First off, you can never plan too much. Our train ride of awesomeness was cancelled the afternoon before we were to leave. Talk about panic. So we rented a car. Not so bad, right? We alternated driving every 3 hours and with a couple stops and some traffic delays (we won't even mention the GPS that wouldn't recalculate in time) we arrived at our destination 11.5 hrs later (said in the voice of SpongeBob). Note to selfies: never drive more than 5 hrs. because the ride home after days of no sleep and binge drinking is not worth it.
I was still fighting a wretched cold - which I still have and is now a sinus infection - so we were stocked with a pharmacy full of supplies, a 24 pack of 5 hr energy, healthy snacks and 2 full bottles of alcohol - non of that stuff returned home.
But to continue with my conference lessons:
1.) Be healthy. All the cold medicine in the world cannot combat tons of walking, late nights and enough drinking to constitute a liver transplant.
2.) Mystery and Thriller writers are amazing, interesting in-depth people! I was so fortunate to meet so much talent. I have made new friends and become a fan of some very exciting and different stuff.
3.) Register in time to stay AT the conference hotel (this should really be #1, but if you're not 100% then where you stay doesn't matter anyway). In all of our conference years, this was the first time Kari Lee Townsend and I were "off site" and I mean 1.5 miles one-way, WALKING!!! Again, not bad if you're not sick, Oh wait...did I mention this was Raleigh, NC? and it was in the 80's with a touch of humidity?? (we know how I feel about humidity, damn Mother Nature) I was not feeling the southern hospitality, peeps. But seriously, being at the conference hotel means you really get the scoop on what's happening, you can stay out longer and it's a hell of a lot easier to slip up to your room for a power nap, create the party room, etc...
4.) Get Stuff Done! Along with networking and brainstorming, Kari and I used this as a working trip too! Impressive, huh? :-) She is busting out a new women's fiction story and I have decided (thank you Bouchercon for confirming my decision) to dabble on the dark side and write a dark women's fiction story! I'm very excited. We tweaked our synopsis' and made some serious page progress. AND I came up with another idea for when this book is complete. So stay tuned.
5.) Get Going. The last but probably the most important thing I learned is keep going to conferences. Find time to at least make 1 a year. You stay current with industry information, you keep face to face contact with your new friends (always a plus) who live far away, you keep your name out there and you recharge your creative battery!!
And there you have it! There's nothing better than a vacation, except a getaway that feeds your creative soul. And that's what conferences do for me, no matter how large or how small. There's so much creative energy in the air I want to soak it up like a sponge! Unlike my liver.....
While I'll be looking at some new conference options for 2016, I'm Looking foward to Bouchercon 2017!