Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Interview with Nancy Ancowitz: Part II

Self-Promotion for Introverts ®

By Laura Salas, Shrinking Violets Field Reporter

LAURA: I'm a real over-preparer when it comes to public speaking. How do you know when to stop?

NANCY: Preparation is generally a good thing, especially for introverts. It's just in the boo-hiss camp when we go over the line by wearing ourselves down with self-doubt and by focusing on minutia that don't matter to our audiences.

Recognize the downsides of over-preparing. Does it increase your anxiety around presenting? Does it mean you won’t get enough sleep? Are you neglecting another important project or a relationship because you’re so immersed in the preparation process?

Also, I've noticed that most of my public speaking clients spend most of their preparation time on content rather than delivery. However, they're already content experts. So what they really need to do more is practice how they'll speak in a strong, modulated voice, gesture effectively, and use the space.

LAURA: This part blew me away. And it’s true. I focus on that content, over and over again. When the truth is, it’s my gestures and my voice and my facial expressions that need more work. This was a revelation for me!

NANCY : Reflect on these questions:

a. How much time did you spend preparing for your last presentation and what was the outcome?

b. Had you spent less time preparing, how would that have affected your presentation?

c. What are the top five activities you typically engage in to prepare for a talk (e.g., researching, writing down your main points, fleshing out your speaker’s notes, creating visuals, rehearsing)?

d. How much time do you spend on each activity?

e. What are the time drains that produce minimal gain?

f. How could you prioritize and/or delegate your activities differently to use your energy more efficiently next time?

g. What matters most to your audience members? Prioritize what you think is most and least important to them. If you’re not sure, ask for feedback from your audience when it's appropriate.

h. How can you get support to help you rein in your tendency to over-prepare? Do you have a friend, mentor, or coach to help hold you accountable to preparing smarter, not harder?

So, I’ll tip your seat if you tip mine and we’ll both get out from under the stagnant canopy of rethinking, re-editing, and reconsidering that hovers over us when we get into over-preparation mode. Let's arrive more present for our audiences, refreshed, and light on our feet for our next presentation -- by knowing when enough preparation is enough.

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LAURA: Do you have any presentation tips specifically for school visits? I like your Framework points on pages 152-153. For school visits, though, an additional goal, on top of informing and inspiring and increasing visibility, is to entertain! If children's authors don't entertain on our school visits, we usually don't book more visits. But "performing" is so daunting to me. So, any thoughts on how an introvert can psych herself up to be entertaining?

NANCY: Adult and children audiences alike enjoy being entertained. If you focus on how you hate the spotlight and how you're not "ha-ha" funny, you might as well stay home. If instead you embrace your audience and look to brighten their day by sharing your creations with them, you'll take the focus off yourself.

Borrowing a quote from my book, from Lewis Bernstein, Ph.D., executive vice president of education and research at the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street: "We are each an entire universe with unique value and something special to offer. So like my good friend Grover on Sesame Street who is naturally shy, we must all find ways to let our passion and potential bubble out of us so we can share them. Sometimes that takes practice, discipline, and trial and error. It is almost always worth it."

LAURA: I love this. I always thought it was better to be yourself than to put on a completely false act. At the same time, I’m realizing I can make my school visit mood more fun in 2 simple ways: 1) introduce even more interactive poetry reading techniques with the kids and 2) smile more. I’m generally a smiley person, but pictures of me doing school visits indicate that I don’t smile much during them! I’m going to work on that during my practice sessions.

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LAURA: Sometimes I naturally use my hands in my presentations, and that's great. But other times, when I'm very nervous, I just don't know what to do with my hands! Everything feels false. Is there one standard pose that I can remember as my "default pose?" So that when the hand gestures aren't coming naturally, I can fall back on that?

NANCY: The funny thing about hands is that most people don’t what to do with them in front of an audience without a little training. It feels weird to do what looks natural when you’re onstage. That's why it helps to practice in a mirror, or better yet, on videotape. There's nothing like seeing what works best on you. Try a bunch of different things and pick a few gestures that look good. Once you've practiced gesturing, your hands will know what to do no matter how nervous you feel.

As a guideline, my favorite neutral position for a presenter’s hands is relaxed at her side. And when she’s telling a story or making a point, I like to see her hands and arms open and out, gesturing naturally. If you’re someone who gestures a lot in conversation, then use your hands plenty. If you don’t gesture much, then no need to do so in front of an audience.

LAURA: Oh, good! I always felt a little wrong or uncaring, somehow, when I would just stand with my hands at my sides. I don’t think I’ll feel so awkward now that I have official permission. Thanks!

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LAURA: When kids get roped into listening to me read my book, but they're clearly not the right audience age for the book, what should I do? My book Stampede is poems about kids at school and how they behave like animals. But at readings, I often find myself reading to toddlers or preschoolers who are too young for the poems (and the humor is over their heads).

NANCY: Since I’m a business book author, I can’t say that I’ve shared your experience on this—or on school visits that you mentioned earlier. However, here are my initial thoughts.

When your audience isn’t properly matched to the material you’d normally read, I wonder if it would be best to have a couple of fun animal exercises up your sleeve so that the toddlers and preschoolers can experience the book without reading it. This way their parents can buy your book for their older siblings.

LAURA: That’s a great idea. I usually add kid-generated sound effects after each poem, but maybe if it’s JUST preschoolers, I can have a set little activity in mind where we go through the book, identify the animals if possible and try out the animal noises. And that gives me an idea for if I’m stuck with upper elementary kids who think they’re too old for the book, too. I’m going to turn it into some kind of riddle game. Thanks! This will put me at ease some.

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LAURA: I have the world's worst memory! I know a lot of people from online or from occasional in-person meets, but I don't remember them. So I'll be at a writer's conference and people will come up to me and chat and I have no idea who they are. It's not a matter of just not knowing their name. I don't know who they are! Sometimes it's even people who have taken online classes from me and they're wearing nametags. I just don't have any idea where I know them from. I feel like they'll be insulted that I don't recognize their name or face if I've met them before. It's people that I've had more than just one casual email with or something. Any advice?

And just so you don't think I'm exaggerating, I recently asked a family member by marriage how his mom was doing. His mom died years ago, and I knew that. But when I'm chatting with people, my mind just goes blank!

NANCY: I can relate! How would you feel if we turned the tables and you greeted someone who had no clue who you were? Would you be offended if the person was polite but didn't register a glint of recognition? How about if he said something like this: “You look familiar, but amid all this hustle and bustle, I’m having trouble placing you at the moment.”

I would be understanding. How about you? When you can’t remember someone, how you react nonverbally is at least as important as what you say. Do you look guilty? Ashamed? Or more relaxed and curious?

When the acquaintance amnesia happens at book signings, you can just say, “Who would you like me to sign this book for?” If you’re unfortunate enough to get a “just write my name” type response, I suppose you can still ask how you spell it and hope it’s not something like Mary!

LAURA: I would be understanding if the tables were turned, but my bad memory really makes it hard to network comfortably. I’ve had writer friends (on a fairly regular basis) express surprise that I didn’t recognize somebody we’d all met several times before or heard speak earlier at a conference or something like that. I just feel so rude. But I’m sure you’re right about the nonverbal reaction. I get so stressed about it that that must transmit itself to the other person, too. I guess I need to accept that this is not my strong suit and try not to let it freak me out so much.

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If you’re lucky enough to live in or near NYC, you can check out Nancy’s upcoming events and classeson her website. She does do most of her presentation coaching in person, but says, “…I have done a little coaching via Skype and we can use other interactive real-time software as well. If myself and a client are meant to work together, we don't allow distance and technology to be barriers.” She’s coached authors and artists as well as many clients in the corporate world.
I’d love to hear Nancy speak in person someday—though I likely wouldn’t recognize her:>) Still, maybe I’d have my elevator speech ready by then and could try it out on her. Meanwhile, I’m grateful for all the information and encouragement in self-promotion for introverts.

Now, I’m off to read through my highlighted passages again. I have all sorts of notes written down, and I have a feeling I’ll find a few things to add to my 2010 Writing Goals List. And all year, I plan to tune in to U-ROCK Radio and tell myself, “I am writing what I am meant to write,” and “I take risks to stretch my creativity and improve my writing.” Maybe by the end of the year, I’ll completely believe both of those!

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ABOUT NANCY: Nancy Ancowitz is a business communication coach, an adjunct instructor at NYU, and the author of Self-Promotion for Introverts (McGraw-Hill), which was selected for "Best Books for 2009" by Publisher's Weekly. You can visit her Self-Promotion for Introverts blog at; Nancy also blogs for Psychology Today.

ABOUT LAURA: Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 80 books for kids and teens, including STAMPEDE! POEMS ABOUT THE WILD SIDE OF SCHOOL and SHRINKING DAYS, FROSTY NIGHTS: POEMS ABOUT FALL. She loves to introduce kids to poetry and help them find poems they can relate to, no matter what their age, mood, and personality. She has also written many nonfiction books. Besides reading and writing, Laura loves racquetball, karaoke (at home), word games, and Rock Band.

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Next Monday, we will be announcing the two winners of our Self Promotion for Introverts contest. Leave a comment at either Part I or Part II of Laura's interview with Nancy Ancowitz to be entered, or email Mary off-line. Nancy has generously donated a signed copy of her book, and a 45-minute tele-coaching session. (Serious loot here.) Best of luck to you!

And, please join me in thanking both Nancy and Laura for such an excellent interview-- you two could take this show on the road! Wishing you both much continued success in all you do.

And, welcome to February, everyone!
Mary Hershey

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Interview with Nancy Ancowitz: Part I of II

Two months ago, I profiled Nancy Ancowitz's book in a post entitled
"Helping Those Who Talk Less Get Heard More." We thought she sounded like someone we must interview here, and we asked for a brave volunteer. Not that we are trying to shirk our duties as your hosts, but being an interview-er is great prep for becoming an interview-ee. Laura Salas ponied right up, and contacted Nancy, who was happy to come talk to us. So, without further ado, Laura, take it away!

Self-Promotion for Introverts ®

By Laura Salas, SVP Field Reporter

Nancy Ancowitz is a business communications coach in New York City. She’s an author. A playwright. A marathoner. And, most importantly, from my point of view, an introvert.

Nancy has created the Self-Promotion for Introverts™ program, which she teaches in and around NYC. For those of us not located in the Big Apple, though, she has gathered her tips and secrets and strategies and put them into book form in self-promotion for introverts [the quiet guide to getting ahead] (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

I read this book with a highlighter and pen in hand, because I constantly had to mark the passages that spoke to me or complete the exercises I was given. Normally, I ignore exercises in books, but I had a feeling these would be actually useful to me, and they were.

Now, I’m not gonna lie. There’s no magic phrase that will suddenly make promotion easy and painless for you. I knew that going in (though don’t we always secretly wish for it anyway?). And Nancy doesn’t pretend there is. But what she does believe is that there are ways we can learn to promote ourselves that aren’t as excruciating as we initially believe them to be. And throughout the book, she offers choices and suggestions. And she challenges us to take action, even if it’s itty bitty action, to start being seen and heard.

Just a few of my favorite lessons from the book:

There are specific things I can do to make networking easier. At writer conferences and events, or even just at social gatherings, I tend to scoot off to a corner and spend the evening by myself or glom onto one poor person who I then won’t release for the rest of the night. Nancy advises:
• Choose events where you’re likely to feel welcome.
• Before going to a networking event, take stock of why someone would want to talk to you.
• Do something that makes you feel grounded just before the event (e.g., write, draw, listen to a favorite song, or call a mentor)
• Scope out the most comfortable places—possibly the quietest areas—for you in the space (just not the wall!).
And the second half of that list is just as practical.

Be kind to yourself. I was doing a lot of negative self-talk without even being aware of it. The exercises forced me to articulate the most popular songs on my U-SUCK radio station and replace them with some easy on the self-esteen affirmations.

Don’t overdo it. Too many choices can be overwhelming. Get your goals down to a smaller number. This reminded me of my marketing plan for my first trade book. I did an OK job of narrowing my wish list down. But next book, I’ll use what I’ve learned and I’ll be even more focused and realistic in my marketing plan.

When thinking of your target audience, remember to focus on What’s In It For Me?—WIIFM. That’s what everyone wants to know. I incorporated this into some flyers for a book event in December. On my flyer, I spelled out what my poetry book had to offer kids, teachers, librarians, parents/grandparents, etc. A writer friend compared this to a shopping network where I guess they say things like, “This would be the perfect thank you gift for your hair stylist,” and “Wouldn’t this make a great hostess gift!” If you can tell potential buyers how your book will help them, you might sell more books.

Expand your networking circle. I’ve already come around in my thinking on networking. I used to think it was sleazy. But over the past five years, I’ve realized it’s all about connecting with like-minded people and helping each other. I still don’t consider myself good at it, though. So Nancy’s chapter on networking, with its practical tips, was really appreciated. For instance: “My general rule when it comes to networking is this: Three tries and I’m out. If you’re a prospective client and you show interest in hearing from me, it’s our mutual loss if you don’t respond to my phone messages and e-mails. You don’t get the benefit of what I have to offer, and I don’t get the benefit of working with you. Will I let it ruin my weekend when you don’t call me back? I doubt it.”

Create an elevator pitch. I enjoyed this section a lot. I always hear about elevator pitches for specific books. BUT, this book encouraged me to work on one about me. Me as a writer. For the many, many times I get asked, So what do you do? Or, What kinds of children’s books do you write? I don’t have a finished elevator pitch yet, but I’m working on it. (Hey, this marketing stuff is hard!)

Become an effective speaker. I grabbed onto the public speaking chapter like a drowning woman grabbing a life preserver. I get good feedback on my school visits and other events, but I still get very anxious about them. Having a game plan in writing and having specific strategies to work on is going to help me, I think, stay calm before my round of spring visits. And I do plan to practice in front of a mirror before then. Maybe I’ll work my way up to videotaping myself to analyze how I’m doing. Like I said, she doesn’t let us off easy in this book. We’re challenged to go out of our comfort zone, but there’s always support and encouragement behind the challenge.

There are tons of useful pieces to this book—some inspiring and some strictly useful. In fact, the book was so thorough that I had a bit of trouble coming up with questions that weren’t already answered in the book!

But in looking at my own shortcomings in the promotion arena, I managed to find a few questions to toss Nancy’s way, questions I thought might apply to some other SVP readers, too. Here are those questions plus her replies:

Laura: Like you, I'm a real over-preparer when it comes to public speaking. So how do you know when to stop?

Nancy: Stay tuned...

Oh, NO! A cliffhanger!

About our SVP Field Reporter

Laurie Purdie Salas is a Florida native, a Minnesoto transplant, and a lifelong introvert. She is the author of more than 70 kids' books, including Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School (Clarion, 2009) You can learn more about Laura at and


Results from last week's raffle: Robin, Jennifer Hubbard and I are grateful to have the opportunity to send a donation to the Haitian earthquake victims. *Rebecca Ramsey* is our winner of a $50.00 donation to the relief agency of her choice. Rebecca, will you email me and let us know your preference? Jennifer, thank you again for launching this here.

This week's raffle! Nancy Ancowitz has graciously offered a complimentary 45-min coaching session with her, and a copy of her book to be raffled off. Whoa! Leave a comment and/or be one of our SVP followers and you will be entered to win. Best of luck to you each!


Have an exceptional week, friends--

Sunday, January 17, 2010

There is More Than One Reason to Celebrate Jennifer Hubbard

Please join Robin and me as we celebrate and congratulate our long-time Violet, Jennifer Hubbard, as she launches her debut novel this month!

Viking Juvenile
Young Adult
Published Jan 7, 2010
192 pages

Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

“With this debut novel, Hubbard has crafted a fine addition to the pantheon of YA literature.”—Francisca Goldsmith, Booklist

“It's a moving portrait of grief and the sharp societal lines that divide.”—Publishers Weekly

Pictured--a premonition: Future fans of Jennifer Hubbard line the sidewalks in front of her local indie waiting for her next novel.

"When my book came out at the beginning of January, I had a week-long party on my blog where I collected comments, and donated money to my local library based on the number of comments I received. I gave away books. My cat made an appearance as a guest blogger. My three goals for the week were: celebration; giving back; fun and entertainment. I’m also having a live party at my local independent children’s bookstore."

Having visited Jennifer's blog, I can attest to the fact that she has written the book (or at least should!) on how to host a fabulous on-line launch. Take a click and check it out! She graciously thanked everyone that had been part of her journey, and then began fund-raising for her local library. She donated 50 cents per comment up to $50 max. Such a stellar idea! She also invited librarians to email her for an exclusive raffle, and gave away three copies of her book to them. She made a point to congratulate many other YA books that have launched in January, posting titles, authors and synopses of each.

This is karmic networking at its best. It also serves the purpose of gently softening the spotlight, which for folks like us, can feel a bit too warm and bright.

But, wait! There's more. When I asked Jennifer if she'd like to donate a book to one of our readers, she declined. Yup! Turned me right down. She asked if instead of giving her book, she could give one of our readers a donation of $25.00 to be sent to the Haiti relief fund of their choice. Yeah, absolutely. So, Violets and Vinnies, those of you that leave a comment today will be entered to win a directed donation to the earthquake victims. Thank you so much, Jennifer. You are an author and a gentlemanwoman. We will match your pledge to our winning reader.

"Yes, I am an introvert. But I’m not a hermit—I enjoy interacting with people, especially through the written word, whether online or on the printed page. (I blog, and I’m also on Twitter as @JennRHubbard.) Being an introvert just means that time alone recharges my battery. I’ve enjoyed the supportive atmosphere here at SVP since the blog began, and my suggestion for a paradoxical yet apt slogan is: Introverts, Unite!"

Jennifer R. Hubbard lives and writes near Philadelphia. She is a night person who believes that mornings were meant to be slept through, a chocolate lover, and a hiker. The Secret Year is her first published novel. She blogs right here. As does her cat, Scout, on occasion.

Violets, let the cyber-confetti `:~*!`:~*!`:~!`:~*!`: fly for Jennifer's first novel and for her generous, soulful contribution and presence!

Pictured: Jennifer and cat, Scout. Please note that relative size of Jennifer and Scout's heads are not to scale. I'm nearly certain of that.



GREAT NEWS! Author and psychologist Laurie Helgoe, interviewed here a short while back, will be joining us for a few guest essays in the coming months. Laurie wrote the massively popular non-fiction book Introvert Power, which many of us have read. If you have a particular question or topic that you'd like her to talk about, please let us know!

Lastly for now, I'll leave you with a sneak preview of our upcoming interview that SVP Field Reporter Laura Salas conducted with author and coach Nancy Ancowitz. Nancy is the author of Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead. We will run a two part interview with her, starting next Monday. I can't wait!

Excerpt: I've noticed that most of my public speaking clients spend most of their preparation time on content rather than delivery. However, they're already content experts. So what they really need to do more is practice how they'll speak in a strong, modulated voice, gesture effectively, and use the space. -- Nancy Ancowitz

Have a seriously sensational week, friends!



Friday, January 15, 2010

Launching Becky Levine's New Book!

Pictured: Becky's Launch Day interpretive dance

Congratulations and many celebratory hugs to the lovely Becky Levine on her launch day!

The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide

How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit,

and Make Revisions

Writer's Digest Books

January 15, 2010

304 pages

Becky Levine is a writer and speaker, living in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. In addition to this new non-fiction title for adults, Becky also writes for children and young adults. She has completed a middle-grade mystery and is currently working her first picture book and a historical YA set in 1913 Chicago.

She is also a book reviewer, and an avid blogger and Tweeter. She is a generous and active contributor to social media conversations. I suspect she has an army of clones out there visiting sites. She never fails to make a positive comment, offer encouragement, or share a welcome bit of Becky Wisdom.

Despite all appearances (especially on social-networking sites and blogs), Becky swears she is a true introvert, needing quiet, solitary down-time (AKA curling-up-with-a-British-mystery) to recharge. In fact, as she plans the year’s signings and workshops, she is considering an extra suitcase just to carry along her collection of Agatha Christie novels. You can learn more about Becky at her website and blog,

My plan for launch day is still to make a plan! No, I know I'm going out to dinner with my husband and son, at a restaurant where my son can get a burger, my husband can get his own form of beef, and I can get anything I want. :) I'm trying to work up the nerve to actually saunter through a few bookstores, too, and see if they have my book on their actual shelves. And, if any of them do, I'm promising myself that, at least once, I'm going to go up to a counter and offer to sign copies. How's that for a celebration?

Becky is generously offering an autoraphed copy of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide to one of our readers. She is happy to send a print copy, or a PDF for your Kindle. All you need to do to enter to win is to post a comment, or reply to me privately with the correct answer to this question:

Becky's pet cockatiel, Bard, can whistle the tune to which of the following:

1) Inagaddavida

2) Single Ladies

3) Theme from Woody Woodpecker

4) Flight of the Bumble Bee

5) I've Got You, Babe

Please join us in giving Becky Levine a rousing and robust launch of her brand new book into the world. ::::Today at high noon, honk your horn in her honor if you're driving :::: If you're home, call your local indie and ask if they carry Becky's book :::: Order her book on-line for a writing buddy with a birthday coming up, or donate it to your local library :::: Visualize her selling squillions upon squillions of copies ::::

Becky, much, much success to you!

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Announcements! Announcements! The winner of the Lisa Yee Special Prize Pack-- 2 of Lisa's novels, a package of marshmallow Peeps, and special hair goop just like Lisa uses is... Rebecca Knight! Congratulations. Rebecca, will you email me off line so that I can get your mailing address?

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

An SVP Exclusive: The Outing of Lisa Yee

Ever heard the term gaydar? In case you haven’t, it's short for gay-radar, and it is a special knowing that GLBTQ folks have that allows them to sense or recognize a kindred spirit nearby. I can’t even begin to tell you how handy this is in the world. You’ll be happy to hear that introverts have their own special knowingness, that one can learn to use out in the world. Viodar? Shrinkdar? Maybe Introdar? Whatever it is, Robin and I were both getting a missle-sized hit of it at the SCBWI National Conference in 2008 when we happened to notice the state of famed children’s author, Lisa Yee, in between sessions.

You know the proverbial look of a deer caught in headlights? It was like that, only the headlights were from an oncoming Ford F-650 filled with eleven drunken deer hunters. Both Robin's and my ears pricked up at her high-pitched distress signal. Danger! Danger! Must. Find. Solitude. Sooooooon. We both wanted to take her into protective custody. Fortunately, Mr. Husband Man was nearby and took the matter into his hands. (Note to self re future biz idea--Special Forces Unit for Introvert Rescue.)

But Lisa Yee-- an INTROVERT? Her travel schedule is enough to make you want to dose yourself good with Dramamine—between author visits, conference and convention gigs, she is burning some serious rubber. She maintains active and outrageously popular Live Journal, My Space and Facebook accounts. About twenty minutes ago she posted the following status update at Facebook: At a conference in Santa Barbara. Forgot my hair goop. Will toothpaste work? There are 20 responses already, friends and fans eager to help.

Lisa hit the parchment running in 2004 with a Publisher's Weekly Flying Start and the coveted Sid Fleischman Humor Award for Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which I think one of the funniest opening lines ever written. I often read them when I'm teaching writing because it is such a classic example of the ever-elusive "voice" that so many struggle with.

I have been accused of being anal retentive, an overachiever and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things. My disposition probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am technically a genius. Unfortunately, this label seems to precede me wherever I go.” -- from Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2004

Five novels and two anthologies have followed in Millicent's wake, and one gets the feeling that Lisa is just getting her game on. Her books have garnered rave reviews, strong sales, and numerous notables, hot summer reads, critic's pick, best books of the week, the year, and there seems to be no end to this meteor named Lisa Yee.

If you happen to have been in a vegetative coma since 2004 and haven't yet had the pleasure of her acquaintance, one very important piece of intel that I feel I must share concerns her yellow, long-eared muse named Peepy, who has accumulated more photo credits, travel chops, and celeb elbow-rubs than Angelina Jolie. Lisa and Peepy discuss Summer Reading here.

So without further ado-be-do, Robin and I are delighted to bring you this ::Exclusive:: Shrinking Violet Outing of Lisa Yee, Big Giant Introvert.

SVP: Lisa, on the day that this interview will be posted, there will likely be a collective, cosmic gasp as you are officially outed as an introvert. Has it been your life experience that most people just assume you are an extravert?

Lisa: Yes, it's so weird to me that people peg me as extroverted. True, I can be, and have been known to act strange and silly in public, but really, I am an introvert. That is, I love to be alone and am most comfortable that way.

People often confuse being an introvert with being shy. But those are two completely different things. I am not shy in the least. Oooh! Oooh! I just looked up my introvert affliction up and here's what Wikipedia has to say. "Introverts are less likely to seek stimulation from others because their own thoughts and imagination are stimulating enough. A common misconception is that all introverts suffer from social anxiety or shyness. Introversion does not describe social discomfort but rather social preference. "

SVP: Is Peepy an introvert or extravert?

Lisa: Extrovert. Totally.

SVP: Robin and I talk a lot at SVP about how helpful it is in marketing/promotion activities (signings & events) to have a "buddy" with you. Does Peepy serve that role for you? Does she help deflect some of the spotlight from you?

Lisa: Absolutely. Wherever I go people want to meet her. I like that because then I can hide in the background and she's the star. Like on my blog. Most of the photos are of her, not me. And it's fun for me to talk about where I've been or who I've met, but cast it via her POV. But that's what authors do, don't they? They really put their characters between themselves and their readers.

SVP: How would your husband and your BFF answer this question: "When Lisa needs to unplug and recharge, her favorite way to spend a day is..."

Lisa: . . . to be alone with a box of See's chocolates.

SVP: Your blogging/traveling/writing/family schedule seems to have you moving at warp speed. What are your biggest challenges in managing your schedule and keeping the proverbial balance?

Lisa: I don't sleep, and then three times a year I get really sick and collapse for a few days. I'm not kidding! Actually, I have very little time to myself, so when I am on the road, I like the solitude of impersonal hotel rooms, albeit with high-speed internet access.

Balance wise, the kids come first. However, I do a lot of out-of-state school visits, and one time my son was complaining bitterly about me leaving and laying on the ol’ guilt trip. So I said, “I’m on the road so we can go to Hawaii for vacation this year.” And he looked at me and said, “See you!”

SVP: Are there any marketing/promotion activities that make you so uncomfortable that you choose not to do them?

Lisa: Well, I can get all worked up before a booksigning, but I still do them. (I'm always afraid no one will show up.) The only thing I'm not doing at this very moment is Skyping but that will probably change soon. Although it's the tech part of Skype that makes me nervous.

SVP: Which promotion activities do you most enjoy?

Lisa I really enjoy blogging. It's fun to blather on and on with no constraints. The down side is that there's no proofreader, so spelling and grammar are tossed out the window.

It’s always fun to meet my blog readers in person, especially the ones who post comments. I feel like I already know them, and I guess I do.

SVP: Of all the characters that you've written, is there one that is most drawn from your own soul?

Lisa: I can't say there's just one. It's corny, but they're like my children and they're all a part of me. I do tend to worry more about my boy characters and what's going to happen to them when I'm not around. The girls, well, they're strong and I know they're going to make it.

SVP: Who inspires you?

Lisa: My kids are a great inspiration to me. I wrote the BOBBY series --BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY), BOBBY THE BRAVE (SOMETIMES), and more to come, because when my son was in fourth grade he said, "Mom, why don't you write a book with not a lot of commotion."

Sometimes when my teenager says or does something she knows is wrong, she'll look at me and say, "Oh no, that's going in one of your books, isn't it?"

So, yes, I steal ideas from my children. But mostly, I write to appeal to them and have them in mind as I ask myself, “Will Teen like this?” Or, “What will Son think about that?”

SVP: I wanted to touch on public speaking a bit, as it is something that comes up with our readers time and time again. There is a lot of fear about it this. I've seen you address a hotel ballroom full of people and I've seen you in a much smaller, intimate venue. In both, there is such a open and unguarded quality to what you share. Do you find one setting more challenging than the other? And, do you find it easier to speak to kids or adults?

Lisa: Although things like cocktail parties terrify me, I have absolutely no fear about public speaking. I guess because I am in a role as an “author” and I know what’s expected of me. I actually like speaking to large crowds because I can feed of the response and energy in the room.

Both kids and adults are fun to talk to, although with kids I know that if I say the word “fart” I’ll get a laugh. That’s only sometimes true with adults.

SVP: Would you rather be stranded on a desert island with a introvert or extravert?

Lisa: Introvert.

Ah-h-h, a woman after our own heart... Thank you, Lisa, for all that you've shared here! In honor of Lisa's Big Outing, we are in quite the festive moods. Taking a lesson from our own newly launched Irene Latham, we're going to put together a Lisa Yee Prize Package for our winner here today. Should you be the lucky Violet, you will win your pick of two Lisa Yee novels, one set of your very own marshmallow peeps, some special authentic "hair goop" like she uses (and sometimes forgets to take to conferences), and whatever else I feel like putting in your package! All you need to do to enter to win is to tell us one unique fact about Lisa Yee that is not already listed here. On your mark, get set, GO-O-O!

Have a joyous week, friends!