Welcome to the Live Blogging of the 2007 Whitney Awards!

Welcome to the Whitney Awards! If you are not familiar with how blogs work, the 'beginning' is at the bottom of the screen. So, scroll down to the bottom, start reading, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Final, Final Thought from Tristi

Yes, the ceremony has been over for a couple of hours and I'm back at home now, my hands still numb from typing so fast, but the evening was so incredible, I couldn't go to sleep without reliving it once again by means of this blog. I realized we failed to make a clarification. We had thought Stephanie Meyer was to be in attendance, but she had to be in Chicago. Hence all the "waiting for Stephenie" which was not then rewarded with appearance of same.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Final thoughts

The 2007 Whitney Awards is officially over. And now for some final thoughts.

Dinner was great. The atmosphere was great. The awards were great. The introductions were... sorta great. Just kidding. Just the corny jokes, but since many of us are going on minimal sleep, they were very funny.

Seriously, though. It's been great being part of this. It's only going to get better and better from here on out. And being part of it at the very beginning is an honor.

Oh, man! I better go stalk... I mean, meet... the authors before they leave. I'm not a groupie. I'm not a groupie.

Final Thoughts

This has been so much fun. I have loved being part of this whole experience - sharing my thoughts with all of you. Remember to nominate books, and be sure to get your tickets early next year!

Congratulations to everybody!

Thats it for me, thanks for joining us on the Whitney blog. Congratulations once again to the winners!

Random Thought

Do you all think Coke is short for something?

Best novel

Coke Newel gets the award! And he gets a hug from Shannon Hale. He says it's for his daughter.

Coke drove home from Sacramento this morning (13 hours. YIKES!) He says he was an 18 year old hippie convert, whose story is pretty much in the book On the Road to Heaven. Coke admits he doesn't think much like his peers, because he has come from a different place. He is honored for the award.

And nary a corny joke.

Best Novel


Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Out of Jerusalem, Vol. 4 Land of Inheritance - Heather Moore
On the Road to Heaven - Coke Newell
The Operative - Willard Boyd Gardner
Upon the Mountains - Gale Sears

And the winner is...

Coke Newell!

Book of the Year

I didn't predict this win either -- still, a very deserving book. Way to go, Coke, on winning this amazing award from the Whitney Academy.

Shannon Hale blames Kerry Blair too

For the hell joke. Do we believe her?

Another Secret Revealed

Dean hasn't written 100 books. He's only written 95.

I'm so bummed . . .

Armies of Helaman -- Rock On!

Dean just announced that he's waiting for a mission call to serve a couple's mission with his wife. How cool!

Dean Hughes awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award

He has written over 100 books, and never missed a deadline. He has been writing for 30 years, but just announced that he and his wife are waiting for their mission call. How fun!

Dean Hughes' secret to success

He works.

Darn! No magical formula.

Rob gets a standing ovation

Kerry Blair makes sure that Robison Wells gets his recognition for all the work and the bizillion hours he has put into the Whitney awards. Seriously, Rob. This is awesome. Truly awesome.

Kerry Blair admits she wrote the bad joke

The mystery is solved.

Lifetime Achievement -- Dean Hughes

Kerry Blair is presenting the award to Dean Hughes - and took a moment to thank Rob for all he's done. She also took public credit for writing the silly jokes, which, are of course, now charming and funny. Everyone gave Rob a well-deserved standing ovation for his hard work and dedication.

Dean Hughes is a legend in our market, and in the national market, as well. His mother read to him regularly as a child, and he credits a school teacher for helping him get on the path he's on now, living out his life-long dream of being a full-time author. He's been publishing since 1979, and his first book was the first novel ever published by Deseret Book. He started this whole market we know enjoy.

We all know how I feel about Dean Hughes -- it's so great to see a room full of people who feel the same way.

Best Novel by a New Author


Counting Stars - Michell Holmes
We Desert - Gary Hansen
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Beyond the Horixon - Judy C. Olsen
On the Road to Heaven - Coke Newell

And the winner is...

Jessica Day George!

Best Novel by New Author

I predicted this award as well -- my faith in myself is returning.

After hearing Jessica's great excerpt a moment ago, this award is even more special. Way to go Jessica, and thanks for the fun acceptance speech.

We're wrapping up here....

Winner Best Novel of the Year!!!! Coke Newell

Winner Best Novel by a New Author

Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Dean Hughes

~~~Thanks everyone for tuning in. This was such an amazing event, and I can't wait for the years to come!! I had so much fun and I hope you did too!!~~~

~Hilary Blair

PS Dont forget to nominate your favorite books for next years Whitneys!!

A Word about our Sponsors

The awards couldn't have come to pass without sponsors. LDSNeighborhood.com has been a truly marvelous support. The Whitney committee, other donors, and even now you can still donate to keep the awards going. This is such a worthwhile cause -- loosen those purse strings!

Okay, I have to share the joke

Shannon Hale made the joke that you know you have the spirit when you are happy for others' success, and she knows that the authors (and friends) at her table are going to hell. I think those of you at home should know, because it has been mentioned quite a few times.

Hmmm --

You know, Jaime's right. Jessica does have a rather dragony look to her, in those lovely green sequins. I wonder if she did that on purpose.

Jessica Day George's Excerpt

Jessica Day George is reading part of her book, "Dragon Slippers." She is a hysterical presenter, and her book also contains her charming personality. The book is a fun fantasy novel about a girl who is given to a dragon by her silly aunt.

Heather's Award

Clapping! Another good book takes home a wonderful award. I couldn't be happier for Heather.

Jessica Day George reads her excerpt

Jessica, looking very dragon-esque in a sequiny green dress, is reading her section from Dragon Slippers.

Interestingly enough, it starts with "Call me Ishmael". Only one person laughed, and Jessica told us all to go read something besides LDS fiction.

Excerpt of "The Operative"

Willard Boyd Gardner was not able to be here, so James read the excerpt for him, with all his James-style panache. The book is a Middle East suspense with great dialogue, again, well deserving of the award.

Best Historical


Beyond the Horizon - Judy C. Olsen
Out of Jerusalem, Vol. 4 Land of Inheritance - Heather Moore
On the road to Heaven - Coke Newell
Spires of Stone - Annette Lyon
Upon the Mountains - Gale Sears

And the winner is...

Heather Moore!

More corny jokes

For those keeping track at home.
Corny joke = 4

Shannon Hale is funny too

Shanon is accepting her award. She is a funny person, too.

She didn't realize she was joining a great team. She thought she was just a little nerd-girl writing books by herself, but now she knows she is part of a fantastic team. She is proud to be a part of our team.

"Go team!"

Best Speculative Fiction


Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
Hunting Gideon - Jessica Draper
The Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer - Phyllis Gunderson
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn Book II) - Brandon Sanderson

And the winner is...

Shannon Hale!

And the winners are....

Winner Best Historical

Winner Best Speculative

(Shannon Hale winner on the very far left.. sorry!)

Jeff and James, Oh My!

I'm not so sure it's a good idea to put Jeff and James on stage at the same time -- Jeff has launched into a flannel board presentation, a la church talk. The authors are represented in their pre-author life, before they have received their blogs.

James interrupts Jeff before he reads a talk from "Especially from Authors."

By far, the best presentation of the night. Well, so far, that is . . .

(after the announcement . . . )

Well, James tried to steal Shannon's check. So not cool, so not cool . . .

Shannon is amazed to see that she really is getting a check. She thought we were kidding. She expresses how wonderful it is that she's part of a community, rather than just being a solitary writer, alone in her room.

Laughs and jokes abound. Some better than others...

Jeff Savage is also waaaay funnier than the corny jokes. He has a flannel board presentation for the Speculative Fiction award. He is giving a tongue-n-cheek introduction. He just assumed when Brother Wells said he had 2 1/2 minutes, it would be like in church. Oh, no. A knock-knock joke. Corny jokes = 3

The nominees have nicknames:
Shannon "What the" Hale
Jessica "Saturday is a special day it's the day we get ready for sunday" Day George
Jessica "Did you know there is a temple in" Draper
Phyllis "Smoking" Gunderson
Brandon "Ooh look at me I'm writing the 12th book in the Wheel of Time" Sanderson

The burning question

Will there be another corny joke? Enquiring minds want to know.

More From Me

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner Best Young Adult/Children's Lit

Coke Newell Reads an Excerpt

Coke Newell's book "On the Road to Heaven" was published by Zarahemla Books, the smallest publisher represented here tonight, but good books come from publishers of all kinds.

His book is written in first person, with a good voice. It's the story of an old copy of the Book of Mormon, signed by the prophet George Albert Smith. A young man is trying to convince his parents that he is truly committed to his girlfriend, and is seeking advice from his mother on how he should approach a right and true relationship with this girl. Every time he reads of Jesus, he finds himself wanting to know more about Him.

A well-written segment, again, a clearly deserving book of the Whitney nomination.

On the Road to Heaven excerpt

Coke Newell is reading his excerpt. He didn't know he was supposed to read so he "borrowed" a copy of his book from the sales table. Well, I guess we can trust him.

Anita Stansfield - Lifetime Achievement Award

Rachel Ann Nunes--dressed in a lovely red dress--introduced Anita Stansfield. Anita believes that her gift for writing can make a difference. She has cleared the way for many authors, and we honor her for all she has done. She deserves the award and standing ovation she received.

Lifetime Achievement Award -- Anita Stansfield

Rachel Ann Nunes is reading a great tribute to Anita Stansfield, a true pioneer in the LDS market. Anita has made such tremendous inroads in women's fiction -- the things we accomplish today are largely thanks to her. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including one from her publisher. She has taken the road less taken, in fact, creating the roads.

Rachel is obviously touched as she presents this award to Anita as the crowd rises to its feet, hands growing sore from all the clapping.

YA winner

Brandon Mull wins for his Fablehaven book!

Brandon is way funnier than the joke. He says that even though he was sitting there all nervous, it all ended for the best. Then he called himself an idiot, and enjoys making a living writing about fairies.

Yep. Leaps and bounds funnier than the joke.

Best Young Adult/Children's Lit


Alcatrax Versus the Evil Librarian - Brandon Sanderson
Bullies in the Headlights - Matthew Buckley
First Day - Allyson Condie
How to take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend\
Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven Book II) - Brandon Mull

And the winner is...

Brandon Mull!

Best Children and Young Adults

This is the first win I didn't predict. I've been 100% so far. This isn't to say I don't think the award is deserved -- it truly is. I just didn't predict it, that's all.

The acceptance speech is great -- he's glad people are starting to realize that he's not shaming his father by writing about fairies.

Introducing the YA award

Another corny joke. Not nearly so bad. Oh, wait. They're not finished yet.

About that Joke

You know, if Kerry wrote the joke, it was cute and charming. If Rob wrote it, it's corny and just . . . sad. Why do we think this is? Is it because Kerry is cute and charming? Not to say that Rob is corny and, well, not to say it . . .

(and I've been so good today ...)

Gale Sears reads an excerpt

With words that evoke the feeling of World War I, Gale Sears reads an excerpt from her book, Upon the Mountains. Gale does a good German accent, too. Much better than I could even attempt. Maybe she could supplement her writing career by doing audio books.

I have tremendous respect for Historical Fiction authors. The amount of research that goes into each book... amazing. And then to have to keep track of all your facts as well as juggle all that goes into writing a successful fiction novel. Hats off to you guys!

Gale Sears Reads an Excerpt

Gale Sears is reading an excerpt from her nominated novel, "Upon the Mountains." Gale is taking LDS historical fiction to a new height, adding elements of literary writing into her work. Her style adds a richness to the genre and I was so excited to see her as a nominee.

Her excerpt is full of suspense and action. You will want to get your hands on this book.

Rob blames Kerry Blair

For the horrible joke. Who really wrote it? The world may never know...

Josi gets misty

Josi Kilpack, the "not an emotional person" is shakily accepting her award. (Her husband laughed when she made that announcement.) Way to go, Josi!

Best Mystery/Suspense

Presented by Jessica Day George and Brandon Sanderson


The Deep End - Traci Hunter Abramson
Grave Secrets - Marlene Austin
Hazardous Duty - Betsy Brannon Green
The operative - Willard Boyd Gardner
Sheep's Clothing - Josi Kilpack

And the winner is...

Josi Kilpack!

And the corny joke is...

GROAN!!! I was going to write it, but I don't want to inflict it upon more people.

That was a horrible joke to announce the finalists for the Mystery/Suspense category. Wow.

Another Award to Be Announced . . .

I think I'm nearly as excited to hear the magic name as the nominees themselves. Josi Kilpack has done such an amazing job with her book "Sheep's_Clothing," and she well deserves this award.

She is emotional (who wouldn't be) but that doesn't detract from how lovely she looks tonight.

Closer look at the finalists for Book of the Year

Heather Moore is reading an excerpt of her book. By now, I'm sure Quick-fingers Matthew and Lightning keys Tristi will have put in the title of Heather's book, but since I realized I misspelled Jennie Hansen's name in my last post (I hope she will still smile in the picture I'm going to take with her, since I'm so not-a-groupie), I'm just going to wallow in my sheepishness. At least for 30 seconds or so.

Heather admitted that she is trying to get us all hooked by reading the beginning of her book. Then the sold-out award crowd might go buy her book. Nice excerpt, Heather. Maybe after I'm done not-stalking I will head over to the bookstore...

Now from Heather Moore

We're taking a closer look at the finalists for the Best Novel of the Year. We're going to hear an excert from Land of Inheritance by H. B. Moore (Heather) read by Heather herself. It's easy to see why this book was nominated for the award.

Heather's book is a dramatization of the story of Nephi from the Book of Mormon. She has the ability to bring the book to life for the reader. It makes the ancient people live and breathe, and after reading Heather's series, you won't see the Book of Mormon the same way. You will have vivid mental imagery when you read.

Jenny Hansen - Lifetime Achievement Award

Oops. A tiny computer glitch in the introduction of Jenny Hansen. Quick on the uptake, Robison Wells leaped to the rescue. And not even a stumble. With a quick click, the technical difficulty was solved. Way to go, Rob.

First Lifetime Achievement Award

Michele Ashman Bell, lovely as a brunette, gave a nice tribute to Jennie Hansen, the first recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. We already knew how amazing Jennie is, but she has been involved in politics, winning awards for her work in media, and the list just goes on and on. She's always been someone I've admired, and I'm just getting more and more evidence of my well-placed admiration.

As an LDS novelist, she's one of the most well-known. She's written in many LDS genres, from westerns to suspense to historicals. She reads nearly every LDS novel published, and reviews her favorites on Meridian. She is read by over one million readers. Her opinion is respected by book readers and buyers the world over.

Everyone is on their feet in respect for this incredible woman.


Winner Best Romance/Women's Fiction

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jennie Hansen - Lifetime Achievement Award

Jennie Hansen is recieving a lifetime achievement award. Jennie was first published at the age of 7, and has never looked back.

I first met Jennie at a book signing at BYU. It was one of my first book signings and I had about 10 copies of my book in front of me. Jennie sat there with about 15 books in front of her. Her copies were stacked on the table, and I felt a bit overwhelemed. But Jennie is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Congratulations Jennie!
Michelle Holmes is coming up to the podium. I think she's crying. She is wearing a gorgeous red dress.

Yep. She's definitely misty. She is also surprised, admitting that she didn't write a speech because she wasn't even expecting to win. Michelle is expressing her gratitude for her critique group, her husband, and all the others who have helped her write her book.

Michelle is a soft-spoken, sweet lady that it has been my privilege to meet and get to know her a little better. And she writes a pretty darn good book, too. Congratulations, Michelle!

WAHOOOO! Whistle! Scream! Stomp up and down!

(I didn't really scream and stomp up and down. Although if I could do that cool whistle thing, I just might have done it.)

Excitement Abounds!

You should have heard the applause when Michele Paige Holmes was proclaimed the winner of the first award, Best Romance and Women's Fiction. She is visibly touched - what a way to kick off the evening.

She is thanking her critique group, comprised of Annette Lyon, Jeff Savage, Heather Moore and LuAnn Staehli.

This is a historic moment. The first acceptance speech for the first Whitney -- and it was so well deserved.

Best Romance/Women's Fiction

Presented by Annette Lyon and Lisa Mangum


Desire of Our Hearts - Sariah Wilson
Counting Stars - Michele Holmes
Eclipse - Stephanie Meyer
The Independence Club - Rachel Ann Nunes
Loyalty's Web - Joyce DiPastena

And the winner is...

Michele Holmes!

Why the Whitneys?

Mr. Robison Wells--dressed smartly in a black tuxedo, with no pink tie (he took seriously my warning that I would comment on that ad nauseum) is reading a quote by Orson F. Whitney about literature. It is a fabulous quote, but I'm afraid it's waaaay too long to put in vinyl letters on my wall. I might consider vinyl-ing this one sentence, though: We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.

Truly inspiring speech, Rob.

All the finalists and lifetime achievement award winners stood for a round of applause. And now we are presenting the awards.

It has begun!

Rob has arisen, he has struck a pose behind the podium, and he is giving a bit of history about where the Whitney Awards came from. The idea spawned from last year's Storymakers conference. Rob came up with the idea with Brandon Sanderson, kicked it around a bit, and decided to run with it.

The name of the award comes from Orson F. Whitney's who once said, "We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own."

Tristi's Take - After the Meal

As hard as it was to wait, I did save my cheesecake for last.

We are now listening to Rob share how the idea for the Whitney Awards came about. In talking with Brandon Sanderson and kicking around ways to help LDS authors achieve their goals, the idea was born.

The awards are named after a quote from Orson F. Whitney - "We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own." He said this in prophecy in speaking of the LDS people, and we as LDS authors want to be part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Rob is reading the address from which this statement comes. Zion will be the seat of learning, where art and science will flourish. I've read this address and it's so incredible, I can't even tell how inspiring it was to me. God's work will be best done through literature, with powerful and truthful words. In His name and by His help, we will raise that literature.

Some of that vision is being realized in the nominees this year. They have all truly raised the bar for us this year.

And now, for the awards ...

Confession of Robison Wells

Robison Wells is kicking things off with a little speech. And he started with a bombshell. *Gasp* He admitted that he and Brandon Sanderson snuck out of last year's LDStorymakers conference. They ditched us for a little dumpy restaurant. Sniff.

But, since this was the genesis for the Whitney Awards, we will forgive Rob his gaffe. But I'll be watching you next year, Mr. Wells.
Ah, Tristi. great minds do think alike. I was going to say a little more about the food, but you did that so nicely! And it was definitely dee-lish.

What's occupying most of my mind right now is if it would be too groupie-like to go ask for a picture with some of the authors. Yeah. Probably. I am a grown woman, after all. But I just love Twilight (squeal). That's okay. I'll just voice what everyone else is feeling but is too mature to own up to. You know putting well-known and loved authors in front of a horde of writers and aspiring authors is just asking for a trampling. Maybe not quite the magnitude of trying to outrun a forest fire or tsunami, but we just spent two straight fourteen hour days getting pumped up about our craft. We are going on little sleep and lots of writing-directed adrenalin. I promise though, Mrs. Myers, I will throw myself in front of the pack for you. Just sign this book please.

Tristi's Take - The Meal Doth Proceed

Chicken Cordon Bleu with a side of wild rice and green beans with mushrooms and light seasoning, arranged artfully on a gold rimmed plate -- so lovely. Again with the details -- the gold in the plate accents the gold lettering on the programs. I have no doubt that I'll continue to see these touches throughout the evening.

I'm a little jealous of Jaime's vantage point, seeing Shannon Hale like she is. It's going to be hard for me tonight not to yammer like an idiot when I have the chance to meet some of these incredible authors. We have yet to see Stephenie Meyer, possibly the most anticipated celebrity here this evening.

Ah...The Food

Hmmmm, the food is so good. Don't you wish you could be here to partake? Well, you can't! You'll have to be quicker on the draw next year when tickets go on sale.

Salad with raspberry vinaigrette, cheesecake, fresh rolls and butter... My belly is happy and we haven't even gotten to the main course. I'm going back to my meal, and I'll let you run to the fridge real quick to grab a cold piece of fried chicken.

*** Dinner with the Stars ***

Shannon Hale

James Dashner

Janette Rallison

Coke Newell

Anita Stansfield ~ Lifetime Achievement Award

Dean Hughes ~ Lifetime Achievement Awards

Josie Kilpack & Brandon Mull

Brandon Sanderson

Waxing poetic on beet greens

Toffee is now my favorite salad addition. That was delicious! And who would have thought of combining toffee with beet greens? A high five to the caterers.

Now that my blood sugar is up a little, I'll give you a little more of the details you are craving. From where I am sitting I can see Brandon Sanderson, who is a super nice guy. He is up for nomination for his hilarious book, Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. He is one of the big names in fantasy, especially after the announcement recently that he will be finishing the final book of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Fans across the world probably include Brandon in their prayers now.

Sitting with Brandon is Shannon Hale. She is up for the award for her book, Book of A Thousand Days. I know that I'd like her, because someone asked for a picture and she put her napkin over her head like a head covering. I bet she'd make a good Mary in a live nativity. What a good sport! I loved her book, The Goose Girl.

I can see the back of James Dashner's head at that table, too. I'm afraid that everyone else must be guests that I don't know. Or they're just blocked by those at the table between us.

And the Whitney Gala guests did talk much and enjoy their dinner...

Tristi's Take - Continued

The salad, as Jaime has hinted, was delicious. I, however, have not yet caught sight of James Dashner in a suit. I've seen Rob Wells in a tux -- very snarky. From where I'm seated, I can see Gale Sears, nominee, as well as Dean Hughes -- I'd better be careful -- poor man already thinks I'm stalking him. I'm a Dean Hughes wannabe. I also see Rachel Nunes, Gary Hansen, Kirk Shaw (editor from Covenant.) This place is simply buzzing.

Back to the atmosphere, because I'm so visual -- everything has been organized to the slightest detail. The red in the carnations is picked up in the red of the linen napkins, which echoes the red on the program. The berry salad dressing is mimicked with the berries on the cheesecake. I can see that nothing was left to chance with this ceremony. Tremendous care and planning went into each aspect.

I've also caught sight of Nancy Campbell Allan, Kathy Jenkins (managing editor at Covenant) Kerry Lynn Blair, and I just saw Anita Stansfield, looking lovely in a country blue suit. (Well, Rob said we could blog about clothes -- I wasn't going to do it until he said I could.)

Nichole Giles, seated to my left, says that coming to the awards dinner gives her a feeling of validation for the craft. There's a sense of excitement for what our future as writers could hold. There's support from people who are like us and who love to write. She says she would love to win a Whitney someday, and in fact, it's not a dream -- it's a goal. Of course she's going to win a Whitney someday.

This, I think, is one of the best things about the Whitneys. We are brought together with a common goal, that of wanting to succeed, and even though the nominees are coming up against each other and there can only be one winner, I'm sensing no attitude of competition. I think those nominated will be able to feel geniunely pleased for those who win, and not resent the loss to themselves.

Say Cheese! :o)

Gale Sears ~ Best Novel Nominee

Rachel Ann Nunes

Betsy Brannon Green

Annette Lyon

Jennie Hansen ~ Lifetime Achievement Award

Michele Ashman Bell

Get ready...

Hello everyone! The wireless internet powers-that-be were finally feeling generous enough to allow me to log on, so we are good to go. The room is filling up with the cream of the crop in LDS publishing all looking so bee-you-ti-ful. I have seen some incredible dresses, jewelry, and even James Dashner in a suit. Honestly, I walked past him and had to do a double take. I certainly hope the photographer records this for posterity.

I am so thrilled to be here that you could say I am "faint with excitement". But maybe that's just hunger talking. And the salad with, can you believe it, toffee chunks looks way too tempting. I'm going to take a slight break to refuel the brain cells. So look forward to further posts full of description, fun, and, for the ladies, clothes descriptions. Just to whet your appetite: there is a preponderance of black here. With that cliff-hanger...

Tristi's Take - the First

What an amazing night for the Whitney Award ceremony. After the successful conclusion of the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, we cleared the ballroom and came back to find it transformed into an elegant dinner setting. Centerpieces, linen, atmosphere -- it's all beautiful. From where I'm sitting, I can smell the flowers in the center of the table. The florist in me is begging a description -- spider mums, waxflower, and red carnations -- just one of the many touches.

The atmosphere is electric. We've never had anything like this in the LDS market before, and everyone is curious -- what will happen? Who will win? What surprises are in store from our Master of Ceremonies, Robison Wells, and our presenters?

All the chatter has been positive. Everyone is thrilled with the idea, with the possibility that they might win one of these beautiful awards.

We began with an introduction by Robison Wells, who explained to us how the voting took place. He took a moment to introduce the live bloggers -- that was so nice -- and gave us carte blanche to comment on everyone's clothing. I must say, we're all looking lovely. Or handsome, depending on gender.

We're starting dinner now, with a lovely salad (not your ordinary iceberg -- we're talking, actual rabbit-approved salad with dark lettuce and raspberry viniagrette. If you'll excuse me, just for a moment . . .

More Pictures

Matthew Buckley (blogging for all of you)

Jessica Draper

Robison and Erin Wells

Nancy Allen & Jeri Gilchrist & Kerry Blair

Waiting to get in

Julie Wright & Kery Blair

Getting underway!

We're just about ready to get underway here, watch for the bloggers to get started in the next few minutes!

ETA, 6:30

Since you, the readers, are unable to join us tonight, It thought I'd start off by describing the setting for the award ceremony tonight.

The committee has spared no expense. While the seating is limited, and the room small, the decorations are magnificent. There is a large stage at the front of the room, draped in reds and blacks. There is a large podium made out of some kind of beautiful hard wood. There are large video screens behind the podium so that those in the back of the room (20 feet back) won't miss anything. Right now the screens are showing scenes from Leave it to Beaver. That must play into the theme somehow, but I'm not quite sure how.

To each side of the podium, at the end of the stage, are two large ice sculptures. One is a life sized replica of Rob Wells (and while the artist is clearly skilled, he didn't quite capture Well's manliness, even though he carved Wells without a shirt on). The other ice sculpture is a bas relief carving of Madagascar. The significance escapes me, but it looks nice.

There are cages of monkeys lining both walls.

Everybody is decked out in their semi-formal wear. As you know, formal wear is Tuxedos and gowns. Since semi-formal is not as clear cut, there is a wide variety of costumes. By my count I see 8 people in black suits, 4 in blue suits, 1 in a pink suit (male), 3 kilts, 4 are in various leather outfits, and we have one person decked out in a 1970s style leisure suit. Nothing says semi-formal like polyester, baby!

They're rolling out the red carpet now, and the limos are lining up, I better go snap some photos.

Live from the Whitneys

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be here. I'll be posting pictures throughout the night so you can feel like you're here with me! We haven't officially started yet, but these will give you the idea of what the beautiful setup.