Monday, February 28, 2011

Q&A with MJ Fredrick


Please help me welcome romance author MJ Fredrick to the blog.

Q--Thanks for being here today. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A--Thanks for having me! I’m a 4th grade teacher in Texas, I’ve been married 2 dozen years and have a son in college, but amazingly I’m only 30 years old ;) I’ve been writing seriously for 11 years, was a four-time Golden Heart finalist, and in 2007 sold 2 books within a month, and both came out within two weeks of each other! Since then I’ve sold 2 more books and a novella to Samhain, another book and six novellas to The Wild Rose Press, 2 novels to Lyrical Press and 2 books and a novella to Carina Press! I won the Epic Award for Hot Shot in 2009 and Breaking Daylight is a finalist this year.


Q--Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A--Yes! I hate being the center of attention!


Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A--It is so hard for me to talk about my books, to put myself out there. Booksignings are murder. I cannot think off the top of my head, which is why I’m a writer—I can let things simmer!


Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A--I’ve found that I REALLY like the Internet. I can think before I submit something, I can retreat if I need to. Also, I’ve made good friends online who help me out. Turns out they’re pretty introverted, too!


Q--What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A--Promotion! Especially approaching people I don’t know well. I had an opportunity to approach Sue Grimshaw, who runs the Borders blog, and I just couldn’t do it. I’d rather lose the opportunity than step out of my safety zone.


Q--Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A--Okay, I’m a teacher, right? So I should be used to talking in front of people. I was invited to speak at a group at Barnes and Noble about perseverance, something I really know about. I stuttered and stumbled and made the biggest fool of myself. BUT when I went back to ask the customer service manager to carry my books, she remembered me from that speech and agreed. (Also, asking people to carry my books is outside my comfort zone! And with small presses, you have to do it every single time.)


Q--What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A--What I’ve had to do is to recall what I’ve accomplished, and take some confidence in that. Every one of us is unique and has survived something we wish we’d never had to go through, and we’ve come out on the other side stronger. Draw on that event, the difficulty of it and what you learned from it, and boost yourself from within.


Q--Where can my readers find you on the web?

A--My home page is www.mjfredrick.com. My blog (where I’m having a fun contest featuring heroic traits this month) is www.mjfredrick.wordpress.com. I’m also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MJFredrick and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mjfredrickfanpage. (I know what you’re thinking! Some introvert! LOL!)



Thursday, February 24, 2011

VIJAYA SCHARTZ: I wasn't always outgoing

Please help me welcome award-winning author Vijaya Schartz to the blog.

I remember blushing at any compliment, or finding ways to diminish it. I couldn’t possibly be that talented. And that old thing was actually a very old thing that didn’t really look that good on me. I remember being tongue-tied, unable to utter that clever repartee when people made unpleasant comments. I admired those who always looked comfortable speaking to strangers, and expressing what was in their articulate minds.

Not that my mind wasn’t articulate. It was. But it would shut down when I was on the spot, when I needed it the most. That fear is akin to the fear of public speaking, which is the number one and most common fear in the world. Fear of death only comes number seven on the list.

I wasn’t going to let any silly fear get in the way of my dreams. At the age of ten, I was seeking the darkest corners of the cellar at night, to overcome my fear of the dark. If I could get rid of that fear, I could conquer my shyness as well. So, in my late teens, I decided to take drama lessons and get on stage in front of everyone. It was easier than I thought. I even made a brief career in the theater, before moving on. But I soon discovered that playing a character on stage wasn’t at all like speaking your mind. If the audience didn’t like the play, they passed judgment on the playwright.

But when I spoke about what I believed, it was still paralyzing. All these people were judging me. So I took public speaking lessons, practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. Eventually, I learned not to care about what other people thought of my ideas. I couldn’t please everyone, and I accepted that.

So it came as a shock and a surprise, when later, as a writer, after suffering the pains of rejection and getting published, I realized that I had to promote my own books. These babies of mine were a most sensitive topic, and all my training had not prepared me for the vagaries of self promotion.

My husband is a businessman. He suggested that I forget about the fact that I wrote the books, and treat them like a product. I only needed to bring the information to all the potential readers. Whether they liked the books or not, whether or not they bought the books, was not my responsibility. I only had to go through the motions. After all my publisher believed in my books, who was I to doubt myself?

So now, when I do a book signing, I make eye contact with a browsing reader, smile, hold out my paperback and say: "Hey, have you read my latest novel? It’s a sexy sci-fi romance, with lots of action and a little suspense. You should try it." Half the time they just walk by, but the other half, they stop, take the book and read the back blurb. Whether they like the book or not isn’t my problem anymore. I did my job. I communicated the information about a quality product.

My friends think I am this guru of self promotion and marketing. But I’m just a very shy person inside, who decided at an early age to overcome her fears, because she didn’t want them to get in the way of her dreams. And I still do it. If you visit my website and read my bio, you'll discover that I still have a fear of heights, but I do jump out of planes... the secret is: practice, practice, practice.

Award-winning Sci-Fi, Guns, Swords, Romance with a kick http://www.vijayaschartz.com/

Vijaya's paperbacks, kindle, and audiobooks at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP7UJ4

Vijaya's eBooks at ARe: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Vijaya+Schartz


About Vijaya: Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she comes from the future. Her books collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance. So, go ahead, dare to experience the magic, and she will keep you entranced, turning the pages until the last line. Find more at http://www.vijayaschartz.com/

Monday, February 21, 2011

Q&A with author LINDA MORRIS

Please welcome author Linda Morris to the blog for a little Q&A.

Q--Thanks for being here today. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A--Thanks for having me. I'm a technical writer/editor by day, romance writer by night, although those roles seem to bleed into each other all the time! I live with my husband and young son, so between work, writing, and being a mom, lots of idle time is not a problem! I have two stories out now. Montana Belle, a western romance, and Forget-Me-Not, a romantic suspense that just released last week. Both are out with The Wild Rose Press.


Q--Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A--Oh, definitely. It's kind of interesting watching my son, who is six and also shy. I really think that it's just part of his make-up from birth, almost, and seems to have been from mine too. It's somehow comforting to know that I can struggle against my shyness and try to keep it from holding me back from things I want to do, but I can't really change it or put an end to it.


Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A--Hmm, I don't really think it's hindered my writing. Having a story in your head you can escape to is a wonderful thing. It's been more difficult on the promotional end, however. I have a hard time telling other people, "My story is great, you should read it!" It also gives me the willies to think about people I know only casually reading my work, I have to admit. (A good friend reading my work doesn't bother me, and a total stranger reading it, doesn't either, but imagining an acquaintance reading my stuff and drawing conclusions about me kind of bugs me. Hmm, maybe that's more a neuroses than shyness! Hard to tell the difference sometimes.)


Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A--I am a writer in large part because I'm shy. I feel that the "outsider looking in" personality is born to be a writer. If you were always the most popular kid in class, captain of the football team, or head cheerleader, you probably didn't grow up to be a writer. Something about that role of observing is prime training for a writer.


Q--What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A--Promotion is tough because it's just not in my nature. Time management is really tough. I just need 5-6 more hours in the day and I'll be fine!


Q--Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A--Ack. I have an interview scheduled at an Internet radio station devoted to romance novels. I really can't believe that I signed myself up for it. I'm not even really letting myself think about it!


Q--What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A--Get older . Approaching forty does have some big pluses: I just don't give as much of a damn about what other people think! I'm not sure I could have published a romance novel in my 20s because I would have worried too much about other people's reactions, like them thinking that romance novels are trashy or something. I still care a little, I guess, but not as much, and certainly not enough to let it stop me from doing what I really want to do.


Q--Where can my readers find you on the web?

A--My blog at http://lindamorriswriter.blogspot.com/. Thanks for having me!


Thanks for the great interview, Linda!

Friday, February 18, 2011

MAEVE GRAYSON: Rejection can be a good (?) thing

Please help me welcome romance author Maeve Greyson to the blog. Maeve's super exciting news is that she made the finals of the RT/Brava Writing with the Stars contest. Way to go, Maeve. This round of voting is for best sex scene. You can only vote once, and you can vote here.

Here's Maeve, regarding "Rejection can be a good thing": Yes. You heard me and no –I haven’t had anything stronger than coffee today. Read the title again. It says rejection can be a “good” thing. It DOESN’T say you’re going to like it. It’s kind of like a dose of castor oil. Blech! Once you get past the initial shock, some good can come from it.

Two rejections in particular made all the difference in my little universe. The first one came several years ago while I searched for an agent for a paranormal romance that I just KNEW everyone would love. Hmm…apparently, I was the ONLY one that felt that way because everyone I queried politely declined with every standardized form of rubber stamp rejection known to exist. Over a period of several months that stretched into a solid year, I got nowhere fast with my little story. Until FINALLY, what should arrive in my inbox? A GOOD rejection. A kindly agent took the time to tell me that I was wasting my time submitting this story to agents. “Send it to an epub,” she said. “You don’t need an agent for this story.”

What’s that thing you’re always seeing on Twitter? *head desk* or *face palm*? Yep. That pretty much says it all. A small press e-publisher. Why didn’t I think of that before? Now, mind you –my “querying time” was a little over two years ago before the official start of the epub explosion. At that time, the market was just beginning to simmer. It wasn’t at the full rolling boil e-pubbing is now. So I researched publishers and submitted my story to The Wild Rose Press. BEYOND A HIGHLAND WHISPER sold.

BEYOND A HIGHLAND WHISPER is available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online stores. If not for that agent’s “good” rejection, I might’ve given up on this story and shelved it. Who knows?

Another “good” rejection came from an editor during a three-line pitch session. I HATE pitches. I’ve taken the workshops. I’ve read the books. I’ve forced myself to pitch on blogs and chats. I STILL suck at pitches. I prefer the safe distance of a well-written query sent via email or snail-mail. I’m an introvert. I prefer to hit the send button or drop it in the mailbox and then stew for the required amount of time. It gives me the comforting impression of distance. Anyway, while forcing myself to participate in one of those self-imposed torture sessions, the rejection of my sucky pitch really helped. The editor told me I needed to change my title. She said an author has ten seconds or less to grab the reader’s attention and get them to pluck that book off the shelf, read the blurb and decide to buy the book. The title has to grab them to get them to look at the rest. My title was TAROC NA MOR. I thought it sounded wonderfully Scottish and romantic. Once again, I was alone in this school of thought. Apparently, no one but me heard Gerard Butler’s deep Scottish burr rolling my ‘r’s across his tongue. So, I changed the title to ETERNITY’S MARK and it’s now one of the three finalists in the Kensington Brava / RT Book Reviews Writing with the Stars contest. It’s garnered interest in the publishing world. See how a rejection can be good?

I know they’re painful. I stopped counting a long time ago how many rejections I’ve received over the years. But sometimes a door slamming shut in your face blows the glass out of the window across the room and lets in a breath of fresh air. Fresh air can bring a cleared mind and the ability to see a new path that’s been right in front of you all along.

And now I’d like to take a minute to thank Rebecca for having me on her wonderful blog. I really appreciate her hospitality and the visit to her cyber home. By the way, here’s a few spots on the web where I can be found. I’d love it if you popped in and said Hi!

And if you’d like to give a poor shy author a little love and vote for Eternity’s Mark in the FINAL round of Writing With the Stars –please follow the link below, scroll down and look to the left and you’ll see the Writing with the Stars block that will take you to the voting link for the final round. Thank you EVER so much!
http://www.rtbookreviews.com/aspiring-authors

About Maeve: Maeve is a paranormal romance writer from Western Kentucky. The stories she writes are filled with magic and love, where anything might happen to get to that happily ever after. She's been a dreamer all my life but never shared her stories until her mother's failing health demanded she become a heart transplant recipient. Her resulting journey terrified and over-whelmed her. Maeve's stories helped her escape.

Many of Maeve's stories are filled with the mysteries of time-travel and legends, all with a Celtic flair. Scotland and Ireland sing to her soul. In a past life, she's certain she was there.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MERRY SIMMONS: With a Little Help From Her Friends

As a shy writer, can you imagine anything more hideous than having an excerpt from one of your love scenes online for anyone, including your hubby's golf buddies, to read out of context? I can't. Well, maybe having to read said love scene out loud to hubby's golf buddies, but I digress.

My friend Meredith Simmons is in the finals for Writing with The Stars--the winner will become a Kensington Brava author. This week, readers are voting on Best Love Scene. You can vote only once, but do it by Feb. 27 (the link is below). Everyone needs a little help from their friends...

Here's Meredith: If you ever want to feel the ultimate shyness, try putting a love scene online. That's the topic of this round's challenge in the RT/Brava contest. Ugh! In a novel, the love scenes can be something organic that grows out of the plot, but to pull the words out and leave them naked, well, that's very uncomfortable. You kinda end up with body parts and movement. I'm sure the other contestants found this as uncomfortable as I did. I obviously was the one who wimped out, however, since the judge pronounced my entry the "sweetest," which it certainly didn't seem when I sent it in.


If you want to see the results, they're up at www.rtbookreviews.com/content/writing-stars-vote-love-scene. And if you can do so with good conscience, leave a vote for me. :-)


You can learn more about Meredith at her website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Q&A with LAURIE LONDON

Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers. To celebrate, we have a special guest today--my sister, Laurie London, whose debut book just released with HQN.

Q--Thanks for being here today, Laurie. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

A--Thanks for having me, Becky!

I graduated with a business degree and worked as a tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company before I quit to stay home with my children. BONDED BY BLOOD, book one in the Sweetblood Novel series by HQN Books, just came out and the second book, EMBRACED BY BLOOD, comes out in late June.

Q--Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A--Sometimes. How’s that? LOL Being extroverted does require you to be “on” and sometimes I find that hard to do. But not always. ;-)

Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

A--I’m not sure it has actually hurt my writing career. I’m able to flip a switch and become extroverted if I need to be. But unlike a total extrovert, at some point, being around a lot of people can be mentally draining to me.

Q--In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A--I’m perhaps more sensitive and in-tune to emotions than what I would be if I gathered all my energy externally as an extrovert does. I internalize a lot of things and analyze why a person acts one way as opposed to another. Hopefully, this makes the emotional beats in my stories deeper and more realistic.

Q--What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A--It has nothing about being introverted or extroverted. The hardest part for me is translating the thoughts in my head into a Word document. LOL. Self-doubt is rampant.

Does this sound stupid? Would he really say this? Is this scene boring? Is the story predictable? I want to show X happening, but I’m not sure exactly how to do it.

Q--Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

A--Maybe because I got used to functioning on the edge of my comfort zone at an early age, I don’t dread it like some people do. When you show horses, you learn to overcome your nerves, or at least you’re able to project a sense of calm. If you don’t, your horse will detect your nervousness and think they have a reason to freak out as well. I’ve also done a fair amount of public speaking. Although it’s not easy, it’s not an entirely paralyzing thought either. As long as I’m prepared and feel I have something worthwhile to share, I can speak to large groups of people.

Q--What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you (whether you’re shy/introverted or not)?

A--In social settings, because I love meeting new people, I often play a game to find something I have in common with someone else. It’s especially fun meeting someone who, at first blush, may appear to have nothing in common with me. I get a lot of satisfaction finding something that both of us find mutually interesting.

In fact, I have a funny story that I think illustrates this well.

At a large Christmas party I attended a few years ago, I knew only the hosts, so I decided to play that game. I struck up a conversation with a guy in the kitchen and found out he was in a band. Well, I like indie music, so I asked him all sorts of questions and listened to what he had to say. He told me about his band, some of their recent gigs, what they were recording now, how he got started after having worked in a professional career, etc. We also shared some of the same tastes in music. When it came time to leave, he looked me straight in the eye, and with all honesty, he said that I was the most interesting person he’d met in a long time. I just shook his hand and smiled.

Turns out the guy never even asked me my name and didn’t know a thing about me. It’s because I showed an interest in him and listened that he felt that way. LOL

If you get people to talk about themselves, they’ll think you’re the most interesting person in the world. And it totally takes the pressure off. All you need to do is listen.

Q--Where can my readers find you on the web?

A--People can check out my website at
www.LaurieLondonBooks.com.
I can also be found on Facebook
www.facebook.com/laurielondonauthor and Twitter www.twitter.com/LaurieBLondon


Laurie has offered to give away a signed copy of her debut book, Bonded by Blood, to one lucky commenter. Here's a blurb:

Deep within the forests of the Pacific Northwest, two vampire coalitions battle for supremacy—Guardian enforcers who safeguard humanity and Darkbloods, rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors.

Movie location scout Mackenzie Foster-Shaw has always known that she’s cursed to die young. No one can protect her from the evil that has stalked her family for generations—vampires who crave her rare blood type. Until one afternoon in a wooded cemetery, she encounters an impossibly sexy stranger, a man she must trust with her life.

For Dominic, a man haunted by loss, Mackenzie satisfies a primal hunger that torments him—and the bond they share goes beyond heat, beyond love. She alone can supply the strength he needs to claim his revenge. But in doing so, he could destroy her…

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pam Beason: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION? YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

Please help me welcome author Pam Beason to the blog.

I'm a lot shyer than most people realize. When I was a child, I would burst into tears if anyone other than my parents said anything the slightest bit critical to me. This happened even if the person spoke to me out of concern for my safety, such as saying, "Don't sit on the arm of the sofa, dear, you might fall off." I used to make my little sister ask our neighbor if we could visit her, even though we'd visited dozens of times and I loved this neighbor. When strangers held out a plate of cookies and asked if I wanted one, I frequently said no, although I lusted after that cookie. For some reason, I couldn't stand being the focus of attention from a stranger, even for a minute or two.

My shyness continues into adulthood. I always feel more comfortable with perfect strangers than I do with folks I've met only once or twice. I can say anything to a stranger I'll never meet again; but if I suspect I'll need to interact with that person from now on, it turns my insides to mush—what will they think of me? My friends consider me humorous and thoughtful, but people who don't know me often find my jokes snarky and my directness a little blunt.

I got married with only a minister and witnesses present, and being the focus of attention for that short time gave me a whale of a headache; I don't understand why anyone would want to walk down the aisle in a fancy dress. I work as a private investigator, and I easily do my sleuthing on the computer or in courthouses behind the scenes, but when I have to talk to a subject, especially on a pretense, it always gives me the jitters beforehand. But I make myself do it. Once in awhile, I stand in front of a crowd with a microphone and talk or teach. And although I always wish I were anywhere else before I venture out there, I know I'll do a good job.

How do I know I'll do okay in the spotlight? It's all because of a camera. When I was hired as a teaching assistant in graduate school, I had to take a short course for new college teachers. A lot of the instruction was routine—how to take attendance, report grades, handle the classroom, etc., and—being an A student—I aced all that. But then the instructor announced that for the last part of the course, we would each be videotaped and critiqued. Omigod! Could it get any worse? Having to stand up in front of a class was bad enough; being videotaped made it more awful, and then having to sit through a playback of the video and be critiqued by everyone in the class? That had to be my worst nightmare.

The assignment was to teach a typical twenty-minute lesson in our normal subject. I taught Spanish, so I decided to teach a lesson on giving and understanding directions. When my day came to teach before the camera, I soon had everyone reading maps and saying right, left, two blocks south, and so forth in Spanish. I was quaking inside the whole time, knowing that camera was recording all my blunders. After my lesson, we took a short break while the instructor set up for the critique session. I chugged a quart of water from the hallway fountain, wishing the liquid was tequila instead of simple H2O.

Back in the room and now in the audience, I watched the videotape of my lesson. To my utter amazement, I didn't look nervous on screen. I appeared and sounded professional. The only critique I received was that perhaps I smiled too much. Whoa! What an incredible confidence boost!

No, the experience didn't erase my shyness. But I now know that I can successfully play the part of a poised teacher or investigator. I'll never feel relaxed standing before a crowd, but I do feel that I can do that job well.

So—want to overcome that nauseous feeling before you go on stage? Get out the video camera and tape yourself in action. In the worst case, you'll have a chance to curb your nervous mannerisms before your big performance. In the best case, you may find that, like me, you don't look uneasy at all.

About Pamela: Pamela S. Beason received the Daphne du Maurier Award for unpublished authors a few years ago. Now she has published a quirky romance called On Shaky Ground (The Wild Rose Press) that includes earthquakes, vandals, and arson. She's also self-published a romantic adventure novella, Call of the Jaguar, available in ebook form everywhere, and a mystery novel called The Only Witness will also be available any day now. She has a three-book contract with Berkley Prime Crime for her Sam Westin mysteries. The first book in that new series deals with the search for a child missing in the wilderness, and will be available this coming December.

You can find out more about Pamela here www.pamelasbeason.com and here http://psbeason.wordpress.com

Monday, February 7, 2011

KELSEY BROWNING: Networking for Introverts

Please welcome writer Kelsey Browning to the blog. Kelsey is one of the co-founders of the fabulous writers' resource, Romance University.

Here's Kelsey: First, I want to thank Becky for inviting me to chat with Once Written, Twice Shy readers, especially since I’m not an introvert. Exactly.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), I’m slightly to the “E” side of the extrovert/introvert continuum. But I find the longer I write, the harder it becomes for me to function as an extrovert. So I want to share some networking tips that will work hard for introverts even when you’re behind your desk. Quick caveat: these techniques aren’t a substitute for face-to-face interaction, but they’re a great complement to traditional networking.

The word “networking” can strike fear into the hardiest extrovert’s heart. And introverts? The threat of emotional and psychological vampirism (i.e. networking) can paralyze them. But what if you could network without encountering huge rooms, endless chatter, spilled drinks, grating laughter and subsequent panic attacks? Would you dance a little dance?

Well, introverts, prepare to jitterbug.

Tip One: Keep good contact records on people. Not a CIA dossier, but start with basic contact information. Full name, email address and context are essential. Context might be an editor’s title, a writer’s genre or the name of a mutual friend. Create a record-keeping system according to your personality. That could be a shoe box full of business cards, a spreadsheet, a card file, an online address book, or software like Microsoft Outlook. In a perfect world, I would recommend using customer or contact relationship management software (CRM) for your records because CRMs are sophisticated enough to serve as a virtual assistant. However, few of us have the time or money to invest in another computer program.

Tip Two: Create a tickler system. (No, this is not the plot of a Harlequin Blaze book.) A tickler system gives you a nudge when it’s time to contact someone or perform a task. You might set a tickler for a book release, a birthday, or a random date in the future. You can utilize your calendaring or task software for this function as well. I use Outlook for the Mac. For example, when I schedule someone to guest lecture at Romance University, several follow-up actions are required. I’ll create a task labeled “REBECCA CLARK – response to invite?” and then set a reminder for two weeks in the future. If I haven’t heard back from Becky at that time, my reminder will engage and I’ll know to send her a follow-up email. If she does respond, I update the task and reminder for the next action: “REBECCA CLARK – topic set?” With Outlook, these tasks pop up on my computer and also print out on my weekly and daily calendars. If you use a paper calendar, just pick a desired follow-up date and jot yourself a note. Remember to make the note simple, but specific enough to explain the task.

Tip Three: Keep track of one or two details about each of your contacts. Maybe you went to the same university, lived in the same town or both love llamas. If so, make a note in your records. A perfect time to shoot off an email would be when your college football team accepts a bowl bid, the town council approves naked rollerblading in the local parks, or registration opens for the Llama Lovers International convention.

Tip Four: Update your records regularly, but don’t get too enamored of your system. I warn you because I could happily play with my record-keeping software all day (and yes, I’m aware that’s sick). Take time once a month—or once a week if you can stomach it—to update your records. Updating batch makes the task more manageable. Just toss those emails or envelopes in a folder, virtual or real, until it’s time to do maintenance.

Tip Five: Use all that lovely information and make the contact. That could be a simple email, a longer phone call or a card sent through the mail (the U.S. Postal Service is still around). People love to be remembered so almost any time is appropriate to “network.” Some great reasons are to congratulate on a recent accomplishment, share some industry news, follow-up after a conference or just say hello.

Consider adopting this low-key networking system, and I promise you’ll put most extroverts to shame!

QUESTION: One Written, Twice Shy readers, do you feel a jitterbug coming on now? What do you hate most about networking?

About Kelsey: Kelsey Browning writes contemporary and paranormal romance with a hint of southern sizzle. In her former life, she worked at one of the ten largest universities in the U.S., raising money and teaching students how to land their dream jobs. Now she pursues her dream job of freelance and fiction writing, which provides excellent benefits such as unlimited coffee and an office dress code that permits flip flops. She’s also a co-founder of
Romance University blog where the mission is to empower writers, entertain readers and understand men. Originally from Texas and after four years in the Middle East, she now lives in Southern California with her IT-savvy husband, baseball-obsessed son and seriously spoiled dog. She’s currently at work on the first book in a new paranormal series. For more information, please visit www.KelseyBrowning.com.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Day I Met My Stalker

Please help me welcome romance writer Rachel Firasek to my blog. An office manager by day, and an urban fantasy/paranormal romance author by night, her first release, Passion of the Soul: Piper’s Fury, is due out in 2011, with Crescent Moon Press.

Here's Rachel: I pulled the fifth, writer’s manual from the shelf and heaved my burden into my arms, hefted my purse over my shoulder, and quietly faded from the reference section of my favorite bookstore. A woman pardoned herself and took my place among the treasured craft shelf.

My work in process demanded I visit the travel section next. I’m a deep Texan gal, and sadly haven’t been North, East or West. I rifled through the stacks until I found Oregon, the newest home of my kick-ass heroine. She needed some place cool and a bit damp to chill her fury. As I snatched the precious book from the shelf, the woman from the reference section slid onto the isle next to me. Coincidence? I think not.

The hairs on my neck stood on end. I felt eyes on me. Without looking up, I twisted to retreat down the line of USA maps to a safe get-a-way. You see, I’m horribly bad at meeting people. No, you don’t understand, I’m like hang my head and mumble greeting shy. I hate making eye contact for the first time and I’m often confused with being rude.

The woman spoke up before I could escape. “Hello, are you a writer?”

Those simple words, spoken in honest intrigue, made me cringe. No, I wasn’t a writer. I was an office manager who needed an escape from the busy burden of her day. I swiveled around, darted a quick glance over my shoulder, and replied. “Uhmmm, I dabble, no not really, maybe.” I nervously laughed and hoped that she would let it go so I could slink away.

We exchanged business cards and email addresses and I hoped that I wouldn’t be prompted to talk about this endeavor. I wasn’t ready to share my writing with anyone, especially not random strangers in the bookstore.

She emailed me a few times. I worked on my writing in the spare time---which with a hubby, kids, and job, isn’t much. After a few polite, “Yeah, we’ll meet for coffee.” I finally caved and agreed to a meeting. I made myself almost sick worrying over this random coffee break with a woman who seemed to be offering only friendship.

That brief coffee trip turned into a seven-hour laugh-a-thon. This woman, this stranger, this social butterfly was like a missing piece of me. Author, Autumn Shelly is my BFF, my sista, my trusty sidekick, my confidant, and my mentor. She took a shy little closet writer, introduced me to the big ole world of the RWA, held my hand at the national conference, and applauded the loudest when I received the email offering a contract for that first book that brought us together. I love this gal, and couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.

Do you have a pal that helps you with your shyness? Someone that forces you to face the world when all you would like to do is hide in the corner? Give them a shout out today! Then tell them about the blog and send them the link. Kind words filled with sincerity can lift someone’s heart and make their day shine. Share the love!

About Rachel: Rachel's writing career began at the impressionable age of twelve with a poem dedicated to the soldiers of Desert Storm. A dark macabre affair that earned her a publication in an anthology and many raised eyebrows from family and friends, she hid her poetry and artistic style for years... Tucked away in the heart of Central Texas, with the loving support of her husband and three children, she dusted the cobwebs from her craft. Returning to those twisted regions of her mind, she creates dark urban fantasies and soul-searching paranormal romance. You can learn more about Rachel on her website, and you can follow her on Twitter.