Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Cloud Nine with My Dreams

Last weekend I attended my favorite writer's conference, LDStorymakers. It was held in Provo at the Marriott and can I say, it was awesome!!

I always learn new things and refresh on lots of others. It's great to be able to speak with some of my favorite LDS authors and meet many others. The bookstore is a hit for me because every book I buy, later gets signed by the author in person. I usually get to meet a few editors and/or agents and just generally have a great time filled with super opportunities.

One of the ways I first heard about the LDStorymakers conference was because Rachel Ann Nunes posted info about a writing contest. I entered in 2006 and again in 2007 when I took second place in the Suspense category. Last year I entered as well, but didn't place in anything, but I received tons of great feedback to improve my writing.

This was my 4th year attending the conference and I was eager to enter the "First Chapter" writing contest. I submitted two of my first chapters after careful critique and revision and hoped for the best.

One of the chapters I really loved because I felt like my "writer's voice" really came through, but I told my parents that I didn't think it would place because it was so different.

So the big day arrived and at lunchtime on Saturday they announced the winners for seven different categories of writing. I listened carefully and when they got to the "Women's Fiction/Romance" genre my ears were tuned because there were four awards given away. I thought, hmm, maybe I'll have a small chance, but as they continued to call out names and I didn't see mine I relaxed. Then they announced the first place winner and put up the title of the entry "Wind Song" written by Rachelle Christensen!

I was so excited I had to swallow tears of joy as I went to the stage to pick up my prize and certificate. My husband, Steve, arrived shortly after with our baby Dawson (he was coming for his lunch break) and Dawson even got to pose with me on stage with all the winners.

This was a fantastic moment for me and yes, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. It's just a contest after all, but I want to tell you about why I appreciated it so much.

I have three kids-- ages 5, 3, and 7 months and it's hard for me to find time to write. I know it's hard for everyone, but this is my blog so I'm telling you that personally, it's a challenge. I love to write and I love my family so I try to be careful with how I spend my time.

I talk about my writing successes and failures with my whole family. Just a few weeks ago, I got another rejection for a book and I told my five-year-old, "Remember, that book I told you about that I wanted to get published? Well, the editor didn't like it."
She frowned and said, "Poor Mom."
She knows how important this it to me. My husband knows how important it is to me and reads my work, supports me when I get rejections, and encourages me to keep trying.

When I arrived home from my writer's conference on Saturday I was thrilled to show off my "First Place" ribbon to my little girls. They squealed and clapped for me and it was like I won all over again. As I tucked them into bed, I said, "See, sometimes dreams do come true." and my five-year-old said, "Yeah, cuz you worked hard, huh, Mom."

And I paused and smiled at her and said, "That's right. If you work hard, you can do anything!" and that moment was like another reward in itself because my daughter, at age 5, already knows the secret that many people ten times her age do not know.

Luck, isn't going to get you anywhere and neither are dreams alone. You have to be willing to work hard, dream, set goals, and work harder. I want my family to know this because I really believe it. I have one book under contract to be published, but I'm not stopping there. My dreams are big and my work ethic was honed on a farm in Idaho and I think it can take just about anything I can dream up.

I hope if you have a dream tucked away, that if it's really important to you, you'll pull it out and publish it and find a support system. Make goals, work hard, and achieve your dreams.

"A dream is a wish your heart makes," Cinderella sang--but you have to work at that dream to make it come true.


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