Monday, April 07, 2008

Conference Rules

Good morning, all!!!!! Hope everyone had a great weekend, because I sure did. This weekend was the Dreaming in Dallas conference sponsered by DARA, so you know what that means - lots of writers talking about writing, girl's weekend at my house, shopping, eating, drinking = fun!

Every time I attend a conference I see people make common mistakes. And I keep thinking people will learn but apparently some are operating with a very long bell curve. So I'm going to talk about a few simple things that you should avoid doing at conference in order to have the best experience possible.

1. Don't wear uncomfortable shoes. This is especially important at National conference as you do a lot of walking. No one is going to remember your Jimmy Choos with the five-inch heel, but EVERYONE will remember if you bust your butt in the lobby.

2. Don't butt in on what is so obviously a private conversation. Let me describe a private conversation for anyone that is unclear - if two people are sitting alone, leaned in toward each other and their voices are low - IT IS PROBABLY A PRIVATE CONVERSATION! If your goal is to meet an editor or agent and you interrupt a private conversation with one of their writers or clients you are likely to be remembered but not for a positive reason.

3. Do not talk about people unless you are in your hotel room or driving away in your car. Can't tell you how many times someone has been bad-mouthing another author and their mother/sister/critique partner/friend/editor/agent/one-night stand was sitting/standing within hearing distance. In this world there will always be people we don't like, but they should rarely be aware of that.

4. Do not get drunk. Definitely, if you're a drinker, have a few drinks. Heck, at a writer's conference you're probably going to stick out like a sore thumb if you DON'T drink, but please, please know your limits and don't get anywhere near them. Drinkers tend to talk too much (see rule 3) and do things they might not do sober. This rule brings to mind a certain well-known agent who at National conference one year got wasted in the bar and grabbed a strangers boobs - both hands, full cup. She might make million dollar deals on a regular basis, but I'm always going to remember her for feeling up a stranger in public.

5. Okay, this next one is a delicate subject and probably not a nice one for polite company, but who am I to be polite, right? So, rule 5 - do not let bodily functions "fly" in public. If you are going to run the risk of a certain function, please remember the "3 Will-It Rules."

One: Will it make a sound?
Two: Will it smell?
Three: Will it be traced back to me?

This, like rule 4 is something you definitely do NOT want to be remembered for. And since I still remember Rodney Lucas letting one fly while dismounting the parallel bars in seventh grade gym, I'm guessing this one will stick a long time with people.

That's all for now, but if my fellow killer writers and blog readers would like to chime in with other do/don't(s), the conference newbie might appreciate the advice!

Deadly DeLeon


Jenyfer Matthews said...

You pretty well covered the big things but how about "don't act like a raving fan girl / lunatic" ??

Professional conduct appreciated at all times :)

Christie Craig said...


I'm going to RT this month, I'll have to see if I can follow these rules. I don't know, Jana, you made it hard. :-)

Hmm...let's see. Shoes...I really need the height, but I've learn anything over an inch, makes me appear shorter. Because I end up face down some where.

I'll leave people chatting quietly alone. And I'll not assume they are breaking rule number 3.

I'll wear a rubberband around my wrist to remind myself not to gossip. Ouch, that hurts.

I'll limit my Merlot to two bottles . . . oh, I mean two glasses. I do this because if I don't, I'll appear shorter...yup, the face-down problem again.

Number five. I taking my Beano with me. No felonious farting. Not me.

Thanks for laugh Jana!

Crime Scene Christie

Anonymous said...

Some great advice, Jana, and a darn funny post, too. LOL.


Wendy Roberts said...

OMG Jana, too funny! All great advice too.

Gemma Halliday said...

I love this! I ALWAYS see at least one person break #4, then #3 at conference.

Okay, I only break #1 on a regular basis. I never go for comfortable shoes. I do heels most of the time. By day 5 last year at nationals of 7am-1am heels all day, my feet were wrecked and I ended up going barefoot and carrying my heels back to my room. But on the way, I still got compliments from three different people on my shoes. Lol! So, I guess you don't actually have to be wearing them for someone to notice.


Jana DeLeon said...

jenyfer - good point! Stalking is rarely appreciated. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Christie! I think you and your Beanie and flats will have a wonderful time at RT!

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, Faye!

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, Wendy! Glad you're not guilty of any of those. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Gemma - I end up walking into the RITA's wearing shoes and walking out carrying them every time. I have a tendency to not follow my own advice on 5 either - that's why I know I should do it. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

OMG! I am sooooo laughing at myself now. I meant to say I don't follow 1! I am never, EVER guilty of 5.

God, I need more coffee.

Anonymous said...

A great list, Jana!!!

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, tori!

Terri Osburn said...

This is great advice and good for a laugh at the same time. I went to my first conference last October and for some reason nearly attacked Sophia Nash yelling, "YOU'RE SOPHIA NASH!" As if the woman doesn't know who the heck she is.

I did stop myself but I have no idea where the urge came from since I was a DJ for years and have met big time artists. Never once did I have the urge to alert them to who they were in a frantic, slightly crazed fashion.

I'm happy to say I did not get drunk, talk about anyone, or create any not so pleasant odors. And I'm wearing comfy shoes as my knees wouldn't survive otherwise but you better believe I'll be sporting some sexy little heals for that awards ceremony.

Keri Ford said...

And good gravy, don't forget to dress for the occasion. not sure about RT, heard they're a bit more relaxed, but at nationals the press is often there snapping pics. If you end up on the front page of the newspaper, you better look good, because you're not only representing yourself, but me, and ever other writer who attended AND stayed at home.

Have to say, I do break #1, but I do try to arrange my outfits around my shoes so I wear comfortable one day, uncomfortable that night, ect.

I accidently did #2 once, but in my defense, they were standing in the middle of a crowded room and I didn't catch the private conversation look about them. They didn't exactly look like they were telling secrets, but made it clear when I got close I wasn't welcome. *blush* I was going to talk to the writer, not her agent or editor or whoever it was.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL terrio - I feel the same way about some authors. No matter what you achieve, there's still those you idolize. :)

Leslie Langtry said...

Great post! Isn't it always amazing the number of people who blow all these rules?


Jana DeLeon said...

keri - people should definitely make the attempt to look private so that doesn't happen. But I've actually known people to walk up to a table of agent/clients in a restaurant and be mad b/c she couldn't join them during their meeting.

Jana DeLeon said...

Leslie - ah yes, but we were not two of them. You and I were the picture of sobriety......okay, but at least we were in a corner and quiet. :)

Terri Osburn said...

Jana - the great part was I told Sophia later during the conference that I almost did that and she said she wished I would have. Now, whenever I *see* her on the net, I type that just to give her a chuckle.

Jana DeLeon said...

terrio - well, it's good that she has a sense of humor. That's a great thing to find out about someone you already admire, huh?

Shelley Munro said...

LOL - great post. I know I've seen some decidedly tiddly people at conferences. It's not a good look.

I don't think I'm in danger of doing the raving fan girl thing. I'm shy and you'll probably locate me trying to melt into the wallpaper. :-)

Lucy said...

I'm guilty of doing the raving fan girl / lunatic thing in Reno. And it was to an author whose books I hadn't read the first one of. Very embarrassing. Not only did I do the "DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?" thing, I told everyone around me "DO YOU KNOW WHO SHE IS?" Did I mention that there were two other well-known authors with this author, who I completely snubbed? Did I also mention that it was a very embarrassing experience?

It was also in Reno that I flubbed up moderating a workshop. The next day I was in line for something and overheard these two women behind me talking. One was trash talking the idiot moderator in the workshop I'd moderated. I turned around, took note of her name from her name badge (she looked up but obviously didn't recognize me). I still remember her name and have every intention of killing her off in an upcoming book. Oh wait, that wasn't the point...the point is, you never know who is listening when you're having a conversation and it will probably get back to the person you're talking about...maybe not as easily as the incident I overheard about me, but still, something to consider (wow that was a long sentence!).

Good post and good reminder. :)

Dru said...

Don't eat with your mouth open or don't talk with food in your mouth. It's amazing how food flies.

Shelli Stevens said...

I have totally given up cute heels and shoes at conference. Well, okay, flats are okay somewhat. But really, I'm all about comfort.

I get tipsy easily, so 1-2 drinks is bad. So I don't usually drink too much. Though there was one night at conference last year I busted through that rule...I didn't grab boobs, but I'm just going to leave it at that. LOL.

Jana DeLeon said...

Shelley - I definitely understand the shy thing. I swear I am a complete introvert although people who've met me think I'm lying. But it's the truth. You just have to learn to be an extrovert sometimes. It's hard and it will suck the energy right out of you but you will definitely meet more people and have more fun.

The latest thing I've started doing is if I'm at a conference and having breakfast, etc. alone and see someone else come in alone looking lost, I ask them if they want to sit with me. Or if it's really crowded, my girlfriends and I will invite others to our table so they have a place to sit.

So if you ever see me at conference, come right up and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Lucy - we all do the fan thing, just in more or lessor degrees. I had a three-year stalking plan on my favorite author until she agreed to give me a cover quote. But DAMN that woman can write!

As for the talking about others - I think Reno was the worst conference ever for me to catch people doing that. In registration line I heard a woman completely trashing everyone as they walked in and when she got to the registration desk, you can bet I was leaning in to find out who the hell was that rude. I was shocked to find it was someone very well known in the romance community, but rest assured, I will never be buying one of her books.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Dru - also very good advice!

Jana DeLeon said...

Well Shelli - as long as you're not a boob grabber, you can probably still have a drink with me. :)

Kathy Bacus said...

Gee, Jana, according to your list so far I've been on my best behavior at conferences. Whoo hoo!

I may get out voted here, but one thing I would also suggest is leaving the baby and the kids at home with the hubby. If you intend to use the outing as a family vacation, have the family join you at the end of the week.

Maybe it's just the mama bear in me, but I don't like seeing wee ones in the hotel lobby in the wee hours of the night.

~Bullet Hole~

Jana DeLeon said...

Good one, Kathy! I simply don't understand why anyone would WANT to bring their family. If you're doing conference "right" then you start around 5:30-6 am and quit around well, 4-5am. Doesn't leave much room for family time.