Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

By Tammy Trail

This month’s topic is Everything you ever wanted to know about writing conferences. While I don’t have a vast amount of knowledge, I can share my experiences about the conferences I have attended.

I didn’t really catch the writing bug until 2009, but as a child, I devoured books. My favorite pass time was to curl up on a couch with a good book. I would get so lost in a story that many times someone had to take the book out of my hands to get my attention. I loved the written work so much that I wondered …  could I do it myself?

I began at square one by looking online for a writer’s conference close to home, and I found one in Pittsburg, Kansas. In 2010, I attended that conference, not really knowing anyone nor having  ever been to that particular town.  Along the way, I met another aspiring writer from Topeka who planned to attend the same conference, and we ended up being roommates and close friends. It was her first writing conference, too.

I also brought the beginnings of a story with me, critiqued by a published author. I made every mistake a newbie writer could make within those few pages. To say the least, it was eye-opening … oh, I had so much to learn!

Stepping out of my comfort zone by Tammy Trail

Flash forward to 2013 when my husband received a nice inheritance, making it possible for me to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I carpooled with a few ladies from my local ACFW chapter, and I shared a room there with two writers from Canada. In the past, my introverted self would NOT share a room with two women I had never met, but I really wanted the experience of stepping out of the box without having inner meltdowns about the unknown.

ACFW Conference 2013

With ACFW Kansas City West members at the 2013 conference in Indianapolis

I would like to say that I was offered a contract for my book and that a well- known agent in the writing industry pitched his/her acquisition accomplishments to represent me. But that didn’t happen. Instead, it turned out to be an education in learning what I had to do to reach my goals.

Shod with my comfortable shoes–I can never function well if my feet hurt–I had several proposals ready for my appointments with editors– or anyone else who might ask. I sat at a table with my mother’s favorite author and asked her if I could take a picture with her to send to my mom, and she was very accommodating. There was also an empty seat next to me where a woman sat after the rest of us had begun our meal. After she was settled, she politely asked me about my writing, and I eagerly shared. Turned out she was an editor from Revell! She asked me for my proposal, which I enthusiastically offered to her because I had extra copies with me. You just never know with whom you might strike up a conversation!

ACFW Conference 2013 2

A view of Indianapolis from the hotel window. ACFW Conference 2013

I wish I could tell you that she begged me to let her publish my book. That didn’t happen, but I did learn that she basically liked my story and felt I was on the right track; however, it still needed a lot of work.

I’m hopeful that one day I will get a contract for my stories. It does require hard work and dedication, but I’m willing to learn to do whatever it takes to succeed. One of these days I will attend another ACFW conference and be the veteran instead of the newbie.