Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DO IT NOW - Post Conference To Do List.

Sandra here and nice and relaxed because I didn’t go to the conference.

So how are you conference attendees doing?

Has your brain turned to mush? Do you feel like bells are ringing in your head? You can’t stop yawning and you’d give a small fortune for a nap? Yep, you were operating in overload.

And maybe some of you who stayed home feel the same way.  LOL  I mean life can be just as much of an overload as a conference.

So let’s talk how we can organize so we don’t lose all of that information. Conference attendees, you have a huge canvas bag full of information. Those of us at home, I bet you have a pile of the same types of things somewhere on your desk or shoved in a drawer in your office.

Well now what do you do with all of that information? How do you organize it so you can remember what you gleaned, learned, who you met, etc.  And for non-conference attendees, you can use these same skills for that pile in your office.
(Admit it. You have one. I know you do. Smile)

Business Cards:

I hope you collected business cards. Right now. First thing to do is go through those now and write on the back as much information as you can remember about that person.
If you don’t write down this information you will wonder who these people are when you come across the cards next month or next year. It may already be too late. Most important are the networking contacts. If an editor gave you his/her card and wants you to submit a manuscript, then be sure you write down as much info about that person as you can remember. It will come in handy if you start working with that person.

As you do this, make piles to organize:
Piles such as:
Authors that write in your Genre
Authors you met
Professional services ( you may want to divide this further with line edits, graphic arts, formatting, publicity, etc.)

I bought a box that fits business cards like a mini file drawer and have tabs with those titles. Then when I need to find an editor I met, I go right to that tab. I have boxes for each year so I can find them by year. Sometimes I file them by event, i.e. RWA 2015 conference or ACFW 2014 conference.

 I have a friend who puts her cards in a 3 hole plastic business card holder that displays them like photos. She puts them in a binder with tab pages that divide the categories listed above. This is very easy to use and see.

If you’re tech savvy you can use one of those cool machines that file your business cards and receipts electronically. You can find those at Staples, Office Max or Office Depot or online.

If you did not attend the conference, I bet you do have a collection of business cards you have collected at author signings, workshops, or visits to a publishing house. Feel free to mention in comments other ways you’ve collected them.

If you don’t have many business cards yet, be prepared and one step ahead of the game. Get yourself set up with a system because these are some of the best networking contacts you will make. You don’t want them ending up in a corner of a drawer or in a shoebox under the bed, forgotten and unused.

Expenses and Receipts

Your conference expenses are tax deductible. Please don’t wait until next April to grab all your receipts and then try and remember what they are for. This definitely applies to all writers whether at a conference or not.  Anytime you incur an expense that can be deducted for your writing career, keep good records.


File those receipts in an organized fashion.  Whether you use a spreadsheet, an account page, a three ring binder.  Just do it. Write down expenses for everything and organize them by the categories on your tax return. Such as:

Conference Fee
Clothing bought for the conference
Books purchased

Workshop Notes

Organize those right away before you forget what you heard. File your notes and put the workshops in order of preference.

bigstock photo


Which workshops helped you with craft skills?

Which workshops gave you insights into editors and publishers? Or Agents?

Which workshops introduced you to fellow writers?

Nowadays, most conferences offer CD’s of the workshops. Even if you don’t attend the conference, you can obtain a conference CD and listen to the workshops. I highly recommend this. Some local RWA chapters buy the CD for their chapter library and members who were not able to attend can check out the CD. Some authors get together with writer friends and split the cost of a CD.

I always bought the CD’s even when I went to the conference. Then I could sit back in the quiet of my office, when my brain isn’t in overload and really get something out of those workshops. During the conference, I was too busy networking and meeting with writer friends that we normally only talked to online. Those CD’s were lifesavers.


Yep, even organize these. If you’re like me, you mailed home boxes of books. Now the trick is to sort them. Put them in order of preference. Place those you aren’t really interested in a box to take to your next RWA meeting. They will make great raffle prizes.

First order of preference:

Stack the books by the publishing house you are targeting in the first pile. Surely you obtained books from that publisher. If you didn’t go to the conference, you should have a pile of books you’ve purchased that are published by the publisher you are targeting. These should be on the top of the TBR pile.


Anyone want to tell us why???  You get your name in the book bag twice if you tell us a good reason we do this.

Bookmarks and other Swag:

I’m always amazed at how many bookmarks there are. I look all of them over and place them in piles as samples of artwork, layout, what worked for me, what didn’t work.

And of course use the bookmarks of your favorite authors to mark your place in their books.  Smiling.

Go through the swag that you liked.  What swag seemed popular?

Categorize the swag in order of preference for future reference when you want to produce some swag of our own.


Write thank you notes or letters:

This is becoming a lost art, but think of all the work that has been going on to provide this wonderful conference.

Editors and agents have donated their time to meet you and listen to your pitch. Please write a thank you note to every editor and agent with whom you had an appointment . This courtesy will not only be greatly appreciated, but will help them remember who you are among the multitude of people they have just met.

Write a thank you letter to the chairperson and the staff of whatever organization put on the conference. The work they do behind the scenes is awesome. Let them know you appreciate it.

Last but not least, please take a nap. 

You need to kick back for a day or two and let your body, mind and spirit stabilize.

Meditate and let all you learned sink in.

Bet I don’t have to tell you to do this one now.  LOL

Please share with us other helpful things to do after the conference. I get some of my best ideas from your comments, so please share.

Those who comment will be put in the drawing for an ebook copy of  COFFEE SHOP ROMANCES 


our Christmas In July Special  HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.  If you already have copies, the winner can send us the kindle addie of a friend and they will get the prize.

I’ve been helping my cousin in San Diego and she has tomato plants and her own avacado trees. Look at this yummy snack I’m laying out for you.  I call it my special BLTA  (Bacon, lettuce, tomato and avacado)  The fixings are on a platter so add what you want and DO IT NOW.


  1. Hi Sandra:

    1. Write a list ASAP of all the things you wish you had brought to the conference. If you forgot them this time, you may well forget them the next time. Email this list to yourself so that when you can't find it the next time you need it, just search your email for it.

    2. Within 24 to 48 hours make a list of the most important things you learned at this conference. The wait is a good filter. The really memorable things should still come to mind while the lesser things will be out the door of your memory.

    3. Make a list of everyone you want to send a thank-you note to and try to add a comment that proves you spoke and that you listened to what you were told. Remembering something someone you just met told you is a good way to impress on that person that you felt they were important. This includes kid or pet names. The best thank-you messages are those that are not expected.

    This applies to real estate conventions but I think you could use it for writer's conferences as well.


  2. I forgot last year's lanyard and pins this year, as well as a portable phone charger--definitely added those to my list for next year. Emailing it is a great idea because I found myself wishing I'd kept last year's packing list.

  3. I wasn't at RWA, but I can definitely take your ideas and organize my home office. Not to mention prepare for ACFW. Thanks!

  4. Sandra, can you come north and organize me? Please?????

    I love your format, I sat right up and took notice with the DO IT NOW!!! LOL!

    You make a good/great boss!

    Organization is a huge thing, isn't it? I'm a semi-organized person which means in my insensitive way, I try to make things easier for the people around me... but at the expense of rigidity.

    This is excellent advice.


    You forgot the cookies!!!! Luckily I brought some! :)

    Okay, forget cookies, we'll eat that... stuff. BLT and avo-whatever. (kidding, it looks marvelous! Except for the avo-whatever. The rest is awesome!)

  5. Terri, that's what I should do!

    I'm adding it to the list of should-dos!

    Which is why Sandra said "Do It Now!!!"

    She knows me well.

  6. Brooke, I forgot my pins and lanyard from last year too. Annoyed at myself!

  7. I am determined to drop an email to every nice person I met and collected a card from. That's a lot of nice people, BTW.

  8. This is great advice, Sandra. I especially like your advice to write a handwritten note. Recently, I won a book on another blog. The author not only sent the book, wrapped in a bow, but she enclosed a beautiful card with a handwritten note. Those little extras leave a lasting impression. I haven't attended a conference at this point, so I'll hold onto your post for future reference.

  9. What a great list! I didn't go to RWA, but I'll refer back to this list after ACFW.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks VINCE for the great additions to that list. Yes, good idea to write what you forgot. I've done that by putting the list in my suitcase. Usually what I forgot I will need for any trip.

    Thanks for adding to the thank you note suggestion. When I met an editor, I always asked them questions about their trip, like "were they enjoying NYC and what will you go see?" etc. Then in the thank you note I can ask, I hope you enjoyed the ____.

    Good suggestion. Thanks Vince.

  11. Oh BROOK, the phone charger is a great addition to the list. Yes, I think VINCE's suggestion to email it is great. I have a file in my emails with the title Conference.

    You want to be sure you make it easy to find that email.

  12. Hi TERRI, Yes, I was thinking those ideas would help me also even though I didn't go to the conference. I have a tendancy to kind of stuff those business cards in a pile and then can't find them later.

    And yes, these ideas will work for ACFW also.

  13. I feel more organized just reading your post, Sandra. I like shuffling things into order.:-) But I've found lately my 'piles' to organize seem to be getting larger.

    Going to conference is always so much fun—but staying home is pretty neat too! It's kinda like which is best—the coffee or the smell of coffee.

  14. I don't go to conference but my organizational tip is this. I keep the books in my home library in alphabetical order, just like a library and the series in order as well. I have all the books separated as well by ones I've bought and the ones from the library. I can very easily find what I want this way.

    Deanne Patterson

  15. Hey RUTHY, I learned my bossy ways from YOU. LOL At least the DO IT NOW part. You have always encouraged me to get out there and DO IT. Yay.

    And girlfriend, if you haven't eaten an avacado you just haven't lived. yet. They are to die for. They cost a fortune as well so getting them off my cousins tree is a real treat.

    And I'm sure there are many here who would also like the cookies so please, bring them back. We can eat the BLTA and then enjoy a cookie. Are they snickerdoodles? Those are my favorite.

  16. HI TINA, I know your mind is reeling just to think of all the nice people you have met. I always felt that way after a conference.

    But oh, it is so worth it. Thanks to you we have photos to help us remember some of the people.

    Those were great. Thanks again.

  17. Hi JILL, Thank you and thanks for sharing about your gift and note. These suggestions apply even if you haven't been to a conference.

    What a treat and something I'll remember for the future when I send a book.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  18. Hi JACKIE, yes and ACFW is right around the corner. The way time flies, you'll be packing up soon.

    Happy writing.

  19. HI MARY H. What a great analogy. Hmmmmm the coffee or the smell of coffee.

    And with TINA's photos it was like having a good strong whiff. smile

    Yes, I needed the organization reminders as well. Great feeling when you put things in order. Of course they don't stay that way for long. LOL

  20. Hi DEANNE, What a great tip. And wow, you are organized. Like RUTHY said earlier, do you want to come to my house?

    So do you have some way of remembering which author you want to read first or need to read right away?

    I love the way a book calls out to me. Read me. Read me.

  21. Hi Sandra:

    What I love about the ACFW awards night is that I know and have read so many of the finalists! I always have a favorite to root for and sometimes two favorites! This would also make the classes more fun as well. Dallas is so close. I'd love to go. Do we know which Seekers and Seeker friends are going this year?

  22. Thank you Sandra. Yes, let's do it now. Otherwise we won't be able to recoup what we've invested in the conference, either financially or professionally. I do love swag, but I think it's important to filter it out and decide what's worth keeping.
    The conference notes and the business cards are CRUCIAL, especially if someone WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU.
    I do handwritten thank you notes for people who've reached out to me at conferences. I do them for the people I have 15-minute appointments with and anyone who's helped me. I often send a tiny bottle of maple syrup or something else New England-y.
    Thanks, Sandra. DO IT NOW. Good advice for whenever one comes back from any kind of trip. You won't be sorry.
    Organizing in NH

  23. Hi Sandra,

    Great tips. I'd like to add another important item. If an editor or agent showed interest in your pitch, work on it and submit it.

    I met someone who was deliberately steering clear of an editor because she failed to submit a proposal the editor asked for last year. Now, did the editor remember her? I don't know, but if you are a serious writer, don't put yourself in that position!

  24. Hello Sandra! Thanks for the great tips. I have to remember to JUST DO IT! It pays off in the long run.

  25. Hi Ruth:

    You wrote,

    "I'm adding it to the list of should-dos!"

    Better yet, add things to your 'have done it' list.

    Adding things to 'should do it lists' makes you think you've done something already and takes the edge off your conscience.

    Do it! Then list it!

    Also, it's high time for some genuine Maple Fudge!

    Like ebooks, the Maple Fudge recipe is forever!

  26. Rose... Such good advice. Get that pitch, or proposal done and sent.

    But honestly, I've heard from several editors that they want it even if life got in the way and messed things up... because they understand that timing can be skewed!

    If I listed the number of things.... EMBARRASSING THINGS!!!!.... I did as a newbie, oh my stars, you'd shake your head and just frown.

    We all do it.

    But we don't let it stop us!!!!


  27. Sandra, thanks for this post! Great tips all! I'm feeling overwhelmed with a toppling To Do list, but also so grateful to be home! Due to mechanical problems our flight home was delayed for hours and hours, then when another plane finally arrived and we boarded, a balloon was sucked into the engine. Mechanics came out. Decided we needed to return to the gate. The crew timed out. A new plane. A new crew and we left for Chicago. But of course we missed the last connecting flight home. We were put up in a motel with no luggage and less than four hours sleep, but again grateful that we got two seats for the AM flight that was supposed to be full. I'm making a note to not pack my phone charger.


  28. Can't wait for the BLT with avocado! Thanks Sandra!


  29. Vince, I was being tongue in cheek.... because I won't do it. :)

    Now someday I might, but will I ever prioritize it? NO!!! There are so many stories to write, my friend! Free time = writing time!!!!

    Now maybe when time loosens up and I'm working fewer hours, then I can see it. But in the meantime, gosh, golly, gee whillikers..... I'd rather write.

    (Vince, no one... no one on this earth.... pays me to clean and sort. 'Sall I'm sayin', my friend!)

    Here, I brought Snickerdoodles!!!!!

  30. I had a wonderful conference with a day to tour, all the great LI/HQ events and some good workshops and connections! But especially loved Seeker and Villager time!


  31. SANDRA! These are FABULOUS ideas! And so vital to DO IT NOW while everything is still fresh in your mind. I find it especially helpful to type up handwritten notes from workshops and flesh them out ASAP as sometimes--on down the road--I can't read my own scribbled handwriting and have NO idea what those cryptic abbreviations are!

    I love your idea of writing details about your encounter with the person on the business card.

    ALL -- if you take Sandra's advice NOW, you won't regret it!

  32. Vince, I agree about the ACFW awards and the Christy, I like knowing the authors/works involved. I don't read most of the RWA genres, so the names don't mean a lot to me personally, although I know the award is marvelous!

    But I don't feel the same investment.

    Awards in our industry are a female-dominated thing. John Grisham has no such awards... He has money and readers and a huge career, libraries named after him and a librarian award, but authors outside of romance are mostly unfettered by the things the romance industry does. And remember, ACFW began as ACRW, fiction replaced the word "romance" about 11 years ago, give or take, so it modeled itself after groups like RWA.

    So while the romance genre layers itself with awards, other genres don't.

    An interesting contrast.

  33. Okay VINCE, I'm not sure who all is going to ACFW, but I can assure you there will be plenty of SEEKERS and Seeker friends.

    If you haven't been to one of these, you really should experience the awesome energy. You probably have as you've mentioned other types of conferences you attended. But meeting the Seeker friends is on of the the main events for me.

    Maple Fudge. hmmmmm we need to talk to RUTHY or KAYBEE said she's from up north. Let's ask them.

  34. HI KAYBEE, Thanks for the helpful tips. And what a lovely thing to do by adding the maple syrup. A touch of home. And I know they will appreciate it.

    I've done that too by adding something from the Grand Canyon or Arizona color country. Its fun to do.

    Hey do you have any maple fudge or the recipe? VINCE is asking and I really don't have that. You said you're from maple country so maybe you know of a good place to get some.

  35. Hi ROSE, That is so important and absolutely amazing that a person who went to the expense of a conference and then met an editor and then didn't follow through and send the manuscript. It happens. I've heard editors say so.

    So please follow ROSE"S advice if you had a request. SEND IT. DO IT NOW.

    Thanks Rose.

  36. I keep a travel checklist in a Word.doc table that I always refer to before I head off on a trip. I've done this for years and years and it's saved me from so many packing mishaps. In fact, I have one for leisure trips, business trips and writer's conferences. I tweak it as needed each time I travel and print it out to refer to it AS I pack. Then RIGHT BEFORE I lock up the suitcase I go over it one more time because I'm notorious about PUTTING THINGS AWAY (like blow dryer or makeup or comb) the morning I'm rushing around to leave. If I find there was something I needed on a trip and didn't have with me, as soon as I get home I update my packing list. That thing has been a lifesaver more times than I can count!

  37. Hi CARYL, Yes, it does pay off. Difficult when you're so tired, but especially important to do it now before you forget.

  38. Great tip VINCE. The I have DONE list.

    Oh sigh. Wish that list was longer.

    Better get to it.

  39. RUTHY I'm so laughing. Isn't it true? We are always still learning. And we can't let our mistakes hold us back. I mean we are human after all. And so are editors and agents. They understand. Truly they do and if there has been a mistake, the truly appreciate the explanation. Makes life so much easier.

  40. Oh JANET, I'm so sorry about the flight problems. What a bummer. But at least they put you up in a hotel.

    I'm so glad you are home now. TAKE A NAP. Then the to do list won't be so overwhelming. LOL


  41. YAY SNICKERDOODLES!!!. I'm happy dancing. I'm going to grab another cup of coffee to go with them.

    Oh yes, folks I have plenty of my favorite Chocolate Velvet coffee on hand.

    Thank you, thank you Ruthy.

  42. Okay -- wait -- the reason Sandra says do it know is...oh...rats...I forget. Hmmm...that might be a clue. :-)

    I wish I was organized...well I am in my reading. My bookshelves are organized by genre and alphabetical by author and like Deanne, I have to have my series lined up right as well. Then I have a TBR pile that's organized by review dates (if any are scheduled)and my library books are organized in date due order. Can you tell I work in a library?

    But the rest of my life -- not so much. And I need to get better -- especially with disability insurance forms and medical stuff. It's all in different random piles in different random rooms. You might just have inspired me. Maybe. If I remember to do it later. Bwahahaha

  43. Thanks GLYNNA. What great advice to type out and flesh out those handwritten notes. I am chuckling because that has happened to me. I'm wondering "What in the world does this mean?"

    Great advice. Thanks

  44. GLYNNA you are so organized. That is why you get so much done so you can write and WIN AWARDS. Yay, I am so excited about the two awards you won at RWA.

    But I like the idea of the different lists and keeping it in a word file. Thanks for the tip. Its super great advice.

  45. KAV you are tooooooo funny. Now you just proved you CAN be organized and you can do it. So no excuses. LOL

    Although there is something to be said that when you've done something all day at work, it is nice to come home and NOT do it at home. sigh


  46. Sandra, are you putting us on a healthy diet of BLTA after the copious amounts of Oreos we consumed yesterday? lol

    And, your DO IT NOW post is SO timely. I met a sweet young lady at ICRS last month and promised to mail her a book. Your post triggered my memory to go find her address so I could get her books in the mail today! So, thank you!

  47. Hi PAM, Yes, the BLTA is not only healthy but yummy.

    I thank you. Now GO DO IT. LOL

    I missed yesterday. An Oreo sounds good. I'm running over to check it out. Hugs

  48. Hi Sandra
    You certainly channeled your inner Ruthy with the DO IT NOW! advice. All of which will be handy for me once I actually go to a conference. Well, perhaps I can apply it to my regular life stuff too. I am woefully disorganized. I tend to have piles of stuff here and there around the house. Odd thing, I do know what each pile holds and can find what I need, except when I go on a cleaning binge and move the pile. *sigh*

    Really love the BLTA picture, but I must admit I do not care for avocados. I think it is a texture thing, certain food textures give me the heebie-jeebies and avocados is one of them. *sigh* But your picture is very taste worthy. I'll settle for the chocolate velvet coffee, mmmmmmmmmm...

  49. Hi PAM, I missed the party, yesterday. So sorry. But I am soooooo excited about the print debut of STEALING JAKE. I love, love, love that book and what a thrill to have it in print. Now I can give it away in books.

    All my friends and family know that from me, they will get a book for whatever occasion I need to give them a gift for.

    Hey, I'm into supporting the business i'm in. Also into supporting my friends by getting their books out there. Because once a book is read, it usually gets passed along.

    So yay, another book I can give as a gift. My friends and family will love this one too.

  50. Hi DEB H, I used to be that way. I knew exactly where everything was--what pile it was in--what corner of my desk, etc.

    But age and life have really played havoc with that gift. sigh. These days I'm lucky to remember what I'm supposed to do for the day. And trust me I have lists for that too. LOL

    Don't despair about the avacado. RUTHY brought cookies. I think they are snickerdoodles. YUM

    And I'm sure there are some Oreos left over from yesterday.

  51. RUTHY did you hear DEB say I had some inner Ruthy??? Yay!!!!! I am happy dancing.

    That is a giant compliment DEB. Thank you. Thank you.

  52. Thanks Sandra! I had eight hours last night and I'm raring to go today!


  53. Oh Yay, JANET. Nothing like a great sleep to get you back on track.

    I slept good too which felt wonderful after all my travels lately.

  54. Sandra, your organizational ideas/tips are amazing! I need to hire someone to help me and then come back in a month or two and re-do all my piles again!! LOL

    Writing thank you notes, even if it's an email, is a terrific idea! Everyone appreciates a thanks now & then.

    My phone charger is always in my purse. Learned the hard way when it went dead at a crucial moment...I keep the charger in one of those cute little free make-up bags so it doesn't tangle up all my other stuff.

    Avocados are delish...you are so lucky to have a cousin with avocado trees!!

    Off to write now...with my Huckleberry Tea!!

  55. Welcome back from RWA, everyone who attended! Personally, I got TONS of writing done--a badly needed boost toward a looming deadline.

    Wonderful advice all around, Sandra! Oh my goodness, after 25+ years of attending conferences, I have a whole file drawer full of almost nothing but programs, workshop notes, and handouts!

    I always think I will go back and reread the notes I took--and sometimes I actually do! The hard part can be when I remember something about a specific workshop that I really want to review but then I can't remember exactly which year or which conference or how to lay my hands on it.

    I used to regularly buy conference recordings, especially when I was just starting out in this business. For several years I drove 45 minutes each way, 2-3 times a week, to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. I could plug a CD into my car stereo and listen to a great review or motivational talk. Some of them, I listened to so often that I almost had them memorized!

  56. Hi KATHRYN, Thanks for the great tip on the phone charger. Verizon sells a portable phone charger which is easy to carry. I use that a lot while traveling because sometimes there is no electrical outlet. Then I charge the charger while at the hotel. I picked out a bright flourescent pink one so I can find it. LOL

    yum. Huckleberry Tea sounds fun. I was in Washington the other day and saw huckleberries for sale. Made me think of pie though, not tea. LOL

  57. Speaking of avocados, the latest Prevention Magazine has a whole section on avocado recipes! Can't wait to try a couple that looked particularly yummy!

  58. Hi MYRA, I'm laughing at your drawer. I had boxes of old conference notes that I finally cleaned out last month with the de-clutter advice PAM gave us. chuckle.

    Great tip though of listening to the CD workshops while doing chores or driving. I do that often, especially when I do so much driving in the summer. It is a great way to get two jobs done at the same time.

    Thanks for the great tip.

  59. And MYRA Congrats on getting all that writing done. Me too. wooo hooooo

    So some consolation at least from not going to the conference this year.

  60. Lunch looks great! Add me to the drawing please. Do it now! ;-) Stephanie

  61. Oh STEPHANIE, You are toooo funny. Of course I will get on it and DO IT NOW.

  62. Good morning, Sandra! Oo oo, I know the answer to why we read the books from the publishing house we're targeting! So that we know what they're publishing, and then that knowledge can guide our writing.

    Love this post, and although I didn't go to RWA, I do have piles still from past years of ACFW. Should I confess that last year's one-sheets, etc. are still in the ACFW bag? :-) I just got a scanner, and I think I'm going to organize my notes and then scan everything in. Going paperless!

  63. Got the nap part done.

    Not much else.

    Honestly, I am in awe of organized people. I'm trying, but being organized really goes against every natural instinct I have. *sigh* Maybe I need another nap.

    Thanks for the lovely post, Sandra. I missed seeing you this year at RWA.

  64. 1. Write a list ASAP of all the things you wish you had brought to the conference. If you forgot them this time, you may well forget them the next time. Email this list to yourself so that when you can't find it the next time you need it, just search your email for it.

    Great idea, Vince. Except my list is in a spreadsheet. :) For every trip, I open my spreadsheet and copy/paste to a new worksheet. I name it "ACFW 2015 - Dallas" and then update what I want I need to take. Once my clothes are washed and dried, I can pack for a 10 day trip in about 30-40 minutes if I have to.

  65. Oh, Deanne, I need YOU to come organize my books! And we started a library at church. Started is the operative word. We have shelves and boxes of books. Some have migrated from the boxes to the shelves, but it's a slow process. And nothing is in order. :(

    I thought about inviting the teenage girls to a shelving party and order pizza for them. Anything to get those books shelved properly!

  66. Hi Sandra:

    There's a great recipe for "Allegany Maple Fudge" at the back of Ruth's "Small-Town Hearts" -- but you have to have the book! I actually made the fudge and the whole family said it was the best they ever had. However, since I had none of the ingredients, I spent $30 making that fudge! It should have been good! (Of course, there were a lot of ingredients left over so the cost could probably be amortized downwards. : )

  67. Oh my goodness! This is totally a cut-and-paste post for me! Your organization tips are amazing, Sandra! So, what I should have done after ACFW last year was organize my notes. I need to set up a place where I can store things I get from ACFW. And, the biggest tip I have from a huge mistake I made is to store CD's or zip drives from the conference in a specific, logical place. I misplaced my 2014 ACFW zip drive and I have so regretted that. I can't find it anywhere. So, from now on, those babies will have a specific place to live. And if I loan them, I'm writing who borrowed it and when. Just so I know where they are.

    I am thinking we should be reading books from our target publishers so we can know the flavor of what they publish—topics, themes, the kinds of voices they like, etc.

    GREAT post!! I'm going to be using this to prepare for this year's ACFW.

  68. Hi MEGHAN, You're the first to come up with that answer. It is such an important thing to do. If you are targeting a publishing house or particular line, then you definitely need to read their books. Thanks for answering.

    SCANNER, I couldn't for the life of me remember what that was called. So logical. So thanks again. Yes, those look amazing.

  69. Yes MARY, please go take another nap. You need them after a conference. smile

    Then go DO IT. However, you are so talented in so many ways, I'm sure it makes up for the disorganization. Remember that disorganization is a sign of a creative person. I stand on that claim. smile

  70. PAMMERS why am I not surprised that you have a spreadsheet? In my eyes, you are the spreadsheet Queen. yay

    And it makes so much sense. It does make packing next time so much easier.

  71. Hey a pizza party and shelving project sounds like a great time for the teens. I love that idea and I'm sure they will have lots of fun doing it.

    If you don't mind waiting it would be a great storm day project.

  72. VINCE it sounds to me like its time to make another batch of that fudge. Thanks for the reminder of where that recipe is. smile

    And hey, once that batch is done, will you give us a call? hint hint

  73. JEANNE T you answered the question also. Yay.

    Yes, we need to read, read, read.

    And thanks for the reminder of finding a place for those zip drives. They are so handy, but because they are small, they can easily be misplaced.

    Be sure you label that zip drive also. I have a pile of zip drives that I didn't label and it is a pain to find stuff in them. I need to go follow my own advice. LOL

  74. Thanks JEWELL, Happy reading and writing.

  75. Oh. my. gosh. Sandra, I thought I was organized, but you beat me hands down!!!!! Can you come to my house and sort through all my piles? I don't think I can suggest anything that would be helpful to you.

    It's lunchtime, so I'm drooling over your pic of the BLTA. I LOVE avocados ("s" or "es"?) and will put them on almost everything except a PBJ. The only thing missing is some whole grain bread and a little mayo.

    Have a happy day organizing!

  76. Lots of great tips, SANDRA. It's so easy to return home and get swamped in laundry and papers. And it's hard to carry through on thank yous when the fire is burning to get busy writing that proposal! Dedicating time to do the extras after conference is part of attending. Thanks for the reminders.

  77. Hi BARBARA, Sure I'll come to your house after I do mine. So don't hold your breath. This is a case of do as I say not as I do. chuckle

    Hey, add that bread and mayo. This will make a delicious sandwich.

    Hmmm, maybe we need to try the avacado on the pbj. Might be tasty.

  78. HI LYNDEE, Don't remind me of that pile of laundry. sigh. When we come back and have that nap, we tend to just jump into the routine and then all those conference ideas are buried. That is why I wrote this post. I can't tell you how many times I've misplaced those important business cards. ANd when I was de-cluttering my office I found some important conference info. That's how I came up with the idea of this post.

    Like I said earlier, do as I say, not as I do.

  79. Vince, I'm laughing out loud!!! I can totally see you going out and buying real maple syrup ($$$$$$) and the other things, so yes, it can be pricey if you don't have it all in your cupboard.

    I will never forget you bringing that fudge to Tina's book signing in Tulsa!!!! Thank you so much, that was like the nicest thing ever, ever, ever!!!!

  80. Barbara, do you have piles of stuff, too????


  81. RUTHY, you got fudge in Tulsa? From VInce? Now I am really jealous. smile

  82. It has been awfully quiet this afternoon. I think everyone is taking my advice and napping. smile

  83. These all sound like great ideas, Sandra. As for your question on why we should read books from our targeted publisher, it is to be familiar with what they publish so we can write a book that fits their style of book.

    Please enter me for the Coffee Shop Romance collection. I already have the holiday collection.

  84. I'm sure the authors benefitted from your wisdom, Sandra! My dream someday is to go to one of these conferences! I'm a reader and I would love to attend one of these and meet so many of the writers that I love to read! Thanks for your post!

  85. Great tips, Sandra - - thank you!!
    Even though I'm not able to attend any conferences this year (sniff sniff) I am saving your post for future conferences. And I'll admit I still need to organize some items from ACFW last year (*blushing*). Have I mentioned I'm not the most organized person in the world? LOL So your post is very helpful!

    I hope you're having a delightful summer!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  86. Super tips, Sandra -- especially the one about writing what you can remember about the person on the back of their business card. Lots of good tips in these comments, too :-)


    Nancy C

  87. Sandra, yes. VINCE MADE IT from my recipe in Small Town Hearts, "Meg's Allegany Fudge".


    And it's so good, oh mylanta, I could eat a whole pan now!!!!

    I was working this afternoon, and now I'm editing the first 125 pages of a book, and it's so calm and peaceful here! Hallelujah!

  88. Valri, you would love it. Or the RT convention or BEA or maybe others??? I'm not as up on things as I should be.

    It's so fun gathering together, readers/authors/editors. You get a good feel for the "buzz".

  89. WOW, SANDRA, this is a GOLDMINE, girlfriend!!!

    I had NO idea about those cool machines that file your business cards and receipts electronically, so I wish I had when I'd started going to conferences because my stuff is a MESS!!

    Oh, yes, I always make up a conference binder before I go that includes my schedule, my wardrobe choices each day, appts., contact list, etc., but I always just had a flap envelope at the back to insert receipts and business cards, which was not very efficient. In fact, my "Contact" file in my file cabinet is pretty darn bad, comprised of envelopes with people's addresses, letters from reader friends, some business cards, etc. Pretty much a hodge-podge of all correspondence I have received or collected.

    I sure could have used this blog back then, my friend. Sigh.


  90. Hi SANDY, Thanks for answering that important question. You would be surprised how many writers don't follow that precept.

    I'm glad you've already read Hope For The Holidays. Did you enjoy it? I"m sure you'll enjoy the Coffee Shop Romances as well. My Seeker girlfriends are such good writers. smile

  91. Hi VALRI, There are many attendees who are readers. They come to meet their favorite authors. RWA puts on many venues for the readers which is really fun. You can attend some of the venues, like the literacy signing as a visitor. You don't even need to be a conference attendee to do that. You can meet many of your favorite authors at this event. So if there is ever a conference near you, please go. You can find out what is open to the public by going to the website of the organization that is putting on the conference.

    Hope this helps.

  92. Hi PATTI JO, You probably noticed that I said several times that these hints apply to all of us. And yes, I certainly empathize with your pile from last years ACFW. I found all kinds of things from past conferences that I wish I had filed in a better way.

    Hope your summer is delightful as well.

  93. Hi NANCY, Yes, I learn as much from comments as I do from a post. Everyone has helpful experiences and when they share, it helps all of us. That is what I love about Seekerville. smile

    Happy writing.

  94. WOW RUTHY, I'm so proud of you getting all that work done when you could have crept into the kitchen and made that fudge. Oh my. Such will power.

    Great going.

    Happy writing.

  95. Hi JULIE, Its never too late. You might want to take an afternoon a week or file while watching a TV show. That's what I do. Then you will have that pile organized in no time at all. Well, maybe in time for the next conference. chuckle.

    You always seem connected so maybe you don't need all that organization. We are all made different. Thank the Lord. Otherrwise it would be rather boring.


  96. I'm off for a quick swim and soak in the hot tub. Will be back soon. Behave yourselves now while I'm gone.

    Like that will happen. LOL

  97. Sandra, these ideas are great....because if I don't do it now.....I will have forgotten and have a big mess in my study.

    I did a blog post after each of the two conferences I attended, both to share the information and to remember the highlights.

    Your reminder of the thank you notes is so important. I do tend to do email thank you notes, so I hope that is acceptable.

  98. Thanks, Sandra and Ruthy! I really hope to go to something sometime! I live near Portland, Oregon and would love a conference to come to that city sometime! Even Seattle would be great!!!! Crossing my fingers!!!!! I have another question!! What do you think is the best conference for a reader to go to???? I am curious which one I should focus my energy on.....but then I really think it depends on place for me! Whatever is closer!!!! Still, I would love to hear your comments!

  99. Let's ask Tina.

    She knows everything.

    Tina, West Coast reader.... Well, you could run down to the San Diego RWA next year for the book signings.... that would be fun!

    Valri, I'm a Yankee through and through, and besides my wonderful visit to Seattle and Central Washington (Maple Bars from the Cle Elum Cafe and Bakery!!!) I know nothing about the West Coast.

    I could pretend to know stuff!!! ( I do that often!) but the reality is that I'm pretty clueless about your area.

    Who else is in the Portland area? Mary Virginia is in Oregon someplace... But not near the coast.

    Are there any ACFW chapters or RWA chapters by you? There must be....

  100. Hi SHERIDA, Yes, yes, an email thank you is fine. It is after all the electronic age. smile

    And thanks for the great tip. Writing an article, blog post and/or reporting to others the highlights of the conference will definitely plant them firmly in place.


  101. Hi VALRI, there is a wonderful Christian writers conference in your area every year. Let me go look up what it is called. There are some of the biggest Christian publishers in Oregon. Harvest House is in Eugene. So Oregon has a wonderful sconference every year. I'm sure they'll have a venue for readers. Let me go look.

  102. VALRI and RUTHY I found the link. Go to this website and you will find out about Christian Writers and their one day workshops, their summer conference and other info.

    Go here: Oregon Christian Writers

  103. Sandra, I have only read a couple of the Hope for the Holidays stories so far. When I got it the Christmas season was about over so saving the rest for this Christmas. I have so many new Christmas books that I plan to start my Christmas reading the beginning of October. That's only a couple months away now! I look forward to finishing it. I really enjoyed the ones I did read.

  104. VALRI if you read mainstream also, you can go to your local library and ask if they know of any writer groups. Also you can go on the RWA website and find the Oregon chapter in Portland. Just be aware they write all genres including Christian but other genres as well. Really lovely authors all of them. smile

    Go here: Rose City Romance Writers

  105. Sandra posted a great one, but I also remembered that there is an RWA conference in Seattle every year it that helps you. Emerald City RWA - http://gsrwa.org/ecwc/conference/

  106. Hi SANDY, Have you heard of Christmas in July? Hallmark brings out their Christmas movies in July. I love it. I read Christmas stories all the time because they make me feel good.


  107. Thanks MARY, Seattle is not that far from Portland. Yes, VALRI you will find some great authors in Washington also.

    Thanks MARY.

    Here is the link live: Emerald City RWA

  108. Sandra,
    We missed you at RWA! Another great conference. Thanks for your "Do it Now!" tips. So perfect for this week.

    It was wonderful seeing so many Seekers and Villagers in NYC! Seekerville was mentioned a number of times by people who stopped by my table at the signing...folks we don't normally see on the blog. Lots of praise and "keep up the good work" comments, as well!

    Sorry I'm late tonight. Must read through the comments. Can't wait to see what everyone has to say.

  109. Sandra, Thank you for the awesome post-conference tips. My two priority mail flat rate boxes already came so my conference books are at my house.

    A huge thank you to all the Seekers and Villagers who provided familiar faces in the sea of faces. This Villager always feels at home talking all of you and so appreciates all of you taking the time to talk to me and include me in your pictures.

    Great tips about the cards and the notes. Although I couldn't do some of these excellent ideas today, I did get good news at my daughter's doctor's appointment so the afternoon started on a great note.

    Thanks, Sandra. By the way, I came back with so many books and I already have Coffee Shop on my Kindle so please let someone else win today's prize.

  110. Hi DEBBY, so glad you had a good time. I really missed being there with all of you. You are always such a positive encourager and fun to be around.

    Happy writing.

  111. Thanks so much Sandra for the information on groups in my area! I looked up all the websites you gave me and they were interesting! I will look into them further! I really appreciate your helping me out! I still want to go to a more "national" conf. sometime so I can meet authors that I read all the time but it is fun to know there are things in my area!

  112. Hi TANYA, I'm thrilled that you had such a great time at the conference. And yes, it is wonderful to meet up with friends we have met online. And it helps in that sea of faces to find familiar friends. Oh I'm so thankful you had a great time.

    Two boxes. Smart girl to have them mailed. Saves on back muscles and is so fun to open when you are home. Have fun organizing those books.

    I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am not jealous. smile

  113. Hi VALRI, You might be surprised because authors go to these conferences from all over the country. So you will meet the local offers but at the conference, you will meet many others. When a conference gets close, keep a watch on the website because they often post who is attending. They definitely post the authors that are speaking.

    Best wishes and I am tickled we could help out.

  114. Sandra, Great tips for many areas of life :) I'm organized. Or so I've been told. I don't FEEL organized lol. Just wanted to say I downloaded and have already read Coffee Shop set. Such good reads!! If you haven't ordered this set, DO IT NOW!! We're on baby watch in our family, so prayers would be appreciated. Please and Thank you!

  115. Ah, my library conference was last month and I still haven't followed up/written thank you notes --thank you for the reminder! =) Great suggestions.

  116. Hi PAT W, Prayers on their way. Love your sense of humor. Yes, we will DO IT NOW.

    Thanks for joining us.

  117. HI ARTIST LIBRARIAN, Glad you can use these tips for your conference. They apply to so many areas of our life.

    Happy organizing.

  118. Thanks for joining us today. We really obtained some great ideas in the comments.

    I'll look in tomorrow morning for any late night folk who wish to add their comments.

    Have a great week.

    Happy Organizing.


  119. Put your target publisher's books on the top of your TBR pile because they're good research into exactly what that publisher looks for, prefers to publish, how they publish a work and what your book might end up looking like, etc. you can get a feel for their styles of cover art, layout, preferred author styles; plus you can see who writes for that publisher and possibly contact some of those authors to find out about working with that publisher too!

    Great ideas, Sandra! I especially like the organization tips and the strategy for remembering people via notes on their business cards. And thank-you notes! Sometimes just a little extra courtesy makes a strong impression. And reminds the recipients of you! :)

    I concur with being worn out even if you didn't attend the conference...unfortunately I've been under the weather the last several days and doing even little things seem a monumental drain on my energy :(

    Would love to be added to the drawing if it's not too late!

  120. Oh hey Meghan has the same reasoning as me! :) I do that type of research for jobs, my college classes, etc. I even research my professors!

  121. That BLTA looks delish! I make to do lists but I have trouble getting to ~ do it noW ! !
    Good advise I need to follow :)
    Please toss me into the drawing...

  122. What a helpful post! Great for any conference attendance. I really like the nap suggestion, but that might be because I've worked outside most of the day after getting up with the chickens. :) Thanks again for the helpful list.

  123. Hi SARAH, Great answer to my question. You are so right. We need to know what the publisher is looking for. I like your suggestion to get to know authors who write for that publisher. They can give you a lot of insights. Great tip.

  124. Hi DEANNA. I think we all have that problem. That is why this post is good for non-attendees as well.

  125. Hi CRYSTAL I hope you enjoyed your nap.