Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Planning My Dream Conference

By Annette Dashofy

My “job” as 2009 Pennwriters Conference Coordinator reaches a milestone this Friday. Online registration opens January 2nd.

Am I ready for this milestone? Hell, no! But ready or not, here it comes.

I’ve been told by those who have traveled this path before that this is not a deadline. Good thing. There is still much work to be done. Even before the paper version brochure goes to print, I have a TON of details to work out. Like who teaches which workshop when. I’m still trying to round everyone up to commit to which workshop they WANT to teach.

The phrase “herding cats” comes to mind.

I need to practice some yoga. Breathe. Let go. No matter how prepared I am, changes will happen. They already have. One of my few editors recently backed out and I’m scrambling to fill the spot.

Silly me. I thought this process would be like checking off my to-do list. Agents lined up: check. Editors lined up: check. Workshops planned: check. Publicity: check.

Our own Working Stiff Lisa Curry is leading the publicity charge, so that part is under control at least. But the others? Every time I think I can check off one task and move on, someone backs out and I have to back peddle.
recall playing (and HATING) Candy Land when I was a kid. I’d move my piece forward and be almost to the end when I’d draw a card that would send me waaayyy back.

Conference planning is like Candy Land. Maddening.

Okay, it’s also a little bit fun. I’m rubbing elbows with agents and editors (even the ones who turn down my invitation to attend). I get to plan wonderful workshops and panels with my favorite authors presenting them.

Have I mentioned this little ironic twist? I am planning my dream conference. But I won’t have time to attend the workshops. Something is wrong with this picture.

But I’m also working on a plan. I’m going to bring several changes of clothes. So when everyone gets used to seeing me in red (“Go ask Annette…she’s the one in red.”), I will have changed into something blue and will be slipping into CJ Lyon’s Kills, Chills and Thrills Workshop. Then, when everyone catches on and starts describing me as the one in blue, I will change into black and slink into John Lamb’s Homicide 101 Workshop.

Heh heh. I learned this little trick from Pennwriters past president, Denise Meyers. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

I wish I could think of some way to hide NOW. I suppose I could stop checking my email. But I’m too conscientious for that. Darn it. Each morning, a new list of fires to be put out arrives in my inbox. Today, our webmaster, Jamie Saloff and I are tweaking the shopping cart, adding descriptions and details. Jamie has the really tough job, handling the technical end of the process. I just have to write the content.

So if you want to take a peek at what the Pennwriters Conference “A Writer’s Tool Chest” has to offer, click here.

FYI, our Friday night keynote speaker is Lisa Scottoline. I adore here. In case you haven’t checked out her New Year’s Chick Wit, go here and enjoy. You’ll get a taste of why I love Lisa and why I HAD to have her be keynote at my dream conference.


Tory said...

Maybe you can slip in a session on "how to be a private eye" which will give you advice on cheap and easy disguises?

Just a thought.

P.S. I'm glad to be able to attend your "dream conference," with or without frequent clothes changes

Annette said...

Tory, that's not a bad idea. I'm thinking of adding a blonde wig to my wardrobe. But a private eye could really help.

Besides, you know me well enough that clothing changes won't help. It's the folks who DON'T already know what I look like that could be momentarily misdirected.

Joyce said...

Everyone knows you, Annette. You'll definitely need more than a change of clothes.

It's going to be a great conference!

Annette said...

Maybe a fake beard and some dark glasses? Or would that be too obvious?

Joyce said...

Oh, and I always preferred Chutes and Ladders over Candyland.

Anonymous said...

You and your team are doing an incredible job. I cannot wait for this year's conference. Yet another time I'm proud to be a Pennwriter.

By the way, thanks for the tip on changing clothes. I started ducking into closets last year, but I think the changing clothes method is a bit more tactful.

Annette said...

Thanks, Lisa. I do have a terrific team behind me.

And you already have that blonde Marilyn Monroe wig to hide under!

Jennie Bentley said...

You know, I just realized that Danielle Chiotti is from Pittsburgh. (She's an editor with Kensington.) Don't know if you've tagged her already, but if you've lost an editor and you're looking for another on short notice, it might not hurt to ask someone who might want an excuse to come home for a visit anyway... Just a thought.

Sounds like a good time will be had by all. And I love the idea of the disguises. Someone should work that into a book at some point. Someone who writes about an event planner, or something...

Annette said...

Oh, Jennie, I'm sending you a cyber hug. I've been turned down by three Kensington editors, so I will definitely check out Danielle.

And I can see the title now: "The Undercover Conference Coordinator"

Jennie Bentley said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed that it turns out. Danielle is young, recently married, just had a baby daughter (Alice), her husband's name is Ronald Lee, and she came back to work on December 1st after maternity leave. A friend of mine, Megan Kelley Hall, writes for her, and she is currently heading up the new YA line at Kensington, from what I understand. She used to do something with romance, since my agent has placed those kinds of books with her before. Just some background info in case you need it. :-)

Annette said...

Thanks, Jennie. I'll probably wait until Monday to contact her...after New York recovers from its New Year's hangover.

Donnell said...

Annette, I am looking under my sofa cushions to come up with quarters for your conference. Why? Because with you at the helm, it couldn't be in better hands. I know it's a ton of work, here's where your networking and phenomenal writing are bound to pay off. Go get em!!!