Apr 17, 2010

My Warped Rambles of Preparing for LDStorymakers Writers Conference

By Cindy R. Williams

I'm stressing and obsessing about my trip from Phoenix to Provo, Utah, for the upcoming LDStorymakers conference. Anywhere I go I tend to bring tons of stuff with me and have to set up house. At Church, my bag is heavy enough that I lean to the side and walk with a limp, almost Quasimoto style. When I attend a writing class I arrive at least five minutes before the other students to set up my space. When I play chauffer for my kids, I can't seem to just slip on my shoes, grab my purse and keys and off we go. No, I always forget something and have to run back into the house several times. As I write this I'm beginning to see that maybe I have a Hoarder and/or Over Planner Syndrome. Maybe I've taken "Be Prepared" too seriously. Those of you who know me well, I see you nodding your heads. STOP IT!

So back to the upcoming trip to the writers conference. Here's my simplified plan, and I really mean simplified.

1.  Make arrangements for my children, and husband to survive. Make sure there's plenty for them to eat and clean clothes to wear while I'm away. Maybe I'll make a list of things they could get done if they really wanted to while I am gone. Maybe not. I can paint the scenario that although I'll be the one partying and swinging on the Marriott's chandeliers, they too will want to party and have a mini-vacation from "Sergeant Nag."
2.  Leave the house spick and span. Ummm . . . a mute point since the house is likely to be in major disarray when I get home anyway. Sigh.
3. Make sure all is ready for Primary, since my flight won't get me back in time. As a humble and tired President, I miss and worry about my favorite little people. Get my Visiting Teaching done so I won't harbor a ton of guilt. I already harbor a semi-truck load of guilt about far too many things.
4.  Pack:  This means I must bother to shop for a few new things to wear, and I detest shopping. I would rather be home writing any day. But, alas, my fashionable "Mommy Look" consisting of sweats and t-shirts isn't going to cut it. I want to dress at least business casual. I'll actually settle for presentable. Should I take two pairs of slippers just in case the hotel toilet clogs and floods soaking my sllippers. Hey, it's happened before, and I want to be ready and prepared.
5.  Remember to bring my cell phone charger. Even though I hate cell phones, I want to call my family. Plus one of them might break a leg or some other appendage while I'm gone, and need my comfort. If you know my family, you know that this isn't much of a stretch for my dare devil offsrping. A few quick examples: one son broke both arms on the same day, but at two different times while snowboarding. My missionary son torqued his finger almost off when trying to jump over another friend while being pulled behind our boat on tubes. Several pins and a zillion stitches later, they saved the finger. Then he broke his collar bone two months before his mission while standing on a garbage can lid and sliding down a snowy hill, in Utah. Since that wasn't enough excitement before his mission, he broke his foot five days to departure to the MTC while playing Church basketball. Truth is better than fiction. No, never mind. Truth is much worse than fiction. So good luck to my sweet husband while I'm gone.
6.  Plan and pack and re-pack all my stuff. Then do it again. I'm not like my husband and sons who can come home from work or school on Friday and within five minutes are packed and out the door for a Scout Camp.
7.  Arrange to have a friend bring up a case of my "Chase McKay Didn't Get Up Today" books. I donated one for the gift baskets being given away at the conference, and one for AI (Authors Incognito) to give as prizes. I also want to have them on hand for interested parties to purchase, and hope that there will be many interested parties.  Maybe I should make a battery operated hat with the book spinning around like a helicopter blade on the top and flashing blue, red and green lights and include canned laughter that sounds off every ten seconds or so to draw attention from hundreds of other authors that most likely have their own books to sell.
8.  Pack my cell phone charger and "Bubbles," my super cuddly stuffed whale, that serves as one of my snuggly pillows.
9.  Polish and print five pages of my novel and practice, practice, practice my pitch to use when I meet with Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain. Psych myself up that my book is so fabulous that she will jump up, slam her fist on the table and say. "We have to have your book!" I can dream can't I?
10.  Polish and print ten copies of the first chapter of . . . wait, first I have to decide which novel or children's story I want to use for the Critique Boot Camp. This will take tons of thought. I mean, "Eleven" is 1/3 complete, but very rough. "Thundertail's Tales" is complete, but has been through several edits and rewrites and is the hands of Beta Readers, so now I'm back to the possibility that it might be better to beat up on "Eleven." "Welcome to the Motherhood" is full of essays on mothering, and I don't think I want to choose just one essay to hash. Then there are the seven children's picture books, some rhyming, some not, in various stages of writing and editing. However, I think it would be wasted time to use those. I have other critique groups helping there. Maybe I will bring the beginnings of my non-fiction book about my Dad and Alzheimer's --or ---never mind, my head is swimming. I'll decide tomorrow.
11.   Print a copy of my query letter for my query class so I can query my presenter with queries that will help me write a killer query and reach my goal of impressing my dream agent with my query of all queries.
12.   Make table place cards reserving four tables for lunch on Friday for ANWA Members. Liz Adair is making ANWA badges for us to wear, and it will be great fun to sit together for one lunch. I already emailed Jamie Thayler of LDStorymakers and got her okay. No matter how much I tend to tangle and convilute things,this one is easy.
13.  Review the conference schedule and map out my daily plan of classes to attend. I'm really not much of a fly by the seat of your pants person. Back in high school I've been known to do things on the spur of the moment, like grabbing hold of car bumpers and foot skiing on the snow, or throwing a snowball at the principal, or staying up on a dare all night watching "Nightmare" dressed as a zombie. Once I walked a fourty foor long fence made out of nothing but metal 2 inch diameter poles that surrounded a very awnery and dangerous bull --again on a dare --but not anymore. I've become quite a stick in the muck, --notice I'm avoiding a common cliche by giving it a new object.  I like to be organized and know where I'm going and why. It just saves time, is more efficient and makes total sense, borring as an old housecoat, but effective.
13.  Pack my cell phone charger, Bubbles and chocolate. How could I think of going to a writer's conference without chocolate?

Okay, now I feel my list is complete. I have considered each day carefully. I have thought and brainstormed about all my family's needs while I'm away. I have considered my Church responsibities. I've picked this apart, worried this thing to death and can go to the LDStorymakers Conference with peace of mind that I remembered everything, or did I?


  1. It is SO nice to know I'm not the only one spazzing about this trip. I'm so excited, but nervous, too! I also have a pitch session, am attending Bootcamp, need my query critiqued, wanna meet so many fabulous authors, and am worried I won't make it through the day in business apparel since I rely on PJs. OH but it will be fun!

  2. Oh, it's going to be SOOOOOOO fun. [I have no idea what I'm wearing either. Is it still cold in Utah?)

  3. Cindy...pack cell phone, charger, books and the chocolate. Drop the guilt out the airplane...(I was going to say leave it behind, but I don't want you to return to it!)

    You are going to wow every one there! Go Cindy!

  4. I'm tired just reading about your list.

  5. Living this way is getting tiring. Time to think outside the box and just jump in head first and enjoy life, that is after I clean put away the laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean the litter box, finish my project for Primary and . . .


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