Prior to RWA, I talked a lot about shopping. I posted pictures of the chaos that was my bathroom as I packed (or at least attempted to). And there were innumerable chats about how to prevent shoes from tearing up one’s feet.

So in the flavor of #RWAsurvivaltips, here are the products or advice that served me (or others) well during the chaos of RWA 11.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow – I’m very much a Bobbi Brown girl but this trip, I broke my usual trend and tried something new. I’d lusted over a Smashbox eyeshadow pallet but waited too long and it was sold out. So I swapped over to Urban Decay. Not only did the colors go on smooth and silky but they stayed. All day. Through the madness of the elevator waits and rushing to the next appointment and on into the night partying at the bar.

Smashbox Eyelid Primer – this stuff survives the Fort Hood heat. That in and of itself should be enough of a recommendation but dabbing this on beneath ANY eyeshadow guarantees that it will still be there when you look in the mirror several hours down the road.

Elf Eye Liner Brush – For 3$, you cannot go wrong for this tight little brush that creates a truly artistic line worthy of a brush five times more. Combine with either wet powder shadow or long wear eye liner and this inexpensive brush is a champ.

Shoes – There was lots of talk about the ‘right’ shoes. Expensive vs cheap. Platform vs flats. Flip flops vs heels. At the end of the day, I found a $40 pair of BASS wedges that were my saving grace. Three days, miles of walking and not a single blister. Course the combat boot inserts helped a ton. I’ll say that I’m not a huge fan of the Dr Scholl dress shoe inserts but they did the trick, adding just a teeny bit of extra support beneath the ball of my foot.

Business Cards – writers, save the bookmarks for readers and fans. Always have business cards. Last year, I received conflicting advice as to whether I would need them or not. Two years running, I’m glad I had them on me.

Clothes – comfort is the key. Not sweatpant comfort but clothes that fit well and that you can carry yourself well in. If you’re constantly tugging at your spanx, your editor or agent interview will probably not go as well as it could. Confidence is key. Find clothes that speak to who you are and that are comfortable to wear. For me, White House Black Market came through. Basic color pallet. Good fit. And don’t underestimate the power of the right bra.

Safety pins – these are not a luxury. I counted on them multiple times this year to adjust clothes that didn’t hang quit right.

Nailpolish – for me to find a nailpolish that survives more than two hours post manicure is a miracle indeed. Sally Hanson Diamond Nail base coat combined with Revlon Colorstay Top Coat survived until the last day of the conference on my fingers. My toes are still going strong.

Bandaid Blister bandages – no I didn’t lie when I said I didn’t get any blisters. But I did have one on my hand from my brilliant decision to rake my entire back yard two days prior to leaving for NYC. So the blister bandage stayed in place and kept the wound covered. No one even noticed the bandage.

Bathroom Pitches – No, I’m not making it up when I tell you that an agent friend of mine was pitched to in the bathroom. Folks, trust me when I tell you it is much easier to walk up to someone while they’re chatting at the elevator than to catch them with their unmentionables around their ankles. I mean, honestly, would you date someone who cornered you in the bathroom while you were trying to hover? Why does pitching in the bathroom seem like a good idea to anyone??

Conversation – know the market, know what’s going on outside of your book. Being able to talk to people about various aspects of publishing or the world at large makes you infinitely more interesting than just waiting to pitch your book. Know the answer to the question what do you write. Be quick, be brilliant be gone – onto some other topic of conversation. If the person you’re interested in is truly interested in your pitch, they will steer the convo back to you.

And a final makeup note, the best primer I used was Smashbox foundation primer. Makeup went on smooth and lasted all day. Yes, this too, survives the Fort Hood heat but for much less time than the eyelid primer. But considering that anything that makes it to noon is a win, I’m not complaining.

Conference this year was a blast. I honestly didn’t expect my second conference to live up to my first. I had so much fun and learned a ton. I signed my first contract and said thank you to a whole bunch of people who I am still incredibly grateful to for their support and guidance.

The best part was sitting at the bar, having drinks, not with people who wanted to talk about books, but with people I wanted to catch up with and spend time with. We call them friends and in this business, there is nothing more important than good friends who will stand with you through the rough spot and cheer through the good times.

Thank you to everyone who celebrated this year with me. See you in Anaheim next year!