Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LDStorymakers Conference 2010 - Highlights

How I survived Boot Camp  

How many people pay money to wake up painfully early, hand their precious WIPs over to total strangers and allow them to pick it apart? Crazy boot-campers, that's who!
Okay, joking aside, it was one of the best parts of the conference. Who can put a price on honest feedback?  Sharing with strangers was daunting at first, but then I realized, hey - these people are not my relatives and I don't visit teach them - so maybe I can trust what they're telling me. (Note: I have honest relatives- but you know what I mean - right?)

I loved the group I got to be a part of. I enjoyed getting to read the writing samples of the the others in my group and loved!! being able to meet & learn from Tristi Pinkston. She rocks! Totally professional, spot on critiques, and quite funny. Thank-you Tristi, for a great Boot Camp experience.

The Making of a Drama Queen

For the record, I did not ask to change rooms!  The hotel had to cope with the storymaker's conference, BYU graduation and a roll-away bed shortage. So they shuffled us from one room to another on Friday. *Big Sigh* Someday when I grow up I want to be like my friend Peggy who had her luggage packed and ready, waiting by the door. No drama there. Me? I was fighting with my morning-routine-belongings (read: hairspray, make-up) to fit into the suitcase. Behind me was the stack of foam pillows (I'm allergic to down). The Marriott lady, Irene - very, very nice, offered to carry those for me, especially when she saw me opening the closet. Yes, my two days worth of clothes were on their hangers. This is point in my little story you may have seen me, trapesing through the lobby holding my clothes on hangers. If my children had been there I'm sure they would have fled the scene. Oh well. Everyone needs a little comic relief in their day, right? Right?

Contest Winners

I've been waiting for a list of all the contest winners so I could put a link to it here. But I haven't seen one yet. But I am aware of who won third place in the general fiction category. Yes. I won 3rd place!!! And yes, it is very much like the Olympics - winning the bronze - I was very happy just to be on the podium - only there wasn't a podium really, and no medals. But a very cool envelope with $25 in it and a sticker for my name tag that read 'third place.'

Putting the shock aside, I was really thankful to place at all in a competition with other really great writers. As for what I entered? It is the first chapter of the book I've been writing for a year. The working title is "The Keeper" and it is a Christmas Story about miracle trees. I have now nicknamed it 'The Little Christmas Story that Could'.

The judges feedback forms have been really helpful, but did anyone else open their envelope and have the worst one put right on top? Do you think that was on purpose? Sorry, I'll get over it. Someday. I hope.

Up next: Workshop Highlights and more on my Work In Progress

Monday, April 26, 2010

LDStorymakers Conference 2010 - Quotes

This was my first time attending the LDStorymaker's Conference in Provo, UT. It had been on my "become-a-author" to do list ever since last year. And it lived up to every good thing I'd heard about it. Great speakers, lots of really cool writers, agents and editors-what else could you ask for, except maybe a venue change to say, Hawaii? I'm not one for hyperbole but it was the Best. Conference. Ever.

I've compiled random quotes for your reading enjoyment.

"We're glad you're here. You matter." - Saturday morning opening remarks

"The more pain you have, use it." - referring to women's fiction

"Unique-wa-fy your book" -permission from M.A. Bell to use her newly coined word.

"If I can do it, you can do it." -from the cliche class

"Once you start writing, you have a radar for wierdness!"

"We are going to change your reservation and put you in one room the first night and another room for the second night." -said with a smile by the front-desk-man to me upon check-in. This has nothing to do with writing but it will help you understand one of my conference highlights.

"We have a ton of material so I'm going to talk fast to get through it" - from the pacing class . . . okay I made this one up - but all of the other quotes are totally true!!

"If your first sentence is about the weather - delete it!" - first five pages workshop

"Then I'm going to make her squirm" - this was overheard by my friend Peggy, who has incredible powers of eavesdropping, er - I mean observation, at one of her tables. This makes me want to ask, "Haven't you heard of karma? You know, what goes around, comes around!" Unless she was speaking of a character in her book, maybe her villian. Then the comment is totally justified! That's the trouble when you don't have context.

Speaking of context. . .

"Remember to exercise. . . join toastmasters . . . hang out in a bar." -advice from David Farland during his keynote address. Does he know he's speaking to writers? I didn't make this up. But I will add context. He said we have to take care of ourselves physically to have sharp minds. He said we need to prepare for the day when we are asked to give the keynote address at storymakers, 'polish your public speaking skills, you know, join toastmasters'.(We can hope, right?) And he told a story of attending World Con twenty years ago with a new writer who he instructed to go with him to the bar to hang out with the agents and editors - he did warn him not to drink anything, though. *whew*

Last quote "overheard" by Peggy while we were boarding the flight to SLC. Okay, I heard it too, but she got the full sentence:

"I always leave an empty seat next to me if I can, so if I see a pretty girl I can motion to her that the seat is available." -said by the man one seat behind us to his friend. All you pretty ladies taking flight - be warned - he's out there. Unless you're looking for this kind of shallow schemer- well then, he's all yours!

Ahh, good times.

Coming soon - conference highlights including my bootcamp survival story, great writing advice and winners of the 1st chapter contest. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I wrote this about a year ago. It is unfinished,
but I was thinking of it today and decided to share.


My three- year-old daughter learns how to
Pour juice into her cup.
She grasps the too-big bottle
With her miniature hands,
Stretched and wobbly.
I offer to help.
She says, “I do it myself.”
I am learning, too.
I hold my breath as she pours and
The liquid tumbles from the top of the bottle
Down to her small cup on the table
Like the high diver at the circus,
Aiming for the small tub of water.
She doesn’t spill any juice this time.
“I did it,” she squeals.

I am like the high diver, too.
Only she is my target, small and moving.
Even sitting still she is growing
What she needs today
May not be what she needs tomorrow.
Every day I pour myself,
Hoping it is enough.
At night, her room is dark
“Sing me a song,” she pleads.
My pouring is drops as I whisper-sing,
I do not want to spill even one note.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Not to Wear?

So, I'm preparing to attend LDStorymaker's writing conference this month. Yes, I'm excited. Ever since I started seriously writing, I've been looking forward to a conference just like this one for a chance to meet other authors, hear great ideas for improving my 'craft' and the opportunity to do something with my writing that involves other people - something social. Hence, the prepartion. I thought I'd be spending every spare moment writing or editing or in some way polishing my writing. What am I doing?

Um, Housework -haven't given that one up yet.
Reading Conference Presenter blogs - that counts, doesn't it?
Checking flights - why do airline schedules not accomodate my tight itinerary? And finally - Figuring out what to wear. Uhg. This is when I remind myself I am a writer for a reason. I like buying books more than shoes, I like reading books more than stepping out to a movie and, yes, I like writing books more than shopping at the mall.

I know writers can have the reputation of being serious, studious and I-mean-this-in-the-best-sense-of-the-word, nerdy. I don't want to shatter that image by appearing shallow and clearly self-centered here, but I do have to figure out what to wear. Can I be frivolous for a minute?

I checked with some of the places I usually turn for inspiration. I thought maybe dear Jane might have a suggestion for me. *Sigh* The empire waist. She can pull it off, but this century I'd run the risk of it resembling maternity wear. And the bonnet . . . now there's an idea.

"Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!" Jane Austen

How about Miss Alcott? The white blouse looks versatile, but I don't think I could get my hair to curl, shine and extend over my ears the same way. Is it just me or does she look like she could could be Princess Lea's grandmother?

"Let us be elegant or die! --Amy (Little Women), Louisa May Alcott

Last try. What can I learn from Miss Emily? Maybe less is more? Less hair, no collar, no lace -more poise? So writing inspiration? Yes. Fashion inspiration? Not so much. But I like Emily's advice . . .

Dwell in possibility - Emily Dickinson

I think I will look mostly like myself - maybe a little more excited than this pic and definately more colorful. Thanks for taking that little field trip with me. Now back to writing the book!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Chinese Proverb

and why I love my ANWA Chapter meeting

Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your
friend's forehead.
That’s the proverb.

It’s why I love my ANWA meetings. (Note: ANWA is the American Night Writer’s Association. It’s a writer’s network group for LDS (latter-day-saint) women.)

When I set out to write a novel, a full length one with a minimum of 50,000 words, I wrote about six chapters and discovered a few things. One – I needed to adjust my expectations for when I might finish the book, two- I needed to adjust my writing style, accustomed to writing one page poems filled with alliterations and obscure phrases, to prose that someone was willing to read. And three –I needed to adjust my desire to do it alone. I knew I needed help. I remembered basics of plot, characterization and pacing from college and high school classes, but that was (ahem) years ago. I knew from my poetry experiences and the sheer number of words I was writing, I needed to read some of what I was writing – out loud, to willing ears.

That’s when I found ANWA, or did ANWA find me? If you have time for a tangent, I still think it is amazing. One morning in the pouring rain, I drove my son to junior high and got rear ended by a young man, not watching the road or cars in front of him. Whiplash. Some fender and trunk damage. Eventually we sold the sedan and found a minivan I still love driving. (Funny sentence I’d never thought I’d write!) The whiplash led me to physical therapy. Physical therapy included therapeutic massage with a massage therapist that attended . . . yes, you guessed it, ANWA.

Back to the chapter meetings. I didn’t know what to expect when I attended. I promised myself, very much like I would my toddler, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go back. Here I am one year later –still enjoying the benefits of hanging out with great writers. I love how we are women of different ages, backgrounds, family situations and even different writing aspirations, but we are able to learn so much from each other.

Hence, the proverb. It makes me laugh out loud. Maybe because not too many people I know use hatchets these days, and I suppose I’m still young, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fly on anyone’s forehead. But I love the point. How a fly is a nuisance, yet harmless, and someone might use lethal measures to get rid of it.

But not in ANWA! What I have found there is a positive, encouraging, and caring group of women. A place where I show up with my shaky hands, holding my timid pages, waiting for everyone to run screaming from the room when I am done reading. Instead, I finish, look up and see a few smiles and women who appear comfortable as they listen. They do not have to use hatchets to remove the flies from my manuscript. Their kind words of thoughtful critique do it beautifully. I suppose some manuscripts might need a hatchet, or a shredder, or a torch, (sorry, didn’t mean to get carried away). But those are very rare. The ladies I have met and become freinds with in ANWA have helped me to critique and edit and polish my writing, without crippling me, the writer. That’s what I love about ANWA. And in case you are wondering, I have written this blog of my own free will – no one suggested, asked, paid or otherwise prompted me to do it!


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