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LDStorymakers 2014

I attended LDStorymakers conference this past weekend. It was by far the best of these writerly gatherings that I have attended. Excellent people, great classes, and superb food! Below are some highlights from this year's adventure.

But before I get to the good stuff, I want to rag on the marketing of romance novels. It's generally good practice to have a one liner about a novel that you can toss out to intrigue a reader. During the conference, they were giving away books and reading their tag lines. Almost all the romances seemed to chose the "string together a bunch of nouns" tag line method. "Danger. Diamonds. A Doctor." "A Shipwreck. A Sailor. A Mysterious Parrot." "A Kiss. A Forbidden Love. Rock Hard Abs." Okay, I made those up, but having all those read in a row started getting ridiculous. Let's try harder, okay romance novelists? Well, romance is the best selling genre, so maybe I should imitate rather than criticize.

On to the good stuff. Orson Scott Card was the keynote speaker, and I also attended a 2 hour (which ended up to be about 3 hours) writing intensive course with him. He is really engaging to listen to, has very strong opinions pithily expressed, and seems to know just about everything. As you can see from the picture, he was gracious enough to let my writing buddy, Paul, and me get a photo with him. He modeled and taught helpful tools and processes for generating stories.

One of the more interesting sessions was one by D.J. Butler, who has written a series of Mormon Steampunk novels, the first of their kind. It was a good intro to the Steampunk phenomenon, and now I "get it" (I think). I don't think I have enough knowledge yet to actually write a Steampunk story, but the seeds are there.

Another of my favorite classes was by Stephanie Black. It was about villains and got my juices flowing. My favorite idea from the class (and this is a paraphrase): Evil, nasty, brutal cardboard is still just cardboard. Well said. The ideas in the class echoed an earlier principle I had heard that we must remember that villains are heroes in their own minds. They need goals. They need character arcs. They need flaws. And, to make them really rounded, they may actually do GOOD things from time to time.

I had the opportunity to pitch to an agent, Eddie Schneider, who now represents Brandon Sanderson. Those ten minutes sure go by fast. Eddie is an ultramarathoner, and I found out he had recently run a 50 mile race in 8.5 hours. That boggles my mind. By way of comparison, I could probably put away four or five bacon cheeseburgers in the same amount of time. He was very approachable and I'll send him some chapters of Ash Angels: Dread Uprising for him to look at.

There is so much more I could mention. My brain felt ready to expode by the time I left. If you are a writer, I would be happy to pass on some tips. I'm looking forward to next year already!

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