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.


  1. Wow, AJ, what an inspiration! Congrats, again, on your new great review!

  2. I want to thank Rebecca for hosting me today, and letting me tell the world about my panic disorder! I guess now EVERYONE is my friend! :-)Thanks, Becky!

  3. Thanks for stopping by Laura! And if anyone else is inclined to read the great review Jezebel's Wish received, please visit Long at Short Reviews at http://tiny.cc/ormyy Woot!

  4. AJ, you are an amazing woman. You always seem so bubbling and in control that I never would've known you were a fellow sufferer of PANIC ATTACKS. I can so relate to you. I almost hyper-ventilated several times during the RT Convention. You are such an inspiration. I guess we just need to keep taking those deep breaths, carry water (and paperbags to breathe in) and trudge on, Sista!

  5. Hi Maeve, I thought about you the entire time at RT. I can't imagine having to face the crowd. But you did it! And your work deserved all the acclaim! Great, great job! And if it helds at all, YOU are who I aspire to be. Keep the faith! ((hugs))

  6. Great post, AJ! I love reading all these post about you...getting to know you...getting to know all about you!!! (Great! Now the KING AND I songs are running rampant through my brain! Thanks again!)

    By the way, you're a professional cuddler? You get PAID to cuddle??? BOY! You must be good! What do you charge, cuz next time I get to see you, I'll have to sample your cuddling skills! :D

    That's my goofy two pence...
    Arial ;)

    P.S. For everyone else, my goal is to make AJ laugh at least once a day, so don't pay any attention to me.

  7. And she does a great job! Thank goodness, I've got Arial around for levity. I have a tendency to take myself too seriously. :-) Thanks, sweetie!

  8. AJ, I used to be so shy, but I knew if I wanted this brave new world (being a writer) I had to jump up and seize it. Love that you pushed through too.

  9. Jill, I'm so glad you stopped by! Thanks for sharing. And yes, we will do what we must to get the good word out. In retrospect, these tests of being a writer...it's all good.

  10. Hi AJ,

    It's great to see you at one of my favorite blogs. You captured how I feel in general. When I'm writing I hate going out and when I'm not writing I hate going out. We'll see what happens when I get to the promotion point.

  11. Hi Telly! I love this blog too. Becky is great, and it helps me remember I'm not alone in my hesitation to step outside the box! Remember we're all here to support each other. I'm sure you'll do GREAT with your promotion. You're a fabulous writer -- no one can ever take that away from you! ((hugs))

  12. Go, AJ, go! You seem to be doing an excellent job with promotion! I bet you're glad now you faced your fears head on!

  13. AJ you are beautiful and tender inside. I too suffer from anxiety disorder. I don't have panic attacks because if I feel it coming I run!
    It has helped me immensely to undertake this writing epic. Try speaking after Heather Graham at a signing on a panel. To me that was one heckofa test! I'm the first of the 85 people, but I am proud I did it! So I totally get it AJ.

  14. Thanks, Janine. You know, I can't believe how blessed I've been by stepping forward and taking the risk to be published. The rewards far outweigh any fear I've had to face. Thanks for the support!

  15. Oh Mary...gosh, you ladies are just AWESOME! I know, I've run too. Sometimes it's hard not to. Great, great job speaking after Heather. WOW! I would have been quaking in my pumps! You have every right to stand up tall and proud, cause you did it! YAY!

  16. AJ- I too am a talker and will strike up a conversation with strangers. At work, I know they think I talk too much. But my talking isn't due to an anxiety disorder. I talk to fill the silence. I hate silence in a crowd. I love silence in my office at home. I enjoy spending time alone. But I hate being alone in a crowd or feeling unwelcomed or unwanted. That's why I NEVER eat alone in a restaurant. I'll sit in my car and eat before I'll go inside a restaurant alone. Once when my car was getting tires, I walked across the street to Red Lobster for lunch. I tried to just sit there and eat, but in the end, I flipped open my phone and did the one thing I hate to see other people do. I stayed on the phone, talking to my daughter the entire time.
    So, maybe it's the writer in us that makes us a bit nuts at times. Or maybe, its just because we're human.

  17. I'm cracking up about the eating alone Lilly. I so, so hear you. I don't recall the last time I ate alone. In fact, even with my kids, I usually insist we go through the drive-thru, cause I hate sitting in restaurants period. And I'll NEVER take a table in the middle of the floor. Might as well not even order, because I can't eat.

  18. Just wanted to pop on and say thanks to Rebecca, once again, for having me. It was a blast being here today, Becky!

  19. If I'd known how much Promotion you need to do to get your name out there, I think I would have run a mile. But - it's out there and I'm proud of it and want to share it with others.

    I'd never have guessed you suffered so badly AJ - I'm even more in awe of you now : ) And I read your review - Fantastic!!! (deserves the 3 exclamation marks I reckon)