Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Amanda Yardley Luzzader, of Cats, Flies and Owls

Amanda Luzzader (& book)
Today at the Blog Mansion I have Amanda Yardley Luzzader this year’s president of the League of Utah Writers. I’m rather fond of Amanda not just because she’s pretty and talented, and usually wins 90% of the short fiction awards, but also because she has reigned beside me this year. I am of course The Utah Writer of the Year while Amanda’s been the President.

To make her feel at home, I took her through my cat sanctuary.

Johnny: They’re all free-range, kill-free, organic kibble recipe-fed feral cats.

Amanda: That’s a lot of cats.

J: Are you allergic?

A: To tie-dye? I'm not sure.

J: We'll find out. I figured you’d be right at home here.

A: Why?

J: The cats. I’ve had trouble rounding them all up. I figured you could help me herd them into the paddock there.

A: Herd cats?

J: You’re the president of the League of Utah Writers. What’s the difference?

A: Good point.

We took our 100% organic gluten-free cattle prods and went to work.

J: How’d you get involved with The League of Utah Writers?

A: In our chapter we call it "writing in solitude." That's what I was doing. I was writing by myself and not making the kind of progress I wanted make. I found my writing group when I joined the League. They were terrific. I learned a lot and felt like I was also making a contribution.

J: What’s the advantage to writers in joining?

A: To me, really, it's about connecting with the writing community, like I was saying before. Once you find your place in this community, things start happening.

J: How’d you get involved in running the thing?

A: All I can tell you is that I joined and then a while later it was kind of like Lord of the Flies. I don't remember everything -- there was a fire and a pig's head on a spear, and the next thing I knew I was president of the whole mob.

J: What challenges have you had?

A: This year has been full of challenges. All I can say is, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate and the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake. Baby, I'm just gonna shake it off.

J: That Tom there has rabies. Be careful.

A: I think that cat is actually a member of my writing group. His poetry is bitchen.

J: Yeah? Wait I think I know it. He does have rabies. So Big Conference coming up.

A: Yep. Maybe we should use nets.

J: To get people to go?

A: No for the cats.

J: That’s cheating. All you can do is announce to them that there’s an opportunity and hope the take advantage of it.

A: Are we talking about cats or writers?

J: I lost track. Tell me about the conference. When and where?

A: August 28-29 at the Riverwoods Conference Center in Logan, Utah. There's a buffet.

J: Still room for more people?

A: People? Yes. Replicants, too.

J: I'll tell Deckard to stay home. How would people sign up?

A: Go here:

J: Last year you had the best keynote speaker ever, the best speech ever, the best tie-dyed Writer of the Year ever. What poor slob gets to follow me?

Dean Wesley Smith
A: You did great, Johnny! This year our keynote speaker is Dean Wesley Smith, who is not a replicant, but is a USA Today bestseller. He is a well-known franchise genre fiction writer who has sold over 10 million books and has made a living as a writer for the last forty years.

J: Poor SOB. I feel sorry for the people who didn’t see me there last year. Luckily, I’m there this year too. I’m doing all kinds of stuff. Have you seen my EVENTS page with all my panels and presentations? It’s so cool.

A: I may have glanced at it.

J: When you’re not doing this what do you do?

A: President of LUW or herding cats?

J: Yes.

A: I'm an editor at an environmental consulting firm, and I have two young boys with very high energy.

J: What do you like to write?

A: I started nonfiction, and then moved into sci-fi fantasy novels, and I've published a few of my pieces, but this year I've mostly specialized in writing e-mails.

J: Where can my readers find out more about your writing?

J: We share ink in Old Scratch and Owl Hoots. That makes us ink-brothers.

A: And scratch brothers.

J: I get it - Old Scratch.

A: No these cats are vicious. I haven’t gotten them to do anything but scratch me. I’m bleeding all over.

J: Well, that’s what you get for trying to herd cats, madam President, you do the best you can with the tools you have.

A: And get scratched up.

J: And just frustrated because we’re ill equipped, underfunded, and second-guessed.

A: Who’s second guessing us?

J: Guess?

A: That was a long way to go for a bad joke.

J: I hope you appreciate it.

A: Now you sound like a volunteer president.

J: I’ll keep to my cats.

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