The 2010 League of Utah Writers Round-Up is over, and what a Round-Up it was.
It started with the Friday night awards banquet, which was mostly about poetry. In the non-rhyming poetry category, Isaac Timm took first place with his poem “Painting untitled.” We all know how talented Isaac is, but this poem is awesome! Even for him. Members of the Cache Valley Chapter had claimed one full table at the banquet, and we all went nuts when Isaac’s name was called—Aaron Timm most of all, and in case you didn’t hear her back home, that girl can cheer! The poetry aficionados must not have been used to that sort of thing because after Isaac had retrieved his award and taken his seat, everyone in the room shouted down the contest committee, insisting Isaac read the winning entry. Isaac marched back to the stage and announced the poem was inspired by his wife, Aaron, and then commenced reading.
Not a dry eye in the house folks, not one. It was great.
Robyn Buttars won a Golden Quill award and a second place finish for her books Christmas Rose and Simply Jenny.
But wait, as they say, there’s more! In the published nonfiction book category, Amy Maddocks won first place for her book Too Precious for Earth. Alas, Amy wasn’t at the banquet. When I conveyed this information to the awards presenter, she got an anguished look on her face. We found out why a moment later when she announced that Amy’s book had also won the Olive Burt Woolley award for best in category.
Well, what could we do but race to the rescue of a member in distress? Back at the hotel at 10:10 p.m., I called and informed a rather groggy Amy of her success, and she was able to make it down to accept her award on Saturday.
Saturday’s events were fun and informative. New York Times best-selling author John Gilstrap’s keynote luncheon address was particularly encouraging to all of us. The luncheon was followed by workshops by local authors and experts.
Evening rolled around and our chapter needed two whole tables at the awards banquet. This time, however, the banquet emcee requested (while looking conspicuously in our direction) that applause be held until all the winners were announced. And we tried, honest! But when Chadd took an honorable mention in the short prose category for his short story “Undefeated,” we might have gone a little nuts, earning an admonition from the stage. In the same category, Chadd took second place for “How Bad It’s Gotten.” And much like the protagonist in that story, we forgot not to clap.
I’m pretty sure this is where we broke the contest committee’s spirit because the emcee checked his list, looked right at us, and said, “Short, spontaneous bursts of applause will be allowed. The first place short prose award goes to Chadd VanZanten for his story ‘One-Oh-Five.’”
All I can say is, wow, go Chadd!
We were just starting into the delicious chocolate and raspberry desserts when the name “Wallace Pride” was called to receive an honorable mention for his youth story, “The Blanket.” A moment later, Wally was awarded first place for his tween manuscript, The Wreath of Gamwald, causing us to drop our silverware and engage in another “short, spontaneous burst of applause.” Unfortunately, Wally was unable to attend, which earned us some marginally dirty looks from the awards committee.
Robyn Buttars, took third place in the children’s and picture book category with Mrs. Knickerbockers Needles and an honorable mention for her short story collection, “Christmas Wonders.”
Our hands were sore and voices hoarse when the emcee announced the winners for the final category, best adult fiction manuscript. The Honorable mention list, then third place, then second. Looking down at the Cache Valley tables, the emcee said, “I have a feeling there will be a lot of noise from this general direction. The first place winner is A Plague of Caterpillars by Chadd VanZanten.” We cheered like Frat boys at a burlesque show.
As the evening drew to a close, I was called to the stage, where I was sworn in as 2011 President Elect for the League of Utah Writers. As my first order of business, I announced that (for the first time in 25 years!) next year’s Round-Up will be held in Logan. Fittingly, the Round-Up theme will be “Writing on the Edge.”
In other news, many of our members met with agents and authors to receive feedback and advice about their writing. One of our members, Tyler Whitesides, announced that he has signed a children’s book contract with Shadow Mountain. New member Josh Hoyt met with a few agents and one of them requested his full manuscript on the spot.
All in all, it was a great weekend. If you weren’t there, we missed you, and as you can see, there will be no excuses for missing Round-Up next year.