A week from tomorrow, I’ll be jetting high over America’s heartland to Denver, where my husband and I are registered to attend the national conference of the Romance Writers of America. We’ve got our plane and hotel reservations, our dog Sirius has his reservation for the Hair of the Dog day care and kennel, followed by a week with our daughter’s family in Woodstock. Now I’m in the list-making phase of preparation, with weighty concerns like the following:
- What to wear: where are those summer shorts and pants I’m sure I have? If I find them, will they be too tight or too baggy? If so, can I still find anything worth buying this late in the season? What’s the climate like in Denver and the Rockies? How much will the airline let me pack?
- I have to declutter and clean the house so that our cat-sitting neighbor won’t be too disgusted when she comes in, and so that we won’t be so horribly depressed when we return home and confront the chaos after two weeks of pristine hotels and B&Bs.
- What will I bring in the way of marketing handouts? I’ve got an attractive double-sided business card that covers my new identity as the Creative Crone as well as my novels. I’d hoped to have something a little bigger and flashier, but time is running out. I do have my postcards, though.
But it doesn’t much matter, because I don’t write romances, and I have no intention of starting at this late date. I write mystery and suspense novels, and although there are always a few attractive men and some romantic or sexual attraction in my books, it’s never the primary focus. Decades ago, when I had a reputable New York City agent, she suggested I write romances as a way of breaking into the publishing mainstream. I tried, but I soon got bogged down in boredom and depression, and that was when I had the livelier libido of a much younger woman. Even then, I much preferred murder and mayhem.
But my husband, Robb Smith, has several novels in various states of completion, and he hopes to find a publisher in the romance marketplace. He registered for the RWA conference months ago. I had my sights set on Thrillerfest, the July conference of the International Thriller Writers, which always happens in Manhattan at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. It’s an excellent conference, and I highly recommend it. I just checked out the website, and they’re still accepting registrations! Thrillerfest just started today, and it runs through Saturday, with all kinds of events and pricing packages. But the heart of the conference happens this Friday and Saturday, and you can attend both days for just $461.
When I attended Thrillerfest two years ago, I loved the experience. It’s smaller and more intimate than the enormous conferences like RWA and Bouchercon, and there’s ample opportunity to network with lots of big-name writers. But my budget can’t handle two back-to-back conferences. And when I checked out the RWA program, it actually looked more interesting, with lots of sessions about marketing and publishing that could actually prove useful.
Anyway, New York City is an easy day trip from upstate New York, and I visit several times a year—most recently to see the David Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Two weeks in Colorado with Robb sounds far more enticing. We’ll spend a few days at the conference in Denver, then head for the hills to explore old mining towns like Leadville. One of his novels is set in 19th century Colorado, so the trip will be tax-deductible.
While he’s exploring the mines and historic sites, I hope to find some stables that offer serious trail riding. Other than that, my agenda’s wide open. But my day trips to New York City have taught me that I no longer have the stamina to play tourist for eight or ten hours a day. We’ll have a rental car, which should be a lot more luxurious than the city’s subway system.
Even so, I expect to spend lots of time hunkered down with my computer, writing or working on building my brand through all the online marketing methods I hope to learn at the conference. That’s assuming I’ll have room for the computer, what with all the airline’s stringent space restrictions.
As for handouts, I already have postcards with Kim Killion’s beautiful covers for Hope Dawns Eternal and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. Since she specializes in romance covers, they should be perfectly appropriate on the merch tables, as long as people aren’t turned off by that pesky word murder.
Robb and I have benefited enormously from our memberships in the Capital Region chapter of the RWA. But while he plans some in-depth networking with writers, agents and publishers, I know my work isn’t a good fit for the world of steamy sex scenes and obligatory Happily Ever After endings, so I’ll be free to relax and enjoy myself. On the other hand, who knows what could happen? Never say never. . . .
Will I see you in Colorado? Do you have any favorite writers’ conferences to recommend? Or are you sticking close to home? Wherever you are and whatever your summer plans, I’d love to hear from you. And please subscribe to this website so you won’t miss future posts.
Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, Eldercide & Hope Dawns Eternal are all available on Amazon. Buy them now and I’ll be eternally grateful!