Lessons Learned (a conference virgin) – Jenn J McLeod

Jenn McLeod took up my invitation to guest blog as she lost her conference virginity last weekend:

Dayle White, Isolde Martyn and Jenn J McLeod

I, unlike a good heroine, have been a round a bit! (I mean online of course.) Having been involved with the Claytons Conference previously, this year was my first ever RWA face-to-face conference and here are a few things I learned.

#1. Not all writers are introverts – just give them a feather boa, some pyjamas, a steamy topic and a microphone!

#2. A hug is the new handshake: hello, goodbye, congratulations, nice to meet you, OMG is that you! Yes, it was hugs, hugs and more hugs.

#3. Everybody really is as friendly, warm and generous as I was told they’d be.

#4. Making a list of people you want to meet is good advice. I had 36 ‘must meets’ on my list and I met them all – almost – plus many, many more. A list gives you a reason to wander the floor and stare at people’s navels (ahhh, name tags!)

#5. If someone enters an elevator but your name tag is un-readable, they may grab it, squeal your name, then hurl themselves at you and hug hello (Hello Helene — my very first conference hello hug!!! LOL)

#6. It helps to have been around a bit (in a good way!). So I can’t stress enough how effective volunteering can be. Now is the time to get involved in this great organisation. Members can email volunteers@romanceaustralia.com. You don’t have to volunteer for anything in particular, just put up your hand. Other ways to get your name out there is to post on RWA loops, comment on blogs, join the forum or win a contest (or two, or three).

So time to set yourself a goal and start saving your pennies if you want to get to the 2012 RWA Conference on the Gold Coast.

Oh that reminds me.

What I learned #7 is – this conference thing is addictive, so see you next year.

Jenn J McLeod
Come home to the country…
…small towns with big hearts

Leave a comment


  1. LOVE all these lessons! And HOW true they are. Was fabulous to finally meet you at conf Jenn 🙂

  2. Jenn, this is a fab fun post! GREAT lessons! And I heartily agree that having been around a bit (in a good way!) really can add that extra dimension to going to a conference. All those names and going to a conference means a chance to put a face together with them!

    I’m with Rach – it was terrific to finally “meet” you after “seeing” you online!


  3. Well I’ve met her online, and in person. Jenn is one of our members of FourPan, Four Points Author Network. We come from all parts of NSW and when we get together, it’s writing talk, food and wine. Our meetings are inspiring and a whole lot of fun and laughter. Can’t wait till our next one, which is next week. Yah! Our little, well tall to me, loll… Jenn, is no longer a conference virgin. She is a lady with amazing talents.

  4. Thx guys, But I wish damn wordpress would fix our home page and show the rest of the post 😦

  5. Great post Jenn 🙂

  6. Jenn,
    So lovely to have met you in person at last and had a chance to give you a hug!
    looking forward to next year’s hug, too,

  7. LOL, great blog Jenn 🙂 I love your humour. I am so looking forward to meeting you all in person at next year’s conference (or perhaps at Jenn’s B&B for a well-earned break?) and of course, one of those BIG hugs …

  8. Well done on your must meets list Jenn. So glad you had a wonderful and huggy good time. LOL.

  9. Maryde

     /  August 24, 2011

    Ilike the *must meet list* Jenn 🙂 and glad your *first time* was great.
    Sounds like a plan for next year 🙂

  10. I was a conference virgin at RWA too, I often ahd people grabbing my stomich (i mean name tag) and introducing them selves. It was odd and fun to meet the people you have only typed to and never seen, so glad for the name tags or i wouldnt have found anyone! One of the people i wanted to meet was Anna Campbell and i missed her at the conference but we were the only three people on the shuttle bus at 6am monday morning so i got to meet here then 🙂

  11. Love it, Jenn!! I seemed to find just about everyone I was looking for in the lifts – it had an ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ kind of feel to it! Now that could mean I spent far too much time in lifts (and I don’t think I did) or the conference gods were looking after me! Wonderful to finally meet you in person and we’ll have to find more time for a chat on the Gold Coast.

    And yes, RWA conferences are addictive 🙂

  12. Linda Jones

     /  August 24, 2011

    Loved your post Jenn and so glad I met you but I didn’t get a chance to talk to you about restaurants among other things so hope to do that on the Gold Coast. See you next year. Yes. RWA conferences are sure addictive.

  13. Great post, Jenn! Was so lovely meeting you!
    Will definitely be heading up to the Gold Coast in 2013, so see you there!

  14. Sara Land

     /  September 9, 2011

    Great wrap up Jenn. I was a first timer too, quite starry-eyed meeting so many wonderful authors and writers. Just wanted to say it’s a lovely photo!
    Sara Land
    RWA Sunshine Coast

  1. A wild ride | Come home to the country ~ Jenn J McLeod ~ small towns … big hearts…

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