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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 LDStorymakers Conference my POV

It's Tuesday already? So not fair. Honestly I could have done another two days easy. So, here is my recap--I ask in advance that you forgive me for not linking--it takes too long and I've already spent a couple hours at work catching up with the e-mail that piled up (disclaimer: I don't get paid and I'm sleeping with my boss so I can take such liberties. I do not recommend that you take advantage of your employer in this way--or that you sleep with him for privileges unless you are legally and lawfully married to him/her.)

Before leaving home I set up a treasure hunt for Breanna (also called Jeanie on this blog, but since she's on facebook and linked to me I decided the pseudonym wasn't necessary any more) It was her 16th birthday that day and although we celebrated the night before and she was okay with my not being there, I felt aweful and thus the treasure hunt made me feel much better about myself. That's what it's all about, right? After setting it up I headed to Salt Lake where I picked up a case of books and headed to the airport. I picked up Nephele Tempest (prounounced Neffalee--not that I said it right all weekend, grrr) and we spent the next few hours touring Salt Lake. We went to Saltaire marina (thank you Wikipedia for teaching me all about Saltaire so I could sound like I knew my landmarks) and then we went to lunch with Lisa Mangum at The Garden and had deep fried pickles. Not bad. After that we toured Temple Square, then headed for Provo.

After getting early check-in (thank you Marriott!) I ran some errands, got checked into the hotel, helped put together syllabus binders and then went to dinner with Nephele Tempest (agent Knight agency), Laura Rennert (agent Andrea Brown), Krista Marino (editor Delacort), Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Julie Wright (three of my favorite people in the world), Marion Jensen, Jeff Savage, and James Dashner. We went to Tucanos--a low-carb girls dream restaurant! and had a great time getting to know one another. After that it was back to the hotel, chat time with Heather and Annette who were my roomies for the evening and to bed.

Friday started at 5:30 since I helped with registration and then bootcamp. My bootcamp table was the bomb! Jewel Allen, Melanie Jacobsen and Kim Coats were gals I knew before--Sadie Starling was new to me, but fit right in. What wonderful women and wonderful writers. We weren't able to find Sadie for the picture but she is there in spirit I'm sure. :-) After bootcamp the conference began. I was the chairperson for the agents and editors so I stressed about that, taught a class on Book Launch parties and thwarted Dan Wells and Howard Taylor's attempts to hijack me--phew--after that I manned 'doors' for the pitches, caught part of a class here and there and got to hug lots of people. I had the chance to explain my spiritual philosophy to one very talented writer I deeply admire--she knows who she is--and it put me in a reflective mood that I needed, perhaps more than she did. Thank you for that, we all need those reminders and I was grateful for the chance to reflect on my own beliefs of why I do what I do.

Friday night was full of great conversation and camaraderie and just added to the high I'd been on all day. I worried I wouldn't sleep well that night, but I slept like a rock--apparently 14 hours straight of high energy takes it's toll. The next day was bootcamp again at 7:00 and then more pitches and another class, this one on Characterization where I told a particular story about myself that has been bugging me every since. Sigh. I talk too much. Anyway, I think it went pretty well and when it was over I was back to pitches again. When the pitches finally came to an end I had the chance to sit in on the entire agent/editor panel, which was awesome and the only class I was in for its entirety, and then it was time to break the party up and get ready for the Whitneys.

I had already come to the realization that it was not my year. You think I'm being all noble, but I'm not. I was up against some amazing writers and even though I hadn't read any of my competitors books (on purpose) I know them and their writing and am just glad that no one publishes the ranking so I can PRETEND I came in second :-) Now, let me say I WANTED to win, I really, really did, but I'm also a realist and had thoroughly enjoyed being a finalist amid such fabulous talent. Stephanie Black earned that award and I was perhaps the first one to applaud for her. If you didn't see the Mormon times article on the award gala, you should check it out HERE. The picture of Stephanie is priceless.

The rest of the evening was wonderful. I was at a table with Brandon Mull, Lisa Mangum, Gerald Lund and his wife Lynn, and Chris Schobinger and his wife Jennifer. It was very cool to tell Elder Lund what an impact his books have had on me, specifically The Kingdom and the Crown series to which I attribute 75% of my understanding of the New Testiment. The speeches and acheivement tributes were amazing--reminding me of how powerful words can be and what a gift it is to serve by teaching, both through books and actually teaching skills and craft. I left feeling even more uplifted and validated in the area I've chosen to invest to much of my life within.

I got home around 11:30 that night to find 3 of the 4 kids had waited up for me. They'd made a sign that said "Congratulations, you ALMOST won the Whitney!" It was awesome and so good to be home, hugging my kids, and remembering the OTHER great blessings I have in my life.

All in all it was a wonderful, fabulous weekend. A few other hightlights?

Hugs from Laura Elliot--she gives the best hugs ever and is just such a ray of sunshine in my life.

Luisa Perkins sharing with me her excitement to have had her manuscript requested. I laughed because she was telling me how the book was a dark, dark, dark YA thriller, and I couldn't get past the strand of pearls around her neck and little black dress she was wearing. That's what we call irony :-) But I was touched that she shared that with me--I admire her very much.

Kim Vanderhorst brought me Canadian candybars, which no longer exist. They were DIVINE and I was just so touched to be one of the people she thought of as she got ready to come to the confernece. I feel very out of touch with some of my favorite blog-writer-friends and was glad that she still has warm feelings toward me. And, it was Canadian chocolate, I mean THAT is love.

Shanda, Hillary, and Sheila with the LDS Women's Book Review podcast. They are phenomenal cheerleaders to have on the side of LDS fiction and I just love the opportunity to spend time with them.

Becky Clayson took second place in the First Chapter Contest! Becky has been in my writing group for four years and she's very talented but like many of us wonders if she can  compete. Well, she can--I already knew that--but the judges validated that for her and I about shot out of my chair in excitement when they named her book.

Don Carey--one of Sadie's Test Kitchen Bakers--brought me guava jam! GUAVA! Is that not the coolest? He made it himself and brought it all the way from Texas. He's a class act and I'm glad to know him.

Stephanie Humphries and Margot Hovely also won and I was so very glad to hear their names announced. I'm sure I forgot some others, my apologies.

Rooming with Annette Lyon and Heather Moore is, as always, an absolute highlight. I just love those women so much and feel like I just soak up confidence and elegance by being in their presence.

I'm sure I'm missing many things and many people, forgive me, but know that I"ll remember later and feel like crap for forgetting in the first place so justice will be served. I'm already counting the days until next years conference and hope that if you didn't make it to this years, you'll be able to attend in 2011. It's worth the juggling it takes to get there, I swear it is.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Smells

What does a girl do at 11:00 on a Friday night when she's brain dead from revisions? She blogs of course! The fact is it's spring and with spring comes some of my favorite smells which makes me think of my other favorite smells and the result is, voila, a incredibly inspiring post. Possibly one of my very best. This is not a David Letterman top 10--I'm not nearly that funny--and it's in no particular order.

1--Smoke. The only kind I don't like is smoke generated by burning food, garbage, or flesh--not good. But burning leaves, sticks, paper, charcoal, fields, and even cigarettes is good stuff. That said, I don't like the smell of smoke in anything but air--not in someones hair or on their breath or in their clothes, but I love the smell of someone smoking a cigarette behind me at a baseball game and especially love the smell of burning weeds or fruit wood trimmings. Mmmmmmm. Love it.

2--Lilacs. We planted several along the side of the house and the month of May just smells so delicious. I think that's why May is usually my best month for running because all of Willard is just wafting in Lilacs and I can't wait to get out there and soak it up.

3--Lee. Since I first met him Lee just smells good all the time. He's very mindful of it and always wears cologne, never forgets his deodorant and showers after every time he gets sweaty. I can probably count on two hands the times I've smelled body odor on him and it makes him so very snuggable. I hear people complain about stinky husbands--I feel very sorry for them. Lee is a good smelling man...unless he farts. That's not so good but it doesn't last long cause I run.

4--Other people's babies. I leave my babies out of this because I hate, hate, hate bathing babies. I don't know why other than it's just such a pain in the butt and so much work. So I would bathe them as little as possible. Only when I hold other people's babies do I realize how good smelling those little blessings can be. I would usually then go wash my kids up, enjoy it for a day or two and then avoid bath time again. I guess that's what comes from being a young, lazy mother. Thank goodness other people do better than me.

5--Bleach. I love the smell of chlorine bleach. It means clean to me. I only wish I dared clean with it but I haven't figured out how to do that and preserve my clothing. I love doing laundry with bleach because the whole house gets lit up with the scent.

6--Baking bread. I don't really need to explain this one, do I? I didn't think so.

7--Rain. This one doesn't really need an explanation either. I love the smell of wet ground and leaves and just the heaviness of the air after a rain storm. It is so relaxing to me.

8--Books. Do you ever just thumb the pages and inhale? I love the smell of the paper and ink, there's such depth in it, such...history I guess. I have loved my kindle, but I still read paper books for the feel of it in my hand and the smell of it in the air as I get lost in a story.

9--Mountains. This might go along with the smoke and the rain, but there is just a smell to trees and dirt and bushes that takes the weight off my shoulders. I love to just lay there and soak it in.

10--Cedar. I know that Cedar repels bugs or something and that's why they line cedar chests with it, but the smell of the cedar is just awesome. I love that every time I open my cedar chest the smell fills the room and I love that the things I put in there come out all scented and wonderful. I wish I had a room made of cedar, I'd just go sit in there all day long.

There's my top ten, what are yours?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Join me for the PEG Write-a-Thon!

Next Thursday, April 8, 2010, I will be participating in the Precision Editing Group Write-a-Thon. They're inviting writers to show how many words they can write in 4 hours! The person who writes the most words will receive their choice of a $50 Amazon.com gift card OR a 50 page content edit by one of the Precision Editing Group Editors. Another winner will be chosen at random from among all those who participate for a $30 gift card from Amazon.

Here's how it will work:

1-The Write-a-thon will officially begin at 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.

2-The blog titled "Write-a-Thon Starts Now!" will post at 6:00 EDT--you need to enter your starting time and starting word count in the comment section of the blog.

3-Write for four hours--set a timer if you need to!

4-When finished, come back to the PEG blog and put your end time, end word count, and total words written in those 4 hours as another comment on the blog.

5-All "end time" posts must be posted by 12:15, Pacific Daylight Time (we're giving you 15 minutes to tally your numbers). To calculate how much time YOU will have, based on where you live, go HERE

6-Please be honest. You are your own time/word keeper and we are trusting that none of our dearly beloved readers would sell their integrity for $50 or 50 pages :-) You must have posted a start comment AND an end comment to be eligible to win.

7-The winner will be posted on Friday, April 9th here on the PEG blog.


They'll also be adding up everyone's words to see how many words can be written in a night.

Feel free to spread the word to other writers (Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs), wherever they may live--send them to the PEG blog, www.writingonthewallblog.com to read up (though it's the same info I've put here.)

I'm betting I can write 4,000 words :-) I could sure use it in my current WIP!  I'll be writing from 8:00-midnight for my 4 hours--the kids will be fed, I'll have my Coke Zero at my side, and a pile of notes to keep me on track!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A lot can Happen in 17 Years

Namely:
  • 2 miscarriages
  • 4 rounds of bed rest
  • 4 live births
  • 3 of them were premature births
  • 1 of them resulted in a 1 month NICU stay
  • 5 years (cumulative) of raising Lee's  niece, Lindsy
  • 6 surgeries (3 mine, 2 Lindsy's, and 1 Lee)
  • 3 Grandparents passed away
  • Each of us lost a sibling tragically
  • Lee's parent's moved to Lousiana
  • 3 visits to Lousiana--2 as a family one Lee went himself
  • My parents moved to Milford and back again
  • 5 of my siblings and 1 of Lee's siblings got married
  • Planned and paid for Lindsy's wedding
  • 5 baby blessings (4 of ours, 1 of Lindsy's)
  • 4 children baptized
  • 8 places of residence
  • 13 family members have lived with us at one time or another
  • 4 elderly people lived in our home for paid 24 hour care
  • 2 miserable trips to disneyland
  • 1 awesome trip to Europe
  • 4 fabulous trips to Costa Rica
  • 3 Cruises (two together, one writing one for me)
  • 2 Grandkids, sorta (Lindsy's boys)
  • Built 4 Assisted living Centers
  • Managed 7 Assisted living Centers
  • 65 or so love letters
  • 40 or so chickens
  • 2 dogs
  • 3 cats
  • 2 goats
  • 15 cumulative years of kid's orthidontics
  • 2 5K races
  • Half a dozen fights
  • 3 failed business ventures
  • 12 thriving business ventures
  • 17 cars
  • 1 flood
  • 3 car accidents
  • Thousands of hugs and kisses
  • Every place on the financial spectrum from broke to wealthy
  • 1 college graduation (his)
  • 11 published novels (mine)
  • 80 birthday celebrations
  • 17 christmas mornings together
  • Too many falling outs with family members, most of them recovered from
  • 3 beds (ours, not the kids)
  • 4 painful betrayals from people we loved 
  • About 1,000 jars of canned peaches
  • 6 or so spiritual crisis
  • 6 or so re-conversions
  • 400 or so pounds gained and/or lost
  • 1 deep freezer
  • 1000 utterings (at least) of "What would I do without you?"