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Monday, May 16, 2011

Story Makin' 2011

I've been meaning to post about the LDS Storymakers Conference ever since I got back, but I had reviews to catch up on, then I couldn't find my camera, and, suddenly, a whole week had flown past. All the clever things I planned to say seem to have flown away as well. A summary, then:

Boot Camp: Since my favorite part of last year's conference was attending Boot Camp, I knew I wanted to participate again. This year, the event got a whole day to itself, which I liked, even though it turned into a very, very long day. Still, I enjoyed my group, which was led by Lisa Mangum, author of The Hourglass Door trilogy. Even though I didn't love The Hourglass Door, I really liked Lisa. She was fun, upbeat, down-to-Earth and right on in her advice to all of us wannabe writers.

Although everyone in my group was writing YA, the mishmash of genres provided some interesting reading. My fellow groupies were very kind and complimentary about the chapter I shared. I got some good suggestions from them. I also came away from the experience feeling encouraged and excited to keep writing this story.

(A funny: After seeing an IM chat between me and my friend Robin, in which we discussed Boot Camp, my 9-year-old daughter asked, "What's Booty Camp?" She didn't understand why I snickered or why my husband said, "Aha! So THAT's what you're really up to!")

Classes: Since I attended the conference with Robin, who fully intends to be a published author within the next year or so, we took lots of classes on finding agents, writing query letters, self-editing, and managing all the millions we'll be making when our books finally see the light. I could have used a You've Finished Chapter One, Now What? class, but my loyalty (not to mention the fact that I have no sense of direction and would have gotten completely lost without my "cruise director") kept me close to my soon-to-be-a-bestselling-author friend. We both enjoyed the classes we took. My favorite, I think, was Lisa Mangum's on writing killer first pages.

One of the query classes Robin and I took was taught by YA novelists James Dashner and J. Scott Savage. The former was pretty quiet, while the latter was ... not. As Savage explained, "We make a good team because James can write and I can teach." True, that. Needless to say, the class was very entertaining.

Attendees were supposed to bring query letters to be workshopped by Team Dashner/Savage. I haven't written a second chapter to my novel, let alone a query letter, but Robin and I spent the week before the conference working on hers. When our teachers asked for someone to volunteer their query letter, Robin made sure hers was the first hand in the air. She's fearless like that. Considering how much we'd worked on her query, I figured the men wouldn't have much for us except their highest praise. Yeah, not so much. Really, though, they were kind and offered Robin some good advice.

The picture below cracks me up since it shows my always intrepid friend looking a little intimidated while James Dashner reads her query letter out loud to the class.

The videos: Not only does Sarah M. Eden write sweet, fun romance novels, but she also makes the funniest videos. Since she emceed the whole conference, we got to see several of her productions. This one - in which her daughter defines different book genres - is hysterical:

The authors: Lots of fun authors were milling around the conference. I chatted with some I've met before, like Angela Morrison, Elana Johnson and Janette Rallison, but I also met a bunch of new ones, like Kimberley Griffiths Little, Becca Wilhite, Lani Woodland, Tyler Whitesides, Jaclyn M. Hawkes, and more. All of them were very friendly and fun to talk to.

Me and Kimberley Griffiths Little, who won a Whitney Award for The Healing Spell, a book I adored.

Me and the very sweet Lani Woodland, whose first book, Intrinsical, came out last August.

Everybody else: Not only did I get to meet tons of new people, but I also got to see a whole bunch of people I previously only knew online. It was a pleasure, Chantele Sedgwick, Donna Weaver, Christy Dorrity, Karlene Browning, etc.

To top it all off, I sat next to two fantastic ladies on the airplane ride home to Arizona. I had fun visiting with Valerie and Tamara, both of whom live near me. They were even gracious enough to invite me to join their writing critique group. Thanks, girls!

The First Chapter contest: Let me make this clear right up front - I had no grand illusions of winning with the first chapter I turned in for the contest. However, I was really looking forward to getting some "professional" feedback on my writing. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I discovered that not only did my submission not win anything, but it had never even made it into the judges' hands. Apparently, I mistyped the email address to which my submission was supposed to go. Oops. Another duh moment.

Moving on ...

The Door Prizes: I didn't go home empty-handed, though. Like last year, I was lucky enough to snag an awesome door prize. This year, I took home Seeing Japan by Charles T. Whipple and Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins. Thanks to those authors for their generosity.

A Summary of the Summary: All in all, I had a fabulous time at the conference. It's always a good time hanging out with other people who love books and writing. I love the boost I get from this event - it's refreshing to hear that my writing does not, in fact, suck as badly as I think it does.

A Summary of the Summary of the Summary: If you haven't gone to the LDS Storymakers Conference, do. It's totally worth it. And note to self: Let's invest in some fat-sucking and face-lifting this year, shall we?


  1. You are so COOL! I'm so happy you're my friend, and are willing to go with me to conferences. I don't know what I'd do with myself if I didn't have someone to drag along. I'm much more confident with a friend.

    (The "Robin, looking intimidated" picture would have looked much more regal if you'd been up there with me!)

  2. Grrr. I can't believe we were in two of the same classes, and they called your name over the podium yet I still didn't hop up and come see you. I heard a Susan and thought I was going to win something, but when the last name wasn't mine, I was cursing that Susan. And it was you! HAHAHA. Congrats. I've never won a thing, either year.

  3. Glad you had fun! You look awesome as always. So who am I going to attend this conference with when I write my tell-all book about you? Maybe Mom... (: Love yah

  4. Susan, what a GREAT post about the conference. You'll notice I haven't done a blog post yet, or blog-announced the Whitney. But I got my HUGE rewrite turned in yesterday. Whew. Pretty frantic since I got back home barely a week ago. I loved reading about you and Robin and the query (glad it was helpful, although it can be discouraging not to get a whole bunch of WOW's. Still, it just means onward and upward and getting better and better, right?

    What a bummer about the wrong email address, too!

    And thank for the kudos and mention! It was fun chatting with you - next year, girl! Keep writing! It'll be your turn one day, I know it.

  5. Hey girl! I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by my blog the other day and commenting. Sounds like you had an awesome time! I hope someday I can go to some kind of book event like that!

  6. Hey I found your blog and I LOVE it!
    I met you at LDStorymaker '11.
    We sat next to each other in the Back Cover Copy class. Bummer about your 1st chapter contest entry.

    I have every intentions of going next year and hope to see you there!

  7. I love Lani Woodland! I got to meet her as well and LOVE her book, cannot wait for Indelible. I also got to become friends with her sister, who is just as sweet and cannot wait to meet her as well.


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