Friday, April 22, 2011

AMANDA BRICE: Pretend you're an extrovert

I'm so thrilled to have my fellow Pixie Chick Amanda Brice to the blog. Amanda just released her Golden Heart finaling book, Codename: Dancer, and it's getting rave reviews. It's on my Nook right now, just waiting to be read!

Here's Amanda: Anyone who knows me is probably thinking right about now, “Um, Amanda? Are you in the right place? This blog is called ‘Once Written, Twice Shy.’ The attention whores’ blog is just around the corner.”



Yes, it’s true. I’m pretty much the antithesis of shy, a total social butterfly. But that’s actually why Rebecca asked me here today.


I’m an attorney in my day job, and have previously worked for a Congressman on Capitol Hill. In that position, I spent a good portion of each day networking with lobbyists, which was good practice for once I decided to pursue writing professionally and attended my first RWA conference. I actually came home from that very first conference with 12 requests for a full, just on the basis of my elevator pitch given to agents on a whim at cocktail parties. Talking to people just comes naturally to me, I suppose.


I attribute this to dance. Like the heroine in my debut YA mystery novel, Codename: Dancer, I was a teenage dancer. (And as a preteen…and a little girl…and still today, even!) I started with ballet and tap, but then moved on to jazz, lyrical, novelty, pointe, modern, contemporary, musical theatre, flamenco, and ballroom.


Dance taught me discipline and poise, but it also taught me confidence. Performing routines on stage in recitals and competitions helped me learn how to project myself, which was excellent practice for public speaking and networking in later years.


When I dance or act in a play, I’m playing a role. I’m no longer Amanda Brice, but rather become whoever my part is that day. Maybe I’m an 1890s can-can dancer. Or a Prohibition-era gangster’s moll. Or a Pink Lady. Or even a toy soldier doll. When I look out at the crowd, I see the faces, but I don’t get nervous because it’s not “me” up there on the stage. It’s my character.


That’s what’s so cool about writing, too. When we write in 1st person or in Deep POV, we’re no longer ourselves but instead get to “become” our characters, even if just for a short period of time. We can really be whoever we want to in that way. Authors get to leave their every day life and play out all their fantasies.


The trick is learning how to let that role play transfer over into your real life, even if it’s just your public writer persona and not the one sitting at home typing on a laptop. When I attend a conference and network with agents and editors (or lobbyists on Capitol Hill), I’m just playing another role. This time that role is the Confident Author (or Confident Attorney, as the case may be). Inside I may not actually feel as confident as the image I’m projecting, but appearances can be deceiving. As long as people think I have it all under control, that’s what matters.


Many of us have a pen name for our writing for various reasons, usually privacy. But it can be helpful when overcoming shyness as well. If [insert real name here] is shy, maybe her alter ego [insert pen name here] is the opposite. She’s beautiful, confident, clever, popular, and very outgoing. Remember, this is role play, not real life. (Not that I’m saying you’re not all of the above things, but you probably don’t realize it yet.)


Never underestimate the importance of costumes when playing a role. Rizzo would be just some tough-talkin’ chick if not for her iconic pink jacket. The Snow Queen would be any old ballerina if not for the snowflake-like white fluffy tutu and crystal tiara. And could you imagine Jennifer Beals wearing anything other than leg warmers and a stretched out sweatshirt in Flashdance? (Admit it…you have “What a Feeling” in your head right now.)


You can do the same when you have a signing. Dress the part. No, I’m not suggesting that you should go out and buy vampire drag if you write Paranormal (although some authors find a lot of success that way), but costuming is an important part of becoming a new character. Do you have an outfit that makes you feel more confident? Then wear it, because while you can certainly be a hermit as a writer, it’s not generally the best way to make fans. (Unless you’re J.D. Salinger, of course.)


Stepping out of your comfort level is never easy, but it’s so important. Sometimes just forcing yourself to meet new people can add to the depth of experience in your writing.

About Amanda: Amanda Brice lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband and toddler daughter. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. Her debut novel, Codename: Dancer, was released on April 16, 2011. You can learn more about Amanda and her books at her website.



5 comments:

  1. You're finally "live"! Sorry for the delayed post. Still trying to figure out what went wrong--I'm sure I did something dumb. :)

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  2. No prob! Thanks for having me, Rebecca!

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  3. I love your advice of dressing the part, Amanda. It's amazing how confident we feel in the right outfit.

    Super congrats on your release!!

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  4. Sorry I'm late to the party! I do love your cover, Amanda. It's striking! Dressing the part...hmmm, interesting concept! I want to add my congratulations!

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  5. Good tips, Amanda! And congratulations on your release!

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