Jane Sevier

mysteries and love stories served Southern style

The Great Chicken Heart


It’s funny what fright­ens us. This evening, crime fic­tion con­fer­ence Killer Nashville starts here in my city and runs through the week­end, and I’m on my first-ever author pan­els. Although I’m not quite shak­ing in my boots at the prospect, I am a lit­tle ner­vous. OK, more than a lit­tle. I’ve been pon­der­ing my chicken-hearted response. Sure, stud­ies have shown that most peo­ple fear pub­lic speak­ing more than death, but it’s not as though I’ll be alone up there. Sev­eral other authors are on each of my panels.

In my time, I’ve done some pretty daunt­ing things and lived to tell the tale. When USAID first sent me to the field to write about agency projects, I found myself in Bolivia’s infa­mous Cha­pare Val­ley, then one of the world’s major coca-producing regions, inter­view­ing farm­ers about the U.S. crop-substitution pro­gram. My con­trol offi­cer from the La Paz mis­sion (USAID field offices are called mis­sions), the head of the crop pro­gram, and two Sub­ur­bans full of Uzi-toting body­guards accom­pa­nied me, but I was the only female in the group.

In Egypt, I clam­bered all the way to the top of the Great Pyra­mid. Inside. Not an under­tak­ing for the claus­tro­pho­bic. I trav­eled to Guatemala and Sri Lanka when they had active rebel insur­gen­cies. And I ate a ham­burger in Venezuela, which some hours later did prove not to have been at all a good thing.

I’m not say­ing I wasn’t appre­hen­sive each time, but that wasn’t about to stop me. Each time, the task at hand fas­ci­nated me, and I was so com­pletely in flow that worry became a low back­ground hum. I’ve pre­pared for my Killer Nashville pan­els, and after all, they’re about the infor­ma­tion I’ll pro­vide, not about me. So, tomor­row morn­ing on my first panel, I’m hop­ing flow kicks in right away. After all, I couldn’t let fear stop me.


  1. Fear is a tricky thing, Jane. You have a sense of adven­ture, which is nec­es­sary to take make great leaps, or even small ones, in life. I love your approach to fear in your own jour­ney. You seem to know that action is impor­tant and even nec­es­sary to over­come any fear that may keep us from our goals. Would love to see you per­form on the panel.

    • Thank you, Deb­o­rah. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Action is nec­es­sary, and after I fin­ished this post, I real­ized that the antic­i­pa­tion is worse that the act itself.

      I wish you could be here, too!

  2. I hear Killer Nashville is won­der­ful. Best of luck on the panel. Next year I need to get there.

    I’m afraid of heights…not in a plane or ele­va­tor etc but climb­ing around up heights and I love to climb around. Think­ing of get­ting pro­fes­sional help. I want to do Yosemite next year. I can sit here and say What am I afraid of? Then I get on a trail and panic. Ther­apy!
    Good luck

    • Killer Nashville is won­der­ful, Duffy. I hope you make it next year.

      As for heights, I didn’t think I was afraid of them, but at the lat­est Mis­sion Impos­si­ble, I found myself squeez­ing my eyes shut when Tom Cruise was climb­ing the side of the build­ing. And at “Up” of all things when they were on blimp’s sur­face, and that’s an ani­mated fea­ture. But maybe it’s only vir­tual heights that frighten me. I hope you make it safe and sound to Yosemite. Let me know how you get over the panic because one of these days, I want to ride a mule down the Grand Canyon trail.

      Thanks so much for stop­ping by, Duffy, and for the good wishes!

  3. Jane,
    Good luck on your panel! I salute you with fac­ing fears and/or chal­leng­ing adven­tures. I recently went to Sequoia National Park and faced Moro Rock. I made it halfway up, and then I turned back. Even know­ing that I’m afraid of heights, I tried it. I didn’t com­plete the jour­ney, but I’m proud that I even tried. LOL.
    Of course that doesn’t com­pare at all to you. :-)
    Good luck again. You’ll do a great job!

    • It does com­pare, Kim! You got halfway up Moro Rock, and you should be proud.

      Thank you so much for stop­ping by and for your con­fi­dence in my panel abilities.

  4. Inter­est­ing post. I’m so impressed by your back­ground, Jane!

    The pre-public speak­ing jit­ters hit me too. Calm­ing breaths. So does the adren­a­lin that kicks in at ‘show time’. I know you’ll be fab­u­lous on the panel. Remem­ber you’re among friends—writers eager to hear you share your thoughts and expe­ri­ence. Be con­fi­dent. You’re wonderful.

    • Thank you, dear Rochelle! You are always the pic­ture of poise, and know­ing you get the jit­ters, too, helps. I’ll focus on the job I’m there to do, and I fig­ure I’ll do fine.

  5. Jane~

    You’re gonna knock ‘em dead tomor­row, I know it! You just aren’t one to let a lit­tle fear get in your way.

    For me, I’m ter­ri­fied of fly­ing and of heights. I still travel via air­planes, though I wear all my “lucky” jew­elry and carry about twenty lucky pen­nies. I hate out­side ele­va­tors and absolutely refuse to go on rollercoasters.

    Best of luck in the morning!

  6. Jane! Not only are you brave, you’re charm­ing and funny. The Killer Nashville atten­dees are going to lap up your South­ern Com­fort self.

  7. Hey Jane! I truly believe that action begets emo­tion, and your act­ing to over­come your anx­i­ety. Go you! Once you get into the panel, you’ll be so busy you won’t have time to worry. I applaud you for fac­ing down your fears. You are coura­geous! Roar!

    • Thank you, Keely! This morning’s panel went well, and I don’t think any­one noticed how ner­vous I was except me. And peo­ple bought books after­ward, which was lovely.

  8. Hi, Jane. I know you did well on your pan­els. I’m glad peo­ple bought books. I saw a few peo­ple track­ing you down with copies for you to sign.

    • They did buy books and track me down, Jaden, which made me feel like a celebrity. Thank you for ask­ing me to be on the pan­els. I sur­vived and am a bet­ter per­son for it.

  9. Jane,

    I’m a lit­tle late with this post but bet­ter late than never. If you recall, I sat on your right at said panel. I can tes­tify on your behalf, you did very well and not a sign of nervousness.

    You per­formed like the pro that you are!!!!

  10. Some­times I get fright­ened by the stu­pid­est things, i think most fear is due to lack of con­fi­dence in your­self, the only way to beat it is to face up to it, if you duck some­thing because you are afraid then you will always be afraid of it. If you do it despite the fear then you will con­quer that fear and be the bet­ter for it. … lol I’m great at giv­ing advice like that but lame at fol­low­ing it.

    • All true, David. In my youth, fear made me miss oppor­tu­ni­ties too often. I learned to plow ahead despite it, but I don’t always take my own advice either. It is eas­ier to give it than to fol­low it.
      Thanks for stop­ping by and commenting!

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