Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stuff That Will ACTUALLY Help You at Storymakers!

Check out these pro tips from Chantele Sedgwick, author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale and the very soon to be released Not Your Average Happy Ending. You can check out her blog and writerly thoughts, book reviews, and general awesomeness here.

Are you super excited for Storymakers and have no idea what to bring? Here's a little list for those who haven't been to a conference before.

1. Tylenol. (You never know when your brain is going to explode from of all the awesome information it absorbs.)

2. Laptop or notebook. (You never know when that great idea is going to hit. AND you will want to take notes. ;)

3. A pen. Yes, a dumb little reminder, but seriously. You don’t want to be in the middle of an amazing class and not have anything to write with.

4. Business cards. This is especially helpful if you have a blog, twitter or a Facebook page and really want to network. Put your name and information on your business cards and hand them out when you meet a new friend.

5. Camera. Hello? I love taking pictures! Especially with all of the awesome people I get to meet in person! :D Don’t forget the batteries!

6. Breath Mints. You know why… ;)

7. Comfortable shoes. You don’t want to go back to your room because of blisters and miss out on any awesomeness.

8. And lastly, be yourself. Be ready to learn a ton and meet some amazing people. Enjoy the classes and don’t stress out about missing anything. You can’t be everywhere at once. Network whenever possible because these are your people. Writers just like you who are striving to do better and learn the craft. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, but once you go to a few classes, you'll feel like a pro.

And last of all, HAVE FUN! :D  Can’t wait to see you there!

Thanks, Chantele! You can check out DeNae Handy's rather, um, different advice on the same subject here, as well as all kinds of other helpful--and not so much--advice on all things conference related below:

How To Choose Classes:
How to Dress for Storymakes
How To Pitch to Agents/Editors:

Show Your Love and Win a Kindle HD

It's time for the annual LDStorymakers Conference Show Your Love contest! We've held this contest for several years now, and those who participated will tell you - it was loads of fun!

And this year, the grand prize is a  

All you have to do is share the conference. It's that easy, and there are various ways to do that to help you gain more entries into the contest. And be sure to mention to your non-writing friends that we have keynote only tickets so anyone can come listen to Orson Scott Card's keynote.

examples of places you can share
scroll to the bottom of the page to find the items you can share!
Facebook (post or change your cover photo or  profile photo)
Twitter (tweet or change a photo)
online writing group board or community 
blog post 
email friends
forward the newsletter

contest details
The prizes packages are listed below, so check out the spectacular things you could win. Rafflecopter will choose 3 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen. You have from now until the stroke of midnight Utah time on February 28th to rack up as many points as you can. Attendees and presenters are eligible. We will announce the winner at the beginning of March.

First Place Prize Package
Kindle Fire HD
Query critique + 2 chapter manuscript critique
Second Place Prize Package
Query critique +1st chapter critique 

Third Place Prize Package
Query critique

The contest closes February 28 at midnight (PST).

Additional Entry Points: The Storymakers Badge
Put the Storymakers14 Badge on your blog/website and you can get an extra entry!

To stay tuned for future contests and conference updates, join our mailing list HERE (with no more than 12 emails per year, usually on a monthly basis). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

blog post info to share

So what's the LDStorymakers 2014 Contest? Here's a brief summary, but you can find out more details on their website. The 2014 LDStormaker writers conference will be in Layton, UT, on April 25-26, with Bootcamp and the Publication Primer on April 24. This is the writing conference you can't afford to miss.

Keynote: Orson Scott Card

Melissa Frain, editor at Tor
Eddie Schneider, VP of JABberwocky Literary Agency
Daniel Lazar, senior agent at Writer's House
Josh Adams of Adams Literary
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

Other noteable guests: Brandon Sanderson, Brodi Ashton, Carla Kelly, Janette Rallison, Matthew J. Kirby, Elana Johnson, J. Scott Savage, Sara B. Larson, Kristen Chandler, Renee Collins, Tess Hilmo, Peggy Eddleman, Kimberly Griffiths Little, Natalie Whipple, Julieanne Donaldson, Sarah Eden, Chad Morris, Robison Wells and more!

Facebook cover photo 
Simply right click to save the picture on your desktop and then upload to Facebook
  Design 1
  Design 2

Facebook / Twitter profile photo
Simply right click to save the picture on your desktop and then upload to Facebook/twitter
  Design 1

  Design 2

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Storymakers Essential, Must-Have, Seriously Don’t Ignore This Stuff We Know What We’re Talking About, Packing List

By DeNae Handy, unless you hate this piece, in which case it was written by Annette Lyon

Already packing for your first trip to Storymakers, I see. Well done, you! As far as I’m concerned—and seasoned writers, back me up here—any activity that prevents you from actually writing is an activity worth doing, and worth doing well. No worries; you’ll get back to that manuscript as soon as you finish loading your steamer trunk (and cleaning out the fridge, and delousing the cat, and…um…doing the fridge thing again…).

And since I, too, am very professionally avoiding work—in my case sorting through the eleventy billion revisions on my book (working title: “The Stupid Jerk Novel That Refused to Write Itself”)— I would like to provide you with a packing list to make your procrastination more productive. Amateur procrastinators believe that all you have to do to procrastinate successfully is ‘anything but the thing you’re procrastinating,’ but we experts know that it takes a lot more skill, training, and trips to McDonalds for Diet Coke and fries (the only true and living junk food combination on the earth today, I so testify) to really make your procrastination sing.So…

The Packing List
·         Business cards. You’ll want to order at least 50,000 business cards—ten to hand out to people who might even keep them, and remember that they met you, talked to you, and took an interest in your life’s work for the fifteen minutes you sat together at lunch, and 49,990 to stuff into a t-shirt to make a pillow when you discover the hotel lost your reservation.

·         Adorable bookmarks. I simply can NOT say enough about the bookmark distribution subculture that springs up at every writers conference. Done right, collectors may never have to fold another page corner again for the rest of their lives. I don’t accept bookmarks myself, but that’s only because, no matter how carefully I place them on the page, they still fall out of my Kindle.

·         A 200-pound laptop. People who take notes with a pencil and a little notebook are not the kinds of people you, a serious writer, want to associate with. They are so Jane Austen. Be sure to install a battery that only lasts four minutes, and a really short cord, so you can spend the entire conference sitting on the floor, tethered to an electrical outlet and suffering for your art.

·         A tablet. I’m referring, of course, to tablets of the technology ilk, and not the variety you might need when your laptop-toting neighbor brains you with her computer while swinging into the seat next to you. Tablets, and their ├╝bersophisticated Bluetooth wireless keyboards, are another way of telling those around you that you mean serious business vis a vis the whole ‘writing career thing’, and not, as some pencil-scratching Philistines might infer, that you are merely pretentious.

·         Super uncomfortable shoes. I can’t fully explain why these are so important, but they must be, since I bring at least twelve pair. The ones with really high heels and pointy toes are the best. My motto has always been, “If your shoes don’t cripple you from a sitting position, you really need to go shopping again.” I’ll admit: as a motto,that needs work.

·         Forty copies of your manuscript. That’s right. Pack forty copies of your WIP, because the one thing everyone you meet wants to do is read someone else’s unfinished book. Oh, and don’t forget twenty or thirty ‘first fifty pages’ packets, rolled into cylinders suitable for handing off to passing agents like they do in relay races and spy movies. They’re also excellent for fending off the bookmark distributors.

·         A giant mop. This is for your ego when you realize that every single person in the room besides the wait staff and me is a YA Fantasy writer, just like you, only they’ve been doing it since Stephenie Meyer was in diapers. Don’t panic. You’ll be fine, really. I’m sure it only looks like that market is stuffed to the gills with LDS authors trying to make it big. And hey, if YA Fantasy doesn’t work out, you could always write something like ‘Just Who the Heck was Habakkuk’ or ‘The Apocrypha for iPad Users’. Pretty sure that niche is wide open, at least at Deseret Book.

·         JayKay, DB peeps! Please don’t call down fire and brimstone on my head to the third and fourth generations, which I totally know you could do if you felt like it.

And naturally, pack a sense of humor, an open mind, and the ability to admit you still have a lot to learn about this business. Even if the only things you return home with are thirty-nine copies of your manuscript, a million bookmarks, and a new appreciation for Dr. Scholl’s, the tips and tricks you’ll accidentally pick up along the way will be well worth the price of admission.

As will be attending my class, “Blaming Your Computer When it Doesn’t Just Barf Out a Pulitzer Winner While You’re Playing Words With Friends and Goofing Off on Facebook.”

I’ll admit: as a class title, that needs work.

For other helpful conference tips, check out these links:

How To Choose Classes:
How to Dress for Storymakes
How To Pitch to Agents/Editors:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Josi Kilpack Kindly Steps In to Help You Pick Your Classes--You Know, For Real.

Editor's Note: We don't label the classes with the actual track name for different reasons. Mainly we don't want people to self-select out of classes. Also, there's quite a bit of crossover and it gets confusing to label. But the tracks are very much there, and Josi gives you a great way to identify them.

You’ve registered for the conference, babysitters are scheduled, days off from work have been confirmed, and you’ve done everything you can to get life taken care of so that you can head to Layton and immerse yourself in the wonderfulness that is LDStorymakers Writing Conference. And then you look at the schedule (link) and your jaw drops. There are over a hundred classes to choose from. Even if you attend a class during each breakout (twelve total—six Friday and six Saturday) you’ll still only get to a fraction of the available classes. Therefore, it’s important to make the very most of your attendance.
But how?
The first step is to deconstruct the schedule a little bit:
            There are different types of classes—tracks, if you will. Knowing what each track is can help you better choose those that work best for your specific position:
Intensives: These classes are either of an advanced topic or taught by one of the headline guests. These are registered for in advance due to limited seating.
            Craft: These classes are specific to the skill set of writing, tools of the trade so to speak; dialogue, plot, characters, conflict, villains, story arc, etc. These are the elements that combine together to make a story. Craft classes are not only for beginning writers, but if this conference is one of your first, craft is often the best place to start.
            Genre: Different genres have different expectations, struggles, and necessary elements. Understanding those elements specific to your genre can help you strengthen your story and fulfill the expectations of editors and readers. You’ll see classes on Middle Grade, romance, fantasy, short stories and more. Whether it’s the genre you currently write in, or one you want to explore, these classes will be focused on aspects related to genre.
            Getting published: These classes will help you write a perfect query, understand etiquette, and the publishing process. They are geared toward writers who have a solid grasp on craft and genre and expect to be submitting for publication within the next year. These are often taught by agents and editors and may consist of panels.
            Already published: Once you’ve got a book on the shelf (or on Amazon) you have moved into the field of authorship and are facing a whole new set of challenges. You’ll find classes specific to helping you navigate the adventure of having a book available for sale. Marketing, the emotional balance of being an author, or creating a brand are examples of these classes.
            Self-published: If you plan on self publishing, or have already stepped into that arena, there is an entirely different tool box you need to fill up to do so successfully. Several classes specifically are geared to those authors self-publishing their own work such as covers, utilizing current technologies, and the unique considerations of this type of publishing.
            General: Basically anything that can’t be contained under the prior categories I’ve mentioned are in the general category. It covers topics ranging from critique groups to screen writing to blogging to finding emotional support as you pursue your goals.

Once, you understand the different tracks each class fits within (some would blend between more than one track) grab a highlighter and get to work making a preliminary plan on which classes best fit your needs.
First, mark off any intensives you’ve signed up for; those breakouts are already decided.
Second, review the schedule and see which classes are offered twice. Perhaps circle them for further reference.
Thirdly, go over the schedule from start to finish and make note of those classes that are of particular interest to you. Don’t worry if you are choosing more than one per breakout—the point is to familiarize yourself with those classes that stand out to you, not make a final decision.
Finally, review the classes you noted and specify one per breakout that draws the most interest for you. Keep in mind that you’re not committing yourself to the workshop (unless it’s an intensive which you’ve already committed to) you’re simply doing your research and making yourself mindful of what your priorities are.

Now that you’ve taken the time to become familiar with what’s available, you can put the schedule aside until the conference gets closer. You will receive a syllabus couple of weeks prior to the conference that will have greater detail to the classes, perhaps helping you to further hone your objectives. Once you are at the conference, you may find that a particular teacher or another topic of interest draws your attention—outside of the intensives you are free to choose any class you like and change your mind at any time. Being familiar with the schedule beforehand, however, will make those decisions much easier.
Writing conferences are a priceless opportunity to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know, clarify points of weakness, learn how to progress your writing career, and meet people with the same interests. A little pre-planning can go a long way to ensuring that you get every last drop available.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sarah Eden, Bestselling Author of a Billionty Historical Novels, Explains Everything You Need to Know to Pick Your Classes at the Conference

Once upon a time, a conference attendee sat down with his class list, intent upon selecting the perfect schedule. The poor, misguided soul decided to make his selections based on arbitrary factors such as applicability, interest in the subject matter, and credentials of the teacher. He worked out his schedule, attended classes accordingly, then promptly ushered in the apocalypse, bringing death and devastation to an entire planet.

Don’t be that attendee. Don’t trigger the downfall of civilization with your haphazard class selection. There are far less destructive ways of doing this.

Easy as ABC
We are writers. Words are our bread and butter. What are words made of? Letters. Put together, what do those letters form? The alphabet. Therefore, as writers we simply must make use of alphabetization.

Begin with the first block of classes and choose the class title that comes first alphabetically. This is where you begin. For the second block of classes, choose the class in that block with the title that comes next alphabetically after the first on your schedule. Continue until all of your slots are filled.

What, you may ask, do you do if you reach a block when none of the class titles fit alphabetically after the previous? That means you have learned all you will ever need to know about writing. You are done. Time to go enjoy your Pulitzer and call it a day.

Location Loyalty
For some, the “ABC” method simply doesn’t work. Perhaps your grasp of the alphabet is lacking. Perhaps you aren’t ready to reach your literary learning peak quite so early. Perhaps you are attending a conference that has begun with a class entitled “Zombie Apocalypse for Dummies” and figure your efforts are doomed from the start. If any of these are true for you, consider the “Location Loyalty” approach.

The strategy is simple, really. At the beginning of the day, pick a classroom, preferably the one closest to whatever is the most important spot in the conference center for you: the bathroom, perhaps, or the vending machines, or an exit for that oft-needed quick getaway. Arrive at said classroom a few minutes early so you can pick a comfortable chair in an unobtrusive corner. You should consider bringing a pillow and blanket, as well as a refreshing beverage.
Your second step is also your last. Stay there. Stay in the room. All day. There’ll be plenty of classes and you’ll be comfortable. What more could you ask for?

Perhaps the most scientific of all approaches, “Darts” builds a schedule quickly and efficiently. Simply tack the conference schedule to a wall, count off ten paces (five if your aim and/or arm strength is lacking) and toss darts at the papers. Attend those classes that are skewered. Problem solved.

Easy as CBA
This as yet unproven method is “ABC” but applied in reverse. This highly controversial approach is only recommended for highly experienced attendees. Possible side effects may include heartburn, dry mouth, inability to control the shape of one’s hair, a vague sense of disorientation, and a sudden allergy to #2 pencils.

You’re Not the Boss of Me
The “You’re Not the Boss of Me” strategy is ideal for those writers who have not yet mastered the art of pretending to enjoy interacting with others. To utilize this method, stand in a location that affords a view of as many classrooms as possible. At the start of each session, watch to see which classes seem to have attracted the most attendees. These are the classes to avoid. You are not a mindless follower. You make your own decisions. You choose your own path. Approach the door to the most popular class, look the mindless hordes in the eye and shout, “You’re not the boss of me!” Then attend the class with the most empty seats.

If none of the above methods works for you, please consider locking yourself in your hotel room for the duration of the conference. You won’t have the benefit of attending classes, but neither will you be tempted to pick classes based on their perceived value to you as an author and, thus, risk ushering in an endless nuclear winter.

Choose carefully, my friends.

Find out more about the delightful Sarah Eden and her equally delightful books at her website where she says honest and smart things.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marion Jensen, author of Almost Super, sits down to share his experience on how to interact with agents and editors at the upcoming LDStorymakers conference.

It can be intimidating the first time you meet an agent and editor. I’ve compiled a few quick hints below to ensure you get the most out of interacting with an editor or agent. First, let’s discuss talking to an agent or an editor “in the wild.”

·         Remember, if you’re not published yet, then you don’t need to be a professional. Only published authors need to worry about a brand. You can pretty much do whatever you want. This includes high fives and butt slaps.
·         When an agent or editor comes to a conference, they don’t know anybody. It’s quite lonely, so be sure to go up and talk to them. Early and often. Over and over again. The more, the merrier. We want them to feel our love! (And even our desperation!)
·         If you see others talking to an agent or editor, remember that they are likely not talking about anything. At least not as important as your book. So feel free to push to the front of the crowd. God gave you elbows. Use them!
·         Agents and editors have no personal space. That’s a scientific fact. Feel free to get as close to them as you want.
·         If you see an agent or editor eating alone, invite yourself over and engage in a conversation. This also goes for if you see them sitting on a chair or a couch alone, talking on the phone, trying to get into their hotel room, standing at a urinal, etc., get up in their face. They love it!
·         It’s important to remember that while technically agents and editors are people too, they have no feelings. This is how they can tell people “No” all day. This means you can say anything you’d like to them and they won’t feel bad. You can insult “traditional publishing,” you can call them “Gatekeepers,” you can even take out any anger and frustration that other agents and editors have caused you on the agent or editor in front of you. Cursing is encouraged. It helps you feel better about yourself. Remember, they feel nothing, they’re agents and editors!

If you happened to have paid for a pitch (which is silly, since you can pitch your book anytime at the conference, including if they are on a panel), make the most of it.  Here are a few tips and tricks for your pitch.

·         Remember, they call it an elevator pitch because it should take roughly the same amount of time as an elevator ride. Luckily for you, if you press all 118 buttons of the Hong-Chi skyscraper in Chaohu, China, the ride takes exactly twenty-two minutes and forty-five seconds. So that is how much time you have to play with.
·         Agents and editors love powerpoint slides when you’re making a pitch.
·         When the person managing the time of the pitch says you have ten minutes, that’s a very rough estimate. If things are going well, you can stretch that to a good half hour or so. Also, if things are going poorly, you should definitely stretch it to at least an hour, to help improve things.
·         If an agent politely tells you no, this is just a test to see how determined you are. Don’t take no for an answer.
·         If an agent tells you no five times, you’re doing awesome. Keep pushing!
·         If an editor tells you no ten times, it’s pretty much like inviting you back to their hotel room to discuss your manuscript over s’mores and kool-aid.
·         Don’t be nervous! There are always garbage cans in the pitch room in which you can vomit.
·         It’s absolutely necessary to compare your manuscript to Harry Potter or Twilight. If you don’t, the agent or editor will not take you seriously.
·         If the agent or editor hasn’t heard of Harry Potter or Twilight (a distinct possibility), you should summarize all of the novels for them.
·         Do not worry about what kind of work the agent or editor usually represents. Once they hear your idea, they’ll probably switch genres just so they can represent you.
·         If the pitch goes poorly, don’t worry! This just means they want you to find them again later at the conference, and go deeper into your story.

And there you have it. Follow these simple rules when dealing with agents and editors. You’ll be the next Stephanie Meyer in no time!

To learn more about Marion and his hilarious middle grade book Almost Super, check out his website here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Free for Valentine's Day!

Just in time for Valentine's Gift of Love eBook version is FREE today through Friday!

On behalf of all of us here at the Make Me a Story blog, we love you!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Monuments Men project saved history, culture, and literature

Imagine what wonderful books and pieces of history and culture could have been lost!  If you haven't seen the movie yet, check out this movie review to help you learn more about Hollywood's newest WWII movie.

Movie Title:  The Monuments Men

Grade:  B
PG-13, 1 hour 52 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This lovely movie is based on a true story and I admit that I’m curious to learn more about what really happened as the small group of art experts tried to save priceless pieces of history as the Nazi regime began to fall in WWII Europe.  I was in Italy just a few months ago, basking in all of the beautiful artwork and can’t imagine what a terrible loss it would have been to humanity if we didn’t have some of the masterpieces that exist in that country alone. 

Based on the non-fiction telling by Robert M. Edsel,Monuments Men , the subject matter and setting are fascinating.  Unfortunately, the movie falls a bit short of what could have been an outstanding journey worthy of Oscar buzz...for next year.  (It was supposed to be released at Christmas in time for this year's Oscars, but George Clooney chose to wait.)  The audience I watched the movie with consisted of mostly older people, some who looked like they could have actually fought in WWII. 

This brief tour through war-torn Europe was directed, written, and performed by George Clooney.  It’s a bit of “Geriatric Band of Brothers” meets “Saving Private Ryan”, although not nearly as realistic or good as the latter.  The audience loved the camaraderie among the men and were left wanting a little more out of the star-studded cast which includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and the exquisite Cate Blanchett.

Uplifting theme:  What a sobering reminder this film features that Hitler stole lives, art, and even history from all of us.  James Granger says “He really wanted it all.”  Frank Stokes corrects him “He wanted everything.”  Frank Stokes continually reminds his crew that their lives are worth more than a piece of art, and yet they are all willing to sacrifice everything in order to preserve it because it represents mankind’s greatest accomplishments.  

I love that the men refer to various works of art as “she” and “her”, granting true life to images that capture our very soul.  Frank Stokes narrates the journey and explains that they were fighting for culture, our history, and our very way of life.  The works of art are not simply beautiful things to look at and admire, but our history…yours….mine.   It was inspiring to learn that over 5 million pieces were recovered through The Monuments Men project.

Things I liked:
  • It was refreshing to see a loyal husband resist an invitation of infidelity, especially on a lonely night in romantic Paris.  Matt Damon’s character, James Granger, even returned the tie he was given by the hopeful woman.
  • The sets and scenery were breathtaking.
  • One of the most profound scenes was when (SPOILER ALERT) the group finds a big barrel of gold nuggets and then realizes they were from the mouths of Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The scene carried a sobering weight that other scenes lacked.  The audience gasped a few times, which I think, would have made George Clooney proud.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s a bit slow-moving and disjointed with not nearly enough humor and some missed opportunities to make the film truly wonderful. 
  • Substitute the last line of the movie with something better like “Come on, I want to show you something else!”

Funny lines:
  • “Do we get to kill anybody?” – Preston Savitz
  • “Speak English” said several people to James Granger whose French was terrible.  I’ve been to France and they really do hate it when we Americans attempt to speak their beautiful language.
  • James Granger explains “I seem to have stepped on a land mine.” Frank queries “Why would you do that?” repeated by Walter Garfield.  James says “It was a slow day.”  I thought that scene was well done as they tried to come up with a solution and were prepared for any outcome.
  • An American soldier says after the war was announced to be over “Isn’t there supposed to be a parade or something?” to which James Granger gently corrects “Probably not in Germany.”
  • While talking about setting up some dynamite, two on the team have the following exchange: “Maybe I should do this.”  “What do you know about explosives?”  “Nothing.”  “Ok.”

Inspiring lines:
  • Who will be their protectors?  Who will make sure the Mona Lisa is still smiling?” – Frank Stokes
  • “It’s not bad.”  “It’s not good” – an exchange as two of the crew look at a canvas of Hitler’s artwork from his failed run as an art student
  • “Frank explains his passion about the Monument Men project by saying “If you destroy their achievements, it’s like they never existed.”
  • “Great works of art can never belong to one individual.”  - Donald Jeffries

Things to learn more about:  George Clooney said of this film “It’s so rare to do any story that people don’t know.” I would love to learn more!

Tips for parents:  There is some profanity, but not as much as you would think there would be in a war movie.  People are killed and wounded with some blood and gore.