Posts Tagged ‘conference’

July 31, 2012


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Is it wrong that I can remember which desserts I ate on which days while I was at RWA’s National Conference in Anaheim?

No kidding. The days all run together in terms of who I met/spoke to, which workshops I attended and who I hung out with — but the memory of each sweet consumed is as clear as the sparkling, turquoise pool I enjoyed watching from the balcony of my hotel room.

I have a problem, no?

On Tuesday, it was a red velvet cupcake from a stand in Downtown Disney. The cupcakes don’t look like much in my photo, taken in the dark after we piled them all up on the sidewalk. Bad photo aside, mine was to die for, piled high with yummy frosting. Good thing I waited until I got back to my room to eat it, because the shot of pure sugar knocked me out. (At least we went on an adventurous quest — on foot — to find the cupcakes.)

Wednesday after lunch at TGN retreat, I had two small lemon squares and a salted caramel brownie pop — and then got a slice of banana cream cheesecake to go after dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. (I did manage to leave most of it in the fridge overnight, eating just enough to polish off the banana slices so they wouldn’t turn brown and gross.)

Thursday’s luncheon dessert, some kind of flan, was tasteless enough that I took one bite and pushed the plate away … then headed to my room before the afternoon sessions to retrieve my leftover cheesecake. After a lovely dinner with some of my Starcatchers sisters at Carolina’s Italian restaurant, I took home a piece of tiramisu for later. Since it was as big as my head, it served as a sweet treat on both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. (And it was delicious!)

Let’s not forget the chocolate-raspberry dessert from Friday’s lunch. That was like fudge on a plate. Yum!

That’s not to mention countless pieces of chocolate and other goodies I picked up in various conference venues.

I didn’t need the sweets, and had I been home, doing Atkins properly, I wouldn’t have even looked twice at them. But seeing as how I was on vacation and “off plan,” I just could not stop treating myself. And the more junk I ate, the more I craved. Even on the way home Sunday, I got a burrito and fries from Del Taco and then a mint chocolate chip shake from the truck stop DQ at our next bathroom break.

I wish I didn’t have such a love affair with sweets, but I do.

You’ve heard of gateway drugs? Well, for me, sugar is a gateway food … eat it, and I start making all kinds of unhealthy choices (like ignoring the workout clothes I’d packed in favor of a Starbucks ultimate oatmeal cookie for breakfast. Yep. I did that on Saturday. And then I devoured at least four different sweets on sticks at the awards ceremony.).

Conference is a once-a-year experience, and logically I know eating like that for most of a week won’t make me regain all the weight I’ve lost. I also realize that if I don’t get back on track — and soon, I’ll slide back down that slippery slope and end up right back where I started. Not somewhere I want — or need — to be.

So here I am, promising myself to hit the grocery store and stock up on good, healthy fruits and veggies so I’ll be free to buckle down and fulfill the agent/editor requests I snagged.


July 11, 2012



Wow. I can’t believe it’s just two weeks until I’ll be in Anaheim for RWA Nationals.

The planning/packing frenzy has begun, but I have to say, I’m much more relaxed going into this year’s conference. I’m all signed up for editor/agent pitch appointments and I volunteered to usher at the Rita/GH awards ceremony — but so much of the pressure is off.

I can just go, socialize and soak up all the information I can. I can’t wait to refill my creative well, which, thanks to a combination of circumstances, has started to run dangerously low.

Why, I’ve only just begun to think about what I’m going to wear on awards night. Last year I’d gone on several shopping expeditions by this time, searching for the perfect dress. This year, since there’s no chance I’ll be up on that stage, it doesn’t matter nearly as much what I wear.

Me with Starcatcher sister Julie Brannagh

Speaking of what I wear, why didn’t anyone warn me that in my purple dress, I bore more than a passing resemblance to Grimace — and a headless Grimace, to boot?

Ahem. I should be nicer to myself, right?

I’ll start by attending plenty of workshops and learning all I can. I didn’t have a chance to attend even half of the sessions that caught my eye last year — but I ordered the conference CD so I could listen to them later. Well, I’m here to tell you, I have yet to crack open those 2011 conference recordings. I’m beginning to think the workshops are mythical creatures, only available in real time.

See you in Anaheim!

April 29, 2012



My first Desert Dreams Conference won’t be my last.

It’s over now, and I just settled into my favorite spot at the Starbucks in Camp Verde (near the outlet, naturally). The plan is to sneak in a little writing time before I crash.

Am I nuts? Why not skip the attempt to work and crash right away? How much will I really get done?

Of course I’m nuts. Aren’t all writers a little off-kilter? The thing is, even though I’m physically exhausted, my mind is racing. I have thoughts I need to get down before I forget every last one of them. Plus, I have a synopsis I need to rewrite — and fast — so I can ship requested material.

Every day of the conference was jam-packed with learning, laughter and inspiration.

Here are a few of the gems I walked away with from the weekend:

— Never talk badly about yourself. There are enough other people willing to do that for you. (Bob Mayer, Friday afternoon workshop)

All writers wrestle with self-doubt. To reach your goals, you have to slay the doubt demons. (Allison Brennan, Saturday keynote speech)

— The way you structure your writing space can help your subconscious mind — and your muse — realize it’s time to work. (Tawny Weber, Saturday workshop)

— Not every sex scene needs to be mind-blowingly perfect. In real life, first times are often awkward. (Elizabeth Hoyt, Saturday workshop)

— In both dialogue and description, word choices set the mood and will vary depending on the character doing the speaking/observing. (Laurie Schnebly Campbell, Saturday workshop)

— Don’t give away all the details about a character’s backstory at once. Curiosity about why a character is doing what he’s doing pulls the reader into the story. (Martha Alderson, Sunday workshop)

The view from the tables in front of the conference center.

There was so much fantastic information to be gleaned from the presentations that I’ll never remember it all. The conference center hotel was great, with a gorgeous courtyard and two pools. (Next time, I’ll remember to pack a bathing suit.) Late April is the perfect time to be in Phoenix, because it’s not yet hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

The conference couldn’t have come at a better time, either. My Golden Heart score sheets came back on Friday and one of my two entries earned not one but two 3s. Ouch.

Luckily, I had plenty of positive support from my chaptermates who were also at the conference. Even better, I was too busy to dwell on those sucky scores. Until now, that is. Maybe I’ll get lucky and crash before I start to think too much about ’em.

Desert Dreams only happens every two years, but it’s definitely worth the short drive from Flagstaff. I’m already making plans to save up for the next one … or I will be as soon as I come back from RWA Nationals in Anaheim this summer.

June 23, 2011



In four days, I’ll be leaving for New York City.

Not only is this my first trip to NYC, it’ll be my first RWA National conference. Needless to say, I’m nervous — and seeing all the chatter online isn’t easing my jitters.

In an attempt to stay sane while I get ready to go, I’ve been spending too much time online, looking for hints and tricks on how to make the most of the conference experience.

Lucky for me, there’s plenty of advice out there to be had.

First off, packing — of which I’ve done none yet. (Procrastinating at its finest.) Yes, I’ve purchased my Golden Heart® awards ceremony dress, and clothes to wear during the conference. But the thought of packing it all in one suitcase — or worse, one small carry-on bag — terrifies me.

One of the Starcatchers (the name the 2011 Golden Heart class picked), Erin Kelly, shared these great packing tips. While I doubt I’ll be able to stuff a full-length, full-skirted gown into a carry-on with enough clothes, shoes and underwear for the rest of the week, I plan to use as many of her hints as I can.

When I get to NYC (hopefully with my luggage), what do I do? Who do I see? How can I survive pitching to an agent and editor? Bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle posted a collection of tried and true conference advice.

At Once Written, Twice Shy, another Starcatcher, Kimberly Kincaid, posted The Sassy Girl’s Guide to Success at RWA Nationals. Helpful even though I don’t consider myself shy. Quiet, yes (although my coworkers might disagree) … shy, no.

Of course, the Rubies have been posting helpful info, too. They’re always full of good advice. Check out Tamara Hogan’s Introverts Guide to RWA Nationals and the indispensable guide for those not lucky enough to be going to conference: My Ruby Sisters Went to New York and All I Got Was aT-Shirt.