Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010 LDStorymakers Conference Recap


Yes, I know the conference was 3 weeks ago, and it could be argued that the "Recap Momentum" has dwindled by this time. I could pretend that I waited on purpose to fire up the enthusiasm once again, but this is, if nothing, an honest blog. The truth is that it's taken me 3 weeks to figure out how to make a powerpoint into a decent video on YouTube. So let's have the appropriate Oooos and Ahhhhs for my newly acquired technical brilliance.

It's okay, I'll wait...

Thank you. Back to the recap.

The 2010 LDStorymakers Writers Conference dawned bright and early (extremely early for those doing bootcamp). The halls were filled with yawning attendees and staff, but the anticipation was still palpable. After bootcamp the conference proper started with food, laughs, a music video, and sufficient inspiration to kick off the next two fun-filled days.

I was stopped several times during the conference with people requesting that we make the Becoming Legendary presentation available. I aim to please, so for the first time on the internet, here is the 2010 LDStorymakers Becoming Legendary Presentation.

**Please note: 1) Due to sleep deprivation, the quote at the end is by Jennifer Laugran, not Laughlin (I'll fix it when I can) and 2) It is set to the song "Fly Away" by Jennifer Thomas, who was generous enough to let us use it. Please visit her site for more great music: www.jenniferthomasmusic.com.**

Things ran smoothly, and there was more than enough information, friends, and writerly atmosphere for all. The keynote address by Dave Wolverton/Farland had us all ready to dive back into our writing, and we had a great time learning from and associating with our visiting agents & editors. Just so you know, both agents were impressed with the conference and the friendly atmosphere. They were also impressed with the fresh ideas they heard and expressed a desire to be invited again in the future. (Yea!)

If you'd like to relive some moments of the conference, visit the 2010 Conference Highlights page for photos, links to videos, a list of First Chapter Contest Winners, and to find out the 2009 Whitney Awards winners. There is also a page devoted to links of blogs about the conference from our attendees (you might even be on the list). We also have dozens upon dozens of photos from our photographer, but we would love to have any that you took and want to share. (Instructions are on the page.)

All in all we had a fantabulous conference, and want to thank all those who attended! Dates for the 2011 conference will be posted at the beginning of June, and look for more information as time goes on.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Your Story People

For the month of May, I thought for the writing tips we'd discuss your story people--your characters.

Creating characters to people your story can be a bit intimidating. You don't want stick figures numbly walking through your plot just doing what you want them to do. Don't get me wrong you need control, but there's a trick to it. And it has to do with characterization and building believable characters readers will see as three-dimensional. They can't be all good, nor can they be all bad.

There are specific points to cover while creating a character, and we'll talk about one each week:

* breathing life into your characters
* giving your characters knowledge
* making your characters appealing
* controlling your characters.

Today we'll tackle breathing life into your characters.
In life no two people are alike, so it should be with your characters. All of the characters in your book should have a life of their own. They walk differently, talk differently, and think differently. It's the differences that set characters apart. You need to make certain that when a particular character is on stage that your reader will know who he/she is. To do this you must:

1. give your character a commanding presence
2. make sure his/her presence fits the role
3. determine whether your character complements other characters
4. give your character appropriate identifiers that fit him/her.

Giving your character a commanding presence means to give them a trait to be remembered. i.e. busybody, shy, outgoing, rude, fun-loving, etc.

Making sure your character's presence fits the role means to make sure you don't have a main character who is rude and suddenly he becomes very thoughtful with no motivation.

Determining whether your main character complements other characters means to make sure the commanding presence of your characters aren't the same. You shouldn't have four shy characters. Remember contrast makes characters memorable.

Giving your characters appropriate identifiers means to have their actions fit them. i.e. a shy character may hide her face behind a lock of hair, bite her lip, or chew her fingernails.

Can you think of other ways to breath life into your characters?
I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The Whitney Awards Committee announced the recipients of the 2009 Whitney Awards on Saturday, April 24, 2010 during its glittering gala at the Provo Marriott in Provo, Utah.

Robison Wells, president and founder of The Whitney Awards, began the evening speaking of the significance of LDS fiction and the efforts of the Whitney Awards Committee to help elevate and inspire quality writing. He reminded the audience of Elder Orson F. Whitney’s statement in 1888: “…a pure and powerful literature can only proceed from a pure and powerful people.”

David Wolverton received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" in honor of his lifelong efforts to support budding writers. In his typical smiling manner, he reminded the audience he still stood ready to teach any student who had questions about the writing process. As a testament to Wolverton's writing prowess, he also received the “Novel of the Year” award for his book In the Company of Angels, a self-published novel. He spoke of being woken one night by a dream of handcart survivors pleading that their story be told.

 David Wolverton. Photo: Green Hills Photography.

Elder Gerald N. Lund, a former member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" in recognition of his books, including The Work and the Glory series. His 1983 book, The Alliance, is considered to have helped open the doorway to acceptance of LDS fiction.
Elder Gerald N. Lund. Photo: Green Hills Photography.

In an astonishing announcement, two authors tied for “Best Novel by a New Author:” Riley Noehren (Gravity vs. The Girl) and Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer). Noehren mentioned her amazement at receiving the award, as her book was not “LDS-themed.” She was “humbled.” Wells spoke of the surprise some have that an LDS author would write horror. But he continued, “My book is about a kid trying to do the right thing and trying to overcome the natural man.”

Upon receiving the honor of “Best Romance” for her book Counting the Cost, Liz Adair mentioned with great emotion her uncle who died before his baptism. She dedicated the award to him.

Stephanie Black’s Methods of Madness received the “Best Mystery/Suspense” award. She wrote it with “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration” and felt awe that a book so difficult to write could win this award.

The “Best Youth Fiction” award went to Carol Lynch Williams for The Chosen One. Her driving force in writing this book about polygamists was to show readers that “Mormons and polygamists aren’t the same.”

John Brown and his Servant of a Dark God received the “Best Speculative Fiction” award. He was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

The “Best Historical Novel” award went to G.G. Vandagriff. She mentioned her forty years’ effort in writing The Last Waltz. She asked her husband to stand in recognition of his support during the twenty-five year illness that coincided with writing the manuscript. She emphasized the Savior’s redemptive powers in her healing that allowed the book to be brought forth and published.

Jamie Ford received “Best General Fiction” for her book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Ford was unable to attend the gala.

The Whitney Awards Committee recognized the authors below as finalists in the following categories:

Counting the Cost, by Liz Adair
Illuminations of the Heart, by Joyce DiPastena
All the Stars in Heaven, by Michele Paige Holmes
Santa Maybe, by Aubrey Mace
Previously Engaged, by Elodia Strain

Lockdown, by Traci Hunter Abramson
Methods of Madness, by Stephanie Black
Murder by the Book, by Betsy Brannon Green
Lemon Tart, by Josi Kilpack
Altered State, by Gregg Luke

Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George
Fablehaven IV: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, by Brandon Mull
My Fair Godmother, by Janette Rallison
Bright Blue Miracle, by Becca Wilhite
The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams

Servants of a Dark God, by John Brown
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Wings, by Aprilynn Pike
Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson
I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells

Tribunal, by Sandra Grey
The Undaunted, by Gerald Lund
Alma, by H.B. Moore
The Last Waltz, by G.G. Vandagriff
In the Company of Angels, by David Farland

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
No Going Back, by Jonathan Langford
Gravity vs. The Girl, by Riley Noehren
The Route, by Gale Sears
Eyes Like Mine, by Julie Wright

The presenters announcing the awards were (in order of appearance): Sarah Eden, Sheila Staley, Shanda Cottam, Hillary Parkin, Dan Wells, Marsha Ward, Tristi Pinkston, Marion Jensen, Jaime Theler, Julie Coulter Bellon, Crystal Liechty, Kirk Shaw, Lisa Mangum, Annette Lyon, David West, Rachelle Christensen, and Robison Wells.

Opening and closing prayers were given by Stephanie Black and John Ferguson.

Finalists for the Whitney Awards were announced February 5, 2010. Anyone may purchase a ticket to attend the annual Whitney Awards gala. To nominate a book published in 2010 for next year’s awards, and for more information, visit the Whitney Awards nomination page.