Umm, let me preface this with the fact that I SUCK at mingling. The very idea of striking up a conversation with an agent or editor...or even another writer, somewhat frightens me. To put it bluntly, I suck at small talk. My go to conversation piece is writing...my books...and if I'm feeling particularly bold, the fact that I used to do undercover work (upon which I have based one of my books). THAT, of course, is always a crowd favorite which inevitably ends with people insisting (or if I'm on the sauce -- ME insisting) that I show them how to fake snort cocaine. I have done this numerous times over the years, and it's never pretty.
I once bent over and started my hair on fire with the candle sitting in the middle of the table. Clearly, that was one of my saucier moments.
Is it abundantly clear that I often end up...well, making an arse of myself?
That said, what's the point of going to a writer's conference if you stay holed up in your room, too afraid to talk to anyone? This, my friends, is when you rely on the people who DO NOT have a problem striking up conversations with random strangers. In fact, you should SURROUND yourself with people who have no problem doing this. They should come armed with cupcakes.
I know that sounds weird, but you, like me, have probably underestimated the power of a little sugar and flour. And icing. Don't forget the icing.
The night before the RMFW conference began, I, along with my fellow gnomies, camped out in the bar with three dozen cupcakes...cookies...cheesecakes...and other assorted goodies, including one called Texas Trash. Which was total YUM, btw.
Then we just sat back and waited for everyone to come to us.
It totally worked. (g)
Okay, there was more to it than that. We happen to have gnomies who kick butt at the whole "hello, how are you" thing, and they busted their butts making sure people received invitations, and that everyone who happened by felt welcome. This allowed shy schmucks like myself to pretend for a moment that we're social genuises.
I know what you're thinking -- especially those who have met me. JEN, you are SO not shy.
Well, pssst...I really, really am. I cover it by acting the fool.
Don't believe me? What if I told you it took all of five minutes for Janet Reid* to threaten me with "her people?" I won't go into the specifics, but as you can see, I make an impression. Granted, most people probably wouldn't think a death threat is a GOOD thing. In my world, though, it's just an average day. And well...fun. (g)
Oh...and there was that writer fellow. *cough*James Born*cough* Very, very funny guy. From Florida. Cop. Liked to talk reeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaally slowly to the hick from Nebraska -- afraid she wouldn't understand otherwise. Personally, I think he must have played football down there at some point, and perhaps got knocked senseless by the Huskers a few too many times. For the record, I tried to take HIS cake back. :)
Then there was the lovely Becca Stumpf. So young. So sweet. So STALKED by half my group. She was awesome.
Jenny Rappaport...Mario Acevedo...Margie Lawson (who is totally made of awesome!)...and many, many others fell prey to our sugar bait.
I know it sounds silly, but those goodies were a great way to break the ice. They certainly made my debut into the conference world a whole heckuva lot smoother. So don't be afraid to try something outside the box. You never know who might stop by.
*And just for the record... Janet Reid really isn't as scary as she likes to pretend.
When you speak to her face to face, you actually forget about those teeth. And they're not really as sharp as they look. Promise.