Monday, July 21

To conference...or not

           I’m not going to RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio. I haven’t been to a national conference since the year it was in Chicago. It was so much fun and I’d love to go again. To hear the wonderful speakers and schmooze in the bar with old friends, new friends, and ones I haven’t met yet. I’d love to wear cool shoes—well, I love the thought of cool shoes; I hate wearing them. I’d love to wear cool clothes, at least four or five sizes smaller than my actual size. I’d love to take home lots of cool free books—well, send them home.
          But I’m not going this year. Maybe next year or…no. Although New York City is closer for me than Orlando, Denver, or San Diego, it’s still over 1000 miles and an expensive flight. The truth is if I went to National, I’d spend such a large percentage of my writing earnings that I’m not sure there’d be enough money left to pay the accountant come tax time.
          While I freely admit I don’t make enough money writing to live on, the idea of spending virtually all of it on a conference is horrifying to me.
          So I will stay with the small ones, the regional ones. I had more fun at Chicago’s Spring Fling this year than I’d ever had at a conference. This November I’ll go to a retreat in a huge house with 20 or writers and a ton of great food. Next year in April, I’m going to Indiana RWA’s mini-conference featuring Lani Diane Rich  and Alastair Stephens. I will miss some things by not going to National, but I’ll gain some, too.
          I hope everyone at the conference has a great time, I hope those on the lookout for editors and agents find them, I hope someone has a rum and Coke with a twist of lime for me as they’re hanging out in the bar. I wish good luck to all Golden Heart and RITA finalists. I will be—honesty makes me admit this, drat it—so jealous during conference time. I will wish I was there. I will say maybe next year, but I won’t mean it. The crowds overwhelm me and the costs horrify my frugal Midwestern soul and checkbook. Though there are things in the San Antonio conference I want—I’d love to meet my Carina Press editor face-to-face and go to the Harlequin party—there is nothing I need.
          So, tell us—how do you feel about conferences? About big ones, small ones, and everything in between. 

27 comments:

  1. I've attended several RWA Nationals and won't attend again due to cost and the sheer overwhelming nature of the event. The workshops and book signings were great, though! Smaller regional conferences are friendlier and less costly. Because I now write romantic suspense and mysteries, the Writer's Police Academy is my annual goal. That and a beach retreat should do it!

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    1. Sounds good, Ashantay. Especially the beach retreat!

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  2. Liz, you've beautifully summed up my feelings about conferences--RWA Nationals is enticing, but my checkbook and my own frugal Midwestern nature just doesn't permit that kind of expense. Chicago was great fun and an expense I could justify, as will be Retreat this fall and the Indy miniconference next year. I'll go back to Chicago in 2016 because it was was great fun--I think I'll spend more time in the bar though. ;-) I do wish all our chapter sisters who are attending nationals a lovely week and I confess to a tiny bit of envy as they've talked about preparing to go with such anticipation. I'll enjoy hearing all about it when they get back. In the meantime, Liz, you and I can sit on the front of the boat, dabble our toes in the lake, and talk stories and writing...I'll make you a rum and coke with lime, okay?

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    1. That works! Thanks, Nan. Like you, I wish all the chapter sisters (and everyone else) a great week.

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  3. Can I go to the mini conference if I'm not a member of RWA?

    I've been to three small conferences sponsored by AuthorHouse, which were amazing and really helped hone my marketing skills. A friend and I attended the book signing at the Romantic Times convention two years ago, and hoped to go to Kansas City last year, but plans fell through. I've also been trying to attend Lori Foster's now for 5 years and haven't made it yet. Expenses are always a factor. So until RT finds its way to Indy, I guess I'm stuck. Or we win the lottery....or if one or more of my books take off, ha ha!

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    1. Yes, you can, Molly! I'm not sure what the cost will be, but I do know it's in April of 2015 and that Lani and Alastair are great presenters. I'll keep you up to date.

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  4. Liz, I was at the Chicago RWA! Was that 1999? My future father-in-law couldn't believe all those women signing books! I haven't been to an RWA convention since 2001. I was going to drive to Nashville, but the flood caused the location to be moved to Orlando. I am seriously thinking about quitting RWA. My local chapter has folded. I belong to Novelist Inc. because of my PG's years ago. My husband and I will drive to Florida for it this October and use it as part of our vacation. Can't wait!

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    1. Hi, Jan! I can never remember if it was '98 or '99, but it sure was fun! I wanted to go to Nashville, but there was some reason I decided not to, then when the flooding happened, I was glad I hadn't registered to go.

      I still love RWA, warts and all, plus I have a semi-local chapter I belong to. I never make meetings (two hours), but I love their special events. I've heard a lot about NINC, but have never joined it. I could make myself poor on dues alone! :-)

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  5. I'm with you, Liz. While the idea of attending the National conference is SO enticing, the cost can be prohibitive. I Shudder to think how much I spent in Atlanta last year. A regional conference like Chicago North's Spring Fling or the Midwest Writers Conference in Muncie, Indiana are excellent events. Can't wait to hear all of the stories from San Antonio, though. :-)

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    1. Oh, gosh, me, too, Jim. I hope our friends don't subscribe to the "what happens in San Antonio stays in San Antonio" thing. Inquiring minds want to know!

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  6. Hi Liz, Have yet to make it to Nationals. I'm spending my time and almighty bucks on local and smaller events/conferences. I've always been one who believes in the more bang for the buck and believe me when I say "many a chapter conferences" have just that. They are quite able to pull in big names (and editors & agents) just as easily and sitting around the hospitality suites with those names is more fun. There's a chance I'll hit Nationals when it comes around to San Diego, but until then hello local chapters and other events.

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    1. The chapter conferences DO offer a big bang for the buck, don't they, Virginia? In all honesty, I'd love to go to National just to stargaze , but I got to do that with Kristan Higgins and Mary Balogh in Chicago this spring and haven't come down from that yet!

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  7. Hi Liz! Thanks for posting this. I'm new to tnis whole writing scene and really overwhelmed by all of the different pieces to the puzzle. I guess there's more to it than just working on my punctuation! Hmm...
    How do you find these chapters to belong to? How did any of you figure out which groups you wanted to join?

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    1. Sia, as far as RWA chapters, you can find them on RWA National's page if you belong to RWA. I don't know anything about NINC, but it's definitely a published writers' association--though it has a ton to offer its members.

      I've been in RWA since the 90s, so it's home to me. Any writers' lists you belong to will steer you right, as well.

      However, as someone who's recently judged a contest, thank you for working on your punctuation! :-)

      Thanks for coming by!

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  8. Liz - wish we lived closer so we could commiserate on not going to National. It does cost a fortune - but back in the day, when I had more discretionary income, I loved going. It was smaller, then, and they did occasionally come to the Northwest. There's always something to learn at the workshops, and I once walked into the ladies room and bumped into Janet Daily, and once sat at a table with Jayne Ann Krentz. Was completely star-struck. Like you, will just have to wait to hear all about it.

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    1. I wish we did, too, Muriel, if for no other reason than I've "known" you for so long (think WINTER'S BOUNTY) that I'd really love to just know you. One of my biggest thrills with Heartwarming was that we're finally on the same team!

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  9. Oh, Liz. Only one of the very few things I don't like about where I live. No conferences. Not even a decent writers' group. I've been to one conference and it was not a lot of fun. I'm shy, believe it or not, and the smoozing was difficult. I'd like to try again though...but not in NYC.

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    1. Was it a small one, D? They are much easier, especially if you and a friend are together--I don't really like it on my own, though I think romance writers are the friendliest people in the world.

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  10. The cost of RWA has been holding me back, too. I live in Canada and every conference is far away, necessitating costly airline fees. I'd love to go to NYC next year, but I'm intimidated by the size of the city and the conference. At this point in my career I'd love to go to conference that features lots of agents and editors. Maybe if I screw up my courage and save my pennies, I'll make it to NYC!

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    1. I hope you can go, Jana. NYC is such a great place to visit, although when I went to National in Chicago, I don't think I ever left the hotel! I can't say enough about the chapter conferences, though. Even though there are fewer editors and agents there, there are still always some!

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  11. I enjoy the national conferences but I do tend to get overwhelmed....I'm very introverted. After family plans changed I ached to get to San Antonio ...I realized I would know tons of attendees, and I've got three friends with RITA nominations....however even the wait list wasn't taking any more names and on site reg was cancelled. I'm still bummed...but planning on NYC and a smaller Southern California one in March. Have fun, wherever you attend!

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    1. You, too, Tanya! I must admit, I'd love to see San Antonio, but just couldn't do it this year!

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  12. I would joyfully go! Sometimes money and circumstances allow for it ... this year, they didn't.

    I've been to 4 RWA conferences and loved every one of them. There's nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of other romance writers.

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    1. That's the part I love, too, but the sheer numbers overwhelm me. I never think of myself as a complete introvert, but huge crowds bring it out in me. I do love that I never have to explain myself at a conference! :-)

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  13. I really wanted to take Shawn up on her offer last year and go in Atlanta, but couldn't make the financial situation work out. I wish they'd have one on the West Coast somewhere--make it somewhat attainable.

    I just signed up for the Willamette Writers--the big Portland one. I'm volunteering again and this time, it's at a new location--closer to downtown Portland. So, I'm a little nervous about that--and will be until I get my bearings. I go to a training session on Saturday, so that should help.The old location was near PDX and just like a 12 minute drive--in fact, it was closer for me than most Portland residents.

    But, we don't get free books at this conference :( And I really would love to go to RWA someday.

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    1. I think everyone should go at least once! Maybe San Diego or Denver will have a decent flight cost and you can go to one of them. I'll bet Willamette Writers is fun, too.

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