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November 23, 2011

C.C. Hunter: Fake it, Until You Make it.

Posted by Katherine

C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun. Here she lends advice to her readers on how to overcome the hurdles everyone must face in life.

In the last three months, I’ve spoken to five different groups about writing, about my books and characters in the Shadow Falls series. I’ve stood up in front of crowds of over a hundred people, all eyes on me, all waiting to hear me say something witty, something entertaining or educational. And somehow, I managed to pull it off. People tell me I never appear nervous. People think I’m your typical extrovert.

People think wrong.

I won’t deny I enjoy it. I love talking about my career. I get giddy when I give readers tidbits about my characters that leave them crazy with anticipation to get the next book. But I am not your typical extrovert.

Before every appearance, I feel my stomach knot. I feel my palms get a little sweaty. I remind myself of different bits of public-speaking advice, like to picture the audience naked. I tell myself that it’s okay if I mess up a little, that everyone makes mistakes. But mostly, I tell myself to fake it until I make it.

Most everyone has some kind of hurdle they have to overcome --- be it a fear, a full-blown phobia, or just a lack of self-confidence in one area of your life. And if we can just force ourselves to face that fear, to fake it, then sometimes we may actually become good at the thing we fear. I know I’m a lot better at public speaking today. I’m not sure I’ll ever stand up in front of a crowd and not feel that little wiggle of insecurity in the pit of my stomach, but each time I do stand up, I feel that wiggle less. And after a few minutes into the talk, it fades away. And when I finish making a presentation and feel as if I was successful, I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Recently, at a library event in my hometown, a librarian who has known me for a while, told me that she felt I was Kylie Galen. I laughed because I think Kylie is so much cooler than I ever was. But in truth, there are some similarities. Like Kylie, I’m a little bit of both an extrovert and an introvert.

Growing up, I didn’t feel as if I fit in anywhere. Some days going to school was actually painful. I dreaded being called on by the teachers. And if anyone asked me to stand up in class and talk, I swear I felt I’d lose my breakfast all over my shoes right then and there. However, like Kylie, I mostly did what was expected of me. Now, I’ve never come face to face with an evil vampire, or had two guys, both of them good guys, compete for my affection. But when I write Kylie’s character, I borrow a lot of emotions that I felt in other situations to help me write the scenes. And I often pass along to Kylie the piece of advice that was given to me: Fake it until you make it.

So, when Kylie is scared to confront Fredericka, the Shadow Falls’ bully, she holds her chin high and pretends she’s not afraid. When in book three, TAKEN AT DUSK, and Kylie confronts Red, the rogue vampire who killed two innocent girls and kidnapped her in AWAKE AT DAWN, Kylie finds power by telling herself she can survive. When the idea of seeing ghosts, and trying to help them solve their crises so they can pass over, gives her a bad stomach cramp, she pulls up her big girl panties and marches on. She’s learning like I did, that when we tell ourselves we can do something, we find strength deep inside that we didn’t know we had.

So to all of you who are facing hurdles, fears, or wishing you had a bit more self-confidence, I offer you the same advice. Just keep faking it, keep learning, keep moving on, and sooner or later, you’ll realize it gets easier. If you are lucky, people will think you never had a problem in the first place. They’ll never know that you are actually envisioning them naked, or that your palms are sweating, or that for a moment there you felt like you might lose your breakfast. They may even think you’re just naturally good at it.

Good luck to everyone on overcoming your hurdles, and I hope you are all enjoying Shadow Falls.

Read more about C.C. Hunter on her website: