Monday, March 24, 2008

A Smashing Success!

Heather Moore, Josi Kilpack, Julie Wright, Annette Lyon

"A Smashing Success" is the only way to describe the 2008 LDStorymakers Writers Conference.

It was truly amazing. Our keynote speakers, Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary), and Timothy Travaglini (G.P. Putnam & Sons) were fantastic. They were funny, kind, and made themselves accessible to everyone.

Other speakers included Jessica Day George (author, Dragon Flight), Brandon Sanderson (author, Elantris), Dave Nibley (comedian and actor), Kirk Shaw (Covenant Editor), Lisa Mangum (Deseret Book Editor), Maryanne Jones (Deseret Book Publicist), Kammie Wrencher (Cedar Fort Editor), Christopher Bigelow (Zarahemla Books Publisher), and Janette Rallison (author, How to Take the Ex out of Ex-Boyfriend).

The rest of the presenters were authors who are members of LDStorymakers.

At the end of the conference, we recognized all of the people on the committee who did an incredible job of bringing everything together:

Julie Wright
Scott Wright
Jeff Savage
Rob Wells
Brent Rowley
Josi Kilpack
Crystal Liechty
Julie Bellon
Candace Salima
Tristi Pinkston

Then we passed the gauntlet to Jeff Savage, who will be the director for Conference 2009.

Some of the notes I took that might be of interest:

Agent Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary) said not to stress over your cover letters. Every submission she receives, she sets the cover letter aside and reads the first pages. If she loves the writing then she'll read the cover letter to find out more about the author.

Senior Editor Tim Travaglini (G.P. Putnam Sons) said that in contrast to the other big publishing houses, Putnam takes unagented submissions. He encouraged the writers to continue working and improving their craft. And to make sure they educated themselves as to which publisher/imprint accepts what genres. He said that it's easier to to submit to junior editors since they are actively seeking new authors. He said to be sure to spell his name right.

Jessica Day George said she received 187 rejections before getting the call from a publisher offering a book contract. Ironically, the next day she received a form rejection letter from the same publisher--which had gone to a different editor and was purged from the slush pile in a big clean sweep.

Brandon Sanderson wrote nine books before getting a publishing contract. He promptly contacted the agent he had established a relationship with at a writers conference.

Kirk Shaw (Covenant editor) and Lisa Mangum (Deseret Book editor) were generous in coming to the conference and holding one-on-one interviews with writers. It's tough for a writer to get in front of a decision maker from a publisher. They added so much value and I was thanked over and over by conference attendees. Each of them also taught workshops and shared their advice for submitting and landing a publishing contract.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2007 Whitney Award Winner--Best Historical

Shocked? Me too.

Tonight I won a prestigious award in the LDS community--Land of Inheritance was voted as Best Historical for 2007.

Other Whitney Award Winners include:

Michele Paige Holmes (Counting Stars)--Best Romance
Shannon Hale (Book of a Thousand Days)--Best Speculative
Brandon Mull (Fablehaven 2)--Best Childrens/YA
Josi Kilpack (Sheep's Clothing)--Best Suspense
Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers)--Best New Author
Coke Newell (On the Road to Heaven)--Best Novel of the Year

Congrats! I'm honored to be counted among so many great writers who I truly admire.

To read about the whole evening--play by play--visit the official Whitney Awards Blog.

Below is Michele Paige Holmes, me and Annette Lyon (all in my critique group).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Count Down

This weekend, Annette Lyon and I are going to witness first-hand the fruits of our labors. We're hoping they will be very sweet.

The LDStorymakers Writers Conference is March 21-22, 2008. It's been sold out for over a month, and we are looking forward to hearing from Timothy Travaglini (Putnam) and Jamie Weiss Chilton (Andrea Brown Literary). In addition, there are 21 workshops with authors such as Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), Janette Rallison (How to Take the Ex out of Boyfriend), and Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers).

I'm kind of nervous about it all--mostly about hosting the editor and agent. I still have quite a bit of left-over shyness from my childhood and it takes a concerted effort to meet and greet strangers. But . . . doing booksignings for the past four years has helped me break out of my shell. That, and sugar. Growing up, my dad always told me I got a sparkle in my eye after eating dessert. So I'll have to remember to carry a pack of M&M's or something.

It's amazing what goes into planning a Writers Conference. We have been literally working on it for an entire year--having scoped and booked the venue April 2007. In August we met and brainstormed the workshops and coordinating topics. By September we were extending invitations to our presenters.

We have a 9 person committee who handle everything from coordinating audiovisual, meals, hotel, presentations, registration, boot camp, advertising, pitch sessions, writing contest, awards, bookstore, syllabus, name tags, finances, etc. Then it comes down to the small details such as signs, book bags, centerpieces, timekeeper, honorariums, etc . . .

Beyond all of that is the incredible energy when writers and presenters who are passionate about their craft come together to learn from each other. Life-long friendships are made and for a couple of days, you feel like you are in a place "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"--just like that song from Cheers.

Well, next week at this time, I'll have a huge weight off of my shoulders. But you can bet that I'll be just a little bit sad. It will all be over, and the memories will certainly be sweet. And every ounce of work will have been worth it.