LDS Storymakers Writers Conference, 2nd Annual Whitney Awards, and a House Full of Friends

This past weekend, my hubby and I attended the annual LDS Storymakers Writers Conference in Provo, Utah. And let me tell you all - IT WAS AWESOME!!!

I had an incredible time with my writers friends, meeting with editors from various publishing companies and even from the Ensign magazine. The Storymakers conference is my all-time, absolute FAVORITE writers conference I attend each year. I've been to several different workshops and conferences, and have never been to one as awesome as this one. Thanks so much to all the Storymakers!

John and I attended Boot Camp again this year. What's that? Well, basically it's when all the Storymakers torture us because of our poor writing. Just kidding! It's an optional section of conference that fills up really fast. Friday and Saturday morning, some of the conference attendees got up super early to attend a special "mini-conferece" with published authors and get more one-on-one critiques to improve our writing skills in many areas - characterization, dialogue, and exposition to name a few. I joined the Non-Fiction table this year, which was led by C.S. Bezas. She was an incredible instructor! Wow. I learned so much from her and the other writers at my table. Thank you, Cindy! I can't wait for next year. I hope you'll host the non-fiction table again!

Some pretty exciting stuff happened at conference this year. Like I said, I met with some editors. Heather Justesen and I pitched our new non-fiction book, Lost: One Sheep to Lisa Mangum at Deseret Book. She really liked the advance chapter and outlines we sent her. She gave us some great feedback on structure so it's not so overwhelming for the reader. Lost: One Sheep is about service and how it leads to missionary opportunites.

I also chatted with Kirk Shaw from Covenant Communications, which is the publisher who currently has Teaching Special Spirits. So far, everything is looking great in that area. TSS is out to readers for evalution. I enjoyed chatting with Kirk and now he has a face to take back with him to put with the TSS project.

The other exciting thing happened during the Storymakers First Chapter contest. I submitted four chapters into the contest . . . and two of them won! Lost: One Sheep won 1st place in the Non-Fiction category and Take Back the Night won 2nd place in the Women's Fiction category. It was so awesome, exciting, overwhelming, and completely humbling. All I can say is wow.

Each year, the Storymakers entertain us. This year, they really went the extra mile with an awesome video. Totally fun stuff!

And now - for some Storymakers Conference photos . . .

Danyelle & Heather Justesen catching up on gossip while relaxing in their hotel room. Notice the totally cute Tinkerbell skin on Heather's computer. I want one too!

Danyelle and Haley Freeman Hatch, author of A Future for Tomorrow. I love Haley's book. It gives such hope for those who have or are struggling with anorexia.

Dude - my babysitter was at the conference!!! She came all the way from Kansas! This is Kaitlyn - she's 16 and an incredible aspiring writer. You go, girl!

Ah yes - a picture of me and my hubby. It's funny, but I don't think
we've ever actually come home with pics of just the two of us. It's kind of nice.
Notice the stubble ladies? He hasn't been able to shave since the accident. He's kept it trimmed,
but he can't shave it all off. And let me tell you - I'm really liking the new look. Very sexy.

Dean Lorey and John. My hubby was really excited to meet Dean, who is an author and screenwriter. He wrote My Boyfriend's Back (Disney), Friday the 13th: Part 9, Happy Gilmore, and some other big movies I forget now. He's also the author of the Nightmare Academy series. Dean sat with us during lunch and John picked his brain. I hope you find it again, Dean. Seriously, Dean's a really nice guy - even if he did write a Freddie Krugar movie. :)

Friends from Oz - John, Danyelle, Kaitlyn, and Keisha. If you can't tell, Kaitlyn and Keisha are related. They look like sisters, but are actually mother and daughter - and both are writers! It was awesome to have them come for the Storymakers conference!

Who in the world is that crazy bunch of wackos?
Oh yeah! That's my AuthorsIncognito group! Man, I just love these guys . . . and this is just a small representation of our group!

Danyelle & Tristi Pinkston, author of Nothing to Regret, Strength to Endure, and Season of Sacrifice. Tristi is an awesome friend, but I must say I was quite disappointed when she didn't dress up this year. Although, I must admit her contest entry about Stella and Tedward went a long way to making up for her lack of disguise. On a more serious note, Tristi is one of my biggest supporters. She has talked me through many rough writing patches. I know I would not have finished Teaching Special Spirits without her support. Love you, Tristi!

Two totally cute chicks! Danyelle & Heather Justesen.
We just had to show off our first place certificates for our chapter from Lost: One Sheep. Are we awesome, or what? Heather has a book coming out this October. Just in time for Christmas, everyone!

This year, John and I also attended the Whitney Awards Gala. We had a great time and got to sit with some pretty awesome authors - Jessica Day George, Brandon Sanderson, and Greg Luke. Very cool stuff - and a HUGE thank you to Kerry Blair for being so awesome and sitting us at their table. Here are some fun pics from the evening . . .

You can't quite tell from this picture, but the person across from James Dashner (the announcer) is J. Scott Savage dressed up as Stephenie Meyer (who didn't show up for the Gala) to announce the winner for Best Speculative Fiction.

Heather Justesen and Danyelle

Danyelle and Gregg Luke, author of Do No Harm.
I had a great time talking with Gregg during the Whitney Award dinner. He's a super nice guy. I'm really excited to read his medical thriller!

John and Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series, the Alcatraz series, and the totally cool person who gets to finish THE Robert Jordan's final novel.

The Bodacious Babes!
Julie Wright, Crystal Liechty, Danyelle, and Jessica Day George.
Congrats to Julie on landing Jessica Day George's totally awesome agent. And congrats to Crystal on finding out she's having a beautiful baby girl! Jessica - it was awesome to meet you!

Danyelle and the awesome Kerry Blair, author of way too many books to write here!
Although my very favorites are her Heart/Baseball series. Love them!!!

Danyelle, John, and James Dashner, author of the award winning 13th Reality series.

Danyelle, Michele Ashman Bell, and Josi Kilpack.
Can I just say, five years ago when I attended my first Storymakers conference, I was TOTALLY star-struck and nervous to meet Michele and Josi. I had admired their writing and read their books over and over and over and over. But I soon discovered they are both the most generous and supportive women I've ever met. What a blessing they've both been to my life and writing!

And this, my friends, is the stack of books being shipped back to my house. Some of these books are for contest prizes on my blogs. Hee hee!

Sunday, my friend Robin opened her house to my friends. John, Isaac, and I had an awesome afternoon & evening visiting with everyone who stopped by. Thanks so much for coming everyone. Of course, I totally forgot to get my camera out until the end - so I missed lots of photo opportunities, but here are a few pics from later in the evening.

Isaac & Alayna

Alayna and her Daddy, Ben.
Look how huge that bear is! It's almost as big as Alayna!

Kimmy, Robin, & Danyelle

Danyelle, Isaac, and John with Dana & Jared Wise

Two totally goofy guys with laundry baskets on their heads.
Michael & John

Robin & Danyelle, crashed on the bed & laughing at the guys!

This was one of the most awesome parts of the night.
Dan Marrott is the missionary who, with Elder Jeff Beard, taught me the first discussion.
Dan was also the one to baptize me many months after the first discussion.
Here we are - 15 years and three months later. It was great to catch up with him and introduce him to my hubby.

The next morning, we hopped on a plane and headed back to Kansas City. Rob & Anna were sooooo excited to see Mama and Daddy!

John's taking the picture and Anna wouldn't take her eyes off me to look at the camera!
We were smothered with hugs and kisses for the rest of the day. It was awesome!

Our trip was fabulous, awesome, incredible . . . .truly, there's no one word good enough to describe it. Being home with my family is equally wonderful. I hope that next year, we'll be able to take the whole family out like we did two years ago for a long family visit. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Would you like to comment?

Sara said...

Holey Moley it looks like you had a lot of fun! I loved the pictures. Good luck with your up and coming books!!!

C.J. said...

I've loved your photos. I sat on your table while we listened to Dean Lorey--just so you know who is leaving comments. Anyway it was nice to chat with your for a minute.

Amy said...

What a fantastic conference for you. It's was so much fun visiting on Sunday.

Casdok said...

Awww love that last photo! Glad you had such a fab time!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Thanks everyone! It was an awesome conference. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Heather Mayfield said...

I agree-- that last photo is priceless. :-) I LOVE your blog layout and banner. What great pictures.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I need to find the courage to pull my camera out next year - what a great bunch of pictures you have there!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Thank you, Kimberly! You should totally get out your camera and just click away!!!

Lori said...

Hi Danyelle! I loved seeing you at the conference, but feel sad I didn't get to meet you--hopefully next year. I love your blog. Best of luck with your books.


Lori Nawyn

Josi said...

I'm with Kim, I hate taking pictures but then regret it. I'm glad so many people took them, though. It was a great weekend and I'm so glad you guys were able to make it.

Teri said...

It was so nice to see you! Congrats on the awards! Love ya!

John Ferguson said...

Don't forget, we also sat with Dan Wells at the Whitney's.

I'm looking forward to next year.

The Thomas Six said...

First - I love the new blog look. Im not sure how long it has been that way- Im not on the computer much lately. awesome pictures!

Im glad I was able to hear all about it while you where here. For a short trip- you fit a lot in and created a ton of great memories.

Big Hugs!