(FYI: Anne Marie's debut novel, Only Fear, releases from Carina Press on Monday, Sept. 5! Congratulations, Anne Marie.)
I confess… I’m a wallflower at heart. Circumstances beyond my control have pushed me (shoved, really) into the spotlight repeatedly over the years, but I’m happiest when I retreat to my cave to write about things that only occur in my imagination.
The problem is… I’m precisely 6-foot-1-and-3/4-inches tall, and have been since the ninth grade. It’s hard to fade into the background when the gene pool has dealt me such a strand of DNA.
And I have been president of my local Romance Writers of America chapter for the past three years, and still have one more year to serve.
And having a debut book coming out has forced me into promo-mode.
So, I’ve learned to shove my wallflower-ed-ness aside and step out onto the dance floor when I must. Sort of like an anti-ninja. (Well, I still love wearing black. I mean, it is very slimming and all.) I’ve adapted to fit my circumstances. Instead of stealthy, fade-into-the-background, security-blanket mode, I’ve forced myself to get out there and be seen. To confront my shyness head-on.
How? I forced myself to volunteer. It started with my online RWA chapter, Kiss of Death, where I helped update the Librarian page and coordinate the judging for their annual contest. Then I was elected President of my local chapter, so I had to start standing up in front of a group on a monthly basis. Yikes! Then I began presenting workshops and pitching at conferences.
And it’s totally been worth the risk. Volunteering feels good, and puts you in touch with some amazing people. I’ve come to believe in karma, since the year I started putting myself out there was when I signed with an agent and finaled in and won the Golden Heart.
My mantra became: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Portraying confidence is everything (even if you’re quaking on the inside). I learned this technique in graduate school as I was studying to be a mental health counselor. When I feel uneasy about presenting, I remind myself that I know my material, and that people coming to see me will want to learn that material. I pretend I’m some super-speaker who everyone is dying to hear, and that what I’ve written to say is the best thing since Shakespeare. (And then, of course, I wear my slimming black outfit that makes me feel confident.)
Wallflowers, unite! Let’s get out there and show them what we’re made of. Standing together, we’ll make very pretty, very smart wallpaper.
And a huge thank you to Rebecca for having me here today, and for providing this support system for wallflowers like me.