Imagine showing up for a job interview without knowing the company you’re interviewing with. No opportunity to review the products they manufacture or the services they provide. No time to learn the CEO’s name and hobbies, just the hope they need someone with your skills in their company.

That’s writer’s conferences for you. Yes, they ask your preference, but you don’t know until you arrive who you will be meeting with.

With fear and trembling I received my assignments and learned that I hadn’t filled out my agent request correctly. No agent appointment on my schedule. Strike One.

As for the editor, lucky me got the one I’d requested as my first choice. The one at my dream publishing house. The one I shouldn’t meet until I’d got my act together and could speak with some authority on writing, or marketing or at least stopped saying “I’ve wrote…” Editors are paid to notice bad grammar and I’d spent most of high school and college taking the advanced literature classes so I could avoid learning the parts of speech they teach in regular English.

Was there time to learn sign language?

As I wondered how to get out of my editor assignment, the helpful lady at the appointment desk discovered a schedule opening and before I knew it I was sitting at a tiny table with a real life literary agent. What was I doing there? My only consolation was that if I crashed and burned I could blame my husband. He shouldn’t have sent me to this conference before I was ready.

I managed to pronounce my name correctly and made it through my elevator pitch – “My story is a historical romance set in Texas in 1878. It’s about a penniless, Mexican widow who tricks a wealthy rancher into marrying her. The problem is – she didn’t mean to.”

I handed over my onesheet and tried not to sweat as she leaned back in her chair and looked it over. How could a fifteen minute interview seem like an eternity? Finally, she lowered the page.

“Looks like one of the most promising projects I’ve seen here. Email me the complete manuscript.”

And it was time to go.

“What just happened in there?” I wondered as I floated out the door. I’d prayed that God would give me some encouragement if He wanted me to continue to write. Red light or green light. No yellow to confuse me. So far the situation was as green as Kermit.

As far as I was concerned I could go home now. Obviously, the chances of being offered representation were still very slim, but my question was answered. At least for the next year, I’d work on writing.

But before I packed my bags I had to survive my editor appointment.

Loaded for Bear – Publication Story, Part 5

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