Sunday, August 31, 2008

On Finding Your Own Way to Success

Ask a hundred writers or illustrators or inventors or Olympians how one can achieve success, and you'll get that many different, enthusiastic and evangelical responses. It is a condition of our humanity that we each are enamored with our own hardwon path, and want to share it with EVERYONE. And everyone should follow it-- because we do love to be right and we do love to help.

Author John Green and his brother have devoted themselves to a noble mission of decreasing World Suck, and, man, I am grateful to them both for that important work. If Robin and I have a calling at Shrinking Violets, it would be to decrease World Insistence That There is Only One Way to Publication, Marketing & Success. Okay, that just isn't nearly as catchy as decreasing World Suck, so we're going to have to work on it.

Elizabeth Gilbert , author of the transforming Eat Pray Love, has a terrific essay on writing  that you really ought to read. The whole thing. It's marvelous. It has much to say about living, and not just writing. And just fyi, she and Anne Lamott are doing some gigs together now.  I'm upgrading my dream to have lunch with Anne. Now I want to have dinner with Anne and Liz together after some show. Liz/Anne, click here to RSVP with me

Okay, but I digress. Here is an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert's provocative essay.

"Nobody can tell you how to succeed at writing (even if they write a book called “How To Succeed At Writing”) because there is no WAY; there are, instead, many ways. Everyone I know who managed to become a writer did it differently – sometimes radically differently. Try all the ways, I guess. Becoming a published writer is sort of like trying to find a cheap apartment in New York City: it’s impossible. And yet… every single day, somebody manages to find a cheap apartment in New York City. I can’t tell you how to do it. I’m still not even entirely sure how I did it. I can only tell you – through my own example – that it can be done. I once found a cheap apartment in Manhattan. And I also became a writer."

In writing, selling for publication, and marketing your work, we invite you to honor-- heck,celebrate-- the unique artist that you are. When you created your work, you used your own voice. Why in the name of heaven would you abandon it in marketing?

This, from another writer, to further illuminate our way. "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." (Cool, thanks, Will.)

Here's to your inimatable voice and style-- trust it to take you exactly where you need to go.

Mary Hershey

Original post August 20th, 2007

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Kerry Madden - Continued


My agent prefers that I call it “book promotion,” but out on the road there are just days when I feel like an Appalachian Willy Loman hawking books at the You-Name-It-Festival-For-Young-Readers. And because I’m an unknown, strangers either keep a wide berth or they meander up to ask about my books, and so I often feel like I’m doing a pitch in 30 seconds or less. My heart starts racing and I usually say, “My husband grew up one of 13 children, which inspired me to write these books.” And if they’re interested, they’ll talk a while or they’ll say, “My, 13 children! Do you know where I can buy Mad-Libs for my grandchild? He loves Mad-Libs.”

I did two readings at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY with Tomi and the little girls singing. I changed the course of the second reading to spark some kind of interest and said to the second group, “Because the Wolf Man can’t be here today, I thought I’d read a section about GHOST TOWN.” Well, the few people who were there up and left right then, because they’d come to see the Wolf Man. And frankly, I don’t blame them. I wanted to seee the Wolf Man and his live wolves show too.

Afterwards, I wanted to cry, and I’m not a diva, but I was tired and humiliated. Why did they ask me to come? Why did I offer to come? All that week (and since 2005) I’ve been doing events, festivals, book-signings, school visits, author talks, and writing workshops, but sometimes, you just have to admit that you can’t do it all and that it’s okay.

My sister-in-law, Tomi, could hear the jagged tear in my voice as I packed up fast and said, “Hey, hey! It’s show biz! Hold it together.” The next act, a country rock band, was already on stage warming up. I apologized to the bookseller, Scott Osondu, and he couldn’t have been more gracious and said, “See you all tonight at the Opry House.”

Half the family went back to Waynesville to rest before another gig that night, but Eppie and I stayed to take the kids on rides and watch the gunslingers. We ate barbecue sandwiches, and sanity slowly returned. It was a cool day, not crowded, and we went to listen to banjo players and saloon girls. I know the Apache Kid, who trains the gunslingers and who is a good friend. He was genuinely happy to see us – “Hey! How are you? Welcome to Ghost Town!” and he gave the kids collectable gunslinger cards.

Later, I saw the entertainment director outside the Silver Dollar Saloon, and he said, “You think you could come back in a month or so? We could try something different. It was just a crazy day with the Care Bears.”

I smiled and said, “Let me know,” knowing he wouldn’t and I wouldn’t. That’s just the way it is with certain folks in the South. You smile and say thank you and pretend it all went fine and that there will be a next time. I watched him go off and flirt with the young women at the Fudge Shop.

The SCBWI is about to publish my “30 Tips to Grassroots Book Promotion” in their catalog. The PR department at my publishers has said that my book tour schedule makes them exhausted to read it. They have asked me to write up tips to give to other new authors, and I’ve done this because other authors have taught me so much with their generosity, and we have to be generous as authors. My agent says I’m the hardest working book promoter she’s ever had as a client, but I know writers who work a lot harder and smarter than me.

But sometimes, you just have to let all that book-hawking go. Sometimes, you just have to eat a barbecue sandwich, go on rides with the kids, and sail down the mountain on the chairlift. My friend, Ellen, who loves hearing the stories, called my book tour “The Mountain Moonshine Von Trapp Family Appalachian Book Tour,” and it was that, and I was incredibly lucky to have so much family support. We were all in it together like some old time show on the road, and we met some wonderful people, who told us their stories of growing up in the mountains.

And the night after the fiasco at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY, something magical happened. There was redemption in Maggie Valley at a place called THE OPRY HOUSE.

Tomi sang, "Blue Ridge Mountains Turning Green," a song that her late father wrote decades ago that Ronny Milsap and other musicians have recorded.

She performed the song with banjo player, Raymond Fairchild, and his bluegrass band at the Opry House run by Raymond’s wife, Shirley. Raymond and Tomi’s father, Jim Lunsford, used to play gigs together as young men in the 1950s in the mountains. Jim, a fiddle player, often had to go out of his way to pick up Raymond and at one point some folks decided to hire a better banjo player and they told Jim not to pick up Raymond anymore. Jim only said, "I wouldn't know much about that," and he continued to pick Raymond up for gigs and Raymond kept the job.

Jim died in 1979, but Raymond told this story to the audience and to four of the 13 adult Lunsford children who’d never heard it before. Tomi sang her father’s song and Raymond and his bluegrass band joined her...and then little girls, Norah and Emily, sang their songs with Aunt Tomi, and it was a night of music and celebration and stories. Now that was the real deal.

To hear Tomi Lunsford sing Livy Two Weems’ songs from all three books in the Maggie Valley Trilogy, please go to

Kerry Madden is the author of the Maggie Valley Trilogy: GENTLE'S HOLLER, LOUISIANA'S SONG, and JESSIE'S MOUNTAIN (Viking Children's Books). Her biography of Harper Lee will be published by Viking's Up Close Series. She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Salon Magazine.

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Mary and I would like to thank Kerry for her wonderful story and for showing us how to find grace and humor in even the most disastrous of situations! Thank you, Kerry!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Guest Blogger: Kerry Madden


“Introduce yourself! I gotta eat lunch,” barked the entertainment director at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY hunkered over his burger and fries. I stood on the stage warming up with my sister-in-law, Tomi Lunsford, a Nashville singer-songwriter, who sings the songs in my Maggie Valley Trilogy (Gentle’s Holler, Louisiana’s Song, and Jessie’s Mountain). It was mid-July, and we had been on the road together for several days in Tennessee and North Carolina on a kind of “O Brother Where Art Thou” family book tour of five adults and four kids caravanning through the mountains.

When I am on a book tour, I always set up each event through independent bookstores, because they hand-sell my books and talk to local teachers to generate school visits. I also like going to the heart of Appalachia, because that’s where my books are set, and I love meeting kids and talking to them about their stories.
Besides independent bookstores like Davis-Kidd in Nashville, Spellbound Books and Malaprops in Asheville, and City Lights in Sylva, we performed at Joey’s Pancake House and at the Storytelling Festival at the Stomping Ground in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Osondu Booksellers of Waynesville supplied the books at the different Maggie Valley locations, which meant Margaret and Scott Osondu also had to make sure to get six boxes of books up the mountain to GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY.

To understand the geography of GHOST TOWN, an amusement park on top of Buck Mountain in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, you have to picture yourself riding a chairlift up a mountain, which is the only way to get to the top except for the winding back access road where you meet yourself coming.

The PR folks at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY had invited me to come to do a reading since parts of my children’s books are set there. Emmett, the big brother in my book, dreams of becoming a gunslinger at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY- instead of working the lowly merry-go-round. The gunslingers of GHOST TOWN are the real deal.

So on this Saturday afternoon, I was reading sections from JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN, the third book in the trilogy, that led straight into the songs Tomi was singing. Her nieces, Emily and Norah (my daughter) joined her for three songs: “Fairy Rocks,” “Maggie Valley Christmas,” and “Enka-Stinka Savings & Loan.”

Emily’s big brother, Ellis, milled through the sparse crowd promoting the CDs, and Uncle Silas (my brother-in-law) was filming everything as he had the whole tour. My daughter, Lucy, was taking pictures on crutches due to an impulsive summer injury involving a very high jump into water (and a pack of encouraging friends “You know you want to!!!”) My other sister-in-law, Eppie, (visiting from Turkey with her children, Ellis and Emily) was passing out bookmarks and talking up my books to strangers eating their snow cones and cotton candy. My husband, Kiffen, had helped me set everything up – a table of fairy rocks, pictures, notebooks – things for the kids to explore.

When the music director decided to eat his lunch instead of introduce us, I asked Kiffen to do the honors and jazz it up, since the crowd was already looking wary. People don’t go to amusement parks to get read to, but he’s an actor, so it was easy for him to make us sound pretty good, except for three things:

1. The stage was right next to the cafeteria and folks were coming in loud and hungry from watching the gunslingers duke it out and riding the Geronimo Drop Tower and The Undertaker.
2. The Wolf Man didn’t show. He’s the man who does the “live wolves show with his pet wolves” and draws a crowd. He didn’t come because according the entertainment director, the Wolf Man was “off in the mountains in a skirt doing something Scottish but don’t think for a minute we’re ever gonna let him forget he wore a skirt!”
3. The CARE BEARS were in town. (I think that’s why the Wolf Man didn’t show. He knew better. Don’t ever try to compete with the Care Bears.)

If you don’t believe me just click on this link, which explains the day from the POV of the Haywood County News: Care Bears, Author to appear at Ghost Town

I didn’t even know the CARE BEARS were still around, but around they were. While I was getting ready to read, two pink spongy ones came bouncing in to flirt with the two-year-olds who were giggling and hiding behind their mamas’ legs.

I went into the bathroom where a woman was holding her red-haired grandbaby, and while waiting for my daughter, I asked her the baby’s name, and she proudly said, “Caroline!” And without thinking, I blurted out, “I have a character named Caroline in my Maggie Valley Trilogy. She’s the one who loves fairies. I’ll be out there reading in just a minute.” Suffice to say I am pretty sure that I shamed the poor woman into buying the trilogy, and it was the only one I sold at GHOST TOWN IN THE SKY.

Was this the lowest I’d sunk in book-hawking? I ignored the Care Bears as I joined my sister-in-law on stage to the clink of silverware, soda machines, and “Mama, Mama, the Care Bears are here!”

Check back on Thursday to see if Kerry finds her promotional Zen in Appalachia!

Kerry Madden is the author of the Maggie Valley Trilogy: GENTLE'S HOLLER, LOUISIANA'S SONG, and JESSIE'S MOUNTAIN (Viking Children's Books). Her biography of Harper Lee will be published by Viking's Up Close Series. She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Salon Magazine.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Write Big

When we think about marketing, we tend to get so focused on the idea of marketing our book to the reading public, that we forget that there is a marketing task that comes well before that, and it is even more important in the great scheme of things: marketing oneself to the publisher.

Now, that sounds kind of scary, and if you were applying for a sales job or something in upper management, it would be scary. Luckily, as authors, our books will make up about 85% of our marketing efforts. Which is why writing the very best book you can is one of our top marketing focuses here at SVP.

This very concept was re-enforced for me at RWA, where I had the opportunity to hear Shauna Summers, a Senior Editor at Bantam, speak. She was adamant that writers should absolutely allow themselves to write outside the box—but only if that’s where the story took them. She did not recommend it just for the sake of being “out there.”

She said you gain nothing by being small. She sees lots of manuscripts that are good--not--great. She wants great.

She mentioned the very real danger of having one’s manuscript critiqued and workshopped to death, so that every last spark of freshness and originality is lost. You can’t please every reader, not even in your critique group, and if you try, you risk eradicating that very thing that makes your special and will allow it to stand out (market itself) to the editor.

So you got that, Vi’s? Go forth and create—BIG—outside the box.

And lastly, I have a huge Bonus Marketing Tip hot from the conference.

One of the Very Big Name Editors said that, in her opinion, pitching appointments were an absolute waste of time, especially when you considered how stressful they were for everyone concerned. She had never bought anything from a pitch appointment and tried to steer clear of them as she could tell more from a good query than a pitch. What a relief! So while, yes, it's a great excerise to be able to distill your book into a pithy short blurb, you don't actually have to verbally pitch it in order to succeed in publishing.

::introverts everywhere heave a great big sigh of relief::

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guest Blogger, Donna Gephart: 12 3/4 Ways to Promote Your Novel

Thanks Mary and Robin for inviting me to be a guest blogger. 

Here’s an (almost) baker’s dozen of practically painless ways to promote your novel . . . 

1.  Create a signature line that will appear at the bottom of your e-mails with your book’s title, publisher and publication date.

2.   Have business cards made with your book’s title, brief description and contact information.  (I used Vista Print.)

3.  Give your business cards to everyone you can think of.  When I gave cards to the receptionists at my doctor’s office, I ended up signing three copies of my novel for their children and grandchildren at my next visit.

4.  Introduce yourself to local booksellers.  This can often lead to school visits, signings and them hand-selling your book.  Give them your business card so they can contact you.

5.  Write articles about writing or about something related to your novel.  For example, my article about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman who ran for president fifty years before women were even allowed to vote, will appear in New Moon Magazine this coming January.

6.  Contact specialty groups that have a connection to your novel.  For example, the main character in my novel is a Scrabble buff.  I also list Scrabble resources at the back of the book.  So I contacted educators who run Scrabble clubs at schools to let them know about my book, and received some very enthusiastic responses. 

7.  Contact your alumni magazine or have your publicity person contact them.  They will usually be happy to print something about you and your book in their magazine. 

8.  Get to know your local librarians. 

9.  Ditto with school media specialists, educators and administrators.  These are the people who will get your book into the hands of young readers. 

10.  Give.  Think about what you can offer schools, bookstores, editors, etc.  Can you write a how-to article?   Can you offer a presentation that will excite and inspire young people?  Can you do a short program that will bring business into a bookstore?  What can you give?

11.  See if you can put your book and a few business cards in places you frequent – the pediatrician’s office, the orthodontist’s office, the music studio where your child takes lessons, etc.

12.  Find out if your hometown newspaper would be interested in interviewing you.  Print media has far-reaching impact.  After the Palm Beach Post did a feature about me and my novel, I was invited to do a local TV interview, was told that my local bookstore sold tons of my book and the waiting list for my book at the local library grew to 30 patrons.

12 ¾.  Write the next book.

Remember, you’re not selling one book, you’re building a career.  And the best way to do that is to find a balance between promotion and writing (and life).

Donna Gephart’s novel, As If Being 12 ¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! is available from Delacorte Press.  She’s also written an article for the 2009 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market titled:  “Six Reasons to Quit Writing (& One Reason You Shouldn’t).”  Learn more at Donna's website.

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A special note from Mary & Robin:  Thank you so much to those of you that entered a slogan for our most recent contest!  Congratulations to our first prize winner, Liquidambar  for her very funny entry, Introverts Unite!  LA will receive Priscilla Ahn's new CD!  Second place to Kimberly Lynn for The Package isn't Dancing, but the Contents Are!  Is that the best dance floor tee, or what?  Third place goes to Celise for Introversion is Not a Social Disease, which she discovered in our sidebar. Well done, Celise!  We should soon have some very fun SVP Cafe Press merchandise up for all of you out there soon.  Will the three of you please contact me here for your prizes?

Big thanks to Donna Gephart for her guest spot with us today!  Great tips! Number seven never occurred to me, geez-- and number ten just can't be said often enough.  Give.

And here's to all of you and the last, lingering days of your summer!

Mary Hershey

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

There's More to Introversion than Meets the Eye

I think if Robin and I stood on a corner and took a random poll asking people to describe the difference between introverts and extraverts, most interviewed would say something like "... introverts are shy and extraverts, well, not-so-much ..." Or, some variation of that.

What is so interesting about the work that came from Myers and Briggs who studied Carol Jung's work on I/E type, is that there are at least five different different dimensions or subsets of type. We can't be that easily packaged into talking/non-talking terms. Complex creatures we are!

From E (left) to I (right), the dimensions are:

Initiating-------------------------------- Receiving
Expressive------------------------------ Contained
Gregarious ----------------------------- Intimate
Active------------------------------------ Reflective
Enthusiastic---------------------------- Quiet

You might be an introvert that is enthusiastic and expressive, and yet, you'll head straight for your interior space for reflection and recharging. Conversely, an extravert may be quiet and contained, and crave the stimulation of outside activities and connections to keep themselves well and balanced. This complexity and variety can lead many astray. 

I do wish we came out of the chute with an owner's manual clutched in our tiny infant fist. Introverts, especially, need to know how to perform self-care in a world that has a default setting for extraverts. (imho)

When it comes to promotions, marketing, networking activities, yeah-- knowing what your strengths are is essential. But it is equally important to know what for you feels like a one-way ticket to the Land of Dread. Do you know yet what you can comfortably do? And what you might be willing to challenge yourself to try? And what you just don't EVER want to do-- even if simply everyone in your writer's group is doing it?

I'm thinking back to a post that Robin did months ago that was really helpful. It was called the Comfort Level Inventory.  If you missed that one, I'd really encourage you to go back to it. Seriously great tool to have and use.

In the meantime, do celebrate the amazing creature that you are. A self-charging being! Man, we were green before green was even cool. 

Mary Hershey

Original Post July 22, 2007

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On Monday, we'll be announcing the the winner of the Shrinking Violet Slogan Contest! Our lucky winner will receive a copy of Priscilla Ahn's amazing new CD.  And, we'll be printing one (or more) of the slogans on tees and gear coming soon with Cafe Press.   Available for purchase right here.  And once we are properly attired in our tribe gear, we WILL be taking over the world.  (Just so you'll know what's coming next. {:o] )

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guest Blogger: Becky Levine

"Yes" is Not a Four-Letter Word

Even though, to many of us-especially us introverts--it sometimes feels that way.

When Mary and Robin posted that they were looking for guest bloggers, I wanted to jump right in with a post, but it took me a few days to come up with a topic. Then one of my LiveJournal friends, Cathy Ipcizade asked for people to comment about their favorite word. I answered that, these days, my favorite word was “Yes.”

And then I thought about how, twenty, even ten, years ago, that would so NOT have been true. Thanks to Mary and Robin, I now understand that a)I am an introvert because I need solitude and quiet to recharge and b)the shyness I struggled with for decades is a very different part of my personality.

When I was in graduate school, at the University of Virginia, I applied for and got a job as a tour guide at James Monroe's house. When I called my mother to tell her the news, there was silence on the end of the phone, then she pretty much said, “Who is this?” Luckily, she was still young and in excellent health, so she withstood the shock of hearing that her shy daughter was planning to stand up in front of a group of people and talk. This was probably the first major shyness breakthrough of my life, and it was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had.

I got it, because I said, “Yes.”

And the introvert part of me still curled up in a quiet corner of the staff lounge, between tours, with a cup of tea and a book.

It was many years before I started saying “Yes” on a regular, determined basis. And guess what got me to do it? My writing. As I focused more and more on the fact that writing was what I wanted to do, I started taking bigger risks to make it a priority in my life. I tried out critique groups, coming and going until I found the right ones. I went to writing conferences and sat down at lunch tables with nine people I'd never met before. Eventually, I developed a couple of talks I could give at workshops and conferences (Thanks, Mr. Monroe), because I actually wanted to meet more writers and editors and agents. Last year, I breathed really deeply through my first agent pitch.

How does the introvert in me handle all this? By making sure I do the recharge bit. If I have a critique group meeting in the middle of a crazy week, I go early to the bookstore where we meet and browse the shelves or sit at the table alone-reading a book or bringing my to-do list up to date. At a conference, if I'm just attending, I don't make myself to go every event; hotel lobbies have very comfortable chairs and, believe me, nobody stops to chat with you. If I'm giving a workshop, I make sure that I have nothing scheduled for thirty minutes before. What do I do with those thirty minutes? I sure as heck don't go over my notes again. I sit somewhere quietly, eyes closed, and just breathe. And when I get home from wherever I've been, I look for any signs of overload. If I need it, I give myself a full, relaxed, do-nothing day for that recharge. I give myself a reward.

What about the shyness? Well, I'll tell you--the introvert in me, I'll keep. The shy person, not so much. For me, shyness is fear-fear of not being liked, fear of being stared at, fear of looking like a fool.

Fear of the unknown.

And here's the magic of “Yes.” The more you say it, the fewer unknowns you have left to face. Every time you do something, you learn that you can do it again. Each time you talk to someone you don't know, you reduce the number of strangers out there by one. The writing world is big, but when you sit in on a workshop, comment on a blog, or share a page that you've written, you're making that world smaller.

Look at your writing. Is there something ahead of you that you've been wondering about? Trying to decide whether its worth the risk? Find a quiet spot where you won't be interrupted or distracted (Introverts also need solitude to think!) and let yourself sit with the question. Test the “No” and “Yes” waters-listen to your brain and listen to your gut. If the only “No” is fear, and the “Yes” part is begging to be heard, then let it out. Say the word.

Then schedule your post-yes reward on your calendar. In ink.

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Becky Levine is a writer, editor, and speaker, living in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. She is the co-author, with Lee Lofland, of The Everything Kids’ I Want to Be a Police Officer Book, forthcoming from Adams Media. Becky’s current projects are a middle-grade mystery, set in Santa Cruz, California, and a YA historical about a young girl living in turn-of-the-(twentieth)-century Chicago. You can find out more about Becky at her website, and her blog,

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We want to thank Becky for being our first guest blogger. If any of you are sitting on the fence, hovering on the edge of YES, let's hope Becky's essay has you contacting us for a guest blogging date of your own!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Marketing as a Part of the Creative Process

Hello Violets!

I know we were scheduled for a rerun today, but since I’m back from the conference I wanted to report in.

The conference was Inspiration Central. Lots of great sessions on marketing, which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks. I also got a lot of great ideas for promoting my upcoming release of Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris, which comes out in November.

One thing I wanted to share with you today was something I heard during a session with Eric Maisel, a creativity coach. He talked about not engaging in either/or thinking. He encouraged us to keep from thinking we were good writers but not good marketers, that there was nothing to be gained from that kind of thinking.

Instead, he encouraged us to rewrite that scenario so that our creative process included marketing. That we bring the full force and passion of our creativity to marketing and promoting our books, rather than telling ourselves we didn’t have the correct skill set. I thought that was a wonderful way to rephrase that.

Then after I got home, I stumbled on How to Avoid Marketing to Yourself by Robert Gorell, which had some major resonance for me...

Social media marketing should be a largely introverted activity, one where the marketer spend more time listening, researching, and refining their message than they do actually pushing one. It should be about creating environments, and playing in existing ones, where you learn juicy details about what’s actually important to your customer segments. Yet for most, it seems “social media marketing” has come to mean the tactics by which one goes about hunting down customers and annoying them under the guise of “friend”-ship.

Is he singing our song or what?? Marketing that is an introverted activity? One that requires active listening (an introvert’s special skill)? I am SO there!

So, let’s all put our heads down this week and do some brainstorming using our mad creative skills and come up with some outside the box, creative promotional ideas! I have one percolating for Mary and I. I’ll be back and share it next week.

Until then!


Monday, August 4, 2008

On Wallflowers & A Very Cool Introvert

Welcome to your Monday, Violets & Vinnies, 

I'm beyond happy to report a milestone of my own today! At nearly the stroke of midnight last night, I transmitted my new novel to my editor, Wendy Lamb, at Random House.  Yessss! Though it's only the first draft, and chances are I'll have a number of rewrites to do, for a few blessed weeks (one can hope!) that bad girl is off my desk.  The saints be praised!  Any other milestones out there to report?  We want to hear!

I was struck by all your comments after last week's post on the Shy vs. Introverted Question.  I wanted to share a YouTube link to one of my new favorite singer/songwriter/musicians, Priscilla Ahn. She is a glorious new talent! Her music is described as folk-pop, and her first CD entitled A Good Day just came out in June.  It's a must-have.  

I had the good fortune to see her early in the summer. She was touring with Brandi Carlisle and will be touring soon with Willy Nelson.  The second Priscilla stepped on stage, my SVR (Shrinking Violet Radar) went off-- vibrating mode, of course.  One of my faves was her song Wallflower. It does such a spot-on job of conveying that nawful "Oh-god-what-am-I-DOING-here-at-this-party?" feeling that so many of us know and have talked about. 

I love how it is resolved for her in the course of the song.  If you have a sec, you can watch it here.  The second half of the video is a brief interview, which you should skip if you tend to prefer the "G-rated" version of life. Priscilla has a bit of a potty mouth, which I personally adore about her.  If you like her, check out her "official" video singing Dream.  You get a better sense of the full range of her talents. Let's support this SV sister of ours, shall we?  I predict great things for her.  I suppose I should mention that I thought Don Johnson had a promising singing career ahead of him after Miami Vice, so there's that. But, truly, this Violet is not to be missed. 

For some time now, I've been wanting to link up our site with Cafe Press and offer some fun SVP shopping options.  I haven't had a single sparking neuron to spare, however, to come up  with a logo or text for t-shirts and the like.  On account of the whole introvert thing I've got going on, I tend to forget about teamwork.  Which I've been reminded about since my first kindergarten report card (Needs to play more with others) through my current performance evals at work (Needs to play more with others).  

So, how about a group think on this?  What might be fun on a t-shirt/notepad/green grocery bag?  Since we've been talking about wallflowers . . . does that inspire anyone?  Best idea of the week wins Priscilla Ahn's new CD.  

Off to exhiliarate in my new, if time-limited, FREEDOM!

Mary Hershey

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Shy vs. Introverted Question

Robin and I have been chatting off-line a bit with one of one of our very cool readers who has posted the intriguing question: Are introverts always shy? And conversely-- are shy people always introverts?

And the answer is a resounding ... not necessarily!  But possibly

I know, that's about as helpful as hairspray in a hurricane. Introversion is defined by the way in which a person gathers energy for themselves-- either in solitude or in the company of others. To put it in more practical terms, after a demanding day, what is your favorite way to unwind? By yourself, or with friends? Would we be more likely to find you headed out for a walk by yourself, or to a packed kick boxing class at your gym?
Introverts crave and need time alone to reconnect to their power source.  An extrovert needs the energy of others to recharge.

The term shy is used in a number of different ways, but it is really a behavior you can observe. You can see 'shy'. We all know what it looks like, right? But when people use it as an adjective, or a trait to describe someone, it is most often because they have observed that person behaving that way, perhaps over a period of time. We are what we repeatedly do, or so it is said.

I've been called shy all my life, and I suppose that was true when I was younger.  I think that it's introversion now that really fuels my social shrinking behavior. It's not that I feel apprehensive or nervous about engaging with someone or a group (not too often anyway), it's just that I know that it will drain my energy. So, I've become much more selective about my activities.

We'd love to hear from some of you on this!  Any un-shy introverts out there?  Shy introverts? Or shy extroverts?

And, if we haven't already said this, Robin and I welcome private posts for any of you that don't feel comfortable addressing the whole group. Feel free to email me at or Robin at

Have a stellar weekend, friends!  And to those of you at SCBWI Nationals, you lucky things, have a blast.  And, don't forget to P-A-C-E yourselves.  Be kind to your introvert, okay?

Lastly, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the closing of our Adventures for Kids Children's Bookstore this past weekend in Ventura, California.  Thank you, Jody and Barbara, and all the marvelous team there for your decades of extraordinary work and support of children's literature.  You will be missed.  May your good works return to you each a hundred-fold.

Salud, dear friends!

Mary Hershey

(Original Shy vs. Introverted Post March 2007)