words and images by mk swanson
Networking for Introverts

Networking for Introverts

Last Saturday, October 23, I attended the Florida Writers Association (FWA) yearly conference. I was nervous, because meeting one new person a week is my preferred networking speed.

Nothing was a bad as I imagined, barring the workshops delivered via powerpoint presentation and the hours-long awards ceremony (which was probably dull only because I didn’t submit!).

Here are my observations:

  • First workshop at 7 o’dark: Jamie from Woodstream Writers gave a writing prompt and read around. I knew the prompt would be great as always, but I doubted my ability to write before ten o’clock in the morning. The result? Actual words. I wrote ’em. I don’t remember them, but I think I saved the file. The bonus? Jamie stalked every single one of the 50+ participants to give them notes on their piece. Her notes on mine made me glad I wrote it. Thanks, Jamie!
  • Speaking to fellow writers: OK, I expected most writers to be unpleasant and self-engrossed, like me. Not so, not so at all. Some prime examples of their generosity are: Peggy Miller, editor, teacher and poet and Dana Summers, cartoonist.
  • Meeting authors of published books without slobbering or trying to jab them with my pen: These authors were lovely to me, and I would recommend them based on friendliness alone–Laura Parker Castoro and Mark H. Newhouse.
  • The PITCH. Oh, yeah, I did–courtesy of Jamie at Woodsteam, who steered me to the sign up table. During the day, I heard horror stories about agents waving writers away before they even sat down, but I got lucky, lucky, lucky. Veronica Hart signed me up with Roger Williams of the Publish or Perish Agency, and he treated me with such kindness that I was smiling for an hour. He doesn’t often represent science fiction (no one at the conference did, as far as I know), but he gave me tips and ideas, and offered to take a look at my mystery novel in progress. Wow.

My take?
Being with a large group in a confined space for 12+ hours almost guarantees that even a social inept like me will eventually speak to writers, authors and agents. Some of whom will talk back.


  1. Who's my favorite (blog) writer, ever? Yes, that's you. It's just generally true, of course, and where I draw much of my (bloggy) inspiration–but this post? Oh, my. Best ever!


  2. No, seriously (!!), it was a wonderful weekend. Sort of fairy-dusted with benevolence, I think. Of the 84+ hours I spent there, I only had 45 minutes of nervous breakdown. And that's a TOTAL of 45 minutes of breakdown. Amazing. I think there was something in the water.


  3. So YOU are Mary K who commented on my blog? I have visited your site on occasion and love it. Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll so I can remember to visit more often?

  4. Hey MK,
    I hope you go to the conference again next year because this blog gives me hope for the rest of us introverts ! I look foward to hearing details of your day when I see you.

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