by Janis Patterson
I'm so happy! Next week we're off to the fantastic Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida for the Novelists, Inc. (NINC) conference. The Tradewinds is a world-class resort, with many and varied restaurants (from crystal-and-white-tablecloth to a funky cafe open to the sea breezes), several bars (from dark and elegant to a rustic palapa on the beach) and all kinds of entertainment, including a multi-story inflatable water slide. As great as it is, though, I am not a resort person and probably would never go there if it were not for NINC.
So what is NINC? It is a professional organization for professional writers. It is the greatest group for working writers that I have ever found. There is an e-loop, so we can stay in touch with each other, but no local chapters. In a way that's sad, but most of us are so busy working we don't have time to socialize.
Except at conference. Held in late September/early October every year, the NINC conference is the only conference I most definitely will not miss. (I hope I didn't jinx it by saying that...) Once a year working professional writers can get together to learn, to meet with friends and get up to date on industry news. And have fun. It's great to see friends you don't see from one year to the next. It's also great to get to talk to industry people (agents, editors, publishing people, tech people and more) in both business and social gatherings.
One thing that makes it so great is that we writers are all pretty much in the same place - oh, there are best-sellers with dozens of books and fairly new writers with just two or three or four books, but all are published and all have met certain standards to qualify for membership. All have dealt with traditional publishers or are self-publishing or both. We all speak the same language and know what the others are talking about. It creates a feeling of being among family that is unprecedented.
If you are a published author, look into joining NINC. It's one of the best things you can do for your career, whether you go to the yearly conference or not. There are stiff requirements - number of books published and by whom, and a financial floor, but nothing that should be too difficult for a professional writer.
Can you tell I'm excited? The Husband (who moonlights as my assistant) is coming too, and as always we've reserved a waterfront room so we can sit on the balcony and watch the moon on the water after going out for a romantic dinner. Then, during the day, we can see friends and go to workshops and party... never forget the partying! Hopefully one of my dearest friends in the world who lives about half an hour from the Tradewinds will be able to come in so we can take her to dinner. This year I'm even reporting on two different workshops for the NINC newsletter!
Unfortunately, before we can leave there is a lot to do. I have a new book (A Well Mannered Murder) I want to finish before we leave so I won't have it hanging over me while we're at the conference. There's always housework, and laundry, and packing... I'd better get busy!