Friday, May 6, 2011
AJ NUEST: Getting Fed to the Sharks
Please help me welcome romance author AJ Nuest to the blog. She lives in northwest Indiana with her husband and two children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.
By nature, I’m not a shy person. Ask anyone who knows me and “shy” won’t be the first word they choose to describe me. In fact, I’ve often been known to strike up conversations with complete strangers in the grocery store (much to my children’s utter dismay), and mostly likely, get categorized in the “She Talks too Much” column.
This is because I suffer from a condition called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and for some odd reason, becoming familiar with everyone in my immediate vicinity alleviates my symptoms. If you’ve never had a panic attack, chances are you don’t understand the debilitating force with which they can strike. Without warning the tremors set in, I’m covered in sweat and an overwhelming sense of losing control has completely taken over. Whenever I’m in a crowd, standing in an elevator, waiting in line somewhere–BAM! I’m suddenly treading in shark infested waters.
I take certain steps to avoid these situations. While driving, I sometimes veer blocks or even miles out of my way to avoid a specific intersection where I previously had a panic attack. I carry bottled water with me everywhere, and usually tote my kids along while running errands so I never have to go anywhere alone. And forget Wal-Mart. That place ranks right up there with Dante’s seventh level of Hell.
Being an author, I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen. Between writing, blogging, tweeting, and writing some more, I usually arrange my days so that I rarely have to leave the house. When I first started out, this career suited me just fine. I could happily click away, lost in a story, creating characters that never freaked out at the thought of navigating the expressway or leaping onto the back of a dragon.
Until the day something unforeseen happened…I was offered my first publishing contract. HORRORS! Because on the heels of this fascinating little tidbit, I learned the disturbing news I must now promote my book. Release the sharks! Let the feeding frenzy begin!
I once read out of 100 people surveyed, 85 fear public speaking more than death. I’m one of those 85. The thought of hosting a book signing or speaking before a group of my peers completely terrified me. Yes, I like to talk, but only one-on-one, not standing on a dais before a room full of people. Toss me a life preserver, because I need the heck outta this water!
So, I had choice to make. I could decline the contract and kept the story to myself, which meant the last year of my life could be summed up as a complete waste. Not to mention no one would ever read my story–the ultimate goal of any writer. OR, I could accept the contract and have the story published, which meant going WAY outside my comfort zone.
In the end, I accepted, knowing what lay ahead, and at the same time unwilling to accept defeat over a condition that ruled so many aspect of my life. You see, even though Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a PART of who I am, it’s not ALL that I am. I didn’t want my panic attacks to define me, because I’m also a Christian, a wife and mother, a cheerleader, tutor, boo-boo tender and professional cuddler–who just so happens to have an innate ability for getting emotions down on paper. Giving into fear over what might happen because of my God-given talent would only destroy the joy I experienced over my new found love of writing. And I wasn’t about to let those sharks chomp off such an important part of my life.
Three years have passed since the publication of my first novel. During that time, I’ve hosted several books signings, done lectures in schools, been on the radio and even been interviewed by the local newspaper. Has this been easy? Heck, no. Before each event those sharks still circle, just waiting for the opportune moment to strike. But so far I’ve outwitted them, and I intend to keep outwitting them until I’ve reached my goals. Because anything less, and the sharks win.
Now, toss me that oar, will you? This one over here is getting feisty.
Thanks, AJ, for being here today!
AJ's newest release, Jezebel's Wish, is available at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press.
Jezebel’s Wish Blurb:
Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.
Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can't she?
You can learn more about AJ and her books on her blog, Twitter, Facebook: Tattered Pages.