Guest Post by Alex Erickson and a #giveaway

Author Alex Erickson is here today in support of his latest release, Death by Iced Coffee, the eleventh book in his Bookstore Cafe Mystery series, which was just published on April 25th. And he’s giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter below.

A charming, relatable sleuth and quirky cast of characters sets Alex Erickson’s Bookstore Cafe Mystery series apart from the cozy pack–and this time, bookstore owner Krissy Hancock is stepping out from behind the counter and lacing up her sneakers to participate in her hometown’s first-ever marathon, only to find herself racing to solve a murder instead.

Take it away, Alex!

The Doubt Monster

Some things never change. When I sat down to work on this post, I struggled to come up with a topic. Do I write something about cats? Again. Something about coffee or bookstores or . . . what? I was flummoxed. I had nothing to say. I’m rather boring when you get right down to it. Just check my Twitter and Facebook. The posts are few and far between. My author photo is nearly a decade old. I always feel as if I have nothing to contribute. And even if I did, who would care anyway?

I don’t do events all that often, in person or otherwise. My social anxiety rears up and kicks me in the stomach every time I try. It doesn’t matter how big or small the event might be. It could be a book signing with fifty other authors, or just me at a library. Or it could be an online interview. Or maybe it’s something as simple as a post such as this. My brain goes into hyperdrive, screaming at me that I’m DOING IT ALL WRONG!

Krissy, from my Bookstore Café series, goes through a magnified version of what I experience. She’s indecisive. She struggles with any sort of contact with others, whether it is relationship related or something as simple as asking a question of someone. While I tend to avoid the situations entirely, she does the opposite and ends up blurting out the first thing that pops into her head, with no real idea how it will be taken or if there will be major consequences. If I do have to talk to someone, I tend to mutter something basic and then lose all track of where I wanted the conversation to go.

It’s two sides of the same coin. It all about the Doubt Monster and how we deal with it.

I recently went to Malice. My nerves were all over the place, but I managed to fight through them and sit on a panel. I don’t know how I survived. Maybe it was because the crowd was small. Maybe it was how my panel mates kept me grounded. They were friendly and understood my overactive brain. I’m sure I had moments where my mouth opened and words came out that may or may not have made sense, but I didn’t feel as if I totally bombed it. My brain wanted me to believe I would. It always does.

And that’s the thing about anxiety. It will always be there. It will always tell me I’m wrong, that I’m invading other people’s space. It’ll insist that if I were to go up to someone and say “Hello,” they’d turn their noses up at me and walk away. It’ll say I don’t look the part. I don’t act the part. I don’t belong.

Even online, I struggle. That’s why there are hardly any social media posts or blogs. As soon as I think I might put myself out there and say something, my brain kicks in and asks, “Who would care?” And, of course, that little evil voice answers, “No one.”

So, when I sit down to write posts such as these, I have a hard time coming up with something to say that I feel would be interesting to others. The Doubt Monster has a permanent residence in the back of my mind. It will never shut up and let me go about my merry way.

Maybe I’ll feel more confident as time goes on. I could post more about my cats (and the two new additions to the family.) I could talk about my hobbies, which might not be of great interest to all my readers, but some might find my gaming and music stuff fascinating. I could talk about my favorite Sci-fi shows. The dark crime shows from other countries that I watch with the subtitles on. It’s like reading a book, but with moving pictures!

But I’m not ready for that quite yet. For now, I’ll continue to keep mostly to myself and let bits and pieces slip free in little posts like this. It’s the only way I’ll keep myself sane and keep from becoming overwhelmed by my good old friend, Anxiety (with a capital ‘A.’)

Readers: Who else fights with the Doubt Monster? And has anyone ever defeated it? If so, let me know how so I can do the same! One lucky commenter below will win a signed copy of Death by Iced Coffee. U.S. and Canada only, please.

About Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson is the author of the Bookstore Café mystery series. He hides away in his home in Ohio with his family and their gaggle of cats. You can find him online at and on his rarely used social media at and

39 Thoughts

  1. I’m sorry I missed you at Malice, Alex. We could have found a quiet corner to chat in. Congratulations on the new book – tell your Doubt Monster that eleven in a row is nothing to sneeze at!

    The DM pays me a call in the middle of every book, but I just keep on typing until it goes away. Not sure if that would work for social anxiety, though, LOL.

  2. So understand what you mean. I can tell it’s time for me some o get refreshed with my hypnotherapist.

  3. I have lots of doubts but they are of a personal nature. They can drive me crazy so I have to distract myself with reading or a favorite tv program. I love your series. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  4. I think most people have some form of social anxiety to varying degrees! Who likes to put themselves out there, possibly facing rejection? Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown? Dunno, but your bookstore cafe series sounds fun! And I, for one, ALWAYS like to read and hear about cats. Good luck on your adventures!

  5. I hear you Alex. The first time I went to Malice, I wondered if I’d talk to anyone except the people I already knew. But everybody was so open and friendly, they beat the Doubt Monster back into a corner. He still pops out once in a while, but I do my best to shove him back in.

  6. The Doubt Master Does live at my residence. Maybe further back in the corner than yours, but still there. Mine is kept company by Not Good Enough. Seems all my life, I’ve been in someone else’s shadow so to speak. There’s been the struggle with the double edged sword of to be “as good as” or to show I’m not like someone else. So many things contributed to it that there’s not enough room to write it all or words to express it properly. My somewhat turning point was when our 17 year old daughter died sudden in a car accident. To save my sanity, I had to do something but do what? I’d normally stayed at home in the comfort within its walls. That’s when I got a job working with animals. Problem is that also meant dealing with people. It was more or less the case of the worse of two evils – go nuts or work. It did eventually make me more open to people, able to voice myself better and to be “me” with no shadows around. Even after I quit and went back to being a full time homemaker, I was determined not to slide back into old thought. Guess I’ve succeeded because I’m not at 35 years later.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win a copy of “Death by Iced Coffee”! I would love the opportunity to read and review it. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Those things tend to push me farther into my hidey hole. I know all about DM’s friend NGE. I’m one of those people that feels like if I’m not the best at something, if I didn’t win, then I’ve failed. Even if I DO win or land at the top of something, I still feel like it was a mistake.

  7. Ah, the Doubt Monster! Yep, my old friend who rears his ugly head with every book I write and every launch. I always fear events, and attending conferences, but then I realized the writing community is warm and welcoming. We all support each other and the readers who attend really want to meet you. Writing events are safe place!

    1. I think what makes it frustrating for me is that I KNOW everyone is welcoming and would like to talk, and yet I still feel like the unwanted outsider. No amount of inclusion seems to break through!

  8. I believe alot of people have social anxiety in there life dealing with a new job or new people they meet. when I was a teenager I was very quiet and shy but once I got into the work force I seemed to come out of my shell and blossomed. Thanks for your great generosity.

  9. I have struggled with serious health issues for a long time. I don’t have much time for doubt– any energy I have available to me goes into making each day the best it can be. As long as you do your best and strive to grow, what’s there to doubt?

  10. fight with it all the time – you are not alone in that. I for one would love to hear more about your cats and sci-fi interests.
    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

    1. The young cats are currently driving me insane by running from room to room at 100mph. The older ones are having nap time.

      I’ve always enjoyed sci-fi TV and movies. Loved The Expanse. Watched all the Stargate series’. Books, however, I’ve only recently started to get into. The Expanse helped. And in games, I’ve played the Destiny series quite a bit, though I have waned in it recently.

  11. Definitely have alot of battles with Doubt Monster! Most of the times I win! Love the kitties and the interview.

  12. Oh the Doubt Monster, and its cousin Imposter Syndrome! I’ve experienced both often and understand how difficult public events can be. I hope that you are able to fight the doubts and begin to enjoy spending time with fellow authors & fans.

  13. Welcome back, Alex! The Doubt Monster always seems to be sitting on one shoulder. I can swat it away and sometimes forget it’s there, but yeesh, why must we go through this! Congratulations on your 11th book in the series.

  14. “…and who would care,” you say…I DO CARE! I do so appreciate your sharing about your anxiety and how the Doubt Monster creeps up and scares you. We all are scared of something or some things, so don’t feel alone. At 74, I have to say that the Doubt Monster arrives at my doorstep almost every day, but I shut the door at it, and no matter how loud the pounding at the door becomes, I don’t let it in. Instead, I get to work in my avocado ranch, and nature and the soundtrack of singing birds, rustling tree branches and the sun or fog help me erase any memory of that monster at the door. I really like how you introduced yourself and your writing to me, and your series has my attention. Sadly, I have not read your books, but now I can correct that! Keep shutting the door on any unwelcomed visitors, and know that there are multitudes of us readers who believe in you and will support you by buying and delighting in your books!!!! luis at ole dot travel

  15. Alex, thanks so much for visiting with us today and for being so open about something so hard to discuss. There are so many people who struggle with what you describe to one degree or another. It is remarkably brave of you to post about it and it seems to me that you have plenty to say on a subject that touches a large part of the population.

    I used to have an enormous problem with this, but I decided when I got my first real job as a teenager that I wanted to rid myself of it. I had job in a clothing store and on the first day my new boss told me to go to the front of the store to fold sweaters and greet each customer that entered. I thought I would die.

    I quickly realized that it would be worse to be fired for not doing my job than in actually doing it so I told myself I could smile at each person who came in even if I couldn’t bring myself to speak with her. Some people blew past me without acknowledgment, some were hostile and told me that they “were just looking”, but the vast majority smiled back and even said hello. It occurred to me before long that so many of them were grateful that someone else reached out in a tiny way to notice the existed.

    Over time I was able to add a hello or a welcome to my smile. I didn’t take it personally when someone claimed to be a browser. My compassion for others who seemed even more shy than I grew. I came to think of myself as a host in the situation and to focus on the comfort and enjoyment of the customer in a new way. It is a technique I still use when hosting in my home or when appearing at an event.

    Giving myself permission to consistently do a small thing until I felt more confident and to cast myself in the role of host has been a game changer for me. I am not sure if any of that would apply to your situation, but I would say that your words on the blog today seemed to have made gracious space for others to chime in about how they similarly struggle. It seems to me that you have something important to say, know how to say it and have resonated with others. Kudos to you!

    1. Jessie, it is hard to believe you were ever that shy, and I am so impressed how you overcame it. Yes, just forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do can become a habit and it becomes just a little bit easier each time.

  16. I used to get very nervous if I had to talk in front of a group of people. But when I started college at the grand old age of 27, I had to make presentations in every course. The first time was extremely difficult, but the prof encouraged us all by telling us we were in a safe, friendly place. I made it through the presentation and was amazed that other students thought it was a good one. It did get easier with time. Eventually, I got to the point where I sought out chances to speak to groups. I knew I had something to say and I wanted to share it.

  17. Alex, I’m sorry that I missed you at Malice. I echo the thanks others are sharing for your willingness to talk about this. Anxiety is real. I also love the phrase “the doubt monster”. He’s sitting on the couch next to me as I edit my next draft. He shows up regularly during edits. During writing, not as much. Congratulations on #11!

  18. Definitely haven’t won with the doubt monster. Love the book cover! Thanks so much for the chance!

  19. This is all too relatable. I’ll spend forever agonizing about going to something or staying home. When I have plans, I wish I could stay home, but when I have no plans I want to be out doing something.

    You aren’t alone.

    (Please don’t enter me in the giveaway.)

  20. Thanks for sharing a bit about your anxiety. I love your books and this gives me a new perspective as I read them. Be kind to yourself and take small risks when you can. Doubts assail all of us. I find it hard to be in large groups but try to also seek out those on the fringes. Can’t wait to read your latest book.

  21. Congratulations on the release! The Doubt Monster is always around. As a matter of fact, I would probably pinch myself to see if I was alive if the Doubt Monster disappeared. Of course, that is good news if I feel the pinch!

  22. Cats are necessary when writing & reading. I’m pretty sure my cats swat at the Doubt Monster. They are fearless!

  23. I like to believe that it is completely normal to have doubts. Why? Because I always have lots of them! It’s good that you have a nice relationship with your cats. They will always believe in you!

  24. I have doubts daily.
    I have had my Cat Daisy Mae since she was around 4 weeks old. Her Mamma dropped her off at our garage then her Mama checked daily to see if her baby got a loving home. Her Mama was beautiful just like my cat and OH the memories with her.

  25. We all have doubts, but we just have to suck it on and move on. I was a teacher for 38 1/2 years and could do fine when teaching, but if I had to teach something to my peers, I always wondered what I would say and how it would be received. Luckily, I am done with that.

  26. I never did immerse myself with doubts but they are below the surface. At night they creep out but during the day I make sure that are invisible.

  27. I fight the doubt monster everyday. I have to tell myself that I can do it. I stop to pray before I go ahead to tackle the issue. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  28. The Doubt Monster is always lurking in the shadows. Some days are good days and some not so good. But I’ve learned to deal with it.

  29. I too have had issues with anxiety so I can totally relate. You may have times when you can ignore it but it is always lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce. All I am able to do is enjoy the good days and try to minimize the damage from the bad days.

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