Today’s suggested topic for Armchair BEA participants is to talk about a real-life bookish experience. And no, “once upon a time, I exchanged witty banter with my favorite author on Twitter” is not a real-life experience.
As I admitted in my Intro Post, I’m a relatively new blogger, so I haven’t been able to go to ALL THE EVENTS yet. I haven’t yet braved the booths of a convention center or rubbed elbows with all my favorite authors. However, I have been to one event, where I met three fabulous authors and a group of Tennessee-based book bloggers. I’ve already gone into detail on the Author Event itself, where I met Myra McEntire, Amy Plum and C.J. Redwine, but I haven’t really recapped the blogger get-together portion of the day. So that’s what I’ll talk about today.
First, if you’re a newbie like me, you may be wondering how you even begin to go about getting to know other bloggers. And my strategy is simple: Twitter stalking. If I see a blog I like, I follow the blogger on Twitter. If I keep seeing people mentioning a certain blogger, I follow them on Twitter. And if I like the comments someone leaves on my blog, I follow them on Twitter.
I follow a lot of people on Twitter.
(You can always unfollow later if their tweets prove to be super-annoying).
Most people don’t follow back right away (or ever), and I don’t ask them to. But I watch their tweets, and I join in when they’re talking about something I’m interested in. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s all public, so it’s not really rude or creepy to insert yourself into a conversation the same way it would be if you just, for example, walked up to a group of strangers at the mall and started talking to them.
At least, I don’t think it is.
Please don’t burst my bubble.
So since I blog in Tennessee, I had visited the blogs of all the other Tennessee folks listed on Southern Book Bloggers and started following most of them on Twitter. And one day, I saw a discussion going on between a few of them about an event happening in Nashville in a few weeks. I butted into their conversation, got details, learned who the authors were (whose books I had absolutely not read at the time, but you better believe I read them before the event!), and next thing I knew, plans were made for many of us to meet up a couple hours before the signing at Panera.
I’ve got to admit, I was a little nervous. I mean, these were real bloggers (in my head, I was still kind of a pretend blogger, because it seemed bizarre to me that anyone would want to take my little blog seriously) with more followers, more subscribers, more blogger and author relationships, and longer histories than me. What if they didn’t like me?
Also, I should mention I’m a total introvert. I fake extroversion online, but in real life, I will do just about everything I can to avoid human contact. So the fact that I invited myself along on this little excursion in the first place is kind of mind-boggling.
So, smacking down my inner introvert and telling her to shut up and stay in her corner, I arrived at the bookstore mostly on time. I drove through a flash thunderstorm on my way there that made me a couple minutes late, but nothing ridiculous. And as I parked, listening to my brakes squeal and repeating to myself for the thousandth time that the mechanic said that’s okay, I scanned the parking lot trying to see if I could spot anyone who was clearly the in-person version of their Twitter avatar.
I saw a clump of women. Some of whom had curly hair. “Hey, I’m pretty sure Hannah has curly hair,” I thought to myself. So I walked up to them (carrying so many bags it looked like I thought I was going to move into Panera for a week), and said something really articulate like, “Am I looking for you?”
And someone said, “Lauren?” and I said, “Yes!” and I shook many hands in what I hoped was a firm-but-not-bone-crushing manner. And we went to Panera.
And at Panera, I ordered tomato soup in a bread bowl, forgetting for a moment that consuming a post-soup bread bowl is one of the most undignified things you can attempt to eat in front of a bunch of people you just met, but not caring too much because whenever I have an opportunity to get a bread bowl, I get a bread bowl. Bread bowls rock.
We spent two hours talking about all sorts of things (mostly about how Shalena’s husband is Batman), and amazingly, very few of them were book-related.
I had this irrational fear that our entire conversation was going to consist of book trivia and I was going to have to admit that I haven’t read ALL THE BOOKS yet, and they were going to look at me with disdain and take away my Book Blogger credentials. Um, yeah, that was stupid and did not happen.
No, these ladies were very fun, very personable, and absolutely did not look down on me for one second for being the newest one to don the title of “Book Blogger.” On the few occasions where a book was mentioned that I hadn’t read, no one took away my Book Blogger credentials. They didn’t even take away my bread bowl and yell “No soup for you!” (which is good, because I would have fought for that bread bowl). They just said, “Oh, it’s great, you’ll love it!” and moved on with the conversation, where we talked about My Little Ponies and Batman and the police (not to be confused with The Police, who we did not discuss, unfortunately) and hoodlums. And some other things.
And when it was time to go to the book signing, we went to the book signing. Which was amazing. You can read my recap of it here. Here’s Hannah’s recap. Here’s Marla’s recap. And here’s a recap from Amy Plum herself.
And what I learned from this, my first experience with authors and bloggers, is threefold:
1. Everyone is new at some point. Nice people won’t judge you for it, hold it against you, or demean you for being new and not knowing ALL THE THINGS. And not-nice people…well, why would you want to associate with not-nice people?
2. Book bloggers and authors are real people and have real interests outside of books, although they (I should say we) do love books with a fiery passion.
3. Lots of bloggers and authors are introverts too, and they understand that I may be horribly intimidated at the prospect of meeting people and talking to them and possible awkwardness. And they will try their best to make me feel comfortable.
Strangely enough, when I realized this, it was a lot easier for me to just be myself, in all my awkward glory. And it’s been easier since then to interact with other bloggers and authors (on Twitter, of course), because I’ve been initiated and it wasn’t scary and I didn’t die.
Did you hear that, 7th-grade me? I interacted with other humans and the world did not end. If only I could hear myself.
So if you’re new to the world of book blogging, take it from me. People are nice. People are fun. People will not yell at you for being awkward and having no clue what you’re doing.
Or at least, that’s how it works in Tennessee.
Who knows, maybe by next year I’ll have worked up the courage (and, you know, the money) to go to BEA for REAL!
This post was brought to you by the Twitter Stalking of the following people:
And of course,