The Fount of All Awesomeness

Every year, I attend one writing conference. I'd love to go to more, and I've definitely drooled over my fair share of registration pages, but one per year's the limit if I want to maintain matrimonial harmony around here. And a five day annual vacation is a pretty sweet deal in the stay-at-home-mommy world, so I've decided not to complain.


But if you're only allowed one conference per year, the LDStorymakers Conference is THE one. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Agents and editors are ASKING to come. Word has gotten around the publishing industry that this conference is the place to be. Fabulous classes, a brilliant committee who takes it up seventeen notches every year (seriously, where do they keep finding all these new notches? It's mind-blowing!), and a pool of talented, hard-working authors who also keep getting better.

My first year attending, I was this wide-eyed (like, literally--my eyes were open so wide they HURT) shy little thing who could barely figure out how to make eye contact never mind talk to people. But then Annette Lyon found me and gave me a HUGE huge. And Tristi Pinkston tackle-hugged me in the hallway and joked at me till I began to slide out of my newbie stupor. Then Becca Wilhite introduced herself in a class we had together and I found Luisa Perkins during lunch break, and suddenly, the sea of unfamiliar faces had all these bright spots in it--these tiny islands of comfort I could cling to limpet-style whenever I needed.

I attended boot camp and learned how this critiquing thing works from the incomparable Lu-Ann Staheli. I took a class from Josi Kilpack on how to interact with my fellow authors and "play nice in the sandbox." And after the whirlwhind, I went home and I wrote better stories.

Every year I got better. I started winning prizes in the First Chapter contest held at the conference every year. I took a class on query writing from Elana Johnson, rewrote my query, and started getting requests from literary agents.

I took my slowly growing confidence and poured it into online writing conferences and contests. I got more requests (and more rejections). I was chosen by a PitchWars mentor. I received my first agent R&R, and then a second.

And none of this sounds near as amazing as it should. Because you don't have the very important context that I am a quitter by nature. When things get hard, I usually stop. Because if I'm left alone with the nasty little voice in my head, it gets very, very loud. It tells me I'm a deluded moron. It tells me I am not enough. It tells me I am small. And if I'm I'm left alone with that voice for too long, I start to believe the lies.

Because of LDStorymakers, I'm not alone anymore. I found my people. And when I let them, THEY DROWN OUT THE NASTY LITTLE VOICE. They have taught me to recognize the lies for what they are, and to see the truth of who I have it in me to be.

I don't quit on my stories anymore. I don't--and won't--quit on writing. And I'm not quitting on myself either. Like I mentioned in the cheesy video above, I'm not just a better writer now; I'm a better person.

For me, writing is about giving voice to the important things. And my gratitude for the LDStorymakers Conference is one of the MOST important things. I'm not sure who I'd be if I hadn't listened to the author friends who urged me to attend, but I hope I never get the chance to visit the parallel universe where that version of myself might reside.

It would be too sad.

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