It began with the chance to go out to dinner with several writer friends and Marcia Markland, an editor at Thomas Dunne books. Marcia was an absolute delight to talk with and get to know, one of the sweetest women I've ever met.
That night I briefly met up with two of my cousins to celebrate one's university graduation, something she's done with finesse and great courage against huge obstacles. (So proud of you, Jamie!)
Friday morning began the 8th annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference. It was the biggest and best one so far (which is saying a lot). Friday morning while walking through the halls, I immediately recognized agent Sara Megibow from her Twitter avatar and said hello after yelling out her name (and probably taking her off-guard. Sorry about that, Sara!)
Later I attended classes and got to rub shoulders with the other two agents attending, Sara Crowe (I don't think she ever stopped smiling all weekend) and Becca Stumpf (one of the cutest people on the planet).
Over the two-day conference, I taught three times, coordinated the meet-and-greet for the local LDS publishers and attendees, and moderated the panel with the national agents and editor.
At one point during the conference, as I headed up some stairs, an attendee said, "You're so awesome!"
Never one to turn down a compliment (but having no idea who she was or what she meant), I said thanks. She went to say that she had an MFA, but that my class taught her more than any lecture she'd attended. SCORE! (Memory has totally failed me; I don't remember her name. But she has my eternal gratitude.)
I attended several classes, talked to lots of friends (not nearly enough time for that!), and had lots of fun chatting with buddies and eating chocolate late into the night at the hotel.
Then there was the Whitney Awards gala. Ever since Robison Wells, Whitney founder, first told me about the idea of the awards program (as in, the day he came up with the idea, years ago), I've wanted one. Like really, really, wanted one. It's become a goal and an ache.
The first year, I was a finalist. So, yay. But I didn't win.
The ache intensified as the years went on and I didn't get anywhere near an award. I've watched and celebrated as many friends received Whitneys, and I've been genuinely happy for them.
This year I was a finalist for the second time. Saturday night, I sat at the gala, all dressed up, hardly able to eat my steak dinner and cheesecake dessert (I didn't finish either, which is very unlike me).
When it was time for them to announce my category, I drew into myself, refusing to hope. I'd read someone else's blog post about the finalists (and that post's comments) and had pretty much convinced myself that the awesome Gregg Luke, who has been a finalist every single year, would take the award. I chanted his name in my head, just waiting for it to be read.
Instead, I heard, "Band of Sisters, by Annette Lyon."
Whoa. The next few hours were pretty much a blur of hugs and lots and lots of happy tears. (Thank you, waterproof mascara.) (Great. I'm crying again.) So many friends and colleagues gave me genuine wishes of congratulations; the outpouring was nothing short of amazing. I've never experienced anything remotely like it before.
The gala was filmed, and if it ends up online, I'll link over so everyone can see me all blubbery at the microphone.
Many people asked if I had a spot picked out for the award at home. I hadn't. I wasn't about to think that far ahead, assume anything, and jinx myself. I have a spot now, though. My Whitney sits right above my computer, where I can see it as I write.
When my husband and I walked in the door, the kids were asleep. But their dad had texted them from the gala that Mom won, and they'd cobbled together a sign, taping several sheets of paper together and then attaching it to the wall: "Congratulations, Mom." (It's still up.)
This last year or so has been particularly difficult on my writing front, for many reasons which I won't go into here (no one really knows all the ins and outs, so whatever you're thinking, that's not it, or at least not all of it).
More than once I've wondered whether I was just done, because often the obstacles have been big, and the emotional side of this writing gig can be so intense. I've been at this since 1994. It was a good run.
Besides, why was I doing this to myself? (Willingly and on purpose?) Maybe, I thought, it was time to hang up the fiction hat and just work on freelance stuff to help pay for the kids' school fees and the like.
Then I got to hold a Whitney award in my hands. MY award, with my name and my book's title engraved into it saying it was the best in its category for that year.
And I felt like I could fly.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me, to everyone in the academy who voted, and (yet again) thanks to the military wives who opened their hearts to me so I could write Band of Sisters.
The fiction hat is back on my head where it belongs.
SO many congratulations to you!
I'm so happy for you Annette. I think Band of Sisters is an amazing book and you definitely deserved that award. Congratulations!
And, don't you know? These kinds of posts are (almost) worthless without pictures! I need to see you all dressed up and we need to see your award!!!
You absolutely deserve that Whitney, Annette! Congratulations!!
I am so, SO very happy for you!
Oh, wow! Congrats! I am thrilled for you. You are no longer the Susan Lucci of the Whitney Awards. :)
That was a brave book to write and you wrote it well. Is it weird to say I'm proud of you? Because I am so proud of you. And I'm so glad you will still wear your fiction hat. It looks lovely on you. Many congratulations, Annette!
Was so thrilled to see you won! Congratulations! I look forward to reading much more of your work in the future.
Reading your post, I am so excited for you! And we don't even know each other. Congratulations and never give up.
Congratulations, Annette! I'm so very happy for you!
So awesome! CONGRATS all over again!
I'm one of the ones in the crowd who SHRIEKED with joy when they read your name out. Annette, you can fly and you do...and in your awesomeness, you make time to help others do the same. You are fabulous, and I love that you have that permanent visual reminder of the fact now! So happy for you!
Completely and utterly awesome!! So happy for you. Your book was the first one I read out of ALL the Whitney finalists, and I was trying to read every one in every category (whew.. what a challenge) and by the end, your book was still my favorite. You definitely deserved to win.
P.S. My hubby will be home this Saturday! So excited. And thanks to your book for helping me get through the year of deployment.
I am so happy for you, and proud of you too! (that makes me sound sort of like I'm your mother or something!) Congratulations Annette! You deserve it, and so does Band of Sisters. I was so excited when I read you had won!
I think I was more excited for you to get that award, than I've ever been at any of the other Whitney Award banquets. You're awesome Annette---in many more ways than your brilliant writing abilities. Congratulations on a well-deserved award. I'm still smiling on your behalf!
Congratulations again, Annette!! I'm so happy for you :D
Sometimes the perfect thing happens at just the moment you need it most. Congratulations. All of the finalists too. You're all winners. But maybe you needed a tangible reminder of the gifts you've been granted. It has been a good run, but you're only at the beginning. Keep running Annette.
A HUGE congrats to you! I can only imagine the sense of accomplishment you must be feeling!
Reading this post was oh, so very fun. :) Congrats again! You really, really, really do deserve it.
hooray and hooray!! How often do we get awards? Enjoy it!!!
Congratulations! So excited for you. Love the book, love you!
Congratulations! So excited for you. Love the book -- and you!
Such wonderful news! I am so very happy for you! And for your properly placed hat. :)
Congratulations! I enjoyed Band of Sisters, and apparently, so did everyone else!!
Oh Annette I am just so glad you won! You have been a great friend for more years than I can count- Your book was amazing, can't tell you the number of times I've reread it. And I would be very very sad if you ever gave up your writing hat.
My chubby self is just a jumping up and down with delight at your magnificent achievement!!! Congrats Annette--
Awesome! I'm so glad you won! Congratulations!
Annette! I am so excited for you and happy for you, and you DO deserve it. Band of Sisters was a great book and you are marvelous and I cannot tell you how glad I am that you're my friend.
Wow! What an honor for you! I personally loved Band of Sisters and I have a very dear friend that has gone through deployment TWICE now and adored your book. She said it was exactly how their circle felt with the army wives she is in contact with. He husband is in Iraq on Convoy Security right now! How truly touching your book is to so many! Please don't stop unless you feel that is what is best for your family! I adore reading you books! It helps that Tina gives a lot of them to me for my birthday! LOL
Lots of Love,
Congratulations! I am so happy for you!
Congratulations Annette! Sweet reward for your journey. Great post!
It was an awesome conference, and I'm thrilled for you. Now staple that fiction hat to your head, girlfriend, and get to writing!!
Wow, Congratulations! Awesome.
Wow. That's amazing! congrats!
Yea!!! Sooo happy for you. I thought you had a great chance of winning. I loved BofS but I hadn't read any of the others so I didn't have any thing to compare it to. Keep the sign up until it is in tatters. :)
Annette, it was so wonderful watching you receive that Whitney Award. You are one of the hardest working & devoted writers I know. You are a great example to me & so many others. You definitely earned that award. Thanks for being so awesome!
I am OH SO HAPPY for you!!
I adore Band of Sisters! I bought it, have read it twice and have recommended it many times.
I'm so glad that your fiction hat is firmly where it belongs!
Congratulations again to a great writer and wonderful person. What a well-deserved win@
I totally second that...you are awesome! Congrats, babe, you deserve it!
(And we need to hang out again so I can give you your books back.) :)
I already congratulated you on Facebook, but I'm going to do it here again. Congratulations! Yay yay yay!!
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