It's been a lovely experience. Ninc is an organization for novelists in any genre, though it was founded by, and its membership is still dominated by, romance writers. Naturally those of us who are in the SF-F end of things recognized one another on sight, by some mysterious code (I think it involved clothes or maybe hair, but I'm not sure) and like little magnetic beads tended to clump up. But I also met (and enjoyed) writers who weren't at all of the SF/F persuasion. Since Ninc is for novelists, and membership requires at least two published novels, the group as a whole is businesslike and the out-of-meeting discussions are refreshingly candid. Any time you get writers together they'll talk writing (moans about copy edits, page proofs, being stuck, losing a favorite editor, etc.) but when in the company of non-writers (whose interest in the minutiae wanes faster than you'd think if you hadn'[t seen the glazing eyes) writers do often try to be sociable and interact almost normally. Writers who aren't worrying about whether the non-writers will be bored...who have a whole weekend to interact, uninterrupted...have a lot of fun that way.
My web-guru Ruta, of Willowbrook Designs, attended as an "industry professional"--she's done several author websites besides mine, as well as artist sites, gallery sites, restaurant sites, etc. She was on a panel about internet marketing and promotion--her first--and I was cheering her on. In the course of the weekend, she updated another writer-client's site, my site, and picked up at least one new client. Three of the presenters on the same panel were associated in one way or another with Romantic Times (one of them also worked at a television station and gave us fascinated insight into what makes a press release click for those who receive them in piles and then try to choose whom to invite on camera..."ate a snake in China" will be a catch-phrase for a lot of us, whether we ever get to China or not.)
The hotel, the Drury Plaza in downtown St. Louis, has been wonderful--not only the in-room stuff like free wireless internet and a refrigerator and enough storage space, but the free breakfast that's a real breakfast not a token one, free snacks in late afternoon (popcorn, etc.) and friendly, cheerful hotel employees that have made the stay so pleasant. And out our window, a view of the Arch.
Anyway--it's been a very good time all around, and tomorrow I leave on the train for points north and east.