Stress-free flight preparation when flying to a conference

I’ll be leaving for the Florida Christians Writer’s conference tomorrow. I haven’t flown to a conference in over a decade since I discovered the Write to Publish conference a few towns away. God made a way for me attend FCWC, so I’ll be flying and staying in the rooms on the conference grounds.

condor airplane on grey concrete airport

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I’ve posted a few times on how to prepare for a conference as far as sell sheets, proposals and business cards. Today I want to talk about preparing your suitcase for the conference. When I drive daily to the location, I can change my mind about my outfit for the day with ease. If the weather changes, I can adjust my wardrobe without thinking twice. But living out of my suitcase is a challenge.

people standing in between trees near buildings during daytime

Photo by Guillaume Hankenne on

I asked a friend who attends FCWC every year for advice regarding wardrobe. It’s Florida, I’m thinking sandals and sundresses. She advised sneakers because I’ll be walking all over the campus. Let’s add a sweater and umbrella because her experience. The weather can change at a moment’s notice.  As far as the banquet goes, formal wear is optional. I’ll bring my teal lace tea-length dress. No heels though. (I hate them. With my own 5 feet 10 inches, heels have never been my friend.) I’ll wear the same comfy flats I’ll wear on the plane to get through TSA quickly.

What to pack:

  1. Always take a sweater and an umbrella or rain parka. If you’re going to a cold region, don’t forget the warm coat.
  2. Read the newsletter or Facebook page connected with the conference you are attending for additional clues on what to bring. FCWC newsletter listed no hair dryers. So that goes in my suitcase along with my curling iron. Information may change daily regarding what to bring so stay connected.
  3. Weigh and measure your luggage ahead of time. Check your airline website for acceptable sizes and weight. Double check how many pieces of luggage you can take on a domestic flight. I’m putting a few of my books to sell at the conference in my luggage. The total for my airline is 50 pounds. I know my books weigh nine pounds that gives me 41 more pounds for clothes, etc. Paying for overweight luggage is not in my budget.
  4. Don’t overpack. If you can combine outfits, i.e. black slacks and two different tops. I’m wearing my flats for the flight and the banquet. Limit your make-up to something that is multifunctional—same eye shadows matches several outfits. Limit your jewelry to mix and match. Guys: an electric razor saves you from carrying shaving cream through TSA.
  5. Check the TSA website to be sure what is allowed in your carry on. I’m making sure all liquids are less than 3.5 ounces, this includes cleansers, moisturizers, shampoo, conditioner, liquid makeup and hairspray. The agents read the labels. Even if your larger bottle is half full, it will be thrown in the trash if the container reads more than allowed ounces. All liquid items must be stored in a quart size Ziplock bag so the agent can check the weight at a glance.
  6. Do you really need all those electronics?

I tend to take notes the old fashion way with pen and paper. I may take a few pictures of overhead notes.  I have a kindle fire to access any documents I may want as well as read my email and social media. I can do that on my phone too. I love to read books in the airport and during a flight, I read fast. My kindle gives me access to my library and takes up little space. I’ll only need to put my tablet, cell phone and shoes in the bins at TSA security. That leaves more room in my backpack for other things like medication and a change of clothes if I get stranded at the airport. (We all know it does happen.) You’ll move through TSA faster with less to remove into bins.

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  1. Guys: reduce your change and put those odd metal things you love to carry in your pocket into your checked bag. Less hassle with TSA.

    colors colours health medicine

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  2. Leave your prescriptions in their original bottles. I’ll be taking my supplements in a pill box in my checked bag. I don’t want to take the chance of having any of my supplements thrown away. Anything they can’t identify will be pitched.

    person pouring plastic tube bottle

    Photo by Moose Photos on

  3. Place your shampoo or any liquids or lotions that you may decide to place in your checked bag in a Ziplock bag too. The decompression in the cargo hold may cause leaking, and lotion all over your clothes is not something you want to deal with at the conference. My husband squeezes the air out of those bottles and when they arrive they are back to their normal size due to the same decompression. I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.
  4. Leave room in your carry-on for your conference notebook and folder of sell sheets etc. Do not leave them in the checked bag. If…God Forbid, your luggage gets routed to Budapest, you won’t get all your hard work back until after the conference


Bonus tip:

Don’t forget to check-in online the night before. Some airlines allow you to choose your seat then. Print out your boarding pass or show the attendant your pass on your email on your phone so they can scan it.  Precheck-in saves time and hassle. I’ll have a driver picking me up. I have his cell number and a meet-up place. If you must provide your own ride, do that in advance too.

Some of you seasoned travels may have other suggestions. Those of us who don’t travel a lot would love to hear them.

Ten Point Checklist for Conference Attendees

conference word cloudThis week I’ll be attending Write to Publish, the writer’s conference I’ve attended every June for over a decade. Today I’ve decided to post a conference checklist. Thought you’d find it helpful.

  • Business Cards

Take 50. You may not use them all but you won’t run out. Give them to the people you have appointments with and exchange them with those you network with at the conference.check list-tiny


  • One sheets (sell sheets) of the novels or books you are pitching. One sheet per book. You can also create a sell sheet of article ideas you have. Present these at your appointments with an editor.


  • Clips- photo copies of your published work. This gives editors a taste of your writing experience. Or have copies of your completed short stories, articles and devotionals to share during your appointment if requested. Samples of your best work can lead to a request for your stuff.

    clip and samples-2

    I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.



  • Fresh notebook or laptop. Whether you prefer to take notes with pen and paper or on your PC be sure you have enough paper, extra pens and the power cord for your laptop. If you have a larger laptop like me, you might prefer to leave it at home or in your room. It gets heavy and cumbersome to tote. I can check emails etc. on my phone so I opt for pen and paper.



  • Pitch cheat sheet. I hate memorizing a pitch. I get frustrated and nervous. A cheat sheet helps me remember my pitch just before my appointment. I may not say it word for word but at least it’s fresh in my mind.


  • Pictures and names of agents, publishers and editors I want to meet. I may not get an appointment with them but mealtime is a great time to pitch your stuff. If I have a picture I might recognize them in the cafeteria or in the hall.


  • Proposals and manuscripts are optional. Most editors and agents want an email version. Having a copy or three is good if you plan on getting input from freelancers or participating in critique sessions. Have copies of the first chapter of your book. If an agent or editor marks it up or takes a copy, you have more clean copies.


  • Clothes for conference. Being sure you have all your outfits and all their components is important. I once forgot to change out of my sports bra. A pink sports bra under dress clothes was …I made an emergency run to a nearby Walmart to buy a new bra. Another year I bought a sweatshirt because the temp dropped. Be prepare for any contingency. Wear comfortable shoes if the conference you’re attending is on a large campus. Blisters and limping are just oh so fun when you’re trying to get all you can from a conference. Lots of people wear tennis shoes at these events. So, leave your classy uncomfortable footwear at home. If your conference has a formal dinner then pack dress shoes for that event only.

    black open toe

    Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home.


  • Double check your spending budget. There will be lots of books and CDs available for purchase. Decide what you absolutely must have. If it exceeds your budget copy down the title and purchases them later.


  • Be sure to have registration confirmation, hotel confirmation and if you’re flying tickets, boarding passes and proper ID.


  • Books for sale. This is my first year to bring my novel for the sales table. Only bring a reasonable amount. If you’re flying you’ll be limited unless you shipped them ahead. Even though the conference has hundreds of attendees they are not going to all buy your book. You will be in competition with lots of other authors along with myriads of craft books. Better to run out than haul boxes back home. Have lots of bookmarks or postcards available so interested readers can take them home and order your book later.secret-charades-front-cover


What items would you add to this list?


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Conference Tips: Double Checking and Final Thoughts

Double checking to be sure I haven't forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Double checking to be sure I haven’t forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Today is the first day of the Write-To-Publish Conference. I have spent the last few days making sure I have done everything I encouraged you all to do in my ten tips. I feel I’m as ready to as I can be to get full value out of this week’s conference.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. My tote bag contains all the tools I’ll need. Wait! I need to do a double check. Help me look through my bag to be sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

I’ve removed everything and we can repack it again following my previous conference tip posts.

  1. I have my special business card holder. Let’s look inside. I didn’t forget to put the business cards in there. (Hey, it’s happened before.)
  2. Multiple copies of my sell-sheets for my two novels. Check.
  3. Chapters and summaries (I opted to leave my proposals at home based on my research and experience at previous conferences.) Check.
  4. I have marked the workshops and classes I want to attend.
  5. I’ve done my research and know who I want an appointment with to pitch my stuff.
  6. I have printed copies of my writing clips from magazines, blog posts and e-zines.
  7. I’ve print off a variety of samples. Some I want to pitch and others just because you never know what you wish you’d brought along.
  8. I reviewed the dress code and made sure my wardrobe is appropriate. I’ve broken in my new shoes ahead of time, (Don’t want blisters.)
  9. My notepad and several pens are now safely tucked in my tote as well.
  10. I’ve practiced my pitches (well, you all know I hate doing them.) to try and make them sound smooth and natural.

So, looks like I’m ready. Wait I need to add an umbrella or rain parka; the weather is so unpredictable in Northern Illinois this time of year. I’ve made sure any bills due while I’m away are paid. All instructions for family left behind clearly defined. My phone charger added to my tote. If I were not commuting, I would be double checking my luggage and adding my laptop and its adapter to my pile to haul to the conference. I might opt to take it later in the week anyway.

Eyeballing everything one last time. Looks like I’m ready to go. I’m stoked and nervous even though this is my seventh year attending a conference. Next week I’ll post some highlights and new things I’ve learned.

If you are attending the Write to Publish Conference be sure to look me up. I love to connect with my readers.

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Conference Tip# 5 Do Your Research

 Do the research in advance. It's worth your time. free stock photo.

Do the research in advance. It’s worth your time. free stock photo.

“Go! Learn things.” Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS

Research before you attend a conference is a huge key to success. Go to the conference website click on each faculty member, agent, editor and publisher attending. Read, read, and read. Click on links directing you to their website. Read lots, learn stuff. What do they publish? Do you have something that fits their need? Print off the faculty page to circle, highlight, and take notes of those you wish to see.

After you learn stuff

Only make appointments with those people who are interested in your genre, article subject matter, or the idea you are pitching. Positive feedback and requests for your manuscripts are most likely to happen if you’ve done your research.

Most of the faculty will have a photo on the site. Having a copy with you will help you identify them between classes, break time, elevators and dining halls. Introduce yourself and briefly pitch your stuff. It’s not being rude. They expect conferencees to pitch to them outside of appointment schedules.

List those you wish to have appointments with by order of importance. You will only be allowed to make a few appointments. You’ll have to catch the rest on the fly.

Don’t forget panels

Attending panels at the conference furthers your research. Editor A does not list flash fiction for his magazine on his website but during a panel he mentioned he is now looking for it. Tada! You now can add him to your list of who you wish to contact.

Check your samples and clips

Look over the samples and clips you are taking to the conference. Decide in advance which ones you want to share during each appointment. Write more samples if an idea hits you while researching the needs of editors. It might be the perfect fit. Be sure it’s your best work.

Knowledge is power

So in conclusion-research, research, research. The more you know the less overwhelmed you will be at the conference.

Do you have any pre-conference research tips? Share them please.


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Attending a Writers Conference Part 2 Tips On Preparing

Here is another repost this week for preparing to attend a writers conference. Its not to early to start preparing for those coming up this summer. Hope you find these tips helpful.


Before you attend a writers’ conference there are some things you need to do to prepare.

  • Research all the publishers and agents attending the event. Go to their websites and get to know them. Decide which ones you want to have appointments.
  • Have a clean copy of the first chapter of your manuscript or article.
  • Prepare a memorized pitch—a short description of your story idea that can be said in 90 seconds or less. Be brief but concise. Memorize it until it flows smoothly from your tongue.
  • Have written proposal. There are usual guidelines on the individual websites as well as many books available on the subject.
  • Clips—samples of other published work- if you have it. Magazine editors are interested in these.
  • Bring a business card. Minimum content your name and email address. Better with a headshot and website, blog and other links.  These you will exchange with other writes and give to those you pitch too.

Doing these things ahead of time prepares you for whatever the appoint time morphs into. Some pubs want a pitch others want to see a sample of your writing.

Things not to do at a conference


  • Don’t waste the individuals time pitching something their company does not publish. This screams amateur. If the conference offers a panel of editors—attend that session. You will get the latest updates on their needs which could change you initial list of who to have appointments with.
  • Be open to criticism. One meeting may bring you rave reviews another may leave you feeling like the worse writer on the planet.
  • Don’t be late or an appointment and don’t go over you allotted time.
  • Keep your criticisms to yourself. If you are having a bad day don’t rain on others great ones. Your next appointment or workshop maybe the very thing you need to turn your attitude around.

An idea for newbies

I heard a great idea at the last conference I attended. One young lady set appointments with agents and publishers to ask questions. She had nothing to pitch but wanted to know more about how these professions worked. It gave her a feel for how to approach them in the future when she had something to pitch. She made contacts who would not be strangers when she pitched her stuff later making her less nervous.

Do what is required after the conference

Be prepared to return home and work. Work on proposals that were requested. Work on articles, not to mention perfecting those three chapters. Or work on rewriting, reworking and resubmitting based on the things you learned and the input you were given.

I’d love to hear your tips on maximizing your conference experience.

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