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9 / 30 books. 30% done!

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14 / 51 states. 27% done!

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43 / 104 books. 41% done!

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35 / 52 books. 67% done!

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39 / 165 books. 24% done!
Saturday, May 01, 2010

LDS Storymakers 2010

So, I've been meaning to blog about this year's LDS Storymakers Conference ever since I got home, but I've been so wiped out that I haven't even unpacked yet. Let me just say, it was tons of fun. I met lots of great people, learned a bunch about writing, and just had a good ole time. My kids didn't even seem to miss me all that much (probably because Dad bribed them with trips to Toys 'R' Us, Denny's, Golden Spoon -basically anywhere their little hearts desired - in exchange for a little slave labor). No wonder they whine every time I ask them to clean up just because it's "their responsibility as members of our household."

I got to Salt Lake on Thursday. My friend Robin, whom I roomed with at BYU many moons ago, picked me up at the airport. After lunch at Zupa's (yum - why don't we have these in Arizona?) and a lovely scenic drive around the metropolis of Draper, Utah, we visited with another one of our old roommates.

Then, we headed to Good Wood Barbecue for a much-anticipated dinner with the illustrious "6." Robin and I both stalk follow Brodi Ashton's blog. She's so hilarious that we wanted to bask in her awesomeness, even if it was just for a couple of hours. Not only did she agree to meet with us, but she also brought along the "peeps" from her writing group (including Bree Despain and Emily Wing Smith). We could hardly believe that celebrities like them were willing to be seen with the likes of us. They even let us in on cool products (The Dark Divine nail polish and some in-development baby butt spray) and inside jokes (Go Vikings!). I'm not sure if I've ever felt cooler.

The 5 in attendance (Kimberly Webb Reid was the only one who managed to find something better to do that night - I think it was her birthday or something) were all wonderfully fun, friendly and just, really, so nice. It was a good time.

None of my pictures from the conference weekend turned out very well. Perhaps it's time for me to invest in a new camera, or a new photographer, or maybe just liposuction. Yikes.

Our pen-less waiter suggested we try these "bagel-sized" onion rings as an appetizer. They didn't taste all that great, but they were funny to see. Robin and I posed with them for Brodi's camera phone (which takes much clearer pictures than my weenie Olympus).
"O" Baby - it's (from left) Emily Wing Smith, Brodi Ashton and Bree Despain.

Our penless waiter wasn't much of a server - or a photographer. Maybe it was just my camera ... Anyway, (going clockwise from the left) here are: Valynne Nagamatsu, me, Robin, Emily Wing Smith, Brodi Ashton, Bree Despain and Sara Bolton.

Thanks again to these lovely ladies for letting us hang with them!

We spent the next two (very early) mornings doing Boot Camp, which was basically an intense critique of our manuscripts (well, a chapter of our WIPs). I didn't get any pictures of my critique group, although I really meant to. Our fearless leader was Elana Johnson, a blogger extraordinaire and YA author (I believe her first book is coming out in 2011). Including her, there were six of us in the group. Everyone was so sweet and complimentary about the very, very rough draft I toted along (the one I frantically hammered out on Wednesday night). Boot Camp actually left me feeling much more encouraged than I thought it would. It was, by far, the most helpful part of the conference. I highly, highly recommend the experience.

We spent the rest of Friday and Saturday attending classes, panel discussions and other events.

A panel discussion about The Writing Process. From left to right: Heather B. Moore (at podium), Aprilynne Pike, Dan Wells, Dave Wolverton (Farland), Stephanie Black and Anita Stansfield
Okay, I look incredibly dorky in the picture. Good thing I'm keeping some cool company - Robin and Jessica Day George. Jessica gave an awesome presentation on world-building. She's adorable and so very fun.

Since I couldn't scribble fast enough to keep up, here are paraphrasings of some of the things that were said in classes, panels, etc.:

"Readers are a diverse bunch, including a lot of people who are basically easy to please, and a smaller number of people who are basically impossible to please." - Aprilynne Pike

"You should nver marry yourself to a book and stay with it until it's perfect. It will never be perfect." - Dan Wells

"Sometimes you have to make writing a priority and catch up on life later." - Aprilynne Pike

"Sometimes family is the priority. When my son set the house on fire, I did get out of my chair." - David Farland

"Sacrificing your wife, children and friends is the first step in becoming a writer." - David Farland

"Write a paragraph. Change a diaper. Write a paragraph. Make lunch." - Anita Stansfield

"Books are like babies. Authors are like mothers - they tend to like everything they produce. It's hard to send them [your babies/books] out into the world, but if you cling too tightly, they'll never move out of your basement and make something of themselves." - Aprilynne Pike

"If you want me to willingly suspend my belief, you have to make me believe in something." - Jessica Day George

And, my personal favorite, which is a direct quote (Aprilynne was kind enough to email me a copy of her PowerPoint presentation):

"Thanks to blogs, you will get to hear every tiny thing someone hated about your book, and why they think that probably makes you a worthless person. This will be very hard!"

Every step I took around the Marriott provided opportunity to meet authors, bloggers and aspiring writers. So fun! I met the very talented bookbinder Paulette, the very fun ladies behind LDS Women's Book Review, the knowledgable Emily from Segullah, sweet Terresa Wellborn, and the very likeable and down-to-earth Janette Rallison, among many, many others.

In the next couple of weeks, you can expect to see reviews of all the books I bought, received and won because of my fabulous writing weekend.

I'm already saving my pennies for next year's conference. That's how much I enjoyed myself!


  1. Susan, it was so fun to meet you too! I want to have lunch with you next time you're in Utah, if you can pack me into your schedule, and we can talk more.

  2. Susan, you have such a big smile on your face. It looks like you had a blast and I'm so glad you got to have this time. :-)

  3. Susan- Great to meet you too! We'll just make our night out a yearly event at every conference.

  4. Yay for the conference! I had so much fun with you! I was also tickled that the 6 didn't pretend they didn't know us when they saw us at the conference, but let us continue to feel cool by association. :D What a great group of girls--and such awesome writers.

    Next year, we'll go with full manuscripts so we can do the pitch sessions! :)

  5. Okay, I think I have to go with you guys next year...that sounds like too much fun!

  6. Absolutely, Cami! Everyone must come!

  7. This sort of looks like a blogger bash party and LTUE all rolled into one! I should have gone! (The title of the conference scares me though... I'm not a writer, just a reader, you know?)

    Anyway, lucky you for getting to hang out with all these people! I need to be brave and go next time especially since it's practically in my back yard!


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