Monday, July 14, 2008

Conference Countdown

by Tawny

Can you believe July is almost halfway over? That means summer is halfway over, too. Ack – where did the time go? Not only does this mean deadlines are looming closer, that my basking in the swimming pool time is dwindling but, dum-da-dum... it’s almost conference time!

I love RWA’s National Conference. Seriously love it. I love the vast amount of talent and information all jammed into one hotel. I love the giddy thrill of seeing my favorite authors and the heart touching joy of seeing my dear friends (and have to admit, in many cases they are both one and the same). I love the all night brainstorming and the inspiration that just seems to float like a misty cloud overhead, waiting to be tapped. I love the motivation conference offers, that one comment that sparks a whole new direction or story idea. I love the workshops and the speakers and even the agent & editor appointments. Obviously I’m a total conference fiend.

So with that in mind and just two weeks left... Here’s my Top Ten Countdown of things to do before conference. And even though I’m gearing this toward conference, the idea could work for any vacation... so even if you’re not attending, still play – okay?!

1) Plan the itinerary. In this case, which workshops you want to attend & what events you’re committed to. Put together the perfect schedule that you'll happily ignore. My schedule is on a color-coded spreadsheet, with the have-to’s in red so I know they are non-negotiable (like dinner with the Bandits or with my editor – I can skip out on workshops but skipping out on dinner will get me in trouble).

2) Lose 20 lbs. I can’t help it –this is on my to-do list before every event. Vacation, conference, holidays... swimsuit season. *sigh* I never quite hit this goal, but it’s always looming there, whispering in the back of my head when I attend yet another dessert reception, keeping me from diving face-first into the chocolate fountain.

3) Write like a fiend so you don’t feel guilty about hanging out in the bar in the evenings instead of diligently writing away up in your hotel room. I have a couple good friends who actually do hole up in their hotel room and write during conference. Me? I love the idea but have never managed to pull it off. So – I write ahead so I won’t feel guilty.

4) Choose the perfect shoes. Okay, if I had a choice, I’d pick from Vrai Anna’s closet, but I don’t. So I go through mine and decide what shoes I’ll need and want. Some people might choose clothes first, but I always dress from the shoes up *g*. Conference is always tricky for shoes, because so much time is spent running from workshop to workshop or trying to get to this event or that. But still... cute shoes are a necessity.

5) Shop. I mean, there might still be need for more perfect shoes, right? Or something new because I haven’t lost that 20 lbs. Maybe a perky new top to add to the standard conference wardrobe. Or if you’re like me and hate seeing pictures of yourself in the same evening dress year to year, its fancy dress shopping (don’t forget the perfect evening shoes).

6) Prepare those pitches. I don’t have an agent or editor appointment this year, but I’m still preparing my little story blurbs. You never know when someone will ask “so what do you write” and being able to succinctly share that makes for much easier conversation than “um... well, you know, romance stuff.” (Yes, I’ve said that. Pitiful, huh?)
7) Pamper yourself. Mani-pedi’s, a facial, a nice massage. Heck, even a bubble bath. There’s nothing that pumps up my self-confidence more than a little pampering. And knowing my tootsies are soft and pretty makes kicking off the shoes at that nasty airport security check easier.

8) Pack. Then check what you packed. Then add more or take stuff out and repack. I’ll admit it, I make a list. And I make it a couple weeks ahead, so I can use it for #5 – shopping. You know, just in case. I also pack about a week before I leave, just in case something I’d planned to bring needs mending or replacing.

9) Clean House. What? Doesn’t everyone scrub the house down before they leave? I do, I admit it! It’s always cleaner when I go on vacation than any other time. I love coming home to a clean, tidy house. Well, that and it’s like the clean underwear admonishment (didn’t your mom give you that “wear clean underwear in case you’re ever in an accident speech?) If there’s ever an accident, I don’t want any one seeing my house a mess LOL.

And 10) Computer Shutdown. I cruise my favorite blogs one last time, empty my email inbox and put all my yahoo groups on no-mail. I back up EVERYTHING – you never know what might happen while you’re gone and nothing sucks more than coming home to find your computer fried, then I cross my fingers and shutdown. And usually boot up once or twice just to make sure its all still okay *g* but then I unplug my external, set it out with the keys for whoever is animal sitting to take to their house before I head out for wild times.

How about you? What’s on your top ten countdown to conference (or vacation)? Do you have rituals you follow? Anything you can add to my neurotic preparation list? C’mon, sharsies... I'd hate to forget something.


Jane said...

I pack days in advance. I have the outfits picked out, decided which shoes to take and I make sure all my undergarments are nice and lacy. Grandma undies are not allowed on vacations. I also obsess about my toiletries and making sure that they're under 3oz. so I could put them in my carry-on. Don't forget snacks,entertainment(iPod, magazines, books,) ear plugs, Tylenol, sleeping pills. Have you started packing yet, Tawny?

Tawny said...

Hey Jane :-)

I admit it, I haven't started packing. I have picked out my shoes, though! But because I'm driving in this year (am only about an hour away) I'm a lot less obsessive than usual.

Isn't it crazy how much energy its taking now to get those travel sized toiletries, etc?! Ack!

Like you, my iPod travels with me EVERYWHERE and even though I'm goign to a conference that will be overflowing wtih books, I'm sure I'll bring a few. I'm just wierd that way LOL.

Congrats, Jane, on snagging the Golden Rooster!! Are you attending the RWA conference?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane, enjoy the rooster (a nice marinade always helps!).

Tawny, what a great post. I'm getting SOOOO excited about my trip coming up. It's even more exciting for someone from Oz because it's OVERSEAS TRAVEL! And overseas travel is always a thrill. I'm like you - I always leave the house in good order. It's just too depressing to come home tired from the trip, as I invariably do, and walk into a pigsty. Something I always do before I go is write out a list of who gets a postcard (I'm a postcard fanatic as I'm sure a few of you would attest) and who gets a present. It saves tears before bedtime when that awful scenario occurs when I have presents for three nephews but nothing for a niece or whatever. I love shopping for presents for people!

Actually speaking of presents and on the grounds that shameless promo is the new black, my latest website competition is San Francisco souvenirs and great signed books. Check it out if you get a chance!

limecello said...

I've never been to a conference like this - but I have to admit I'm one of those horrible last minute people. I'll be zipping up my suitcase 5 minutes before heading out the door to go to the airport. Bad. But... so far it's worked. *knock on wood*
I do however, consider where I'm going, what I'll be doing, and what outfits. I just won't necessarily do anything physical about it until much later.

Tawny said...

Anna, what a GREAT contest!! and those are some sweet pix of SF :-) You're going to love our fair coast!

I'm so NOT a happy traveler LOL, so your excitement about overseas travel makes me squint and go "huh?" But your nephews and neices must LOVE you traveling and bringing them home goodies :-)

Tawny said...

Limecello, what you describe sounds like jumping out of a plane to me LOL. Totally scary!!! Last minute, no planning, just spontaneously do it and go. Wow... I admire that. I can't DO that, but I admire it LOL.

Have the airport restrictions put a crimp in your packing style? Jane's comments about the 3oz toiletries has me wondering.

Anna Campbell said...

Ugh, Tawny, it's not the travel as such that gets me excited. I'm a shocker for jet lag. But I LOVE to see new places so I put up with the plan trip. And of course, with this trip, there's the bonus that I'll get to see all you guys (including the Bandita Buddies). Glad you like the look of the contest. It's a bit of a mystery prize but it should be a lot of fun.

Yes, the family LOVE me to go away on holiday! ;-)

Tawny said...

Anna, its seeing all of you and all my writing pals that makes the travel mandatory :-) I mean, thats what conference is all about. Friends, right?

Oh, and all that industry and career and sightseeing stuff.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Limecello, you're a woman after my own heart! I never pack until the last minute and I always take ONLY carry-on. Yes, I've been on a 17 day trip to Europe with one carry-on.

Of course, since I travel a lot, there are some things I never UN-pack... That does make things a bit quicker.

the traveling fool

Jennifer Y. said...

You are getting me both excited and making me nervous...LOL. I have so much to do still before I go to the conference (my first full one)!

I made a list of things to do and pack (I am a list maker). I still need to do a little shopping for stuff, make sure I have everything I'll need, pack, make sure everything at home is in order (and on my own blog), check with the airline, print and gather any important info I'll need, and more.

Other than our annual family vacation to Florida (we have gone there every year but one since I was two years old), I never really travel. This will be my first plane ride since 1999 and the first time I have traveled solo and the farthest I have ever been from it's a mixture of excitement and terror...ROFL.

And I know I am going to embarass myself somehow at this conference. I can't wait to meet some of my fave authors.

Tawny said...

AC... I can't fit my shoes in a carryon. I have no idea how you do it, but I bow to your expertise :-)

Tawny said...

Awww, Jennifer. You're so gonna love conference. There are so many people looking forward to seeing you!! I'm pretty sure I make a fool of myself each year, but I figure thats part and parcel of the fun :-)

Take lots of books to distract you on the flight and embrace the adventure (and keep your lists LOL - I so love that you're as much a list fiend as I am). My money is on you loving this trip.

Jennifer Y. said...

Thanks Tawny...I am sure I will enjoy it.

And congrats to Jane for nabbing the bird. It was sad to watch him magically disappear *sniff sniff*

Sara Lindsey said...

Jane -
If anyone else remembers the guy who worked for Amazon that attended RWA Dallas last year... you know, the Orlando Bloom look-alike... packing those lacy undergarments isn't a bad idea!

Anna -
Thanks for posting on my blog. I didn't get much of a chance to respond or even enjoy the post-sell days due to the untimely loss of a furry baby. But I definitely saw your post and it made me smile through the tears!

Anna Campbell said...

Sara, I'm so sorry about your Siamese. I know you must be devastated. Hugs.

Hey, Bandits and friends, Sara just picked up a three-book historical deal from NAL/Signet. Let me congratulate you here! So sad the good news came so close to losing your lovely cat.

Helen said...

Congrats Jane

Great post Tawny I still wish I was going to San Francisco maybe one day I will get there.

I am another one who packs just before I leave to go anywhere I do like to make sure the house is spick and span though I hate coming home to a messy house I only take what I think I really need and get really excited about a trip.
I am going to Melbourne in Feb 09 for the Australian Romance readers convention and this will be the first convention I have been to and I am really excited about going I will take everyones advice and be organised by then LOL.

Anna I have entered your contest and have everything crossed.

All I can say is to everyone going have a ball and a few drinks for me and I want to hear all about when you get back

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Hi Tawny! Loved that post. I'm getting so excited to be seeing everyone, mostly the Banditas and our buddies from the blog.

But first I have to write itineraries for my mother and my MIL to follow with the boys each day I'm away, prepare some meals ahead, make sure they have enough clean clothes, etc for the week. Clean my car, spring clean the house (I wouldn't do this if the house was empty but my MIL is coming, so, you know what that's like) I have a few outfits picked out to wear in SF but I'm hearing contradictory things about the weather and I'm a little confused.

Not as organized as you, Tawny (who is??) but I have a calendar of the week and I'm filling in things as I go. I haven't even looked at what workshops I want to go to and my schedule is already pretty full. I can't wait!!

Christine Wells said...

Sara, congratulations on your sale! That's wonderful. I'm just so sorry that your cat's passing happened at the same time. Sometimes the universe seems to want to balance great highs with great lows, doesn't it? I hope that in a while you'll be able to celebrate your sale with the enthusiasm such a marvelous achievement deserves.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, good luck! Thanks for popping over to check out the contest! You shouldn't encourage my shameless promo antics ;-)

Amy Andrews said...

Well its only 4 more sleeps for me til I take off in a jet plane to your neck of the woods, Tawny. I'll have been in the US for 10 days before I make it to national. I'll only pack the night before - but I'm packing 4 bags - one for each of us. Like Loucinda we're only taking carry-on's. And I too, went to Europe for 17 days with only one carry on except it was for both my hubby and me - one between the two of us!!! So I'm very practiced at this sort of thing. Of course that means only 3 pair of shoes (one of which I'll be wearing) but I'll be grateful when I'm not waiting at a luggage carousel in LAX praying that my luggage isn't in Madagascar somewhere.
One of the good things about an O.S. conf is that I can wear the same clothes I wore to last years conf here in Oz and no-ones going to have seen them before (well except for a few Aussies)so I'll be getting my money worth out of them and as I didn't lose those 10 kilos I'm not left with much choice :-(

Man, I'm getting soooooo excited!!!

Congrats Sara on the sale and commiserations on the loss of your furry loved one.

Buffie said...

I am so jealous of all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's all I got to say :)

Carol said...

Congrats! Jane, The GR will sensing the tension building towards the big week in SF.

Perhaps he will be at the conference too! A wily bird should be able to "arrange" a visit there!

I found this blog around this time last year and it has been a very enjoyable find! So lovely to meet everyone and comment on the topics.

Good Luck to everyone nominated and I hope you all have a fantastic trip to the Conference.

Cheers Carol
ps. my D. Daughter is going too!

terrio said...

I. Am. So. Excited! LOL! I've been pretty calm about this until the last few days. In fact, over the weekend I had a dream where I packed almost nothing and found myself at the conference with none of the things I needed.

The only thing keeping me from being truly ill is knowing I'm not pitching. Now you go and bring up that random "What do you write?" question and the sickness is creeping in.

I'm wearing clothes that I wear to work so I can't pack this far in advance. However, I'm thinking by the end of this week I'll be arranging things and listing exactly what I'm taking.

I've printed off the workshops so I can determine my schedule before I get there. What I can't miss, what I can catch part of, and the stuff I can let slide.

I'm almost more excited about getting to meet all my internet friends. There's a group of us that have been together for nearly two years online, but never been in the same state nevermind the same room. And then there are all the Banditas and other fantastic authors I've met online. It's almost overwhelming just thinking about all the excitement!

Congrats on the GR, Jane. And congrats to my sweet Pixie (Sara) who is going to take 2010 by storm! I can't wait until Nashville Nationals when you'll be signing all those beautiful books!

Louisa Cornell said...

Kudos on the bird, Jane. Ignore La Campbell's marinade comment. She is ALWAYS trying to cook the chook! :)

Tawny, you are my hero. You are SO organized!! I am running around like ... like .... (don't tell the GR) a chicken with its head cut off!

I do have a rack of "possible" outfits for San Fran. I just have to pick the definites and then pick the shoes. LOVE the shoes!

My biggest concern is getting the pitches ready. I Do have editor and agent appointments and I am terrified!

I AM looking forward to seeing all of you and all of the wonderful people I have met on this journey. It is going to be so much fun!!

Now, let me print out Tawny's list and get busy.

My biggest chore is getting the animals ready for Mom to be gone for a week. I have a fabulous pet sitter who lives just up the road. I just want to make sure all of the outside runs are secure and there are copious amounts of food and cat litter available. I already have an instruction notebook and Shelia, the sitter, knows the routine. The only fly in the ointment is my Chihuahua, Frodo, as he is AWFUL!!! He hates everyone except me. He and Sheila have a very tentative truce going - he promises not to bite and she promises not to scream.

Sara, honey, I am SO PROUD of you! Huge congrats on your book deal to another Avon FanLit alum! And I heard about the tragic loss of your dear fur baby. I am so very sorry. You now have a furry guardian angel to watch over you and keep you safe.

Anonymous said...

I love everything about conference, but seeing my buddies (especially the uber-talented Susan Seyfarth, my CP) is the best part. That, and getting to wear a fancy dress. *g*

I'm like Tawny, though perhaps not to the point of the color-coding. That's truly impressive. I do have my list of clothes (organized into outfits, natch) and love going through the workshop list to pick out what I'm doing.

As for the be honest, I never really unpack anymore. I keep my bag of toiletries (separated into liquids and non!) in the carry on from my last trip. That's the benefit of doing a lot of traveling, I suppose!

Hey, Sara, huge congratulations! Can you give us a link so we can see your blog? Do you have a call story up there? We Banditas love us a good call story!!

terrio said...

Kirsten - Here's a link to Sara's blog, but I don't think she's actually posted the call story itself. We need to pester her to do that. LOL!

jo robertson said...

Tawny, you're the cat's meow! I knew you were a little OCD, but this is MEGA-OCD, girl!

I have to admit, though, that I ALWAYS clean house before I leave. When you vacation with a large family, returning is a nightmare in itself, so you don't want to come home to a mess.

P.S. I don't do that any more.

p226 said...

I'm a seat of the pants guy. Wait 'till the last minute, make a checklist, throw everything on the list into a single bag, and simply go.

I'm also not the kind of guy to plan my itinerary on a vacation or at a conference. My schedules usually look like this.

? - 11 AM: Whatever.
11AM - 12:30 PM - Presentation on digital evidence production and forensic capabilities.

12:30 PM - 1 PM: Eat free conference food. Act like marketing droid. Pass out business cards. Explain to ten dozen CEOs that yes, exactly like I said in the presentation any email or instant message you send can wind up evidence in court. And I can find it. And I will find it. And I'm not the only guy on the planet that can find it.

1 PM - next day hotel checkout time: Whatever.

Beth said...

I am so excited about going to San Fran I can hardly stand it *g* I have my color coded schedule - okay, I have to admit, I didn't actually make this wonderful spreadsheet myself (I don't even know how to make a spreadsheet *g*) Tawny gave me a copy of hers to tweak as my own :-)

I have a packing list started but the only things on it are items I'm worried I'll forget otherwise. Sometime next week (or maybe even this weekend) I'll finish the packing list and write up a shopping list.

I won't pack until the day I leave (I have an early morning flight and have to spend the night at a hotel *sigh*)

I won't clean my house because...well...I rarely clean my house. That's why I have kids *g*

Beth said...

Sara, I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending good thoughts your way.

And congrats on your three book deal! How wonderful *g*

Terry Odell said...

I've started putting 'won't need these until the conference' clothes in the spare room. Ordered some new stuff-not much, but I splurged with Travelsmith because it'll pack well. Just ordered a pair of shoes on line, and have fingers crossed they'll arrive in time and fit. For daytime, I'm sticking with my totally unfashionable sandals, I think, but I needed something to go with the lbd (which is too long, but I'm not sure I'm going to bother with paying for alterations. It's not like I'm up for any awards -- oh, wait, yes I am. The Dapne. But I already have a different dress set aside for that event. The one I bought 2 years ago.

After packing for a month in South Africa, which included tourist stuff as well as a professional working wardrobe, I'm not too uptight about packing for Nationals.

Of course, since we're going up to Oregon afterward to stay with DH's sister and her hubby, I'll need a big suitcase. We'll be gone 2 weeks overall.

What scares me is the new "one free checked bag" rule.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

"shameless promo is the new black,"

It's lines like this that make me love you so, Anna.


flchen1 said...

Tawny, clearly you and Jane and Anna are organized travelers! I'm not quite there... I manage to usually finish packing before we have to rush to the airport, but usually not days in advance! And sometimes the house is nice and clean before we leave and sometimes not so much... Mainly I try to remember that once we're out the door, stop stressing--it'll all work out ;)

Keep us posted on any cute conferences shoes you find! :)

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Claudia Dain said...

Tawny, I'm with you. How is it that those pesky 20 pounds haven't fallen off by now? In fact, wait, I think I've picked up a few pounds that were definitely not on the schedule.

I love to plan my conference clothes and have things I bought for conference five years ago (or more) that I still haven't worn, including shoes! This is almost obscene, isn't it?

jo robertson said...

Whoot, Jane, on capturing the rooster!

I, too, have started laying out my clothes. I want to be practical (shoes, I'm thinking and LOTS of walking), but sassy. Sometimes I think the two are mutually exclusive. Dang!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Congrats on the GR, Jane! Yeah!

Sara, MEGA-congrats on the sale! Woo-hooo! And big woo-hoo on the visual your friend put up of Signing in Nashville. Grins.

Okay, now to the list...I love lists. I'll add stuff to the list just to check it off. :>

I have several lists for National:
Clothes/shoes, etc.
Other stuff to pack
Must See people/things

I already have my conference badge in my suitcase because I forgot it in 2006 - our GH year! - and had to have my DH FedEx it to me. Arrrgh. Won't be doing THAT again. I already have biz cards and bookmarks in there too. :>

P226, I had to LOL because there's CHECKLIST on there. You may be spontaneous, but you still make a checklist however brief it may be... Ha!

One thing I'll agree on too is that the pitching thing is nerve-wracking. I'm even good at it from being a marketing flak and its still nerve-wracking. :>

Jennifer and Terrio and Carol and all I am SO excited about meeting you in person at the conference. Helen, wish you could be with us too, but we'll keep you updated from "The Event" ha!

jo robertson said...

Anna, I must confess that I'm so glad I'm two hours away from SF and don't have to hassle the flight this year. OTOH, the drive is horrible, horrible because there's always construction on I-5.

Anna, how many hours IS the flight from Australia?

jo robertson said...

Limecello, I have to last at your last-minute comment. My Kennan is infamous for rushing to the terminal dragging three little kids and all their paraphernalia and just BARELY making her flight. It's a way of life LOL!

I, OTOH, want to be sitting by my gate HOURS beforehand. Just in case.

jo robertson said...

AC, I don't travel as much as you do -- does ANYONE? -- but I also keep my suitcase filled with things I only take when traveling -- shampoo, toothpaste, lotion. That way I only have to pack clothes -- and shoes of course -- mustn't forget the shoes!

jo robertson said...

Jennifer Y, there's NO way you could embarrass yourself at an RWA conference. Romance writers are a goofy, loving, accepting bunch of ladies. I just love them!

jo robertson said...

Sara, super congrats on your three-book deal. What a way to rock!

jo robertson said...

Ah, Helen, I would love to go to Melbourne. Can I sneak into your luggage?

jo robertson said...

YIkes, Christine, the itineraries for children, I'd forgotten how horrible they can be.

We went to the Middle East for a month, leaving behind six little ones, ages 3-10. We had to scatter them among our very good (and very precious) friends, but I remember spending my time in Athens crying for my babies.

Jennifer Y. said...

Perhaps he will be at the conference too! A wily bird should be able to "arrange" a visit there!

Maybe he will be ;o) You never know...he and I did have a conversation about it yesterday ;o) Just sayin'...I did make him promise not to spy though if he got to come.

Jennifer Y. said...

Oh, and I even caught the GR trying to figure out if he'd fit in my suitcase...

terrio said...

Jeanne wrote:
I already have my conference badge in my suitcase because I forgot it in 2006

This is probably nothing I have to worry about, but what does this mean? Is there something else I need to buy before I get there?!

Donna MacMeans said...

Tawny - My preparation list always includes leave unnecessary credit cards at home (had my purse stolen in SF about 10 years ago. If I'd left most of the credit cards home I would have had less to cancel) BUT always carry a credit card to pay all the things I forgot to pack. I ALWAYS forget something.

Tawny said...

Oh man, Donna, I'd never thought about the credit card thing. I just toss my wallet in my bag and ALWAYS leave it in my room. Prolly bad on my part. I do carry one CC in my badge holder. Gotta pay for the drinks *g*. Thats great advice.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Terrio, it's nothing you need to worry about. You'll get a conference badge for sure. But when you've been to a few, you can buy one of these badge holders and you end up sticking funny pins and chapter pins and RWA pins all over it. I'd left my badge holder with all the pins - and the GOLDEN HEART PIN! Yikes! - at home that year. I was frantic. So last year and this, I put the badge holder in my suitcase first. :>

Tawny said...

Jeanne wrote:
I already have my conference badge in my suitcase because I forgot it in 2006

Terrio wrote:
This is probably nothing I have to worry about, but what does this mean? Is there something else I need to buy before I get there?!

No! Definitely not something to worry about :-) RWA provides badge holders (if you look at conference pix, you'll see everyone with them hanging off their necks. We spend the whole conference staring at each others boobs) but many of us end up getting our own fancier ones. Mine has extra pockets in back so it will hold my biz cards, pens, cell phone, credit card and any cash I need. And like Jeanne probably did, I keep my pins on it all the time. It just hangs here next to my desk until I pack it :-)

Tawny said...

Jennifer, what a sneaky bird!!! I hope you told him its a no poultry zone on the airplane *g*

Tawny said...

Jo? You sit at the gate hours early? OMG I'd go nuts! I only want to have to sit the bare minimum amount of time required. If the airport demands I be there an hour early, I'll be there 59 minutes early *g*

Thats the one part of travel that I hate most - the waiting. Well, that and the crowds and insanity.

Tawny said...

Jeanne, go you on the lists :-) A girl after my own heart. I just found out my bookmarks might not get here in time (new design for new book) and I'm a little freaked. I guess I'll survive, but its still a total stresser. Now I have to add "find an alternate" to my checklist *ggg*

Tawny said...

Jo, I hear you on the practical and sassy dillemna :-( Its hard to find darling shoes that are comfy sometimes. I'll admit, if I end up picking comfy over cute shoes, I try to pair them with pants that hide them LOL.

Tawny said...

ARGH Claudia - isn't it frustrating?! And honestly, the number means nothing to me. Its how that number messes with my clothes that drives me nuts. Like you, I have "conference clothes" and darnit, I want to fit in them!

btw, having shoes you haven't worn isn't obscene as long as they are cute. The fact that they are there for when you need them is what counts LOL.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Amy A. I bow to you! 17 days, 2 people, 1 bag -- YOU DA BOMB, Girl!

And have I mentioned how much I HATE LAX?!?! It and Chicago O'Hare are tied as my least fave airports in the world! UGH!!! I go to tremendous lengths to AVOID going to either.

Jo -- the flight from Calif. to Sydney is 14 hours in the air. However, since you go over the date-line the jet-lag is horrendous. Australia is worth it, though. Esp. now that we have so many friends there. :-)

Helen, Buffie, Jane and anyone else who has to stay and (wo)man the Lair, we will definitely be thinking of you!

Tawny said...

LOL Fedora :-) I chant "stop stressing" for days before I travel. Its a good mantra, huh?

The shoes on this blog are mine, btw. They were my sale reward pair for my May 09 release. I wish the picture was better, because they are DARLING on. Just so sweet.

Tawny said...

Terry - fingers crossed for the Daphne :-) And that one free checked bag rule scares me too. I mean, I seriously have NO idea how people (AC for instance) can pack with just a carryon. As organized as I try to be, I always pack extra because I might not be in the MOOD for whatever I'd decided I'd be wearing on a particular day.

Oregon will be a lovely vacation after conference, though :-) Definitely different packing requirements though, huh? LOL.

Tawny said...

YAY Beth for using a color coded schedule :-D LOL

Bummer on the hotel the night before :-( That parts icky. I do like early morning flights though - I never sleep the night before travel anyway, so early flights are a better shot at sleeping them away.

and I have to ask... your kids do clean house? I need to nag mine more, I think.

Caffey said...

I so will go to one of these (RT or RWA) conferences, especially the book signings, some day for sure! I wished it was this year but its much too far for me. You have a wonderful time there! Looking forward to reading about it all when you come back.

I have many lists, LOL:

1. When I even start to think about the vacation months or weeks before hand, I immediately start a list and every time I think of something, I write it down because I'm always afraid I will forget something. I always did that when I went to visit my parents for a summer vacation and even with the list, I may forget something, but I don't forget too much because I had the list going a long time!

2. I then keep a list of what i have to buy and bring with me each time I'm shopping.

3. I keep another list and thats what to do with the house before I leave, like making sure stove is off, windows locked, etc.

4. One last thing, about a week before I leave, I start collecting everything from the list and putting it in the luggage.

Whew, makes me sound organized, LOL.

limecello said...

Tawny - well, I do check things, and plan places I vaguely want to go... (Generally I'm visiting people I know so I'm lucky in that I can depend on them for fun places to take me.) And I do know about most of the airline restrictions - or did. Now with all the baggage changes... that could be annoying. I grab my toiletries etc - and generally know what will or won't work. I'll check weather, make plans - I simply won't *do* until something like the 11th hour.
Last year, I had a 6 week internship in DC, and the night before I was going [I hope not that morning] I discovered the weight limit was 20 lbs less than I thought, but instead of 2, I could have 3 pieces of checked luggage. I immediately repacked. Haha.
It's stressful, but I unfortunately got into the bad habit of "only" being able to function under stress. I don't think I've ever had to throw anything away.
I did have a fake koosh bubble gun confiscated when I was in 8th grade [well before 9/11] - but I think the airport worker was just a jack***.

Tawny said...

OCD, Jo? Me? Nah... I'm just a control freak ;-)

Kirsten, I'm with you! I'm almost more excited to see Beth and all my friends than the whole rest of conference. and like you, I keep my toiletries packed as well as a travel pharmecy *g* You know, the things you might need but would never find around the house - mini-first aid kit, sewing kit, asprin, tummy meds, all that stuff.

Tawny said...

Louisa, I think Jane has the GR distracted so he won't notice your headless comment LOL. and YAY on the shoe loving. Methinks we need to gather at conference and just sit to admire shoes!

Pitching is rough, I admit it. Even the random "what do you write" pitches at lunch and in the elevators are tough (as I said in the blog, I tend to have really stupid answers *g*) and altho I will toss off "I write for Blaze", usually people want a little more LOL. It does help, I've found, to have a branding tagline of your writing (mine's Hot, Sassy Romance, it's all about the sexy attitude.) which you can pull from in times of desperation.

But for the actual pitches, lots of practice helps. Lots and lots and lots LOL.

BTW is it okay that I'm giggling over your dog Frodo's antipathy to everyone? Like you, our biggest problem here is always getting the animals taken care of. Even when we drive and take the dogs (Rottweiler and the other a neurotic German Shepherd mix) there is still so much to make sure the others are cared for.

Tawny said...

Whoohooooo Terrio, come sit here by me in the crazy orgainzed section :-D

and sorry about the pitching reminder :-D I'll bet you rock though. Just remember what KIND of romance you write *g* and remember how much fun it is.

Like you, I'm so excited to be with all my friends. The internet is a blessing in that we get to know people from so far away, but the best thing is actual face time and hugs!

Tawny said...

Carol, your daughter is going to have so much fun :-) Does this mean you won't be coming, too? Or will you? We're so glad you found us and hang out :-D

and Methinks the GR is probably plotting something. He's sneaky, wily and a little demented...

Tawny said...

:-( Sorry Buffie.

If it helps, think about the crazy time zone changes and the fact that everyone will be sleep deprived and overwhelmed?

Lack of sleep aside, I do wish you could come play with us.

Tawny said...

YAY Amy that you'll be here soon :-D I'm going to pretend I didn't see the part about packing one carryon for you AND hubby. If I had to do that, my poor hubby would likely be naked cause there wouldn't be room for his stuff *g*. I do love the no waiting at luggage idea, though. That has to relieve SO much stress.

and I hear ya on the clothes. Thats my only problem with evening wear... its all been seen already.

Pat Cochran said...

Hello, All,

Congratulations on the GR, Jane!

I'm getting excited and frazzled
just reading your comments! I'm
a major listmaker and early, early
packer whenever we're off for any
where! I'm just reminded of the
days when, as band booster prez
and chaperone, we traveled with
150 to 200 companions to contests and concert competitions That's getting frazzled but we managed to
live through it!

PS, I found something today that I
wanted to share with you. I was
wandering through the rainforest
.com site's Christmas in July sale.
Lo and behold, pictured there was
a package of holiday cards titled
"Rooster's Welcome!" And a mighty
handsome rooster was pictured on
the front of the cards! Thought
someone might be interested and
would also help save the depleted

Pat Cochran

Tawny said...

Christine, SF weather is cool. Even when its in the hundreds over here (I'm about 50 mile east) its cool there. And hotels are always cool, aren't they?

Wow on having to write multiple itineraries - that might stress me out LOL. And the meal prep. I guess I need to think about that though -thanks for the reminder. My girls will be home, and while I won't be far and the oldest is definitely capapable of taking care of anything, a few lists won't hurt.

Tawny said...

Helen, the Australian Romance readers convention sounds like SO much fun!! We'll miss you here in SF though and will definitely drink for you :-)

Tawny said...

SARA!!!!! OMG CONGRATULATIONS on your sales!!!! WHOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and OMG yay -that is so fabulous.

I'm so so excited for you :-)

and big squishy hugs and lots of sympathy on the loss of your furry baby :-( thats alwasy so hard.

btw... I do remember that Amazon guy. He was definitely yummy :-D

Nancy said...

Jane, congratulations on the rooster!

Tawny, I don't have a top 10, but I do make a list of what I pack. Don't always stick to it, but I make it. In theory, I use it when I re-pack to come home. I also like to leave things tidy, just because I don't like coming home to a mess.

Jennifer Y., you'd have to be pretty far out there to embarrass yourself at RWA. Everything from bawling upon meeting a favorite author to running away to hurl before/after an appointment has been done. So no worries. Relax and have fun.

Sara, I'm sorry about your cat. Pets are part of the family. At least at our house. I know it takes some of the joy out of your sale (mega-congrats on that!). Wearing that pink ribbon at conference should be way cool, though.

Helen, you'll definitely hear about it when we get back. We'll be doing a group blog about it on August 9, in addition whatever else we post.

Carol, AC and I are doing our best to keep that freakin' rooster away from conference, but he's wily. Very wily. And he seems to have an accomplice among our buddies. We'll see.

Terrio, I once packed the wrong suit. Had the wrong accessories for the one I ended up with. Expert advice put me together in a polished way, but I had a bad moment or two, there. I recommend against packing in poor lighting!

Jennifer Y. said...

Christine, SF weather is cool. Even when its in the hundreds over here (I'm about 50 mile east) its cool there. And hotels are always cool, aren't they?

One more thing for me to worry about...LOL. I haven't even needed a jacket in a LONG time...GA isn't exactly cool. *note to self: find a jacket

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, I think it's about 16 hours in the air but I have to change planes. There's a direct flight from Sydney (which means I change there on the way over) or a direct flight to Brisbane from LA which means I change planes there on the way home. I keep telling myself it's not as bad as the UK flight!

Tawny, I also figure seeing I'm going to a great shopping city, if I've forgotten anything it will be fun to go and buy it!

terrio said...

Thanks for the explanation on the badge thing. I still have mine from NJ last year. I loved it because it had this little zipper section in the back where I could keep the business cards and money. And I have pins to bring including my Bandits pin. I'll have to find pinning room somewhere for that.

Now I need a short pitch and a catch phrase? This is going to keep me up at night. LOL!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL at all the plans - both organised and disorganised. So looking forward to SF.

I'm unusually disorganised this year due to The Big Move home. So, while i would normally have ap ile of conference possibles in the spare room - there are too many boxes to do that.

I also have to think about what I'll need in th UK for two months without our household goods or clothes!

I'll pack the day before - put away half the stuff I thought I'd take, add an extra pair of shoes *g*, and make sure my iPod and mobile phone are charged. I can't do the carry-on thing, but I'm a pretty neat packer.

A couple of tips - pack things you don't want to get creased in plastic dry cleaning bags - it really does help!
- Stuff the toes of shoes with knickers etc.
- carry a spare pair of undewear in your carry-on ... just in case your bag goes missing.
- as long as you have your ticket, ID and a credit card, don't panic. Everything else you can beg, borrow or buy. Conference buddies will always help you out.

terrio said...

Nancy - congrats on the contest final!

Anna Sugden said...

Sara - huge congrats on your sale!

And big hugs on the loss of your furry baby. I know how hard that is, having lost a ocuple of my own last year.

Jennifer and anyone else who is nervous about the conference - never fear, the Banditas will not let you be lonley!

Buffie said...

Okay all you conference ladies, here's a mission for you. If that handsome Amazon guy is there, you must capture his image and post it on the site for us to all see. In fact be sure to post pictures of all the hot guys!!!! Just pretend you're me :)

Santa said...

Terri - don't forget your hook. Very, very important.

I haven't started packing yet but I have two suitcases out and I have to figure out how many clothes I'm going to take. I have started pairing up outfits in my closet. I don't dress business casual for work because as a deli diva it's all about the tiara anyway.

Toiletries - check. I am always afraid I'll run out of that stuff.

And I always clean the house before I go on vacation. I wouldn't want any thiefs to have to wade through any messes.

I will leave a list of where and when my kids need to be anywhere for my DH, as well as, a chicken parmegiano and eggplant parmegiano and some other easy meals like that.

I think that should cover it all.

Oh, and I've already Squeeeed across the internet for Sara but I will add just one more here! Her book PMA is marvelous and I can't wait to attend her signings!

Christie Kelley said...

Tawny, I had to laugh because I tend to wait until the last minute for packing and everything else related to taking a trip. My mother is coming to visit me the week before we head to Disney and she wasn't sure that would be a good time because I'd be so busy. Busy? I'll still have two days to pack after she leaves. I'll just be doing laundry while she's here.

I don't think you forgot anything on your list. Except...if you like to partake in goodies at the bar, I'd suggest bringing a six pack of Gatorade with you. It's the best thing in the world the next morning :)

I'm sooooo bummed that I'm not going to the conference this year.

Marie Force said...

So sad about the shoes...I sprained my ankle in March and still don't trust it so no cute shoes for me. Oh well! Since I spend most of my life in flip flops anyway, my feet are already thankful. Look forward to meeting the Banditas (especially Aunty Cindy, my Sourcebooks sister) at the conference!

Helen said...

Best wishes and good luck to all of you in the contests I am sure there are going to be lots of winners

Have Fun

Carol said...

Hi Tawny... No I'm not going,be there in spirit though! My D.Daughter is a finalist in the Beau Monde.
The RWA-USA, website is really good, last year they had guest blogs from writers, so lots to read about.
Now dear ladies not too many clothes, leave room for the BOOKs you are al going to buy...more important than mere clothes! (lol)
Cheers Carol

flchen1 said...

Tawny, I should have known--those ARE awfully sweet shoes! ;) Will those be attending with you?

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Carol, in the interest of the new black, just to let you know I'm blogging for RWA on Thursday, 31st July, at 4pm SF time. That's about 9am in Briz Vegas. Love to see you if you get a chance to pop by! The Banditas will be reporting on our conference experiences too. You'll definitely hear what's happening, my friend! And I've already decided to buy a second suitcase for books! Yay! Can't wait!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Now I feel like a slacker. I haven't started packing yet, just list making. Ha!

Sara, I forgot to say my condolences on your loss. Furbabies are family and its hard, hard, hard. Siameses are esp. "human" in their connection to any family. I've missed my two for years now. Sigh.

Nancy, LOL on packing in poor light!

Tawny, I usually carry the pharmacopia too, from having kids. Tylenol, aspirin, tums, the whole deal. Ha!

Kate Carlisle said...

Tawny, I'm following your lead and being very organized this year. I've got a table with everything I'm doing, broken down in three increments for morning, afternoon and evening, along with outfits for each activity and time period. I've got notes and lists and names and locations on there, too. Aren't you proud of me? *g*

I'm so lucky not to be pitching this year but I've still got a pitch prepared. I'm hoping that the pretty pink ribbon will start a few conversations. :-) Hehehe!

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Tawny said...

You do sound organized, Caffey :-) I'm impressed with all your lists! I hope you get to a signing soon -its definitely a have to see it to believe it event. So fun, but so crowded and crazy LOL

Trish Milburn said...

Okay, that is too funny about the cleaning because I started my cleaning today. I have daily to-do lists for each day from today until when I leave. They include:

1. Write at least 15 pages a day so I can get the first draft done before boarding the train.
2. Clean certain rooms each day.
3. Exercise and yard work each day.
4. Watch one movie each day (to insert some fun into the day and to clean off the TiVo so it doesn't explode while I'm gone).
5. Read some of my Romance Writers Reports (I'm behind; bad board member) and the library books I need to turn in before I leave.
6. Judge one contest entry for my chapter's contest each day so I can get those done before I leave. I don't want to have to worry about those or have to do them when I get back.
7. Oh, and the assorted packing, shopping, going to the bank, eyebrow wax, haircut and color, blah, blah, blah.

Yes, I need to clone myself. :)

Tawny said...

LOL on the confiscated koosh buggle gun Limecello - I remember those :-D Some people are just NO fun, huh?

Its great that you were able to shuffle your luggage like that at the last minute. I'll admit it, I've been known to use my kids luggage space and have my hubby carry my laptop as HIS carryon :-)

DC had to be a great place to intern - was it tons of fun?

Tawny said...

LOL Pat - frazzled, huh? Tell ya what, I'll take a conference of romance writers over chaperoning band ANYDAY!!! I admire any parent who can do that :-)

and awwwww on the Rooster's Welcom cards. I'll have to go look. How fun!!! thanks for sharing with us :-)

Tawny said...

Nancy, I hate coming home to a mess, too. I'm always so tired after a trip its a relief to have a few days to mess up the house before I have to deal with it LOL.

Tawny said...

Nancy, I hate coming home to a mess, too. I'm always so tired after a trip its a relief to have a few days to mess up the house before I have to deal with it LOL.

Tawny said...

Anna, shopping in SF is amazing. Seriously GREAT and we're right across the street from a mall. Super fun :-D

Terrio, it sound slike you're set on the badge!! YAY :-)

Tawny said...

Vrai Anna - I do NOT envy you dealing with all the packing and moving stuff. I'm pretending you're not doing it, though, so thats all I'll say :-(

What great packing tips, though. I remember when I was a kid at my gramma's. There was some "how to pack" segment on a tv show so my gramma got out a little suitcase for me and tons of dressup clothes & stuff and I packed it ALL. I was so proud. I think I was 6 LOL. And thats the last time I packed tidy and light...

Tawny said...

Buffie, I'll keep my camera close for any random hottie shots :-) That guy WAS cute.

Tawny said...

Santa... will you bring your tiara? ;-) I have my luggage out, but thats because we just got back from Las Vegas and I never put it away LOL. I'm ROFL about leaving a clean house for the theives, too :-D and please, will you cook for me? OMG that sounds yummy!!!

Tawny said...

Christie, Disney is my new favorite place on earth :-) I hope you have a WONDERFUL time!!! and LOL on the easy prep while your mom is there :-)

Great advice on the hangover cure. I've learned the hard way that while the bar is a great hangout place and the Harlequin party as a FAB open bar... drinking too much is definitely NOT the conference thing to do.

We'll miss you :-( I wish you were coming this year.

Tawny said...

Marie, I hear you! There's nothing worse than having cute shoes and not being able to wear them... except maybe having cute shoes and having to wear that big ugly cast/boot thing instead of them :-( I hope your foot heals wonderfully :-)

Tawny said...

Carol - good luck and fingers crossed for your daughter winning the Beau Monde :-D

Fedora... those babies will be attending for sure :-D Aren't they DARLING?!

Nancy said...

Donna, I also remove any credit cards or other things I know I won't need. You just never know.

BTW, for anyone who hasn't thought about it--wearing a conference badge outside the hotel is like hanging a sign around your neck that says, "I'm from out of town and won't be back to testify." Don't do it. Take that thing off and stuff it in your purse before you hit the door.

Jennifer Y., thanks for catching the bird before he left home with you. Sneaky. He's very sneaky.

Terrio, thanks for the congrats. I was very pleased.

Maria, I'm so sorry about the shoe problem. My roommate last year had a walking cast and crutches, and that created all sorts of problems for what to wear on her other foot!

Pat C., thanks for the tip on the cards!

Clauda, I picked up some unplanned pounds, too, and they're not leaving as quickly as I would like. IOW, I feel your pain.

Trish, your list is giving me a headache. That's a lot to cover before you go.

For those of you who're adding shiny, new golden heart of Rita pins to your badges--congratulations! Here's a tip for not losing them. Put them inside the plastic part of the badge, on the paper nametag itself. I have a cloth badge holder with a pocket, and I used to wear the hearts and my chapter pins on the cloth part above the nametag until a friend told me those backs do drop off, causing the pins to fall. RWA will not replace them. If they're directly on the badge, inside the plastic sleeve, you won't lose either the pin or the backing if it comes off for some reason.

Tawny said...

Jeanne - It must be a mom thing :-D When we travel, I always pack kid food, wipes and plenty of kid-focused entertainment, too LOL.

and hey, I'm just list making too. We're not slackers... we're preparing :-D

Tawny said...

WOW Kate, you're kicking butt!!! Not only are you the Queen of Titles, but an organizational guru!!

I'm so proud :-D

Tawny said...

Trish... we're like soul sisters or something :-D Your list sounds like mine. I have a monthly master list - everything that needs done, then its broken down by week, then day *g*

Only you're smarter than I am... you factor in entertainment LOL. I just count on slacking a lot.

Joan said...

Packing? Is it time to pack already?

Dang, I must be leaving tomorrow!

Yup, I'm a semi-last minute packer. I make my list out two days before, pack the night before and shop for about a month before!

I love me some conference shopping!

I usually do not forget anything except the year of our GH final. I forgot my OPI pink nail polish to redo my nails before the big night!

Dear Lord, talk about a freak out.

Because you see I had this whole image of how I'd look in my gown and it did not include mismatched polish!

Fortunately, my CP's/roommates had some and a tranq gun.

I am SO psyched about this year's conference! We're coming in on Saturday and are planning MAJOR sightseeing.

And to our BB's I'll just say...listen for the squeeing because it means Banditas have found each other.

Now, back to considering just how many black shoes are too many to take?

Joan said...


You'll do fine with your pitching (says the Bandita who hasn't done it in four years because she HATES to do it!)

Really. It'll be ok.

Meet you in the bar afterward.

terrio said...

Joanie - I'm not formally pitching or I wouldn't be typing this for all the hyperventilating. But I forgot all about getting asked that "what do you write" question all over the place. How could I forget that?!

At least I have two weeks to come up with something to say. And yes, I believe I'll be in the bar a lot at this rate. Too bad I only drink water. :)

Beth said...

Terry, congrats on the Daphne final! Best of luck :-)

Carol said...

Thanks for the information about your blog at the conference!
I'll watch out for it!
I will have to set my free copy of world time Clox to SF. so I'll be able to tune in maybe at real time!
Take lots of Photo's Ladies we readers want to see all the Action!
Cheers Carol

Sara Lindsey said...

I just have to thank the Banditas again for the congratulations and the condolences. Siamese are quite human, aren't they? Always talking up a storm!

I will be on the lookout for hotties! At the NJ RWA conference last year one of the cover models showed up - I nagged RNTV's M&M to go film him... and they did! It's up on the site somewhere... and I'm the little one trying not to giggle in the background. ;)

limecello said...

Loucinda- Wow, I am very impressed. I'd be packing a lot more than that. Recently I've gotten better - and it does help with the no unpacking ;).

Jo - Haha, I don't arrive at the airport last minute - usually I have to wait. And wait. And wait. [Although once my cousin dropped me off 15 minutes before my flight time - but I had no luggage - just a purse- and luckily the flight was delayed.]

Tawny - it was pretty ridiculous. Actually, the man was like "hey you forgot something" and called me back - then taunted me with it and called over other people and threatened me with security. And... I was only in 7th grade. Good job, @$$hat. I hope he got a good power trip out of it.

limecello said...

Oh right - I don't know if I mentioned the koosh bubble gun was a keychain. So... I can't even imagine how someone would equate neon colored plastic bubbles as a weapon.