My first conference was in 2004. For new-bees, the conference experience is quite different than for pub-bees. I recall running into an Oklahoma author at the time who was a long-time pub-bee, and I asked her what workshops she was attending. She laughed and said, "Oh, I don't come for the workshops. It's a huge networking conference for me." I smiled, my huge highlighted workshop schedule in my bag, thinking, "when will it become a big networking event for me?" At the time, I had so much to learn. I can't believe just four years later, I've metamorphed from new-bee to pub-bee and care most about connecting with writer friends, meeting with my publicist, editor, publisher and agent and having fun.
I no longer let the ear-deafening buzz of the hive bother me. (Crowds have never been my thing.) This year I'm even taking my videocamera along to capture some great pieces for A/B TV to post on athenasbookshelf.com and YouTube. I want the world to see how fabulous this group of women is. If you see my camera, don't be a shy-bee.
If you're reading this and you're a new-bee, be sure and hit the literacy event Wednesday evening and peruse the schedule to hear from best-selling authors. I don't necessarily think their advice is any more sound than anybody else's, but you go in because you must know - you must believe - that someday that could be you giving that very same workshop. The publisher workshops are always enlightening to hear what they love and what they're looking for. The pub-hosted book signings where for the cost of standing in line a bit, you get a free author-signed copy from your favorite authors and lines.
The big shin dig is Saturday night at the "Oscar-ish" Rita (pubbed) and Golden Heart (unpubbed) awards ceremony. Unfortunately, I've gone back home each year on Saturday, usually to do with babysitting, missing my kids and not ever having nominated a book of my own (though I'll consider it for next year's.) This year I was planning on attending the gala but my daughter's Annie schedule came out and I must return to see her final performance on Sunday afternoon, which means, again, I'll be a no show. But I'll be checking in and posting all the winners on my site.
Good luck to the nominees and I hope to see you in SanFran!