RWA12 Conference: Eating “On The Cheap” + 5 Helpful Tips

by Jenny Hansen

Romance Writers of America®
32nd Annual Conference
Anaheim Marriott®
July 25-28, 2012

All of us at Writers In The Storm live right here in Southern California, which makes this year’s RWA conference a bit more exciting than most for us. For once, we’re locals.

This means we know where everything is, and if we have to, we can run home to get that thing-gadget-whatchamajig that we forgot. This week’s posts are about sharing the wealth with all of you.

Whether you’re coming to the conference, traveling to Orange County or are just plain curious, we hope you’ll tune in for the next few posts.

To start with a bit of background, it’s conference season in the writing world. Romance Writers of America is about to do their yearly event in “The Happiest Place on Earth“: Anaheim…home of Disneyland.

Some of us are going to the RWA-Women’s Fiction Chapter Mini-Conference on Wednesday, July 25th. Some of us are going to RWA’s National Conference that runs from July 25-28th. As the president of the Women’s Fiction chapter, our own Laura Drake is going to both.

Recommended “to do” list before you leave for Conference:

  • Review Kate Noble’s kickass packing list from last year’s conference. She did a great job! Plus, anything you’d need in New York last July, you’ll need in Anaheim, along with more sunscreen.
  • If you haven’t found the #RWA12 hashtag on Twitter, go set up your TweetDeck/Hootsuite column now, or save it into your phone. Laura tuned into the hashtag last week and found this great link on all the local sit-down restaurants in walking distance from the conference hotel.
  • Note: Without the above hashtag and Google, how else would we have known to hit the local Trader Joe’s/Fresh & Easy/Mother’s Market for snacks on the way (because there is almost no inexpensive food around the hotel)?
  • Although RWA is serving gluten free options  for their meals, I highly recommend you bring snacks if you have any food issues. I have house guests for this conference and we’ll be hitting the stores I’ve linked to above for gluten free and dairy free options.
  • I Googled the conference hotel myself just to make sure and there are  coffee locations nearby. There’s a Starbucks inside the lobby of both the Hilton and the Marriott  (they both close by 7:30-8 pm). However, because I have experience with the lines at these in-hotel coffee locations, I’ll be bringing my own electric kettle and Starbucks VIA packets for the peak periods. I’ll also be bringing my own gluten free oatmeal for an easy breakfast.
  • Inexpensive food alert: Inside the Hilton complex at 777 Convention way is a Baja Fresh. (We’re staying at this Hilton, which sits across the driveway from the Marriott.) That Baja Fresh was a big deal to me since they have lots of GF items and aren’t a pricy sit-down meal. Here’s a link to the Baja Fresh Online Ordering for those of you who have iPads and Smartphones and are short on time.

Last but not least, I recommend that you save some room in your suitcase for books and cool stuff. There’s always a lot of extras  that make their way home with you from a conference. Why deny yourself these things, especially if you don’t get to conferences often? Those goody rooms are like crack.

Speaking of all that extra stuff…

The hotels often have outrageous shipping prices during these events so, if you simply can’t pack an extra bag inside your suitcase, you will want to have a “shipping plan.” There is a UPS store in the lobby of the Hilton at 777 Convention Way. It’s only open from 9 am to 5 pm over the weekend, so plan accordingly.

Note: The next closest option is Postal Planet a mile and a half from the conference hotel. Their hours don’t compare to the UPS store (closed Sunday, 10 am-3 pm on Saturday). If it were me, I’d use UPS.

The next post in this series will address “Where the Locals Go.” You might want to look around or rent a car for a few days while you’re in Southern California so we’ve made a list of our favorite hang-outs.

Did I leave out anything important? Do you have other questions, or conference tips to share? Do any of the Anaheim residents have specific recommendations? We’d love to hear about it!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites or here at Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

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38 Responses to RWA12 Conference: Eating “On The Cheap” + 5 Helpful Tips

  1. Jenny, because I love everyone at WITS, your local chapter, our WF on line chapter, and most of all our very own Laura Drake … I will tune in for all of these “helpful” posts. Why? To get a vicarious thrill.

    I am not attending, but that won’t stop me from cheering everyone, rooting for candidates for the RITA and the Golden Heart or those who will be attending who have their first books to get signed … Find my dear friend Kelly Gwyn, rep’d by the lovely Rachelle Gardner, her first Victorian romance in her hot little hands … A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.

    Keep these posts coming. I’ll gather knowledge … and quote my old Brooklyn Dodgers … Wait ’til next year !!

  2. LauraDrake says:

    Great tips, Jenny – I thought I was prepared already, and I learned something! Baja Fresh is a great find! To anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m notoriously frugal (okay WITsers, I hear you snickering – you’re right, I’m damned cheap.) Glad to hear I can eat somewhere during the 5 days, besides out of dumpsters behind the hotel. Okay, not really, but Ruth Chris? I wouldn’t pay for an appetizer in that place!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LMAO at this comment!! Yep, she takes frugal to a whole new level, but I’d argue on the “cheap” tag. You just don’t like to spend stupid money.

  3. Sharla Rae says:

    Great tips Jen. We’ll all have our name tags on at Conference. If you see us wandering around, be sure to say hi.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Sharla! There will be some WANA events going on too that I encourage y’all to go to. My WANA peeps LOVE Writers In The Storm. :-)

  4. I have a question about shipping… I have one recently released (digital only) book out with a smaller press, so I’m not going to be participating in any signings or author events (as an author). However, I know there’s a goody room and a way to send stuff… I have some pretty cool swag that I’d like to be able to share there… but I’m not sure how that works. If I send my box of stuff to the address for the Goody room, or just ship it to the hotel, how do I actually get it setup there? This is also my first time going there, so I’m wondering if I should skip this, seeing as I have no idea what’s going on. Then again, that seems like a waste. Thanks for any advice or pointers!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Amber Lin, you can mail yourself a box at the hotel, but there are rules and costs involved. Laura Drake knows them, so I’ll let her answer this on her next pass through.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Oh Amber Lin, you’d best sneak them in in your underwear, Hon. We’re giving away our author panel’s books at the WF conference (still not to late to register!) so I checked into it. The hotel charges like $50 a BOX to “accept” it. I have like 600 books coming!
      Holy Blackmail!

      I’d look into this, pronto. may be cheaper to pay for an extra large suitcase, pack them in there, and bat your eyelashes at a well-muscled bystander. Besides, the suitcase will come in handy for all the FREE books you’re going to take home, right?

  5. Jann says:

    Loved your post Jen. Hope to see you at Conference. Also, the Marriott has FedEx in their lobby. Anyone who thinks they may be shipping home items, you might consider bringing a flatten box when you pack. The shipping rates are standard, but the UPS store will charge for the boxes and packing materials – that is where it get pricey.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ooooh, Jann, GREAT tip!! Thanks for letting me know that, and you are exactly right. :-)

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      p.s. Jann. I’m going to the RWA mini-conference but not to the main event. Although I will be doing some ferrying around, and will perhaps pop into the bar to say hi, when I’m picking up or dropping off.

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  7. Connie Flynn says:

    Great blog, Jenny. I forwarded it to my Facebook and Twitter. See you in Anaheim.

  8. Karen McFarland says:

    You might be in Tomorrowland, but there is no inexpensive place nearby is right. This is a helpful post, especially for those who don’t live nearby. I hope you all have a wonderful time! :)

  9. This is a great post. Thanks! I googled local Catholic Churches, and there seem to be quite a few within a few miles of the hotel, but I’m not quite sure of public transportation down there. Any suggestions on where to find that out?

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Fantastic question, Melissa! I think I have a good solution for you.

      One of the nicest things about Anaheim is the Anaheim Resort Transportation system (ART). These are buses that go all over the city, with various routes stopping at different hotels. Here’s a map: http://www.rideart.org/individual/

      You can buy passes at any kiosk and they run about every 20 minutes on each route. It looks like Route 4 and 5 go to the Hilton (5 also stops at the Marriott) and they go to Disneyland where you can pick up one to take you to other parts of Anaheim, for church or for cheaper food.

      Passes
      1 Day – $4 / 3 Day – $10 / 5 Day – $16
      There are reduced rates for seniors or the disabled.

      Please let me know if you want me to keep digging for you. :-)

  10. This was a wonderful blog post. I’ve taken notes. I do eat meat, but not very much. I mostly eat salads, veggies, and fish. I think I’ll bring my own museli. These are some great links. Thank you.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Ella! You should be able to find salads that will suit your needs but I’m a big fan of bringing snacks like muesli and protein bars that let you stay alert and charged up.

  11. natalie says:

    Does anyone know if any meals will be included with the conference? Thanks

  12. natalie says:

    Awesome-thanks Laura!

  13. dadblunders says:

    I am little jealous about all of these great conferences I keep hearing about of all the “awesome” bloggers/writers going to attend various events. I would love to get to go to a blog event to meet other dads, moms, parents, writers, bloggers…..You get the idea……sigh

    Aaron

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Aaron, I tell you when I saw all my pals posting pictures of Thrillerfest, I was BUMMED. (And I don’t even write thrillers.) Conference Envy is common this time of year…you just gotta roll with it and come share your woes with your pals. :-)

      • dadblunders says:

        I agree Jenny! I have to admit being a stay-at-home dad makes it a little harder to enjoy. Some days its hard just to find the time to blog or read all the great posts!

        (I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world though) :)
        Aaron

  14. Laura, what would be your advice for visiting Universal Studios as far as getting there? I only saw one tour that was 11 hours long. Thanks!

  15. SD Writer says:

    I love Baja Fresh, but I’m going to be needing shusi when I’m in town (that and good Indian)!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      My fave sushi is Tommy’s in Tustin but I’m positive if you look at the link I posted in the comments to ART, you can find some awesome sushi along that route. :-)

  16. Hey Everybody!

    I get to see you all soon!

    Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait!

    Jenny — I want my bone-crushing Jenny-hug. :-)

    Thanks for posting the fab tips. I’m staying at the Hilton, close to Baja Fresh. Yummy, yummy!

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  20. Great delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up the great effort.

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