Armchair BEA: Networking...In Real Life?!

Okay, honestly? I've been trying and trying to think of a real life experience related to books and blogging for today's Armchair BEA topic -- and I'm failing miserably. I don't have a local indie bookstore to chat with and/or support (which is super sad, because I love hearing people talk about their awesome indie stores. Makes me want to hurry up and make the daydream of owning my own bookstore happen NOW). BUT, then I had a thought of how I can spin this idea of networking and connections ...

... It was pre-organized blogging, but when I was in college, I had a couple super amazing opportunities to meet authors on a very personal level. I received a scholarship two years in a row that not only helped fund my literary education, but gave me the privilege of meeting Dorothea Benton Frank and Cassandra King. Not just casually meeting them, but actually talking to them - eating lunch with them! - and, of course, getting signed books. In that same year-and-change, I also got to meet Susan Vreeland, in an even smaller, more intimate setting. I sat beside her at another luncheon, following an information discussion session, and when she signed my copy of The Forest Lover, she inscribed it with a personalization of the final line. (Yeah, total fangirl moment, in a very dignified manner of course).

As if those personal interactions were not awesome enough, my campus also hosted an annual literary festival celebrating student writing and hosting literary guests. We're talking Sarah Dessen (freshman year, and yes, that was a definite fangirl moment!) and Jennifer Niven, among others. (And we're not even touching the amazing opportunities to meet writers of a more scholarly bent that my History major offered. But believe me, I've met some brilliant minds, who've written more books than any human should, ha!).

I wasn't formally blogging during my undergrad days, but I will always remember these encounters -- getting to meet authors I'd read for years, or were just discovering. Speaking with them as a fellow writer, as a lover of story. Seeing that even with amazing and beautiful books for sale, these women were women - they could laugh and drink sweet tea with the best of us.

Looking back, and looking at my interactions with authors now -- it's still that sense of humanity I love best. When favorite authors tweet me back about football or hot actors or frozen yogurt, it makes it real. It makes this virtual community feel more intimate, more like those lunches and chat sessions.

So ... that's my story. I was blessed with truly amazing opportunities as a student, and I do not take that for granted. I love seeing new books published, knowing I've met the author -- up close and personal. And it's my hope to, one day, be on the opposite side of the equation: to be the author making a personal contact with a college student full of dreams and a love of story.

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty cool! Hopefully you will be able to help out future college students.