This weekend has been conference weekend for members of Romance Writers of Australia. They’ve been enjoying their annual conference, this year in Fremantle in West Australia. (Kind of part of Perth, but with great coast, yachting, a fantastic old prison, old buildings and about the most character you can find in a big city).
I couldn’t stay for all the Conference, but I drove up from my home at Margaret River for the ‘Nautical Or Nice’ Cocktail party on Friday night, to meet my critique partner from Brisbane (the soon to be pubished, Kylie Kaden) for the first time, and to share pre-Saturday conference breakfast with my fellow Escape Artists and Managing Editor Kate Cuthbert, (Escape Publishing).
I was also lucky enough to have lunch in Mandurah on the way back from the Conference Saturday, with WriteNote1 book reviewer, arts publicist, op-shopping extraordinaire, and former journalist, Monique Mulligan. Three hours we found ourselves chatting and lunching… that’s not bad for a first date!
It was wonderful meeting people who I’ve only met (so far) through email, Facebook or author groups, however, something that amazed me about the weekend was how difficult it was to spot people from their social media photographs and avatars. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me, after all, we were all supposed to be in costume.
In no particular order, here are the people I think DO look like their avatars, and who I was able to spy across a crowded room and think: aha, that is X.
1) Juanita Kees
2) Ros Baxter
3) Cate Ellink
4) Imelda Evans
And then there are the people who I would not have recognised from two feet away in bright sunlight! Would you believe I actually took a photograph of Jennie Jones with her friend Nicole Harris, and it was only as I was looking at Jennie through the lens of the camera that I got an inkling about who she was!
1) Lisa Ireland (Dressed in a pirate outfit, Lisa cheated by straightening her hair!)
2) Jennie Jones (Jennie cheated too because lately her avatars have been collages of her brilliant book cover, House on Burra Burra Lane, – that’s my excuse JJ and I’m sticking to it!)
3) Natasha Devereaux (Natasha’s avatar is eye-popping because she has a huge snake wrapped around her shoulders – yes – a real one. Without the snake, she was unrecognisable!)
Now I should add, I got in a lot of trouble myself because people were expecting me to wear my pink beanie, which has become something of a trademark on my Facebook author page, and on Twitter. But I ask you, does a pink beanie really go with a pirate outfit? More particularly, with red pants and a red scarf on said pirate outfit? And even more particularly, with a pirate hat? No, dear reader, it doesn’t. So I didn’t wear my beanie, and in turn, nobody recognised me!
It also didn’t help that somewhere in the world of lanyards and name tags… I happened to miss out on getting one. So people couldn’t cheat and double-check my tummy to spot my name hanging from a ribbon around my neck!
So cutting to the chase (finally), this has got me thinking about all things avatars and gravatars, and it has made me realise something about myself. When I first began this blog, and for the first year of this blog’s life, my avatar has been deliberately unrecognisable. That’s because I was way too shy to want anyone who knew me, to know I was writing romance. However, during 2013, and particularly in the last few months, I’ve been doing the romance writer’s literary equivalent to coming out of the closet.
My ‘pink beanie’ picture first appeared on Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest blog back in February. Then it was introduced to my author page on Facebook, and my Twitter account, and lately I’ve been using it more in my blog.
Last week, I updated my ‘About Me’ page and changed my ‘unrecognisable’ photo (the picture many people refer to as my ‘butt photo’… to the beanie photo.)
It’s a small change, but it’s showing how far I’ve come in confidence in the last year. I’m comfortable now to give
Lily Malone a face, rather than a butt. (Although that butt will always have a place in my heart… if that’s possible without some major anatomical reshuffling).
Right now, the only place Lily’s butt remains is on my friend page with Facebook. I’m not quite sure I can let that derriere disappear just yet… we shall see!
To everyone I was able to meet in person during #RWAus13 it was wonderful to put your face to your name, and to absent friends, you were very much missed!