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League of Utah Writers pick Park City for convention

The League of Utah Writers was established 77 years ago and continues to nurture anyone who has an interest in writing of any kind and at any level.

One of the ways the organization accomplishes that mission is to hold an annual statewide convention.

This year’s gathering, known as The Roundup, will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sept.1 5, at the Yarrow Hotel.

Writers from around the state will have the opportunity to meet each other, hear from professional writers and participate in various workshops, said Carolyn Campbell of the League of Utah Writers.

Friday’s event will be a bootcamp, Campbell said.

"The session is managed by a local company called Precision Editing, which is manned by a lot of published writers like Heather Brown and LuAnn Staheli," Campbell told The Park Record. "It is a session where people can take their manuscript and lean about editing."

Saturday’s schedule will include a handful of writing workshops and seminars.

"We’ve had a lot of interesting speakers over the years," Campbell said. "In the past, we’ve heard from best-selling Mary Higgins Clark, Anne Perry and Terry Brooks."

This year, the presentations will be given by a variety of writers including poets and young-adult book authors.

"Richard Paul Evans, known for his New York Times best-selling novel ‘The Christmas Box,’ will be one of our main speakers," Campbell said. "We will also have Barry Eisler, who was once with the CIA, give a presentation."

Campbell was also excited to announce Howard Tayler, writer of "Schlock Mercenary: Sharp End of the Stick," will be another presenter.

"His work is a Hugo Award-nominated science fiction comic strip," she said.

The Hugo Award is an award given by the World Science Fiction Society for best Science Fiction and Fantasy writings.

"We also have another science fiction/fantasy story and playwright Alexander Drake, author of the ‘The Genesis of Oblivion Saga,’ who will be a speaker as well," Campbell said.

Other participants include Brandon Sanderson, Sarah Eden, Elana Johson and Margot Hovley.

In addition to the published authors, national literary agents attend the convention each year, and that gives participants a chance to pitch their works.

"This year, we’ll also have six acquisition editors with the three agents on hand to talk with the writers," Campbell said. "Writers can buy, for $25, a one-on-one conference with these editors. It’s like going to New York and meeting someone about your manuscript."

One of these acquisition editors is Christopher Loke, who is with the new Provo-based publishing company, Jolly Fish Press.

"Christopher has worked on editorial projects for Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt Brace and Harper Collins," Campbell said. "He is scheduled to speak as well."

These workshops help writers prepare to present their works for agents or publishers.

"They also help writers with characterizations, plottings and all the other aspects of writing," Campbell said. "Usually, there is some time after each workshop to ask questions or approach these writers. Saturday’s seminars also include one-on-one sessions with the authors, editors and agents. We’ll also hold book signings as well."

The League of Utah Writers selected Park City this year because the area inspires creativity.

"The conference is a very relaxed event that has sort of a down-home feel," Campbell explained. "Park City is such a wonderful setting for the conference. The atmosphere there is perfect for a relaxing and enjoyable conference. In fact, when we call people around the country and tell them we’re meeting in Park City, they get more excited to come."

Culminating the convention is the Writer of the Year Award.

"In the past it was more like a lifetime achievement award," said Campbell, who received the honor in 1997. "To be eligible for the award, the writer needs to be a member of the League and they need to be successful as a writer. Also, beyond that, have helped writers and helped build the League."

Originally, the League of Utah Writers was part of the League of Western Writers.

"That’s why our newspaper is called The Lariat and our convention is called The Roundup," Campbell said with a laugh. "We’re proud to be an organization that has been together for more than thee-quarters of a century."

Campbell, who has penned three nonfiction books and has written more than 800 published articles for various publications including People magazine, developed a love for writing and reading when she was in elementary school.

"My father bought me my first tricycle when I was four, thinking I would be riding it all over the neighborhood," she said. "But when I got on it, I rode up the street for two houses and then said, ‘I want my book, now.’ I don’t think I ever rode my tricycle again. That’s a crazy story, but absolutely true.

"Writing has been such an important force in my life that I want to encourage anyone to try it," she said. "The convention serves a purpose because there aren’t many outlet opportunities for writers like there are in other art forms."

Attending the convention helps fill her creative cup.

"It just revs me up and it has given many writers a renewed commitment," she said. "It’s nice to get up from our computer and hang out with other writers over a weekend once a year.

"In this electronic age, writers don’t meet often in person, so the convention is a way for us to take some time out, be around other writers, meet experts, share ideas and learn about a type of writing that we haven’t tried before," she said. "I’m definitely going to the comic-book workshop."

The League of Utah Writers will host its 77th Annual Statewide Writers Convention at the Yarrow Hotel, 1800 Park Ave., on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. Participants can register by visiting http://www.luwriters.org or at the door. For more information, visit http://www.luwriters.org.


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