by Janis Patterson
It couldn’t have been any better. A lovely resort right on the water’s edge in
A wonderful conference of professional writers. The Husband beside me the whole
time, absorbing and learning. Seeing old friends and making new ones. It really
couldn’t have been any better. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The conference was for Novelists, Inc, more familiarly known as NINC, an organization of multi-published writers. I have been a member for a while, but this was the first conference time and finances allowed me to attend. This was also the first conference where Author Support Teams (read assistants) could attend – not just professionals who handle lots of authors, but family members and friends. Professional, multi-author assistants have always been allowed to come as Industry Guests, and they had/have a different fee from both authors and AST people.
Yes, The Husband has decided that my time is better spent writing than doing a lot of clerical chores like posting excerpts, seeking reviews and tracking sales. (Of course, his decision was very much urged by me, but in the end it was completely his decision.)
I don’t think he realized how exhausting writers’ conferences could be. Accustomed to the regulated pace of military and public health gatherings, he seemed to be a bit overwhelmed by the frenetic energy of a hotel full of writers. Generally solitary creatures who sit alone in rooms with lots of imaginary people, when we writers actually get together with others of our kind the results are electric. We don’t have to worry about someone calling the cops if they overhear us talking about the best way to poison someone undetected or gape in unabashed curiosity as we talk about the tangled lives of our characters. They are writers, and they understand.
But it wasn’t just writers. Sharing the magnificent hotel with us was the
Carolina chapter of the barbershop singers’ (can’t
remember the exact name) organization. Perhaps writers aren’t the only unusual people out there. In the hallway we had to edge our way past masked men singing
cowboy songs. In the morning, in the elevator going down, we were serenaded by
men in tuxes singing Lida Rose. That evening going back up we were treated to a
group in the worst looking arab costumes I’ve ever seen (one was a bathrobe!)
complete with cheesy plastic swords belting out an enthusiastic version of The Riff Song by Romberg. It
was definitely a surreal experience.
The writing workshops, however, were all business. There were reps from the major self-publishing platforms, a traditional publishing editor or two, a couple of agents, a TV packager and more. We had in-depth sessions on audio books, the interrelationship between story and life, how books become movies, and of course several workshops on both being and working with an assistant. It was all fascinating.
Then there were the Early Bird and Night Owl sessions. There were several Early Bird sessions I wanted to attend, and I’m not sure if I did nor not. They begin at 8 am, and my brain doesn’t go online until 9. I hear they were great, however, and contradicted my long-held belief that nothing good ever happens before 10 am. The Night Owl sessions began at 8 pm and ended at 10, and they were just as splendid. Among other things, I learned secrets of blogging more efficiently and how to use the Tarot as a plotting device when I’m stuck.
I hate to handwrite anything and have not yet mastered the art of taking notes on a computer, but still managed to use almost a full legal tablet for notes. I ran into old friends not seen for years and met lovely new ones. The Husband and I even managed a few romantic dinners alone and a couple of walks on the beach. Yes, it really couldn’t have been any better. The conference was the most professional writers’ conference I’ve ever attended; it was so impressive that we’ve already registered for next year!
As for The Husband… I think he enjoyed it. He said he learned a lot. When I asked him what was his main take-away from the conference, he thought for a minute, then announced, “I’m glad I’m not a writer.”