June 29, 2015

Overcoming Insecurity : Denise Grover Swank

There were some amazing keynote speakers at this year's UtopYA conference. First up was Denise Grover Swank, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author.

She's sold 1.3 million copies of her books (currently totaling 21) and has hit the USA Today list eleven times and the New York Times list four times. Yet with each new book she said she still worries and feels pressure. She's found most writers feel deeply, and because of that, they have increased insecurity. 

After writing her first book in the fourth grade, several English teachers encouraged her. Still, it took until she was forty to tell herself it was "time to do this." Then, tragedy struck. Her husband was in a single-engine plane crash. He barely made it, but then five weeks later, he died. She said it felt like the rug was pulled out from under her, and she had to reinvent herself. With six children, she started a blog called: There's Always Room for One More. Then, in 2009, she did NaNoWriMo. In the next year and a half, she wrote three books.

In the spring of 2011, she was getting discouraged with querying. In her head, she thought she wasn't good enough. By then, self-publishing was more accepted and more easily accessible. So she took charge of her own career.

She studied the market and came up with a business plan, determined to succeed. But the insecurities were still there. She pushed through and didn't let fear rule her life. Book after book she pushed. But then she hit a rough year of reviews and lacking sales. 

"The more success I get, the more insecurities I get," she said, always fearing that the next book would be the one to "totally suck." 

Her advice: surround yourself with people you trust, write everyday, work hard, set your own goals for success (make them realistic so you can achieve them and set higher goals).

Still, she said, "I'm going to be chasing this demon the rest of my life."

Success is not a race, it has no expiration date, so you have to stay strong through the ebbs and flows, she said. 

But, she always tells herself (from The Help):

You is Kind.
You is Smart.
You is Important. 

I was so inspired by her speech. Later, I ran into her during the Saturday signing, and she was so gracious to take a picture with me and chat for a few minutes. Such a lovely woman.

How do you battle your insecurity monster?

About Denise Grover Swank

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn't lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

You can find out more about Denise at www.denisegroverswank.com or email her at DeniseGroverSwank@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more UtopYA revelations and awesome talks. 

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