Saturday, June 25, 2011

From Deadline Hell to Conference Madness

by Kate Carlisle

I did it! I met my deadline for ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE, the next Bibliophile Mystery. Pretty good, considering that I’ve been working in the midst of a total kitchen remodel and my family visiting. When I reached the final sentence of the final scene, I paused, took a deep breath to savor the moment, and then slowly typed: T. H. E. E. N. D.

Moment savored, moment gone… and instant panic set in.

The Romance Writers of America conference is mere days away, and I have done nothing – nothing! – to prepare. I have nothing to wear. My nails have suffered the double mutilation of hammering away at the keyboard and of being gnawed at while I tried to work my way out of plotting quagmires. My scalp has little bald spots from me tearing out my hair, trying to get the book done in time.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for bald spots!

The truth is, I have a lot of work to do to get pretty enough for conference. Because you know that we all want to look good for each other. It doesn’t matter that 98% of the attendees are female. It’s soooo not about the men. We want to look fresh and relaxed so that when we reunite with friends we haven’t seen for a year, they’ll tell us how great we look, and we’ll be able to believe that they’re not just being polite.

(Yeah, I dream big.)

We also want to look professional so that when we see our editors and agents and other industry professionals, they will get the impression that we easily handle the stresses of this writing life. In the hopes, of course, that they’ll pile on more stresses by giving us more, bigger, and better contracts.

(I do actually dream big.)

Which means, of course, that I must go shopping. And I can’t rely on the internet this time. There’s no time to have clothes shipped to me, try them on, realize I ordered the wrong size, return them, and get a second outfit to try on in the comfort of my own home. No, I will have to brave the harsh light of the dressing room.

And don’t get me started on shoes. Ack.

I can’t possibly visit the clothing stores until I get a mani/pedi. Otherwise the sales clerks won’t take me seriously. Getting a manicure is an exercise in patience for me. It’s hard to sit still long enough for the polish to dry. Almost invariably, I end up with at least one ding. So I repair the ding by adding a glop of polish, which leaves a little raised bump on my nail that looks like I have some sort of medical condition.

If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for deformities on my fingernails!

My hope is that all the panic and craziness I’m going through now will pay off in the end. That I’ll arrive at conference looking polished and chic precisely because I am worried about it now. Which means at conference, I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience without giving a second thought to how I look.

That is, perhaps, the biggest dream of all.

The RWA conference is part professional networking event, part high school reunion. When is the last time you attended a big conference or reunion? Did you stress about what to wear, how your hair looked, how your nails looked, whether your shoes were scuffed… ? When you look back on that event, what sticks out most strongly in your memory?

18 comments:

Helen said...

Is he staying with me

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Yes I went shopping and bought more Tim Tams so i guess he wanted to stay LOl and I gotta say the days have been lovely although still very cold at night.

Kate

You will get to NY looking wonderful and feeling very relaxed I am sure. I do love hearing that the next Brooklyn story is finished I am sooo loving this series, Derek and Brooklyn and all the characters are fantastic people.

We had our ARRA conference here in Sydney back in March and I gotta say I did get a bit panicky trying to get things organised with what I was wearing and taking with me seeing as how I was part of the organising committee and there were so many things that had been delivered to my place and I had to get them over to the hotel LOl but I did it got there and had such an awesome time talking and having fun with everyone.Best part spending time with friends and meeting up again with authors meeting new authors and listening to their talks.

have Fun
Helen

jennifertanner said...

My advice? Go get a massage. When you get to NYC, go shopping and pick up a few things. Bergdorf's and Saks are having big sales. :o)
Get a manicure afterward and have a tall cool drink. You'll shine.

Have a great time!

Pink

marybelle said...

My work conferences are staid affairs, so work clothes suffice. No glamour there at all. Kind of a relief.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Haven't been to a big gathering in years and years, even then I was presentable and that is good enough for me.

PJ said...

My advice? Follow Jennifer's advice! :)

Seriously, Kate. Just flash that gorgeous smile of yours and nobody will ever notice globs of nail polish, scuffed shoes or last year's outfit.

Can't wait to see you next week!

barb said...

Looks like he still likes it here Helen....glad you got another supply of tim tams

I think you did well finishing your book while remodelling your Kitchen, Kate.... we did ours a couple of years ago and it is a big job... we were also at the end of a bathroom and toilet remodelling so the whole house was upside down LOL
I also went to the ARRA convention with Helen, this was my first and I had a really good time and met authors and readers and spent time talking romance books... had a great time

Kate Carlisle said...

Woo hooooooo, Helen! You get the company of the GR at least a little while longer!

Wow, I can't imagine being a part of the organizing committee. It must be a logistical challenge, tracking all the books that have come in and making sure they get to the right place at the right time. I'm glad you were able to find some time for fun!

Ohhh, Pink, I love the way you think! Bergdorf's & Sakes, here I come!

Marybelle, the RWA conferences are an interesting mixture of business and glamor. And it's a tough call to decide which way to dress for which events.

Kate Carlisle said...

Dianna, despite my stress, I really do look forward to conference every year. It's manic - and loud! - but it's the most fun I have all year.

PJ, can't wait to see you, too!!!! See, that's why I love going to conference every year! So much fun to catch up with friends face to face.

Barb, I don't know *what* we'd do if we were remodeling the bath at the same time. Where would I wash dishes? (At the moment, I wash them in the bathroom sink or, while my family as visiting, in the tub.)

catslady said...

I just wanted to say how much I loved those fingernails!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Tim Tams???? Of course he stayed!! I would!!


Can't wait to see you and everyone else in New York, Kate!

I'm right there with you. I haven't packed. I do have my clothes picked out, dry cleaned, hemmed (we vertically challenged people have to have EVERYTHING hemmed!) now all I have to do is cram them in the suitcase. My shoes are all bagged and tagged. I always bring at least ten pairs of shoes with me.

I still have to get all of my furkids stuff ready for the dog sitter and then I can go get my nails done.

I always end up running around like crazy at the last minute. That's part of the conference fun!

Kate Carlisle said...

Catslady, aren't those fun? If you want to see lots more fun nails, just Google manicure and look for images. The world is a very colorful place.

Louisa, can't wait to see you!!!! I agree that the pre-conference mania is part of the fun. When you get there safely, you almost feel like you can finally relax. Almost.

Inara Scott said...

Kate, a very wise woman once told me, "Women don't dress for men, they dress for other women." So very true. Why else would we care so very much about our appearance at RWA? LOL!

I have been in deadline/revision panic for the past week, and have both stopped exercising and bathing, so the conference will be quite a rude awakening for me. I've also had a cold, which means my nose is throbbing and glowing red. Gorgeous.

Anyway, I did a little packing last night and I've decided to bring nothing but dresses. Easier than trying to pick out an outfit. And no heels. Rebellious, right?

Now, if I can just convince the world to let me wear nothing but yoga pants, I'd be all set.

Can't wait to see you in NYC!!

Nancy said...

Helen, again? Oh, I see--the devious lure of Tim Tams. *g*

Kate, congrats on hitting your deadline! I can't wait to read the book. Or to see you in NYC next week.

The last big conference I attended was RWA, and yes, of course I stressed over all that stuff. Women are way more critical of the way other women look than men are.

I have one more trip to the mall, an in-and-out affair involving one store. I'll be heading there after I finish these revisions. They're small at this stage and going pretty quickly.

Kate Carlisle said...

Inara, you know that's true every time you visit a Home Depot - all the men are dressed alike. Baggy shorts, untucked T-shirt, comfy shoes, and a baseball hat. Life must be so simple for a man...

I *love* your idea for starting a yoga pant trend. I could totally get behind that!

Nancy, congrats to you on relatively painless revisions! See you both in a couple days!!! Inara, I hope your cold has gone away by then. If not, remember not to shake anyone's hand! :)

Nancy said...

Inara, congrats on the end of deadline panic! I read Delcroix Academy 1 and loved it. I noticed that you also have a Faerie book coming out--great news!

I'm with you on the yoga pants, but I could make it jeans. :-)

See you in NYC!

Maria said...

I haven't attended a conference but there is no need to panic...lol..a one day spa will take care of the appearance issues and a quick trip to the local mall should take care of the rest! Enjoy your trip and the time at RWA!

Kate Carlisle said...

Maria, ah yes, but one must know what to buy at the local mall. That's what always throws me off. I do love shopping, though!