Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GLENYS O'CONNELL: A little Q & A

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

A.A Short bio? What to say? What to say? I write romantic suspense and have several novels published. But I regard myself as a writing "Jill of all Trades" and have also written children's fiction and non-fiction, and following my interest in counselling and psychology, I've had two books on mental health issues published.

Back to fiction -- I've written two or three one-act plays -- two of them have been produced on stage, and one has won several awards, including a best drama award as the author of a play translated into Irish Gaelic! I've written many articles, web content, and a series of hypnotherapy scripts as well as ghostwriting several books. I started out my working life as a journalist and covering the crime beat for a large daily paper in Ontario fed my interest in psychology, so I took a degree and further qualifications as a counselor.

I'm also putting together a book on novel writing based on my online writing course: Naked Writing - the No Frills Way to Write Your Book, and I'm excited to be taking the plunge with Indie publishing on that one! But romantic suspense and mysteries will always be my first love - they fulfill my craving for romance, crime and excitement! I've lived and worked in the UK., Ireland and Canada -- all countries which provide excellent settings for novels. Now I'm back home in very rural Ontario, Canada, and at work on a series of novels about a psychotherapist turned amateur detective and on a non-fiction book about relationships.

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

A. Yes, I am both shy and introverted -- in another age I'd probably be a hermit living deep in the woods, or a witchy woman living alone with my cats....

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

A. It's a two-edged sword, really. I'm not shy when I'm interviewing people as a journalist, or teaching as a creative writing instructor (I taught law, creative writing and did life coaching in Ireland and worked with disadvantaged children and adults, too). I'm able to stand in front of a class and talk for as long as I need to -- but put me on a stage promoting one of my plays or in a bookstore doing a book signing, and I'm instantly tongue tied. Promotion, especially in person, when I'm required to talk about my own work, is really difficult and I know that shyness has prevented me from taking up promotional opportunities.

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

A. In my professional life, particularly as a journalist, I learned to adopt a 'professional personna' which lets me put a shield between myself and what I'm doing, if that makes sense. I am learning from that experience to 'fake it until you make it' and I think I'm becoming better at going out to readers and talking or promoting my work. At least, I hope so!

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

A. Promotion and book signings - see the answers above!

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. Oh, my -- there are a number of answers to that one.

How about the time I was invited to cover a Women's Institute convention, with hundreds of attendees, for my newspaper -- and no one told me I was on the slate as a speaker! I was pretty young at the time, and I did give a talk on writing club reports that would interest newspapers. Apparently, I spoke for the required 20 minutes and everyone clapped and said it was great. Me? I don't remember a word I said....

Then there was the time I was invited to do a series of workshops at an elementary school about my children's book, The Pebble People Save the Day....30 little boys, full of questions and with short attention spans, waiting expectantly, and the teacher left me alone in the room. I survived, though....and the kids didn't riot!

And possibly some of my worst moments have been when women readers have commented that they really thought the sex in my books was hot...and went on to ask me if I had any tips for them.

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

A. Don't take things personally. People are usually genuinely interested in the work you do, or they wouldn't want to hear about it. Your readers are the people you are writing for -- do them the honor of respecting that and do your best to treat them as special people in your world. And if you get a rejection, or the reviews don't come in (or worse, aren't as good as you'd hoped!) or a store won't carry your books, or some other disappointment occurs in your writing, don't take it personally. Books are very much subjective -- a rejection or a poor review isn't a personal judgement on you! Remember when you learned to ride a bike? You kept falling off and then all of a sudden, there you were -- riding with the wind! Well, keep on doing what you love, and the things you fear will get easier and actually become (almost) enjoyable!

Q. Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

A. This is from Resort to Murder, a romantic suspense/police detective novel set in Yorkshire. England.

Disgraced police detective Ellie Fitzpatrick is prepared to face a vicious killer to redeem herself but is she also brave enough to make peace with the man she loves? Her meteoric career crashes and burns after she is falsely accused of accepting bribes from thugs running a protection racket. Suspended from the job she loves, she believes herself abandoned not only by police colleagues but by her lover, Detective Liam Reilly. Then she is called back to work when a biography of a serial killer she arrested suggests the man may be innocent. Reilly vows to protect Ellie from the gang who tried to frame her and the killer who's stalking her. But can she trust him with her life?
ISBN: 1-60154-652-1
Q. Where can my readers find you on the web?

A. I have a web page at www.glenysoconnell.com under the 'brand' Romance Can Be Murder! I also blog with The Roses of Prose  and on Amazon. I'm also on Twitter @GlenysOConnell.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today, Rebecca, and special good wishes to shy writers everywhere!






Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Doing Your Own Thing -- by Lynn Crain



The first thing I have to do now is thank Rebecca for being so patient with me. She had to remind me that I was supposed to be blogging here...see...I was out doing my own thing. My family has always had to drag me out of doing my own thing as it has always eclipsed doing their thing. LOL!

Seriously, when I read the blog posts, trying to get a fix on what I should be writing, I noticed several folks were talking about being shy and introverted. I’m not...as long as it’s online...and that makes me incredibly outgoing. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Vienna, Austria, that I found out just how introverted I really am when trying to learn a new culture and meet new people.

In April of this year, 2011, my husband of many years decided he wanted to go on an adventure. He wanted to run away from home, so to speak. All my friends told me moving would be the adventure of a lifetime. I told myself sure, it would. It would be my adventure on how not to be depressed or want to behead my beloved. Yes, I have a snarky sense of humor, so sorry if I offend any of you, but the simple fact is what I’m typing is true. I did want to do those things, as I couldn’t understand how this man I had lived with for a long, long time knew me so little.

I had lived all my life, with the exception of eleven years, in Nevada, in the good ole US of A and nowhere else. I had visited Scotland twice, along with England, and decided I wanted to have a summer home there. Note I said summer home. I also wanted to visit Europe, maybe even visit for a month or two, but never in any dream did I think we’d ever be there for more than a few weeks.

In May 2011, we packed up a home of nearly thirty years and moved to Europe. We’re here for somewhere between three to five years. I honestly think it depends on my tolerance of being away from home, family and friends. My impression from my dear husband was that like-minded people would surround us. We’d be entertaining or going to public parties and other venues for his job. I braced myself for this as I can be very good with my social butterfly guy. I have learned through my many years with various writing groups just how to be ‘on’ for an event. I had always told my friends that it was different from how I usually was, but it was still me...just a very social me...or so I thought.

In all my other social gatherings as I writer, I had never felt judged from just a look. Sure, those looks were there as were the feelings sometimes, but I had never let them bother me or even noticed at all. Here, maybe it’s because I don’t understand the culture as well as I thought, I feel practically naked in the public eye. All around me, people speak in different languages, and since I’m a control freak, it makes me feel very out of control. My controlling nature has mellowed over the years, but this had it zinging.

It was in those early days here that I understood just how shy and introverted I was. I really didn’t like crowds. I  didn’t like everyone looking at me as if I were a commodity on my husband’s arm. And no, I’m not sexy or anything but a plain Jane intelligent woman who wonders just why people are so political when they should all just be getting along. Here I feel that everyone is jockeying for a place within my husband’s social sphere while I’m just trying to keep my head above water, and to figure out just where I might fit in. To be honest, it wasn’t going well at all for me.

So, how was I going to get over these feelings of inadequacy I’d never had before? They seemed to reach all the way to my soul. First, I turned to my online friends, as they ‘knew’ me based upon who I felt I was and not what I could give or even do for them. They like me for me. In various discussions, I came to realize that I had to relax, to loosen up and let the sunshine in so to speak.

The other item I did was to study people for nearly a month here in Vienna and made some conclusions. Viennese are an extremely standoffish people who have a decidedly different mindset than the average American. It’s hard to explain and even harder to deal with if you have a friendly nature. I tend to smile a lot, and suddenly, I found myself with a perpetual frown on my face. I was going to be here a long time and needed to figure out some way to be fairly happy.

I decided to embrace the history of the country and believe me there is plenty. I studied artists, art and the emperors and empresses of the historical times. I found that I remembered some bits and pieces and now, stood in places where history was made. I visited palaces, towns, and the countryside to see Roman ruins. All of this made me realize that this can be an adventure as long as I start putting myself out there and seeing how it all fits with doing my thing as a writer. I guess I'd forgotten the writer part for a while.

Then, I did something I thought my husband was going to put his foot down against. I told him I needed companionship for when he was gone on business trips, and for the fact that I had no family around. I went online and picked out a pup named Harry Potter from a list of Parsons Russell Terrier breeders. I thought he’d die but when I explained my reasons, he acknowledged they were sound: Harry would provide the companionship for when he was away on travel, Harry would also force me to exercise and thus help me to get healthy by losing weight and I could do my own thing again without having to call him at least three times a day because I didn’t understand what was happening around me. In addition, as much as the Austrians seemed to be stoic, I had noticed they loved dogs.

Next, I told him in no uncertain terms he needed to help me construct a safety net of sorts. I needed to know who to call when I needed help when he wasn’t around. I needed to know all the emergency numbers and even contacts at the US Embassy should I find myself in a bind when he wasn’t there. I needed to know there were others I could depend on if he were unavailable. It took us a little bit, but the list came together quicker than I thought possible.

The last thing I did to put myself out there was in my writing career. In September, I received the rights back for a story that had been in an anthology. It wasn’t something that I wanted to market again. It was a short story, but I did want to put it out there. There had been some other ideas in the back of my mind and I thought they would do well in the scheme I had planned. There are a few stories out there that I wanted total control over, so with a friend, I decided to start my own publishing house called Shooting Star Books. This little indie press will publish books for my friend and me pretty exclusively as well as those things I have in what I call my overflow bin. Those are the stories that don’t fit any mold with a traditional publisher but still should see the light of day. I don’t know how well we’ll do, but the fact that I’m putting myself out there and doing my own writing thing again is very good.

Apparently, these were just the right ideas for me to do as since I put myself out there, doing my own thing again, I also started the creative juices that had stopped flowing while adjusting to my new life. I’ve almost completed three more books. I’ve started a new blog called The Log Line Blog where writers can get exposure for their log lines, the one-liner that sells their story, as well as their book. I’ll also have that first short story out with Shooting Star out in late December just in time for the Christmas rush.

The addition of Harry has people smiling at me when I’m out on my walks and conversing with me in my fledgling German. There isn’t a day that hasn’t gone by when I don’t get a comment about the little guy. And while it may be strange that Austrians seem to like dogs more than they like people, at least he’s getting them to interface with me on a new and different level. I’ve even decided to do a blog for him called ‘Just Call Me Snarky Boy’ because of his somewhat snarky nature.

All this because I love to do my own thing! See you around on the net!


Lynn Crain realized at an early age she wanted to write. She took the long way to being published by doing a variety of things like nursing assistant, geologist, technical writer and computer manager all of which have added to her detail-oriented stories. Now she’s a full-time storyteller and weaves fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal tales, as well as erotic stories for various publishers. She is a past national board member of the RWA; founding president of Las Vegas Romance Writers Chapter of RWA. Her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria, with her husband as he works for a UN-affiliated organization. You can find her hanging out at A Writer In Vienna Blog and various other places on the net (http://www.theloglineblog.blogspot.com/; http://www.twitter.com/oddlynn3;%20www.lynncrain.blogspot.com ).

Still, the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Channeling Your Inner Rock Star/Overcome Shyness in Public Speaking


I'm delighted and honored to welcome Kim Hornsby to the blog today. Kim Hornsby is a legend in her own mind (her words, not mine). A former singer, she opened shows for Jamie Foxx, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, even Maya Angelou in the Hawaiian convention circuit and was the star of an international infomercial. An award winning stage actress for Evita and Annie Get your Gun, Kim is no stranger to self-promotion. Her thirty-year career in show biz prepped her to teach the online course Channeling Your Inner Rock Star, with a unique approach to abolishing shyness.

Here's Kim:
 No one is born a rock star, complete with over-the-top confidence and leather pants. An individual has to work for that. (And grow into the pants.) Ever heard the Nickelback song “We all just want to be big rock stars, live in hilltop mansions, driving fancy cars”? Well some actually live this way but most celebrities do not.

These days we use the term Rock Star to mean someone who’s achieved success in their field. Eg) Wow, kids, you finished homework. You are a Rock Star.

We tend to look at those who’ve achieved enormous success performing in a rock band as beyond ordinary. But remember, even Pat Benatar and Tommy Lee have baby pictures. They put their pants on one leg at a time and catch colds.

My Point: One must work at developing an image to fool the public into believing that you are special. It’s referred to as Smoke and Mirrors. And it’s human nature to want to believe it true, to see someone as super-talented, uber-wonderful. That’s not to say if you follow the advice I’m going to give you, you need to be so conceited your head won’t fit through the book store door. Believing in your own PR (public relations) is a slippery slope. A true Rock Star can take out the garbage when not in black leather and chains.

Under the costumes, tattoos, makeup, piercings and hair gel, a Rock Star is simply another person in the world who has insecurities-- a human being who probably feels more comfortable in a larger-than-life personality when greeting the public. I bet Pat Benatar made lots of PB and J’s for neighborhood kids between tours and Tommy Lee played Little League before he joined Metallica.

In my life I have known a few rock stars, celebrities, and movie actors of enormous proportions and I’m here to tell you that off stage and out of makeup, most are a bit shy--Steven Tyler, for example. I took him snorkeling in Hawaii once and he is a quiet man. Jamie Foxx, whose name is actually Eric was raised by his Grandma and is extremely humble. These people created a stage persona and you must too. If shyness is holding you back, you must dig deep to find that inner celebrity that we all have hiding somewhere behind the spleen. Once you find her she will help get through public events that would’ve otherwise leave you shaking in your boots, quivering in your Victoria’s Secrets, sweating through your sweat suits. (Note: Unless you are a sports star, I highly recommend you refrain from wearing sweat suits when trying to be a Rock Star.)

On that note, the first step to Rock Stardom is physical presentation. Go into your closet and find yourself an outfit that says “__”. You must insert your celebrity/pen name here and if you don’t have one I suggest you find one because this is how you will refer to yourself when it’s ‘ShowTime!’

My stage name used to be Kimberley Horn because there were too many syllables in my real name for my former talent agent. Now my pen name is Kim Hornsby. I did not deviate too far from the truth but you see where I’m going with this.

Once you have a few killer outfits that make you feel special, check that the rest of you is ready for the spotlight -- hairstyle, shoes, jewelry. What makes you feel successful enough to have a Lear jet to fly to San Fran for breakfast on the pier? This is the side of you that does not scrub toilets, make school lunches, clip coupons. She takes her pool boy (or husband) to South Beach on Saturday night to dance and sleeps until three the next day. After your have the look, you must make yourself believe how wonderful you are. If you skip this step you’re in trouble. Affirmations, self talk, call it what you want, but do it just before called upon to speak in public.

As you look out on the sea of faces, just remember, do not read your audience too closely. It’s the kiss of death. Just plough through, if you’re giving a key note speech, talking to a group at a book signing, whatever. Don’t assume you know what they are thinking. The expressions on their faces may not reflect their thoughts. Probably won’t if they are listening intently. Take your glasses off, look over heads but don’t read their faces.

I want to introduce to you a character I love to laugh at on SNL, called Shy Ronnie. He is played by Andy Samberg and the only reason he is so drop-dead funny is that we know Andy is not actually shy. The link to see him is at the end of the blog. Were Shy Ronnie a real person, it would be excruciatingly painful to watch him try to rap alongside Rhianna. When asked to speak up, his voice is so miniscule it’s painful to watch. But when his beautiful co-singer leaves the room in frustration, Shy Ronnie takes off. His shyness in front of Rhianna makes him not only unable to do his job but makes him look silly, due to lack of confidence.

Remember this when you are in front of an audience – the people who have paid money or taken time out of their busy lives want to like you. When you open a book, you are hoping that the protagonist is someone to relate to. Likewise, an audience member wants to like you and will give you every possible chance to be worth their time. If they don’t like you (and you will probably never know this), it might be their own problem. Maybe they’re distracted, closed-minded, too focused on their own lives or not ready to listen.

In recap, you must create a celebrity side to yourself complete with a celebrity look (and name) -- an outward appearance that says ‘Someone Special is in the House’, practice self talk and remember the audience wants to like you.

Good luck to all the shy people reading this. Now click on Shy Ronnie and tell me you aren’t this bad!


http://www.hulu.com/watch/113207/saturday-night-live-snl-digital-short-shy-ronnie

You can learn more about Kim here:

http://www.kimhornsby.net/


http://www.kimhornsby.blogspot.com/


mailto:www.kimhornsby@yahoo.com


https://www.facebook.com/#!/kim.hornsby1

http://twitter.com/kimhornsby



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Q & A with Avon author Candis Terry

I'm so excited to have one of my very favorite people on the blog today. I've known Candis for many years--she was my very first critique partner.

Thanks for being here today, Candis! Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

It’s amazing to be here with you today, my friend!

For those who don’t know me, here’s a brief rundown of what planet I come from. I was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now make my home on an Idaho farm. I’ve experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to wiping sheep noses to working as a graphic designer. Only one thing has remained constant: my passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. Though my stories are set in small towns, my wish is to give each of my characters a great big memorable love story rich with quirky characters, tons of fun, and a happy ending.


In February 2011, after 22 years of working at becoming a published author I sold my first contemporary romance, SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, to Avon Impulse.


Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? (I already know the answer to this, and I'm trying not to laugh...)


Anyone who knows me is probably laughing because they would say I’m as far from an introvert as possible. The truth is I’m not as much of an extrovert as I would like everyone to believe. Yes, I can talk to anyone I pass on the street (and usually do!), but when I step into a crowd of people I don’t know, I do have to muster up some Cowardly Lion courage.


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


For me the hardest part is to promote myself, which is completely expected of authors by their publishers more than ever. No longer can we just write a book and stay behind the curtain. I know how I feel when I’m barraged with an author’s self-promotion. It’s often a huge turn-off. So how do we discover that fine line between “Gee, I’d really like you to check out my book. I worked really hard on it and I think you might like it.” Or “Hey, buy my book, buy my book, buy my booooook! Because you know, I’ve got to be able to afford to put dinner on the table.”? And how do we step out of our comfort zone to constantly talk about ourselves and our work? I don’t know the answer. And hey, I live on a farm so shoveling manure is probably not all that interesting.


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?


The most recent experience was at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference this past October. After 22 years of trying to become published, I decided it might be a good idea to pay it forward and give a workshop on all the mistakes I’ve made over the years. Again, being in front of an audience and talking about myself just makes me cringe. I hope I did okay. The most important thing to me was trying to give new writers some helpful insight. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a couple of really dumb things I’ve done that I know delayed my ability to sell a manuscript. I had to convince myself that the people in the audience were not there to laugh at me. They were there to learn. Which made it totally okay to laugh at myself.


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


Don’t take yourself too seriously, just be yourself, and smile. Sorry, that’s three tips.


Over the years I’ve been in many situations that made me say “What the heck am I doing here and how am I going to make it through this?” One example is when I lived in California and I worked for the company who did all the publicity materials for the Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon which took place in Griffith Park. The president of the company sent a few of us to represent the entire company. Eeek. No pressure.


I found myself at the Beverly Hills Hotel in a room with stars like Jimmy Stewart, Charleton Heston, Robert Wagner, OJ Simpson (pre-murder days) and even Scott Baio (Chachi) from Happy Days. No kidding. I have pictures to prove it! There were assistants working the room that would bring the star to you. You didn’t have to go up to them and ask for an autograph or anything to get a moment with them. Imagine when I found myself shaking hands with Charleton Heston (aka Moses)! Any speck of extrovert I possessed completely vanished. The only thing that got me through that night was knowing those people would never remember me and they didn’t care who I was. So I was able to laugh and enjoy myself (and say stupid things) because, if they weren’t going to take me seriously, why should I?


Q Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?


I’m thrilled to share a blurb from ANY GIVEN CHRISTMAS. The story was a blast to write as Dean, the hero, was just bigger than life (not to mention super sexy). You can go to my website http://www.candisterry.com/ for an excerpt of ANY GIVEN CHRISTMAS and also for an excerpt from SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, the first book in the Sugar Shack novels. The books are available as an e-book and also as a print book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most everywhere e-books are sold.


Here’s the blurb!


Dean Silverthorne’s mother may be dead, but she still has matchmaking to do.


When an injury dashes NFL Quarterback Dean Silverthorne’s Super Bowl dreams, he heads back to Deer Lick, Montana with a chip on his wounded shoulder and more determined than ever to get back in the game. He loves his kooky family, but his trip home is nothing but a very brief Christmas visit.


His game plan didn’t include an instant attraction to Emma Hart, a feisty kindergarten teacher who seems to be the only person in Deer Lick not interested in the hometown hero. Or his dearly departed mom popping up with mistletoe in hand and meddling on the mind. Now Dean can’t help but wonder if there’s more to love than life between the goal posts.


Q Where can my readers find you on the web?


I’d love for readers to visit me at my website http://www.candisterry.com/. I’m also on Twitter @CandisTerry and on Facebook.


Thanks so much for having me here today!


Happy holidays to everyone!