by Janis Patterson
I’m packing. I always start packing early, partly in anticipation and partly because I am terrified of forgetting something essential to my well-being, style or comfort.
So what brings about this preparational frenzy? Next Tuesday I’m off to St. Pete Beach in Florida for the NINC (Novelists, Inc) conference. I’m going early, and will be there an entire week, as after the NINC gathering ends a group of us self-publishers are going to have a somewhat freestyle indie un-conference.
Normally I don’t go to many writing conferences, but lately it seems that they’re just about all we travel to. Like RWA National. No, I didn’t go as an attendee – haven’t attended an RWA National for years. Too big, too noisy, too frenetic; some people thrive on that – I don’t. What The Husband and I did do was go to San Antonio during the time of the conference, get one of the 1850-era rooms in the Menger Hotel (one of my three favorite hotels in the world) and see San Antonio again. I also had meetings with some of my publishers and editors, attended some parties, saw lots of people I knew, made contacts, attended the Beau Monde one-day seminar and best of all – since The Husband does lots of work as my assistant – almost everything was tax-deductible as a business expense. Sweet, and well worth it.
Likewise, our ‘winter vacation’ will be the Florida Romance Writers’ cruise conference next February. We did this conference the last time they held it – two years ago – and loved it. It was a first cruise for either one of us – if, of course, you discount The Husband’s Navy duty voyages, and I don’t think Navy ships have champagne bars...
So are these little excursions just ‘tax-deductible vacations’ or work? Of course it’s nice to go to a swell place instead of some dreary ordinary city, which is probably why so many conferences are held in such nice locations, but the main thrust is strictly professional. We’re only a couple of hours from San Antonio, and go there with some regularity just for the fun of it. Likewise, if we were going to take a cruise for the sake of taking a cruise (and someday when we’re planning to when we have time) it would be much longer than a three day jaunt from Florida to Cozumel and back.
No, conferences are much more than just a couple of days in a fancy place. If the conference is done properly, it’s quite possible to go and never want to leave the hotel! One of the blessings of the internet and our interconnected world is that we can work at home, but it is also one of the curses because it separates us, and nice as they are, eloops and the vastly inferior fori are just not the same as face to face interaction. A conference not only allows us to meet editors and agents and make contact with our publishers and agents, it allows us to interact with our peers. Yes, the internet does that too, but personal contact is different, and in many ways much better. Writing is a lonely profession, and personal contact is to be prized.
Especially when it comes with a beach attached.
Believe it or not, my publishing blitz is almost over. Amazingly, it’s stayed on schedule! There were times I doubted I’d make it, but there are only two books to go. 15 October’s offering is a re-release, a tasty gothic romance set in a forbidding house on the Connecticut coast just preceding the Southern War of Independence. A spunky heroine looking for a lost cousin, two handsome brothers, sinister Oriental servants, and the Devil walking in Connecticut abducting young women... it’s a fun tale that I greatly enjoyed writing. Of course, it has been thoroughly re-edited, re-formatted and given a lovely new cover, as well as a first-time paperback edition.