Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tonight I’m heading up to the beautiful city of Layton for one of my favorite events of the year, the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference. It really is like General Conference for writers. This will be my fourth year attending, and it never ceases to astonish me how much I learn each year. Plus all the wonderful people I see. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet old and new friends and finally match a name I met online to a face in real life.

If you attend, please look for me. I’d love to meet you! I’m especially excited to attend Orson Scott Card’s intensive class. I also have a pitch session with an agent. Pray for me and cross your fingers that everything goes well, and by everything, I mean that I don’t forget my pitch and blank out on the agent 🙂

There’s a lot of advise out there for when you attend a conference, but here is my contribution. I hopw it helps:

Writer conferences are a great way to learn about your craft, meet new people, and push yourself to the next level.

  • Learn about your craft: Storymakers offers tons of different classes for writers who are on different levels in their careers. From beginner to multi-published, there’s great opportunities to learn from the greats. 
  • Meet new people: Last year I made business cards with my information, such as twitter, blog, email. I always give out my card, but the most important thing to do is to just go out there with an open mind and a ready smile. Writers are mostly introverts who love nothing more than to be left alone with the voices in their heads, with a few crazy extroverts as the exception 🙂 But even if writing per se is a lonely endeavor, the writer’s path doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can’t be, at least not if you want to remain sane. I struggle with making small talk, but it has helped me tremendously to be ready to say hi to the person next to me, to ask about their projects, to congratulate them on their successes and cheer them up as they march to their pitch sessions like gladiators to the arena. The writing community (especially here in Utah) is highly talented, but also VERY compassionate and supportive. Go out there and meet friends.
  • Last of all, writers’ conferences push you to reach our next level. I’m inspired when I see my friends attain their dreams and goals. I love it when writers I’ve followed from the very beginning are nominated for an award or win the First Chapter Contest. Seeing how everyone perseveres makes me want to continue fighting for my dreams.

I hope to see you this weekend. And if you can’t come, I’m sure there will be another chance to meet in the future.

Oh, it’s my turn today to post at the Utah Children’s Writers blog. We’re celebrating 30 Days, 30 Stories. Stop by the blog and leave a message! As as thank you, I’ll be doing a giveaway from the names that post at the blog. In honor of World Book Night (which was yesterday, but we can continue celebrating), I’ll choose a random winner and send you a book of your choice. If you don’t have a preference I’ll send you Unravel, A Tale of True Love by my dear friend and critique partner Julie Daines.
Here’s the link.
And here’s the story, just in case. Thanks!!!!

30 Days: The Quest for the Perfect Pet

The Quest for the Perfect Pet
by Yamile Saied Mendez
One day after dinner, Mamá finally said I was ready for my first pet. 
But not a cat. 
Cats made Papá sneeze.
Not a dog either. 
Everyone already has a dog and I wanted my pet to be:
Most of all, my pet had to be a good listener. 
I wanted a friend I could tell secrets to. 
Early next morning, I set out looking for my perfect pet. I passed the pet store without a glance in its direction.
I walked straight into the zoo. 
Right away, I found my perfect pet. After some tugging, and pushing and shoving and flapping of giant wings I brought it home. 
My pet was special. 
Ostriches aren’t that common in my neighborhood after all. 
My pet was different too. I could bet all of my Easter candy no one but me would bring an ostrich to school for show and tell. 
But my ostrich wasn’t that much fun. Instead of sitting primly while I served tea, it swallowed Mamá’s china tea service in a single gulp. 
I asked her to give it back, but it just stared at me and then started crying because her stomach hurt. I patted her head and told her “this too shall pass,” but she wasn’t a good listener. Before Mamá even said a word of protest, I took the ostrich back.
Now that I was pet-less and looking, I took advantage and chose another pet from the zoo.
My hyena was special.
 That’s for sure. 
But when she saw the mess the ostrich had made in my room, she started laughing and laughing. It wouldn’t stop. 
She laughed so much, I suspected she was laughing at me. I told her I needed a hug. After the incident with the ostrich I was so tired I became teary. But the hyena didn’t cuddle, she said. She just insisted on ordering some take-out. 
In the end, I made her a Cuban sandwich with mustard and sweet pork that she ate on the way to the zoo. 
The hyena wasn’t fun, cuddly or a good listener, but I was determined to find the perfect pet. 
Then I saw this cute little guy, doing all kinds of summersaults and jumps. Before his mama noticed, I grabbed his hand and we ran home. 
My spider monkey was special and different and oh, so much fun! 
He showed me the correct form to swing from the monkey bars at the park, and later, we snacked on dried plantain chips, my favorite kind.
But then my monkey got sleepy and cried for his mom. I gave him a hug as he cried and cried. I felt bad for the little guy, so I took him back. 
I definitely needed a pet that was special and different and fun, but most of all, I wanted it to be cuddly. And then, I had an idea. Because what’s more cuddly than a bear? 
A panda bear!
Oh my panda! It was special and different and it was so much fun to watch him climb the trees and dawdle all over the park! But his claws frightened me, and when it smiled and I saw his big teeth? I wasn’t so sure I wanted to cuddle with it. 
I took it back to the zoo where to my surprise I found the zookeeper waiting for me! After I promised I wouldn’t borrow any more animals to try out as pets, he agreed to send the police back to the station and me back home.
I wanted a pet. 
The perfect pet.
Someone who would listen to me.
I was so distracted by my longing for this creature that I walked right into the pet store sign. 
Bunnies for sale, it said. Come and find your perfect pet.
With butterflies in my stomach, I walked into the store.
In a wooden pen, a single bunny played with a plastic ball. 
She jumped over a log. 
She rolled on the grass. 
She played hide-and-seek with me.
She was black like midnight, so small it fit in my cupped hands. When I kissed her head, she nuzzled against my lips, soft and cuddly. 
“You’re the perfect pet,” I whispered in her long ears, “You’re special. You waited for me all this time. You’re different. I’ve never seen such a small rabbit like you. And you’re fun. I saw how you played with the ball.”
I didn’t need to say how cuddly she was. She fit right into my heart. And while I talked to her, she listened, flicking her little ears, like she understood everything I said. 
She was an excellent listener. I mean, her ears were perfect for the job!
I paid the store lady with some money Ratón Pérez left me for my teeth the week before, and we walked home. 
Both of us. 

My perfect pet and me.  

This is my daughter Areli with her perfect pet, Midnight. She’s my constant source of inspiration.
Disclaimer: at least she hasn’t brought a hyena home. Yet. 

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Yamile Saied Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.

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