Tag: lds storymakers

LDS Storymakers 2015

Another great year at the LDS Storymakers Conference has come and gone. Storymakers is a conference for Mormon writers where we can take all different kinds of classes and lectures on every part of the writing and publishing process.  This was my 3rd year attending and once again I had a great experience.  I feel a renewed commitment to improving my writing on this and my other blogs!

storymakers3The cool thing about the conference is it is helpful for bloggers and Nanowrimo writers like me but also great for actual published authors.  And it’s not all just religious writing.  Most of it is pretty squeaky clean but all different genres are featured and discussed in the conference.  If I was just a reader I think the conference would be good and well worth the cost.   It is also a fun time to interact with friends and make new friends.  My writing buddy Emilee was there and we had a good time catching up.

storymakersThe highlight of the conference was the Friday night keynote by Martine Leavitt. I wish you could have all heard it.  The tamber of her voice was very meek and soothing but then this incredible profundity kept coming out.  It was so well written and moving.

She talked about her 2 worlds, a gospel world and writing world and how living both to its fullest have made her the best version of herself she could be.

“I wonder if each writer gets an individualized life curriculum designed to make her the best writer she can be, specialized life learnings that contribute to her development as an artist”

She then spoke about her life and the lessons she’d learned a long the way including self confidence, humility, hope, hard work, children and faith.

“I couldn’t write to a certain word count, or a certain number of pages.  Nothing could be guaranteed.  But I needed to write myself soul-fed and happy.  I discovered that I didn’t need to write a lot to be happy, I just needed to write something good.  I found that even a single, perfect, beautiful sentence…could make me feel nourished

I also loved this quote

“I think it’s more likely your children will turn out just fine precisely because they have a happy parent who is happy because she writes”. 

I’m not a parent but I think we all can feel guilty on occasion for taking time to develop our talents.  Her point is our children, the world, our loved one’s are going to be better off if we are happy and especially happy writing.  I think that goes for my blogging a well as novel writing.  I am happy when I’m blogging and I hope that makes the world a little bit better.

Finally she said

“The Lord knew I needed one more thing to become the writer I wanted to be, perhaps the most essential ingredient of all, and that was love…Writers who love are curious about others.  They ask questions.  They observe without judgement.  They try to understand.  How can we write about people other than ourselves if we are not constant and ready students of humanity?”

I’ve thought about that many times with my blogging- wondered about the readers out there and what your struggles might be.  Wondered if there is anything I could say that might help you? You guys don’t know how much I love every last one of you who reads this silly blog!


Anyway, it was an excellent speech! There were many other great moments of the conference.  My sleeping has been bad lately so that mad the morning sessions a little bit difficult but I still got a lot out of it.  I really loved a lecture from Anne Perry on characters.  I took classes on romance writing, using food and music, blogging and more. All very helpful.

If I was going to provide some feedback I wish there were more classes on social media like there have been in the past and I didn’t care for the food (who knew I was such a picky eater!).  Convention food is the worst!

But it was a lovely weekend and I left feeling enlightened, overwhelmed and excited.

LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 1

Day 1 of my little pied-à-terre has come to an end.  What a day!

It started very early for me driving up to Layton, a city I don’t believe I have ever spent a day in in all the years I’ve lived in Utah.

It’s hard for me to get started in the morning with my insomnia issues but I made it out the door and to the convention center in time for the first lecture.


Lecture 1- Creating Compelling Villains by Stephanie Black.

I went to this class thinking of my first nanowrimo book that has a Miranda Priestly type villain (Devil Wears Prada) .

I think I was probably the only one there not writing young adult fiction (I bet 2/3rds of attendees are writing YA, yawn)

Nevertheless, I took some good notes and enjoyed it.

Lecture 2- Show Don’t Tell- the Macro and Micro Way by Annette Lyon

This was very helpful and something I’ve been working on.  I’m trying to not just say I’m excited but show how the excitement looked.

Lunch- Honestly the food was not great.  Who makes a ham sandwich with no lettuce?  But my friend from my little writing group was there and I had fun visiting with her and the other attendees


Lecture 3- Giving and Receiving Feedback by Rosalyn Eves

Very helpful class as I can be a bit prideful when it comes to my writing and hearing feedback.  I’ve gotten better each year but some things are harder to hear than others.

I learned the difference between directive (blank praise or criticism) and facilitating comments (Tells you problem but also some ideas to fix it).  Some good strategies to provide both types of comments.

Lecture 4- How to Read like a Writer by Luisa Perkins

This teacher reminded me of my Mom.  I think they would get along quite well.  She talked about reading the books that change your life not settling for the candy.

Love this quote “If you do not read good books you have no advantage over the people who cannot read them” Mark Twain

Her words reminded me of a symposium I went to a few years ago where the teacher kept saying ‘at least the kids are reading’, but reading candy books.


I disagreed then and I disagree now.  We have a responsibility to at least try to elevate the level of reading for all around us and only then can we say ‘at least they are reading’.

The other interesting thing she mentioned is that she doesn’t have time for candy books because if she lives to 90 she has about 3500 books left to read in her lifetime.

This made me think.  If I live to be as old as my grandpa (84) and I read 35 books a year (I have goal for 1 non-fiction and 1 fiction each month but I think it is usually around 35).

So 35 books 51 years left= 1785 books left.

Isn’t that kind of nuts?  We ended the class with her saying ‘better make them count!’.

Lecture 5- Dissecting Jane by Sarah Eden

This was such a fun class.  We went through all the Jane Austen heroines and stories, dissecting why they have stood the test of time.  Why do they work?

Some reasons we discussed is how she allowed her characters to have real strengths and weaknesses and those traits had consequences.

Her characters also had choices that moves the stories along.  Always something likable or relatable about the characters.

She wrote about things she knew and was passionate about.

Lecture 6- Mormonism and Steampunk

This was definitely the most creative lecture but I enjoyed it.  Jules Verne, Conan Doyle both had Mormonism (although not always the most flatteringly) in their stories and they have influenced the movement.

It is set in neo-Victorian era and that is when the Mormon church started. He had some entertaining slides about the similarities even down to crafts


Then we had dinner and it really wasn’t very good.  Tough meat, bland sauces, not enough food and apple pie with a strawberry on top?

Still, it’s food.  What are you going to do?

My face after the keynote

Then we had the keynote and it was…different.  Orson Scott Card was the speaker and a lot of people were very excited.  I’ve read Enders Game and Sariah and enjoyed them but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan.

Sadly most left disappointed.  He rambled, was admittedly unprepared and some statements were baffling.  He kept making very broad generalizations about the church, saying boy scouts was the church’s attempt to get boys to stop learning and that basketball replaced books for young men.

He said that the church had no use for academics and that any intellectuals were relegated to putting away chairs.  He also talked about swearing, defecating, phallic symbols in awards, and stake presidents were often idiots. He also clearly hates the movie made of his book (and any covers) and has strong feelings about The Hunger Games.

Anyway, it was a bit of a bummer but he did say that being a Mormon was more important than anything else and that a dedication to family is all that really matters in life.  No writing will make up for that, so I’m trying to take that away from it.

At the very least he should know his audience.  It doesn’t make much sense to speak to a room of 643 LDS intellectuals about how the church doesn’t treat intellectuals very well.  He should have just stuck to writing.  He oddly didn’t talk about that all that much.  Sigh…My teacher for the Jane Austen class evidently walked out.  I have pretty thick skin so was able to glean something from it and not let it spoil the day, but I feel bad for his fans. One tweeted ‘never meet your heroes…’

I did enjoy tweeting during it (it was long and honestly I got bored and my back hurt).  Probably my best line of the night was:

best tweet









This weekend I am getting a little break.  A break from work, waiting, life and hopefully headaches. Tomorrow begins the 2014 LDS Storymakers writing conference in Layton, ,UT.  This is my second year attending and I am so looking forward to it.  I write more as a hobby than a career but I think I’d go even if I was just an avid reader.

I’m such a nerd that I actually miss taking classes and learning new things in college.  If I could think of something I wanted to study and had the money I would totally go back to school.  Yes, it is challenging but also very rewarding.

And yes, I could learn all of these things on my own without a conference or a degree, but I have found I always do better with such support in place.  That’s why I still take voice lessons because I know without them I wouldn’t sing and singing is important to me.

But I think even more than the learning I am grateful for the break.  I’ve taken  my fair share of long vacations and those are great too but there is something nice about a long weekend that gives you just a breather from ordinary life.

I think that is why I like movies, they are just a little break from life.  A novel or a TV show are a  a serious time commitment where a movie is just 2 hours to devote to a story.  I love that.

I’ve always liked the concept of the pied-à-terre.  This is a  word  (french for foot on the ground) that in real estate means a small second home that is meant for temporary stays and trips.  A lot of times you will see these types of homes in the cities like businessmen in Tokyo may have a pied-à-terre in the city when he works late while his primary lodging is a 45 minute drive home.

Ideally for me these types of homes are bare-bones, simple places that you wouldn’t want to live in full time.  The house my grandparents had in Hawaii was a good example (especially the cottage).  It wasn’t fancy, had no air conditioning and provided simple basic features.  It would be a challenge to live in that house full time but as a stop over to sleep and eat it served the purpose very well.

Granted most pied-à-terre are owned by very rich people and are not the type of places I am referring to.  This is more my idea of what I would want, what appeals to me.  I’d love to have a place that is simple, easy, and a break from everyday life.

It’s not a vacation but just a chance to change scenery for a day or two.   It’s organized, similar whenever you go, and easy, that is what I want in a break.  I don’t want to sweat or have sore feet or any of it.  I just want to rest, learn, swim and reflect.

My boss Kelly lives in Portland and they go up to Bend Oregon frequently and from what I can tell it’s a pretty simple place.  She works the whole time she is there but it still feels like a break for her and her family.  That’s what I want. That’s my goal. I’d like for my regular life and vacation life to flow naturally together without the sense of loss I feel after a fully immersed vacation.  This is just a natural part of my life, making the planning and recovery easy and the experience all the more rejuvenating.

It’s interesting because I used to have such a desire for travel in my early 20s and it has basically died out.  One time I was talking  with my brother and he said ‘I’m over traveling’  and I thought he was nuts but now I find myself thinking the same thing.

My Dad and sister are in Germany right now and another sister is going to Europe for a month in June. On one hand, I am a little jealous of the exciting experience they are having and on the other I feel tired just thinking about it.  The appeal is gone.

But a pied-à-terre? That sounds appealing.  Someday I would love to own a place by a beach somewhere.  That’s my goal- the tinier and simpler the better! For the moment LDS Storymakers and staying in a Hilton Hotel for the weekend will suffice.   It is just the pied-à-terre I need while I wait, worry and work.  I’m so excited!

I’m also very excited for my trip to Tampa coming up next month!  Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me.  To relaxing, learning, resting and starting afresh!

What about you guys?  Have you found your desire to travel diminish over the years?  What about a pied-à-terre?  Is that concept appealing to you? Let me know.