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Darci at LTUE 2024!

Hey friends! I've spent the last three days at the LTUE writing conference in Provo, Utah. This is only my second time coming to this conference, but it has been amazing! I was on four different panels, got to sell at the Mass Book Signing, and I've seen so many awesome panels and classes, my brain is overloaded with information. I'm so excited to get home and start using it all!


Thursday night I moderated a panel on retelling classic fiction. It veered more into fairytales than the original prompt indicated, but I think all of us were more excited to talk about those anyway. That panel was chaotic good at its finest! I was glad to hear that attendees got good insights out of it.


Then Friday morning I was on a panel called Shellshocked: Writing PTSD. We spent a lot of time sort of introducing ourselves and defining terminology of what PTSD and trauma are, and didn't get a lot of time to apply it to writing, but we did get some things said. And I hope those who came to that panel understood how vulnerable a subject that is, and that our perspectives will be helpful to them in writing as well.



Immediately after that panel, I was on one called Life after Coming Out, where we talked about the rise of "coming out" stories in LGBT+ fiction, and how to move on to stories beyond that. To letting LGBT+ characters simply exist in our stories, and that their attraction can just be understood by their fellow characters. It was such a fun panel, probably my favorite that I was on this year. The subject was so easy to talk about because it's what I've been doing in my stories for years already. And I'm so glad I got to meet the other amazing people who were on that panel, I even learned a lot from them so it was really a blessing to be there.


Friday afternoon I was on a panel called Change the Now, Improve the Future, for which the prompts were based on Sanderson's UVU commencement speech from last year. We talked a lot about enjoying our journeys, habits we're forming to do so, and how writing should be a tool, not a burden. I really enjoyed the insights from everyone there, again, I learned a lot.


Then Friday night was the Mass Book Signing; an event where they throw a bunch of authors into a big room and you can walk through and talk to them and buy whichever books you like! I was lucky enough to get Lauri Schoenfeld to be my table-mate, who I absolutely adore. She moderated the PTSD panel earlier in the day, so we were well past small-talk and had a blast discussing books and life and the conference. (If you're into psychological thrillers, by the way, check out her book LITTLE OWL.)



During the signing, I was honored to meet a family who had come to the conference from two hours away; one of them already had Target, and they bought Summon, and the older sibling said they work at a library and had already gotten copies of my books and they recommend them to every teen even remotely interested in Fantasy, and they're all super excited for book three to come out, and... you guys, I barely managed to hold in tears. 


Being an author sometimes feels very isolating. The fact is that in order to market books we kind of have to shout about it from the rooftops, but we very rarely hear any shouting back. This was one of those times where I heard a response. Where it was clear that there are readers out there excited to tell others about books they love. I hope I never forget meeting that family. It felt like one of those milestone moments.


Also during the signing, a young man came up to my table and asked what the recommended age range is for my books. I told him, and he went off to tell his grown-up. A while later, he and his mom approached me and we had a discussion about the content of Target. This 11-year-old boy really wanted it. His mom was hesitant, but through conversation and promises from him she went ahead and got it for him. 


This is one of the reasons I wrote the story I did in that book, and why I'll continue to do so for future books. I wanted to address heavy topics in a way that would be accessible for teens and young readers, so yeah, there's some kind of dark stuff in my books. But I hope that I've written it in a way so that 11-year-old boy will both enjoy and understand, and that he'll have discussions with his mom about it. (His mom was awesome, by the way. What a cool parent.)


It's Saturday afternoon now as I post this, and I've got a few more classes and panels I'm excited to attend. I've taken so many notes, met so many fun new people, and I'm nearly out of steam lol. But thankfully, this kind of "work" doesn't feel much like work at all. In the words of the great Taylor Swift, "I get tired, but I never get tired of it."


I know I say it every time, but I'm so grateful I get to do this. I'm still a pretty newbie of a writer, but getting to meet readers and other authors always energizes me to keep moving forward. Thank you all for your support and kindness, none of this would be possible without you.


-Darci


P.S.

Shameless plug for the Kickstarter! If you haven't heard, we're getting brand new cover art for all my books! Come support and get awesome swag too!

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