Baby steps to overcoming shyness

Please help me welcome author Kathleen Mix to Once Written, Twice Shy.

Kathleen is an avid sailor and former charter boat captain whose stories reflect her love of tropical islands and the sea. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary romances. Her computer engineering degree helped her research cyber-security for her latest book.

Here's Kathleen:

Hello, fellow introverts.

This is a wonderful blog for me to visit because I am a recovering introvert. All my life, I’ve been painfully shy. Reading and writing for hours alone at my desk were enough to keep me happy. But when my first book was published, I knew I had no choice but to go out into the public and promote.

I have, and today I present workshops and love doing book signings. All without shaking.

The method I used to escape from hiding involves determination and baby steps. I wanted my books to be noticed, so I stiffened my back and came up with a plan to increase my name recognition and readership and help my books stand out from the anonymous crowd.

As my first baby step, I volunteered to be an officer for my local Virginia chapter of Romance Writers of America. At every meeting, I had to stand in front of our group to conduct the business portion. Each meeting was a baby step. Thankfully, talking to friends became easier each month.

I wasn’t ready to face the reading public alone yet, so as another baby step, I asked to be included in multi-author book signings. With other author’s at the table, I could feel less exposed.

After a year of public speaking practice in front of friends, I felt ready to expand to other audiences. I developed two workshops: a writers’ workshop on how to write dazzling dialogue and a workshop for aspiring writers on how to get published. I gave my first workshop at Virginia Romance Writers. I practiced for weeks. That Saturday morning, my stomach was tied in knots. But the group was small (mid-summer vacation weeks) and supportive, and somehow I survived. That success gave me the courage to contact a library and offer to present a workshop for aspiring writers.

As I developed and presented more and more workshops and did more signings, my confidence slowly grew. I no longer need company at book signings for moral support. Recently, I was thrilled when a new author doing her first signing asked me to join her. I was the experienced author who could help her feel more comfortable as she sat behind that table and faced her fear of the public!

My transition from a shy person who hid in the shadows to an author who seeks out opportunities to give talks and workshops and sign my books has been a slow process. I started small. Every baby step was choreographed carefully. Occasionally, I tripped or took a step backward. But my journey has been rewarding and worthwhile. Lately, my baby steps have turned to leaps.

I’m still an introvert, but I’m proud to be able to promote my books in person. My newest workshop is for writers who want to overcome their fears and learn to promote in public. I’ll be taking my biggest leap soon when I propose that workshop to RWA, hoping I can present at the 2013 National Conference. I’ve spoken at smaller conferences, but presenting at a large national conference is my ultimate measure of success. 

Wish me luck! I wish each of you luck on your own journey. You can overcome your shyness, and I hope hearing my story will help.

Thanks to Rebecca for letting me visit.

You can see pictures of my boat, read my full bio, and learn more about my books at my website. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter (@KathleenMix). My new release, Deadly Memories, is available from The Wild Rose Press. Please stop by my blog to read more tidbits about my writing life.

Blurb for Kathleen’s new romantic suspense release, Deadly Memories:

When an extortionist threatens to compromise Trish Flaherty’s top-secret software project, only one cyber-security consultant has the expertise to identify the culprit in time to prevent a national disaster. The problem is, that one man is Greg Erickson, a former lover whose rush to judgement nine years ago changed the course of her life. Just thinking about him has unleashed a cache of painful memories, and the last thing she wants is his help.

To find the extortionist, Trish must work by Greg’s side. To save her heart, she must keep her distance. Because if she gives him a second chance to desert her, this time her heart won’t survive. 

Greg has an agenda: he wants an explanation for recent events that have damaged the reputation of his consulting company. His new assignment could be the key. But Trish appears to be involved in the subterfuge, and the extortionist doesn’t hesitate to kill. Can he listen to his heart and trust the lover who once betrayed him, discover the truth about the past, and disrupt a devious countdown before it climaxes in another murder?