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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.


Krista said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm trying to soak up as much as I can about Storymakers10 through others' posts. The pictures were great. I'm going to make a sign: "Storymakers 2011, Or Bust". I'll put it where I (and the fam)can see it everyday.
You're amazing! You deserve a weekend retreat that you aren't involved with planning at all.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great recap. The conference was spectacular! Thanks for all of your hard work.

Lindzee said...

Your characterization class was awesome! And I don't even remember the story that you mentioned in that class which is now bugging you. ;)

Bootcamp sounds like it was a blast. I was so sad to not even have something half-way ready for that level of critique. Oh well, next year I'll be totally, 100% ready for everything! :D

Basically, the conference was awesome.

Kristina P. said...

It sounds like a wonderful time! Wish I could have met you all!

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Now I'm sorry I missed your presentation. I signed up for four different 2-part workshops, which meant I had to forgo some terrific shorter presentations by friends and others I admire (like you!).

But I got a lot out of this conference and also can't wait till next year!

P.S.--All the Whitney Finalists are winners.

Kimberly said...

I'm still feeling a little dizzy from the whole experience. Talk about intense, eh? So glad you enjoyed the chocolate and hun, can I just say that now that I'm finally applying myself to my writing I'm just honoured that you have EVER commented on my blog. I'm in awe. Truly.

It was so nice to see you!

Heather B. Moore said...

Nice summary. It was a great conference. I need to just let it all soak in. Bringing back all the memories once again :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

If it makes you feel any better,nobody came up to gossip to me about some crazy story you told! :)

It was so great to meet you in person. You're so cute!

Carolyn V. said...

It was a great year! I can't wait for the next one. Thanks so much for sharing Josi! =)

Melanie J said...

It was fun to hang out with you again. Thanks for all the Boot Camp feedback. I'm starting edits with the hopes of having it ready to turn in soon. I so appreciate having fresh eyes to look at it.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm in conference withdrawal. This helped a bit. :) It was GREAT, wasn't it?!

Curtis said...

I'm disappointed I didn't go this year. Sounds like you had a great time. Congrats on your Whitney nomination, happy writing!

Sheila said...

Love you right back Josi! You are not only a great writer, but such a major influence in my life. You are showing me the way to work a job( No I would never think of sleeping with my boss! ;),be a mother and be a writer. This conference would not be the same without you!!

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, Josi. I'm all in tears. I love you, girl. I got home and read the incription in Devil's Food Cake and about fell apart. Thank you. You're better to me than I deserve but you'll never know how much you mean to me. That indian lunch? No more putting that sucker off. I'm trackin' you down and getting out there if it means ditching my kids! ;)

You're a class act, Josi. All the way.

Kara said...

Great recap of the conference. :-) When you open that guava jam Don made for you, you may discover it's turned into guava apple butter. Super, super yummy I might add. Go for it!

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Enjoy the guava apple butter. I was lucky to end up with a jar once and it was delicious.

I wish I would have had more of a chance to talk to you. The conference was amazing, as always and I'm already looking forward to next year. The LDStorymakers do such a good job of putting everything together.

Shanda said...

You are so sweet, Josi! Your character class was amazing. I don't really remember what story you're talking about, either, so I think you're safe.

Knowing you is such a pleasure. Excellent books like yours are the reason we do what we do.

Shanda :)

Lani Woodland said...

I loved your character building class. Thank you for signing my book even though I missed your scheduled time!

Kimberly Job said...

Nice recap! Your story in the characterization class only made me love you more. I love when I discover someone as amazing as you are is actually human. :)

Julie Wright said...

I really wish I saw you more at conferences. One of these years, we need to not be in charge of anything so we can hang out and talk

Wendy Swore said...

It was sure a wonderful conference. I think the time just flew.

Nice summary of the highlights--though that opening speach with the twitter thing was one of the funniest. I haven't any idea what he was saying; I was laughing too hard!

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

Thanks for all your hard work! I loved seeing you again.

Janette Rallison said...

Awesome sign! Next year I want my kids to make me one!

C.S. Bezas said...

Like Annette, I've too been in withdrawals since the conference. :0) In fact, I just barely unpacked my suitcase today...wanted to let the memories linger as long as possible. And your post was a wonderful reminder of how great it was. You're so right...the LDStorymakers conference is worth everything it takes to get there! And you're such a terrific part of it, Josi.

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

Josi, you ROCK. :-)

I am so glad I got to be at your table for bootcamp.