How to Ignore Your Mother's Warning

by Brinda Berry

A few years ago, I only socially interacted with people I'd known for years. Even then it was sporadic. I'm not the party type, and I didn't really do Facebook. Then, I signed my first publishing contract and discovered I was expected to engage. I needed to ignore my mother's warning: don't talk to strangers.

I've always loved technology, so it wasn't difficult for me to pick up how different sites worked. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are all fun platforms to use "technically". The more difficult task was to actually talk to complete strangers. What do I have to say that would be of any interest at all?

I'd like to share what I've learned about talking to strangers.

1. Share topics that you are interested in and someone else will chime in on the conversation.

2. I like books and reading, so I talk about my current reads or discoveries.

3. Learn to poke fun at yourself. Others will laugh with you.

4. Ask questions. If you need help with anything from finding a good movie over the weekend to solving a computer issue, there are experts who love to help.

5. Be consistent. Don't be the friend who only visits every ten years. Show up on a regular basis and others will feel comfortable knowing that you are a presence.

6. Respond to others when they post. This is a two-way street. Don't expect others to be interested in you if you ignore the opportunity to respond to them.

7. Build relationships in a community. I've made lists in Twitter where I can view posts from people I've learned about and know. I have writer lists, editors lists, reader lists, etc.

8. Introduce others. If you have friends who need a boost up in this social media world, introduce them. It's exactly what you would do in person, so do it online as well.

9. If you're not funny, borrow someone else's humor. I'm not talking about stealing anything. I only suggest that you quote or share humor from others and give them credit. We all like to laugh. Smile!

Do you find it easy to engage with others on social media? What's your favorite or least favorite platform. Why?

You can find Brinda online here:

About Brinda: Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She is the author of the Whispering Woods YA series published by Etopia Press. She's terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality. Brinda doesn't mind being called a geek or "crazy dog lady". When she's not working the day job or writing a novel, she's guilty of surfing the internet for no good reason.

Q&A with Margaret Fieland

Thanks for being here today, Margaret. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?
Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, "Lifelines," was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of "Relocated," published by MuseItUp Publishing, and of "Sand in the Desert." Her book, "The Angry Little Boy," will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 
I consider myself more of an introvert than an extrovert. I've taken Myers-Briggs and at first I was surprised I was more balanced than I would have guessed at the time.

In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
I'm less eager to approach folks about opportunities, especially in-person, to volunteer to teach workshops and the like. I'm working on this.

In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
It's a piece of who I am. I bring myself, my vision, my use of language, my interests, my fantasies, the characters and stories I imagine, to my writing.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
Selling and marketing. I don't like it, and I don't have enough experience in the area to believe I'm doing everything I can to get the word out about my work.

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

When I decided to write "Relocated." I am a huge science fiction fan, have read reams of the stuff, but at the time -- 2010 -- I'd never written any at all. I had a phobia about the world-creation aspects, and I'd only written two novels: one a chapter book is due to appear sometime this year, and another that needs a major rewrite. On a whim, sometime in late September, I decided to do NaNo. I spent the next six weeks mostly on the world-building, some time on the characters, and about a page of plot notes. On Nov. 1, I started writing, and by the end of the month, I had a first draft.

Then, of course, came the months and months of editing.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
Just go for it. Don't dwell too much on all the eyes you're convinced are staring at you or on all the things you're convinced will go wrong or you will do badly. Just do it.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?
When fourteen-year-old Keth's dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn't know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval. Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth's friend's father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.

Available now!

Where can my readers find you on the web?

My website:

My blog:

Relocated's website:

Why So Serious? Tales of an Author Hobbyist

by Melinda Pierce

First, thank you, Rebecca, for allowing me to hijack Once Written, Twice Shy today.

Second, let me throw in a Happy Birthday to my hubby! Love you lots, babe.

And now I’ll get down to the business of being serious – or not.  When I started my writing journey three years ago, I connected with a fabulous critique group of newbie authors, all yet to be published.  We each laid out our goals, and I introduced them to my ten year plan.

The Ten Year Plan:  To publish anything within a 10 yr time frame or give up writing, because if I couldn’t do it by then, becoming an author wasn’t my thing.

Them: Snickering behind their hands or full out laughing, while writing away at their soon to be published manuscripts.

Why would they laugh? Because it was obvious I knew nothing about the publishing industry.  Nothing.  I’d entered a few Writer’s Digest short story contests and I’d even had a short story published in an on-line magazine. (The magazine went under after the second issue, totally not my fault.)  I’d read a few craft books and I knew I had a lot to learn about writing in general.  I joined a few writers’ groups and communities, attended some online workshops, and generally I started paying attention to the overall world of writing.

That’s when I noticed the trend of blogs and articles defining what it was to be a serious writer. A serious writer is one who treats writing like a business.  He/she has a book plan, a marketing plan, short term goals, long term goals, a tribe, a presence online, an appealing website, attends conferences, networks, knows if she wants to self-pub or find an agent, and pumps those manuscripts out like there is no tomorrow.

Suddenly my ten year plan turned into a get-it-done-right-now plan.  All of it.  Otherwise, I wasn’t serious about being a writer or a published author.  So I dove in head first.  I set aside my writing time and started manuscripts that I thought would sell, because I had to sell to get my foot in the door.  I joined more groups, started more manuscripts (all without finishing the one before, mind you) and started a cycle that consumed my life.  But that’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?  Serious writers are consumed by writing.  There’s no time for anything else.  Butt in chair, butt in chair, kid in front of t.v., laundry piled on the floor, dishes stacked in the sink, mad at hubby because why the hell can’t he pitch in while I work on my break out novel?! So what if he worked 12 hours, I’m on to something this time, dammit!

Yes, almost three years of this cycle – running in circles and getting nowhere but miserable.  I hated sitting down at my computer and instead of trying to write, I’d surf the net, spend hours on Twitter, and think about writing and talk about writing, yet never actually added many words to page.  Then a couple of things happened.  The first, I had my little baby boy and it forced me out of the chair.

Second was a conversation with a friend that went something like this:

You have talent, just finish one of those manuscripts.

I weakly respond, I have a ten-year plan remember? Plenty of years left, hee hee.

That makes writing your hobby.

Lord have mercy, not the dreaded H word.  Anything but that.  Serious writers don’t treat writing as a hobby.  Hobbies are things you do when you have spare time.  In fact, when you Google the definition, here’s what pops up:

Hobby - An activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.

Wait a second – stop the presses (yes, I’m a cornball too).  That doesn’t sound like the definition of a dirty word.  Pleasure, well that’s kind of the whole reason I started writing in the first place.  I enjoyed creating, and it was about time for me to find that joy again. To do this, I had to change my way of thinking and I knew right where to start.

My own definition of a serious writer: A writer who cares about craft and producing a damn good book.  One who wants to give the reader an experience to remember.  Period.  All the rest doesn’t matter, at least it doesn’t to me right now.  Not at this stage of my ten-year plan, and this stage of my life.  This doesn’t mean I don’t care about my writing, it means it takes a lower rank in my list of priorities.  Kids want to play outside – writing gets set aside.  Hubby wants to watch a movie – writing gets set aside.

Call my writing a hobby, that’s okay – does that mean there isn’t any room for me in the world of writing? Nope. Does it ruin my chances of becoming a best-selling author someday? Not at all.  It does mean I’ve removed about 80% of the stress that I had placed upon myself, and I’m all the happier for it, and I’m positive my writing will reflect this.  If it takes two months or two years to get a book finished, it doesn’t matter to me as long as the end result is something I can be proud of.

Does writing as a hobby work for everyone? – of course not.  For many authors, it is your business, it is your career and you have to continue to treat it as such.  But for a few others a light bulb may go off and you may join me in this laid back journey of hobbyism.  ß which I’m not sure is a real word, but if I can someday get Snookie or Kim Kardashian to say it on a reality show, I have no doubt it’ll be added to the dictionary.

So good luck to each of you on your writing journey, however YOU decide to define it, and happy writing!


P.S. That critique group I mentioned above – every one of them is now a multi-published author, but that’s a post for another day. J

About Melinda: Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and self-proclaimed trophy wife – although her husband defines her as being more of high maintenance than anything else.  She writes in almost every romance genre and refuses to follow the path of most resistance.  Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce

Q & A with erotic romance author Nicole Morgan

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

Thanks for having me! I am a multi-published author of erotic romantic novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with a good old-fashioned whodunit.
In additional to her books, I also have a recurring column called, "Sex and the Single Woman" in BT Showcase's online
eMagazine. Also, I have recently partnered up with three of my author friends and became Four Seduced Muses, a blog dedicated to the steamier side of romance.

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

I’m definitely not shy. I may appear quietly polite to strangers, but I’m not shy. I have no problem meeting new people and interacting with them.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you? 
Coming up with new material on a consistent basis. You can’t just write a book and expect to become a huge success with that one story. You need to work at it constantly, putting more books out there several times a year. Sometimes the monotony of it can be a bit much, but in the end I also find it very rewarding – as cheesy as that may sound. 

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life? 
I’ve recently starting writing under a new pen name (Ssshhh… I’m not telling what it is either *winks*) and that was a bit hard for me. Nicole Morgan books have been such a huge part of my life for the past several years I found it hard taking on new genres and getting comfortable in those shoes.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
I would say, nothing is as bad as you think it is. If you’re too nervous to say hi to someone or break the ice, chances are they’re thinking the same thing. Appearing outgoing (even if you’re not) with a smile on your face will often times make you the life of a party and people will soon seek you out for conversation.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it? 
Jenny manages a resort and works tirelessly to maintain the lush property. Thomas is a drifter. Sexy and confident, he’s the last thing she needs in her life. Still he relentlessly pursues her. Will his charms be too much to resist? Will she act on her desires and be...impetuous? 


Where can my readers find you on the web? 
Nicole’s website:

Nicole’s blog:


Q & A with Social Media Expert, Beth Barany

I'm so excited to have you here today, Beth. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Rebecca, thanks for having me. I'm a fantasy author, teacher and speaker, and a creativity coach for writers. I live in Oakland, California, with my husband, also a writer, and our two cats. My newest book is Twitter for Authors: Social Media Book Marketing Strategies for Shy Writers, available on Amazon, iTunes, and Nook.

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

I do consider myself an introverted person, though not necessarily shy, since I have lots of extroverted qualities, too. I do like networking and meeting new people; I just need to be in the mood for that.

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

I've had a hard time calling attention to my fiction writing, in other words, marketing it, because of my introverted nature. I could probably take more risks than I have. Just knowing this helps me take baby steps out of my comfort zone, little by little. 

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

Being introverted has helped me spend a lot of time by myself writing, putting in the time to make my books as excellent as I can. Being introverted has also helped reach out via social media and communicate with lots of people that way. Social media has allowed me to be social and chatty in ways I never expected I could.

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

Marketing my fiction and nonfiction books is hard for me, though I am getting better at it. I also have the challenge of comparing my marketing actions, or non actions, with other people. A bad habit, I know.

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

Taking acting and improv class and teaching/speaking classes definitely were outside my comfort zone and helped me get more comfortable being myself in front of people. Now, I actually like presenting to groups.

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

I think taking improv is a wonderful tool that has really helped me. Also what's helped me has been triathlon training with a group of like-minded women. So I'd recommend sports training or a workout class that you love. It helps to get out of the mind and into the body.

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


Twitter for Authors: Social Media Book Marketing Strategies for Shy Writers by Beth Barany

Social media book marketing is key to building your author platform and to selling more books. For many authors, the idea of sharing themselves with the world through Twitter and other social media platforms can be petrifying.  But in Twitter for Authors: Social Media Book Marketing Strategies for Shy Writers, you will discover simple ways to connect with your audience and potential readers. 

In this easy-to-read guide, written by a shy writer, novelist and teacher, Beth Barany, you'll find the confidence and encouragement to step into social media and the how-to steps on what to say, how to find your followers, and how to present yourself in 140 characters or less.

Where can my readers find you on the web?

Here's a list of my social media locations and sites. Thanks for having me on your site, and for helping me take a step outside my comfort zone! :-)