Deb Joanne’s Name Dropapalooza!

This week’s topic is Fan Fare – about meeting an idolized author at a signing. Well, not a lot of authors come to these parts, so my experiences at signings are kind of few and far between. That said, a few years back, I went to a conference in New York hosted by Backspace. For anyone who doesn’t know, Backspace is a great resource for writers and I think the greatest part of being a member is the message board, which is filled with great information and is frequented by writers at all stages of their careers. I’d been an active member on the board for a while, so I ‘knew’ some of the writers who would also be going to the conference, but I’d never met any of them in person.

But I was determined to go and network and pack as much learning and schmoozing as I could into the three days that I was there.

So before I went, I heard about a group signing that was going on at the legendary Books of Wonder store and since members of Backspace would be there, of course I went to support fellow authors and see them in action. Being the shy person that I am, I sat in the back and watched as the five authors in turn read and/or spoke about their books. After that, the authors started signing books, so I ran off to collect and buy their books and get in line. I was SO nervous. I really was. I don’t know why—wait—yes, I do. Because I’m shy and even though I’d interacted with two of these authors online, they were still AUTHORS! PUBLISHED authors who got up in front of people and spoke about their books (something I’m still as in awe of as much as that they wrote the books in the first place).  You should know by now that I’m not great in public and I don’t relish meeting strangers, and I really am not the kind of person who thrives in ‘small talk’ situations, so yeah, I was nervous. Which I’m sure meant I had to pee, which would have made me even more nervous. Yikes.

But I was determined, and if anything has gotten me anywhere in this life, it’s that I’m determined and refuse to let my fears stop me from doing anything (except skydiving, but I think that’s prudent, don’t you?) so I stood in line to see Lisa McMann, NYT Bestseller, and have her sign my book and tell her who I was and remind her how we’d joked around on the message board.

And you know what? She actually seemed happy to see me! She thanked me for coming to the event and signed my book and smiled and was genuine. Wow, she was SO nice! I didn’t want to take up her time, so then I moved over to Linda Gerber’s line. And you know what? She was so nice, too! Don’t get me wrong, I never expected these authors to be anything less than nice, but maybe I expected them to be less…human? Genuine? I don’t know. Any sort of pedestal that I put them on was completely my doing, but when I met the humans sitting there, graciously signing books, I saw them as what they really are—normal people just like me.

I also met Melissa Walker that night and then the three authors (the other two authors, who I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember, went their separate ways after the signing, I believe) came to the pre-conference party at the famous Algonquin Hotel where a huge assembly of like-minded people* met and talked (and drank).  I still count it among one of the best nights of my life. Because when you meet kindred spirits that may just be further along in their careers than you are, it’s a reminder that we’re all alike and everyone started somewhere and we all have the same passion.  I’m also convinced that writers (my fellow Debs, included!) are among the most supportive groups of people out there and that night, I learned it first-hand7.  I am so glad I went to that signing and conference, because although I was nervous and it took me out of my comfort zone, I met great people there, and now I don’t just call them published authors anymore, I also call them friends**.

*also including Jenny Gardiner (past Deb), Danielle Younge-Ullman (also past Deb, who I already knew from our little crit group back home), Deb Friend A.S. King, Catherine DiCairano, Carolyn Burns Bass and tons of other amazing people.

**Except for the guy who decided to help himself to my very expensive cheese plate while I was otherwise occupied, talking to awesome writer people. Dude, that was my cheese—not cool.

29 Replies to “Deb Joanne’s Name Dropapalooza!”

  1. Of course, Kim! I knew I’d forget someone important! I definitely remember sitting with you – it was at the agent panel, if memory serves. We go way back to the chicklit group, but it was so great to meet you in person. Conferences are so great for that.

  2. I’m really looking forward to this week’s theme–and I truly appreciate your point that there is such a supportive community in writing–which, as I have said over and over, is why I enjoy social media so much. The relationships I’ve made and fostered here mean so much to me–knowing that we are all fighting through the same frustrations, the same inspirations, the same self-doubt. Writing can be such an isolating endeavor, it makes all the difference to know we’re not alone.

    Now about this cheese plate…how in the world did that happen?

    1. It is so nice to not feel alone in this isolating business of writing. You’re right, Erika – and social networking (with all its craziness) makes it so easy to connect.
      As for the cheese plate, I’d promised A.S.(Amy) King that I would buy us a platter, which ended up being something like $18 for, I think, four bites of cheese, two apricots and three walnuts. By the time it came, we were so involved in chatting, it just sat there for a while. The guy who ate it was a conference attendee and just decided to help himself. My husband was there, but assumed the guy was part of our group, so he didn’t stop him. I guess next time, I need to be more specific and make sure my husband does a better job of guarding the exhorbitantly expensive cheese!

  3. I too am “prudent” with regard to skydiving. I mean, come on. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Yikes!

    And, man, so not cool about the cheese.

    But facing your fears, and finding out those authors are just plain folks like all of us–now, that IS cool. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you’re with me on the skydiving bit, Linda. And, yes, it was definitely one of those things where my fears were unfounded and I’m so glad I put my big girl pants on and went for it. 🙂

  4. Going to author signings and meeting the people behind some of my favorite books is always a lovely thing. I enjoy getting to know the authors, as well as finding out that they’re generally nice people! It happened that a few weeks back I met two authors I had only heard of – and they were so encouraging about my writing 🙂

  5. That was such a fun afternoon! It’s the day I met you and Lisa and Amy all for the first time. Fun times!! I can’t wait until I’m standing at *your* table, asking you to sign Small Medium at Large.
    : )

  6. Stop spreading rumors! That Linda Gerber is really mean and awful. 😉

    I kid, I kid. Gerber is someone I’d point to in this biz as one of the most supportive and helpful and encouraging writers of all. And Melissa Walker, too. You met some really lovely people at that conference, JoJoBean! That was a fun one, and it was also where I met pals (and fellow agent-mates) Amy King and Heather Brewer for the first time.

  7. Hey J,
    I thought I was going to be named on the post today as the bestest.(oh well, I like all the ones that are named especially my favourite MS.MCMANN you are right up there with my wonderful talented daughter). Okay I am only kidding I like all my Debs and all the wonderful authors trying so hard, your all great.
    Okay Joanne, Mom will show you how to be out there (only kidding, your doing a great job yourself).
    Well Florida comes to an end in 48 hrs, it is time to drive home, (yes those are tears you see)but also looking so forward to seeing my kids and grandkids. So ladies next weeks Bubby’s post will be back in Dundas and reality will have set in within 24 hours of getting home.(including washing) but the best will be back to Tuesday night dinners with my favourite author.
    Have a great week Debs.
    Closing off from Sunny Florida.

  8. OMG I was going to mention the cheese plate and then I saw your last line! That was SUCH a fun conference, wasn’t it? So cool to meet you and Stella (that would be the esteemed A. S. King) and Lisa and Carolyn and the bazillion others with whom I’d only “talked” on message boards before. I miss those days in a way…and can’t wait for your debut–you really are so doggedly determined and I admire you so much for that. You are going to kick butt because of that, girl!

  9. Man, I’ve met so many authors at conferences, workshops, local book signings…This isn’t to brag. It’s just that I’m a little obsessed. 🙂 It’s fun when you actually get the chance to talk to them in a relaxed setting. I particularly remember a Susan Wiggs signing. First and only time I’ve been to this type of event. She plus three other local writers hosted a dinner. Actually, a local bookstore hosted it. We paid some money for dinner at a nice place, and the authors rotated around the table through dinner so that they can talk to everyone. It was really fun. Of course, their books were on sale and they signed.

  10. I feel the same way whenever I hear authors speak – and if it’s someone I idolize, I get all fan girl-ish and flustered. I hope I never get jaded about meeting an author I adore in person! And taking your cheese was TOTALLY uncool.

    1. Oh absolutely – I LOVE meeting other authors and I imagine once my book comes out, I’ll love meeting readers just as much! And NYC was so special that weekend – and the Algonquin? Well is there any better place to have a meeting of writers? Thanks for stopping by, Missy!

  11. I love this post. I too have always felt like published authors are these unapproachable fancy people who couldn’t care less about meeting little old me. But now I realize that, YES!, authors are SO HAPPY to meet readers, fans, or other writers. I love how you say “she actually seemed happy to see me!” I think readers are always surprised by that… I certainly was. But now that I’m writing this from the public library in Olympia, where I have a reading tonight, I can say that I am probably more excited to meet readers than they are to meet me! It’s so exciting to think that there are people in the world who would take time out of their day to read your words…

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