I just did my first last weekend and my write up is still listed here. I went solo and as the others said timeline is essential. I won't address your question on chicken as mine was bad. Brisket I inject with Kosmo. I too like to cook closer to 260-270 mostly because that is what my cooker gravitates to but I have had good luck and cuts my time into the 6-8 hr range. I like 14 pound full packers. Finishing temps are really only a guideline. It is all about slipping that probe in until it is like going through butter.
Most importantly have fun and u will meet a bunch of good people many who will be happy to advise you. As I mentioned I just did my first and I am officially hooked. Season about over in the Northeast but already looking to next year. Good luck
BWS Extended Party
Humphrey's Battle Box and matching Pint