24 March 2008

After the Ball

It's 10 AM Monday morning. The Whitney Gala wrapped up about 36 hours ago, but I'm still excited . . . albeit exhausted from the whirlwind weekend and long drive home. I have so much to post this week about the signings and all, but today's buzz is all about the Whitneys, of course, and I can't help but buzz along.

It was an absolutely magical evening! Rob Wells couldn't have done any better if he'd had a sorcerer's stone and big blue genie. (He does have a lovely, all-around amazing wife, Erin, which is much, much better than those other things.) The setting, the food, the awards . . . everything you can think of was a class act, especially Robison himself. I wasn't quite perceptive enough to see Orson F. Whitney standing around, but I have no doubt he dropped by and was pleased with the tribute paid his prophecy and inspiration. (And if Rob Wells hasn't qualified to live next door to that man in the hereafter, well, I'll be surprised!)

You can check out all the winners and a blog from the event over on the Whitney site, but here are some of the highlights for me.

Saving the best for first, this is my beautiful daughter, Hilary. She took all the pictures you'll see here and on the live blog. In her spare time, she ushered guests to their seats, found everything I misplaced (like the Lifetime Achievement Awards) and was absolutely charming every moment, no matter what. If pride in this girl really is a sin, then it's one of which I must repent every single day of my life. She is amazing!

The best part of the night for me was star-gazing at some of my favorite authors on the planet and reuniting with some of my best friends in the universe! In many cases, these are the same people. (How lucky am I?) Below are just a few. (More pictures as they become available, I promise.)

From left to right:

Doug Johnston: Public Relations director at Cedar Fort. One of the best things that happened to me this year was meeting Dough boy. (See his blog to assure yourself that I added the H on purpose.)

Janette Rallison: YA author extraordinaire and Whitney nominee. Janette has been a joy and an inspiration in my life for almost a decade now. She is the best thing going in the young adult market today, bar none! (LYG, Janette!)

Gale Sears: Double-nominee including Best Novel, and one of the best writers in the world. You should have heard her read from Upon the Mountains! It gave me goose bumps! When I need inspiration to become a better writer, I read Gale's work. When I need inspiration to become a better person, I write to Gale and work to be like her!

Betsy Brannon Green: A legend in her field and one of my very dearest friends in the world. (Also a nominee, of course.) Betsy is everything that is good about LDS fiction -- personally and professionally. Her fans are legion, but I'm #1.

Shannon Hale: Fantabulous, Newberry-winning author and a very lovely lady.

Michele Bell: Remember what I wrote about Betsy? Her, too! She presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jennie Hansen. (Lucky Goose.) Her newest book The Butterfly Box is sure to be in contention next year!

Pictured above are a few more people I couldn't have been happier to see!
Nancy Campbell (N.C.) Allen: I stood for ten minutes in the hall at the hotel willing the elevator doors to open -- that's how excited I was to see this woman! Best writer, best friend in the world. (And author of a new book coming this fall!)If you ever need to spend a Thanksgiving Eve huddled in a breezeway not selling any books, this is the woman to be with!

Jeri Gilchrist: 2008 Whitney Nominee. (You don't have to be psychic to make this prediction, just a reader of one of her first two books!) Jeri is honestly, truly one of those angels-who-don't-have-wings. I love this woman!

Julie Wright: I'm not a good enough writer to express how I feel about this girl. When I think "elect lady," Julie's name comes to mind. She gave me a book safe all my own! I'll turn 50 this week (Ack!) which I bring up only because I want her to know that nothing has meant more to me in the last half-century! (I left this type black to match that wicked-gorgeous dress of hers! I'd feel bad about looking like a troll in comparision, but nobody's as hot as Julie!) Another 2008 nominee and member, like me, of last year's committee. (Go, us!)

Lifetime Achievement Award winners Jennie Hansen, Anita Stansfield, and Dean Hughes. In the same room. At the same time. Wow. (And if you look over Jennie's shoulder you'll see Kathleen Hughes of the RS General Presidency in the gorgeous white dress.)
Anita Stansfield: Anita made me cry! She'd lost her father earlier in the week and dedicated her award to him and to her mother. I have never heard a more touching, gracious acceptance of anything by anyone ever. What an incredible woman she is!

Dean Hughes: Surely the highlight of my writing career was the honor of presenting Dr. Hughes's award. (Notice I didn't touch it. My palms were so damp and my hands shaking so much that I'd have dropped and broken it into a billion bits.) That man is amazing. Not only did he publish the first novel in the mainstream LDS market, but he's written almost 100 more since -- 95 of which I think I have! In 1850ish James Leight Hunt wrote:

Jenny kiss'd me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss'd me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss'd me.

That is exactly how I feel about being hugged by Dean Hughes!

Jennie Hansen: I hugged her too! (See poem above.) Once again, words fail me. Like she's done for so many, many authors, Jennie Hansen took me under her wing when my first book was published. Not only would I likely have never written another book if not for her, Counting Blessings would certainly have never seen the light of day. If you don't have a fairy godmother, having Jennie for a dear, dear friend is the next best thing. (Looking fondly at the picture, I can't help but add one other thing I love about Jennie. She is approximately as photogenic as I am! We were both stunning that night, I assure you, but you might have to take my word for it! What is it about cameras, anyway?)

Since my daughter went back to college this morning before I managed to steal the chip from her camera, these are the only pictures I have at the moment. (And I liften them from the Whitney site.) Though I don't have photographic proof right now, I was just as thrilled to see/meet: Cheri Crane, Sian Bessey, Tristi Pinkston, Candace Salima, Jen & Jeff Savage, BJ Rowley, Marsha Ward, Rachel Nunes, Kathy Jenkins, Angela Eschler, Rachel Langois, Karlene Browning, Rebecca Talley, Annette Lyon, Josi Kilpack, Jessica Day George, Brandon Sanderson, Gary Hansen, Chris Bigelow, Coke Newell, James Dashner, Matthew Buckley, Heather Moore, Michele Holmes, Cindy Bezas, Jessica Draper and everybody else who's name has escaped me. A very few of these people I met for the first time Saturday night, but many I have known, loved and admired for years!
Warmest congratulations to all the very deserving winners! I can honestly say I loved each and every one of those books!

What else is there to say? Cinderella didn't have as much fun -- or get as much out of her ball -- as I did the Whitney Gala!


Christopher Bigelow said...

Hey, it was great to meet you too. Thanks again for all the encouragement! It really means a lot to both me and Coke.

Doug Johnston said...

Kerry, you are so funny. Thanks for putting that photo on your blog. Now not only do people know I look like Homer Simpson, but a fat version of him.

I still owe you the story on the worst rejection ever! I will send it with your cd...

Jennie said...

It takes a friend to be one. Kerry you have inspired me from the day we first met and so many of my favorite moments in this writing business are all tied up with you. Not only are you one of my very favorite writers, but you are the sweetest friend ever. (You're daughter is pretty hot too!)

Tristi Pinkston said...

Beautiful wrap-up, Kerry, and I'm so excited to hear that Nancy has a new book coming out this fall! I love that girl!

I can't express how impressed I am by all the work put in by the Whitney committee. You guys deserve every good thing on this planet.

Janette Rallison said...

And the very best thing about the dinner was that I got to hang out with you!

Cheri J. Crane said...

It was a delightful evening, and Kerry, you were a big part of that. Thanks for all you did to make this event such a success. And one of these days, you'll have to teach me how to make the pictures go where you want them to on these blogsites. I'm such a ditz when it comes to this kind of technology.

Rebecca Talley said...

I loved meeting you, if only for a very brief second. Maybe next time I'll get to visit with you. You guys did such a fantastic job on the Whitneys. I loved every second of it.

Your daughter is beautiful--I have an eligible son . . .

Julie Wright said...

I am going to echo Jennie when I say it takes a friend to be one. I just love you.

Laszlo said...

The event looks fun. I wish I had been there and have my books signed.

I stumbled upon a good business site I want to share with you the Young Entrepreneur Society from the www.YoungEntrepreneurSociety.com. A great documentary about successful entrepreneurs.