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One guess what writers do when they gather – talk about writing, of course.

A week ago today I was at the wrapup of the Novelists, Inc. conference in St. Pete Beach, Fla. It was jam-packed from Tuesday too-early-for-me to Sunday noon with talk about the craft, the business, and the writing life. (The last naturally included Kalli’s then-impending third surgery and our mutual 16-week confined convalescence.)

Patricia McLinn and friends at Novelists, Inc. conferenceA few of us have a tradition of staying at the Tradewinds Resort through Sunday to have a lazy lunch, afternoon, and dinner to share notes, decompress, get our feet in the surf and sand for the first time, swing a bit in a hammock, and pack all the dirty clothes.

It’s a lovely day. The group photo was from our Sunday night dinner, taken by our kindly server. That dinner’s another tradition, this time at a place called the Rumfish Grill with that humongous fish tank you see behind us. Though, truly, the conversation at our table was so interesting I hardly noticed the swimmers until we posed for that pic.

(Yes, if you’re wondering, my hair is wild child curly. I’ve been letting it do its own thing mostly, especially in the humid months. It’s worn me down after all the years of trying to tame it.)

Glimpses of the Gulf were all I got until Sunday, because we are fully occupied scarfing up information, ideas, and don’t-bother-to-tries non-stop. On top of that, we’re brainstorming new thoughts. For example, that’s where #TBRDive came from and I hope you’ll join in each Monday. More on #TBRDive here.

I have greatly enjoyed many other conferences, but Novelists, Inc., is my don’t-miss event. The membership requirements mean it’s aimed at career popular fiction authors. Authors and speakers come from all over the world to share what matters most in author-world.

Which is finding more of you wonderful folks – readers who will love what we write.

One lunch was with nine other mystery/suspense authors and we had a great discussion about extending our audiences. You’ll be hearing more about them in the coming months.

In just about every workshop, lobby discussion, chat over a meal, and late-night conversations, the focus was on how to increase readership – individually and across the board.

The primary answers are social media and advertising, both of which cut into writing time. I find myself grumping more and more about the time required to create and tend ads, not to mention the money. But without those ads, our books tend to slide down into a dark cave where readers can’t see them at all.

As I dozed during takeoff on one of my flights home (I work when the rules allow, of course 😉 ) I calculated that if each person who bought one of my books got one additional person to buy one of my books, I could quit advertising. That opened my eyes. Because – wait for it — with the savings in time, I could write another book each year.

What do you think? Worth trying? 😉

Of course, I’d still go back to the Ninc Conference each year. Oh! Oh! And I might get a second walk on the beach, slipping one in before that last day. LOL.