This is going to be a long post. If you don't have the time or interest in such a thing, Let me summarize it here: LDS Storymakers is well organized, for anybody interested in writing regardless of religion or experience, worth your time and money, accepting of new people, and totally awesome.
LDS Storymakers is a writing convention held in Provo, Utah, usually the first weekend of May. This year, the dates are May 14th, 15th, and 16th. There are a number of other events that go with this including the author incognito meet and greets, boot camp, publication primer, the Whitney Awards Gala, mass book signing, and several author get-togethers.
I've attended all of these except for the publication primer, and I wanted to share my experience with you so you can get an idea of just how awesome this conference is.
You always remember your first. 2011 LDS Storymakers was my first writing conference. My good
Soon afterward, I signed up to attend. I did not know much what to expect, but I didn't care too much because I knew that Brandon would be there. If I only knew...
LDS Storymakers is a two day conference. I arrived that morning, went to the registration desk, and picked up my name badge and other conference swag. I could tell from the get-go that this conference was well organized and obviously headed up by a committee of people who knew what they were doing.
I was then directed tore a large ballroom for the opening ceremony. I sat at an empty table, realizing I was at a conference where I didn't know a single person. September planned to be there for a class or two on the second day, otherwise I was all alone--usually an ideal situation for an introvert like myself. I glanced at through the class schedule and circle a few that I would like to attend.
|Howard and Dan, Stolen from D. Weaver|
The Master of Ceremonies, Sarah M. Eden, started the proceedings with a few videos and jokes. She was hilarious; the most I had ever laughed at an MC of any event.
During this time, Howard had noticed the tweet and invited me to stand and wave his direction so he could find me. Me, being the introvert I am, declined making a fool of myself by standing up and waving for no reason. After Sarah dismissed us for the first class, I introduced myself to Howard and had a pleasant but brief conversation.
And lunch! That's right. I've all the writing conferences I regularly attend, this one feeds you the best. They say the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, story makers pulls this off handsomely.
|Sarah, MC Extraordinaire|
That Friday, I also attended a class about writing tension by Dan Wells and they class by David Wolverton/ David Farland about six habits that successful writers have.
During another break, I sat with random people at a table and it turned out they were a writing group from Southern Utah. A couple of weeks later, I was part of their group. Who were these fine people, you might wonder?
After all the classes, the only thing left was something called an Authors Incognito Meet n' Greet. Authors Incognito is one way to stay connected with all the awesome writers after the conference, and you are automatically allowed to join just by attending a Storymaker conference.
Here's a video giving more details:
I've met so many other awesome people through Authors Incognito, and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you are a newer writer. I'm afraid to start listing people because I know I'll be missing some.
Oh, what the heck...
|Rebecca and James|
So many more. I'm sorry to those I've not mentioned. This is getting really long and I'm typing this with one hand, which is taking FOREVER.
After the Meet n' Greet, I went to bed.
On Saturday morning, I was so excited to rejoin the conference. I was learning so much and meeting so many awesome people. I had completely forgotten by this time why I had come to Storymakers, and that was to meet Brandon Sanderson. By this time, it wasn't about that anymore. I had found my people, my tribe, and my extended family.
Turns out, Brandon didn't even make it to Storymakers that year. Since we both lived in the same state, I knew I'd meet him eventually--and I did, at LTUE the following February.
I attended a class with Larry Brooks, the event's keynote addressor. He gave a two-hour lecture on story engineering but spent most of that time talking about story structure, something I didn't know very much about. Ever since this class, I've been obsessed with story structure.
I really need to do many, many blog posts on the concept.
believe the calibre of instructors they had here. All the classes were so well prepared and taught by people who practiced what they taught. I was not properly prepared for such an incredible level of awesomeness--though don't take that as any form of complaint.
Traci would later name one of her minor characters after me. My grandmother and mother are both fans of Traci's work. While I had told my mother, I didn't tell my grandmother. Imagine her surprise as she read one of her books and my name suddenly turned up. Needless to say, I've thought highly of Traci since the class, especially since I was already familiar with her works.
Right before class, I ran a number of books over to him hoping he would sign them, which he graciously did. We chatted for a bit since there were a few minutes left, and he never treated me like I was interrupting his workspace (which I was) or that he needed to hurry and get class started (which he did). Dave has always been a good friend to me and a mentor. I mentioned in the acknowledgments of Pushing the Wall that I don't think I'd be writing if not for Dave. Thanks again, Dave, for everything!
I'm assuming the reference to "Luke" was Gregg Luke. We've Facebook friends and all (so, legit friends, right?), but we've only chatted face-to-face once since meeting him. I like him, he's a really nice guy--for somebody who writes about how to use pharmaceuticals to murder people. Funny story about Gregg, we had him on the podcast and an
Again, it turned out to be a fantastically wonderful class filled with some amazing instruction. Scott Savage had even shared an excerpt of one of his stories that just chilled me to the bone. The thought of it still makes me shudder!
And then I went home. It was two of the most instructive days of my life. One thing I kept hearing that conference was, "Get a blog," and "Get a blog," and even, "Seriously, GET A BLOG," and that is when I started this little escape from reality here.
Storymakers did not disappoint. I was so excited to hear that Sarah Eden would be taking on MC duties again. So we had Storymakers, Sarah, and Kevin. How could I not sign up on the first day?
the list of things she was looking for, but I'd seen her around a lot because of Authors Incognito and she seemed like somebody I'd love to work with. I was right, what I presented was not what she was looking for, but she let me down gentle and gave some excellent feedback on how to improve the book and make it marketable. She may have cut my still-beating heart out of my chest, but we've been friends ever since.
I love writers.
|Michelle (not Kevin)|
And so it went with every meal there. It didn't matter if I sat with Kevin J. Anderson or complete strangers. Everybody was always so nice and open. I could spend weeks just writing about all of my friends that I've met at Storymakers. I wish I could.
To those attending for the first time, I'd invite you to come to the meals and the breaks, sit at any table, and just say hello. Trust me, you'll be making friends in no time. And when I'm talking about friends, I don't mean acquaintances I only see or hear about once every year or two. I mean I've made some really close friends.
And we've been friends ever since.
I left LDS Storymakers 2012 still convinced that this was the best writing conference I could ever attend. And I've attended others. I'd been to LTUE that year, but Storymakers still took the cake for me. First, they feed you (fed me right to the heart), their organization was again impeccable, and the level of instruction was nothing short of amazing. I couldn't wait until Storymaker 2013!
That next year, I skipped boot camp because I didn't have a WIP that I thought would be ready. What I did different this year was buy tickets to the Whitney Award Galla for the first time.
That year, Sarah didn't MC. It was bittersweet because Sarah will always hold a place in my heart as the gold standard for what an MC should be, but this year they had Tristi Pinkston be the MC. If anybody could fill Sarah's tiny little shoes, it would be Tristi. And Tristi did not disappoint. She also had funny videos and cracked me up with all of her snarky jokes.
This year, I thought I'd pull a little joke on her as well...
TJ and I were roommates again. On Thursday night we didn't have much to do, so we offered our services to help the Storymaker committees with any last-minute prep. They had the list of attendants and they asked us to pull all their names inside a goblet for the drawings of prizes. Okay, we could do that.
One thing struck me as odd, as I went through the names I recognized about two thirds of them. I had stories with most of those several hundred people. I was awestruck, only two years previous I had come to this conference not knowing a soul and now I knew most of them.
And for our joke, we added about a dozen names to the goblet. For those who attended Storymakers 2013 and wondered why Tristi would sometimes pull a name out of the goblet, scoff, throw it away, and then pull another name was for this reason. We totally trolled her. She did read one of them off when she pulled out her own name: Darth Editus. She declined the prize, but her reaction to some of the ones she pulled were priceless (to TJ and I). Sorry to everybody else who was a little confused by all this.
Later, I went to Tristi to tell her what was going on, but she ruined all my fun when she saw me and said, "What's with all the weird names in the goblet? And don't think for a second I didn't know it was you, Mr. Duckett!"
She ruined all my fun and all I could say was, "Wha--? How? What just happened?" I'll still get her sometime!
We've been friends ever since.
Actually, I'd been friends with her since shortly after my first Storymaker because of our interactions on Authors Incognito. Seriously, if I haven't stressed this enough, if you aren't a member of AI, you need to be. All it takes is attending LDS Storymakers once and then signing up.
I brought my suit and attended the Whitney Awards. That gave me dinner and I even got to chat with Brandon Sanderson and James Dashner for about five minutes while we waited in line together. The Whitney Awards is a gala to award LDS authors (and, yes, you have to be LDS for this part) and their accomplishments in the writing field. That year they gave a lifetime achievement award to Jack Weyland. That was awesome to witness.
I actually left early, right after Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells both won awards for their respective works that year. Avengers had come out and I went to watch it in 3D IMax with Howard Tayler.
It had turned out to be another weekend I'd never forget.
For 2014, I thought I'd be brave and throw my hat in the ring as an instructor, so I pitched a few classes and they asked me to teach one of them.
I was so excited! I prepared and overprepared for my class. My back was aggravating me slightly. I decided to put it off, because I could deal with a weekend of minor discomfort and then deal with it when I got back.
I was getting ready to leave on Thursday and was just wrapping up. In five minutes, I'd be in the car headed for Storymakers. I brushed my teeth, leaned over the sink. spit, and turned to head out the door. I didn't make it three steps before I crashed down to the floor. I wouldn't walk again for two days. Apparently, I'm a very aggressive teeth brusher and toothpaste spitter.
I missed Storymakers 2014. I was devistated, and I would have done anything for a do-over. Well, 2015 is my do-over. I can't wait to rejoin my tribe for LDS Storymakers 2015 in Provo, Utah!
I guess I should mention that Storymakers is not a for-certain thing this year. Last week, I went in to have my rotator cuff repaired, and anybody who has had this surgery can tell you that this isn't something you easily bounce back from. Actually, I was supposed to have it on May 8th, in which case yes, I would have missed it again for the second year in a row. I had debated putting it off and dealing with the pain until June, but when the opportunity came up last week I decided to hop on it.
Why? For Storymakers.
I'll put my odds of making this year's Storymakers at 95%. WISH ME LUCK!!! If I miss it again, I won't make it to 2016's because I'll die of depression before then.
(Speaking of, I'm not supposed to drive for a month. Anybody I can carpool with from St. George to Provo and back?)
Well, that's my story. I hope to see everybody there. This is one of the highlights of my year. It could very well be the highlight of my year. And I hope everybody comes up to me and says hello. I'll be easy to point out, I'll be the guy walking with his right arm in a sling and his left arm carrying a laptop to take more notes.
If you've been debating it, debate no longer. Sign up already. Don't wait, because signups close on Wednesday, May 6th. Sign up and thank me later, or don't sign up and regret it for a full year. Take it from somebody who's been regretting missing last year's event, you don't want to do that.