LDS Storymakers Review

Holy crap on a cracker! Storymakers this was awesomesauce. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it was. But I’m gonna try.

First, the M.C. was Sarah Eden. At one point, I was gonna tweet “my cheeks are hurting”. Seriously, I don’t know who they’ll get next year that could even attempt to get the crowd laughing half as much.

There were 10 breakout sessions. I did attend something during most of them.

Session #1: I went to agent Becca Stumpf’s workshop about….you know…I don’t recall it’s base topic. I tried looking it up, but it just said workshop. So I’ll go with Becca Stumpf’s workshop. It was so awesome that my brain must’ve leaked it out. Regardless, she did an awesome job at speaking to the crowd.

Session #2: I finally got to attend a  class taught by my good writing friend Annette Lyon. (Everyone knows how much I love Annette’s Chocolate Never Faileth.) Even better, I actually won a cool little notepad for not being afraid of sharing an impromptu story. Her Show, Don’t Tell class is something I’m going to need to sit and study some more.

Session #3: During the opening exercises (not sure what else to call that), I was privileged to sit at the same table as agent Sara Crowe and be introduced to her as “This is T.J. Bronley, and he’s awesome.” Yeah, I was the first person without publishing credits, but Rob Wells did boost my ego with this. This session I spent listening to Sara explain how to write succinct synopses for query letters (which is difficult to do if you’ve never done it, and even more so when you realize what you’ve written is crap.) It was probably the most informative short-synopsis-writing class I’ve ever had.

Session #4: We’ll call this nap time, in which I sat in the lobby and felt like I was ready to die. In speaking to author friend Nichole Giles later on, she used the term “overstimulated.” At this point in time of the conference, absolutely that’s how I felt. So I’ll title this “Awesome Chat w/Annette Lyon”. I’m really certain I talked to someone else, but I seriously can’t remember who.

Session #5: Rob Wells’ class on Marketing was awesome. Despite the fact that he felt like crap, he did a great job. And I can’t wait to go look up his presentation and learn from it a second time. I got to sit with Krista Jensen, who gave me the Hawaii quarter for my wife’s collection.

There was dinner. Irony: last year during the dinner I sat with two women from Colorado, Gail and Debbie. This year, I ended up sitting with them again. Of course, I know them better from being a part of the same online writing group (the awesome Authors Incognito or AI). But, I also got to sit with other people: Wendy, Tamara, Maria, Daron, and Jeff (were the names of the people at the table.) It was nice to finally meet Wendy in person. It was awesome to see Tamara again. And it was funny that at one point she said “T.J. I’m done holding my daughter, you’re a buff strong guy with bulging muscles and awesome hair, here!” (Okay, I may have said something incorrectly.) So I ended up holding a very bouncy 9-month little girl. After dinner, I attempted to attend the publisher’s meet-and-greet but was still overstimulated. I also attempted the AI mix-and-mingle, but left after about 45 minutes. I was exhausted after day 1.

Day 2 was just as awesome as day 1. Except I was freaking out with my pitch session.

Session #6: I started out in Dave Wolverton’s (aka Dave Farland) class on Worldbuilding. I was a bit of a neurotic mess with my impending pitch so I just couldn’t sit there. I kept wanting to talk to Krista (I think I sat with her the most this year) and decided I didn’t want to bug her too much. So I left. Glad I did because I ran into Lisa Mangum and was surprised to hear her book was out in paperback. So I rushed to buy it for my wife and then interrupted Lisa as she sat and listened to Marion’s class on…I don’t know what it was on. I didn’t go to pay attention. He probably doesn’t like me right now. Lisa does since I bought her book and got it signed and my wife is now done with it.

Session #7: There was a speculative fiction panel moderated by Howard Tayler with the ever awesome (and Whitney Award winning) Julie Wright, James Dashner, Dave Wolverton, and Rob Wells. In the ‘in-between-class-time’ Rob was sitting on the stand and spoke into his microphone. “Hi Krista.” She was sitting next to me so I joked with how special she was. Then he said “T.J. Bronley.” I looked at him thinking “Odd, he’s not saying hi.” Which was followed by “Can you go get me a glass of water?” So I turned to Krista and said “Sure, you get ‘hi’, I get ‘be my errand boy.'” The panel was awesome, by the way. Each of the four had some great insight into the subject of speculative fiction, each of them writing fairly different novels. (Although, if you base The Maze Runner and Variant, they kinda sound the same. But I doubt they are.)

Session #8: This was my pitch time. I’d calmed down during the speculative panel. I’m just gonna say I had a good pitch with a lot of work to do. After my pitch, I got to hear the last half of Rob Well’s Dystopian class. (Makes it sound like his class was a dystopian. Meh, not gonna change it.) Elana Johnson and Abel Keogh both gave their insights as well as Rob’s migraine made him ready to kill.

Session #9: After lunch, where I did not win the first chapter contest again, I sat in on Writing Excuses with Sara Crowe. Sara gave some good insight to her job and to what an agent (especially her) is looking for. Seriously, you can benefit a lot from listening to what an agent says about what they want.

Session #10: This can be called “T.J. is overstimulated, part II.” I just couldn’t sit through anything else. I had a great conversation with John Ferguson, though.

And after that, there was an agent/editor panel. But I still just couldn’t do it. My brain was ready to explode, I was literally exhausted. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. (Although, I did get a message that Howard Tayler should smack me across the head for a tweet I wrote.) So, it was time to say goodbye to the building and leave. And that’s that.

Storymakers was awesome!

As always, I name a class I liked most above the rest. This year, I would have to say that it was Rob Wells’ class on marketing. It lived up to its expectations.

Until next time (a post I’m planning on calling “The Amazing Race: LDS Authors”):

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.