Monday, September 24, 2012

Liz's Lair: Networking at Conferences (Encore Blog)



First off, let me explain that I am madly racing to finish book 4 of my Clueless Cook series for Berkley. The minute I finish it, I have to start on my second A Dead Sister Mystery for Midnight Ink which is due in April. And tomorrow I leave for The Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy, with my agent and my CP. That's why this is an encore blog dressed up. Here goes.

Mother, Do You Have To Talk To Everyone?

To this day, my kids still ask me that. I love to talk to people and usually do, which brings me to the first part of my topic, networking at conferences.

There is no better place to connect with people who “get” you than at a writers’ conference. Even if you are an introvert, someone like me is going to come up to you and ask what you write. Before you know it, you will be talking to a perfect stranger (me) and wondering exactly how many lattes I had that morning. (Remember Kramer on that one Seinfeld episode when he had too many? That’s me.)

And you wanna know something? Nine times out of ten, your answer will surprise the bejesus out of me. While I pictured you writing sweet romances, you floor me with plots of steamy erotica or vampire-hunting, shape-shifting werewolves. I love conferences for this reason. Even the smaller ones are great for networking. Matter of fact, sometimes they are more intimate and allow for better access to one-on-one time with the editors and agents in attendance.

That said, I love RWA Nationals, one of the biggest ones out there. I adore the crowds, the goody room, the bars at night where everyone in there is talking writing and just about everything else, including the great workshops where you can’t help learning new stuff.Unfortunately, I haven't gone the past few years for two reasons. I can't afford it, and I no longer consider myself a romance author. I decided any conference I attend would have to be all about mysteries.

Some rules are made to be broken
 
WFF is not a mystery conference nor is it specific to romance. It's a multi-genre conference where I will rub noses with foreign editors, writers, and translators. I am practicing my best schmoozing techniques so that maybe I can score a foreign deal or two!! I leave on tomorrow and will arrive in Rome Wednesday morning. Chrisitne (agent) and I are on the same flight and we'll meet up with Joni (CP) in Rome. There we'll board another flight to Bari where a shuttle will meet us and take us to  Matera and the conference. 
 
I am getting so excited not only because I have heard this conference is awesome, but because I am looking forward to spending time with both my CP and my agent. AND we are spending three days after the conference on the island of Ichia, the land of healing waters and spas. I may never come home.
 
Anyway, I digress. At all the conferences I attend, I like to collect business cards. Because I am of the age where memory doesn’t always serve, I write a little something on the back to help me put a face to the name. Last week, I was going through my stack and decided to share some with you. Most of them simply say stuff like - Canadian at breakfast, Dallas 2007, bookseller at lunch in DC 2009, etc. Some are more specific and a few are downright interesting. Those are the ones I’m gonna list. I’ll leave out the names to protect the innocent – and to keep from getting harassing emails.

A police homicide commander from Atlanta who said to call him anytime. NEVER HEARD FROM HIM.

A woman who won the Librarian of the Year award in 2006. NO CONTACT

Two women I met at the Harlequin party we crashed last year. Both belong to online book clubs and said to let them know when I sell, and they’ll get the word out to buy my book. Yippee!! THIS IS THE WONDERFUL BECKE DAVIS OF B & N WHO HAS BECOME A GREAT CYBER FRIEND.

A Wild Rose Press editor who acquires dark paranormal. Since I don’t write that, I just partied with her. THIS IS JOELLE WALKER WHO NO LONGER EDITS FOR WRP. (SHE STILL EDITS BUT I'M NOT SURE WHERE.) ANYWAY, SHE HAS SINCE JOINED MY LOCAL CHAPTER AND HAS ALSO BECOME MY FRIEND.

A young guy from my chapter who asked if I’d look at some of his work. Not being able to say no - another thing I am famous for – I said yes and he whipped out seven chapters. Fortunately for me, his seven chapters were only 20 pages total!! NEVER SEEN OR HEARD FROM HIM AGAIN AFTER I SENT THE CRITIQUE. SHEESH! AM I THAT BAD?

And last but not least, in Reno, I sat with an older guy who was a chiropractor. He said he was shopping his book – are you sitting down? – a 650 page story involving the colon. THANK GOODNESS THIS BOOK NEVER CAME OUT. HAVEN'T EVER SEEN HIM AT ANY OTHER CONFERENCES.

You can’t make up crap like this--pun intended!!

And you must be wondering what the picture has to do with anything. Absolutely nothing. I just couldn't resist. This one makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it. Kind of like when I write something really stupid and my CP writes in big letters WTF??

Ciao!
 
Got any good stories about meeting other writers?

1 comment:

Anita Clenney said...

This is a great blog, Liz and worth posting again. I hope you guys have a wonderful time in Italy.