When An Extrovert Becomes An Author . . . (No One Is Safe!)

I’ve heard that most writers are introverts. If this is true, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I differ from the norm. I am a people person. I am a people person on steroids.

I will give you a hug without even knowing your name. I will introduce you to everyone in the room without you even knowing my name. It makes some people scared, but twelve years ago when my shy husband and I first met, this extroversion bowled him over like a tsunami. He knew that if he married me, he would never have to talk to a stranger again.

For that matter, he might not have to talk again.

Now, I don’t believe in rubbing crystals or playing Enya while turning myself into some origami pose, but I dare say that I get positive energy from people. I cannot get this energy from my dog, Kashi, or from our defunct garden with its soggy plants. I know this, because I’ve tried.

Therefore, it took my strongest willpower not to pounce on the lady in Sam’s Club who paused for a millisecond in front of my debut novel, The Outcast. I was standing near her, “reading” a Paula Deen magazine (how much longer can we say that?), and simultaneously watching her from the corner of my eye.

Buy it, I said in my mind. Just buy it.

The woman even stretched her hand toward The Outcast’s cover. And then she withdrew it and walked away.

I sighed and clapped the magazine closed. I walked over to Sam’s Club’s food court and ordered frozen yogurt and a soft pretzel for $1.99. Slurping off the spoon, I stared at it cross-eyed and wondered how many books I would have to sell to repay my comfort food.

My husband came and sat across from me, dipping into his own swirl cone. I tore off a piece of steaming pretzel and dipped it into the yogurt. I fed it to our sixteen-month-old daughter, who flapped her arms and opened her mouth for more; a little bird.

“What’s wrong?” My husband’s a man of few words, but he sure uses them well.

I told him about the lady in the book aisle.

“I almost had her,” I said, realizing that it sounded like I was trying to reel her in.

“You should’ve told her you would sign it.”

I looked up, my mouth smeared with dairy. Now why hadn’t I thought of that?

“You don’t think it’d be weird?” I asked. Just as I help my husband navigate a crowd of strangers, he helps rein in my overly golden retriever ways.

“If you were standing there, looking at a book, and some author said, ‘Hey—I wrote that.’ Don’t you think that’d be cool?”

I gave my daughter one more spoonful and jabbed the spoon down into the melting yogurt. Dusting pretzel salt from my hands, I stood from the table and said, “Doggone! You’re right!”

My husband smiled. “We’ll go check out,” he said. “Meet you at the car?”

I nodded. “Do I have chocolate on my face?” Then I bared my teeth. “They okay, too?”

“You’re good,” he said.

I marched through the food court and went over to the book section. A man and woman were standing near The Outcast, but they were focusing on a children’s book instead.

I picked up a book and flipped through it. The man and woman moved closer and closer to my novel, and then they began to turn away.

I gulped. Now or never.

“Actually—“ I said, picking up The Outcast. “I wrote this.”

I held it against my chest and smiled. I should probably mention that I am short and therefore look like I’m twelve. The couple just looked at me. I don’t even think they blinked.

“No, really,” I said. I flipped the book around and pointed to the thumbnail-sized picture. They moved closer and squinted.

“It is you!” they said.

I smiled again. They smiled. I think we both breathed a sigh of relief.

In less than a minutes, amped by sugar, I told them about being born in Lancaster, having a Mennonite background, and moving when I was three. I told them about the true story that inspired The Outcast’s fictional premise.

“I want to buy it!” the lady said.

Even I blushed. “Please don’t feel any pressure!” I said. “My husband and I were just talking about this as a . . . as kind of a joke—telling someone in the aisle that I wrote the book.”

“I want to,” she said, holding the book close. “I’m on break; I have plenty of time to read.”

“You’re a teacher?” I asked.

She nodded. “7th and 8th grade.”

“May I sign it for you, then?”

She nodded. I realized I didn’t have a pen. She procured one from her purse. I uncapped it and wrote on the first page: “Thank you for making my night at Sam’s Club so very special.”

Then I asked to take a picture with her.

“Shouldn’t I be asking to take a picture with you?” she said.

I shook my head as her husband lined us up in the sights and we held my book-baby between us.

Bless her heart, she should’ve known by then that I never do anything close to the norm.

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Comments

  1. Love this story, Jolina, and love your tales of extroversion. So interesting you should mention this as my husband and I have both been talking a lot about the introvert/extrovert thing. He’s been reading Quiet (I’ve read parts of it, and he’s read other parts aloud to me). In short, I’m a non-shy introvert (and so is he), which makes me love extroverts like you! You make socializing easy (introverts are better at listening than talking). :) Wish I could run into you in the book aisle of Sam’s Club…

  2. I’ve just heard about ‘Quiet’, Katherine! It sounds like a book that my husband would enjoy to read as well. I would say that my best friend is a non-shy introvert like you, and we get along great (have barely fought, and we’ve known each other since I was two!). I think you and I would get along as well–so wish we could meet in Sam’s Club! Xo

  3. I love this story! As an introvert, I’d be so happy if an actual author of a book in Sam’s Club introduced themselves to me. I think you made the right call.

  4. What a great story!! I’m an introvert who very much wishes she could be an extrovert (especially when I hear stories like this). Love the pic with your newest fan!

  5. Great story!! I would have been so excited if that had happened to me. I am currently checking the mail every day waiting for my copy of your book. Hopefully it will be there in the next couple of days!!

  6. Well done, friend.

  7. I love this! What a cool story. I don’t think I’d ever have the nerve to do that; good for you!

  8. I love this story. I’m an extrovert and hugging people is just expected in the south isn’t it? I’m fascinated by the story in your book. Not sure when I’ll read it, but I will!! Btw..you are just adorable!!

  9. Jolina, I truly understand the hesitation. I’m so proud of my accomplishments with my two books, SUSPENDED and THE LIE. They are very personal stories that helped me so much, however, when it comes to talking about them, I tend to back off…and blush, as you did. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m hoping it will give me the courage I need to say, “I wrote this!” All the best to you.

  10. Is nerve the word, Annie? Maybe it’s social awkwardness! ;)

  11. This is SUCH a wonderful story, Jolina! And you are a much braver soul than I am (then again, I’m no extrovert). I love how the couple didn’t know what to make of the situation until they saw the author picture ;) I guess it’s something no one would ever really expect! But just think, now she has a signed copy of the book and a great story to tell her friends!

  12. Yep, they thought I was a kid pulling a prank in the book aisle! It will be a fun story to tell my grandkids, for sure! :)

  13. Great story, Jolina! I’m borderline. I have my extrovert and introvert moments. I’m glad you spoke up!

  14. Melissa Crytzer Fry says:

    Jolina … I LOVE this post. I love that you had the courage to approach someone else and “own” the work you’ve poured your heart into. It’s funny how authors struggle to walk that fine line between feeling the need to partake in necessary self-promo and feeling like a snake oil salesman (when I personally think MOST people will react the way your Sam’s Club folks did – with genuine interest. Sharing parts of ourselves is the surest way to connection). I, too, you see, am a people person! ;-)

  15. I had a feeling that you’re an extrovert like me, Melissa! What’s funny is that we BOTH live in the sticks, where people are scarce!

  16. Lol… This was a wonderful story. My husband is the extrovert. I am as introverted as is possible. People like you with your wordiness and your seemingly endless supply of energy frighten me and thrill me at the same time. Now I really cannot wait to meet you. I am sure I will not be able to find words and I will probably blush, but I will be very happy to meet my new sweet friend.

  17. You are great! What an amazing blogger you are, too. It’s something I STRUGGLE with! ;-) I am getting your energy through your blog voice so I can definitely see you are an extrovert. I am smack-dab in the middle…with maybe 1 pt toward extrovert. So I really need a lot of both! haha ;-) It makes for a very crazy wife & mom.

    My first book releases in Oct and I’m already scoping out my Costco aisles. Hmmmm…I am not sure I’m brave enough to do what you did but I’m so thrilled for you! I feel like I just met a new friend.

  18. You sound like a crazy and FUN wife and mom, Elizabeth! I actually like to have my quiet time, too, and we live in the country. Perhaps this is why I am such an extrovert when I am in groups. I have to absorb all of that energy while I can! ;) SO excited for your book’s release in Oct. Keep us posted! Xo

  19. LOL! Oh Jolina. I TOTALLY get you! And you know what? I’m sure my husband would totally get your husband! I am a 100% Extrovert. My husband? 100% Introvert. I thrive in big crowds, he goes and finds a chair. i once spoke to someone who told me that his wife thrived on people like jet fuel. They FILLED her up and she loved being in big group settings. And she could go from one to another. He on the other hand goes to a big group setting, and then goes home and takes a week of alone time to recover. LOL! I laughed because it described my family!

    I totally though would have had the moment of shyness like you—I have random introvert tendencies—(Would you believe I hate asking people what time it is or where something is or to say something isn’t “quite right” with my meals). I’m glad your husband gave you the “push”.

    And I’m sure you made her night—you totally would have made mine–and if I had a book selling in Sam’s Club or Costco, I’d sooooo stalk it.

  20. Your comment just cracked me up, Lisa! You are adorable! And, yes, sounds like we are lovingly paired with our opposites! My husband’s been having a hard time navigating my book events, so he is “staying home with Baby girl” while I go and love meeting new people. He is my perfect match; sounds like you’ve found yours as well! :)

  21. Oh how precious!! I’m glad you did this. I would not have the nerve! I’d probably turn away from the section with my book…. Haha, but introverts are silly in that manner ;)

    Miss you all.

  22. Miss you, too, Allie! Thank you so much for stopping by! Xo

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