May 12, 2016

What I Learned at Storymakers 16

 What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com


It happened. After a year of waiting, Storymakers 16 is now just a memory. A fantastic memory of ups and downs and lessons learned. It's been unforgettable and life-changing as well as eye-opening. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all. I'm also still trying to transition from "Conference Mode" to real life.

Things I learned at Storymakers 16:

- The official hashtag is #Storymakers16, not #Storymakers2016. Yes, it makes a difference.

- Everyone should wear name badges. Always.

- People should be allowed to wear ribbons on said name badges that declare their uniqueness and willingness to hug. I'm thinking about bringing some next year to hand out that read "Dream Chaser" and "Dragon Slayer".

- Tifani Clark and I have so much in common, it's downright creepy. Even down to the same taste in gum, mechanical pencils, and handyman husbands of the same first name.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
My roomie. She kinda rocks. :)

- Charlie Pulsipher's raptor roar is WAY better in person. Been there, heard that, got the pin to prove it.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
RAWR!

- James Dashner will threaten to steal your story idea if he likes it enough. He may even offer you money for it. (I just laughed. That story idea is MINE, sir!)

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
At Thursday's workshop on Plot and Story Development.

- Julie Wright and I have the same taste in clothes and if I don't want mine to go missing, I shouldn't let her go near my closet.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
I may or may not have an overwhelming desire to raid Julie's closet, too.
I mean, look at her. She has phenomenal taste!
- According to the judges from the First Chapter Contest and Leslie from Eschler Editing, my ability to write about a setting is stellar (and I'm oh, so humble about it). My world-building skills need polishing (meaning they really sucked). I need to add more explanations for new terms, etc. I also need to clarify the stakes and beef up my hook. BUT I am a talented writer and once I fix those nasty little issues, I have a real chance of getting picked up by an agent or publisher. SWEET!

- I despise doing formal verbal pitches. No. I didn't emphasize that enough. I DESPISE them. Put me in an informal setting and ask me about my book, no problem. Sit me down in front of an agent with a time limit and an intense amount of pressure? HECK NO.

- That said, I also learned I tend to babble and ramble and make absolutely no sense in a formal pitch scenario. I may have completely freaked out the agent I pitched to. Oops.

- Kevin Nielsen will wear a three-piece suit on a dare. And totally rock the look while doing it.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
He wore the hat on a dare, too.
And I didn't notice the photobomber until someone else pointed her out.
She makes the photo that much better.

- I can't be trusted in a bookstore when I have cash in my wallet. Nope. Not at all. *hides the pile of new books behind my still unpacked suitcase*

- The adrenaline rush from Storymakers is high enough I can get by with just six hours of sleep and diet Pepsi. Or was it closer to five? Whatever it was, I was up WAY past my bedtime.

- A coughing fit can cause my back to spasm enough I hobble around like an old woman for the rest of the day. And the next. And the next. (Which I later learned was due to a bulging disc in my back. Again. It's so getting taken care of as quickly as possible. Bad back, BAD!)

- J. Scott Savage is still a genius when it comes to teaching a writing concept. Not only that, but he can totally rock a creamsicle-colored blazer. I so wish I had gotten a photo.

- Writers in general have a unique sense of style. Blazers or suit jackets with graphic t-shirts, fedoras, funky facial hair...I even saw a kilt at one point. It's all good.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
Dan Wells is the epitome of writer's fashion.

- I adore Sarah Eden. Her writing, her lyrical voice, her teaching style... I now have a new goal to finally meet her in person. Maybe convince her to be a Dream Chaser in the not-so-distant future. It's easy to see why she's the Storymakers sweetheart.

- My writers group is absolutely amazing. I talked to several people who told me how they hate writers groups for various reasons. Not one of those reasons has ever applied to my writers group. No kidding. They are the best ever and I feel so fortunate to be part of our quirky little family.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!!! Best writers group EVER!!!
(Which is why our group photo is the biggest one on here.)

- The escalators in the convention center can go up one day and down the next. They're completely reversible. Who knew?

- If someone is going to have problems with their hotel bill requiring escalation to a manager and nearly an hour and a half to solve, it's going to be me. If it's possible to be on the wrong side of the odds, it'll happen to me almost every time. I keep joking that if I were to ever play the lottery, I'd be the first to owe money. It's probably true.

- Le Petit French Bakery in Provo is AMAZING. Not to be missed. In fact, I'm half tempted to make the drive down there just for their croissants. Buttery, flaky, entirely not good for me. It's heaven on earth.

- Jared Garrett and I look absolutely fabulous when I apply the beauty filter on my phone's camera. He's now jealous his phone doesn't have that feature.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
Jared and I look amazing, don't we?

- People don't recognize me without my hat(s). That's what I get for having such an awesome profile picture. :)

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
Pre-pitch fashion. At least I looked good while sticking my foot in my mouth.

- Erin Shakespear's selfie skills are unrivaled as are her skills with a selfie stick.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
Erin is the only other person I know who posts on Facebook and Instagram as often as I do.
We're obviously kindred spirits.

- Selfies are the best way to document an occasion. Goofy faces are optional.

- Photobombing is fun. Especially when done on a dare.

What I Learned at Storymakers 16 - www.LysandraJames.com
Julie dared me. How could I resist? (I think James had no clue what was going on.)

- I'm an enabler. "Oh, you're on a diet? You sure you don't want a cookie? They're handing them out over there." "You can buy just one book. Or two. Oh, look! This one is really good!" "I have chocolate in my bag. Want some?"

- The chairs at the convention center are much more comfortable than they look.

- No matter what the weather says the week before conference, it WILL rain. Pack accordingly.

- There just isn't enough time to meet everyone you want to meet during Storymakers. Unless they start passing out those Time Turners people kept mentioning.

- The same thing with the classes. NOT ENOUGH TIME!

- Nikki Trionfo can dance like no other. She is my newest dancing hero.

- If someone offers you a free book, don't turn them down. (Like I have to tell you this.) I took the free book and ended up with this month's Dream Chaser. She's amazing! I can't wait to post about her in two weeks.

- I love seeing my Dream Chasers in person. It never gets old. I adore my Dream Chasers.

I totally stole this photo from Cindy Bennett. Two of my Dream Chasers in one photo? I had to!

- I prefer taking notes the old-fashioned way - pen and notebook. I internalize the material better.

- The best story ideas come at the most random moments.

- Writers bond over their choice of diet soda. It's totally a thing.

- Writers also bond over chocolate. Especially if it's free. Also a thing.

- Dennis Gaunt really is that tall in person. (Holy smokes!) He's also a fantabulous last-minute emcee.

- My friend list explodes during and after Storymakers. So not a bad thing. Not at all.

- As a final note - when they call us a tribe, it's 100% true. Going to Storymakers feels like going home. Only 365 more days until the magic happens again.

Sigh...

If you need me, I'll be working on my rewrite, fixing my query letter, and applying everything I've learned. I've got a book to finish and submit, gosh darn it!

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