A bit of background… this year’s RWA conference was scheduled to be held at the Opryland Gaylord in Nashville, Tenn until that southern city flooded out three months ago. The RWA conference team scrambled and within days, arrangements were made to move the annual event to the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in the middle of the Disney World Resort, Orlando.
When hubby Nelson heard about the new location, he said he and our tween, JJ, may as well go with me since I didn’t have a roommate yet. We’ve been to Disney World once—in 1997—the year before JJ was born. Because JJ has always felt he missed out on something special—which he did—we haven’t been able to hang any photos taken of that magical time.
Nelson took a vacation from work so he could be with JJ while I skedaddled off to Nashville alone, so he is free to accompany me. Our other son, 15 yo Nick will be on a mission trip in Australia during the same period so he didn’t begrudge his baby brother seeing the big-eared dude. It’s like a dream come true for all of us.
Then came room reservations, flight bookings and new passports for the boys, as well as the itineraries. I needed one for the Disney trekkers and one for me.
For the RWA conference, workshops don’t need to be decided in advance. This leaves a lot of flexibility in my itinerary, especially for those extra get-togethers and networking sessions we discover along the way. For example, early this week on this blog, we were talking about Margie Lawson’s workshops and classes. Well, I received an email from Margie on Tues saying she’s going to be at the RWA conference and anyone who she’s taught on-line or in a workshop is invited to join her in the lounge to ‘meet, kick-back and chat’ after her Sat workshop. Are you kidding? Chat with the master of Deep Editing? Oh, yeah.
Allowing flexibility in your schedule is the most important thing I’ve learned while attending writing conferences. Yes, the workshops are important—but you can buy the CD and hear any workshops you missed. The chance to sit and chat with someone of experience in the publishing world may never come again.
Likewise the parties. I don’t know about other publishers, but Harlequin has one huge pajama party for their authors, but I know several people who crashed it in other years. Although I don’t make a habit of crashing parties, I can’t say I’ve never done it. And, I’m bringing a very nice pair of brand spanking new pretty PJ's to be on the safe side. Heh.
* Facebook pal and SuperRomance author Holly Jacobs just answered my query... the Harlequin pajama party is for members of the eHarlequin community and since I've been a member for years--and was March 2009's Member of the Month--that qualifies me. Yay! Gotta go shopping...
One advantage of attending a conference of this magnitude is the professional services offered. For a fee, you can have professional portrait taken, suitable for publicity shots. I don't know how much the RWA fee is, but it's only US $40 to sit for one at the American Christian Fiction Writer's (ACFW) conference which is being held in Indianapolis, IN this year. Since I'm still losing weight, I'll wait and have it done in Indy.
Other sessions I’m looking forward to:
- The luncheon and awards ceremony of the Faith, Hope and Love RWA chapter
- The RITA awards ceremony
- Free autographed books (long waits and line-ups but FREE)
So, are you going to RWA Orlando this year? If you’ve been before, do you have any hints, tips or stories you’d like to share?
RWA logo and RITA award: http://www.rwanational.org
Swan and Dolphin Hotel: http://www.swandolphin.com
Goody Room Sign and Table: http://pinkheartsociety.blogspot.com/2008/07/rwa-goodie-room.html