I'm not a terribly impatient person, but travel gods willing I will be at my very first Romance Writers of America conference in less than 24 hours. 24 very long hours. You see, Atlanta will be my very first RWA. I'm a little nervous, but the thought of meeting other romance writers and becoming part of this community is really exciting. Writing can be a very solitary thing. Hopefully after this weekend can help make it a little less lonely when the words just won't flow.
When I'm not writing I work as a TV news producer. This means I'm hardwired to love lists. I'm prone to backtime every event in my life so I know exactly where I should be when. I also research everything. It makes sense then that when I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of going to RWA for the first time I turned to the internet for info.
I will, of course, be writing about RWA after I come back home to NYC, but I thought I would touch on a few things I was told I should know before heading to Atlanta:
1) Pack like a pro
Erin Knightley seems to be the reigning queen of conference packing. I've traveled all my life so I'm pretty efficient, but Erin's videos take it to the next level. One of the most helpful things about her posts, however, weren't the tips about making your clothes fit into that tiny TSA-approved bag. She gave me some perspective about what to wear. I've packed for a business casual dress code along with something pretty for the RITAs. And shoes. I love my stilettos (and yes, in case you were wondering, I can wear them 12 hours non-stop).
2) Prep for the swag
Books. This conference is all about books. Wonderful, romantic books. From what I can tell you're also given plenty of books to dive into when you get home. I thought I was a good little romance reader before I started to seriously get involved in the community on Twitter. Some of these ladies put me to shame. I can't wait to learn about authors I've never heard of before and read across subgenres when I get home.
Someone very clever told me I should pack a couple of USPS flat rate boxes with pre-printed postage into my suitcase. Those boxes are lining the top of my luggage and keeping me from bringing my entire wardrobe. There is a post office right near the conference hotel, so I hope to be able to just drop those boxes off and go along my merry way.
3) Pull my reporter cap on
Once upon a time a long time ago, I thought I wanted to be a reporter. Turns out I really didn't care about being on TV, and I wanted to be in charge of the newscast behind the scenes. I became a producer but not before putting some time in reporting for print, radio and TV. RWA is going to mean dusting off my old "Reporter Julia" personality.
When you're a reporter you're forced to walk up to total strangers, strike up a conversation and figure out if there's a story there. From what I've been told RWA is similar. I'm a newbie, and I know so few people that I'm going to have to be my friendliest. The good news? Everyone attending loves romance. Instant icebreaker.
So look for me. I'll be the blonde first-timer rocking the ridiculous high heels all conference long. I'd love to say hi!