I did my first panel this weekend, at the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together. If you've never been to a romance convention, you should go simply to be in a room full of 500 women where the word "penis" is bandied about fairly frequently. It's an open, over-the-top, chatty atmosphere.
I fit in just fine.
Even with such a welcoming group, when it was time for me to stand up and talk about NOT A DROP TO DRINK, I was a little nervous. I'd never pitched to anyone other than my family and students, who are kind of duty-bound to appear interested. Plus, my audience was more the type to read about people eating food off each other than having to hunt it for survival.
Nonetheless, the group of 30 or so that came to hear the YA contingent talk about our genre and individual books were incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. The handful of teens at the event were happy to have "their" authors so available to them, and as I talked about my book I was thrilled to see one lean over and whisper to another, as they scribbled my name and the title down.
Another thing that helped was that I was on a panel with friends. My fellow Lucky13ers Melissa Landers, Liz Coley and Jennifer McGowan were alongside me, as well as local Ohio authors Leeanna Renee Heiber and Carey Corp. Some of them are pros at public speaking, so falling in step was easy and I was grateful for their leadership.
Afterwards, while having coffee with my fellw authors, one of the teens approached me to be sure she'd written my name correctly and had the title of my book right.
"I'm just so excited about it!" she said.
Me too, sweetheart. Me too.