01 May 2007

National Conference

It's only May, but talk of the upcoming RWA national conference in Dallas is already picking up speed. Granted, such an undertaking -- escaping from our respective families for a week, not to mention the coordinators' massive responsibilities -- demands preparation. But beyond preparation, the national conference is the epicenter of the romance writer's year.

This July, I will attend for the first time. I am a conference newbie. From workshops to pitch appointments to the RITA and Golden Heart gala, everything will be new. I'll even get to swim! And I'll take my first solo airplane trip since May 26, 1997. Every trip since, I've had my husband or my children with me. Housewife that I am, such freedom appeals to me almost as much as the opportunities such an event presents.

My inspiration to pursue writing seriously took place in July of last year. Like most authors, I've written since childhood, but I'd never sat down and made a plan to become a professional. Then, trolling the usual romance book sites last summer, I became incredibly envious of all the ladies heading to Georgia. I want to go! So I put pen to paper and got serious about my commitments.

Last week, my Sherwood Forest-themed MS, Redeeming Will Scarlet, became one of three finalists in the Hearts Through History chapter's annual Romance Through the Ages contest in the Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance category. Allison Brandau of Berkeley will be the final judge. The winners will be announced at the chapter's annual conference awards breakfast. For me, attending will be less about the business and more about having met a goal for myself. I'm not published, but dang! I've made great progress! Now I'll jet off to enjoy the benefits.

So, for all of you Unusual Historical authors and fans, who will be attending in Dallas? What are you most looking forward to? What advice do you have for a newbie like me? Can't wait to see you all there!


DeborahBrent said...

Wear comfortable shoes at all times. You will be walking, and walking and walking.

Take a light weight jacket or sweater. Some of the meeting rooms will be cold.

Take enough cash, especially for meals and snacks.

Don't over pack, because you are going to bring home at least one suitcase full of books and goodies, even if you don't buy any books.

Don't plan on getting a lot of sleep, and do plan to collapse when you get home.

Every romance writer should attend National at least once. It is an experience not to be forgotten.

Morag McKendrick Pippin said...

I ship the books home and bring shoes! Lots of shoes:-)
For the Rita/GH night I'm wearing a vintage cocktail dress my mom made herself in the '50s.

Sandra Schwab said...

Stay close to the bar in the evenings -- that's where all the scandals seem to happen! *G*

You can order recordings of all workshops at a special, reduced price during the conference.

I find it helpful to have some "quiet" time planned in, especially last year when we were in that atrium like hotel where, with all the open spaces, you simply could not escape from the noise. By Friday afternoon I was ready to scream.

I haven't yet thought about or bought a dress for the awards ceremony because I'm still on diet. *g* I plan to lose at least five more kilos before the conference. Seven would be nicer, though.

And have I already mentioned that I'll be able to drag home two suitcases because I'm on an overseas flight? Hehe. :)

Sandra Schwab said...

Oh, and I forgot: if you don't stop by my table during the big signing on Wednesday afternoon to say hello, I'm going to find you and do horrible things to you. *G*

carrie_lofty said...

Since I don't want to have horrible things happen to me, I'll find your table and stop by :)

Christine Koehler said...

I've never been to National, but have gone to my local one the past few years. I'd love to go next year in San Fran, it's such a great town, but the timing is never right. It's hard to work around other people's vacations when you're short-staffed as it is.

The only new piece of advice I have it to tell your friends and family that no, you won't have your cell on you, and no – you won't be calling them at night, either. Souvenirs? Uh...did they want a romance book? And to drink sparingly: those ladies room lines are awful between workshops!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Write a snappy, one line pitch for your book and practice it so if you share an elevator or table space with an editor or agent, and s/he asks, "What do you write," you're prepared. congrats on the contest final!

Also, take some time to download for yourself. National can be pretty overwhelming at first, so much to do, see, and people to meet!

Not sure if I'll be at Nationals... I really really want to go but I'm soooo swamped these days with travel for the day job and two books to write this year. Good luck!

Morag McKendrick Pippin said...

No, no, Sandra! It's not called the bar at conference! It becomes the 'literary forum.' :-)))