EDIE RAMER--Forced out of her comfort zone

Please help me welcome successful, self-published author Edie Ramer to the blog. [Rebecca's note: Self-publishing? Yikes!! All that promo. Talk about an introvert's worst nightmare]

Rebecca, thank you so much for inviting me. ShyWriters is the perfect place for me. In my short bio I say that I’m funnier on paper than in real life, yet Facebook and Twitter are a part of my day now. It would be nice to be naturally witty and funny, or even say profound Oprah-like things that make people reply “OMG, that is so inspirational and insightful!” Once in a while, I can be funny or insightful, but most of the time, I search for something—anything—interesting to say.

Oddly, blogging is easier. I’m one of the founders of
Magical Musings. When my two CPs and I started it, I wasn’t sure how I’d do, but I was game. It turned out that I was good at blogging (hey, I can admit it when I do things right). But I tweak mine several times, just as I tweak my mss. My fellow blogger, Liz Kreger, writes hers in about 10-15 minutes, and she’s good at blogging, too. A natural. But she’s probably solidly on the extrovert side of the Myers-Briggs scale, while I’m on the introvert side.

That’s why writing a book, alone in my office, is something I love doing. But self-publishing has forced me into the online world. I’m so lucky that I’ve joined groups that have helped me pave the way. First, my local RWA group, WisRWA. In the beginning, I went to every meeting. At first I hardly said anything, but in about 3 years I was leading the meetings. I joined Amy Atwell’s first GIAM group. In the beginning, I was silent, an observer. Now I’m as noisy as anyone. I joined a critique group. There were 8 of us, and though it’s disbanded, we’re still friends. (BTW, since we started, everyone in it has published and 2 members are NY Times bestselling authors.)

Through Magical Musings, I’ve made a lot of writer friends. I’m a member of RWA-WF and I write their Industry News column. I belong to 2 groups formed to help each other through the self- publishing maze. Members of these 2 groups are urging me to join 2 others, and I know I need to become active on Kindleboards… (insert silent scream)

This is a LOT of socializing for a shy writer. Not only that, my involvement with the groups takes away from my writing time. But through the contacts my first self-published book,
Cattitude, is now 1416 in the Amazon Kindle bestseller rank. (That includes ALL the Kindle books, so that’s awesome for me.) I’ve had it on sale for 99 cents, so that contributes. Dead People, which is $2.99, is in the 35K rank now. (These ranks fluctuate by the hour.) But I know the big jump for Cattitude has come because of promo help from my friends.

I think I have a “go ahead, try it” voice inside of me that overrides the introvert voice. Sometimes it’s too much (hence the silent scream), but I know extroverts who’ve had to back away from the internet for weeks at a time. Karin Tabke calls it “going into her Bat Cave.” I can’t afford to go into my cave now (mine would be, of course, Cat Cave—or Cat & Dog Cave, since I often have a snoring beagle in my office as well as a purring cat who demands attention), but in the future I might disappear for a week or two every once in a while.

So for now, this shy writer is way out of her comfort zone. It’s all good, I’m making great friends, selling books, and looking forward to selling more.

What have you done lately that’s taken you out of your comfort zone?

Award-winning writer Edie Ramer is funnier on the page than in real life. She loves her cat so much she made her the heroine of CATTITUDE, her first paranormal romance. Her second book, DEAD PEOPLE, Book one of her Haunted Hearts series, was her American Title V final book. She also has a short story available. You can find out more about Edie and her books on her website. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook, where once in a great while she manages to be witty.

DIANA COSBY--Shy And an Introvert=Me

Please help me welcome best-selling author Diana Cosby to the blog. Watch for her interview in the April 1, issue of Woman's Day magazine.

I have a surprising admission, I'm an introvert and incredibly shy. Most people who read this and have met me will be shocked. I am retired from the Navy as a meteorologist/oceanographer, give workshops for from a handful of people to a hundred or more, so how in the world could I possibly be shy? A better question is how do I function at book signings or, gulp, those workshops with a sea of people who might ask a question?

While I was active duty, I did a tour as an instructor where my job 'demanded' that I talk in front of people daily. The forced exposure allowed me a chunk of comfort against the mountain of unease. But, the secret that allowed me to start giving workshops once I began writing was my passion for the craft. You'll find if you choose to speak about things that matter to you, you become so wrapped up in your enthusiasm for the topic, most of the fear fades, or at least is smothered until you finish. :) And, the more you speak, the better you become at interacting with others, which helps you relax. You may even come to the point where you 'look forward' to talking at events.

A trick I use when I'm around people at a book signing or at a speaking engagement is this--I have fun! I am far from comedic rest assured, but if you can make people smile, then they relax, which allows you be more at ease. A huge benefit is when people enjoy themselves, they tend to listen more. Think about what you find fun and what makes you smile, and incorporate that into your public speaking engagement.

Another way to help you calm at book signings is to remember that most of your interaction with readers will be less than five minutes. So, greet prospective buyers with a smile and look for common ground. Are they holding a crafting book? Do you enjoy crafts? Are you familiar with the book? Talk to them about it, share your enjoyment for the topic and see if you share similar hobbies.

Last, it's all about mindset, telling yourself you will have fun. And if you mess up? Laugh at yourself! We're human, we do that. I assure you, when I stumble during speaking, I'm the first to chuckle at myself. Your audience appreciates that you're human, honest and real.

My sincere best to all of you shy introverts out there, 'cause yes, I'm one of you!

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
Since its release, Diana’s third in MacGruder Brother's series His Conquest has remained an Amazon best-seller for over eleven weeks! Amazon.comBarnes & NobleBooksamillion.com

"Cosby gives you it all - passion, danger, lush history and a touch of magic. Excellent reading." - NYT Bestselling Author -- Hannah Howell, IF HE'S WILD, Zebra, June 2010.

Chris Redding: Shy...sort of

Please help me welcome author Chris Redding to the blog. Her newest release, Incendiary, just released.

I have a confession to make. I’m not shy. Not really.

You only have to meet me once to know that. I can sometimes be the loudest person in the room. I’m only 5 feet 2 inches, but there are men much taller than me who are afraid of me. I will go toe to toe with anyone if I feel it is necessary.
So why am I on a blog talking about shy writers?

Because what I am shy about, is promoting myself. Oh, I can Facebook and Twitter with the best of them. It’s easy sitting in my jam jams with my laptop and telling people to buy my books. I can even promote myself at conferences. I AM Chris Redding. Charming, witty, always smiling.
But get me in my real life, with my kids or husband or at the grocery store, I may not mention I am a writer. You may work with me for years before you ever find out that I am a published author. I was at my son’s taekwondo school a few weeks ago. A friend of mine brought in some of my books for me to sign for her. She told everyone in the room that I wrote those books. She’s a great friend and a great fan. I was like a deer in the headlights. I was speechless. Anyone who knows me knows speechless doesn’t happen often. People came up to me to ask questions. They brought their kids over to meet me and told them I was a writer. I stammered, though I hope not too badly.
Part of it is that I feel as if someone may read my book and say, “Ha, you can’t write.”
I would be devastated. You could call me fat, ugly, bitchy and I wouldn’t blink. Say I can’t write, oh cuh-rap. I want to run and hide. I think my Chris Redding persona is a much stronger person than I am in real life. She’s taken more slings and arrows in the form of rejection letters than I think I could in my other life. I guess every artist has some insecurity. Mine isn’t odd, but it is in a way since I’m okay with writing and being critiqued. I just can’t imagine if I had to sell myself, face to face. But since I have two books coming out in print this year, I guess I better learn.

About Chris: Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband and two kids and various animals. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part time for her local hospital.

Incendiary came out electronically December of 2010 and will be out in print March of 2011. A firefighter must stop a serial arsonist who is framing him for the fires. He enlists the help of his former lover. Will they track down the culprit before they both go up in flames?

You can find Chris Redding on the web here:

Adele Dubois: Introversion Has Its Price

Please welcome erotic romance author Adele Dubois to the blog. Her newest release is Rev Me Twice, with Ellora's Cave.

I haven’t always been an introvert. Back in the day, I was outgoing and comfortable in my own skin. During my childhood and teens, I performed on stage in community theatre. In my teens and twenties, I modeled in fashion shows. My job as a newspaper reporter and columnist required that I be affable and on the go. For years, I loved meeting new people and traveling to exotic places.

These days, I’m more comfortable inside my home office, alone with my manuscripts. And therein lies the problem. When I turned to fiction writing full-time, my imaginary world expanded while my social life contracted. I transformed from an extrovert to an introvert and discovered I liked the change of pace.

Introversion, however, comes with a price. My public speaking skills have rusted and my wardrobe needs updating. It’s hard to dress for success when your favorite clothes are baggy pants, shirts embossed with snowmen, and wool slippers. These days, dressing up for me means clean jeans with a grown-up blouse and real shoes.

If you see me at a writers’ conference or readers’ convention, please stop and say hello. Notice my make-up and stylish clothes and remember I wore them just for you. Otherwise, I’d be holed up inside my home office, writing books in my pajamas, wondering where the heck the day went.

Adele Dubois is an award-winning author and former newspaper and magazine columnist, features writer, and foreign correspondent published in the Caribbean, UK, and USA.

When not on the beach by the ocean, or walking along the quiet shores of a Delaware bay, she and her family enjoy their rural eastern Pennsylvania home where she is currently working on her next novel.


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JOSIE MALONE: Writing in the real world

Please welcome romance author Josie Malone to the blog. Josie's second book with BookStrand, Daddy Spell, just released. Josie will give away a copy of one of her books to one random commenter this weekend.

Here's Josie: Writing for me has always been a case of stepping out of “my comfort zone.” The expectation in my family was that I’d marry during high school or immediately afterwards. Instead, I opted for a life of adventure, not one that I saw as “quiet desperation.” Or as Robert Frost wrote, “…I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference…”

I am a writer. I have always been a story-teller. It’s a family tradition. I remember my grandmother as the queen of pithy comments who served putdowns at her Sunday dinners, along with her pot roast. Grandma never swore. It wasn’t ladylike, but insulting someone’s intelligence, morality, behavior, manners and children or mate was an art form. Grandma ran the Pine Tree Tavern below First Avenue in downtown Seattle, and kept a “cuss jar” for her clientele. Funds collected from the foul language paid for the annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas party at the bar, while the leftover money went to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

I started writing down Grandma’s stories as a young teen although I knew nothing about the techniques or mechanics of what would become my passion. Most listeners, my parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins squirmed at her turn of a phrase. I always admired Grandma’s use of language. When I graduated from high school, I was determined to be a writer. My creative writing teacher had told me I had talent and suggested college. I came from a poor, single-parent household, and higher education wasn’t possible. No one in our extended family had ever attended college. The girls got married and the boys went to work.

I was the first girl in the family to graduate from high school and the last thing I wanted was a husband. I went to work for a temporary office service and washed dishes at night in a restaurant. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of joining the Army because I was needed at home to raise my younger sisters. I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve instead. When the wolf was at the door with a litter of pups, as my grandfather used to say, or when times were even harder, the civilian liaison of my Army Reserve unit would put me “on orders.” He didn’t care what I typed as long as I looked busy and didn’t allow anyone at his desk when he was out playing golf with the General who commanded Fort Lawton. So, I began my first novel.

My orders ran out about the time I finished the novel, so I bundled up my baby and shipped it off to Harlequin Books in Canada. I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, so I mailed the only copy I had. In addition to this no-no, I also didn’t have a clue about setting up a manuscript. I finished each chapter and began the next one on the same page, a fatal flaw. I also used up every scrap of paper and didn’t worry about such things as margins, or double spacing the lines of text.

Worst of all, while the man my heroine thought she loved was dashing, romantic and charming – he was also unfaithful, dishonest and nasty, a little too much like the real life I knew about. She ended up with her nice, quiet, dull best friend, Toby – the kind of guy a woman could spend a lifetime loving, but he wasn’t a traditional romance hero. Even so, Toby survived the trip to Canada and Harlequin. Eventually, I received a letter. Harlequin liked my book. However, all the purchases at the time were made in England, so my book was going somewhere I HAD NEVER BEEN, LONDON!

It took a few more months for the book to finally be rejected, but by then I was hard at work on my next romance novel. At eighteen, I had almost made it and I was determined to become a successful novelist. College still wasn’t an option. I began to attend talks by published authors. Many offered classes in writing for nominal fees. I saved every extra cent to pay for these courses, usually by riding the bus and not driving the car to work.

I also attended conferences and workshops.I started to learn the mechanics behind the mysteries of creating saleable work. I joined Romance Writers of America. I also submitted my work to editors and literary agents and began to collect rejection letters.

Prior to attending Washington State University to attain my BA degrees in English and History, I sold two novels. I’d sent in a query – a chapter and an outline of a proposed novel. While the editor turned that one down as well as a story about horses, she suggested I call her. I did and we wound up discussing what would become my first book for her company, Daddy, Please Tell Me What’s Wrong. It sold out the initial print run of 50,000 copies. The first fan letter I received after the publication of this YA novel that dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder showed me once again how great an impression language makes. The young girl wrote, “I really liked your book….her dad killed himself….so did mine. Have a nice day.”

I love to watch a story unfold on the pages. Nothing compares with the feeling of success when I read my words in a newspaper, magazine or between the covers of a paperback. It’s the writing that matters most of all. I agree with other writers who say if they never published again, it would not matter – only the writing does.

However, this past spring, BookStrand bought one of my romances, a historical about a woman who masquerades as a man in the old West. Then, this summer they bought a second book, a contemporary about a divorced mom who runs a pony farm and falls in love with her new horseshoer. The teenage dream I had of being a romance novelist is coming true, even if Grandma never saw it, but she always believed in me.

Grandma’s love of language was the legacy she passed on to me. As she told me more than once, “Your words have power. Use it wisely. Don’t shout when a whisper will do.” So, when I chose a pen name for my romances, I opted for part of hers as a tribute. Josie Malone.

When people ask what I do, I say, “I’m a writer. Telling stories is a family tradition. I just write down mine.”

About Josie: As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer.

Today, I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington state in what was once a summer vacation cabin. I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, so I’m happy when I manage five days of writing in a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 37 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.

You can learn more about Josie on her website.