Sunday, April 25, 2010


Photo totally pilfered from Crash's blog.  I regret nothing.

Well.  I'm home.  And oh, my goodness, so many things to tell you!

I learned all sorts of stuff at my writers' conference, the first being, it is possible to drink so much Diet Coke your eyes cross.  But it was that or put my car on cruise and nap for a couple of hours between Cedar City and Nephi, since my kids kept me awake until two ayem the night before I was supposed to drive from Vegas to Provo.  Can I just tell you, vampires are no great shakes.  I'm raising a couple, and they're killing me.  And not in any way that has a chance of being optioned in a three-picture, multi-zillion dollar deal.

I learned that dinner with blog pals is totally the way to start a weekend away from home!  Met Karen and Sue and Melanie and Debbie for dinner and had such a great time sharing yummy gourmet pizza and laughing and gabbing like we'd known each other forever.  And I stayed with my darling sister, Amber, which was so great and something we don't get to do much.

I learned that Debbie and Melanie are completely awesome.  Seriously, we were the Three Musketeers and the Three Amigos and the Three Faces of Eve all rolled into one sassy trio of threesomeness.  Wait.  Is that a sex term?  I've been among Mormon writers for so long I can't remember what qualifies as naughty and what doesn't any more.

I also learned that I'm much too wild and wicked for the LDS writing market.  Despite warning my critique group that my manuscript pages included two uses of the word "damn", one use of the word "hell", and a half-dozen uses of the word "refrigerator", they were still rendered catatonic when I read my prose aloud.  Poor girls.  I was especially worried about the little dear across the table who was writing about a character so evil he was receiving instructions directly from Satan, but who nonetheless cursed the do-gooders who were trying to thwart his nefarious plots by calling them "jerks".  Anyone who thinks "jerk" is the kind of curse a minion of the Prince of Darkness would use is pretty much writing to a different audience than I am.

So next year I'm going to look into attending the "Selling Your Soul to Lucifer Literary Conference*", in the hopes that it will be a better fit.  If nothing else, I bet those guys get a lot more writing contracts.
*Not a real conference.  I checked.

I learned that writing is hard.  Hard, hard, hard.  Whoa, Nelly, is this business ever tough!  Tough and hard and also difficult.  And don't even get me started on the whole "getting published" side of things.  Holy bat snot, Robin, getting published is extremely ... what's the word I'm looking for?  Oh, yes.  Hard.

This was essentially the message of many of the presenters at the conference.  I think they were trying to discourage the competition.  And it worked; I saw several of the attendees running their manuscripts through the giant courtesy shredder in the lobby.  A few of the more desperate writers were flinging themselves into the shredder, hollering "I hate you mean old  jerks!" as they went in.  It's terribly sad to hear folks resorting to that kind of language in their final moments.

Another thing I learned is that it is uber cool to be a blogger.  Every time I got to the table after our breakout sessions, there were more people there, all wanting to sit with us.  At least, I assume they wanted to hang with me, too.  I was always the last one to arrive.  It meant I had to sit on Melanie's lap and re-introduce myself to everyone, but I'm still convinced my presence at the cool table was the reason those other groupies were already there actively not knowing or caring who I was.

And guess what?  I got recognized!  And not just by people I owe money to!  Nice people who knew me from blogland and wanted to say "hi" and "I read your blog" and "have you ever heard of"  Yeah, it was hard to stay humble.

There were disappointments, like when I lost the Chapter One contest for the Young Adult Fantasy Romance Fiction genre, which if I'm not mistaken was the genre for every single person at the conference.  Seriously, even the waiters were chasing down the agents, begging them to take a look at their Young Adult Fantasy Romance Fiction manuscripts.  So when the first chapter of my book, "The Robot Kissing Crystal Vampire of Zarahemla" was passed over for consideration, I consoled myself with the reminder that there were a lot of entrants.

All told, it was great to be there, hanging with people I've already come to love even though it was the first chance I'd had to actually throw my arms around them in person!  (Kim and Laura and Becca and RE-becca and Stacy, I'm looking at you beautiful girls!)  I figured out some stuff about my writing and my priorities and where I want to go from here.  I ate circus animal cookies (courtesy of Melanie!), and laughed so hard with Debbie over naughty snarky secret comments that pink frosting came out my nose, and took a gazillion notes on my exceptionally cute Asus Eee netbook, and generally had a terrific weekend.

And now, it's grindstone time.  There is a ton of writing I need to do to get on top of this manuscript once and for all.  I have all sorts of ideas about how to make my story completely awesome and entertaining and totally marketable.  But I won't lie to you: it's gonna be tough.

Especially since I ran it through that shredder.


Kristina P. said...

I am totally surprised you didn't get excommunicated from the LDS Storymaker Conference, you heathen, you. Amber and I have an excommunication sigh. I hope she showed it to you.

Your weekend couldn't have been *that* awesome since you weren't able to eat with us at Outback. Sob. We have forgiven you.

Stacy said...

Mwah! You know it's been a good night when they have to forcibly remove you from the Barnes and Noble!

Makes me excited for CBC so I can join int he Diet Coke guzzling and the shooting of pink animal cookies out of my nose, even if I don't have a manuscript in progress.

Wendy Swore said...

Howdy! I'm the gal that attacked you at lunch and said that people had told me that your blog was awesome. You gave me your card.

Anyway, I've been perusing your posts here, and guess what, they were right. Your blog is fresh and funny.

I'm sorry you found the conference discouraging. I had the opposite experience- though hearing that you had your table blushing makes me very curious to read!

That was my first time at an LDS conference, or even hanging with any LDS writers at all. Some of the writing in my other critique group would probably have them all running for the hills. *wink*

Anyway, nice to meet you and I just wanted to let you know I found my way here.

Happy writing!

Lisa Loo said...

At least you were reading prose when you stunned everyone into a state of catatonic. I can do that by just speaking out loud.
I wish I could have been there--not really--I have no desire to write a book--but it would have been ever so much fun to snort with you. Can't wait till you publish!!

Wendy said...

Hey girl! It was great to finally meet you. I'm already thinking of attending next year. I learned so much, but retained only a minimal portion, so I need to go back. Probably due to that early morning Bootcamp. Hated the alarm at 5 am, loved the critique group! And a big hello to the other Wendy.

See ya at the CBC.

Cheeseboy said...

First of all, those circus cookies are my favorite thing in the entire world. 1. Frosted circus cookies. 2. Wife 3. kids. Seriously, I could down an entire bag in one sitting, no problem.

Sounds like the trip was a success. I am definitely going to look for "The Robot Kissing Crystal Vampire of Zarahemla" the next time I am at Deseret Book.

I'll meet you at the satan conference next year and we can have a beer. Wait, iced tea. Let's not get too crazy here.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha You are such a silly goose. I need you to do something for me. Change your comment box setting so you can still read the blog and comment at the same time because by the time I stop laughing and start writing I can't remember what I was going to say.

I''ll be back tomorrow after I have a good night's sleep and after you change your freakin' setting. ;)

P.S. your verifier has the word ban in it. We'll both probably be banned next year--your fault because you made me laugh out loud at inappropriate times and spit cookies in inappropriate places.

The word is actually banste. Do you think that's short for ban Stephanie Meyer instead of us?

I think Vampires in Zarahemla is a good idea, by the way.


And was outing my real name your revenge for the frog-in-heat photos I posted of you?

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Now your verifier say udinglub

How rude. But true. I'm kinda dingy AND glubby.

Kazzy said...

Maybe the LDS market is just too small potatoes for you, my friend.

Seriously though, it was so much fun to mingle with you, even if just for one evening. I wish you were my neighbor. :(

Melanie J said...

Ooh, you forgot the part where we had THE EXACT SAME BUSINESS CARD because we are so same-brained. And I really liked your sister. And my sister thinks you're awesome. And me, you, and Crash are a seriously awesome triumvirate. Good times, good times.

Becca said...

I KNEW you'd be at the cool kids' table. You MAKE the cool kids' table. And consider that the LDS market is small. You may need a more fabulicious sort of place to send your words. Just saying.

InkMom said...

I saw Air Force One fly over my house yesterday. It was cool. But I think you still win.

And . . . what is your ACTUAL genre? Just curious.

Garden of Egan said...

Someday I hope to be as famous as you!
I can't believe you said damn in front of people though. Wow. Was there a collective gasp?

Have a great week.

JoLynne Lyon said...

Your post made me laugh. I plan on visiting often.

Shantel said...

Writing is hard. After writing plays for the cultral arts departemnt, I decided to try my hand at historical church novel. But frankly, I suck. I know a ton of church history, but my characters have no social skills. Kind of like me. Everyone has their thing. I think I will stick to raising my hand ten to many times in gospel doctorine and spewing random quotes and dates of the top of my head. I think that is the extent of my abilities. and plays. I can do that. Oh, and eating an entire bag of animal cookies in a sitting.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Gosh DeNae, I can't believe you would use the "j" (jerks) word so often on this post! Such language! I think I need to go bathe in the river Jordan now.

And posting that picture of the animal cookies was just cruel. They are my favorite cookies ever! I turn slightly pink and speckled after I finish off my third bag in one day.

I wish I could have gone to the conference, sounds like a blast! But I'm not one of those people foolish enough to think I would ever write something like, a book! Those slots are reserved for people who know how to use the word "damn".

I don't suppose you have a sign-up sheet somewhere where I can sign up to sit at your table at the CBC? I would love to hear you read your "The Robot Kissing Crystal Vampire of Zarahemla" . :D

M-Cat said...

Absolutley can not wait for your review of the CBC!

I can always count on you to make me LAUGH OUT LOUD!


Annette Lyon said...

It was SO DANG AWESOME to meet you in real life! I only wish I'd had a chance to sit down in the hall and talk with you for an hour.

Don said...

It was great to meet you at the conference. Thanks for letting Crash let me crash your table at lunch Saturday.

Good luck with the writing. It is hard, but as Elana J said over and over in her workshop, "That's okay, because you can do hard things."

Kim Coates said...

It was so great to meet you in person. Wish I was going to the CBC! said...

Ooooh Nooo! Not the shredder! I want to see every word as it spills onto your page! Er, no... not "spills". Floats magically! Yeah! That's it! ;-)

Rebecca said...

I felt like I got to meet a celebrity this weekend when I met you! Thank goodness for Borders, my little Bean baby didn't allow for much visiting at the conference. Well...I guess if I hadn't changed his diapers between workshops I could have, but I'm afraid Eau de Toilet would have been off-putting.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

I totally believe you can be published. I totally believe people want to be entertained. I refuse to believe that we are not doing something that will lead to something else which will lead to something else. Keep writing....just keep writing.

AS Amber said...

I LOVE THAT YOU STAYED WITH ME!!!!!!!! My kids said on Friday after school, "we didn't even get to see Aunt DeNae!!!" Guess you have to stay with us again. Thanks so much for inviting me to dinner and for introducing me to your fun friends! So much fun!
I know it sounds cheesy but I found myself thinking all day Friday...I love knowing DeNae is in town. And tonight as I was driving home from work I was wishing I could read more of your book. I passed a house with an addition built on it & it reminded me of your book!
Thanks for the shout out & thanks to Melanie for the shout out, too!
Love you!

Just SO said...

Sounds like a great time was had by all! And just so you know...that picture totally made me go out and buy circus animal cookies. Thanks for that.

Braden said...

Oh DeNae, after reading you and Crash's blogs, I feel like I was there without actually having to go through security and interact with people and so forth. I wonder if you two might start a profitable business going places for people and then writing hilarious posts about them, making people feel like it was fun and like they know what happened. I, for example, have a list of meetings I would love to sit out of and let the two of you go and then blog about it. Give this some serious thought.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Hey you, I signed up for CBC. And I ordered cards. And I checked out a Dave Barry book.

Did I tell you all this already? It sounds familiar.


The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh DeNae let's do what Braden said to do! We could be Thelma and Louise! hee hee hee

I can't wait.

Kimberly said...

Last year I got told off for using the word "bum" in my first chapter.

You are so endearingly hilarious as well, and I love how warm and genuine you are in person. You know, for the five minutes I got to talk to you anyway (that darn fan club of yours got a wee bit annoying, darlin', next year it's MY turn).

Good luck making time to write. This is going to be a long haul, eh?

L.T. Elliot said...

Don't feel bad. I'm pretty sure they sent my 1t chapter to the 1st predidency for an immediate excommunication. I'm very dark and twisty and it's past time for people to out me as the demon-worshipping girl I am. ;)

No, seriously, I had a great time and I'm very happy with the feedback I was given. But not NEARLY as happy as I was to meet you, hug you, and talk with you. Although, I'm sorely disappointed that I didn't get more of it. Really. Can I come visit because that might help me feel better. =]

L.T. Elliot said...

Whoa. My comment was riddled with typos. I really AM going to hell! ;)

Uptown Girl said...

I would buy your book. And, let's be honest, I'm kind of a big deal. So if I buy your book and walk around with it for a day or so, it will be a best seller.
Did you ever see "Newsies"? Consider me Brooklyn.

On a more serious note- glad you had a great time! You are on my list of blog buddies I'd like to meet.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Umm, yeah, sounds like I would have been turned away at the door for being too heathen. But I would have loved to talked Sedaris with you and Deb! He's my gay crush! :)

The Damsel In DisDress said...

Drat! I looked for you, didn't find you. Someday!

annie valentine said...

Um, I have not yet forgiven you for having so much fun in Utah that I was not a part of. Just between the two of us, my middle reader manuscript discusses gas and I knew, instinctively (also when I showed it to an LDS critique group) that I am not a proper LDS author. We can so totally be manuscript friends now. And next year you can come with me to my Demons of the Writing World convention.

Lindzena said...

Ha! Oh the writing world. Yes, it is hard, but it is so addicting...

JennyMac said...

What a great weekend and not that anyone needs a reminder that writing is hard but so glad you met up with some bloggy friends for a little fun and chat time.

Diet coke detox now? LOL.

Lani Woodland said...

Hello. First time reader of your blog. I loved it! I was at the conference too.

Dedee said...

Oooo, did you talk to some others there who also didn't win the first chapters contest and had them thrashed by the judges? You should have.

Anyone who snorts animal cookies out of their noses is fabulous!

I enjoyed chatting with you and wished it could go on longer.

Oh, and if LT comes to visit I'm so sneaking in to the trunk.

James Blevins said...

Hey! It was so awesome to meet you in Borders Thursday night! Your blog is funny. I think I am left with little choice but to subscribe. I hope you're happy.

It's Time to Live said...

So, being a Man of few words and unable to string them together in a coherent form, I choose photos to tell my story. Glad there are people like you around to arrange the words in usable form. ;)

Sher said...

Yes, I definitely think you would fit in much better at the "Sell Your Soul to Lucifer" writing conference.

p.s. thanks for totally dawging us on Saturday. I can't believe you would choose your kids over us!

Heather of the EO said...

It sounds like you had a great time, you rebel you! I'm so glad. I'm looking forward to meeting you at the CBC!

wendy said...

Kristina makes me laugh===WHAT is the excommuncation sigh.
I am worried.

fun time meeting new friends and sharing things you have in common with.

and spending time with your sis Amber........AWESOME

wendy said...

and another reason I will never be at a Writers Conference
I can't even spell
let me try again.....excomminiCATION
is that right?

wendy said...

Wha ha ha ha ha
I am such a looser
I still didn't spell it right.

I give up