That about sums it up. I’ll surely post more later (especially some photos), but for now, I had to just express some overall feelings from the experience.
The conference has come and gone. Jeff Savage (or J. Scott Savage, depending on which of his books you’re talking about) is officially crowned as the next conference chair—and is our first conference "king" instead of "queen."
The attendees were enthusiastic, the instructors fantastic, the food yummy, and everything else just great. Meeting editor Tim Travaglini and literary agent Jaime Chilton—and chatting around a table with them late into the evening—was definitely a highlight for me.
I’m so grateful to all the many, many people who helped us put the conference together. It took a small army of dedicated people to do it all. Thanks to all of you; you know who you are!
When the conference wrapped up Saturday, the hard part was over for me, but the Whitney Gala was still ahead. My husband, awesome man that he is, showed up with a dozen roses for me. (How cool is HE?!)
We got to sit at the same table with Whitney Award winners Josi Kilpack, Brandon Mull, and Jessica Day George. (The last two make me officially cool in my daughter’s book.)
I had the opportunity to announce the winner of the Best Romance/Women’s Fiction award alongside Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book. To my absolute delight, my good friend, Michele Paige Holmes took the award. I was supposed to remain neutral, but I’m sure the thrill I felt was plainly obvious in my voice and on my face when I read her name.
I can honestly say that winning an award myself wouldn’t have been any more joyful for me in that moment. I’ve been friends with Michele for many years, and I’ve seen the long, hard road she’s traveled to get where she is. I was so happy for her that I sat back down and promptly began crying.
Tears continued to be a large part of the night for me. Josi’s winning speech got me all choked up too, as did several others. While I’m sure part of my weepiness stemmed from a serious lack of sleep for three days, each and every tear that night was a happy one. Some people came up to me concerned that I was sad over not winning a Whitney myself. Truly, I didn’t expect to win, so I wasn’t disappointed when I didn’t. (I just hoped I’d lose to my other good friend, Heather Moore. And I did!)
But the tears were more than just happiness for good friends. Our table was dead center at the back of the room. As a result, I had a great view of the large crowd that had gathered for the awards. A lot of amazing people were inside those four walls. Some I’d go so far as to call legends.
As the evening wore on, I felt a surging sense of awe and privilege. That night represented the beginning of something very big. And I got to be a small part of it. I even got to be involved a tiny bit in its creation. I was sitting in the middle of a piece of history. The thought was overwhelming. I felt so honored to be in the company of those around me, to bear witness to the birth of something so much bigger than myself, something meaningful, something that I believe Orson F. Whitney himself smiled down upon.
After the 2007 conference, I drove home a bit sad because it was all over for a year.
This time, I drove away feeling uplifted, honored, and overcome. I cried for nearly half an hour as I drove, unable to believe that I . . . little ol' me . . . the gal who scribbled stories about mice in second grade . . . I was there. I am part of this amazing community that began as a simple e-mail support group and has morphed into a powerful force, where some of my dearest friends on the planet belong.
How did I get so lucky?
Like I said, I’ll post more about the conference and the Whitneys later. I’m still trying to finish the "re-entry" process with the family and (with any luck) catch up on some sleep.
And oh yeah—then I have a couple of deadlines to meet, because I get to write and publish books for readers of my faith.
Did I mention that man, I’m one lucky woman?!
(Oops. There go those tears again . . .)
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