I spent the weekend at the LDS Storymakers writing conference, a great local con that’s very quickly becoming the largest writing-specific conference in Utah. There were a lot of great panels and workshops, culminating in the Whitney Awards for LDS authors, and I was really pleased by everything.
(This also means, of course, that I am LDS, but a careful reading of my bio probably already spilled that bean.)
The big success for me at the con was my signing: I had a few personal copies of the book just in case somebody wanted one, and managed to completely sell out. Hooray! Someone even took a picture with me, which was awesome. It’s weird being a celebrity, even a very minor, low-wattage one like I am.
The Whitney Awards themselves were fantastic. These are not awards for LDS market fiction, though there was a lot of that represented; the awards are intended to celebrate LDS authors in all markets, and we had a pretty incredible selection: Orson Scott Card won a lifetime achievement award, and Brandon Sanderson won the speculative category (his Hero of Ages narrowly beating out Stephenie Meyers’ The Host). Some of the highlights for me were Angela Hallstrom’s debut novel Bound on Earth, a very complex, literary novel about a Mormon family dealing with bi-polar disorder, and Sandra Grey’s Traitor, an historical fiction novel about a Mormon woman trapped in the political turmoil of early Nazi Germany. Hallstrom won for both General Fiction and Best New Author, and Grey won Novel of the Year.
Special congratulations go to my friend James Dashner, who won Best Youth Fiction for his book The 13th Reality. James shares my own sense of self image, by which I mean we are both very full of ourselves, but he was up against a stunning field of talent and was pretty sure he didn’t stand a chance: finalists for Youth Fiction included Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz, Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven, Jessica Day George’s Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, and Scott Savage’s Farworld. That is not a group I would want to compete with, and James was practically speechless when he was named as the winner (not fully speechless, because I don’t think that’s possible for James, but pretty close). He didn’t see it coming, but he absolutely deserves it and I couldn’t be happier. Congratulations, James.
Despite all of this awesome stuff, the real pinnacle of the conference for me was to see my brother, Rob, in all his glory as leader and Master of Ceremonies. I’m the older brother by thirteen months, and poor Rob spent most of our childhood in my footsteps: always interested in the same things, but always getting to them second. This weekend the tables were completely reversed, and I was the one in Rob’s shadow–everyone knew him, everyone loved him, and when he finally stepped down as president of the Whitney committee he received a standing ovation and a number of heartfelt thank-you speeches. He is also an author, published long before I was (as you can read in the dedication of my book), and now that’s he’s earned his MBA he’s taking a few weeks to dive back in and write another novel. He’s going to be very successful, and I wish him all the best.