Thursday, March 29, 2007

Inspiration, Serenades, and One Infectious Smile

By Nichole Giles

The audience sat, captivated, as she sauntered onstage. Gone were the fairy wings and sparkling tiara. Gone was the magic wand and magical basket of presents. Instead, she wore a stunning red, feather boa as her lovely voice resonated into the microphone.

“Unforgettable, in every way…That’s why editor, you had bed-itor, publish me and make my dreams come true-hu-hu-hu.” Applause thundered through the audience, peppered with whistles and catcalls. Tristi Pinkston had given another great performance.

It wasn’t her first performance of the conference, and little did James Dashner know, it wouldn’t be her last. Tristi’s antics would be sure to keep us giggling for weeks. And eventually, I’m certain, poor James will learn to live with the memory of being interrupted in his duties as MC, to be serenaded by a beautiful woman who isn’t his wife. “You know you love me,” she sang. (Sung to the tune of “You Made Me Love You.”)

There is a special chemistry, a certain kind of camaraderie that makes the LDStorymakers stand out—above and beyond your average writers conference. If you look hard enough, there are lots of conferences available for an aspiring writer to attend. Most of them are fairly expensive, easily weeding out those for whom money doesn’t grow in a garden in the backyard. The instructing authors are usually well compensated, and their expenses covered, allowing them to fly into town to give a brief 50-minute lecture and then answer a handful of questions. And these conferences are valuable. They are packed with information and instruction every writer needs to hear. Not to mention networking opportunities.

But the LDStorymakers conference is put together largely by volunteers. These people give up hours and hours of their personal time in order to put together an instructional conference as a service to other aspiring LDS writers. The cost to attend their conference is minimal, mainly covering the expenses of hosting such a large event. And the excitement they feel for having the opportunity to share their knowledge is palpable.

You could not walk down the hall without hearing many different discussions between hosts and attendees alike, all sharing a combined enthusiasm for our blessed gifts. And if somehow you missed the conversations, you couldn’t miss B.J. Rowley and his infectious smile. (I wonder how he managed to be everywhere at once?) How could anyone be in the same building and not share that enthusiasm?

After attending the conference last week, I can’t help but feel a shot of inspiration that cannot be curbed. No matter what degree of success these authors have found, they haven’t forgotten the source, and they set their sights on sharing it with all of us.

After two days of classes and socializing, Tristi the Pink Present Pixie was back, bearing the last of the door prizes. Then the audience gasped a sigh of sadness as reigning queens, Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack, brought the 2007 conference to a close. Removing the glittering crowns from their own heads, they crowned Heather Moore and Annette Lyon as conference queens for 2008. And that was it, until next year.

But being the enthusiastic people that we are, we had to stick around for one last party. Is it really networking when you sit around shooting the breeze with authors and editors who remember your name? Even though I was reluctant to share Keith Fisher’s killer bacon dip, there were plenty of sandwiches and lemonade for all.

I already can’t wait for next year!


Marsha Ward said...

What a great overview of the conference, Nichole. Thanks for that. I don't recall if we actually met, but it was great to put your face to your name at last.

Nichole Giles said...

We met at the Mix and Mingle, remember? Of course, there were so many of us. It was a great weekend.

Thanks for commenting.


Tristi Pinkston said...

If I'd had any idea what kind of bloggy fervor I would cause -- well, I still would have done it but I would have prepared myself better!! Thanks for the generous assessment of my abilities, Nichole. :)

Katie Parker said...

Thanks for the great LDStorymakers conference write-up. You must be a writer! ;-)

Josi said...

AI did a great job with the M&M and though I didn't get to chat with you personally, Nicole, You're blog shows you're a great writer. it's exciting to be around so many people bit by the same bug that got me. I absolutely love the conference every year, it's truly a highlight. Thanks to all that supported it and are growing their own gifts.

Nichole Giles said...

Tristi, you keep it fun. That's a real compliment!

Yes, Katie, I am a writer. How did you know? It was an inspiring conference. I was glad to be a part of it.

Josi, Thanks for putting in so much hard work. I can't tell you how much these conferences help boost my writing spirit. You guys are amazing.

Thanks for commenting!