By the time you read this, Billie & I will be wrapping up our exciting weekend in Tennessee. I'm post dating the blog to make it on my assigned Sunday.
I'm anticipating humidity, something I'm not used to in California. I wanted to attend this conference because the chances of meeting Jeffrey Deaver any other time in my life seems minimal. Plus, I had a free round-trip flight for giving up my seat in Miami.
Once I started making plans, everything snowballed. I have a friend, Del Tinsley, who I met many years ago at Bouchercon Las Vegas. She's been incredibly supportive of my writing. Another friend relocated from this area and is with Sisters in Crime in Tennessee. She'll be there. I'm also on a panel with a woman from NC whose book I blurbed. And, my webmistress (also from NC) is exicited to hook up.
Two of my former Navy WAVE buddies are coming to see me. One is from Georgia now, we were stationed in Newport, RI, together. The other was stationed with me in Puerto Rico and Orlando. We haven't seen each other in 35 years.
I'm on a short story panel and a marketing panel. The conference organizer had heard of me and was very generous to give me two panels. I think of myself as a regional writer but it seems I have fans in Tennessee.
And that's why I'm telling you all this. Conferences start out as being fun, a chance to meet authors and get books signed. At some point, you move from just attending to participating. You may have to scramble to get a foot in the door (volunteering helps, as does being an expert in something). Play your cards right and invitations start coming in. You might even get paid, but usually the reward is a book signing.
The people you meet and network with will be there for you throughout your career. You'll meet up with them at other conferences and communicate on the Internet. Some will remain peers, some will become close friends. You'll follow their careers. It's an exciting existence.
I'm anticipating ribs, country music and the tang of Southern accents over the long weekend. Billie and I will talk business and be sociable. I will probably collapse on the plane trip home. I'm sure it will be worth it. And oh, the stories I'm sure I'll have to tell!