This Is Your Brain on Conference
If I am this tired after being at the NECRWA conference, I can only imagine how much coffee the conference committee must be running on right now. Post-con crash is real. My brain is too full, my dealing with large numbers of people stores are depleted, and all I want to do is hibernate and think about writing. I'm pretty sure this means it was a great conference.
Some thoughts, in no particular order.
Volunteer. Seriously. If it's your first time, it will give you a structured, fairly low-pressure way to meet people and something to do. Even if you're not officially on the schedule to volunteer, if you feel like you're awkwardly standing around waiting for the next event to start, ask if they need help setting up. Easy!
Also if you're a newbie, and it's offered, go to the conference newbies session. You'll meet other people who don't know what the hell they're doing. Instant conference buddies. (And if your newbies session is organized by certain members of NECRWA who shall remain nameless, they might offer you booze at noon. For social lubrication purposes, obviously.)
Your TBR pile is about to get even more out of control than it already is.
Choosing workshops to attend is hard. It's also perfectly acceptable to skip and go write/hide/recharge somewhere if that particular time slot doesn't have any sessions that speak to you. It's also okay to stalk the room and make a choice based on who's already there.
Also, might as well keep your schedule handy, because you will forget when and where things are ten seconds after you looked at it the last time. (Or the app, if you're at one of the big cons.)
If you're doing agent/editor pitches, they're fucking nerve-wracking, but also not. I will admit to shaking like a leaf when I sat down the first time, but it was totally okay. It's a conversation. Be prepared with a short statement about your book, and then let them ask questions. Do your homework, too. Don't sign up for an appointment with someone who doesn't represent or publish what you write. If the conference has an agent/editor panel ahead of the appointments, GO TO IT. You'll find out a lot more about what people are looking for than what they've said in their bios, on their websites, etc. If you think someone's really not the right agent/editor for you, it's okay to cancel the appointment, someone else will snap up that timeslot.
You're allowed to fangirl. If you're at a romance con, you're probably surrounded by other fangirls. Even your favorite authors have heroes.
Take notes. Your head will be spinning. By dinner Saturday night, I couldn't even remember what sessions I had been to, let alone what was said. Write shit down.
If someone is presenting a workshop based on a book they've written, and you've read that book, it's still worth it to go. You might get new information. You might get to see Emily Nagoski pretending to be a rat. Win-win. (Seriously, go see Emily Nagoski if you have the chance. She's also pretty awesome as her alter-ego, Emily Foster.)
Master classes/longer sessions are worth it. You have a little more breathing room to process the ideas as they're presented. My notes from Molly O'Keefe's master class are full of asides to myself about my characters.
If you have a chance to go to a workshop with Damon Suede, RUN, do not walk. Even if it doesn't work for you, he is so fucking funny and smart. I can promise you'll be entertained, at the very least. Do it.
Finally, shameless plug for my local chapter, 'cause they just announced next year's speaker/master class line-up. Yeah, that's right. Beverly Jenkins Master Class. Sarina Bowen and Skye Warren for lunch and dinner.
And one more shameless plug for me. Wolf Summer is out in SIX WEEKS, people!