Missing OutFor some reason, a lot of people I know are suffering from depression this summer. I blogged about this on my personal blog, so I'll skip the possible reasons for this except for one: Missing National. For those of us who are writers, missing the RWA National Conference is a BIG DEAL. Not only because we miss the networking opportunities, the chance to pitch our mss face to face, but most of all because we'll miss getting together with our friends. And yes, I'm one of those who will be missing out again this year.
Missing the conference in Reno nearly killed me. Of all the places RWA has had Nationals, Reno was the one I wanted to go to (well, aside from NYC, where I was a Golden Heart finalist and the memories will live forever). Atlanta wasn't a big draw for me, and next year in Dallas even less so, but the conference itself, wherever it's held, is something I do NOT want to miss. But with 2 kids in college and a dh being forced into retirement with no income, the money just isn't there to go.
So for you lucky dogs who do get to go, here are some things I've learned from past conferences.
1. Pack light. There's nothing worse than schlepping through a huge airport with 2 suitcases (that don't roll) and a garment bag (holding 4 dresses and a heavy-assed ball gown). Pack everything you think you'll need, then take half of it out. You won't need it.
2. Dress professionally. Yes, it will be hot as blue blazes outside, but that's no excuse for wearing shorts to workshops. You're being observed, whether you know it or not. What if you get on the elevator with your dream agent? If she sees you dressed in shorts, she'll assume you either aren't part of the conference, or you're the type who'd show up for a book signing dressed like a 60's reject. She's not too likely to ask you what you write.
3. Make the most of opportunities, but don't be an ass. If an agent or editor asks you what you write, make it short and sweet. "I write romantic suspense with a sexy twist." If she wants to know about your current project, she'll ask. If she does, again, make it short and sweet. "My just-finished book is Murder She Wrote meets Die Hard, about a grandmother who gets drawn into fighting drug gangs when her grandson is killed during a drug war." Again, if she wants to know more, she'll ask. She might even invite you to the bar for a drink. Go.
4. Don't get drunk. This might seem like a great chance to go for broke, be the wild woman away from the kids and hubby. But unless you're going to do it in your room away from the gossips, Don't Do It. It's amazing how many people forget themselves under the influence of alcohol. I've done it (NYC, will never forget it, but fortunately I was among friends in a pretty much empty bar at 4 in the morning).
5. Invite an agent and editor to lunch. Okay, so this won't work if everyone does it, but in Denver a group of friends and I got together and invited some agents and editors to lunch. Two agents and three editors took us up on the invitation. We got a full hour with each of them. Some didn't want pitches during that time, but just a chance to get to know us. I still have a casual relationship with a couple of them. (And don't forget to pay for their meal.)
6. Relax and enjoy. You lucky dog, you.