Notes From an RWA Nationals Virgin
by Kiersten Hallie Krum
This June, I attended my first RWA National Conference in New York City. Yea, I was a Nationals Virgin.
My first day of high school, I remember walking up the ramped hallway, scared to death, only to notice a frenemy at my side. “Look straight ahead,” she advised in a rare moment of shared trepidation, “and keep breathing.”
She was on my mind as I forayed into the Literacy Signing, the kick off to a marvelous, stimulating, and exhausting week, mostly because breathing was a challenge as the enormous ballroom was packed to the gills with authors and their exuberant fans (myself included). Which brings me to my first first-timer’s tip: Bring a fan. Mine was a hand-held personal electric fan, but even the air from a fold-out paper flapper will feel like an ocean breeze.
RWA Nationals is a marathon, not a sprint. As with any race, footwear is key. However, I would not suggest 3 months planning for 11 pairs of shoes, (who did that? me? surely not), as you’ll likely wear only the same three pairs all week. Tip two: bring the shoes that give you the most comfort and one pair of rockin’ heels for more formal needs.
As an unpublished author, I was on a workshop track this year, keen to hone my craft and get the dish on publishing news. By Friday, I was workshopped out. Tip three: adapt, adapt, adapt. Be prepared to adjust your planned schedule for a mix of events and allow time for simply being accessible in common areas so that people can find you to have a chat.
Social networking creates the rare opportunity for people to know one another sometimes fairly well before ever meeting face to face. At RWA Nationals, those online relationships are given a rare opportunity to merge with real life. Tip four: Don’t be afraid to call out a hello to people you recognize from online. Everyone is there to meet and greet and RWA members and attendees are, as a rule, lovely. There are few more edifying things than to meet someone in person and realize they are as delighted to meet you as you are to meet them. Disclaimer: do not tackle them. No need to be rude.
I was fortunate to be unexpectedly invited to attend the St Martin Press cocktail party in the Flat Iron Building. Getting there was a bit of an adventure and I wound up in a limo with nine other women heading to the same party including two bestselling authors, one Golden Heart (the RWA award for the best unpublished manuscript in its category) nominee and two agents, one who announced at the end of the ride that I was very funny. I basked in that compliment for days.
Tip five: Be ready to turn on a dime for anything. You can’t plan for this stuff but you can make the most of random opportunities that present themselves and when you’re standing in the taxi line and the bellhop says, “I have a limo for 10” and someone answers “we have 9!” be ready to say “I’ll be your 10!”. Wonderful things can – and did! – happen.
What advice would you give to an RWA Nationals Virgin?Remember, every week 5 randomly chosen commenters will win a FREE book – good luck!!
http://www.kierstenkrum.com Smart, Sharp & Sexy Romantic Suspense