You’ve made the decision to attend your first romance novel convention. You’ve paid the registration fee, booked your hotel and your flight, and you’re ready to go… except, what the heck do you pack?
Last July I went to my first Romance Writers of America conference in Denver, Colorado. I’ve attended several smaller writing conferences, but this was the main event…a dream of a lifetime. I wanted to get it right. Before boarding the plane, I checked with my author friends to find what they suggested I pack. Here’s the list of essential items they shared with me.
1. Comfortable shoes. I know what you’re thinking. You want to look good, not like you’ve just schlepped in from the garden. But believe me, you want those comfortable shoes. You’ll spend long days and nights standing on your feet or wandering the endless hallways of the conference hotel. The last thing you want is for your feet to hurt. Also, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of sneakers for exploring outside your hotel.
2. Business cards. Bring business cards with your current contact information. Hand them out to the authors you meet, and agents or publishers you encounter in the lounge, restaurant, elevator, or at a pitch session.
3. Water bottle. The air conditioning in the hotel will parch you. Drink lots of water. You need to stay hydrated.
4. Several business casual outfits. You want to be taken seriously, so dressing the part is essential. You never know when that connection you made at a conference will pay off. Bring at least one dressier outfit for award nights or dinners out. Make sure you pack a sweater or a light jacket. In Denver, the air conditioning system blasted frigid air on the workshop attendees even though the temperature was in the high 80’s outside the hotel.
5. A notebook, several pens, and a highlighter. Great for taking notes during workshops and for keeping track of the email addresses of the many fascinating people you’ll meet. I met so many people that I resorted to jotting a brief description of each person and one thing they mentioned in the course of our conversation in my notebook. That way, when I saw them again, I had instant recall, and they were very impressed with my memory.
6. Your favorite snack. Anything chocolate works great to restore your energy and help you relax after a long day. A glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.
7. Headache medication, blister pack, and breath mints. You’ll be putting in long days (and nights), and you don’t want your smile to dim because of a throbbing headache or a blister on your heel because you didn’t listen to the advice and brought sexy, three-inch stilettos rather than that comfortable pair of shoes you were advised to bring.
8. Extra suitcase. Essential for all the freebies, SWAG items, and armfuls of books you won’t be able to resist buying. It’s possible to ship the books you’ve purchased to your home, but far better and cheaper to fit them inside your luggage.
9. A friendly smile. You have to be confident enough to talk to the person sitting beside you in a workshop, at lunch, or in the lounge and learn about their writing journey. You’ll be surprised at how much you have in common. Everyone is friendly and welcoming at writing conferences, and romance writers are the best.
10. A good sense of humor. The long lineups for lunch, the frenzy of the goodie room, book signings, high pressure meetings with agents or editors, hours spent sitting in large rooms listening to workshop presenters, and the late night schmoozing all take fortitude. If you can laugh at the crazy mayhem, you’ll have a wonderful time.
Conference season is upon us, and I hope you’ve registered for a romance writers’ conference. You’ll love every minute of the hustle and bustle and return home energized and ready to write that next novel.
List by C. B. Clark
Librarian Marissa Reynolds has spent years distancing herself from her crime kingpin uncle. When she awakens in an unfamiliar hotel room with blood on her hands and no memory of how she got there, the past returns with a vengeance, and her life spirals into a nightmare.
Straight-laced Assistant District attorney Scott Bannister has spent his life seeking justice for the senseless shooting deaths of his parents. When he realizes Marissa is the niece of his prime suspect, he crosses a line, guaranteed to jeopardize both his life and his beloved career.
He’ll do anything to destroy her uncle. She fears he’s using her to achieve his goal. As the body count mounts, and their lives are threatened, they must put aside their distrust and work together to find the devious killer. Will they be able to forgive and find true love?
Award winning author C.B. Clark has published five romantic suspense novels. She has worked as an archaeologist and an educator, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.