So what do you do at a writers' conference?
Before you go, pack - including pretty shoes for the evening and your own teabags.
Arrive, and as soon as you see your room feel as if you're a student again.
Catch up with old friends (Kate Hardy with Kate Walker - and I don't mean that Kate W is old, just that we've been friends for a very long time)
Attend talks by inspirational speakers (Kate Harrison)
who make you think seriously about your career and give you lightbulb moments for future books.
Give yourself time out to assimilate what you've been listening to (and you often end up chatting to others who've done the same, and chats often end up as brainstorming sessions, very productive for work).
Attend a posh dinner with good food, good speakers, and good wine (actually, it was too hot to drink much wine at the Gala dinner - an awful lot of water was consumed!)
Sit drinking wine with glamorous authors (Heidi Rice - see, she DOES look like a film star) and editors.
Sign copies of your books (thank you very much to those who came up to me and asked - it was SUCH a thrill to be asked and that never grows old, no matter how many books you've had out - it's always wonderful to think that someone likes your stories, and just about every writer I know worries about whether they're still doing it right).
Sit up late in kitchens (or courtyards) chatting about writing and books and gorgeous men (we still need to find a handsome green-eyed man for Harlequin Historicals author Carol Townend - suggestions welcomed!). (This was the courtyard where Nicola Cornick, Sarah Morgan and I talked... um... rather a lot.)
Maybe give a workshop yourself... (That's me on planning and creativity.)
Arrive home tired out yet energised and absolutely raring to go. And remember to write a thank you note to those who worked really hard to organise it!
(And apologies that I might not be able to make comments – apologies also to those who’ve emailed me since my talk and are waiting for the handout, because I have problems with an intermittent email connection – the engineer is coming out but until then my connection might last for only seconds (I had to do this post in about ten bites) and the system has eaten all my mail! Just as well my deadline is next week and not this, or I would be foaming.)
Kate’s book Neurosurgeon… and Mum! is on sale in the UK right now. You can find out more about the books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)