Saturday, June 13, 2009

My first time at BYU

BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop.... and Beyond

In a nutshell, here is a peek at my week:

Day 1- Was amazed at how nice and human everyone was. It turns out that even big New York people are fun to be around.

Writing Tip for the day: go online and look up make-up for new color words.

Day 2- Learned my rights as a writer. Didn't realize I had any. Still wondering if any of it is really true.

Writing Tip for the day: conflict is 2 dogs and 1 bone.

UNEXPECTED COOLEST thing that happened to me.... I walked out of one of the sessions and there was James Dashner. I couldn't believe it. He was doing a presentation on Friday, so somehow I equated that to him not being at the conference until then.
So I tried to breathe normally while I introduced myself. He said, "You're Laura?" I nodded and then he opened his arms and gave me a big hug. Like I had been a close friend for years. Like I was someone he knew. Like seeing me meant something to him. James is now officially on my list as one of the nicest people on the planet.

Day 3- Book signing at Confettie Books in Spanish Fork. Very fun. They had a big banner hanging outside announcing my arrival. Inside was a table display for me. I had fun talking to total strangers and then, doing my first television interview. Um, I didn't even look in the mirror first. Aren't you suppose to make sure you look perfect before going on air? I didn't think about that until after. They're going to send me a copy of the interview, so maybe I'll get that posted on U-tube so you all can see what a totally unprepared TV interview with a new author looks like. Be sure to get your popcorn.

Day 4- Spent a lot of time listening to Krista Marino. I really like her. I find it fascinating the way she thinks and how she interprets writing.
Talked to James Dashner for a couple minutes, wish there was more time. I have so many questions.
Ate mashed potatoes and roast beef at a banquet and talked to an author who had published at several small presses. Very informational, and encouraging. I think she taught me subconsciously to act like you're successful, and then you will be.

Writing tip for the day: The reader brings your book to life.

Day 5- Felt overwhelmed at the odds of getting an agent. Went to Ann Dee Ellis's class about dialogue. Finished out with James Dashner's presentation. Lapsed into "What am I doing?" when he said that his first books were irrelevant to his career. Tried not to start crying in the hall after his presentation. He talked about going to book signings where he only sold 1 or 2 books and people would walk a 40 foot radius to avoid him. I was going to a book signing that night; it was my turn to be avoided like the plague.

So I waited in the hall and debated whether I had the courage to talk to him. But I did. I went back into the room and waited for the crowd to part. Eventually he and Krista left the room, and I followed him like a stupid stalker. I couldn't help it.

But I was glad I did. I learned the most valuable lesson of the entire week. And, I'll share this message with you, just in case you ever find yourself wanting to know.

Writing tip for the day: Go to Book Signings, do school visits, keep a blog, do facebook, because it DOES matter.


James Dashner said...


I'm SOOOO glad we spoke after that class because that is NOT what I meant. I promise, promise, promise.

I only meant that no publisher will ever buy a manuscript from you because of a book with a different publisher. They will always do it based on the merits of the book they are considering.

You are absolutely doing the right thing. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Cedar Fort and all those school visits and book signings. Period.

It was so great to meet you, and I love your book, and I know you have great things in store. I'm especially proud that you understand the concept of "pounding the pavement" so well. Best of luck, and keep in touch!


Melissa said...

Laura, I have a friend who has been trying to track down Alvor and arrived at the bookstore just down from her house right after you had left! She was SO TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED! (She had been to B&N looking for it as well. :))

You are wonderful and we are waiting (not very patiently) to read more about Erin and Bain and all the rest...

I also need to add how much we love that none of the "critical players" die. Michael is so affected by books, he loves to read but the sadness can be overwhelming. We talked during dinner about how nice it was.

He wants to know when the movie will be in theaters?!

Laura said...

Wow. I am honored- by both of you.

James- thanks for your encouragement. It's impossible to say how much it means to me. And impossible to tell you how stupid I felt about tracking you down, but I have no regrets. Krista's comment was exactly what I needed, and your friendship was more than I expected.

Melissa- I left Borders at 9:00 Friday night. They scheduled me originally from 5-7, but I called and told them that I was not about to miss the end of the BYU conference and that I would be there at 6:00. For the record, I sold 14 books that night. I know, it's not hundreds, but they were all complete strangers and I am a totally unknown author. It was better than 1 or 2. As for the character demise thing, I have had several people make the same comment, and I have to say that it has compelled me to seriously consider how every book will go in this series.

Don't worry, I'm still writing Book 2. I plan to be done by the end of June or so.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'd love to hear more about about your most valuable lesson. (ltelliot at live dot com) If you wouldn't mind sharing.

It was lovely to meet you there, Laura. That week at BYU literally changed my life.

Congratulations on the book sales! 14 books sounds WONDERFUL to me and I'm so very happy for you!