I’m busy packing up for my trip to New York. I’ll be attending the annual Romance Writers of America conference. I plan to meet old friends and make new ones, take lots of notes and find out what’s happening in the industry. I have a feeling I’ll come back both exhausted and rejuvenated. But that’s to be expected because conferences can be overwhelming, if you don’t know how to handle them.

If you’re a newbie to the conference scene, here are three tips:

Smile. You know that ‘dear in the headlights’ look? Not attractive. You know that falling on your knees in worship over an author whose work you adore? Also not attractive.  How about noticing another smug aspiring/published author you can’t stand and spreading a nasty rumor about her sleeping habit? That is also very unattractive. My advice? Breathe and smile. You’ll appear approachable and friendly.  No matter what happens, be gracious. Whether you’re shy and feel like digging yourself a hole and jumping in or you meet with an agent who decides not to look at your latest project. Just smile and move on.

Have confidence in yourself and your work. Whether you’re unpublished or a new author, hold your head high. Don’t apologize for being unpublished or make excuses about your work. Be its biggest cheerleader. (If you don’t believe in your work why should anyone else?). Stand tall and smile.

Have fun. Okay so there may be some competition, some jealousy, some backbiting. You don’t need to be part of that. Keep in mind the workshops you want to attend, the lessons you want to learn, the people you want to meet and focus on them. Take notes, chat, soak up the sights, the sounds, the smells, the experience of being with creative people whose stories move the hearts of millions. Have a blast. You deserve it!