Before I get to my awesome experience at LTUE this past weekend, I have to say I was extremely shocked to find out that I had 29 hits on my Survivor post on Friday. Why? Well this site called AXINEWS had linked to my blog. Why? Yeah, I had trouble figuring it out. But then I realized that my last blog references three key words that were popular to Survivor fans on Thursday night/Friday. Those words were “Boston” “Rob” and “Injury”. No where in my blog did the three words go together. Boston Rob was mentioned once, maybe twice, and injury was probably mentioned six or seven times. I don’t care, people came to my blog, probably got disappointed or were bored enough to read it, and left.
Last Friday and Saturday I had the awesome opportunity to be in with a large group of writers at LTUE. It was definitely an experience that was well worth it. I got to hear remarks from the remarkable Brandon Sanderson. He cracks me up. (It’s even funnier that I’ve only read 60 pages of Mistborn and nothing else. But I know that I don’t have to read all his books to know that he’s brilliant. Mistborn, by the way, is the next book I plan on reading.) It was great to hear him mock James Dashner, who wrote The Maze Runner. The Maze Runner was my favorite book that I read last year. Because of this conference, I heard the name Dan Wells for the first time. But in late March I hope to purchase his first book “I Am Not a Serial Killer.” The guy is pretty cool. I also got to hear up and coming John D. Brown, author of Servant of a Dark God. That is also on my list of books to read. Larry Correia, though freaky, had his books added to my wish list for reading. Right now, though, I’m reading Brandon Mull’s 4th Fablehaven book in preparation for the release of the 5th and final book in that series. And I discovered that Howard Tayler’s online webcomic, Schlock Mercenary is going to become my new timewaster website. Just don’t tell him that I think it’s going to be a ‘timewaster’ website. I got to hear L.E. Modesitt speak a few times as well. I’d read his books, but I’m such a slow reader that I’ll have attended 5 conferences by the time I get to finish the books already in my queue.
So, the best things that happened for me while at the symposium:
5. I met Lisa Mangum, an editor at Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain. We had a great discussion that helped inspire me to come up with a two sentence pitch for Eli and the Amethyst.
4. I ran into an old acquaintance of mine, Canon, and this artist Daxton Leavitt. Canon is a talented artist, and if I could get published, I would love to have him do the artwork for my book. Especially if Shadow Mountain is the publisher.
3. Listening to Dan Wells speak about the 7 main plot points to a novel helped me in preparations to undertake the next book I plan to write (or rewrite, whatever). But I understand this thought process better than I did before. That makes it great.
2. I had a few occasions to talk to James Dashner. That man is my hero in terms of authors. I’m not 100% sure why. I think it’s because he’s got the right amount of arrogance mixed in with a huge amount of humor and a touch of humility.
1. Listening to the live taping of the Writing Excuses podcast was awesome. What made it better was that I got to ask a question in one of the two live (insert proper term for podcast taping here). I think my question for the authors (Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells with special guest James Dashner) was something like “Who would be an author that you would not recommend?” I think my question ended up being a little meaner than that in the end. It’s awesome to hear who the authors like. I’m also interested in who they don’t like. Brandon Sanderson didn’t want to answer the question (although everyone there knew that he maintains some ill feelings towards Dan Brown. He did give good reasons why he didn’t like “The Da Vinci Code” author. And it had nothing to do with religion, which was nice.) James Dashner got the question diverted to him. It was interesting to hear his dislike of Michael Connelly. My sister-in-law really likes his works. But Dashner had an interesting take on why he didn’t find Connelly very good. (By the way, I’ve tried reading Connelly before. How did that turn out? Let’s just say that if I’m bored by page 2, I’m not going to get to page 200.)
All in all, I had a few reminders that were important in this whole process that I think that every aspiring author should remember.
1) They’re normal. James Dashner is normal. Brandon Sanderson is normal (although I heard the phrase “Brandon’s the exception to the rule” about 20 times during the process.) But yeah, they’re normal. And when that thought reentered my mind, it made it very comfortable to talk to anyone of them.
2) Brandon Mull isn’t a jerk. Now why would I think he was? I haven’t any idea. Somehow, I had this notion that he had too much arrogance and yet, I’d never met him before (just read 3 of his books). So, if he reads this I do wish to say this: Brandon, even though you never knew it and it really doesn’t matter, I don’t think you’re a jerk. I think you’re very respectful. Having gone to a few author signings, I’ve never seen an author take so much time to chat with each fan coming by. Seriously, you are awesome. (Likelihood of Branon Mull reading this blog is about as high as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady putting on tutus and trying out for “So You Think You Can Dance.”)
3) Speaking of Mull, while I was waiting in line, I heard this one kid (sad that I’m calling him a kid when I kinda think he was about 21 and I’m only 28) seeking advice from Mull on becoming a writer. For those of you who don’t know, Brandon Mull tried many agents with a manuscript and got nothing. He tried Shadow Mountain and got “What else you got?” He sent Fablehaven in and got New York Times Bestselling status. He didn’t even have an agent until he had the words “New York Times Bestselling Author” on his resume. But this guy pretty much wanted Brandon to say “Yeah, let me read your stuff and I’ll recommend you to my agent who was forced to find me.” Yeah, I’d love to have pitched Eli and the Amethyst to Brandon Mull and have him say “That’s awesome, let me send that to my agent. I’m sure she/he’ll love it.” I’d love to have Dashner or Sanderson say that. Or better yet, have Lisa Mangum or Tristi Pinkston or Stacy Whitman (who work for publishers) just want to buy it now. That’ll work right.
4) Most LDS authors don’t desire to be preachy in their book. Ok, this one is a little obvious. There are a few preachy books out there that work. They’re normally referred to as ‘scripture’ by some people. If there is a religion in a book written by an LDS author, it’s either published by Deseret Book or Covenant OR it’s got nothing to do with the LDS religion whatsoever. Isn’t it nice to know that Mormons aren’t trying to be preachy in their fiction? (Just a reminder for some.)
5) Stacy Whitman is very passionate about her career. During a regional publishers panel, she defended her occupation to some geezer whose daughter is trying to self-publish because no one’s taking her work. (If they’re not taking it, maybe it’s not perfect. I hate it when parents think their children can do no wrong. Even my mom didn’t think I was perfect. No Apryl, believe me, she didn’t.)
Ok, that’s it. Time for the answer to useless trivia and a new question for today. The answer to Thursday’s trivia is b) Eliza, Christy, and Brian.
If I had to go on a book tour with one of the aforementioned authors (either as a fellow author or as their personal assistant, the answer’s the same), who would it be.
a) Brandon Sanderson
b) James Dashner
c) Dan Wells
d) John Brown