I’m beginning to feel like the girl in this Mary Cassatt painting–any minute now I’ll just collapse in a frustrated heap! On Tuesday, I’m leaving for the RWA conference in Dallas. So today that means one thing–packing. I am not a good packer. I have an aunt who travels to Europe and Asia a lot, she can take one little bag with 5 black and white jersey separates, 1 pair of shoes, and 2 scarves and look like Grace Kelly for a month or more. Not me. Even a casual family vacation seems to involve vast quantities of clothes and shoes, not to mention books. Hey, I never know what I want to read when I get there (a romance, a mystery, a biography?), and I want to be prepared! Plus they can serve as ballast in the bottom of my suitcase (I’ve been researching 16th century ships lately, you see).

Conferences are twice as hard. There are day outfits and evening outfits, each requiring shoes and bags and jewelry. My Regency-style gown for the Beau Monde Soiree (plus gloves, reticule, fan!). Shawls, because the air conditioning always seems set on ‘glacial’ at the hotel. Promo stuff, like books and cover flats (maybe I need a big sign saying Buy My New Book, Out in August! Please, I Beg You! Too over the top?). Makeup (my everyday makeup consists of a little concealer, lipgloss, and mascara, but conferences require enough products to see a diva through La Traviata, it seems). Zit cream–Very Important. Who wants to meet their editor with a huge pimple on their nose? A little notebook to jot down interesting gossip, er, very useful tips for Improving My Craft. And–I know I’m forgetting something.

Last night I made a ‘clothing chart’ with each day’s activities and what I plan to wear. Then I pulled everything from my closet and drawers and piled it all up in the middle of the bedroom floor. This morning, I woke up from an exceedingly pleasant dream (I was going to the Oscars with Orlando, and had these fabulous Louboutin shoes…) to find that everything had not miraculously leapt into the suitcase overnight. In fact, the cats had most unhelpfully slept on the pile, requiring a great deal of laundry and de-fuzzing.
It will all come together in the end, at least it usually does. In the meantime, I made a list of Things I Will Remember to Do at Conference:

1) Have fun, learn a lot, meet new people

2) Don’t squeal TOO loudly when first seeing friends in the lobby

3) Bring my cell phone charger (otherwise how can I find my friends to squeal at them?)

4) Drink plenty of water

5) Don’t talk about what a Terrible Person Agent/Editor Whatsit is in the public elevator. Not that I would, of course, but said Agent/Editor would be bound to be in that selfsame elevator
if I did (which I would not)

6) Act like–no, try to act like a Grown Up Author
Now, I have to go sit on my suitcase and try to get it to close. If you’re in Dallas next week, come look for us! Diane, Janet, and I will be there. Cosmos all around!
And when you get home, be sure and sign up for the Risky Regencies newsletter at riskies@yahoo.com! All the conference gossip will be there (or some, anyway…)