Be A Puffy Cat

practiceTomorrow I am going to do a “write up” about a fabulous Sisters in Crime New England workshop Hank Phillippi Ryan held last Saturday. It was entitled “Perfecting Your Author Presentation”, and covered two topics. First, doing an author presentation. Second, tips for when you are interviewed. Much more on the content of the day tomorrow on the blog.

Today, I want to discuss my favorite piece of advice Hank gave us for when we are nervous wrecks about doing a reading.

Be a puffy cat.

Well, practice and be prepared. But be a puffy cat.

When a cat gets scared, she doesn’t shrink into herself and try to hide. She gets puffy, takes up more space, and gets ready to rumble. So, when you’re afraid, be a puffy cat. At the very least, think of a puffy cat, which will make you smile, and take away some of the fear. But I say, go for the visual image and try your best to create it. Breathe, and be a puffy cat.

I am an introvert who plays an extrovert in my professional life. I teach, do speeches, moderate panels, lead discussions, and try my best to participate fully in society. Then I go home, talk to my cats but no one else, and reacharge my batteries. Being a professional extrovert is exhausting, but necessary. I couldn’t do my work running a non-profit, teaching, or being an arts advocate if I couldn’t fake being an extrovert.

More and more, I realize that part of being an author requires being an extrovert as well. Meeting readers, doing readings, being on panels, doing interviews. Selling my books. That part of my life was made easier this past weekend, with one phrase offered by the wonderful Hank Phillippi Ryan.

I’m a puffy cat.



31 Thoughts

  1. I love it. Especially as a short person. ;^) Although I’m a lot less nervous speaking in public these days, I guess because I do it a lot. Thanks for the tip, Julie – and Hank!

  2. HA! I this is advice straight out of Amy Cuddy’s book Presence. 🙂

    She’s the TED Talk lady who advised we all stand like Wonder Woman before we have a tough job to do.

  3. Brilliant! A puffy cat. I had to use a pen name to become an extrovert – Kait is great in public, the real me hides out in the car!

  4. As soon as I saw the headline, I knew what this was going to be about. It is great advice and a great visual.

  5. As a certifiable crazy cat lady (we have had as many as 6 cats at one time) introvert, and visual learner, your post gave me a great image in my head of me as a puffy cat. Thank you!!

  6. Thank you for this terrific advice! I am doing my first book signing tomorrow for my new cozy mystery novel. The puffy cat image is definitely going to help me!

  7. Just Huff and Puff and blow ’em all away! Great advice, thanks, Kat

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