where the writers are
On getting over myself...

Some of you have asked why I don't include much about my own writing and publishing experience on this site, and my answer is simple: I don't like to write about myself.

As a journalist, I learned early to remove the personal bits that can sometimes creep into an article . "Readers want the news, the facts; they don't want your life story or your opinion." That's what I'd remind myself when I was working in a newsroom. It was my job to be transparent to the reader.

It was an easy role to fall into because I'm most comfortable being invisible. I'm the kind of person who lingers in the back of a room or on the perimeter of parties. I was never a cheerleader, I never ran for class president. I have trouble initiating conversations. I hang back. I watch others. I take in the surroundings. I observe.

The downside to this is such reticence can be perceived as being aloof or secretive. I guess I've preferred that to letting people know what it really is: plain old shyness. But shyness so profound that I can't tell you how many opportunities I've missed because I didn't have the courage to say the first word or make the first move.

It's not all bad, though. In fact, it's probably the best asset I have as a writer. As an observer, I notice the details of life. Body language, the weather, the particular words people use and how they use them. All those details are stored away to be drawn on when I'm conjuring up characters and scenes and dialogue.

Up to now, I've lived with my shyness. Resigned myself to it. But with publication of my first novel on the horizon, I think the road from here on out will be more challenging. In fact, I know it will be. Every author who has been gracious enough to be interviewed on this site about his or her book marketing experience has said as much. So I'm gearing up -- mentally. My new favorite phrase is "get over yourself." I repeat it every time I find myself avoiding something or someone out of shyness.

So far, it's been a little tough. But I'm committed to making it work.

And in the spirit of more disclosure, here's a quick update on THE BELLY DANCER.

The contract with Berkley Books/Penguin is finalized, and my wonderful editor, Jackie Cantor, is working with the graphics team to put together cover art. For inspiration, they're looking at orientalist paintings from the late 1800s and early 1900s, some of which I use on my Web site at DeAnnaCameron.com, as well as other artwork. I know what they ultimately come up with will be amazing and beyond anything I could've hoped for. I also have a little revision work ahead of me on manuscript, and I'm working on a draft of a new novel that's at a very exciting stage right now. I love the characters, I love where the story is going, and I just love seeing all the parts of it coming together.

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Interesting stuff, Deanna!

I guess I never thought of you as shy. Honestly, I would have called you "cool" (a yin to my loud, look-at-me yang).

As you know, I, too, have a journalism background. (For anyone reading, once upon a time Deanna and I were city editors at sister publications in the same office, answering to the same editor.) But mine sort of took me down the path of writing first-person columns.

Ironically, this first-person writing stuff has informed my blogging in a way that's similar to your keep-me-out-of-it style. I stay away from day-in-the-life blogging. There are lots of people already doing that -- some of them quite well.

The lesson I learned with writing first-person columns and especially first-person grammar columns is: If I'm gonna talk about me, it must be in the service of creating greater value for the reader. If I can hook 'em into a grammar lesson with a funny story about my cats, that's great. But otherwise, they don't want to hear that I have the cutest kitties in the world.

My blogging is styled after my books and columns: grammar/language observations sprinkled with first-person stuff that aims to entertain.

I truly believe that no one cares what I had for breakfast today. But some really do find it interesting to enter a mind occupied with dictionary definitions and animal-as-icon words and other meanderings.

So, after several years of not blogging because "I wouldn't know what to blog about," I think I've found a happy medium between "me" stuff and grammar lessons. My readers seem to agree -- all four or five of them!

The ultimate lesson: In blogging, the best thing to be is yourself. And if that's a naturally self-effacing persona (or at least a tendency not to call focus to one's self), then that's where you'll continue to find your voice and ability to serve readers!

Of course, you already knew that. Which is why your blog is so interesting and helpful!

- June

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Thanks, June!

And, yes, that's true, you have the grammar lessons and a bunch of informative, helpful stuff on your blog, and it is a good service. But, honestly, I think you could write about folding laundry and people would come back for more because you are wicked smart and scary funny. Seriously. I love reading your blog because I can hear your voice -- your confident, sarcastic, no-BS voice -- in every post. I think that's a real gift, being able to capture that energy and verve.  But I guess you already knew I was one of your biggest fans :-)

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(blush)

Thank you!

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Hi DeAnna! I'm looking

Hi DeAnna! I'm looking forward to learning more about you and the book. We have a wonderful editor in common, and you're in great hands. Can't wait to see the cover art with such a rich story to draw from.

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Hi, Kristy!

Thanks for stopping by! So nice to meet another Berkley author :-) I have to say, seeing your cover art makes me even more excited about what the graphics team is going to create. It's beautiful, and I'm adding it to my must-read list.

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Hi DeAnna

Nice to see you here, too! Thanks for this wonderful, honest post. And boy, can I ever relate. But it does get easier -- at least on some level. And I think when authors form communities, the fear of performance diminishes even more. Good luck with your editing process!

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neat thread

I'm at about the same place with my motorcycle memoir. I am really excited to see what happens with the visual elements of my book.

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thanks for stopping by

Hi, Matthew --

A motorcycle memoir sounds like rich fodder for graphically inclined minds. I'll bet you're in for a terrific cover :-)