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The City Journals

League of Utah Writers: coming to a conference near you

Jun 10, 2019 12:57PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Writing panels represent opportunities for local authors to “try out” for the League of Utah Writer’s even bigger conference, the Fall “Quills” Conference. (Photo Courtesy: Terra Luft/League of Utah Writers)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

The 84-year old still has grit.

League of Utah Writers was established in 1935 and now has 32 chapters across the state comprising 550 dues-paying members.

Thirteen of the chapters are in the Salt Lake Valley alone. Consider the talent emanating from Herriman Writers, Infinite Monkeys, Oquirrh Writers, Salt City Genre and Utah Freelance Editors.

As could be expected, the president of Utah’s oldest and biggest writing guild has a pithy “elevator pitch” to describe his 84-year-old organization. 

“We take all these introverts and give them community to share work and grow as writers,” LUW President Johnny Worthen said and then rifled off a series of action verbs describing the organization’s objectives: “support, encourage, network, promote, educate, write.”

Spring conferencing

Some 200 of the state’s membership just participated in LUW’s annual one-day spring conference. However, the numbers are not that impressive to Worthen, who calls the April 27 conference comprising 40 hours of content, presented at the Student Center of Salt Lake Community College  “the small one.”

It is an important opportunity for local writing talent to put themselves out in the community, sharing their unique skills and experiences and almost an auditioning of sorts for potential speaking spots at “the show”—LUW’s “Quills” Fall Conference.

Quills is a three-day event, Aug. 22–24, to be held at the University Park Marriott on the University of Utah campus where Utah writers mingle with nationally known agents and editors. LUW helps the editorial speed-dating process, setting up opportunities for authors to pitch the agents and editors. 

“We hope to sell out,” Worthen admits, noting that, like a Deer Valley Ski Resort on a powder-rich day, there is an attendance cap, keeping the conference exclusive.

League aid for local-community writing

LUW is sort of like City Journals: The organization offers hyper-local partnerships to service different needs. Where CJ provides countywide and then specific community editorial products, LUW offers its own conferences and partners with localized writing groups to aid their efforts.

A case of this local partnering is the SoJo Writers Conference, held last month at the South Jordan Community Center.

LUW also has a speakers bureau to service the needs of local writing groups, academic institutions, businesses or other organizations wanting insights from prolific, passionate and often published writers.

Contests and the naming of “Writer of the Year” keep writers on their toes—or fingertips.

Learning from pros


Taylorsville author Lisa Mangum, author of four award-winning books, delighted spring conference attendees with her “Endings That Don’t Suck” presentation.

West Jordan “Speculative fiction” published author Terra Luft
is the LUW conference chair and president of the local “Infinite Monkeys” writers group, which also meets at the South Jordan Community Center. Luft, who writes about supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes, attended Mangum’s session with her two daughters, age 17 and 9.

Nine-year-old Erica Luft reports having delved into such sophisticated topics as “love triangles” from the conference. She focused on learning how to transform “boring scenes” into “pop”-worthy ones for readers. 

Her older sister, 17-year-old Erin Luft, was on the hunt for learning “something new.” She learned how to write an ending that doesn't suck, how to get rid of writer's block and how to brainstorm a story plot.

Finding LUW

The League of Utah Writers has an active Facebook presence and a website,
www.leagueofutahwriters.com/. Contact League representation to find a chapter near you—or journey to chapters farther away from the comfort zone.

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