Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Seat Taken

This weekend I’ll be teaching a couple of courses on writing to a conference with over 70 LDS writers attending. I’ll be teaching this class despite the fact that every LDS publisher I know (and many national publishers) are cutting back on the number of novels they publish to the extent that they are turning down novels by some of their own established authors. Does that make sense? Why encourage new authors to enter a marketplace that already seems saturated? Are we encouraging people to board a bus whose seats are filled to capacity?

In a word, no.

How can I say that? Because there is always room for a different writer, a better writer, or a new idea. In just the last year I have seen half a dozen new writers publish for the first time with DB, Covenant, or Cedar Fort. I have seen new styles, new ideas, great characters, and if not “new” genres, at least a new take on the old genres. And frankly, it excites the heck out of me.

Of course it’s great to have writers we have known and loved for many years. I have literally mourned when an author I know and love stops writing or passes away. It saddens me to know I will never read another of their books. It’s like having a favorite restaurant close its doors.

Yet, while it’s great to enjoy and re-enjoy your favorite dish, no matter how much I like chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and country gravy, I don’t want to eat it every day.

How cool is it to enter the doors of a restaurant you’ve never tried before and to discover a dish that just blows you away? In other words to discover a favorite dish for the first time. It’s just as cool to discover a new writer whose work you love.

If you are an aspiring writer and you get a little overwhelmed by all the competition, remember that every author out there had to write a first book. Every author had to break into the field. And every year authors are publishing for the first time with every major publisher out there.

You have a voice now one has ever experienced, a story no one has ever heard. Serve your dish and see how it’s received. And while you’re doing it, how about trying a new author.

Just as an FYI, two books I would like to highly recommend. The first, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, was a big surprise to me because I was expecting some kind of metaphysical be-a-better-you, mumbo jumbo disguised as a novel. Instead I found a book that can be read in less than three hours that hit every emotional nerve I possess with obviously yanking a single string. When I finished it, I gave it to at least a dozen people and everyone of them loved it. You can also rent the movie done by Hallmark. It is just as good as the novel.

The second book, is by an author I usually only read when I’m stuck at the airport. Dean Koontz usually reads like a fast food burger and fries. He gets the job done. But nothing he writes really stands out from the last thing he wrote. However, his novel, Life Expectancy, was a joy. It is a novel that will make you laugh out loud in the middle of truly suspenseful scenes. I kept expecting a let down (there’s no way he can keep this up all the way through) but I never was. It is a story both tender, frightening, and hilarious.
Try either one and you won’t be disappointed.


At 3/21/2006 9:31 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I hope when you get back from your conference you'll share your lecture notes with us. Since not all of us can go, I'd love to hear what's being taught there.

At 3/21/2006 8:03 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...



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