -- all countries which provide excellent settings for novels. Now I'm back home in very rural Ontario, Canada, and at work on a series of novels about a psychotherapist turned amateur detective and on a non-fiction book about relationships.

Q. Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A. Yes, I am both shy and introverted -- in another age I'd probably be a hermit living deep in the woods, or a witchy woman living alone with my cats....

Q. In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A. It's a two-edged sword, really. I'm not shy when I'm interviewing people as a journalist, or teaching as a creative writing instructor (I taught law, creative writing and did life coaching in Ireland and worked with disadvantaged children and adults, too). I'm able to stand in front of a class and talk for as long as I need to -- but put me on a stage promoting one of my plays or in a bookstore doing a book signing, and I'm instantly tongue tied. Promotion, especially in person, when I'm required to talk about my own work, is really difficult and I know that shyness has prevented me from taking up promotional opportunities.

Q. In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A. In my professional life, particularly as a journalist, I learned to adopt a 'professional personna' which lets me put a shield between myself and what I'm doing, if that makes sense. I am learning from that experience to 'fake it until you make it' and I think I'm becoming better at going out to readers and talking or promoting my work. At least, I hope so!

Q. What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A. Promotion and book signings - see the answers above!

Q. Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A. Oh, my -- there are a number of answers to that one.

How about the time I was invited to cover a Women's Institute convention, with hundreds of attendees, for my newspaper -- and no one told me I was on the slate as a speaker! I was pretty young at the time, and I did give a talk on writing club reports that would interest newspapers. Apparently, I spoke for the required 20 minutes and everyone clapped and said it was great. Me? I don't remember a word I said....

Then there was the time I was invited to do a series of workshops at an elementary school about my children's book, The Pebble People Save the Day....30 little boys, full of questions and with short attention spans, waiting expectantly, and the teacher left me alone in the room. I survived, though....and the kids didn't riot!

And possibly some of my worst moments have been when women readers have commented that they really thought the sex in my books was hot...and went on to ask me if I had any tips for them.

Q. What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A. Don't take things personally. People are usually genuinely interested in the work you do, or they wouldn't want to hear about it. Your readers are the people you are writing for -- do them the honor of respecting that and do your best to treat them as special people in your world. And if you get a rejection, or the reviews don't come in (or worse, aren't as good as you'd hoped!) or a store won't carry your books, or some other disappointment occurs in your writing, don't take it personally. Books are very much subjective -- a rejection or a poor review isn't a personal judgement on you! Remember when you learned to ride a bike? You kept falling off and then all of a sudden, there you were -- riding with the wind! Well, keep on doing what you love, and the things you fear will get easier and actually become (almost) enjoyable!

Q. Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

A. This is from Resort to Murder, a romantic suspense/police detective novel set in Yorkshire. England.

Disgraced police detective Ellie Fitzpatrick is prepared to face a vicious killer to redeem herself but is she also brave enough to make peace with the man she loves? Her meteoric career crashes and burns after she is falsely accused of accepting bribes from thugs running a protection racket. Suspended from the job she loves, she believes herself abandoned not only by police colleagues but by her lover, Detective Liam Reilly. Then she is called back to work when a biography of a serial killer she arrested suggests the man may be innocent. Reilly vows to protect Ellie from the gang who tried to frame her and the killer who's stalking her. But can she trust him with her life?
ISBN: 1-60154-652-1
Q. Where can my readers find you on the web?

A. I have a web page at www.glenysoconnell.com under the 'brand' Romance Can Be Murder! I also blog with The Roses of Prose  and on Amazon. I'm also on Twitter @GlenysOConnell.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today, Rebecca, and special good wishes to shy writers everywhere!






Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Doing Your Own Thing -- by Lynn Crain



The first thing I have to do now is thank Rebecca for being so patient with me. She had to remind me that I was supposed to be blogging here...see...I was out doing my own thing. My family has always had to drag me out of doing my own thing as it has always eclipsed doing their thing. LOL!

Seriously, when I read the blog posts, trying to get a fix on what I should be writing, I noticed several folks were talking about being shy and introverted. I’m not...as long as it’s online...and that makes me incredibly outgoing. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Vienna, Austria, that I found out just how introverted I really am when trying to learn a new culture and meet new people.

In April of this year, 2011, my husband of many years decided he wanted to go on an adventure. He wanted to run away from home, so to speak. All my friends told me moving would be the adventure of a lifetime. I told myself sure, it would. It would be my adventure on how not to be depressed or want to behead my beloved. Yes, I have a snarky sense of humor, so sorry if I offend any of you, but the simple fact is what I’m typing is true. I did want to do those things, as I couldn’t understand how this man I had lived with for a long, long time knew me so little.

I had lived all my life, with the exception of eleven years, in Nevada, in the good ole US of A and nowhere else. I had visited Scotland twice, along with England, and decided I wanted to have a summer home there. Note I said summer home. I also wanted to visit Europe, maybe even visit for a month or two, but never in any dream did I think we’d ever be there for more than a few weeks.

In May 2011, we packed up a home of nearly thirty years and moved to Europe. We’re here for somewhere between three to five years. I honestly think it depends on my tolerance of being away from home, family and friends. My impression from my dear husband was that like-minded people would surround us. We’d be entertaining or going to public parties and other venues for his job. I braced myself for this as I can be very good with my social butterfly guy. I have learned through my many years with various writing groups just how to be ‘on’ for an event. I had always told my friends that it was different from how I usually was, but it was still me...just a very social me...or so I thought.

In all my other social gatherings as I writer, I had never felt judged from just a look. Sure, those looks were there as were the feelings sometimes, but I had never let them bother me or even noticed at all. Here, maybe it’s because I don’t understand the culture as well as I thought, I feel practically naked in the public eye. All around me, people speak in different languages, and since I’m a control freak, it makes me feel very out of control. My controlling nature has mellowed over the years, but this had it zinging.

It was in those early days here that I understood just how shy and introverted I was. I really didn’t like crowds. I  didn’t like everyone looking at me as if I were a commodity on my husband’s arm. And no, I’m not sexy or anything but a plain Jane intelligent woman who wonders just why people are so political when they should all just be getting along. Here I feel that everyone is jockeying for a place within my husband’s social sphere while I’m just trying to keep my head above water, and to figure out just where I might fit in. To be honest, it wasn’t going well at all for me.

So, how was I going to get over these feelings of inadequacy I’d never had before? They seemed to reach all the way to my soul. First, I turned to my online friends, as they ‘knew’ me based upon who I felt I was and not what I could give or even do for them. They like me for me. In various discussions, I came to realize that I had to relax, to loosen up and let the sunshine in so to speak.

The other item I did was to study people for nearly a month here in Vienna and made some conclusions. Viennese are an extremely standoffish people who have a decidedly different mindset than the average American. It’s hard to explain and even harder to deal with if you have a friendly nature. I tend to smile a lot, and suddenly, I found myself with a perpetual frown on my face. I was going to be here a long time and needed to figure out some way to be fairly happy.

I decided to embrace the history of the country and believe me there is plenty. I studied artists, art and the emperors and empresses of the historical times. I found that I remembered some bits and pieces and now, stood in places where history was made. I visited palaces, towns, and the countryside to see Roman ruins. All of this made me realize that this can be an adventure as long as I start putting myself out there and seeing how it all fits with doing my thing as a writer. I guess I'd forgotten the writer part for a while.

Then, I did something I thought my husband was going to put his foot down against. I told him I needed companionship for when he was gone on business trips, and for the fact that I had no family around. I went online and picked out a pup named Harry Potter from a list of Parsons Russell Terrier breeders. I thought he’d die but when I explained my reasons, he acknowledged they were sound: Harry would provide the companionship for when he was away on travel, Harry would also force me to exercise and thus help me to get healthy by losing weight and I could do my own thing again without having to call him at least three times a day because I didn’t understand what was happening around me. In addition, as much as the Austrians seemed to be stoic, I had noticed they loved dogs.

Next, I told him in no uncertain terms he needed to help me construct a safety net of sorts. I needed to know who to call when I needed help when he wasn’t around. I needed to know all the emergency numbers and even contacts at the US Embassy should I find myself in a bind when he wasn’t there. I needed to know there were others I could depend on if he were unavailable. It took us a little bit, but the list came together quicker than I thought possible.

The last thing I did to put myself out there was in my writing career. In September, I received the rights back for a story that had been in an anthology. It wasn’t something that I wanted to market again. It was a short story, but I did want to put it out there. There had been some other ideas in the back of my mind and I thought they would do well in the scheme I had planned. There are a few stories out there that I wanted total control over, so with a friend, I decided to start my own publishing house called Shooting Star Books. This little indie press will publish books for my friend and me pretty exclusively as well as those things I have in what I call my overflow bin. Those are the stories that don’t fit any mold with a traditional publisher but still should see the light of day. I don’t know how well we’ll do, but the fact that I’m putting myself out there and doing my own writing thing again is very good.

Apparently, these were just the right ideas for me to do as since I put myself out there, doing my own thing again, I also started the creative juices that had stopped flowing while adjusting to my new life. I’ve almost completed three more books. I’ve started a new blog called The Log Line Blog where writers can get exposure for their log lines, the one-liner that sells their story, as well as their book. I’ll also have that first short story out with Shooting Star out in late December just in time for the Christmas rush.

The addition of Harry has people smiling at me when I’m out on my walks and conversing with me in my fledgling German. There isn’t a day that hasn’t gone by when I don’t get a comment about the little guy. And while it may be strange that Austrians seem to like dogs more than they like people, at least he’s getting them to interface with me on a new and different level. I’ve even decided to do a blog for him called ‘Just Call Me Snarky Boy’ because of his somewhat snarky nature.

All this because I love to do my own thing! See you around on the net!


Lynn Crain realized at an early age she wanted to write. She took the long way to being published by doing a variety of things like nursing assistant, geologist, technical writer and computer manager all of which have added to her detail-oriented stories. Now she’s a full-time storyteller and weaves fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal tales, as well as erotic stories for various publishers. She is a past national board member of the RWA; founding president of Las Vegas Romance Writers Chapter of RWA. Her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria, with her husband as he works for a UN-affiliated organization. You can find her hanging out at A Writer In Vienna Blog and various other places on the net (http://www.theloglineblog.blogspot.com/; http://www.twitter.com/oddlynn3;%20www.lynncrain.blogspot.com ).

Still, the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Channeling Your Inner Rock Star/Overcome Shyness in Public Speaking


I'm delighted and honored to welcome Kim Hornsby to the blog today. Kim Hornsby is a legend in her own mind (her words, not mine). A former singer, she opened shows for Jamie Foxx, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, even Maya Angelou in the Hawaiian convention circuit and was the star of an international infomercial. An award winning stage actress for Evita and Annie Get your Gun, Kim is no stranger to self-promotion. Her thirty-year career in show biz prepped her to teach the online course Channeling Your Inner Rock Star, with a unique approach to abolishing shyness.

Here's Kim:
 No one is born a rock star, complete with over-the-top confidence and leather pants. An individual has to work for that. (And grow into the pants.) Ever heard the Nickelback song “We all just want to be big rock stars, live in hilltop mansions, driving fancy cars”? Well some actually live this way but most celebrities do not.

These days we use the term Rock Star to mean someone who’s achieved success in their field. Eg) Wow, kids, you finished homework. You are a Rock Star.

We tend to look at those who’ve achieved enormous success performing in a rock band as beyond ordinary. But remember, even Pat Benatar and Tommy Lee have baby pictures. They put their pants on one leg at a time and catch colds.

My Point: One must work at developing an image to fool the public into believing that you are special. It’s referred to as Smoke and Mirrors. And it’s human nature to want to believe it true, to see someone as super-talented, uber-wonderful. That’s not to say if you follow the advice I’m going to give you, you need to be so conceited your head won’t fit through the book store door. Believing in your own PR (public relations) is a slippery slope. A true Rock Star can take out the garbage when not in black leather and chains.

Under the costumes, tattoos, makeup, piercings and hair gel, a Rock Star is simply another person in the world who has insecurities-- a human being who probably feels more comfortable in a larger-than-life personality when greeting the public. I bet Pat Benatar made lots of PB and J’s for neighborhood kids between tours and Tommy Lee played Little League before he joined Metallica.

In my life I have known a few rock stars, celebrities, and movie actors of enormous proportions and I’m here to tell you that off stage and out of makeup, most are a bit shy--Steven Tyler, for example. I took him snorkeling in Hawaii once and he is a quiet man. Jamie Foxx, whose name is actually Eric was raised by his Grandma and is extremely humble. These people created a stage persona and you must too. If shyness is holding you back, you must dig deep to find that inner celebrity that we all have hiding somewhere behind the spleen. Once you find her she will help get through public events that would’ve otherwise leave you shaking in your boots, quivering in your Victoria’s Secrets, sweating through your sweat suits. (Note: Unless you are a sports star, I highly recommend you refrain from wearing sweat suits when trying to be a Rock Star.)

On that note, the first step to Rock Stardom is physical presentation. Go into your closet and find yourself an outfit that says “__”. You must insert your celebrity/pen name here and if you don’t have one I suggest you find one because this is how you will refer to yourself when it’s ‘ShowTime!’

My stage name used to be Kimberley Horn because there were too many syllables in my real name for my former talent agent. Now my pen name is Kim Hornsby. I did not deviate too far from the truth but you see where I’m going with this.

Once you have a few killer outfits that make you feel special, check that the rest of you is ready for the spotlight -- hairstyle, shoes, jewelry. What makes you feel successful enough to have a Lear jet to fly to San Fran for breakfast on the pier? This is the side of you that does not scrub toilets, make school lunches, clip coupons. She takes her pool boy (or husband) to South Beach on Saturday night to dance and sleeps until three the next day. After your have the look, you must make yourself believe how wonderful you are. If you skip this step you’re in trouble. Affirmations, self talk, call it what you want, but do it just before called upon to speak in public.

As you look out on the sea of faces, just remember, do not read your audience too closely. It’s the kiss of death. Just plough through, if you’re giving a key note speech, talking to a group at a book signing, whatever. Don’t assume you know what they are thinking. The expressions on their faces may not reflect their thoughts. Probably won’t if they are listening intently. Take your glasses off, look over heads but don’t read their faces.

I want to introduce to you a character I love to laugh at on SNL, called Shy Ronnie. He is played by Andy Samberg and the only reason he is so drop-dead funny is that we know Andy is not actually shy. The link to see him is at the end of the blog. Were Shy Ronnie a real person, it would be excruciatingly painful to watch him try to rap alongside Rhianna. When asked to speak up, his voice is so miniscule it’s painful to watch. But when his beautiful co-singer leaves the room in frustration, Shy Ronnie takes off. His shyness in front of Rhianna makes him not only unable to do his job but makes him look silly, due to lack of confidence.

Remember this when you are in front of an audience – the people who have paid money or taken time out of their busy lives want to like you. When you open a book, you are hoping that the protagonist is someone to relate to. Likewise, an audience member wants to like you and will give you every possible chance to be worth their time. If they don’t like you (and you will probably never know this), it might be their own problem. Maybe they’re distracted, closed-minded, too focused on their own lives or not ready to listen.

In recap, you must create a celebrity side to yourself complete with a celebrity look (and name) -- an outward appearance that says ‘Someone Special is in the House’, practice self talk and remember the audience wants to like you.

Good luck to all the shy people reading this. Now click on Shy Ronnie and tell me you aren’t this bad!


http://www.hulu.com/watch/113207/saturday-night-live-snl-digital-short-shy-ronnie

You can learn more about Kim here:

http://www.kimhornsby.net/


http://www.kimhornsby.blogspot.com/


mailto:www.kimhornsby@yahoo.com


https://www.facebook.com/#!/kim.hornsby1

http://twitter.com/kimhornsby



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Q & A with Avon author Candis Terry

I'm so excited to have one of my very favorite people on the blog today. I've known Candis for many years--she was my very first critique partner.

Thanks for being here today, Candis! Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

It’s amazing to be here with you today, my friend!

For those who don’t know me, here’s a brief rundown of what planet I come from. I was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now make my home on an Idaho farm. I’ve experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to wiping sheep noses to working as a graphic designer. Only one thing has remained constant: my passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. Though my stories are set in small towns, my wish is to give each of my characters a great big memorable love story rich with quirky characters, tons of fun, and a happy ending.


In February 2011, after 22 years of working at becoming a published author I sold my first contemporary romance, SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, to Avon Impulse.


Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? (I already know the answer to this, and I'm trying not to laugh...)


Anyone who knows me is probably laughing because they would say I’m as far from an introvert as possible. The truth is I’m not as much of an extrovert as I would like everyone to believe. Yes, I can talk to anyone I pass on the street (and usually do!), but when I step into a crowd of people I don’t know, I do have to muster up some Cowardly Lion courage.


Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?


For me the hardest part is to promote myself, which is completely expected of authors by their publishers more than ever. No longer can we just write a book and stay behind the curtain. I know how I feel when I’m barraged with an author’s self-promotion. It’s often a huge turn-off. So how do we discover that fine line between “Gee, I’d really like you to check out my book. I worked really hard on it and I think you might like it.” Or “Hey, buy my book, buy my book, buy my booooook! Because you know, I’ve got to be able to afford to put dinner on the table.”? And how do we step out of our comfort zone to constantly talk about ourselves and our work? I don’t know the answer. And hey, I live on a farm so shoveling manure is probably not all that interesting.


Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?


The most recent experience was at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference this past October. After 22 years of trying to become published, I decided it might be a good idea to pay it forward and give a workshop on all the mistakes I’ve made over the years. Again, being in front of an audience and talking about myself just makes me cringe. I hope I did okay. The most important thing to me was trying to give new writers some helpful insight. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a couple of really dumb things I’ve done that I know delayed my ability to sell a manuscript. I had to convince myself that the people in the audience were not there to laugh at me. They were there to learn. Which made it totally okay to laugh at myself.


Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?


Don’t take yourself too seriously, just be yourself, and smile. Sorry, that’s three tips.


Over the years I’ve been in many situations that made me say “What the heck am I doing here and how am I going to make it through this?” One example is when I lived in California and I worked for the company who did all the publicity materials for the Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon which took place in Griffith Park. The president of the company sent a few of us to represent the entire company. Eeek. No pressure.


I found myself at the Beverly Hills Hotel in a room with stars like Jimmy Stewart, Charleton Heston, Robert Wagner, OJ Simpson (pre-murder days) and even Scott Baio (Chachi) from Happy Days. No kidding. I have pictures to prove it! There were assistants working the room that would bring the star to you. You didn’t have to go up to them and ask for an autograph or anything to get a moment with them. Imagine when I found myself shaking hands with Charleton Heston (aka Moses)! Any speck of extrovert I possessed completely vanished. The only thing that got me through that night was knowing those people would never remember me and they didn’t care who I was. So I was able to laugh and enjoy myself (and say stupid things) because, if they weren’t going to take me seriously, why should I?


Q Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?


I’m thrilled to share a blurb from ANY GIVEN CHRISTMAS. The story was a blast to write as Dean, the hero, was just bigger than life (not to mention super sexy). You can go to my website http://www.candisterry.com/ for an excerpt of ANY GIVEN CHRISTMAS and also for an excerpt from SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, the first book in the Sugar Shack novels. The books are available as an e-book and also as a print book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most everywhere e-books are sold.


Here’s the blurb!


Dean Silverthorne’s mother may be dead, but she still has matchmaking to do.


When an injury dashes NFL Quarterback Dean Silverthorne’s Super Bowl dreams, he heads back to Deer Lick, Montana with a chip on his wounded shoulder and more determined than ever to get back in the game. He loves his kooky family, but his trip home is nothing but a very brief Christmas visit.


His game plan didn’t include an instant attraction to Emma Hart, a feisty kindergarten teacher who seems to be the only person in Deer Lick not interested in the hometown hero. Or his dearly departed mom popping up with mistletoe in hand and meddling on the mind. Now Dean can’t help but wonder if there’s more to love than life between the goal posts.


Q Where can my readers find you on the web?


I’d love for readers to visit me at my website http://www.candisterry.com/. I’m also on Twitter @CandisTerry and on Facebook.


Thanks so much for having me here today!


Happy holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Q & A with author Jane Richardson


Thanks for being here today, Jane. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

I'm really pleased to be here, Becky, so thank you! Sure, here's a very short bio. I'm a Scot, though I now live on the lovely south coast of England near the famous historical town of Hastings. I'm an ex-stage manager, used to work mainly in the world of opera, which I absolutely loved. My hubbie and I met while working in the theatre, actually! I'm now a full-time home-educating Mum to our two children, a boy of 13 and a girl of 9. Living here by the coast lets me indulge in lots of my favourite things - walking our dog on the beaches or in our lovely cliff-top country parks, or visiting some of the many fantastic local food producers here so I can cook up feasts for family and friends. I'm a bit of a home-loving gal, really!


Q Now for the questions. Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A lot of people who know me would say I'm not - they'd call me fairly extrovert, especially because of the jobs I've done and the world I worked in. But the truth is, I'm far happier in a small group of friends than in a crowded room. Look at my previous job - while I did act onstage occasionally in my younger days, it wasn't the limelight I loved but the whole experience of the theatre, and once I began to work backstage, I found that was where I felt happiest and most in control.


Q In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A Not having the confidence to push myself forward when I should have done. That, combined with a British stiff-upper-lip and the sense that it's 'just not done' to push one's-self forward! It took me a long time to have the confidence to say to other writers, 'hey, look, I'm as good as you' - and to say to readers, 'would you like to read my book - I think it's pretty good.' Even now, I find that very, very hard to do.


Q In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

Probably because I wasn't confident for a long time in pushing myself forward, I would read a lot about and listen to what other writers were saying. Just sitting quietly and taking it all in helped me see what I needed to do to improve, and to spot who was genuinely worth learning from - and who wasn't. It's not always the one who shouts the loudest that merits the most attention paid!


Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A I find self-promotion very hard and have to work myself up to it - blowing my own trumpet doesn't come naturally to me. I'm not very confident about my writing, even when people say they've loved something I've done, I tend to panic and think well, I'll never be that good again! Which is silly, of course, but when you're a slow writer who doesn't produce a lot of words as I am, it can be very difficult to have the confidence and self-belief to keep at it.


Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

I did a book sale and signing once, along with a roomful of other writers, and I found that hard going. People came up and wanted to know what the book was about - well, of course they did! But if they'd been in a bookshop, they wouldn't have had to ask me, they'd have looked at the cover and the blurb and maybe read some of the beginning of the book, and then decided whether they wanted to buy it or not. The idea that I somehow had to CONVINCE them to buy it was just awful! I just wanted to shove a copy at them and say, oh, look, just buy it and then if you don't like it, it doesn't matter.....!' By the end of the day, I was exhausted!


Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
One tip - I'd say, if you're meeting people face-to-face, make sure you smile. It works wonders, and helps you feel more confident. If you're meeting people on-line all the time, as many writers do these days, you can put a smile into your communications, too - simple things like remembering to tell people you're glad to meet them, thanking them when they respond to you, and being genuinely interested in what they're asking or saying. You don't have to be extra-smart or wildly witty - just smile and be yourself, because no-one else is nearly as good as you at being the lovely thing that IS you!


Q Nicely said! Now, would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

My current release is a short story called Edinburgh Fog, which is on US Kindle here and on UK Kindle here.
and in all the other e-formats from the publisher, MuseItUp, here - where you'll also find an excerpt.


Here's the blurb!


When Greg Morton returned to Edinburgh, it was to follow his dream of opening the smartest bar-bistro in town. Now Tellers’ is a huge success—but the truth is, deep inside, it means little without the love of his life.


Four years ago, he left Julia Brady behind in London to realize his business ambitions in his Scottish home town. By the time he’d recognized his mistake and admitted to himself he wanted her back, the grapevine told him Julia had moved on—and Greg had to face the fact that he’d been a fool.


When Julia appears out of the blue in Tellers’, he knows the only thing he should do is walk right up to her and say hello. But it looks like someone else has their sights set on her, and he’s a quick worker. Is Julia about to disappear from Greg's life a second time - this time, for good?

Where can my readers find you on the web?

You can find me at my blog, Home Is Where The Heart Is. That's where you'll get all my news, and I also feature other writers there quite regularly too, so do pop in when you can! I'm also occasionally on Twitter under the name @Gimmeahugyou.






Monday, November 21, 2011

Q & A with Diana Ballew

Q. Thanks for being here today. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?
A.First off, I would like to thank you for having me today, Becky.

I was born in Okinawa, Japan. After spending my early childhood years in Alaska, I moved to Virginia, where my passion for Civil War history began. As a child, I read and wrote poetry. During college, I began filling pages with the characters and stories flooding my mind. While my husband and I raised our three boys, I found a creative outlet devouring American history, reading the classics, and genealogical research.


I’m actively engaged with Romance Writers of America and a member in my local chapters in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona. Additionally, I’m a founding member and vice president of Evergreen RWA, located in Everett, Washington.


My writing combines my active imagination with my love of history and research to create vibrant characters in sizzling tales that blend vintage vixens with haunting heroes.


My debut novel, Thorns of Eden, is a steamy and suspenseful tale set in the American Civil War during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.

Q. Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 
A. I’m definitely shy, but most people don’t know that about me. I remember sitting at my desk in school, my stomach twisting in tight knots, hoping and praying the teacher wouldn’t call on me for anything. As I think about how I felt back then, it still makes my stomach twist and turn. Sadly, even as an adult, I’d probably still feel like that under the same circumstances.


Q. In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
A. Actually, it’s probably helped my writing career. Because I’m shy, I naturally gravitate toward solitary endeavors. For instance, it turns out that I absolutely adore research; something I discovered over twenty years ago when I began doing genealogical research for my family as well as for other people. I was in heaven! I would spend hours at libraries, at the National Archives, as well as many other places that housed genealogical and historical records. That was the perfect situation for me. I could research by myself all day long and report my findings to others later.


What’s interesting to me now is that I can see how all that research prepared me to be a writer of historical romance. With each historical or genealogical record I uncovered, my imagination would go wild . But with genealogy, facts and accuracy are an absolute must, and while you may imagine all sorts of stories unfolding, unless there’s a valid paper trail documenting the story, you cannot truly say it existed. Enter my imagination: Writing historical romance was a natural transition for me. I could research historical events with accuracy and blend it with my vivid imagination. Writing historical romance was something I could do all day . . . at home . . . and all by myself.


Q. In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
A. See question 3 : )


Q.What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
A. That’s a tough question. I’ve found that I enjoy almost all aspects of writing but if I had to pick one thing, I would have to say the waiting game is hard. You finally write your book and then you send it out to agents and editors . . . and then you wait. Promoting my book is a lot of fun but it also takes up a lot of my time. I guess I gave two examples.


Q. Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?
A. There have been many times I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. That’s just part of life. I’m really working on tackling my shy demons and forcing myself into more and more uncomfortable situations— like pitching my manuscript to an agent or editor in a group setting. UGH! Just the thought of doing that makes my stomach flip-flop. Well, I finally decided to bite the bullet and pitch my manuscript at a conference. I was terrified, and I felt those same horrible feelings bubbling away inside my stomach that I’d felt while in school all those years ago. But guess what? I survived AND they all asked to see my work. Most recently, I was an author on an author panel at a conference, and I presented a workshop at my local RWA.


Q. What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
A. I learned long ago that when talking in front of a large group, cast your attention to the people in the last row and convince yourself you’re talking to only them. By doing that, your voice will be loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, and the physical distance makes you feel more comfortable. All in all, I’m getting much better at talking in front of a group. I’m sure most of us are more confident as adults than we ever were as children. Accept the challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone, learn from the experience, and move on to the next challenge.


Q. Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?
A. Sure!

Blurb: Sometimes fate has other plans . . .


Major Rayce Hampton is the Confederacy’s final hope to turn the tide of war. Haunted by heartache of generations past, love is the last thing he has on his mind when he meets Eden Blair. The emerald-eyed beauty is as headstrong as she is tempting, but Rayce must keep his wits – and his secrets – as he executes his dangerous undercover mission to save the South.


Accomplished nurse Eden Blair has secrets too . . . only she doesn’t know about them yet. Stung by her fiancĂ©’s betrayal, she has no reason to trust the scandalous Major Hampton. But as Yankee troops close in, Eden must take refuge in the major’s mysterious ancestral home, leading her into the shadowy corners of deceit and desire, where endless love lurks within every soft whisper.


Thorns of Eden is available in print and e-book format at most e-bookstores.


For Kindle and Print
For NOOK
The Wild Rose Press


Q. Where can my readers find you on the web?
A. Come visit me at http://www.dianaballew.com/


Facebook ~ www.facebook.com/diana.ballew


Twitter ~ www.twitter.com/#!/DianaBallew


Thanks for having me!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wheel of Fortune


Guest blogger: Maya DeLeina

I am at a time in my life where I am incredibly comfortable in my skin. I’ve learned to accept they way I look and appreciate who I am. Ok, so I am a bit weird, yet it hasn’t caused me to make a b-line for a darkened corner of a room in a social setting and I am far from being timid. This is me, like it or not.


But I haven’t always been this way.


If I had to pinpoint a time where I first started being uncomfortable with myself, it had to be the moment I got satellite equipment on my face- orthodontic headgear. This was the start to my very awkward-looking stage. I didn’t shy away from doing things completely, but I certainly had reservations that I never had before and I did everything in my power to blend in so I wouldn’t standout. And that is pretty dang hard to do with blinding metal on your face.


All in all, I wasn’t a cute kid. In fact, I remember my younger brother and I took photos together. He was so perfectly adorable in the foreground and then there I was, looming in the background and ruined the portrait. To really paint the picture, at one time, I donned braces with the rubber-band closures, the headgear, pimples and chin-length hair that was so extremely poofy, I looked like a walking mushroom. Then, my nose grew from a cute button as a baby into what looked like a freaky arrow. I remember one kid in school, Jason, would constantly call me “Wheel of Fortune”, you know, because my nose looked like that little white arrow on Pat Sajak’s wheel?


I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Free Spin”.


So this is where my shyness developed. Seems a bit shallow, but this had a real impact on my self esteem and confidence. I didn’t want to get teased, so I stayed low. Although a lot of the adolescent years experience this, for me, I was unable to shake it completely. Later in life, I was still enraptured with the thought of blending, taking it as far as fantasizing about the day I could afford plastic surgery so my nose would look like everyone else.


Then something just hit me like a flash.


If we all looked, thought, dressed like each other, what a boring world this would be. The headgear is gone now, but my nose ever present. The thought of plastic surgery for a new nose is no longer in my thoughts (boob lift, maybe). It’s me. It’s who I am. And suddenly, when I accepted this, everything else started to fall in place.

Acceptance is a powerful tool.


Today, I am an erotic vampire author of all things, unleashing my wicked, twisted and weird creativity in my writing. No reservations or shyness here! And it is all due to acceptance. This acceptance has given me an inner strength I never felt before. This inner strength promoted confidence. This confidence helped breakthrough that wall I built years ago that has allowed me to find my true voice.


It’s crazy when I think back on this.


In Tarot cards, the Wheel of Fortune is all about luck and change. The wheel symbolizes completeness, the rise and fall of fortunes and the message that what goes around comes around. The card indicates happiness and elevation; a change that just happens, and brings with it great joy.


This is where I am now.


Makes me wonder what Jason is up to these days.


***
You can learn more about Maya on her website 
and Facebook. Her newest release, Flesh Fantasy
is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pick me! Pick me...NOT!


by Tammy Dennings Maggy, guest blogger

Public speaking used to terrify me. Not just getting up in front of a group of people, but any time attention was focused on me gave me cold sweats. I hated being called on in class to answer questions. It didn’t matter whether or not I knew the answers. As soon as I was called upon, I would freeze and feel like every single eye was on me and I was being judged. If I answered correctly, I was called a show off. If I didn’t know the answer, then I was ridiculed for being wrong. It really wasn’t that way all of the time, but that’s how I felt. I even had teachers pull me aside asking me why I didn’t speak up more in class. They knew by my tests and essays that I knew the material. They just couldn’t understand why I “pretended” not to know it in the classroom.

It wasn’t that I was pretending at all. I was just too frightened to speak. The fear of rejection and failure was paralyzing for me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to shake that feeling. It wasn’t until a very popular teacher took me aside one afternoon and told me his secret. He too was terrified of talking in front of people. I didn’t believe him of course. He looked so at ease in front of the class and seemed to speak comfortably for the entire period. He smiled at my doubtful expression and promised to let me in on his secret. He wrote it on a note card and slid it across the desk to me. I gave him my best “you’ve got to be kidding me” expression after I read it and he just smiled. “Trust me. It works every single time.”

“Just Breathe…”

Two little words was all he wrote, but two of the most powerful words that would get me through any situation. Seriously. Whenever I felt that growing panic zip through my body, the first thing I’d do was start looking for a way out. But if I just took a moment, inhaled deeply, and then let the air out slowly, I would find that those voices telling me to run would quiet down. My heart would stop beating so wildly in my chest, and the feeling returned to my fingers after I’d stopped clenching my fists so tightly. I took a few more breaths, closed my eyes for a beat or two and then opened them once again. What do you think I saw?

I saw people looking to me for guidance, for inspiration, for hope, for a laugh or two. They were not there to judge me at all. They wanted to hear what I had to say. They didn‘t always agree with me, but they were interested in what I had to say just the same. Looking a little harder, I found some people who were relieved it was me center stage instead of them. I could always find my cheering section, smiling up at me, encouraging me to continue. And yes, there were a few who were not paying attention at all. All the better for me. I was able to forget about those few and concentrate on those who were paying attention.

Go ahead. Give it a try the next time you have to speak in front of a group of people. Just breathe for a few moments before you have to begin. Speak your mind and from your heart, and before you know it, your time in the spotlight will be over…for now.

Thanks so much for the insight, Tammy!

Tammy's book, For the Love of Quinn, is available now.

What happens in Vegas refuses to stay there for Quinn, who falls in love with two men: Vegas tycoon Steve and classic bad boy Jake. Both have claims on her heart, but only one shares a connection so strong that nothing can keep them apart.

About Tammy: As far back as I can remember I have had two dreams: become a veterinarian and a world famous author. So far I achieved the first one and have enjoyed a wonderful career as a small animal veterinarian, but something has always been missing. I have never stopped writing; that has never an issue. The problem was getting up the nerve to actually finish one of my novels and submit it to a publisher. What a scary thought to send a stranger something I had poured my heart into. Would they like it? Would they see the characters the way I saw them in my head? Writing For the Love of Quinn was like giving birth to my first child…I had to let my characters go to see if they would take off…and boy have they ever!
 



You can learn more about Tammy on her website, Facebook, blog, and by following her on Twitter @dochappycamper. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Introvert Doing What Doesn't Come Naturally

by Wendy Delaney

Thanks, Rebecca, for letting me hang out here with you at Once Written, Twice Shy. Like a lot of writers, I’m a natural introvert. Now that I’m as grown up as I’m going to get, I like to think that I’m not as shy as I used to be -- that maybe with age comes a little more wisdom and a bit more confidence. Or maybe I’m just getting better at pasting a smile on my face and faking that confidence when I walk into a room full of strangers, or when I step up to a podium to present a workshop at a writers conference.

As an unpublished author with dreams of booksignings and public appearances in her future, I know that putting myself “out there” is something I need to get better at if I want to experience success as a published author.

How exactly does one improve at something that doesn’t come naturally? As with most anything, I think the answer lies in practicing, in repetition, in the achievement of small successes that we can build upon. Was the fifth workshop I presented to a group of writers easier (and a better experience for me and them!) than the first? Heck, yes! Not only was I more mentally prepared than the first time, I had a realistic expectation of success as a speaker. Why? Because I’d previously experienced it.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with blogging. I can’t say that I’ve experienced much in the way of success with it, nor does trying to come up with something interesting to say to the blogosphere come naturally, so I decided to go another direction with it and make it more interesting and relevant for me, personally. That decision is now launching missiles through the boundaries of my comfort zone. And as I write this and remind myself of what the heck I’m about to do, the optimist in me wants to believe (okay, reality check time -- HAS to believe) that’s because it’s the right decision.

Here’s the deal: Starting October 29, which happens to be right after my birthday, my blog at Plotmamas will kickstart a year-long quest for more success -- my commitment to achieving more personal success, more professional success. I’m calling this my year of living dangerously. Really, what seems more dangerous for an introvert than putting herself “out there” each month in a public forum? Do I wrestle with the notion of “going public” with my goals? Of making myself personally accountable to the blogosphere? You bet I do! Are the butterflies in my stomach getting ready for takeoff, just like when I stepped to a podium and spoke into a microphone for the first time? Yep. But if I’m able to position myself for a more successful future and share what I learn along the way with anyone who cares to stop by, isn’t that worth an internal flutter or two?

As Cynthia MacGregor advised here a few weeks ago,
To make your blog interesting, you have to open up. You cannot be shy and retiring.”  I’m taking your advice to heart, Cynthia.  Even if my blog is just more interesting to me over the course of the next twelve months, that’s a step in the right direction -- maybe just a baby step, but that’s okay, because whether we’re introverts, extroverts or something in-between, every step on this writing journey counts.   


About Wendy: Wendy Delaney writes cozy mysteries but true to her romance roots, no matter how rocky the relationship between her mother and daughter sleuths, she’s determined to give them their happily ever afters. Ideally, at the end of a twelve-book series! A long-time member of RWA and Sisters in Crime, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience in workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest and online at Plotmamas.com. Wendy makes her home in the Seattle area with her husband and has two grown sons. You can reach her at wendy(at)wendydelaney(dot)com, or her website.