Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My writing conference tip of the day, thanks to Brandon Sanderson

I haven't spoken of my Sponge Bob ward since I was hauled in by the proper authorities and told to quit leaking episode plot lines to the media. In other words, one of my fellow cast members recommended me to the censorship committee, and because I didn't want to lose my endorsements, I complied and conformed.

This incident was only the first in a series of clues that in Utah the trees talk and the rocks whisper. In Hawaii they talk and whisper too, but not behind your back or to the proper authorities. Hawaii is a hang-loose and shaka-braddah state, but it's also an aggressive state. People in Hawaii say what they need to say. To your face.

Utah is an aggressive state too, especially when there are referees or steering wheels nearby, but Utah is aggressive with a more passive flair. People say what they need to say, but they say it in order to lead you to believe that what they said was what they meant.

You get me?

For instance, if someone drops by the orange stand and says, "I'll take a box fer sure, but I just need to run to the bank first and get some cash," what they really mean is, "See ya later, sucker!" Or if my daughter texts a friend to hang out and the friend texts back saying, "Sure, I'll call you when I get home," what she really means is, "I have no intention of hanging out with you tonight."

But I digress. This post is not about me giving a cultural awareness lesson, this post is about me breaking my Sponge Bob silence because last weekend my Sponge Bob world and my writer's conference world collided when heard a familiar name over and over at the LDS Storymakers Conference.

Brandon Sanderson.

Say that five times fast and you'll know how I felt at the conference.

Brandon Sanderson is the author of the Alcatraz series (among other things) and apparently is not only popular enough to have his own Wikipedia entry, but also to have his name passed around and around in sci-fi circles.

Every time I heard his name my hand shot up or my elbow jabbed my neighbor, "Oooh, oooh, oooh," I'd say, "I can throw a stone at Brandon Sanderson's house from my front lawn," or "I can toilet paper Brandon Sanderson's house without even leaving my driveway."

I wasn't trying to be annoying, I was just trying to let people know that I could make Brandon Sanderson's life miserable if I wanted to. That's how close we are in proximity.

When others at the Storymakers Conference found out that Brandon was one of the cast members of my Sponge Bob ward, they either sat in stupor, or asked me if he was active.

"I'm not tight enough with him to know his exercise routine," I shrugged.

"No, I mean, does he attend church regularly?"

"Oh, yes," I said, "and sometimes speaks in Sacrament, plus teaches Gospel Doctrine AND Priesthood all in the same day. We Sponge Bobbers call it the wham-bam-grand-slam."

And can I just add that when Brandon Sanderson speaks in sacrament, or bears his testimony, he grips either side of the pulpit and adjusts his glasses with a particular conviction the likes of which you only see in successful science fiction novelists who understand there is no conflict between science and religion, let alone science fiction and religion.

It's enough to keep even my hub awake. And prompt me to take feverish notes.

My favorite was when he taught us how to be the hero in our own lives. I have it all scribbled down on a stray program, or index card, or on the back of a fireside flier somewhere. (Hopefully I find it before I have to do anything heroic.)

That being said, you can understand why my ears perked up when the keynote speaker at the conference, Dave Wolverton, (who also has his own Wikipedia entry) told a story about the time Brandon Sanderson came to him for advice on how to get published. Wolverton outlined for him a specific no-fail, five-step process (which, you're welcome, I am happy to share):

1. Blow off work.
2. Max out credit card.
3. Fly to Florida to attend Nebula Awards.
4. Go to bar where all sci-fi agents hang out.
5. Order Sprite, straight up, on the rocks and hold breath to avoid second-hand smoke inhalation.

It works. You should try it. Brandon found his agent, paid off his credit card and lived happily ever after (within a stone's throw of The Crash Test Dummy).

When I asked Brandon for permission to share his success story he said:

"I don't mind . . . though Wolverton sent me to New York not
Florida. But that was his advice, and I DID (while nervously drinking a
Sprite) find an editor in the hotel bar during the Nebula awards." ;)

Florida/New York, agent/editor, tomayto/tomahto . . . these little things are tit for tat, but can I just say how relieved I am that Brandon clarified the bar as a hotel bar. Bar is just such a broad word, am I right or am I right? I wasn't sure I would be able to judge him correctly when I saw him in the halls at church without knowing whether he was sipping Sprite in a nightclub or a discotheque or a salsa bar or a strip club or a sports bar or a biker bar?

You get me?

A hotel bar is at least respectable, which just goes to show that details really do make or break a story.

You can consider that my writing conference tip of the day.

(btw, I picked up an Alcatraz book at the library and I think it's way cute. Swirl, add it to your bookclub4boys list, ASAP! I bet I can get you autographed Sprite cans for all your club members.)

P.S. I can't wait until I have my own Wikipedia entry.


Alyson (New England Living) said...

Hi friend! I'm first!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I heart this line "...I was just trying to let people know that I could make Brandon Sanderson's life miserable if I wanted to." HAHAHAHAHA!!

Oh, and the line about not knowing his exercise routine. Funny lady!

Annette Lyon said...

*I* wanna Wikipedia entry!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Wait, Annette, you don't have your own Wiki entry? Something's fishy here. Does one just create their own entry then, or does one wait to become so famous that others create it for them?

Hmmmm . . . inquiring minds want to know.

Alyson, YAY! So fun to see you here first and hear you laughing too. Can't wait to meet you.

Kazzy said...

My kids are nuts for him and his books. Your claim to fame, only until you get your first big contract. And I am hoping there will be no bar hopping necessary!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

By the way, peeps, I could make Annette Lyon's life miserable too, but I'd have to jump in the car and drive 2 miles.

Kazzy, I hope not too, but I'm willing to compromise if need be. I would be sipping Mountain Dew, of course. ;) Hey, did your hub teach Brandon?

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Well well well, look how many options you have for making people miserable. It boggles the mind, that's what. Very impressive.

I am leaving in just two short hours and I can not believe that I had to pack my thermals. What the what, is what I say to leaving 80 degree weather for 30 degrees. But when you are a die hard fan of WC you just don't care, so I guess it is all good.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Ahem, that's 41 degrees, thank you very much. Although I hear it's been snowing in P.R.O.V.O.

Have a safe trip! Can't wait to hear all about it.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

conforming and complying...two things we do not do well. I know this dance. It is done to slow music or fast music...but always "done."

LiafromLaie said...

That is so cool that you live close to Brandon Sanderson! I love Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series and I remember seeing that Brandon was the author that took over after Jordan's death and when I read up on him I thought it was so cool that he was LDS! I think now I need to go read some of his work :D

Garden of Egan said...

Wow! NOT only ARE YOU live around FAMOUS PEEPS! Brandon AND ANNette!
How in the world do you stay humble? I bet the attendance in the Sponge Bob Ward is phenomenol!

Two whole miles to get to Annettes house to throw a rock?

YOU are dabomba mama!

And speaking of is in r.e.x.b.u.r.g

Braden said...

I've never liked seeing wild things caged up--animals in zoo, BYU theatre faculty in shirts and ties--that kind of thing. Something just makes me sad. So it sort of makes me sad that your free spirit is in UT. Don't get me wrong, grew up there, love it, may come back someday, but its' not for everyone and so my spirit has empathy/sympathy chafe marks for you.

IWA (e - va) said...

I say go make your own Wiki page... then you can write anything about yourself that you want.... I say you write up the most extravagant biography about yourself and then attach you blog address as the reference and then it will all be true!

Kritta22 said...

I agree with IWA! She's creative!

Kritta22 said...

So I mailed something to you!!!

Kritta22 said...

The postman said 2 days...

Is that just sooooo exciting???

Kritta22 said...

I'm sorry trees in Utah talk behind your back. That's not nice.

Kritta22 said...

I can't wait until my kids are older and I get to hear about all these cool books!

That's why I have you, Crash. To keep me in the cool crowd.

Kritta22 said...

Do you guys have a paper you gotta sign to move into your neighborhood, saying that you are cool??

Kritta22 said...

Oh gosh! I'm getting the "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy" from Connor so I'm gonna have to go get my ear right back!

Kritta22 said...

SO...I just went and got our Magic Quilt box of fabric...

there's enough to make another.

Do you wanna??

I promise it won't take a year...I'm on BC!!

Kritta22 said...

I found my high school picture book! SOOOO freaking funny! I wish I could send you pictures

The Crash Test Dummy said...

OMGOSH, KRITTA! I am so excited to get The Magic Quilt and YES, I would love to make another one. But I don't want to take up your time. You have been so generous already. I will send you $$$. There are so many people in need I want to make as many as possible. I'm even going to learn to sew and quilt. SIGH maybe. I mean, YES, I am. ;)

And yes, you have to pass a "cool factor" test and sign a paper to get into my neighborhood. hee hee

Donna, touche! Braden, that was sweet. Thank you for the empathy/sympathy chafe marks. I too lub, lub, lub being in Utah for many reasons, but yes, I kinda know why the caged bird sings.

But then, as I learned at the conference, writing is my way of screaming. (and singing).

Lia, you are toooo cool, girlfriend. Seriously! Brandon Sanderson AND Muse? You ROCK-a-doodle-doo!

Iwa, hee hee hee Only if you help me write it. ha ha


Garden, NOOO! Are you kidding? More snow? I had to pull out my winter wear again, after I just packed it all away.

Garden, did you hear I decided to go to the CBC? Just for you, girl!

Mr. B. said...

Crash, I will so write a wiki page for you. The first teaser paragraph will go something like this

"Crash is a Utah transplant from paradise. She spends most of her time explaining why she moved to that great desert. The rest of the time is split between her kids, her husband, and her blog."

What do you think??

Amber said...

That last comment was from me. I forgot my husband was signed in. Embarrassing.

Sandi said...

I still can't believe you traded those flirty Hawaii trees in for the Utard ones! I think you should have a contest for the best wikipedia entry for you and give away a really awesome prize to the know like a free pass to attend the famous sponge bob ward or something!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

OMGOSH, Sandi! That is the best idea ever! I'm so going to do it.

Verifier: Gagictir

The opposite of Magictir

I have both effects on people.

Garden of Egan said...

Crash.......I'm so happy that you are going to CBC! I can't believe my planets aligned. Kids leaving and getting to have the chance to meet! I don't know if my life can get any more perfecter.
Except if it would quit snowing and if I lost 50 pounds by the time the CBC rolls around.

Martha said...

Are you serious?? Snow??? Here's what you need:

I think it's made from recycled airplane blankets.

So I come home from my 3 hours of academic advising (helping those poor Byuh students plan their majors and lives) to find Tom and all the little boys missing. We look all over townhouses and nothing. Finally I see some bikes behind our back gate, and I hear some laughing. Those pumpkin boys had scaled our vinyl fence and gotten themselves stuck inside because the back door was locked too. So I think they are traumatized, but they were like, "heck we didn't care, we're fine let's go play Xbox NBA".

Do the wiki page and I'll write on it all your dark secrets.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Hey I've been at a wedding all day. Can't wait to show you pics.

Amber you had me intrigued with the mysterious Mr. B last night. hee hee

Martha, I bet you would win that Wiki contest, hands down. I'm going to have to think of a really cool prize, like a brand new toilet or something useful for your house.

Be back later. Gotsta go to the reception.

Mariko said...

Are you going to get revoked (invoked? provoked? Voked?) if I make a comment about the sponge blah-bers? Are they listening to your comments? Do you have a mole? Or a blog-tap?

Scary. Seriously.