I recently returned from the RWA conference in Dallas, Texas, and I decided to sit down and compile a list of Conference Tips, based on my own experiences, to help make my next conference an even more enjoyable and rewarding time. I really hope these tips will work for you, too!
1. Take lots of pictures so you can prove to your family back home that you know people. Important people. And they like you, really! (Here I am with this year’s American Title winner, the very important Jenny Gardiner!)
2. Just accept the fact that no matter how well you pack, no matter what special tips you employ, no matter how many plastic bags and tissues you stuff into each sleeve and fold, you are still going to end up ironing every single article of clothing in your suitcase. It's like a cosmic law or something.
3. Oh right, pack that bathing suit. Please. Like that’s ever going to happen.
4. Go ahead and drag your Alpha Smart across the country with you but don’t come whining to me when you realize you’re going home with nothing written. Nada. Zip. Zero. Seriously, who did you think you were kidding, packing that thing?
5. Make friends with a smoker. Smokers hear all the best gossip. Ashtrays are where it’s all happening. And breathing is highly overrated at conference, don’t you think?
6. Packing three different outfits for the Rita Awards ceremony is simply insane … or is it? What if you spill tomato sauce all over yourself? What if your gown is set on fire during a freak lightning storm? What if you discover the dry cleaners shrunk your beaded blouse and beads start popping like a fireworks display on the Fourth of July? It's not your back fat, it's the dry cleaners! Things happen. Pack extra stuff.
7. When dining in revolving restaurants, avoid placing personal items on the non-revolving portion of the table area. On second thought, avoid revolving restaurants altogether.
8. If a giant grasshopper dive bombs your head during dinner at the hotel restaurant, try to get your meal comped. It helps if you scream.
9. If a strange man pulls up a chair and tells you he’s got brilliant stories to tell if only he could find a ghost writer, maybe someone like yourself, direct him to a hotel across town. Or better yet, across the country.
10. The best way to stop the elevator doors from closing is to throw your entire body into the space between the doors. This will hurt. But it’s better than thrusting just your arm between the doors as this could result in permanent damage to your writing career.
11. If you fly on a plane for four hours, eat Mexican food for five days straight, drink vodka & tonic for five nights straight and dance all night at the Harlequin party, chances are good that those puffy ankles are NOT an indication of Deep Vein Thrombosis. (But you can’t be too careful. Check out Christie Ridgway’s story here.)
12. Ooh, don’t forget to take those very important pictures! (Here I am with best pals Maureen Child and Susan Mallery.)
13. Start your conference diet today and you just might reach your ideal weight by next July. Seriously, start today because pretty soon it’ll be Halloween candy time, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and then it’s just one long downward spiral into Fat Back City.
Now I know everyone has a conference tip or two to share—for real. Seriously, I packed three Rita outfits for Dallas. This must stop! Give me conference tips, people, please!