Sunday, April 27, 2014

Storymakers

I got home from the Storymakers conference late last night. There were several experiences that stood out for me. The neatest thing happened at dinner on Friday. My daughter, Emalee and I shared a table with four ladies we'd never met before. As we ate, we went around the table and "pitched" our books to each other. It was so much fun to hear about everyone else's stories! I almost felt like we were cave-girls sitting around a campfire for the evening's entertainment. And I realized that this is what it's all about. This is why we write. This is why these published authors come back and share their time and talents to help others succeed. So cool.

Speaking of authors. Then there was Amber Argyle. I was in her Publication Primer group a couple of years ago, and she was incredibly encouraging about my manuscript pages. I mean, she raved. And then she raved again every single time she passed me at the conference. Talk about a confidence booster. I've never had anyone be so nice about my writing. Well, as I was walking down the hall on Friday, I saw her and decided not to stop, thinking she wouldn't remember me. But as I smiled and walked by, she stopped me. Amber said she has thought about my book and wondered how it was coming along. Wow. What a gal. And btw, her new book, Winter Queen looks awesome. Can't wait to read my signed copy.

And there was J. Scott Savage, too. A couple of weeks ago, after much deliberation and hesitation over the expense, I registered for his boot camp workshop at this year's WIFYR. So I went to his presentation on horror at Storymakers, and came away confident that I had chosen wisely. I'm stoked and ready to be "a lean, mean novel machine"! He not only knows his stuff, but knows how to teach it.

My pitch session with Heidi Taylor at Shadow Mountain went well. I think. It's not like they're going to be mean, right? Then again...some people can be. On his Skype Q&A with Jeff Savage, James Dashner talked about that issue a little. He said, "I don't understand all of the negativity. If I had listened to all the people saying 'you'll never make it' and all that garbage, I wouldn't be here." If his son came up to him and said he wanted to be a movie director, James couldn't imagine replying, "You stupid kid! You will never make it as a movie director!" He believes we should all keep writing. Jeff agrees: "A big part of success is knowing inside your head, 'I can do this.'" Great guys. Smart, too.

More quotes from the conference:

"Don't be too hard on yourself. Remember the reason you wanted to be a writer in the first place. Don't make it so much of a big deal that you stop creating. You're going to get better with each project. Keep hanging onto that. Go create!" —Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

"If you're writing scary stuff and it doesn't scare you, something's wrong." —J. Scott Savage

"You cannot hide yourself from your own stories. Your choices reveal what you believe." —Orson Scott Card

"I tried to quit my day job, but the kids kept coming home from school." —Sarah Eden

"Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Write the book that you're afraid to write. The best thing you can do is write the book that you're not entirely sure you can write." —J. Scott Savage

"Formulas will fail because you can only write a story that you care about and you believe in. Your stories will never work until they feel true to you." —Orson Scott Card

On the writer's toolbox: "You can't do everything all the time in your writing. It would get overwhelming." —Brandon Sanderson

On revision: "I had to learn to take a good book and make it great." —Brandon Sanderson