Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing for Charity Highlights

I had a fabulous weekend. I got a lot of writing done. I thought and dreamt and thought and planned and outlined and wrote and ate too many belgium waffles and learned loads at the Writing for Charity event.

Now I just want to hug my babies (I missed them soooo much), write and clean my house. I know cleaning doesn't sound like fun....but, really needs it.

But before I hole up in *my writing cave, here's some pics and words about the event...

Writing for Charity was at the historic Provo Library. I love this old building.

The day started out with a massive 25-author panel up on the stage. Shannon Hale led the discussion and, as always, she was a riot. Seriously, that girl should be a stand up comedian. 

I love this quote from Clint Johnson...

"It's impossible to write something so badly you can't improve it. The only thing you can't improve is nothing." 

Then we broke up into our critique groups. I was lucky enough to be in Jennifer Nielsen's group. She is the author of Elliot and the Goblin War and Elliot and the Pixie Plot.  As well as The False Prince which will be out soon. She's also one of the authors for The Infinity Ring. Oh, and the third Elliot book will be out soon, too. She's a busy girl!



This was the first time I'd met Jennifer and I was so impressed with her. This chickadee really knows her stuff. She helped me see how to increase the immediacy on the first page of my WIP and she was super encouraging. I loved being in her group.

I got Sam, my 7 yo, the first two Elliot books (although I'm saving the second one for his birthday) and he was super excited. Jenn has a very clever way of signing them, too. She gives the child their very own goblin name. Sam's is Smashcrash. He thought this was Super Cool.

Brenda Sills was also in Jennifer's group. I love going
to workshops and finding new writing friends. There
are some people you just instantly connect with and
Brenda was definitely one of those for me.

There were so many fun things on the silent auction table.
But I didn't bid on anything. Instead I blew my money on
a giant armful of books. 

We had a yummy lunch catered by the Apple Spice Junction and then it was time for the classes. I got roped into helping out by being a Time Keeper. This sounds much cooler than it was. Basically I had to remember to glance at the time so I could hold up the 5 minutes left and Time is Up signs at the appropriate moments. I even got to wear a Staff Button. Yeah, that's right. And you know what? A Staff button is only one step away from the Author Button, people. 

First up was Shannon and Dean Hale's class on getting the crappy writing out of the way so you can revise it. As if Shannon isn't crazy funny on her own, throw in her awesome husband and you will not stop laughing as long as they're talking. And you just might pee your pants.

We got to witness a brilliant scene acted out by Dean and narrated by Shannon about a orphan who gets left in a library. It was supposed to be scary. And it involved a bag of rice. Yep. I'm pretty sure no one will ever see this caliber of acting again. They then proceeded to revise the scene twice until it got much better. Sadly, the bag of rice got nixed.

Next up was Jennifer Nielsen's class on getting to know your characters better. Okay. So, this was a crazy informative class. She talked about personality, character traits and her own version of a psychological test used to test troubled teens. It's a brilliant way to get into our character's heads and discover why they're doing the things they're doing. Or why they won't do the things we want them to do. I learned LOADS. Really, it was a Wow Moment for me. 

This was followed by an interesting fantasy author panel with Mette Ivie Harrison, Brandon Sanderson, Tracy and Laura Hickman and Dene Low. I loved when Tracy Hickman was talking about world-building and he said you need to keep asking yourself why. Why the world is like this or that. He said the worst answer is magic. 

After this there was an absolutely brilliant, life-changing (for me) session taught by Brandon Sanderson on plot. This is something I've been struggling with. And his class really helped me wrap my brain around the idea of a good plot and how we make a promise to the reader depending on what kind of plot template we choose. So. Awesome. 

I love these books. With a deep and burning passion.
Seriously, they are so funny. Buy them for your kids.
Read them to your kids. Or just buy them for yourself.
Really...go and do it right now. 
Then it was time for the book signing. Like I said, I bought loads of books. For my kids...yeah, that's right. They're for mykids.

Zoe was thrilled when I came home with this pretty pink and sparkly book, Dear Cinderella, for her. It's illustrated by my cute friend, Julie Olson. And it's such a fun book. Not only are the pictures so sweet and beautiful. But the story is really great, too! It's written in letters between Snow White and Cinderella and tells their stories at the same time. Such a great idea!

Emmett, my 10 yo got Return to Exile, by  E.J. Patten.
He's been LOVING it, but he's decided he can't
read it before he goes to bed because it's too scary.  
I picked up Icefall by Mathew Kirby for Weston, my 12 yo. I've heard it is a super excellent read. I'm planning on stealing
it from him soon.               

I took a gander at Dean Hale's book Scapegoat and had to buy it. It's super funny...which isn't surprising when you consider the author. My kids have loved it.


I was anxious to get on the road so I could be home again with my family, but I quickly chatted with old friends and visited with new friends and snapped more pictures...

I was happy to get to know the fun and sweet Julie Daines in person. We're both
blogging on the Utah Children's Writers blog. And she is super awesome.

This guy is crazy cool. It was great meeting Jayrod Garrett
in person. He has charisma by the truckload (not to mention he's
oozing with confidence!) and he's super fun to talk to!
I was happy to see Emily Wing Smith again...I think it's been at least
two...ack!...maybe three years since I saw her last. Which is very sad.
Because she is crazy fun to be around.

Yep. I was a total fangirl and got my picture
taken with Brandon Sanderson. I look excited.
Although he's thinking, "Where's my bodyguard?"

Taffy Lovell is another writer on the Utah Children's Writers Blog and
I was really excited to meet her in person, too. She's so cute, right? In fact,
we decided to start our own clique. It's called the Super Cute Clique.
It's very exclusive.

There you have it. A great trip. But it's even greater to be home. There's nothing like a trip away from everything to help you see what's really important, right?

*At some point, I may come out of my writing cave to share some of the fantabulous things I learned. Maybe. 


  1. Whoo I made it onto Erin Shakespear's blog! I almost feel famous now. :D Erin it was a pleasure to meet you finally. Glad to know you are in the writing community.

  2. That sounds so fun!! I'm a fangirl of...well, just about all of them.

    Also, I used to live smack behind that building. When it was still a condemned haunted house. I'm still thrilled they turned it into a library--although I sorta wish it had happened when I lived there. Then my carless roommates and I wouldn't have walked nine blocks to the old library and back so we could check out different pictures to hang on our walls every month.

  3. sounds like such a fun, inspiring weekend! glad you got a lot out of it :)

  4. Fun and books and writers... what could be finer? I think I need to go to this thing sometime.

  5. Sounds like a great event. I like the quote you posted about how anything can be improved upon.