Be A Puffy Cat

practiceTomorrow I am going to do a “write up” about a fabulous Sisters in Crime New England workshop Hank Phillippi Ryan held last Saturday. It was entitled “Perfecting Your Author Presentation”, and covered two topics. First, doing an author presentation. Second, tips for when you are interviewed. Much more on the content of the day tomorrow on the blog.

Today, I want to discuss my favorite piece of advice Hank gave us for when we are nervous wrecks about doing a reading.

Be a puffy cat.

Well, practice and be prepared. But be a puffy cat.

When a cat gets scared, she doesn’t shrink into herself and try to hide. She gets puffy, takes up more space, and gets ready to rumble. So, when you’re afraid, be a puffy cat. At the very least, think of a puffy cat, which will make you smile, and take away some of the fear. But I say, go for the visual image and try your best to create it. Breathe, and be a puffy cat.

I am an introvert who plays an extrovert in my professional life. I teach, do speeches, moderate panels, lead discussions, and try my best to participate fully in society. Then I go home, talk to my cats but no one else, and reacharge my batteries. Being a professional extrovert is exhausting, but necessary. I couldn’t do my work running a non-profit, teaching, or being an arts advocate if I couldn’t fake being an extrovert.

More and more, I realize that part of being an author requires being an extrovert as well. Meeting readers, doing readings, being on panels, doing interviews. Selling my books. That part of my life was made easier this past weekend, with one phrase offered by the wonderful Hank Phillippi Ryan.

I’m a puffy cat.



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About J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus wears two hats. With her arts administrator hat, she is the Executive Director of StageSource and teaches as adjunct faculty at Emerson College. Wearing her other hat, she is a mystery writer. Her short stories have been published by Level Best Books: “Tag, You’re Dead” in THIN ICE, “Her Wish” in DEAD CALM, and “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” in BLOOD MOON. She publishes the Clock Shop Mystery Series under the name Julianne Holmes. JUST KILLING TIME, the first in the series, was published in Oct 2015 and was nominated for a BEST FIRST NOVEL Agatha award. CLOCK AND DAGGER will be released in August 2016. She is a social media fan, and tweets under @JulieHennrikus. She is an avid theater goer and a member of Red Sox nation. Her website is, and she blogs with,, and Write to Live/Live to Write (

31 thoughts on “Be A Puffy Cat

  1. HA! I this is advice straight out of Amy Cuddy’s book Presence. 🙂

    She’s the TED Talk lady who advised we all stand like Wonder Woman before we have a tough job to do.

  2. Pingback: Perfecting Our Author Presentations | Wicked Cozy Authors

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