Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Writer’s Dilemma

by Tammy Karasek @TickledPinkTam

We’re halfway through the year, and halfway through the various Christian writing conferences in the United States. There are so many to choose from. Whether you’re looking to pitch your book you’ve finished, or need to study a writing topic you aren’t strong in, or you need to pursue another aspect to your writing, such as speaking, you need to find a good conference fit. You may want to attend to meet other writers that are into this whole writing thing that non-writers call weird—writers get writers, that’s for sure. 

I, too, have attended a couple Christian writing conferences so far this year. I’ve had the privilege to be on faculty at them. As a brand-new conferee a few years ago myself, now I have the joy of talking with first-time attenders and I try my best to encourage and help them become excited for this path they feel called to follow. 

Now home a couple of weeks after teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I’ve seen post after post sharing of the mountain-top experience so many writers had. Reading the comments has made me smile and even giggle at some of their thoughts. I’ve enjoyed them and also thanked God for the goodness he brought to them. 

On the other hand, for those I’ve read about with a great week, there are a lot more that have not shared publicly about their time at a conference. They may not have had that mountain-top experience and may describe it as a time in a valley. I’ve talked to a few before I left the recent conference who were very discouraged. Maybe you, too, have felt discouraged when you’ve left a conference. I couldn’t help wonder if we have too many pre-conceived notions of what a conference should be for us.

One of the folks I spoke with I believe she had put a high expectation on this conference to go a certain way for her. She expected each of the faculty she spoke with to be as enthused as she was about her book she’d written. She expected to have been asked for a proposal from each of them so she could decide the best offer. None even asked for a one-sheet.

Another person thought she’d find a critique partner and a big circle of new writing friends. When she shared this, I asked if she’d been out in the spots where the conferees hung out. This particular conference has many places that you’ll see writers sitting in rockers, sharing a laugh over a cup of coffee, hanging out in the lobby every evening and seeking out a meal-time table that is full of conversation and smiles. She said she’d stayed in her room.

In my family, I’m known as the “why” girl, so in each of these situations I dug further into what they were saying and thinking. When I dug further for the writer expecting representation before she left, I explained to her obtaining representation at the conference is rare. Not a never situation, only a rare one. When she said she was upset that none of the faculty she spoke to about her book were excited about it, I asked if she had read through their bios to see if that was something they were looking for. She said no. I grabbed my phone looked up the person and then showed her that person doesn’t represent that specific thing, therefore that could be the reason they weren’t as excited about it as she thought they should be. 

For the lady who didn’t find her critique partner and a bunch of new writerly friends, my “why” girl brain showed up again. Without being rude, I asked if she reached out to others. Her answer almost made me laugh, but I refrained. “Of course I didn’t, I’m new here.” I asked if she realized at this particular conference, it was close to 50% or more that were brand new like her. She said she didn’t realize that. 

Thus, a dilemma I hear about more and more. Should I go to a writing conference, they never give me what I want. 

Ah, what you want. But what about what you need?

With more conferences left for the current year, I thought I’d offer some advice for those of you heading off to one. 
  • Drop the high expectations. Let God lead the path for the week. There are more great stories of those conferees that showed up with open hands, open ears, and open minds that came away in awe of what God did for them that week. 
  • Remember these are your people. They say we writers are an odd lot, so look at it this way – all these writers around you get it, get you. They know many writers are introverts like them and one of you must start a conversation. Let it be you. 
  • Do look over the faculty and what they will teach to semi-plan your time there. Check out the publishers, agents, and acquisition editors to see what they are looking for at this time and what they will represent. Just because YOU want to be represented by Mr./Mrs. Specific Agent or think you will only let ABC Publisher sign a contract for your book, be open to what else is there. Be willing to change your schedule should something be presented you weren’t expecting. A better opportunity could be there but you refused to have an open mind. Open it, friend.
  • Don’t hide away in your room. Those conversations with other writers won’t happen there. Also, God may have planned a thirty-minute or more conversation at a table in the coffee shop you would have never been able to schedule on your own. And it could be an excellent agent who wasn’t even on your radar that adores your story and wants more info. Staying out and about the conference leaves more possibilities for those God-incidences that make you say WOW. 

As a writer going to a writing conference, you may have one of these dilemmas. Do you come out of your comfort zone if you’re an introvert and take advantage of opportunities to meet other writers who could eventually become your critique or craft partner? Or do you arrive at the conference with high expectations and a check list of what you expect the faculty and/or conference to give to you? 

My suggestions to you are: 
  • 1) to forget that you’re an introvert. If you would like to find more writer friends, make yourself available for others to meet you. You never know who’s looking for the same unless you communicate. Hey—you’re a writer, writers’ love words, use them! 
  • 2) And for some of you that have an arm’s length of wants, leave those high expectations at home. I’m not saying you should have no expectations, but don’t set a bar so high that it’s going to be impossible to attain. 


Tammy Karasek uses humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. Her past, filled with bullying and criticism from family, drives her passion to encourage and inspire others and give them The Reason to smile. She’s gone from down and defeated to living a “Tickled Pink” life as she believes there’s always a giggle wanting to come out! A writer of Romance—with a splash of sass. She’s also The Launch Team Geek helping authors launch their books and also a Virtual Assistant for several best-selling authors. Don't miss her recent book, LAUNCH THAT BOOK, just released in November. 

Her work was also published in a Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments. She’s also the Social Media Manager for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Founding President and current Vice-President of ACFW Upstate SC, and Founding President of Word Weavers Upstate SC. She’s a writing team member for The Write Conversation Blog, Novel Academy, MBT Monday Devotions, The Write Editing and more. Connect with Tammy at HTTPS://WWW.TAMMYKARASEK.COM.


  1. Excellent advise. Thank you.

  2. Excellent post, Tammy. I've started spending mroe time hanging out than anything else. I love to meet those new attendees and make new friends. Listening and sharing is such a blessing!

    1. Yes! Where else can you hang out with your writing people and make new friends! And so many important to make those newbies feel part of the family.

  3. Tammy,

    Thank you for this excellent article and wisdom for writers. Years ago I learned that who I know is almost as important as what I know. It spurred me to meet as many people as possible during an event, listen to their stories and see if I can help them. The right connection is critical which is why I have thousands of LinkedIN connections and I'm looking for more of them. Let's get connected and help each other.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow the Link for a FREE copy]

  4. While I too would prefer to sit quietly in a corner and hope that the perfect agent, acquisitions editor, and critique partner would seek me out, it doesn't happen. As Christian writers, we have to be as willing to put ourselves "out there" for our writing, which should be an extension of our carrying out Christ's great commission, as we are to share the light of Christ with others in public places. The blessing of Christian Writer's Conferences is that we're among "our people." They're in, or was at least, the same boat we're in, paddling upstream, in hopes of reaching our destination. It's when we all paddle together, by helping those coming behind us, that we all reach that destination (which I hope is bringing glory to God) together. I found myself shouting "Amen" at more than a few times while reading your encouraging post Ms. Tammy. Thank you ma'am! I'm all "pinkish" with joy and your kindness and encouragement ma'am. As the old farmer used to say, "Ya cain't grow nuthin' if y'all don't git them seeds sown, fust." Here''s to sowing seeds, friends.

    1. Thanks, Mr.JD!! Your kind words have made me smile and become “Tickled Pink” from them!

  5. Wonderful blog post --empathetic and practical.

  6. Thank you very much, Beth!

  7. I am in my first year of publishing my devotions online as a ministry. I look forward to my first American writer's conference. I am an introvert and plan to act like an extrovert (I knew there was a reason I studied acting!) Thank you for the insightful post Tammy.