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Whitney Awards, Conference, and Good Stuff

I have never been speechless in my entire life. Never. Not once that I can recall. I think I was born talking. My dad used to take me to his business stuff and military stuff when I was incredibly small because I had a huge vocabulary and absolutely no fear of using it. He liked showing off the baby who spoke in full sentences even before she had enough hair to qualify her as a girl. Seriously. Never. Speechless.

Until Saturday night.

I had not allowed myself to prepare any kind of acceptance speech if Cross My Heart should win the Whitney Award. Any time my mind wandered in that direction, I immediately yanked it back. After my freakish month of feeling wretched, I wasn’t emotionally up to disappointment. I’d read the other finalists. They were good. I closed one in particular and thought to myself, “She is definitely going to win.” But it didn’t really bother me to think I’d lost. I attributed it to their excellence, rather than my mediocrity. Good books should win. And that was okay with me.

So I went to the conference feeling surprisingly normal. A lot of that normal feeling stemmed from the fact that I FINALLY finished Hazzardous Universe Book 2 and got it turned in to my illustrious editor, Kirk Shaw. Getting the book done and in, and feeling good about the end result of that product, went a long way toward feeling normal. The conference went well, meeting up with friends, and making a few new ones, went a long way toward normal as well.

And then Saturday night happened. I wore black . . .  because that’s what I do, found my seat with wonderful online friends that I pretty much only see once a year, picked at my food, and listened to the opening statements. It started so quickly. The romance category was announced first, and it seems I had barely enough time to blink as I wrenched my cloth napkin in my hands and felt my legs turn to water.

Then they were announcing my name . . . the title of MY book. My brain froze. I couldn’t process the words, yet my emotions experienced no such freezing as I immediately melted into a snotty, sodden mess of waterfall. Had they really called *my* name? I knew I had to go up there, but my legs wouldn’t move. Mr. Wright had to tap me and remind me to walk to the stage.

People talk about slow motion where every breath inhaled and exhaled feels as though they mark the passing of minutes rather than fractions of seconds. Where the time in which every step forward seems monitored by hours. I can’t really remember the walk to the platform and the microphone, but it felt like it took forever. I remember the hugs from the people who announced the award for the 2010 Romance category. Sheila, Shanda, and Mindy were hugging on me and crying right along with me.

And then I turned and faced the podium, stepped up to the microphone, and experienced the impossible.

I was speechless. It wasn’t just about having nothing to say. I literally could not get the air to flow past my pipes to create sound. I made some odd orangutan movements, squawked like some mental bird, and looked pretty silly in general before the words finally came.

Granted, the words were rendered difficult to understand through the blubbering and squawking. And, granted, they weren’t all that brilliant, or poignant, or entertaining, or even well thought out.

But at least they did show up.

It was a humbling experience, and I still feel a little weepy (absurd . . . I know), and I still feel a little giddy. And that beautiful award shaped like a book that really opens and closes and has my name and title etched into its perfect acrylic face looks absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

My daughter reminded me today that when I first bought that particular bookcase, I remarked how well a Whitney Award would look on it.

I love being right.

Thank you, Kirk, for being such an amazing editor. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first three winners were your authors. Thank you, Josi, for the incredible work you put into the awards this year and the work you’ll have to put in next year. Last weekend Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and I spent the weekend in a hotel together so we could work on a series we’re writing together. Heather, Annette, and I were finalists. Josi knew the results. And she didn’t say a thing. She didn’t so much as breathe a clue in our direction as to how things had turned out.  She should get an award for THAT. It’s pretty amazing that each of the four of us have one of these awards now. What an amazing group of friends I am so lucky to have in my life. Thank you, Covenant, for being such a great publisher, for standing behind me in all the things I write, and for being so amazing to work with.

Thank you to the academy of bookstore owners, reviewers, publishers, and storymakers who voted. My smile muscles obviously need more exercise because they still hurt, and my eyes still feel a bit blurry from all the camera flashbulbs, and I still feel genuinely loved from all those hugs. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Here is the list of award winners:

Outstanding Achievement Award
Rick Walton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Evans McCloud

Best General

Best Historical

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Romance

Best Speculative

Best Youth—General

Best Youth—Speculative

Best by New Author

Novel of the Year (Tie)

Congratulations to all the winners!

And Congratulations to all those eating “loser pie” and snapping silly pictures. A part of me hated not being able to join in on those pictures. You are all amazing writers and there is nothing loser about that group . . . not even remotely. Though I still love the joke of the pie 🙂

Whitney Awards Finalist!

I am seriously beyond thrilled and excited, and humbled, and *relieved* to be a 2010 Whitney Awards finalist in the romance category for Cross My Heart!

There were so many great books this year who were nominees, and the list of finalists is inspiring. It’s nice to know I’ve already read well over half of them which means I won’t be as rushed as I read the rest of them. And how cool??? I am a finalist! I’m one of them! Woohoo!  In the world of writing where there are rejections at every level, it’s nice to get good news.

The Whitney committee is made up of some mighty fine people and I can’t even imagine how much work goes into running this thing, but I am incredibly grateful they take that time out of their lives and from their families to make this award possible. It’s a generous offering they give us, and they expect nothing in return. Three cheers for the committee. And for all those judges who worked so hard at getting all those books read. Thanks guys.

In other news, I am a third of the way finished with the second book to the Hazzardous Universe series. Woot! (Mr. Wright says you can’t say woot in public, but I’m sure it’s fine to do as long as you say, “excuse me” afterwards) 

The launch party for Hazzardous Universe is on March 9th–location to be announced. You definitely want to mark the date on the calendar, because  this book is out of this world amazing. I can’t even number how many shades of awesome this book is. Kevin Wasden’s art is fabulous and the writing in the book ain’t half bad either 😉 . There will be food and door prizes, and FUN. So come to the launch party–or feel incredibly lame and left out as you sit at home alone. Your choice.

And my daughter has decided on three universities to send applications to. Stanford, Harvard, and BYU Hawaii.

I checked into the tuition and living costs for her options and felt like one of those cartoons. You know . . . the ones where the eyes pop ten feet of their head and horns, sirens, and whistles sound all at once while the jaw drops to the floor. I am in the state of sticker-shock. I’m glad she’s smart and has a perfect 4.0 standing in school because she had BETTER be earning a scholarship or TEN scholarships to pay for this. It’s kind of ridiculously cool to think that a child of mine can consider applying to Harvard or Stanford, and knowing that wherever she applies–she will be accepted because she’s just that freaking amazing. I hope she chooses Harvard, because secretly (or not so secretly since this is a public blog and anyone can read this), I would love an excuse to visit Boston more often. BYU Hawaii is the cheapest of the three and would also be fun to visit. But the girl is majoring in math (seriously! where did this kid come from??) and Stanford and Harvard are better schools for that major. 

It was weird when the last semester grades came in for the Wright children and the lowest GPA was 3.6. For kicks, Mr. Wright and I went through our old journals and scrapbooks and found our own report cards. Yeah . . . we made a pact to never show these to the children until they are all grown and out of college. We’re a little mystified that these kids belong to us. If I didn’t have physical DNA evidence that they belonged to me, I’d swear they were adopted or something because they are so much *more* than I ever was.

Anyway, I am cutting into valuable writing time by blogging so I will end with the list of finalists for the Whitney Awards (please note how nice my name looks on the list ) Congratulations everyone!


  • Courting Miss Lancaster, by Sarah Eden
  • Cross My Heart, by Julie Wright
  • The Legend of Shannonderry, by Carol Warburton
  • Luck of the Draw, by Rachael Renee Anderson
  • Meg’s Melody, by Kaylee Baldwin


  • Cold As Ice, by Stephanie Black
  • Crossfire, by Traci Hunter Abramson
  • Murder by Design, by Betsy Brannon Green
  • A Time To Die, by Jeffrey Savage
  • Wrong Number, by Rachelle Christensen


  • Imprints, by Rachel Ann Nunes
  • Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells
  • Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card
  • The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
  • The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Youth Fiction—Speculative:

  • Fablehaven 5, by Brandon Mull
  • Matched, by Ally Condie
  • Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White
  • The Forbidden Sea, by Sheila Nielson
  • The Fourth Nephite, Jeffrey Savage

Youth Fiction—General:

  • Glimpse, by Carol Lynch Williams
  • Missing in Action, by Dean Hughes
  • My Double Life, by Janette Rallison
  • The Healing Spell, by Kimberly Griffiths Little
  • Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler


  • Alma The Younger, by H.B. Moore
  • Oh Say Can You See?, by L.C. Lewis
  • The Sheen on the Silk, by Anne Perry
  • The Silence of God, by Gale Sears
  • Trespass, by Sandra Grey

General Fiction:

  • Band of Sisters, by Annette Lyon
  • Blink of an Eye, by Gregg Luke
  • The Cross Gardener, by Jason Wright
  • Finding Mercie, by Blaine Yorgason
  • Lucky Change, by Susan Law Corpany

LDStorymaker Conference Report 2010

Conference was twenty shades of awesome! There is nothing finer than hanging out with 450 writers for a weekend.

Bootcamp was awesome. Registration for bootcamp started at 6:30, but like Sarah Eden, I think 6:30 am is a thing better left not acknowledged. I got to play bootcamp instructor for five writers who were delightful to associate with and who had good work to share. One of them was a sixteen year old kid who is definitely on the up and coming list of new authors. I envy the opportunities that simply didn’t exist when I was his age. Think of how much better I could have been . . . seriously bootcamp rocked. Sarah Eden and the critique group that kicked it off was fun and definitely beneficial for the attendees.

editing at bootcamp


I got to do a pitch for one of my novels to Krista Marino who is delightful in every way. She likes thrift stores. How could I not love someone who likes thrift stores? This is one of the things that will forever bond Josi Kilpack and me together. We have had some good times in thrift stores. But I digress. Krista rocked. And now I am pleading with the gods of ink and paper to make her my editor so that I can shop with her and eat with her (she has great taste in food as well) And she obviously has great taste in writing, because she asked for the full manuscript. Yay! I feel a little dumb because my pitch was pretty pathetic, and I’m grateful my writing can stand on its own or she might have thrown me from the room.

After I’d finished the pitch, I felt like I could relax, so I went back to the bookstore to help Mr Wright, who deserves accolades and awards for putting up with all the stuff I make him do. I helped for about an hour when he said, “Your presentation isn’t tomorrow. You know that right?” Thinking he was messing with me, I argued that causing me stress on one of my busiest weekends was way uncool. So we had a bicker moment until he finally had to prove himself right by actually opening the syllabus and showing me that the class I was supposed to teach was indeed in 28 minutes. Nice.

My powerpoint wasn’t done and although I had 18 pages of notes, they weren’t totally organized into something that would flow smoothly. So in 28 minutes, I wrapped up the powerpoint, glanced through the notes, and rushed off to teach my class (halfway hoping that everyone had gone to the editor’s class being held that same hour). No such luck. The room was full. I think it went well in spite of me. I am so glad I had good notes! The class was on emotion in writing. So at least it was something I’m good at.  Mr Wright saved me, even if he had to argue with me and twist my arm to do it. I so owe that man.

Since my presentation AND my pitch was over, my friday night was totally open. I almost talked Josi into shoe shopping with me after dinner, but our keen sense of moral obligation took over and alas–no shoes. Instead I went back to the bookstore area to hang out and chit chat–as is proper and fun at a conference. This is where I found that the dress Janette planned on wearing to the Whitney banquet wasn’t going to work because she’s already worn it the day before and didn’t want a repeat. Because I am overprepared on everything except on the classes I’m supposed to teach, I had several dresses that were award banquet worthy, so Janette Rallison, Annette Lyon, Jessica Day George, and I went up to my hotel room and played dress up. So. Much. Fun. Janette is beautiful. We stayed there until nearly midnight when Mr. Wright showed up and mostly broke up the party.  And I just now remembered I promised Annette a head massage. I owe you big time Annette!

I sat next to Michael Flynn for lunch on Saturday, and so enjoyed meeting him. He is the producer of The Best Two Years. He is awesome and I might have fun stuff to share later on about that.

I got the chance to chit chat with Kirk Shaw, my editor at Covenant and I just think the world of him. Not only is he a discerning reader (since he chose to publish my books) but he is truly awesome. He’s just sweet and good to everyone and it’s fun to work with someone I respect so much.

The whitney banquet was lovely, as usual. Dan Wells did an amazing tribute to Dave Wolverton that made me get weepy in every way.  It was  a beautiful night and even though I didn’t win the Whitney Award, I loved being there and honoring those who did.I have to be honest, I’d held out hope that if I was going to lose my category, I wanted to lose to Riley Noehren. Gravity Vs. the Girl was so much fun and it would have been an honor in every way to lose to her. She did win the best novel by a new author alongside Dan Wells for I Am Not a Serial Killer. So deserved–both of them.

The highlight of my evening came after. Hanging out with Jessica and Janette is just so much fun! We had some pictures with our loser cake to assuage the pain of not taking home any awards (all said tongue in cheek, please know we were all okay and happy for those who did win). Another girl party in my hotel room (poor Mr. Wright). Later Howard Tayler helped us clean the bookstore up and load our car which was sweet beyond words and Mr. Wright and I talked until 2 am about all we’d seen and done. Some of my best moments in life are lying in the dark, holding his hand, and talking about our lives, our children, our dreams.

Another awesome aspect was Kim Vanderhorst brough me chocolate from Canada, and Don Carey brought me Dr Pepper in real glass bottles from Texas. I love these people! You guys spoil me.

And now I am off to prepare one manuscript for a film producer, another for my current publisher, and yet another for a national publisher. I plan on being busy. Wish me luck!

Dave Wolverton and Me

Mr. Wright

Janette Rallison looking fabulous as always

Eating our comfort cake after losing the Whitney's 🙂 Jessica Day George, James Dashner, Me, Janette Rallison. Great writers all of them!

The women from www.LDSwomen'sbookreview.com, Janette and me

Whitney Awards!!!

Oh wow . . . my book Eyes Like Mine is actually a finalist for the Whitney Award!!!! I had so completely prepared myself for disappointment and overeating while watching movies with no value to them today. I am in absolute shock. I think I’ll snap out of it soon and be bouncing off the walls, but for now–just . . . wow!

And I’m trying really hard not to think of how pretty that glass book with my name on it would look sitting on my desk . . .

But at least go look and see how pretty my book looks sitting in the row of finalists in the general fiction category:



Janette Rallison

Janette Rallison rocks.

It’s totally true. Her books are everything teen books ought to be. I’d be bitter with jealousy except, well . . . Janette rocks. She is, as a person, as awesome as her books. And she’s got a new book trailer. So I thought I’d share it here so everyone can see how cool Janette is. I included her previous book trailer for My Fair Godmother too. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for your teen, I genuinely recommend any and all books by Janette Rallison.  You won’t be sorry.

While reading Just One Wish, I found myself laughing and crying and, yes–even wishing along with the character. It was beautifully written and filled with just the right balance of action, romance, loyalty, and fun. AND it’s eligible for a Whitney award. If you haven’t cast your ballots for the Whitney’s yet, why not? You’ve only got until December 31st!



Lips, Writing on the Wall, Whitney Awards, and the writing4kids blog

First off, let me tell you: NEVER get your lips tattooed. All that color that made me look like a harlot the first day had flaked off by the end of the fourth day. Now my lips are these pale, barely pink things that still hurt, but have nothing to show for it. My sis in law who got her eyes done is deliriously happy with hers and I wish I had followed her example when choosing how best to spend my gift certificate.

Second: Yesterday was my day to scribble over at the wall.

And today I got kudos for my post from Jon Bard over at http://write4kids.com/blog. In case you aren’t aware, Jon keeps his finger on the pulse of the children’s literature market and does a pretty swanky job of it. He’s the editor of the Children’s Book Insider. Jon rocks and the fact that he liked what I wrote yesterday only improves that opinion. 🙂

And hey! This means I’m on You Tube!  I tried to embed it here, but you all know how useless I am with technology so here’s the link:


Third: The Whitney awards is doing a fundraising auction! I stole this from Josi Kilpack’s blog (forgive me Josi!)
 The Whitney Award Benefit Auction is being held through the month of November. Items are added to the auction daily and all funds go to support The Whitney Award which is a reader based award for LDS writers. If you have been considering getting an edit, now might be a great time to do it (just in time for Christmas 🙂 and so far the prices are great. Here’s the link: http://www.whitneybenefitauction.com/servlet/StoreFront








You Know how I work for eBay? Well I went and checked stocks today (as I do daily) and about had a heart attack! Stocks are under thirteen dollars! Are you kidding me??? eBay is a totally solid company which makes money EVERY quarter! What are investors thinking? This only goes to further prove that too many idiots control the monetary system.

eBay rocks! Do your Christmas shopping there. You can bid on the edit from Precision Editing Group for your favorite writer. That’s a gift that will bring a grin to any writer’s face.

Have a great week everyone. I’m working like a crazy woman on my work in progress and have now reached 37000 words! Woohoo. So don’t feel bad if I am totally quiet on the internet.