Monday, May 7, 2012

LDStorymakers 2012 and Whitney Gala

May 3rd-5th was the 2012 LDStorymakers Writers Conference at the Provo Marriott, and it was FANTASTIC. I look forward to this event every year--as one of my writer friends (I think it was Karen Hoover?) remarked: "It's like a family reunion." I agree--we're a big family of writers. This is usually the only time in the year that I get to see my writer friends, so I really look forward to this conference. In additional to visiting with old friends,  I love meeting new people, including people that I "know" from online. It's fun being able to match faces with names! One of my absolute favorite parts of being a writer is meeting so many great people.

This year, I was a boot camp "instructor." Boot camp is an event held on Thursday, the day before the conference officially opens. Authors who want to participate bring pages of their manuscript (I can't remember how many pages--maybe 10 or 15?) and come prepared to critique and be critiqued. As an instructor, it was my job to make sure our table ran smoothly and that everyone got their chunk of time. Boot camp goes from 12:30-6:00, which sounds like a lot of time until you try it and realize you'll never even come close to getting all the way through anyone's manuscript segment. I had five marvelous writers at my table: Camille Pack, Teresa Schanze, Alice Workman, Mona Reed Sharp, and Luke Peterson. They were wonderful--all talented writers, and all wonderful at receiving feedback on their manuscripts. It takes a lot of courage to open yourself up in that setting, reading your manuscript aloud and then listening while the others at the table offer their thoughts on what works well in the manuscript and what could be improved. It was an honor to work with such great writers!

Friday and Saturday were the conference, and it was top notch. I went to a bunch of marvelous classes and took lots of notes. A few of the classes I attended: Jeff Savage's class on voice, Dan Wells' class on writing a series, and Amber Argyle's class on different types of magic. A huge thank you to conference co-chairs Jaime Theler and Heather Justesen, the conference committee, MC Sarah Eden, all the presenters, and everyone who went to so much work to create such a wonderful conference.

The Whitney gala was on Saturday evening after the conference ended. Whitney president Josi Kilpack and her committee did a wonderful job, the dinner was delicious, and I was delighted to have my sister Bonnie there with me. I am absolutely thrilled that Rearview Mirror won a Whitney Award for Best Mystery! Wow! Thank you so much to everyone who read and enjoyed my book. You can see the list of all the finalists and winners here.

Here are some pictures from the conference and gala:

Here I am with Dan Wells and his hat. He wears that fedora well, don't you think?

Authors Krista Lynne Jensen (Of Grace and Chocolate), Ali Cross (Become), and Angie Lofthouse (Defenders of the Covenant) at the mass booksigning on Friday evening.

With Janette Rallison. Janette is amazing--she's written tons of delightful YA books, and two of her books were Whitney finalists this year: My Unfair Godmother and Slayers (written under the name CJ Hill).

With Angela Eschler, who was my wonderful first editor. So fun to see Angela at the conference! 

With Lynn Gardner, the author of the "jewel" mystery series (such as Topaz and Treachery) and the Maggie McKenzie mysteries. 

With Josi Kilpack (the Sadie Hoffmiller mysteries, most recently Banana Split) and Lisa Mangum (The Hourglass Door trilogy). 

With my editor, Kirk Shaw. Kirk is marvelous, and it's an honor to work with him. 

With Don Carey (Bumpy Landings), Karen Hoover (The Wolfchild Saga), and Nancy Allen (Whitney Award finalist for Isabelle Webb: The Pharoah's Curse).

With Krista Jensen (Of Grace and Chocolate) and Dan Wells. Dan's novel, I Don't Want to Kill You, won the Whitney Award for Best Novel of the Year.

 With Brandon Sanderson (Best Speculative novel for The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel).

With Jack Weyland and his wife Sherry. Jack received a Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award. What an honor to shake the hand of Jack Weyland, one of the founding fathers of LDS fiction!

From left to right: Mindy Holt, me, Sheila Staley, Shanda Cottam (Mindy, Shanda, and Sheila run the LDS Women's Book Review), Tess Hilmo (her book With a Name Like Love won the Whitney for Best Young Adult General Fiction and Best Novel by a New Author), Jenni James (Whitney Award finalist for Pride and Popularity, and Josi Kilpack (Whitney Award president and author of the Sadie Hofmiller culinary mysteries).

With my wonderful sister, Bonnie, who not only came to support me at the Whitney gala, but patiently served as photographer afterwards. Thank you, Bonnie!

Front row, left to right: Jennie Hansen (finalist for her mystery novel If I Should Die. Jennie also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007). Gregg Luke (finalist for Bloodborne). Back row: Nancy (NC) Allen, finalist for Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's Curse, Gale Sears (winner, Best Historical, for Letters in the Jade Dragon Box), and Lynn Gardner (author of the "jewel" mysteries and the Maggie McKenzie series).

I suspect that in this post, I broke a record for the use of "wonderful" and assorted synonyms, but that's just the kind of conference/gala it was and the kind of people I was privileged to associate with. Once again, thank you to everyone who went to so much work for the conference and the gala. I'm looking forward to Storymakers 2013!