While this is my first RWA conference, I have attended about five ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conferences over the last eight years. I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips I've picked up during my travels:
With Lucy Thompson, Valerie Comer and Catherine West at the ACFW Conference
- Also leave a buffer for jet lag: a few years ago I naively thought that I would be "fine" to arrive at my US destination late at night and go straight into the conference Early Bird session the next morning. Bad, bad, terrible idea. Despite the twenty odd hours of travelling I was bright eyed and bushy tailed well into the small hours of the morning which meant that by the time the second hour of the session ticked over I could barely keep my eyes open let alone learn anything. Ever since then I've always budgeted on an extra night at the hotel to give myself a day to recover from the travel.
- Get the official stuff done early: This year I have a new passport which meant I had to re-apply for my visa waiver to enter the US. You can apply for it up to 48 hours before departure and previously it has been approved immediately. This time I decided to do it early so I had it ticked off the to-do list and am very thankful that I did as it wasn't approved immediately and instead is "authorisation pending" with an expected three day turnaround. Leaving it to the last minute would have resulted in huge stress and possibly not having it sorted by the time I was due to depart!
- Plan for breaks: If you're a writer, attending a writers' conference is one of the most exciting things on your calendar. Anticipated workshops, catching up with old friends, making new ones, networking opportunities, the list goes on. However, unless you are an extreme extrovert there will be a point where it will all get too much. I always plan my schedule so that if I need to go and hide on my hotel room for some quiet time I have flagged when the best time for that is. Be it missing a meal, skipping a workshop that I can access later, or saying no to an optional event.
- Get some small notes: Banks seem to have an affinity for handing out $100 and $50 bills when it comes to changing money but it certainly doesn't make you popular if you want to pay for a $2 drink or, worse, have someone waiting for a tip and you have no change or small bills to give them!
- Look of ways to serve: Not only is it a great way to meet other people but all of these conferences are only possible due to the efforts of many many volunteers. From registration, to putting books on tables, to timing appointments. There are opportunities for almost every schedule.
What about you? What are you conference tips (writers or otherwise!)
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released on June 22. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac