Diary of a Conference Coordinator: Part One

Here I am, in the homestretch, well into the final week of preparing for the Pennwriters Conference. I’m going to attempt to document my experience as the conference coordinator each day now leading up to and through the BIG EVENT.

Yesterday was one of the headache days. They aren’t all that way. Really. But I started early (6AM) and finished late (8PM…and only then because my Internet was acting squirrelly) and most of the time was spent crunching numbers. I need to have a tally of all the meal choices for the hotel this weekend.

I’ve been keeping two sets of records to track different aspects of the conference. Unfortunately, the numbers, when totaled. did not match. I spent hours and hours going through each name trying to find out who I’d missed. It was as much fun as trying to balance my checkbook. And it provided that same sinking feeling of wondering if my screw-up was going to be in my favor or not.

Finally, I found the problem. And the result didn’t change anything as far as the hotel was concerned (the “important” set of my records was the correct one—YAY).

Beyond that, my day was filled with a constant stream of email questions and phone calls. I find my answers getting more and more succinct. Yes. No. I don’t have time to be chatty.

Okay, my friend and conference team member, Sharon Benedetti, phoned last night AFTER I’d found my accounting error and I was so relieved that I talked her ear off. But mostly, I’m keeping responses short.

Other odds and ends: we’ve used up our block of rooms at the hotel. A very good problem to have. I’m trying to get more added on. As with much of my duties, this involves waiting to hear back.

I touched base with Marta Perry who is teaching the day-long fiction intensive workshop on Thursday before the official beginning of the conference. I also checked in with Nancy Martin and Jonathan Maberry, two of our conference speakers.

And I confirmed a few details with Lisa Scottoline’s personal assistant.

Yes, I’m name-dropping. It’s one of the perks of this job.

On today’s agenda: SHOPPING. I need to pick up the digital recorders we use in the workshops. I ordered them through WalMart.com and they’re in. I also need to pick up items for the intensive and decorations for Saturday night’s “Beach Party.” And I need to drop the program off at Staples to be printed.

I WANT to buy a new pair of shoes or a new outfit to wear to the conference, but there isn’t time to shop for me. (whine, whine)

To Be Continued…


Kathy Otten said…
Thanks for sharing some of the fustrations of being conference coordinator. It gives me a new perspective on how hard you've worked, (ie balancing all those numbers--yuck) Take some time for yourself and get your new outfit and in a week and a half it will all be over.
Annette said…
Kathy, the numbers truly are the hardest part for me. I chose to be a writer, not an accountant, for a very good reason.
Anonymous said…
please don't buy new shoes. Remember what happened last year. And I can tell from personal experience that there's nothing worse than aching feet.
Annette said…
Don't worry, Doris. I haven't forgotten running around the hotel in bare feet last year because of blisters. I'll be wearing my old comfy flats for most of the conference. I'm just looking for something fashionable to wear to the keynote dinner on Friday. I tried on a pair today, but decided I didn't want to risk a broken ankle just to look good.
Todd said…
I'm surprised Scary Uncle Jonathan (Maberry) didn't kill off the panel one by one.

You should check him out in our latest episode, "Five Cheesy Pieces". You'll think twice before you wind up in a room alone with him again.

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