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    Facing Your Fears
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  • Published: Feb 15th, 2007

As you know I’m Maria’s twin sister – and we’ve been working together for over 20 years.  As in all good twin relationships there is always an alpah twin – in our relationship that would be Maria.  She’s the ‘up-front’ gal, I’m the beta, more the ‘behind-the-scenes’ gal.  When we meet new people, Maria is the one who does all the talking; she’s the one who is ‘our’ public face.  In private, with our families, I’m the one who does all the talking.  Public speaking makes me nervous.  Meeting new people makes me nervous.  Well, being on the road these past two months we’ve had to meet a lot of new people and do a lot of talking.  It’s been both exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  Add to the mix that I’m meeting people I admire and respect – the women who write the books I read with a passion – well it’s more than just a little nerve racking.

You can imagine what it’s like for me – trying to be professional, competent and intelligent is tricky when in reality I’m a gushing fan.  I’ve been on many sets and locations with celebrities and have done my job in a professional manner; but I couldn’t seem to pull that persona out when I was with my favorite authors.  When we went to interview Nora Roberts, I couldn’t speak, all I could do was grin and nod, I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.  Maria had to do the interview. I know, very professional.

It was a different story when we were doing the Mary Jo Putney interview – Maria was on another location – so I had to do the interview – by myself!  I was a nervous wreck.  The morning of the interview I woke up in the hotel in a cold sweat and unable to breathe.  Our partner, JR, took one look at me and said – breathe Marisa, just breathe.  Easier said than done.  When ever I’m nervous or full of fear I pull into myself.  There are times when I’m on a plane and Maria tries to have a conversation with me, I tell her to please be quiet, I can’t speak, you see I’m busy holding the plane up.  So as we were driving to do the Mary Jo Putney interview the crew looked at me like I had two heads.  Normally I’m busy talking about everything under the sun – not this time, I was practically in the fetal position in the back of the van. I couldn’t speak – I was trying to hold the world up.  By the time we got to the interview I was barely able to get out of the car.  But Mary Jo came out and welcomed us with open arms.  Her warmth and generosity put me at ease – I could fianlly breathe.

Since then, Maria and I have been in different parts of the country and I’ve had to do many of the interviews without her.  I’m learning at this late stage in my life to face my fear of meeting new people and to step up – to do the thing that needs doing.  It’s been an incredible experience.  Each author has welcomed us with grace, humor and warmth.  Their generosity trumps my fears and when I’m sitting there talking to them I begin to breathe again.

What fear have you recently conquered?

10 Responses to “Facing Your Fears”

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  1. Maggie Robinson
    on Feb 15th, 2007
    @ 3:42 pm

    I entered the Avon FanLit contest. Okay, it was anonymous, but I wrote so that people could read. I’ve also joined an online critique group. So now it’s just not me in my pajamas talking to myself anymore.

  2. Deborah
    on Feb 16th, 2007
    @ 8:26 am

    Hi Marisa:

    I can completely relate to your fear of public speaking. I would shake, my breathing would become labored, I would babble (babble, for goodness sake), I would loose my train of thought, sweat, felt nauseous – you get the picture. But I couldn’t let it beat me so in a psychology class, I chose to face my fear and chose to speak to my class about sexual dysfunctions. I figured if I was going to be uncomfortable, so would my audience (even though they were silently enthralled with the topic – hahaha!) It worked. I slowly learned to relax and to breathe through it. Now, I attend a lot of meetings for work and having this fear would have hindered my climb up the ladder. I do get nervous when there is a large crowd, but I try to suck it up, see the people as Matthew McConnaghey and Colin Farrell look alikes (wearing the bare minimum) and I get through it. Okay, I still get the sweaty palms.

  3. terrio
    on Feb 16th, 2007
    @ 1:34 pm

    Hello Marisa,

    I’m the total opposite. Put me on a stage in front of 10K fans to introduce a band and I’m good. Tell me I have to give a speech in front of a group of 30, no sweat. Put me at a dinner table with one man and I’m a complete idiot. Couldn’t find an intelligent thought or an ounce of charm to save my life. I’m trying really hard to overcome this by telling myself I am a confident, smart woman. Any man would be lucky to have me. So far, no takers. But I’m putting myself out there more and more. Now if it would just start getting easier….

  4. Marisa
    on Feb 16th, 2007
    @ 4:36 pm

    Hi All:
    Sorry I’ve been away from my computer and chained to a chair in an edit room for the past 2 days.

    Maggie – Congratulations on entering the Avon FanLit contest – you should be extremely proud of yourself.

    BTW – As long as your pajamas don’t have too many holes and don’t have too many food stains on them; I find them a perfectly acceptable ensemble for working at home.

  5. Marisa
    on Feb 16th, 2007
    @ 5:59 pm

    Hi – I’m back – they let me take another break from the edit room – sometimes they even let me eat.

    Deborah – Colin and Matthew? I’m going to try it – only I’ll be using James Tupper – you know the guy who plays Jack on “Men in Trees”.

  6. Deborah
    on Feb 17th, 2007
    @ 9:54 pm

    Yes, I do know James Tupper. Hunk-o-rama!

    On a side note: I was finally able to view the videos and I can’t wait until you all win an award. Listening to Nora, Christina and Mary Jo and learning about their process and their journey is such a gift. Thanks for going the extra mile in bringing romance into our lives.


  7. Jennybrat
    on Feb 18th, 2007
    @ 11:39 pm

    Hi Marisa, I would have acted the same way as you being a huge Nora Roberts fan. Public speaking gives me the jitters so I applaud you. Btw, is there a way to keep my email address from displaying in public? I’m terrified of spam.

  8. Marisa
    on Feb 19th, 2007
    @ 12:01 am

    Terio – any man WOULD be lucky to have you – so definitely keep putting yourself out there.

    Deborah – thanks so much for your words of encouragement.

    Jennybrat – I will check into the whole email thing and get back to you.

  9. Caridad Pineiro
    on Feb 20th, 2007
    @ 8:49 am

    Well, Marisa, I would never have guessed that you have a fear of public speaking! When we met, you were so easy going and relaxed that you seemed like a natural in front of all those people who were with us.

    My biggest fears are heights and flying. Biggies because I have to travel pretty regularly and also, since I work in NYC, need to go beyond the first few floors.

    I had to visit one client who was on the 50th floor. Somehow I made it into the elevator, didn’t hyperventilate and got all the way up to 50 without falling apart. (Not a good thing in front of a client!)

    As for flying, I solve the dilemma by either working on one of my novels or taking along a really good romance. Once I get involved, I forget where I am until the bump that tells me we’ve touched down.

  10. Marisa
    on Feb 20th, 2007
    @ 9:13 am

    Caridad – flying, tall buildings, bridges, yikes; they all spell deep breathing for me. I try not to think about being suspended in the air, after all, when I open my eyes it’s a pretty good view.

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