Friday, June 18, 2010


You’ve registered for your first RWA National Conference, scheduled vacation time from work, confirmed your travel reservations and you’re ready to…well…you’re not really quite sure what you’re ready to do next.

PJ: What clothes will I need to take? And how many clothes? Is the dress casual, business or dressy?

Andrea: What about shoes? Are sneakers okay? (I’ve heard there’s a lot of walking!) Should I take heels?

Buffie: What’s the etiquette for approaching favorite authors in the hotel lobby or bar? Is it okay to just walk up and say hello?

Gannon: What about workshops? There are so many! How will I know which one(s) to attend?

Dishes: What if someone asks for my phone number…email…website? Should I carry a pen and paper with me at all times? Should I have business cards made? (Actually, that's one we already figured out and we can't wait to show off our brand spankin' new Romance Dish business cards!)

These are only a small sampling of the thoughts that were swirling in Gannon's and PJ's heads when they started planning for their first National conference last summer in Washington, DC and currently have Buffie and Andrea spinning in circles as they prepare for their first National next month in Orlando! Not wanting anyone to step off on the wrong foot, we turned to our friend, Kim Castillo for expert guidance. As a conference veteran and assistant to many published authors, we knew she would have the advice we will all need to enjoy a successful conference experience. Please help us welcome Kim to The Romance Dish!


Thank you so much to PJ, Andrea, Gannon and Buffie. They're such wonderful women and advocates for romance authors. I just adore each of them. Thanks for inviting me to the dish, ladies! (We adore you too, Kim!)

Kim & Eloisa James
Today we're going to chat about going to big conferences. The biggest thing to remember about conference is that it's overwhelming, especially if it's your first con. When I went to the Dallas con, it was the first time I'd flown, the first time I'd stayed in a hotel by myself and the first time I'd met so many authors. I was like a kid in a candy store, my head couldn't whip around fast enough, trying to take in all the sites and not miss anyone I wanted to meet. It doesn't matter if it's your first or tenth con, you're not going to be able to see or do everything you want to do. It's just not humanly possible. Make a detailed schedule. (PJ popping in to say I made an Excel spreadsheet last year and it was my lifeline!) Most cons put up their event calendar ahead of time. Put the events you want to attend in your schedule and prioritize them. Is it a "MUST DO" or a "Want to"? If there are people you know you want to spend time with, email them ahead of time and set up a time.

Anna  Campbell
The Literacy Signing: Every conference has a large mass book signing. The literacy signing at RWA is INSANE. It's always packed to the rafters, hot, loud and lines everywhere. The best way to deal with this is to make a list. Again, most events will list the authors signing at their mass signing. Orlando Signing Author List Go through and make a list of all the authors you'd like to meet, get a picture taken with and buy a book from. Again, it's like being a kid in a candy store. You WILL be overwhelmed and distracted. Stick to the list and then you can browse around.

Let's talk about what to pack a little bit. Comfortable clothes and shoes! You're going to be in one hot, over crowded room after another. You need to be as comfortable as possible. You're also going to be walking everywhere. These hotels are HUGE and the conference will be spread out. Forget those cute shoes-wear what's comfortable. It's not the time to break in new shoes either.

Harlequin Party

Take at least two evening/cocktail outfits. You never know who'll be willing to sneak you into the Harlequin party or invite you out for drinks!

Ready for the RITA Awards!

This is going to sound silly, but pants with pockets. It makes it so easy if you can just stick your room key, debit card and cell phone in a pocket and go. Plus you're not lugging around a purse that feels like cement.

A large, sturdy tote bag for the book signings.

Minimal make up-you're going to sweat it all off anyway.

Santa, J Perry and Kim

Your camera! You definitely want memories!

Print out your room reservation confirmation email. Trust me on this one. If there is any confusion with your reservation you're going to need this. Keep it with your airline tickets and other important travel documents.

My biggest tool for conference is my large Vera Bradley purse. It has several pockets and holds so much it can be used as an overnight bag. I use mine as a traveling office. Things that I have to have at a con: 2 black pens, Sharpie marker, tape, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Trust me on the sanitizer and wipes. You're going to want those. A mini can of Febreeze or Lysol comes in handy too ;)

One of my favorite things about con, other than seeing all my friends and favorite authors, is of course, THE BOOKS! You're going to want to take home loads of books. This has become somewhat of an issue the past couple of years because of those horrible airlines and their baggage charges. One way around this is to plan ahead! If your suitcase is large enough grab one or two (I recommend two!) large flat rate boxes from your local post office. While you're there buy $14.95 in stamps for each box. The box should fold in half to fit fairly easy in a suitcase. Put the stamps in your wallet. Once you've gotten all your books together you want to take home, use the flat rate boxes to mail yourself as many books as possible. Don't forget to bring a small roll of packing tape ($1 at the Dollar Tree!). After you've got the box all packed up and addressed to yourself, affix the postage, take the box down to the front desk and ask if they can mail the box for you. You can even call ahead, after you've made your reservation to ask if this is a service they offer. Most hotels will have a business center but the shipping can get pretty expensive that way.

Kristan Higgins

My biggest piece of advice is-RELAX and HAVE FUN! This is conference! Don't be shy! Be out there, introduce yourself to people. I met one of my dearest friends this way. At my first con, we were always in line together. Then, my last day, we were both at breakfast together. Instead of sitting alone, we sat together and chatted. Every year Kristan Higgins is still my breakfast buddy!

Are you attending RWA in Orlando in July? Do you regularly attend conferences? If so, what's your best piece of advice for attendees?

Make sure to check the comments! I'll be sharing lots more tips, answering all of the Dishes' questions and maybe sharing a story or two in the comments ;)

Also, one lucky commenter will win some stash from my office! (PJ popping in again to say that Kim has some really good stash in her office!)

Kim, thanks for all that terrific advice! I'll be checking back throughout the day for more tips and those stories you promised!


Kim Castillo really is the Author's Best Friend. A life-long bookworm, she started out with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew, and then turned her love of great fiction to the romance genre. Now alpha heroes and happily ever afters are a pre-requisite for her bookshelves. Kim was rescued from the drudgery of a 9-to-5 job when she discovered a passion and knack for marketing. Soon her marketing and organizational skills found a niche in the romance novel industry she loves so much. As a freelance personal assistant, Kim spends her days working with the crème de la crème of best-selling and award winning authors. The work she does for authors – everything from bookseller outreach to managing websites to handling fan interactions and contests – makes her authors’ lives easier, giving them more time to write and be with their families.


  1. Thanks for the tips, Kim. I've always wondered how you should act if you see one of your favorite authors in the lobby or something. I'm not attending RWA and I've never attended a conference. I think one of the conventions will be in my area next year, so I hope I'll be able to attend.

  2. Hi Kim-so nice to see you here sharing your invaluable advice! I never thought of buying book-packing material in advance...
    My tip is to make sure you pack a cardigan or light jacket. It might be sweltering outside, but the hotel conference rooms can be chilly.

  3. I am not going but I so want to. I am a sponge for information though, I am sure the tips will be helpful if I ever do get to go.

  4. Morning Jane! I think the author question is one that most of the first-timers struggle with. Kim has some great tips and will be popping in throughout the day with more!

  5. Hi Kandy! Kim has great tips, doesn't she? I never would have thought of packing those postal boxes either.

    Excellent tip to bring along a sweater or light jacket. Florida will probably be close to 100° outside but is guaranteed to be much cooler inside!

  6. Dianna, I hope you'll get to go one of these years. I'd love to meet you in person!

  7. This is my very first time. When I got the RWA e-mail update yesterday, I clicked onto the author signing link, and there I was, both Maggie Robinson and Margaret Rowe. Hope they'll let me sit with myself. *g*

    I also printed out all the workshops and circled the ones I'd really like to attend---too many. I'm bringing my best friend, her daughter, two of my daughters and my 2 year old granddaughter and want to spend time with them too so something will have to give. I know I'll have to pace myself---I'm tired already and I'm not even there, LOL.

    I think that's Kim's best advice---you cannot do everything or be with everyone you want. I'm not a night owl either so no dancing on tabletops for me. ;)

  8. Maggie, it will be wonderful to finally meet you in person and so much fun to see you in your "official author position" at the literacy signing. Have your smile ready. I'll be taking lots of photos! :)

  9. This is my first national conference, and I'm very excited.
    I'll definitely print this out and take it with me.

    My question is-how important is it to attend the first timers orientation.


  10. How exciting, Di! Last year was my first National but I didn't attend the orientation (party conflict) so I can't speak to how important it is. I'll let Kim field that question when she checks in.

    Hope to meet you in Orlando!

  11. Great tips, Kim!

    I'm starting to get excited about this year! Can't wait to see all the Dishes in Orlando!

    Dressing in layers is a good idea. We always seem to be going from hot to cold and back again!

  12. I'll be there next month and I'm so excited! I started going through the workshop list yesterday and there are so many great ones! Two of the ones I want are also being put on my my two favorite authors, so that's convenient. I hope to meet some of you there!

  13. Informative post. I was planning to go to Nashville--close to home. So sad it had to be changed to Orlando. Hopefully, RWA will be able to make Nashville in a few years.

  14. Deb, great tip about dressing in layers. I spent a lot of time in DC putting on and taking off. lol

    Looking forward to seeing you again in Orlando. Last year was such fun!

  15. Hi Selestiele! Hope to meet you there too! I'll be volunteering at the Registration Desk Wednesday morning so if any of you are in the area, stop by and say hello!

  16. Hi Runner! I hope they'll make it back to Nashville too but locations have been scheduled through 2016 so it's going to be a few years.

    The 2013 National conference will be in Atlanta. Maybe you could make it to that one?

  17. Good morning ladies!!

    Jane-its pretty much always acceptable to introduce yourself at conference. Obviously, if someone is rushing somewhere or is in an intensely private conversation it might not be a good idea.

    Kandy-excellent advice! The hotels do tend to be chilly.

    Dianna-if you ever get the chance, I hope you do! Conference is so much fun.

  18. Good Morning, Kim! Thanks so much for joining us today. We're all looking forward to soaking in your conference wisdom today.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the stories 'cuz I *know* you have some good ones! :)

  19. Maggie!! One of the most wonderful things about conference for me is getting to see my wonderful friends have their first literacy signing, sometimes their first signing ever. You're going to have so much fun!

    Di-honestly, I've never attended one of the first time orientations. Luckily, I've always had lots of friends to guide me. My advice, if you have the time, sit in for a bit. If it doesn't give you information that seems to fit your needs then its ok to leave.

    Another tip, there are so many workshops and events that overlap each other. If there is something you really want to check out but don't have the time for the full event, its ok to come in late (although, some workshops might be full and might be standing room only) or leave early.

    At the Spring Fling conference this April, I desperately wanted to attend Smart Bitch Sarah's workshop but I HAD to be somewhere else about 30 minutes in. I made sure to grab a seat in the last row, as close to the door as possible. That way I could leave without interrupting. But that's a totally ok thing to do.

    Also, BIG tip for cell phones, this is your lifeline at conference. You'll be getting texts and calls from everyone. LOL. Make sure to charge when you can (my charger is the first thing I pack!) and most of the time you won't hear your phone because its loud, so check it periodically. And if you are sitting in on workshops, turn it off.

  20. Hey Deb! Excellent tip.

    Selestiene--have a great time! If you're planning workshops by big name authors it can be a good idea to get there early. We never know what size of rooms the workshops will be in. Last year the workshop that Eloisa and Carrie Feron did was SOOOO overfull. People were sitting on the floor, walkway and out in the hall. They easily could have filled a room twice as big. But sadly, a lot of people who wanted to attend didn't get to. If its on your "MUST DO" list, get there early if possible.

  21. runner10--me too! We'd been planning a family vacation for years around the Nashville conference. Its so sad what has happened down there. Hopefully we'll be able to attend in the future. You can always check for local, smaller chapters. Most of them usually have yearly or bi-annual conferences that are excellent.

  22. Great tips, Kim. I go to RWA national every year. Comfortable shoes, as you said, are a must. My new shoe discovery: Walking Cradles - cute & cushioned. Check them out on Zappos. Another tip, make sure that little black dress in your closet still fits. One year, my roomie's dress was so tight, I felt like I was zipping up a sausage casing. :-) The best part of RWA national is meeting new friends. I have buddies I meet at con every year. The place to be? The infamous Executive Conference Room (alias the bar). Kim, I hope to meet you this year!

  23. To tackle PJ's question about clothing. Its definitely business casual. BUT there's leeway. The most important thing is to look nice. My first conference I was working, working and I didn't have much money to buy conference outfits. I wore nicer t-shirt type tops with pants. the ones that have embellishments, you know?. At conference events, other than the book signings, I wouldn't wear jeans.

    Because I am always warmer and do so much running around, I wear a lot of capris. IMO, as long as they are not denim and look nice, its ok. BUT I spend a lot of my day in client casual meetings and in the background.

    Definitely, if you're having an editor or agent pitch or lucky you, a meeting with your editor or agent, dress nicer. For pitches, I'd go the top side of business casual. Agent/editor dinners are usually really nice affairs so that depends if its a lunch or dinner but its definitely dressy.

    Now, I'm going to be really confusing! LOL. I end up wearing tennis shoes all conference long other than dressy events. But I really don't recommend it. If you have a pair of shoes that are comfortable, I would wear those. Or maybe a black pair of tennis shoes that can pass as non-tennis. The most important thing is to have comfortable shoes. You're going to be walking and/or standing in line. If what you have is tennis shoes, no one will call you on it. I'm proof! LOL

  24. Good morning, Vicky! You're absolutely right about the Executive Boardroom. LOL And it is wonderful to meet new friends. Sadly, I won't be attending Orlando. We've had lots going on lately and had to cancel our plans :( But hopefully, we'll meet in NYC!

    ohh, let's have an impromtu contest based on meeting new friends.

    One of the authors pictured in this blog's photos is a dear, dear friend of mine that I meet at my first conference. We were "conference buddies", every where we went, we ran into each other. We wrapped up conference on our last day with breakfast together. Now every year, we always make sure to have breakfast at least once.

    The first commentor to name that author wins a signed book from my office!

    PS-yes, you can guess!

  25. Kim - This has been a great post.

    Your buddy is Kristan Higgins

  26. Yay! What a treat to have Kim visiting the Dishes!

    For those of you who aren't going to conference, I can testify that the next best thing to attending the conference yourself is having great, generous friends who are there. Then you get phone calls, emails, and loop posts filled with conference details and later you get packages filled with books and swag.

    There's also usually special stuff going on at various blogs for those who couldn't make it to Nationals.

  27. Janga said: For those of you who aren't going to conference, I can testify that the next best thing to attending the conference yourself is having great, generous friends who are there. Then you get phone calls, emails, and loop posts filled with conference details and later you get packages filled with books and swag.

    All four of the Dishes will be in Orlando for RWA National this year and we'll be coming home with LOTS of goodies to share with our Romance Dish friends. Watch the blog in the weeks following the conference for chances to win great books and other swag from RWA Orlando!

    There's also usually special stuff going on at various blogs for those who couldn't make it to Nationals.

    We'll be posting on-site blogs with lots of photos during conference week so stop by for all the latest and greatest from Orlando. We just might surprise you with some fun giveaways too!

  28. I like to look professional, because you never know who you might meet!)

    My trick is pointy-toed black flats. Dressy, and they look like heels under pants, but oh so comfortable. I save the tennis shoes for the airports and other non-conference activities (like going to the parks!)

    I buy shoes a 1/2 size big sometimes so I can add gel shoe inserts for added comfort.

    My friend Sophia gave me this tip. Bring a black jacket, black pants, and a black skirt. Then several tops to mix for different outfits. Make one top silk or sparkiy and you will have all you need including your party-wear and RITA outfit.

  29. Penfield-You're right!! Kristan Higgins is my breakfast buddy. She's a darling and every year we sit down to breakfast and catch up.

    Email me at kimscastillo with your mailing address and which genre is your favorite.

  30. Janga-one of these years we're actually going to get you there but in the meantime we love sending you care packages! BTW, did you get the one I just sent out? ;)


    Everyone-take notes from Kathryn. Her and Sophia always look so chic and as if they just stepped out of a fashion magazine.

  31. Let's tackle some serious conference topics.

    As I said, conference is very overwhelming. I think especially because so many of us work at home by ourselves. Suddenly being surrounded by 2000 of your closest friends can be a little daunting.

    This is a very important tip, make time every day to go back to your room or to find some place to be totally alone. Maybe an alcove at the hotel or go out for a walk by yourself. Just make at least a 1/2 hour for some solitude. If you can work a nap in, good for you! I have yet to attend the conference where I don't need to go in my room for a good cry. Make sure to give yourself some alone time.

    Also, be aware of where you are and who's around you. We're women and we love to gossip and share stories. Keep that for when you're in a trusted friend's room. Don't do it out at conference events or even at the bar. You never know if that person standing a few feet away is the agent/editor you have an appointment with the next day. Remember, even though conference is great fun, it is a professional event.

  32. Kathryn, great tips! Thank you!

    I buy shoes a 1/2 size big sometimes so I can add gel shoe inserts for added comfort.

    I love this one!

  33. Remember, even though conference is great fun, it is a professional event.

    Excellent advice, Kim! I've overheard a few conversations at conferences where I've cringed and thought, "Oh honey, this is not the place to be saying that!"

  34. Kim, you mean you didn't hear me squeeing? I did get the package from you. I just sent you an email. You are an angel! I'll be up til the wee hours tonight reading A CERTAIN BOOK (you know the one). I know it will be worth every second of lost sleep.

  35. Kim, you are a sweetheart and your conference tips are gold!! I'm so sorry you won't be in Orlando this year, but I hope I'll see you in NYC.

    I love Kathryn's advice about clothes and shoes. You're right, she and Sophia always looks so chic!

    Also, be aware of where you are and who's around you. We're women and we love to gossip and share stories.

    So true. I overheard some conversations last year that were not appropriate for a public place. You never know who's listening!

  36. Thanks, Kim!

    PJ~I'll look for you, but I don't come in until wednesday afternoon.


  37. That sounds like such fun. I won't be attending any conferences, but you certainly have good tips for the future!

  38. PJ said: We'll be posting on-site blogs with lots of photos during conference week so stop by for all the latest and greatest from Orlando. We just might surprise you with some fun giveaways too!

    PJ takes the greatest photographs too. I always look forward to seeing her pics after any conference she attends. I'm sure Gannon, Buffie, and Andrea will have terrific pics to share too, but PJ has established a tradition of sharing her romance conference photographs, dating back to that Atlanta conference she mentioned.

  39. PJ takes the greatest photographs too. I always look forward to seeing her pics after any conference she attends.

    Thank you, Janga! It makes me happy to share them and so glad when people enjoy. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I *love* taking pictures and almost always have a camera by my side. ;-)

  40. PJ takes the greatest photographs too.

    Yes she does, Janga! I always have my camera, but I know if I miss a shot, PJ will have it...and it will be amazing! :-)

  41. This is all such great advice. Here's my question...

    What if you are attending and aren't finished with your current WIP? I know that you don't pitch unless you have a completed manuscript in hand, but how is the best way to talk about your WIP when meeting new people (who might also be editors/agents)?

  42. Great conference advise. I havent been to one but I can only imagine what its like for a first timer, although they look like an amazing amount of fun.

  43. This was a very neat idea for a blog, ladies! Sadly, I won't be there either but the advice is priceless. It is always nice to hear from *the pros* when you are thrown into a hectic situation.

    I can vouch for Kim, too. I met her at an Eloisa James event and she is the sweetest and most welcoming person (especially for someone who is extremely shy). Too bad you're gonna miss RWA this year Kim. I think knowing you are going to be there calms a lot of nerves. How are they all going to get along with out you:)

    I also want to send my thanks ahead of time, PJ, for your wonderful pictures. Not only are they plentiful but clear and in focus. You manage to get the quantity and quality thing happening at the same time.

  44. YAY!! Kimmie is in THE HOUSE!!!! ((hugs))

    Man, oh man, are you a fount of information Kim! This will be my first RWA Conference and I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited!!!!!!!!!! (extra exclaimation points to show just how excited).

    There are so many things that I wonder about that my head is spinning from it all. But the thing that concerns me the most is the clothing situation. I really hate to be underdressed, but I don't want to pack too much either. So I really should bring two cocktail type outfits in addition to my Rita Award outfit? Man, I hope my budget can handle it. I'm not a big clothes whore, so shopping is just not my thing. Thank goodness my sister loves to shop. We are planning an all day trip to get me set up for the conference.

    Can't wait to see you!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Wow, what a great post and what great advice! Kim really is the person to go to for this stuff. She's an expert. By the way, I look like I'm about to punch someone in that photo - I'm quite friendly in real life, really. Haven't bitten anyone in, ooh, a month or so! And punching? I think we'd be going back to 2008! Snort! Yes, I AM joking!!!!!

    Definitely agree on the comfortable shoes. And don't put your keycard anywhere near your credit card because it demagnetizes it. I learned that lesson the hard way last year and had to line up about a hundred times to be let into my room.

    My other advice is carry a jacket if you can. The airconditioning can be fierce.

    Sadly last year (for the very first time), I didn't have my confirmation email with me at the hotel and they told me I didn't have a room and refused to budge. And then charged me as a no-show. Don't get me started on the horrible, HORRIBLE hotel the Marriott Wardman Park was. That's not a blog, that's a novel! Thank goodness Jeanne Bandita threw her oldest son out of his bedroom and took the poor homeless Aussie in!

  46. @ Maggie -- Oh, I bet you are so excited for your RWA conference. Just like PJ said, be sure to have that smile ready!!!

    @ Di R -- It's my first time too, Di!! I'm so excited (see my previous comment with all the !!! - LOL!). I'm going to try to be a go with the flow gal that week, but I'm not sure my Type-A personality will cooperate.

    @ Deb Marlowe -- can't wait to see you too girl!

    @ Selestiele -- be sure to look for us there! We plan on being all over the place.

    @ Kathryn -- thanks for the tip on the gel shoe inserts. Today at work someone told me the same thing!

  47. Kim & PJ - Thanks for the prize.

    These conventions are professional events, so do the authors and publishers like that fans often attend or would they prefer that fans were limited to just the literacy signings? I know there's a charge, so this weeds out a lot of people, plus at RWA aren't you suppose to be an aspiring or published author?


    Kim, you are NOT coming?????? WHAT!

    You *know* I was so hoping to get to finally hug you in person!

    How the heck do you make a big, fat frowny face here?

  49. Hey y'all! I'm back from running errands!

    Yay Janga! I got your email and I did hear ya all the way up here ;)

    Gannon, dearest!! I owe you an email too :D (Isn't it lovely being surrounded by dear friends?)

    Hi LSUReader! Thanks for stopping in. I hope someday you get to attend a conference. They're definitely something all of us should experience once.

    Oh yes, PJ, is our ace photog. Somehow she is able to convey all her joy and happiness into a photo. She's amazing.

  50. Sabrina-I think just honestly. That it is a WIP but that you're excited about it and loving it. If you're over 1/2 finished, also mention that you're nearly wrapping up.

    Donnas-you just can't imagine. Its a wonderland. Really.

    aww, Irish, you're such a sweetheart! You make me blush. xoxo

    BUFFIE! Hugs to you!! If you're not a clothes hog (of which I am!) don't fret. Take Kathryn's advice. Mix and match. Take a nice pair of dress slacks (that you would wear for cocktail/fine dining) and then 2 nice tops. Or take a basic little black dress and acessories to change it up. Maybe a frilly shawl for one evening and then a cute jacket for another. You don't need to overstuff the suitcase if that's not your thing.

  51. OK, I love the idea of a large Vera B. tote - I'm going to get me one of those!

    My motto for the writing life? Do everything Kim tells me to do. It works every time!

  52. Anna-my partner in crime! smooches!!

    Yes! Anna is the exact reason I say to print out your confirmation. Her ordeal was horrible last year, totally unacceptable. We both agree that the Marriott Wardman is Hell on earth. Horrible, horrible hotel.

    Penfield-yes, RWA is a professional conference. It really is about writing. Honestly, if you're just a reader/fan gurl, this is pretty expensive. If you're not a writer and wanting to go to perfect/further your craft, I would recommend something like RomCom or RT convention. Those are geared just for readers. I can't speak for authors, editors or agents but at writing conferences you're either there to sell or if you're published your schedule is full of meetings. Your mind is geared towards the business side of publishing, not the meet and greet side of interacting with fans. IMO, as a fan you'd just get more bang for your buck from a reader convention :D Does that make sense?

  53. And I'm so looking forward to seeing the Dishes at RWA - but not my Kim! Sob!

  54. Sorry, Buffie. I was really looking forward to those hugs too :( :( Sadly, lots of stuff is going on and we had to cancel our plans a week ago. I've been sobbing and throwing tantrums for days now.

    Vanessa-I love you my bedazzled sweetums! Definitely get a VB! Get the Villager. Its amazing and makes it so easy! Oh, you'll also need a matching wallet, checkbook cover, change purse, camera case and cell phone case. Add in a make up bag and .... ;)

  55. Y'all! My good friend Sherri Erwin also has some great tips specifically for this year's conference. She's a WDW expert!

  56. Next question to tackle--business cards. ABSOLUTELY!!

    If you're worried about giving lots of personal information, don't be! You can have cards made up just for conference that only have as much information as you'd like to share. You can just put your email or your name, whatever you're comfortable with.

    FRUGAL TIP-go to and you can order 250 for free! You just pay shipping.

    But you're definitely going to want to have something to hand out. A tip I learned from my bff J Perry. The conference badges usually have a little pocket in the back side, its the perfect place to stuff a handful of cards so they are always at the ready :D

  57. Oh, goodie! I get to spend money. Kim told me to.

  58. And I'm so looking forward to seeing the Dishes at RWA

    Looking forward to seeing you too, Vanessa!

  59. Sorry, Buffie. I was really looking forward to those hugs too :( :( Sadly, lots of stuff is going on and we had to cancel our plans a week ago. I've been sobbing and throwing tantrums for days now.

    Sorry there is so much going on that you will not be able to make the conference.

    Does that mean you will be at M&M this fall??

  60. This is PJ disguised as Eloisa James. Eloisa is having difficulty getting her comment to show up in English instead of French so I'm posting for her.

    From Eloisa:

    Great tips, Kim! And Anna, that is a TERRIFYING story! Must print out room reservation! I can say that from an pubbed author's pov, we all love meeting people, taking pictures, sharing hugs. We spend a lot of time alone, so it's great to actually talk to people who like books as much as we do (and hopefully even our own). The one thing I would not suggest doing is breezing up to a pubbed author and saying "so how do I get you to write me a quote?" This is embarrassing and...well...just embarrassing! Other than that, the best advice I ever read was very early in my career, when someone wrote in the RWR that the best part of the RWA was not networking, but making friends. Keep that in mind, and you'll never be disappointed with what happens there!

  61. the best part of the RWA was not networking, but making friends. Keep that in mind, and you'll never be disappointed with what happens there!

    Hi Eloisa! That is wonderful advice.

    Looking forward to finally meeting you :-)

  62. Buffie-sorry, no M&M this year but definitely next year.

    Eloisa! You're such a dear. And she's totally right. Making friends at RWA is amazing. It really is.

    Does anyone have any questions? Let em fly!

  63. Hi- Thanks for the great advice.This will be my first national conference. The advice for packing boxes is a great idea!

  64. Hey Jamie! Have a fantastic time at conference.

    Ok, guys, we've got thunder rain and hail. Gotta shut the computer off but I'll check back in when the storm lets up and tomorrow!

  65. Kim, thank you for all your wonderful conference advice today! It's been informative and fun!

  66. Great tips, Kim, especially the flat rate box! I've never attended a writers conference (just medical ones) so it's all news to me. Now, if I ever attend one in the future, I'll know what to do. Thanks!

  67. Wow, I wish I could attend the conference with you, Kim! Unfortunately, the economy has me stuck here in Arizona. Please send me some "stash stuff" so I don't feel so lonely...

    Susan in AZ

  68. Thanks for dishing with us today, Kim. Your advice is priceless! And Eloisa is so right, making friends at RWA is one of the high points! :-)

  69. Hi Ladies! Thank you so much for having me today. Its been a blast!

  70. My trick is pointy-toed black flats. Dressy, and they look like heels under pants, but oh so comfortable.

    Thanks, Kathryn! I picked me up a pair today. I can marked that off my list now :-)

  71. Thanks for the tips, Kim. I really like the one about pre-labeling boxes to ship to yourself. I've heard that there are so many books that are left behind at these conventions and I'm sure end up in *gasp* the trash. There's nothing more frustrating than not having enough room in your luggage for such wonderful gems as books. But thats me, avid romance reader, I just love my romance novels.

    When I heard it was going to be in Florida I was jumping up and down. Although I'll be vacationing with family around that time I will be in Sarasota. And believe, I've thought of ideas like hijacking the family car to make the trip. *sigh* But I'll just have to wait for RWA to closer to Texas.

  72. Just found your blog and love your tips. My writing group and I will be at RWA in JUly and we're super excited.

    It will be my 3rd conference, but I hear this one is a doozie! :)

    Hope to see you there!

  73. So many great tips. This is my first RWA conference or any conference for that matter. I can't wait to meet so many of the people I talk to each day online.

  74. Liza, be sure you get the "First Timer" ribbon when you check in. So very many people notice that ribbon and go out of their way to welcome you.

    Also, I'll be volunteering at the Registration Desk Wednesday morning from 8-11 so if you're in the area, stop by and say hello!