I’m still recovering from the annual Romance Writers of America conference, and I didn’t even stay up that late while I was in Atlanta. I think all the excitement and the stimulation of being around so many people drained my energy reserves. I loved the conference and had a fabulous time, but I am at heart an introvert.
Being a RITA finalist this year made me think of my very first conference, the 2004 RWA conference in Dallas, when I was a finalist in the Golden Heart contest, RWA’s big contest for unpublished writers. I had just sold The Naked Duke via the contest to Kensington Publishing. To say I was overwhelmed is like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a trifle damp. I knew almost no one. I’d written the book in isolation before I joined RWA. I hadn’t even connected with my local chapter. In contrast, this year I could barely take two steps without running into a friend.
I knew things were going to be crazy this year as I saw my conference schedule begin to take shape. I had RITA events, as well as publisher and agency parties, and various other meetings to attend. The RWA site had a conference builder function, but I’m more a paper and pen kind of gal. And I had the perfect tool to keep me organized! The lovely lady who translated the Japanese version of Bedding Lord Ned had sent me a very cool, very lovely present:
The book on the left is filled with blank, lined sheets that I’d hoped to use as a diary…well, that sort of got away from me. But in a pocket in the back of the book was the little pamphlet on the right--perfect for keeping track of my schedule. There were exactly enough pages for each day of the conference. I wrote everything down before I left home, and then crossed each event off after it happened. And the best thing? It fit in my neck badge, so it was always at hand.It was totally brilliant. I’m planning to visit a stationery store to see if I can find something similar for future conferences.
And what is a neck badge, you ask? Well, if you’ve been to any conference, you’re probably not asking, but over the years, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur…or maybe I’ve just become finicky. Here’s a picture of two badge holders:
The bluish badge on the right was this year’s RWA offering. It was very nice, but it didn’t have my favorite features. The badge on the left is the one I brought from home. It has a zippered compartment under the front flap (the bit above the name tag window) where I can keep money, if I think I need it, as well as an unzippered compartment (also under the flap) where I stored the pamphlet with my schedule. And then the back has a slot for cards—I usually put some bookmarks there to hand out to anyone willing to take one—as well as two slots for pens. I also loaded the badge holder with my favorite pins before I left home, including the silver RITA finalist pin. I didn’t want to forget that one!
The ribbons at the bottom I got at the conference, but I had to use a pin to keep them on—the sticky stuff doesn’t stick too well. The top green one was for being a RITA finalist, the pink one was for being a speaker—I was on a PAN panel--and the bottom green one was for “The Duchess of Love” being a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards. Since my badge is my entry to all the conference events, I’m always careful to put my conference name tag in the new badge holder.
I also got a new smart phone before I left for Atlanta. My old phone was a couple years old. I’d been having problems with it, and when I was at the RT Bookreviews conference earlier this year, I saw how easily other people could take pictures and post them to Facebook or Twitter. But the phone did work…sort of. So it was with some hesitation that I decided to upgrade to an iPhone 5 before I headed to Atlanta. I’m SO glad I did. Not only was it so much easier to get and respond to email, but posting pictures to social media sites was a snap. If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen my posts on my page: https://www.facebook.com/sallymackenziebooks It was great fun…though I haven’t seen that phone bill yet!