A few safety reminders for attending conferences or #rwa12

I travel a lot for Harlequin and I stay in a lot of hotels. I also go to a lot of conferences, and I see attendees doing some unsafe things, probably without even knowing, at every single one of these conferences. So as you prep for #rwa12, please keep these things in mind

1) After you get your room keys, do not, under any circumstances, keep them in the package that has your room number on it. Once you get to your room, throw that little envelope away in your hotel room bin (don’t toss it in a trash in the lobby, just to be on the safe side, either). It’s so easy to lose this envelope, or if you have your purse or bag stolen (god forbid) you don’t also want to give the thief free access to all of the possessions in your room. Memorize your room number and keep your room keys somewhere else in your purse or pocket. Not in the envelope.

2) As soon as you know you’re leaving the hotel, take off your name badge. There are a variety of reasons behind doing this, but all of them are meant to keep you safe and from being a target. Gently remind the people with you to take theirs off as well.

3) Know where the stairs are in case of a fire alarm. Yes, it’s a running joke that the fire alarm seems to always go off at RWA, but even so, there is always the very real possibility that it’s a genuine fire. Don’t get caught not knowing which direction to go. If you’re not sure, there’s a map on the back of your hotel room door, but scope it out ahead of time. It only takes a minute and it could literally save your life.

4) Keep your valuables in the safe in your hotel room. Jewelry, ereaders, cash, small laptops. Anything you’re leaving in the room while you’re not there. And even if you decline housekeeping, don’t assume no one will be coming into your room. You’d be shocked at how often hotel employees may have reason to enter your room (checking air conditioning filters, restocking the minibar, maintenance issues, etc.) there are also other people who might enter your room (see #5)

5) And on that note, when you ARE in your room, put the security bar (you know, the one you always forget to take off before you open the door. Or is that just me?) on. As I said, hotel employees often have reason to enter your room, and it’s my experience that they rarely actually give you enough time to get to the door after they knock. You don’t want them walking in on you at any time, though especially while in the bathroom, changing, napping or doing other, er, more intimate things. Not only that but hotels often mistakenly assign rooms more than once so it’s entirely possible they could give someone the key to your room–and your possessions. I have twice been given the wrong room and I know others have as well. Never assume your room is a totally safe haven, free from others entering, because it is not.

6) This is common sense but…if you’re leaving the conference hotel to go drinking, please have at least one person who’s staying relatively sober, who can make good decisions for getting everyone safely back to the hotel, keep an eye on everyone while they’re drinking, and basically make sure nothing tragic can happen. The same things that can happen to us at the bars at home can happen at the bars in the conference city.

7) and on that practical note, here’s another that every college-age girl knows: whether at the bar in the hotel, at the bar somewhere else, do not, under any circumstances, leave your drink or drinks unattended, or accept drinks from strangers. It should come direct from the bar staff, bartender or one of your friends. If a stranger hands you a drink, decline politely. If you all want to go dance, finish your drinks and get fresh ones when you get back, or leave someone to guard them. You guys know this, but I see people treat their time at conferences like it’s life in a bubble, not the real world. Don’t do that.

8 ) Last, be cautious about sharing your room number. Of course you can tell your conference buddies where to meet you. Just don’t shout it across the bar, okay?

I know I’m forgetting some important tips but I’ve covered some of the key things I’ve noticed at conferences. Please share your conference or travel safety tips in the comments.

Are you in: Denver, Tucson, Las Vegas, Toronto or Seattle?

Those are all places I’ll be visiting and speaking at writer’s conferences or RWA chapter meetings in the next three months! In addition, I’ll also be near Tampa, Florida. If you’re in or near any of those places, and would be interested in attending, meeting me and hearing me talk about publishing, brand building, social media and the rise of digital, then read on! Also, I should note that I’m nearing the end of 2011 and the year of travel. In 2012, I’ll be traveling and doing far fewer appearances (for my own sanity, and the sake of all the other things I need to accomplish!)

September 9-11, Denver, Colorado. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference.

Join me as I offer critiques, pitches, a 2-hour workshop on brand building and participating in the editor panel.

Registration for the conference is still open here.

September 24, Tucson, Arizona. Saguaro Romance Writers.

Here I’ll be speaking to this chapter in a smaller environment. My agenda hasn’t been set by the chapter yet, but I’ll be there speaking for at least 4 hours on brand building, publishing Q&A, social media, etc. From their website, I understand that non-members are welcome to attend. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come and see me!

October 19-23, St. Pete Beach, Florida. Novelists Inc. conference.

This will be my third year attending the NINC conference and if last year is anything to go by, I think this will be an outstanding conference for authors. On Thursday, the conference gathers together a collection of industry professionals to sit on panels, asking some in-depth questions about the industry (only one panel at a time goes on). On Friday thru Sunday, there are writing workshops offered by a variety of authors, agents, editors and other experts. I believe I’ll be participating in both the Thursday panels, as well as offering a workshop that weekend (the schedule hasn’t yet been set).

I should also add that St. Pete was one of my favorite conference locations. The beach was beautiful (and I live near a beach, but I still enjoyed being right there) and the hotel rooms very comfortable. I’m so glad the conference is going to be there again.

Registration is open.

October 28-30, Seattle, Oregon Washington. Emerald City Writer’s Conference.

In Seattle, I’ll be taking pitches, drinking martinis, giving a workshop Q&A on the future of digital and future of publishing, and drinking martinis (okay, I threw the drinking martinis in this one just to change it up a bit, lol!)

This is a larger regional conference, and I encourage area authors to attend! For readers, there’s also a booksigning that you might want to check out!

Registration is open here.

November 12, Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Romance Writer Chapter.

The program for Toronto hasn’t been set yet, but I can tell you a few things: I’ll be doing a Q&A about publishing at the very least, and there are a number of Carina authors who belong to this chapter, as well as a number of published authors, so you’ll have a lot of people to meet and ask questions of.

Toronto is also where the Harlequin offices are located, so I’ll see what kind of goodies I can dig up for this event 😉

Guests/non-members are welcome at this chapter. Look for more information here.

November 19, Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Romance Writer Chapter.

Even though this is the last appearance of the year, I already have the program for it! Here it is:

Building Your Brand (1hr)
Using Your Website to Support Your Brand (1hr)
Lunch Break (1hr)
Publishing in the Digital Age (1hr)
Kamikaze Cold Reads (1hr)

Yep, I’m doing all of those, so you get me for four hours of speaking! And, dude…Las Vegas. Even if you’re not close, maybe you want to come anyway?

Their website is here.

As I said above, this will be my last appearance until January 2012 (when I’ll be in both New Jersey, New York and California!) But that’s 2012…

Tell me, will I be seeing any of you at any of these last 2011 appearances?

Going to Romantic Times? 2 chances to win an ereader!

I’m stealing this post that I wrote for the Carina Press blog yesterday. If you’re going to be at RT, make sure you pay special attention to the bit about Club RT and the Carina Press luncheon (for a chance to win a nook) and take note of my Friday workshop on digital readers with Jane Litte and Sarah Wendell, and think about attending (for a chance to win a Sony).

I’ll be attending the Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio next week as will Aideen O’Leary-Chung, who will be there on behalf of both Carina Press and Harlequin. Below is a list of places you’ll be able to catch up with us. Even if you don’t attend any of the workshops I’m giving, I hope you’ll attend the Carina luncheon on Friday (there will be goodies!) where I’ll be giving an introduction speech. And please do find me and say hello!

Wednesday April 26th 10am-12:15pm, Everything Digital Publishing(that’s not actually the title but I don’t remember what RT thought sounded like a good idea for a title), presenting with author Lauren Dane. During this workshop, Lauren and I will present you with information about publishing in both the traditional and digital-first world. We’ll have a candid conversation with you about the pros and cons of digital publishing, and we’ll give you honest answers to your questions. Come prepared to have us talk with you, not to you!

Thursday April 27th 2:45-3:45pm Editor Panel

Moderated by author Judi McCoy, I join a long list of other editors on a panel to answer questions about our presses and what we’re looking for

Friday April 28th

10am: Carina Press Spotlight. Join Aideen and I in a conversation about Carina Press, our upcoming launch, our acquisitions, submissions process and any questions you might have!

11:15-12:15pm: Reading Digital (pay special attention to this one)

Along with Jane Litte of Dear Author and Sarah Wendell of SmartBitches, we’ll present a large variety of digital reading devices, discuss with you how to choose which device to buy, what online retailers are available for you to shop at, how DRM can impact your shopping and what formats you should look for. Basically, we’re going to talk everything necessary to read digitally and give you the opportunity to see the devices up close and personal. Not only that, but I’ve heard a rumor that there’s going to be a device for giveaway AND a coupon code to an online bookstore. This might be one you don’t want to miss!

12:30 Carina Press luncheon

Join us for martini mashed potatoes, cupcakes and a celebration of the Carina Press launch. There will be goodies and cover art and Carina Press authors! And there will be a giveaway of a nook!

Sometime Friday afternoon…editor appointments. I’m taking pitches Friday afternoon. Are you signed up?

Club RT Thursday 9am – 12 & 2-4pm; Friday 9am – 12 & 2-4pm

In addition to all of that, we’ll also have a table at Club RT. Aideen will have a variety of devices for you to handle (nook, a couple of Sonys, Kindle, etc) and there will be a sign up for a drawing for a nook, to be given away during the Carina Press luncheon on Friday (must be present to win!) as well as sign up for 2 winners to receive all of our launch titles (and that might just be more books than you suspect!). Visit Aideen at Club RT Thursday and Friday for your chance to win, check out the devices and get some Carina promo goodness!

So, who’s going to be at RT?

All snowed out

I know I already complained about this once on the blog, but I am DONE with the snow. It’s not just the fact that it’s snowed more where we live than it did the previous five years. Or the fact that it’s snowing again. No, it’s the fact that these snow storms are also managing to coincide with my travel. Because, you know, hanging out in the airport and figuring out how to get to/from conferences via plane, train and automobile is JUST how I want to spend my time. You?

So yep, as I type this, I’ve made it from NYC to Philly and I’m in the Philly airport. Right now my flight home is just delayed, not canceled yet. Yet. I’ve been here for an hour and it was so tempting to just assume the flight would be canceled and to go ahead and rent a car. I could be home in just a few hours. But I’m waiting and we’re under a 45 minute delay right now. I expect more to come. Whee!

On the other hand, I did have a fantastic trip to NYC where I was attending and presenting at the Tools of Change conference. I gave two presentations at the conference, and also got a chance to go to the Harlequin NY offices and meet with some of the editorial staff there, and talk about Carina. My favorite thing! Tools of Change is a conference that I love, because I get to meet up with and talk to people from all areas of publishing. Three days of talking about publishing and listening to how others are innovating? Fascinating and energizing.

I’m hoping to share a bit more about what I did there (including more about my presentations) when I’m more fully rested and not stuck in an airport wondering if I’ll ever get home!

I haven’t forgotten

About my blog! But I must admit, anything interesting I have to say recently has gone to Twitter. I’m gearing up to leave for RWA tomorrow and it’s pretty doubtful I’ll have much time to blog. So I’ve arranged a line-up of authors/editors to fill in for me. So this week I’ll have guest posts from:

Tuesday: Sasha White
Wednesday: Jaci Burton
Thursday: Shannon Stacey
Friday: Tera Kleinfelter, Samhain editor
Saturday: Lynne Connolly

And remember, if you want to share in my RWA adventures, you can follow them on Twitter (link to the right). You don’t have to belong to Twitter to read my page.

If you’re at RWA and see me, please make sure you say hello.

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