Eight flights, forty flying hours, six stopovers, an empty bank account and one middle-aged overweight "gentleman" who decided that "night flight" gave him the green light to strip to his underwear to sleep is what got me to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers') Conference in Indianapolis.
It was worth all of it, plus some more. Yes, even the almost naked sleeper across the aisle. It was even worth redefining the term "red-eye" and catching a flight that left San Francisco at half past midnight in order to get to Indianapolis. I didn't even know planes flew at that time! Though I probably wouldn't recommend catching one if you're planning to get off at the other end and walk straight into a four hour workshop that requires you to be able to think coherently!
It was an amazing time. Being a writer can be a very lonely solitary path. Especially in a country that isn't big enough for its own publishers, ACFW Chapters or even really critique groups. All of my writer friends are virtual and exist through Skype, Twitter, Facebook and email. So getting to actually spend time with people in person who understand the huge ups and downs and general insanity associated with this endeavor is kind of like having your first glass bottle of Diet Coke after a life spent on that nasty postmix/fountain stuff that is nowhere close to the real thing!
I got to have lunch with my incredible agent, room with three amazing writers, spend time in workshops learning soaking up wisdom from the experts, spend quality time with some great friends and cheer them on in their successes and even meet some of my favourite authors. And of course ribs. No trip to America is complete without a rack of ribs. And this trip came with a bonus - an introduction to the potato awesomeness of what I'm informed are "waffle fries".
But the most exciting thing about the trip? International settings are, well trendy would be a very big overstatement, but they are no longer a death knell for your pitch for your book before you've even started your second sentence. When I attended ACFW Colorado 2009 I was told by a number of people that (1) no one was interested in contemporary, they all wanted either historical or Amish and (2) 99% of publishers would never consider a contemporary story set outside of the U.S.
And they were right. I had a number of editors tell me that if I wanted my story to have a chance it needed to be rewritten to be set to be in the U.S. Four years later, praise the Lord, when I said that my manuscript was set in Australia not a single editor said they weren't interested. Admittedly, no one threw themselves over the table and begged me to sign on the dotted line straight away, but they were open to having the conversation about a book in that setting. Even open to having a look at it. One even said she'd be interested in a story set in New Zealand. Which is pretty much a miracle compared to a few years ago!
So this is my post to say thank you :) Thank you to all of you readers who have bought books in international settings and shown publishers that there is an audience for them out there. Thank you to all of the writers who have gone before me and convinced publishers to take chances. Thank you to the editors and publishers who have taken chances on books that aren't set in America and championing them through the long and arduous publishing process to make them happen. Thank you.
You can find her on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and on Twitter @KaraIsaac