Saturday, July 2, 2011

The New Kid on the Block


“Um…hello…my name is Vicki Essex and I’m a Superromance author.”

It’s still weird to say that. Not only because I’m still getting used to addressing myself by my pen name, but also because six months ago, I never would have thought I’d be able to use those hallowed words.
Superromance author. I share that designation with the likes of Tara Taylor Quinn, Brenda Novak, Molly O’Keefe, Roz Denny Fox, Lenora Worth…

And as I list these talented bestselling authors, my heart rate triples and I break out in a sweat.

Who the heck am I to be among such esteemed writers? I’m just a kid, or so I keep telling myself (my bones tell me otherwise on rainy days). I eat cereal in my pajamas on Saturday mornings and spend hours playing video games in the afternoons. I still have stuffed animals in my bedroom. I own silly socks and sillier hats. Surely real serious authors don’t spend as much time as I do reading comic books and watching cartoons?

After I uncurl myself from fetal position, I take a deep breath and take stock of the past six months. I am an author, like it or love it, and I have the contract, flat butt and gray hairs to prove it.

The day I got the Call, I didn’t realize how my world would change. I had to commit to my pen name, set up a website, start using all those lessons I learned from marketing and promotion workshops to pull my "brand identity" together. I had to set up accounts for Twitter and Facebook, reorganize my blog…it was one thing after another, and as I rush headlong toward my debut release date (Her Son’s Hero will be out mid-July 2011) I find myself just barely keeping my head above water.

When my name started popping up on sites like Goodreads and Amazon—big, blank pages just waiting for those first reviews—I retreated back into my cave of fear.

What had I gotten myself into?

I’m a wallflower by nature. At my RWA chapter meetings, I’m usually the one in the back hoping someone—or no one—notices I’m there. I can’t even look people in the eye most of the time. Now I’m this other person—this author among greats—and I feel a little like a sparrow among songbirds.

I was putting myself out there in a way I never had before. Only when I realized these other authors did the same thing with each new release, I felt a bit more relaxed.

Because every time they put out a new book, they face rejection, edits, more edits, defeat and victory in many little forms. They have to run the gamut of self-promotion, read those first few reviews with bated breath, laugh and cry and celebrate. I’m sure there are a few stiff drinks thrown in between.

Above all else, I realize this: all these wonderful, dedicated, talented published authors are probably just human. I bet some of them own silly hats, too.

If I can remember that, I bet I could make friends.

So, here I am, stepping out and meekly waving hello. Help me make some new friends! How do you enter a new social situation? What are your tactics for networking and meeting people? Do you go for the cold introduction? Inveigle yourself among a small group and share a joke? Do a magic trick? What are your friendly pickup lines?

43 comments:

Kaelee said...

Hi Vicki,

I'm shy and hang back but once I get started I talk too much to cover my nervousness. I can hear myself doing it but I can't stop myself. It's like a dam bursting out. Maybe it's because I spend too much time with my cats.

I'm looking forward to reading your book. You have made a great start in the promotion department today.

msullivan said...

Hi Vicki! So glad to see you here! Welcome to a wonderful group of authors. I'm still in shock and wonder that they let me 'hang' with them.

Being basically shy, I face the same problem as you--those pesky social situations can be difficult. I've found the best way for me to deal with them is to look for the friendliest face(s) and ask questions about themselves (nothing invasive, just typical chit chat stuff). People like to talk about themselves. The other thing I have done is to volunteer in any type of group that has regular meetings, i.e. once as a newsletter editor or also as a board member. Every time I went to a meeting I had to deal with people in my 'official' capacity and made friends so quickly.

I know what you mean about the flat butt. I have a square desk chair butt these days. So NOT attractive. *sigh* ;-)

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Welcome, Vicki! I am already looking forward to your book. Supers are some of my favorite reads.

I will talk to anyone and everyone. But I am in the situation now of being able to go to groups during the week and I am totally overwhelmed. There are so many opportunities out there!

The wonderful thing about Facebook is it will give your readers the opportunity to interact with you. It will give you the opportunity to practice all those conversations you will be having in real life as you market your book.

Blessings on this brand new journey for you!

Peace, Julie

EllenToo said...

Congratulations on becoming an AUTHOR!!!
I can't really answer any of your questions since I am a reader but I wanted to welcome you to the group of friendly, helpful writers. I will be looking forward to reading your first book and the ones you have yet to write.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Vicki! Congratulations on becoming a SuperRomance author! You can now call yourself "Super Woman" : )

I am a Southerner, so many times we break the ice with a friendly "Hey" or "How y'all doin'?". Sometimes, we say those things while wearing silly hats and doing magic tricks ; )

Vicki Essex said...

Kaelee: I've done the same thing...and then my mouth runs into overshare and I end up talking about my digestive system. Gotta work on that. 8 )

msullivan (aka Mary Sullivan): I can never tell a friendly face from a "go away" face. I think it's because my permanent setting is nervous/constipation face. (See what I mean about overshare?) >8 }

Julie: Wish I had your courage. The internet really is a wonder...now I can be socially interactive without being...well, social.

EllenToo: Thanks! I'm sure you've come across new social settings. I need all the help I can get!

Kristin Noel Fischer said...

Hi Vicki,

Congratulations on becoming a Super Romance Author.

In my son's public speaking class, the instructor said the number one fear people have isn't public speaking, but going to a party where they don't know anyone. I'm sure that being a new author is kind of like that. :) It's okay to be nervous.

Can you tell us how and why you chose to use a pen name?

Looking forward to reading your book,
Kristin

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Congrats and how exciting for you. :) It seems to me like you're going to fit in just fine with those other authors at Superromance.

Vicki Essex said...

Virginia C: Wish I'd been raised with Southern manners. I was very much a speak-when-spoken-to, don't-interrupt-the-adults-raised child. I'll try to work "y'all" into my everyday speech more--it rolls off the tongue nicely, and it feel homey. 8 )

Kristin: My real last name is only 2 letters, which to some looks like a typo. It also doesn't look great on a cover or spine. So I decided to go with the street I lived on at the time; I think you make up part of your porn star name in the same way (first pet, street you grew up on). Plus, you can't spell my name without 'sex.' 8 D

Debra Salonen said...

Welcome, Vicki!!! We're so happy to have you here. And thanks for stepping up to help with the technical side of this blog.

Good choice on your pen name. It struck me as scholarly. My hubby, who is reading this over my shoulder, thinks it sounds exotic.

I'm a "work the crowd" kind of person. In part, because I like meeting people, but also because I don't get out much. So, I have to make the most of it.

Most important: have fun.

Deb

liztalley said...

Well, come on over and sit by me :) I love meeting new friends and I've found that being author is a really good way to do that. I have enjoyed hanging out here and on the Super forum board meeting other authors and readers. Love that sense of community even if it's not face to face.

At social gatherings, I usually look for someone who smiles a lot. Then I go stand or sit by her. I'm not shy by nature...I was too nosy as a kid to be shy...so I'll talk to anyone. But a smile does it for me.

And, really, I'm a new kid on the block, too. My first Super came out last June, so I haven't even been a Superauthor for a whole year yet, but I've found that designation to be such a wonderful thing. Love being surrounded (and bolstered) by the talent of these ladies. Congrats, Vicki. Can't wait to meet you in person :)

Kristina Mathews said...

Vicki,
I can't wait to read your book. I"m sure it will be "Super."

I am an introvert and when I meet new people I either clam up or run at the mouth. I have these great conversations with people in my head, but when I get there in person? I guess that is the great thing about being a writer, you can revise. If it takes twenty attempts at saying the right thing, no one will ever know.

Good luck on launching your career.

Linda Warren said...

Vicki,
Welcome to the group. We're happy to have a new author. That's always exciting.

I'm working on my 29th book and I'm still shy about meeting people - authors. I guess that's never going to go away. But I smile a lot.

Linda

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Vicki!

I'm looking forward to your first Super. I already know I like your sense of humor, just from reading your blog posts.

I was very nervous the first time I met the other Super authors at a party at my first RWA conference. Then Margaret Watson spilled a drink on me and broke the ice. ;-) (I think this story is funny; I hope it doesn't bother Margaret that I tell it.)

Kristen--I took a class once and the moderator said the number one fear for men is public speaking and for women it's fire. He said when the men in the group were nervously sharing at the microphone, all the women were sitting back thinking, "At least he's not on fire." ;-)

Super readers and writers are so warm and welcoming, I don't think any of us need to worry in this group! (Just don't get too close to Margaret if she's holding a drink.)

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Welcome Vicki,

I am way more comfortable in smaller groups! At large gatherings, I ususally wait for someone to approach me (and then I am very nice and friendly!) Or I will look for other by themselves and approach them with a friendly "hi". Super authors are the best. You are in a wonderful group.

Vicki Essex said...

Deborah: All right, sexy librarian-chic image is a-go. Mission. Accomplished.

Liz: Would you much mind if I cower behind you instead, possibly clinging when introduced to new people?

Kristina: I have conversations in my head, too! It's when the voices answers with "kill, killl..." that I usually start to worry.

Linda: TWENTY-NINTH??? *back to cave of fear*

Ellen H: I am going to actively seek out Margaret now. I need an ice breaker.

Tammy: If you ever get a response to "hi" that sounds like "OMG, WHO ARE YOU? STRANGER! RUN AWAY!" that little trail of dust may have been me.

Snookie said...

OMG, Vicki you crack me up! I'm a reader not an author, so likely will never meet you in person. Otherewise I'd probably go talk to you if we were in the same place. I like people so when I'm at a party or in a group with strangers, I just go up and start talking to those that look like they're all alone to try and make them feel comfortable.

Ellen Hartman said...

Vicki--I forgot to mention how much I love your album cover. Very nice.

Also, if you can't find Margaret, I'm willing to spill something on you if it will help you feel more comfortable. Anything for a friend!

:-)

Vicki Essex said...

Snookie: I'm just as likely to hide behind you. Who knows? One day you might introduce yourself to me and I'll scream and run too.

Ellen: Now I have this vision of me as Carrie at Nationals, dripping with punch...

Karina Bliss said...

Hey, Vicki, welcome to Supers. One thing about romance writers and readers is that we're a friendly, inclusive bunch. I'd love to hear about your debut. What's it about? When is it released?
Karina

Beth Andrews said...

Welcome to Supers, Vicki! Congrats on your first book - I can't wait to read it *g*

I'm such a people-watcher I often get lost in my own thoughts and need to remind myself to join the outside conversation :-) But I love attending conferences because it's a great place to put myself out there (if you will *g*) and meet new people. I'm already looking forward to New York!

Love your picture!!

ClaudiGC said...

Hi Vicki!

Congratulations on your first book release!
Well, I'm rather shy myself but if I have to talk to someone new I try to find some common thing to talk about, you know like hobbies or favorites, something like that, just to get the conversation going.
Good luck with your first book and I don't think it will be hard to make friends in the romance community (they are all very nice people!). :)

Jeannie Watt said...

Vicki--I love the guys you're hanging with in your photo! Welcome to the Super Authors. I already love your voice.

I meet people by pretending not to be shy. So far it's working.

By the way, I have silly hats, too, and a Teenage Ninja Turtle backpack from the 80s.

JV said...

Vicki, welcome! Don't feel shy. We're a friendly bunch!

I'm an outgoing person, but I'm hesitant to reach out in group situations. So, I tend to stand back and get a feel for the group. If someone appears to be friendly or if I'm introduced to someone, then I have no problem. It's just that first step into the unknown that sometimes tries to trip me up.

EllenToo said...

Vicki~ just arrived back at this blog and read your reply to my comment....yes I have been in new social settings but am not sure my way to cope would help you since 99% of the time I would walk up to a person/people and say "Hi I'm your son's/daughter's world geography teacher."

Rogenna Brewer said...

Welcome, Vicki! You can stand by me and we can try to blend into the wallpaper together until we have a whole group of wallflowers and then it doesn't seem so hard to make new friends :)

Mary Brady said...

Vicki,

Glad you're here. Meeting people? Am I supposed to do that? Looking forward to reading your first book. According to these comments, it already comes with great recommendations.

Sarah Mayberry said...

Vicki, I think a lot of writers are introverts. You kind of have to be to be comfortable spending so much time alone with the computer screen. Like a lot of people who have categorised themselves as "shy" up above, I tend to either sit and not say much with my buttocks clenched anxiously, or I run off at the mouth. I have gotten a little better at this as I've gotten older - less clenching and less babbling - but my big technique is to just ask questions. People mostly like talking about themselves (and I don't mean that in an ego-driven way) and you get to hear some amazing stories sometimes. But RWA conferences hold their own terrors, I think. I will be attending my fourth one this year and I still have a dread of not having anyone to talk to a morning tea or sit next to in workshops etc, etc. But I figure that each year it will get easier. (fingers crossed). Congrats on your book and I hope there are many more to come.

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Vicki - chiming in late here to congratulate you on your first book! Welcome to Superromance!

I'm not crazy about new social situations either. But if we put on a smile and shake hands, we're half way there, right?

Congrats again. Very exciting to have your first book out on the shelves.

Jan said...

Hi Vicki! Congratulations on your first book. That must be so exciting. I will look forward to your book this summer.

Socializing with groups of people is hard for me, too, but as Sarah Mayberry said asking people questions is a great help to get conversations going.

Jackie S. said...

Looking forward to reading your book! Congrats!
Asking people questions works for me!

Vicki Essex said...

Wow, so many lovely comments, so much warm and fuzzy support and advice! Thank you all for sharing. Sorry if I don't answer all of your wonderful comments...

Karina: Her Son's Hero is about a mixed martial artist who is trying to get his mojo back before a championship match. He's training with his old teacher in a small town, where he meets an overprotective, anti-violence single mom and her bullied son. The hero just wants to help them, but she's been hurt before, and doesn't want someone who beats people up for a living around her boy. It'll be out July 2011.

Jeannie: you should definitely wear your TMNT bag at Nationals. Now THERE'S an ice breaker. Retro cool, and not ironic at all. (Seriously, old school TMNT >> new school TMNT.)

Sarah: Clenching! That's going to be something I'm going to be conscious of now!

Rogenna: I think there's a Charlotte Perkins Gilman reference in there somewhere...

Sadly, I will not be attending nationals this year (opted for Cuba instead--Honeymoon v.2.0), so I won't get to use everyone's meet and greet strategies. But I'll see some of you at the next TRW chapter meeting!

marybelle said...

I tend to listen to others. When I feel comfortable enough I will offer up my opinion.

marypres@gmail.com

Kirsten said...

I'm in no position to give advice. Wallflower myself. But I wish you the best and a lot of courage! Remeber that people already love your book, it wouldn't have been published otherwise.

Karina Bliss said...

Sounds like a great book, Vicki. Look forward to reading it.
Karina

TiceB said...

Like you, I'm the one in the back of the room hoping no one notices me (while secretly convinved that they all have noticed me and are wondering who let me in!) Congratulations on forging ahead anyway--you'll do great!

Anonymous said...

Late to the party, but I had to say Welcome Vicki!!

I find it easier to talk to strangers. Once I start to get to know someone, or want to know someone, is when I have trouble forming sentences!

---Marcie

Margaret Watson said...

Hi, Vicki! I'm chiming in late - couldn't get to my computer yesterday - to say welcome to Supers, and we're really glad you're here. I'm looking forward to reading your first book.

Laura Russell said...

Hi Vicki,
Congratulations on your new book and you've already talked yourself down off the panic ledge. I wouldn't worry about making friends, you're very engaging.
best,
Laura

Autumn said...

Great introduction, Vicki! I'm looking forward to reading your book. So excited for you!

There's a site called Shrinking Violets, Promotion for Introverts. Most of us who choose to lock ourselves in rooms with imaginary people for hours on end are. That or crazy.

I'm painfully shy but learned some tricks to make people think I'm not. My strategy is to look for someone even shyer than me, by themselves, and go talk to them. They'll be so grateful not to have had to make the first move, they usually open up out of their clamshell and we can have a fun discussion.

Sarah Tanner said...

Congratulations on becoming a Superromance author, Vicki! I love the premise of 'Her Son's Hero'. I'm looking forward to reading it when it's released.

linda s said...

Hi Vicki. Congratulations on your first book published by supers. I just love debut novels because they always have that extra edge of spark that captures the editors' attention and jumps them out of the slush pile.

I'm not shy. As the middle child of seven I learned assertiveness at a young age. It's not who wants to talk to me in a crowd, it's who do I want to talk to? Take control. A roomful of strangers is like a library. Everyone is a story that I haven't read yet. Some will bore me and some will enchant me. I just have to browse a bit. Just look for someone who looks like they could enchant you and tell them that...
Amazing the people you will meet.

Anita Joy said...

Hi Vicki, like Sarah said, I think all writers by nature are solitary people. The best advice I was given before attending my first writing conference was to ask the person next to me what they read/write. Guarantee it's a question they can answer and one you can converse on.

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