Friday, July 25, 2008

The Shy Writer's Conference Guide

By Kate

You've heard their advice.

Step out of your comfort zone! Mingle!

Make a new friend at lunch every day!

Smile! Look approachable!

Everybody has an area of expertise! Give a workshop!

Are they kidding?

Have you ever noticed that the people who offer advice to us shy types are often jolly, talkative, outgoing extroverts who have absolutely no clue what HELL we introverts go through at times like this?

I mean, seriously! Mingle? Smile? Don’t they get it? If I smile at someone, that person might actually talk to me! Then what’ll I do? Answer them? Talk? I don’t think so! Spill my guts? It’s not going to happen! I’ll hem and haw and splutter and make a fool of myself – as usual! I might drool. I’m better off hiding in my room. Hey, people will bring me food and alcohol. It’s called room service. You should try it!


I’ve really got to mingle?

Okay, so how does a painfully shy person manage to enjoy a huge writers conference, meet new friends, mingle, impress industry professionals, and come home refreshed, revitalized and ready once again to take on the New York publishing industry?

Well, it helps to have friends in the Lair! Be sure to look for any of the Banditas wherever you go (your chances of spotting us are much higher if you’re in the bar). But what if you truly don’t know anyone?

Well, I’m here to help! I’ve come up with a few helpful hints and I call them…

The Three—no, Four—wait, Five!Habits of Highly Effective Shy People. Catchy, don’t you think? I should’ve come up with seven but I’m really shy, so give me a break.

1. “You have a pretty smile.” Really? I thought you were kidding about the whole smiling thing. I should smile more often? Yes, you should. People actually respond and appreciate someone who smiles at them. Editors will see your smile and like you. They'll look at your badge and remember your name and buy your book. This is a habit you could get used to, so try it.

2. “Can I bring you a shot of gin?” Be generous. Offer advice. Lend someone a pen. Show someone where the goodie room is. Better yet, show them where the bathroom is. It’s good karma, and people remember you later. Especially agents. Statistics prove that writers who show an agent where the bathroom is end up signing with that agent and selling more books than anyone else.

3. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” It’s lunch time and you’ve got to face those thundering hordes in that huge conference hall. It’s enough to drive a shy person right back up to her room where she can relax and watch Oprah. But NO! You must persevere! Here’s what you do. Look around for a familiar face. Not really, because you have no friends. You don’t know anybody. But you’re faking it, remember? So look around for someone. Darn it, you think. Where did that person, that fake friend of mine, go? Now find a table with an empty chair and an appealing vibe, glance around the room once more, then shake your head and say to whoever’s sitting nearest, “I can’t seem to find my critique partner. Is this seat taken?” Then sit down and say hello. Voila! You start the meal and the conversation on an even keel, with them knowing you’ve got friends--whether it's true or not! They don’t feel sorry for you, and you don’t feel sorry for yourself. Everybody’s ready to chat and have a nice meal. Uh, pass the congealed salad dressing, please?

4. “Hi, my name is Marla, and I’m sorry.” Okay, stop it. Don’t apologize. Shy people often feel like they’re intruding or imposing, but it’s not imposing to say hello and show an interest in someone else. It’s friendly! Try it! Without apologizing. Unless you step on their foot. That’s really awkward. You should apologize and try not to do that again.

5. “What are you writing?” Even shy people like to talk about themselves and if someone asks them this question, they’ll jump right in. So ask a question. Then listen to the answer. It’s the best way to keep the conversation going and possibly make a new friend. Hopefully that friend is a multi-published author who’ll introduce you to their agent who will quickly sign you up and sell your books for lots of money!

Good luck, shy people!

Okay, your turn! You don’t have to be going to conference to share today. Are you an introvert? Are you shy? Do you have any hints to share with the rest of us? Any tips to get us out there and mingling?

And you extraverts out there! I know you’re dying to give some networking advice! Please share your best experiences with us!


Eva S said...

I'm a very shy person and I want lots of helpful hints, thanks!

Eva S said...

Perhaps he can help me....

Gillian Layne said...

Go Eva! Congrats on that GR! :)

Boy, was this me last year. A plain nametag, no idea of what I was doing, a person who never travels and probably hadn't said the words, "I write historical romance" more than half a dozen times in her life. I walked into that huge hotel in Dallas like a country bumpkin and had to force myself from my hotel room after I changed my clothes.

Smiling helped. Reminding myself that my family had budgeted all year and I'd better go make good use of everything offered helped. The most wonderful thing was--every time I pushed myself to say Hi to a stranger (except one!), I was greeted like a long lost friend. Romance writers are simply the nicest bunch of people!

The "except one" was really funny--a girl from New York city looked horrified when I told her I was from Kansas and asked how on earth I could stand to live someplace so empty. She was so sincere, I just had to laugh!

I want to take this chance to wish all of you a safe and most wonderful trip next week. I'll be cheering so loudly on gala night I swear you'll be able to hear me all the way from 'empty' Kansas! :)

Helen said...

Cograts Eva he has been helping me cook all day he may be a bit overactive due to the chocolate and lollies so have fun with him.

Great post Kate
I am really shy with people I don't know I am not too bad if I have friends around me but on my own I really am terrible.

I do love meeting people and talking to them if someone talks to me first I will always answer but am not confident with the answers I am always worried about saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.

Your advice is great I agree smiling always helps and I know that romance writers are wonderful people who will make everyone feel welcome.

Have lots of fun everyone who is going and to those who are in the contests best wishes and good luck I have everything crossed for you all.

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Kate, yes, you really come across as the shy and retiring type. Just loved that post. I can't wait to read your novels, you have such an entertaining style.

I'm sort of shy and sort of...not. With writers, I never really feel the need to be shy. There's always something to talk about. I have, however, been known to make use of the old "Dutch Courage" aka a glass of wine or two to get myself in a more outgoing mood at a party.

And all the Bandita Buddies who are at National--remember, we have a saying in the Lair. No Bandita Buddy shall be lonely! If you see us, come up and say hi. We'd love to meet you.

Congrats on the GR, Eva! I'm sure the rooster can tease you out of that shy zone;)

Tawny said...

Can I be shy and extroverted? Please? Okay, can I be not shy and introverted? Because I'm one or the other LOL. Actually the not shy introverted one would be me. I really don't have a problem with people, am not the type to hide but am not crazy about large crowds -they exhaust me.

But I love conference and the rush of energy and inspiration and motivation it brings. So I brave the crowds and despite my preference to just hang with friends in the bar, I actually will talk to anyone who walks by and smiles.

Eva -congrats on the GR!

Gillian --empty? LOL, really? Thats just too funny. Well at least your cheers will have a lot of room to echo, right?

Natalie Hatch said...

I wish I was going to the conference, I really wish I was going to the Australian conference... but I'll sit here in my little laptop feeling sorry for myself until you lovely ladies tell me every detail leaving no ego unturned so that we wantabees get satisfaction.... please with a cherry on top?

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Kate, where were you when I was in my teens?? My youth was spent with my head down over a book LOL.
Eva S, the GR is not anywhere near to being shy, if anyone can help you he can.

Terry Odell said...

Good advice. I used to travel to conferences with DH (his conferences, not mine) so I was used to having someone along who knew people. I went to my first RWA Nationals in Atlanta and hardly knew anyone. There were chapter members there, but they had their own agendas.

But people are friendly. They're all there for the same basic reason, and they all understand what it's like to be a writer. The "May I join you?" and "What do you write?" are the perfect icebreakers.

Relax. Enjoy.

Lady Kate said...

Mrs. Wells has promised suspend my imprisonment temporarily and take me to this conference you all are so excited about. It sounds like quite a crush! No doubt I shall record my observations.

I'm not above a bit of gossip, even if Mrs. Wells wouldn't repeat a word!

There *might* even be photographs, if I can get this contraption to work...

Kim Howe said...

Great post, Kate. I'm with Mdme...I can't wait to read your novels as I love your voice.

I grew up moving from place to place, perpetually being the new kid in town. Little did I know that it was great training for networking! I'm with Kate on just reaching out and saying hello. Most people at the conference feel the same nervousness about meeting strangers and fitting in. If you make someone else feel comfortable, you'll make yourself feel better. Go for it!

Buffie said...

Great post Kate!!! And from one introvert to another, boy can I relate. You would think that a girl who had gone to 8 different schools by the time I reached 9th grade would not be an introvert, but each move made me more of one. I hate the feeling of stomach rolling when I walk into a room with people I do not know. And if it is a room full of authors I have never met, oh boy does that rolling get worse. I'm not exactly sure how butterflies roll but they do in my tummy!!

I think the hardest thing for me to do (and I have to literally make myself do it) is to make eye contact with everyone I can. That's really difficult for an introvert.

I so wish I was an extravert!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Eva! Congrats on snagging the GR! He's not a shy creature in the least, so he should help you get over your shyness. Just remember he's the lothario of the Lair, so watch out for his perusasive tactics!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Shyness, hmmm? I believe everyone is shy, yes even me, to a degree. It all depends on the situation.

For example: you walk into a room full of people where everyone is sitting in groups and trying not to look at the new person. If you are by yourself that can be uncomfortable. So I look for a group of two or maybe one person who doesn't look to crazed by a stranger sitting two seats over. Big smile. Sit. Wait a minute or two and then ask, "Is this so and so speaking?" Of course you KNOW it's so and so speaking...but this let's the other person be helpful to you. Makes them smile, usually, and gives you something to chat about.

Lunch.......DO. NOT. TRY. TO. HOLD. A. WHOLE. TABLE.

Ahem...this drives me nuts. I usually try to find one friend at lunch time to sit with. We try to find a table with people we don't know. When people say, "Oh this table is taken" it's like being in a room full of eight graders who only let cool people sit at their cool people's table.

Geesh people, the idea is to meet new people! You never know if that person you're turning away is the next break out novelest who has great tips on writing, or an agent looking to buy the kind of books your write, or a fabulous editor you have a pitch with that afternoon!!!

Okay, one last place to meet new people. Lines. Again, Smile! Ask, "excuse me, but is this the line to go to such and such free book signing?" Maybe that person will be at that "saved table" and say at lunch, "Oh, this is so and so, she's cool, let her sit at our cool people's table."

Okay...stepping off my soap box.

One last thing...if you see me...say "hi!". I promise to say "hi" back!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Dianna, there was nothing wrong with having your head down over a book. I used to take off my glasses and hold the book mere inches from my nose. It really closed off the world around me and let me get sucked into the author's world.

Luckily for me, when the glasses went on I just loved talking to I got the book reading part and the socializing lest y'all think I'm an extorvert to the took many situations where I had to make new friends to get semi comfortable with this. I lived in a school zone, where about 20 of us changed schools every few years while the majority of kids stayed in their naturally migrating schools, (i.e. same elementary, middle school, high school). Then nursing school and college at the same time. Learning two groups os classmates at once. Then my husband kept moving me from state to state.

So taming my introvert tendencies has been quite a process.

Dina said...

I'm gerenally a shy person, but I have opened up alot. I can talk to complete strangers in the stores and even say hi on th street.

I think it's much easier when you're in a place where everyone has same interests, it's makes it funner to approach people.

Joan said...

Kate? Shy? Really?

Hmmmm....gonna have to make close observations during Conference. I'm really not feeling it.

Anyway, I guess I can be kind of shy...on rare occasions...if I need to be.

But, overall I'm an extrovert who has minimal trouble starting up conversations at lunch tables, bathroom lines, quippy asides to a cab driver.

Lunch at RWA Conference is the best. You WILL find lots of new friends just by joining a table with people you don't know.(Or watch for my CP Lisa. She tends to bring in "strays" who she finds feeling tentative and shy to our table, LOL. In Reno, she collected a whole LITTER)

Anyway, you never know what you'll learn...about the market, craft, experiences all shared with people who "get" you.

Off to run a million errands before leaving tomorrow am. Conference is here! Woohoo!

Anonymous said...

Kate, a thoroughly snort-worthy and hilarious post! Now, I'd have to say after meeting you that you weren't the shyest kid on the block, but it's like I tell my kids about being brave -- it isn't that you aren't scared, it's that you do it even though you're scared.

So...even though your guts want to come out through your nose, shy folk, say hello! And please say hello to me, in particular. And then introduce yourself for the eighth time, because I probably have early onset Alzhemiers and have never been able to remember names or faces to save my life!!

Here's another tip -- forget about NETWORKING in the sense of getting to know people in order to put them in some database of "people I know who might be helpful in my writing career."

Ew. Shudder. Please don't do that. I know you think you're supposed to do that, but I hereby absolve you of the need. It's horrible, it's obvious, it's no fun, and it makes everyone uncomfortable.

I know you're at the conference because you're a writer and heck, we all want to advance our careers, that's a given, but when it comes to meeting people, forget all that. If you are meeting people because of what they can do for you, you'll have a miserable time and so will they. Just go meet people because they're interesting human beings.

Because really, it isn't the 30 seconds you get with Axelrod that's going to advance your career. It's the 20 minutes with the random unpublished writer sitting next to you at lunch who sparks an idea that leads to the next ms that you write that you send to Axelrod that changes your life. Don't prejudge who who is "important" to get to know at a conference. Yes, listen to the agents and editors at panels and workshops, but meet your fellow writers. They're the ones who hold your hand when you're down, inspire you, tell you if you're about to sign a truly heinous contract, and come up with fabulous titles for you next book.

Kate Carlisle said...

Eva, congratulations!! Oh yeah, he'll help you overcome your shyness, my dear. But be careful, next thing we know, you'll be dancing on tables!

Kate Carlisle said...

Gillian, I know that person you're describing. Me! That was a long time ago but I still get that same wobbly feeling when I walk into the conference hotel and see all those women! They seem to belong and I don't. Nowadays, I snap out of it pretty quickly though. There are lots of familiar faces and everyone really is so friendly. Even the ones from that "empty" state of Kansas! LOL!

p226 said...

Me? Introvert? No. Not really. Extrovert? No. Not really. I'm somewhere in between. I have no problem with public speaking. I do plenty of that. And yeah, I can do the grip n grin thing just fine afterwards. But I dislike crowds, and unless I have some reason to talk to you, I probably wouldn't just strike up a conversation.

I think deep down, I'm a pretty solitary guy. I'm not energized by meeting new folks. I'm energized by solitude.

I suppose there are exceptions. For example, on the range I'll strike up conversations with other shooters. Especially if they have some gear I think is neat. Or if they're shooting particularly well. But most folks don't. Most folks shoot pretty poorly. And I'm constantly resisting the urge to give pointers. I mean, I can just see so much wrong with the way so many people shoot. And often, a single, simple pointer would make a world of difference for them. But I resist. Because so many people take offense at constructive advice.

Does that happen among you writer types? If some problem is glaring, do you have to resist pointing it out at the risk of offense?

But I'd honestly enjoy a large social gathering more if I were outside on a balcony watching traffic pass, than inside "mingling." I don't "mingle."

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Helen! Sounds like you and the GR had a good day as you cooked and he ate chocolate. Wish I was there!

I am like you. My close friends just laugh when I insist that I really am shy. I'm very comfortable and outgoing with the people I know, but walk into a room full of strangers and I turn into a shrinking violet. :-)

The Banditasa will try to keep you posted while we're in San Francisco!

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay, Eva!! Show up at ANY event with the GR on your arm and you are a guaranteed hit!! He is a social maven, trust me. (Keep him AWAY from the liquor from all accounts!)

Waving madly at my CP, Gillian!! Kansas isn't empty! It has you! I am so disappointed you won't be in San Francisco, but DC is a definite maybe, right?

From all accounts Kate is NOT a wallflower by any stretch of the imagination. I must confess I am not either. I love to meet people and make friends (I agree Kirsten, the objective is to make friends - not network!)The really funny thing is that I tend to be a hermit here at home. I would be perfectly happy working from home and going to town once a week for groceries. I don't mind public speaking or singing, but I do love to run back to my nest! I feel most comfortable at home with my books, my dogs, my cats and my five acres of solitude. Well, and my internet so I can talk to all of my friends. Will their be squealing when we all meet?

Kate Carlisle said...

Thanks, Madame! Yes, I am rather shy and retiring, but I do have some familiarity with the "Dutch courage" that you mention. It always works for me. *g*

I have a few breakfast meetings scheduled. I wonder if that's too early to start gathering my courage. Thoughts, anyone? :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL Tawny! I have a similar problem trying to figure out whether I'm a shy extrovert or an outgoing introvert. Can we be both? I did some reading on this subject and some researchers say that extroverts actually gain energy from being with other people while introverts need to go off and be alone in order to gain energy. It's not a matter of shyness, it's actually a physical need. So go figure.

And that's about as scientific as I'm every going to be!

Anyway, you probably could be an "outgoing introvert" if you're always friendly and smiling but get exhausted by the crowds.

Kate Carlisle said...

Natalie, we won't leave you high and dry! I promise you we'll have lots to report from San Francisco. And there will be pictures, too! Mwahahahahaha!

Kate Carlisle said...

Dianna, I'm right there with you. My family moved a lot while I was growing up and the first thing I sought out was the closest library. Reading was my outlet and books were my best friends for years! I don't think that's such a bad thing. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Terry! "Relax and enjoy" should be stencilled on everyone's foreheads at conference! Especially in the editor-agent appointment areas. It's so stressful for some many people. I hope our Banditas and Buddies can manage to enjoy the process and not freak out too much. At any rate, there will be emergency pitch sessions and post-pitch commiseration going on in the bar at all hours. Maybe we should post a schedule. ;-)

Terry, will you be in San Francisco? Will you be signing books? I'd love to meet you!

Kate Carlisle said...

Lady Kate, what an honor and pleasure to see you in the Lair! And how delightful that you'll be allowed to visit San Francisco. I can't wait to read your version of the events. And pictures, too? Excellent! We'll want to see the evidence--er, memories! of this exciting visit of yours!

Kate Carlisle said...

Kim!! Can't wait to see you in SF!

Your story just goes to show how different people react to certain situations. My family moved a lot, too, but it did nothing for my networking skills! It did help with my reading skills, however. I just checked more books out of the library with every move! LOL

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh Buffie, I see you had the same experience with moving as I did. Butterflies rolling? Yep, I can relate!

Making eye contact is very scary! I figure I'll get someone up in my face going "You looking at ME?" And I'll spend the rest of the week watching Oprah in my room! Oh yeah, avoid eye contact at all times!! LOL

Kate Carlisle said...

OMG, Suz! You might be the friendliest person I've ever met at conference! Everyone should be so lucky to be in line when Suz is working it!

I sooooo agree with you on the table holding issue! Isn't that the most aggravating situation? Who do they think they are? They are so NOT the cool people! God forbid they should sit next to someone new for an hour or so. It's just lunch, people, take a baby step outside your comfort zone for one measly hour.

Or Suz will kick your ::bleep!!::

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Dina! Yes, it should be easier when everyone has similar interests. We can all relate to the horror stories and the emotional highs and lows. When you know everyone else has been through what you're going through, it should make it a little easier to start a conversation with a stranger. Even easier if you've got a wee dram of Christine's Dutch courage with you. ;-)

Beth said...

Awesome post, Kate and I love all of your advice *g*

Like Tawny I don't consider myself shy but I'm not an extrovert either - just stuck somewhere between the two I guess :-)

I've used the old Fake It 'Til You Make It advice for a few years and have gotten better at pushing myself to start conversations or say hello. I know it can be hard to do and sometimes scary but honestly, the more you do it, the easier it becomes *g*

flchen1 said...

Congrats on the GR, Eva!! Now there's a bird who doesn't know the meaning of shy! ;)

Thanks for the tips, Kate--definitely excellent! I think that trying to remind myself that other people feel the same way I do helps, as does looking out for other people who look as I feel, and then trying to make a point of saying hi and reaching out to them. (That whole business about how when you're thinking about someone else, you aren't thinking about yourself...)

Kate Carlisle said...

Joanie!! I'm shy, really! But I'm LOL at the idea that you are, too. Yeah. Right. *g*

Now I wish I could be part of Lisa's litter. Don't be surprised if you see me at your lunch table, whimpering and shivering with happiness that I've been rescued by her!

Congratulations on your freedom!! Can't wait to see ya in SF!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Kirsten! Ah yes, the visual of my guts coming out of my nose is a good one, and so appropos of what I feel in these situations!

I couldn't agree more with your "networking" issue. I only had one experience with someone "networking" me and I felt like I'd been slimed! It's almost like they had a list on a clipboard and I'd just been checked off. Very weird.
It's no wonder some agents and editors book their rooms in different hotels, just so they won't be faced with that network mentality on every elevator ride they take!

So yeah, just be friendly! Dare I yourself. Make friends, not conquests. It really does help your career in the long run.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Off the scale extrovert here...but you'd never have guessed that, right? *VBG* Every time I take that Myers Briggs thing, I'm more extroverted. Conference is just a huge pool of energy and ideas and fun for me. So many people to meet, so little time. Only a week. It goes by SO fast.

I have to say though that I've used that, "Gosh, I can't find my CP, all right if I join you?" line even though I'm extroverted. Ha! Works like a charm. Of course, since I don't currently HAVE a CP, this year it would be a bald-faced lie. Ha!

I love going to conference and meeting people. No matter where they're from - Kansas, NYC, Montana - there's something interesting to find out. Besides, I might want to set a book in Kansas and need an opinion about the local "wildlife." And, as my DH will tell you, I can talk to rocks and get them to tell me all about where they live, what they do, how many children they have (if any), and/or all about their pets. How fun is that?

Not only is it interesting in and of itself, it's fun and useful stuff.

One other suggestion for those of the more shy persuasion...volunteer. It's so much easier to chat people up when you have a purpose - registration, goodie room, ticket taker. That gives you a legit reason to say hello, make eye contact, all that.

Eva, watch out for that rooster. What on earth are we going to do with him? He's such a gad-about. He's promised to behave at conference, but really, c'mon, do YOU believe him? Ha! Thought not.

Kate Carlisle said...

P226, you sound like a classic introvert from all I've read on the subject. Especially if you actually get energy from being alone. I do that, too. After hours of mingling (ugh), I walk into my quiet hotel room and find I can actually breathe and think again.

Speaking for myself, I am always hesitant to offer criticism or suggestions. I judge contests but never sign my name. It's the same as any other business or artistic endeavor or sport, I guess. People ask for help or criticism or suggestions but when you give it to them, they give back excuses or reasons why you're wrong. I think it's harder to find a good and trusted critique partner than it is to find an agent in this business!

Michele said...

Great tips, Kate! Now, let's hope I will be able to remember them. If you ever see me with the "deer in the headlights stare," then you'll know what happened. LOL

I'm definitely a quiet person (not necessarily shy), but I have to psyche myself up to act like an extrovert for conferences and such. And what the heck, I might try the "Dutch Courage" too and see if that helps. :-)

Donna MacMeans said...

I'm an extrovert - I admit it.

I've done every embarrassing thing in my lifetime that a person can do so I have no fear anymore of making a fool of myself *g*.

Plus I love to talk to people, I love to meet new people. I've warned my friends that if I see them sitting at a lunch table, I'll probably go to a different table - just so I'll meet someone new. I see my friends from home all the time.

I talk to strangers at airports and airplanes - heck, they practically have you sit in your neighbor's lap so why not. (have some stories there *g*) I've had a complete stranger at the NYC airport ask if I was going to the RWA hotel and could she share a cab. I have no idea how she knew I was a romance writer - she said she'd thought she'd seen me at a conference before, but we never could figure out where.

So - if you see me in San Francisco, be sure to say HI! I would love to put a face with the avatar.

MsHellion said...

Very nice! And I really appreciate the fake statistic about agents and showing the bathroom. That one really made me laugh...though, I imagine at least ONE person has gotten published for that. Somewhere. :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna, so THAT's how people get rides to the conference hotel! Wow, I'll have to try that!

Esri Rose said...

Very funny post! Particularly loved your "fake friend" bit. :D

My first tip is to compliment someone. All you have to say is, "I really like those shoes/hat/dress." Chances are, the person will respond with something like, "I got it on a huge sale at Marshall's," you can say, "I love Marshall's!" Look! You're having a conversation!

I also think it helps to have a little job to do, especially if it's your first conference. One of the easiest ways to do that is to turn yourself into a reporter. It's easy, and makes other people do the talking. I blogged about it here:

terrio said...

Wait a minute. Is this "party girl in college" Kate? I'm having a hard time believing the shy bit. LOL!

I must be Jeanne's twin. Extroverted all the way. Though sometimes people equate that with obnoxious and I assure you, I am not obnoxious. And if I come across that way, smack the fire out of me.

I get energy from large groups so I may be wired for sound by the end of the conference. And I can talk to anyone. Or anything. Working in radio, you learn to converse with inanimate objects. However, I would never butt if I felt like I was..well...butting in.

I've said my purpose for this conference is to learn more about the craft and network. But when I say network, I really mean to meet people. Just to make some kind of connection so if I ever do query a particular editor or agent, I can say, "You may remember me as the girl who talked you into buying a raffle ticket that won you that giant prize."

So for me, it's making friendly contact with as many people as possible.

limecello said...

Loved the helpful hints. I'm extremely shy and something of an introvert, but I think I ascribe to the "fake it til you make it" school of thought. Sometimes, you just have to be bold to get what you want. Sometimes this backfires, or you just meet up with jerks. [Two minor incidents were when I had to get a chair at wherever I was, so I stepped up to a table with a bunch of empty chairs to see if I could have one by asking "Is this chair taken?" I got a "It's taken." And as I walked away, overheard "but the other one isn't." Very puerile.] I'm going to say editors and others at a writing conference will be nicer though. I especially like #3 -very clever. I wouldn't think to add the "critique partner" aspect. I think that rounds it out nicely.

Virginia said...

I was a very shy person when I was younger. I think as I got older I changed some. I am still a little shy but nothing like I used to be.

Esri Rose said...

Kate, regarding Dutch courage and breakfast meetings.

Mimosas look festive and celebratory. No one will think twice about you having one, as opposed to asking for a shot of tequila with your scrambled eggs. :D

Kate Carlisle said...

Louisa, I guarantee there will be squealing when we all finally meet in SF! I can't wait!

No, I'm not exactly a wallflower but it takes some serious deep breathing exercises to pry me away from the wall. :-)

Oh, and there will also be great squealing and cheering Saturday night when we hear your name called!! Wheeee!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Beth! Can't wait to see you in SF! I think I'm stuck in the middle with you (hey, that's a lyric!) and Tawny. I won't be at all shy when the Banditas meet in the bar! But walking into lunch and searching for a friendly face? Gaaaaah!!

Jennifer Y. said...

OH, I so needed this post! I am very much an introvert and pretty shy. I open up a bit once I get to know you, but I tend to be a wallflower at most events.

This will be my first conference so I am very nervous. How's that for diving into the deep end head first? I don't start small, huh?

The writing bug keeps circling my head and trying to bite me, so I am hoping I learn some useful info at the conference just in case the bug spray doesn't work. LOL

Plus it will be wonderful to see some of my fave authors and online buddies.

Kate Carlisle said...

flchen, it really does help to realize that lots of these people feel the same way I do. Sometimes if I just say something like "Are you as nervous as I am?" it breaks the ice and we can talk and get to know each other.

Now if I can just stop shaking and remember that! :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Jeanne, I so envy your ability to chat up a rock! Not only are you friendly, outgoing and talkative, but I've never seen anyone handle a panel of editors as well as you can!

Great advice about volunteering! I highly recommend it to any of our shy folks going to conference.

Jane said...

Ack, I hate big gatherings. I'm very shy. I have a hard time mingling unless I'm there with someone I know. I get red and my I start sweating when I have to speak to strangers. Alcohol really helps when you want to loosen up.

Cassondra said...

Conference wears me out because it's so intense--so many people for such a long time without anywhere to go to get alone. I am a person who needs a lot of alone time.

That said...

I will talk to a rock if it sits still long enough. (I haven't had a rock get up and walk away yet, but there's still time).

I start conversations no matter where I am and no matter what I'm doing. If there's a person within ten feet of me, I will talk to this person.

I think Esri's exactly right. If you can find something to compliment--or something interesting to note about a person then BAM, you're talking. I like complimenting people or saying things that might make someone feel more "up"--especially at an event where there's a lot of stuff going on that can bring a writer down--maybe they had a bad pitch, or this is their first time pitching and they're nervous....

Obviously it's finding ways to SHUT UP that is my difficulty. Like ideas for stories--stuff to talk about is everywhere.

And Kirsten is dead on about the "networking." The thing to do is meet people and make new friends and just "be" the person you are. I can't tell you how many helpful people I've met (some of whom are now #1NYT Bestsellers and STILL my friends to this day because of our first meeting) by sharing a table at lunch with people I didn't know--or holding an elevator door, or picking up something they dropped accidentally....

Just being a nice person, introducing people to others--that's the way to do it.

And when all else fails, it's AMAZING how long it can take you to get coffee, put cream and sugar in it, get a napkin, throw your sugar packets away, etc...all while waiting for someone ELSE to show up....then you can have a conversation.

Cassondra said...

OH! Did Jeanne say she will talk to rocks too?

Hmmm. Yet another evil twin thing. Sorry. I didn't read through all the comments.

Hey, rocks need friends too!

Cassondra said...

You know, the hard one is the one P226 mentioned, and I'm not good at it either.

When you go to a party and you're supposed to "mingle." It's not so hard now that I know more writers, but at first, walking into a room full of strangers and trying to find a way to become part of a group is the most difficult thing I think. That's where the coffee line trick comes in handy for me.

And when all else fails, I go and sit--where someone CAN sit beside me.

And then there's the "I'm so sorry to interrupt your conversation but I just had to tell you how much I LOVE those shoes!" (This will work especially well with Tawny.)

Cassondra said...

jennifer Y said:

This will be my first conference so I am very nervous. How's that for diving into the deep end head first? I don't start small, huh?

The writing bug keeps circling my head and trying to bite me, so I am hoping I learn some useful info at the conference just in case the bug spray doesn't work. LOL

Oh HONEY! You will come home wanting to write. YOu'll hear talks by the most amazing people. And you'll make so many new friends. Bug spray? Oh dear. By the time you leave, you'll have a SWARM. There is no bug spray that will fix this.

Just walk up to one of us and start talking. (You'll have to say "I'm Jenifer Y from the blog" if it's me, cuz I'm awful at knowing names and faces and avatars and online personas).

Esri Rose said...

I assume Jennifer Y is Jennifer from Jennifer's Random Musings? She reviews romance and does author interviews on her blog, folks. Definitely check her out.

Hi Jennifer!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Terrio said: "I am not obnoxious. And if I come across that way, smack the fire out of me."

Ditto. :> I think as we get older those of us with a bouncy, hey-lets-chat gene in the forefront tend to grow out of the obnoxious stage around 20 or so. The first job tends to knock the "fresh" off ya'!

Cassondra, it IS the evil twin thing. Bwah-ha-ha!

Maureen Child said...

Kate, that was a GREAT post! Love it......I'm going to keep smiling until someone comes and carts me away to a lovely private room...=) They'll still serve liquor, right?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jennifer, we are ALL thrilled to meet you in person - or at least I am! I'll forever be your fan because you were the first blog I guested on after I found out I was going to be pubbed. :> Yeah, Jennifer's Random Musings!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Michele! I agree you're not shy. Anyone who can interview agents and editors can't be too shy! Just sayin'. :-)

I'll meet you in the Dutch Courage Salon--aka the bar--to discuss this further!

Santa said...

I am a very shy and reserved person.

Nah! I can't even type that with a straight face! I wouldn't say I'm an extrovert either. I guess I just feel comfortable in most situations. Maybe that comes from my training background and my present stint as deli diva.

People also tend to approach me and tell me their life stories. Usually more than I would ever want to know. I must have some 'Come Hither' look on my face, not that it's attracted any hot bodes, save my DH, you understand!

Kate Carlisle said...

Donna, another friendly extrovert!

Anyone who saw Donna handling that FAN during her onstage time at the RITAs last year could see that this woman knows how to work the crowd!

I definitely want to hear your stories about sitting in strangers' laps on airplanes!

Kate Carlisle said...

mshellion, it had to have happened at least once, right? And it could happen again, right? Somebody should go for it! And don't forget to report back. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Esri! Thanks for the link to your article. I loved it! Very funny, plus lots of great ideas.

And compliments are always a good idea. I am incapable of styling my hair so I admire women who can. I always like to compliment a good hair style. Like, how do they get their hair into those french braids or those perfect pony tails and twists and things? Impossible! I'm very impressed by these things. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Aw jeez, Terrio! I thought everyone would forget about that little college party girl comment I made so long ago! I guess the blog really does live forever! LOL

And you're another friendly talkative extrovert. I can't wait to meet you! And I seriously doubt we'll have to smack you, ever. But maybe we should have Aunty standing by with her crop, just in case! *VBG* :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh, limecello, I'm righteously indignant on your behalf. Those two were just jerks. I'd almost want to turn around and tell them I wouldn't sit next to them on a bet. But I wouldn't because I'm a little too shy for that. But they'll get theirs!! (Kate shakes her fist at the sky.) Humph!

Kate Carlisle said...

Virginia, hi! I'm getting better as I get older, too. Thank goodness, right? :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL Esri! Tequila with scrambled eggs. Yum! Maybe a little Tapitio sauce with that, hmm?

I was thinking of a little Baileys in my coffee. How does that sound? Hehehe

Jennifer Y. said...

Esri said: I assume Jennifer Y is Jennifer from Jennifer's Random Musings? She reviews romance and does author interviews on her blog, folks. Definitely check her out.

Yep, that's me...and I even have pretty little business cards now. LOL

Thanks, Esri. And everyone should go read her book, Bound to Love Her! I loved it...kind of made me wish for an elf of my own.

Cassondra said: Just walk up to one of us and start talking. (You'll have to say "I'm Jenifer Y from the blog" if it's me, cuz I'm awful at knowing names and faces and avatars and online personas).

LOL...that's how I have introduced myself at the various signings I have been to. "Hello, I am Jennifer Y. from online. We've (fill-in-the blank with chatted, talked through blogs, etc.)" Most of them recongnize me as soon as I say that. LOL My friends joked that I need a T-shirt that says "Jennifer Y."

I am meeting a group of people who have been doing the conference and writing thing for a while so they said they'd help introduce me around...they aren't as shy as me. LOL

As for the writing thing...I entered a writing contest on a blog a while back and won...since then I have had a couple of people encouraging me to finish the story, but I need some confidence in myself, I think.

Kate Carlisle said...

Jennifer, you will not be alone at this conference! It's the Lair motto and it extends to the conference. No Bandita shall be alone at conference. Whether you want to be or not! LOL

You're going to go home overloaded with great information and ideas, along with faces and names and memories you'll never forget. It's going to be fabulous!

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh Jane, I feel your pain! Sometimes it's like my mind flash freezes, then melts and empties out. I'm left with nothing to say, completely incapable of speaking. It's quite bizarre.

Yup, I can relate. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Okay Cassondra, you're definitely Jeanne's evil twin. Or maybe she's the evil one. But you both talk to rocks so clearly you're both, um, special. LOL

I like your coffee/sugar/cream trick. I might try that!

And yes, complimenting the shoes will get you very far with a number of the Banditas! :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Jennifer, ditto what Cassondra and Esri said! You will not be alone for long!

Jeanne, you could never be obnoxious! But you and Cassondra are definitely evil twins. I wish I had an evil twin...

Kate Carlisle said...

Maureen!!! My evil twin!!!

(Banditas, Maureen is one of the friendliest people ever. She tries to pretend she's anti-social but she can't help herself. She's such a doll! Now I'd better shut up before she smacks me!)

Oh yeah, Maureen, there'll be liquor wherever they take you. I'll make sure of it. :-)

Jennifer Y. said...

Jennifer, we are ALL thrilled to meet you in person - or at least I am! I'll forever be your fan because you were the first blog I guested on after I found out I was going to be pubbed. :> Yeah, Jennifer's Random Musings!

*sniff sniff* Aww...I feel the love.

Kate Carlisle said...

Santa, you had me going there ... LOL!

I used to have people telling me their life stories, too. I'm not sure why. Maybe they knew I was too shy to tell anyone else, so I could be trusted? Who knows? But I know I didn't have that 'come hither' look you're talking about. Oh wait, maybe I did. After all, I was a big party girl in college.*g*

Kate Carlisle said...

Jennifer, I think wearing that t-shirt is a great idea! But any way you shake it, you're going to have a blast at conference. Sounds like everyone's looking out for you! :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

And Jennifer's business card will be the thing to take away this year! Better bring lots, J! :-)

Helen said...


You are going to have so much fun with so many friends and finish that book I would love to read it

Have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Kate Carlisle said...
Thanks, Madame! Yes, I am rather shy and retiring, but I do have some familiarity with the "Dutch courage" that you mention. It always works for me. *g*

I have a few breakfast meetings scheduled. I wonder if that's too early to start gathering my courage. Thoughts, anyone? :-)

Put vodka in the orange juice, that should loosen you up!

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Kate. I think the most important thing is SMILE!! When I'm deep in thought or concentrating on something else, I forget to smile and just look plain grumpy.

Eva S, congrats on getting the rooster today!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Kate Carlisle said...
Dianna, I'm right there with you. My family moved a lot while I was growing up and the first thing I sought out was the closest library. Reading was my outlet and books were my best friends for years! I don't think that's such a bad thing. :-)

I had a heck of a vocabulary but people really look at you funny when you try to talk like that in general, my second husband made fun of me all the time.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WOW! I'm so busy trying to get ready for the conference that I almost missed the party!

GREAT blog, Kate!

I definitely fall onto the extrovert side on the Meyers/Briggs scale, but I think I'm more like p226 (Aunty pauses to let that scary picture settle in your mind). I don't mind public speaking and I know how to work the crowd when I need to. But I like my down time, too.

I have no problem starting a conversation with anyone, anywhere. And as for those stuck in junior high and "saving" seats, I have a comeback: "Fine, I'll just sit here until your friends show up." :-P

polishing up her crop before she packs it

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

DITTO on what Jeanne said! Your blog was also the first place I guested after I sold and I'm forever grateful to you!

NO WAY will you be a wallflower! Nor any other Bandita or Bandita Buddy. Just walk up to the nearest Bandita (you'll know us by our bright shiny smiles and our Bandita bling compliments of KJ) and say HI!


Pat Cochran said...

I began life as a frozen-stiff, totally-unable-to-speak introvert
which stayed with me through school
days. I began to defrost about the time Patsy Swayze taught a group of us nursing students to Can Can dance. Later in life when I began another career as a "professional volunteer," I found I was becoming somewhat of an extrovert. Today I sit somewhere on the fence "betwix and between" the two!

To those going to RWA, be safe and
raise a glass on behalf of those
of us unable to join you!

Pat Cochran

Kate Carlisle said...

Dianna, thanks for the OJ and Vodka tip! LOLOL

Kate Carlisle said...

Good advice, Jo. When someone catches me deep in thought, they usually ask me who died. I've got to remember to smile and stop thinking too deeply. Shouldn't be too hard. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Aunty Cindy, glad you made it to the party!! And pardon me while I {{shudder}} at that picture of you and P226! LOL

Good comeback to those snooty table wenches! Better keep that crop polished. We might need your services at some point.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Pat! How fun it must've been dancing the Can Can with all the nurses and a fabulous teacher!

Thanks for the toast! The Banditas will be checking in to share their photos and stories and adventures from the conference so we won't leave you behind!!

limecello said...

Kate - haha, thanks. I think what saved me from being more upset was that I didn't want to sit with them, I just wanted the chair. But if I had been a stranger alone and wanting to sit with them, I would have been *crushed.*