Now, we're mostly planners, so the lists have begun along with the shopping. (You just have to shop. New clothes are not optional, are they girls?) So I thought I'd share with you today some of the things that I think about when planning for Nationals or any other writing conference:
Isn't this the first thing every woman thinks of when she has to go somewhere important? "What will I wear?"
Most conferences are 'business casual', which means dress pants, skirts, and nice tops. I'm not the suit type, but if that's what makes you comfortable, by all means wear one. Shopping ahead will allow you to hit sales (there are some great ones this time of year) and get any alterations done if you need to (which I do since I'm literally 5 feet tall).
Remember to bring some casual clothes for sight-seeing or hang-out time. And don't forget to check all your outfits to make sure you have the necessary undergarments to make them work. You don't want to arrive, then discover your blouse is transparent and you didn't bring a camisole.
Thoughts of clothes naturally leads to shoes. Comfortable shoes are a necessity! But I'm a firm believer that shoes can be comfortable AND pretty. After a long, frustrating search this year, I finally found a cool website with thousands of styles to choose from. Even better, shipping is free both ways and quick too! Check it out if you are still looking for that comfortable pair that will look good with your dressier outfits: www.zappos.com
For anyone with a pitch appointment, doing your homework ahead of time is essential. All the necessary details are too numerous to list here, but my favorite workshop to prepare is Kelley St. John's Extreme Pitch Makeover workshop. She does a great job explaining how to put together the pitch and present it. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, take it! Alas, it was last offered in June, but online sources are numerous. Charlotte Dillon's website has a collection of articles grouped together.
Meeting an editor or agent is stressful, for us and for them. If I've researched my target publisher and prepared what I'm going to say, I feel less nervous. This is true for most introverts.
4. BUSINESS CARDS
Most aspiring authors think, "I'm not pubbed. What do I need business cards for?" Well, you will meet lots of new people at writing conferences, from editors to aspiring authors like yourself. Handing over a card can help them remember you. Also, there will be plenty of opportunities to fill out your name and email address or street address for contests and such. Think how much easier it will be to just slip a card in there instead. And quite frankly, I feel more like a professional with them. Silly, but there you have it.
The Playfriends love Vista Print for business cards and promotional postcards. They are constantly running specials which makes this much more affordable.
Call me "spontenaity challenged", but I like to plan what I'm doing before I get there. Not down to the last second, but just enough to know where I need to be and what I'll wear each day. Think ahead about sight-seeing. We've already purchased advance tickets to the Atlanta Aquarium and made restaurant reservations for one night.
I'll also look at the workshop listings and decide which I have to see and which ones I'd like to get on CD. Going in together with friends can help cut the cost of this. Like I said earlier, I like to be prepared.
6. PACKING LIST
I've already started my packing list for Nationals (though I think Problem Child beat me by a few months). Yes, I realize it is still 3 weeks away, but if you haven't realized how obsessive/compulsive I am by now, you haven't been reading very closely. :)
For a packing list, here's what I do (you'll just have to visualize this because I couldn't get blogger to let me set up a table). Across the top of the page I write Day and Night. Down the side of the page I list each day (Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) with major activities written underneath each one. This shows me what I'll need to be dressing for. Across from each day, I'll write what clothes, underwear, shoes, and accessories I'll need for Day and Night. Get it?
Then I list other essentials in a checklist fashion including toiletries, medications, paper/pens, cell phone, money, any paperwork I'll need, an extra soft-sided bag, snacks/drinks, and so on.
So there you have it. And by the way, Counselor Shelley told me that being this obsessive is perfectly okay. Just so long as I don't take it any further. :)
We've got some great goodies for the Goody Room in Atlanta, so if you are attending keep an eye out for those. If not, check the blog the last week of July as we'll have a special side-line reporter posting a day-by-day account of the Playfriends' wild happenings while we're gone (though Playground Monitor has threatened to lock us in our rooms if we don't behave).
If you see us there, come up and introduce yourselves! We'd love to meet you.
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