Utah-based Author Guild LDStorymakers Celebrates 15 years Kick-starting Careers and Connecting Writers

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LDStorymakers is a guild of over 250 authors and sponsor of the largest writing conference in Utah.

When LDS fiction author Rachel Ann Nunes reached out to fellow authors to strengthen community literacy and support fledgling writers, she had no idea her email group would branch into a guild that fifteen years later hosts Utah’s largest writing conference, drawing best-selling authors and prestigious publishers to the Beehive State.

“I had no idea I was part of history in the making,” says original member Annette Lyon. “Since joining, from the annual Storymakers Conference to the Whitney Awards to the guild’s influence in getting fairer contracts [for authors], LDStorymakers has become a powerhouse—one I’m proud to have been a part of from its foundations.”

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, LDStorymakers has made a name for itself in the publishing industry with its extensive author network and annual writing conference. While fewer than 50 people attended the first conference in 2004, last year’s event in Provo drew nearly 900 attendees and faculty, among them Random House editor Michelle Frey, editor of the Penderwick series, and literary agent Sara Crowe, who brokered international deals for Storymakers faculty member Dan Well’s I Am Not a Serial Killer. Over the years, the conference has also attracted best-selling faculty like New York Times best-seller Ally Condie (Matched), International Reading Association winner Chris Crowe, and Anne Perry, a crowd-favorite and author of more than 90 mystery novels.

With topics as diverse as crafting magical systems that span whole series to tips on how to create your first fictitious character, the conference has something for story lovers of all levels and genres.

First-time attendee Camille Smith says, “I left Storymakers Conference with the inspiration and courage I needed to pursue my passion for storytelling. Through workshops, intensives, and amazing classes, my ‘writing toolbox’ was filled to the brim with new techniques and ideas.”

Since its inception, over a dozen conference goers like Erin Summerill (Ever the Hunted—Harcourt Press) and Rosalyn Eves (Blood Rose Rebellion—Knopf Books) report having signed with prestigious literary agents, some of whom were met during the conference. Quite a number of LDStorymakers members, too, have published New York Times or USA Today Bestsellers, among them Sarah M. Eden, Heather Moore, Nichole Giles and original guild members Nunes and Lyon.

It doesn’t end with novels, either. James Dashner, one of the first guild members and last year’s co-Master of Ceremonies, broke into Hollywood when 20th Century Fox released his middle-grade hit, The Maze Runner. More recently, conference attendees celebrated alongside lunch speaker Brandon Sanderson when news spread that DMG Entertainment had nabbed film rights to an array of Sanderson’s novels featuring his “Cosmere” world, committing $270 million to production costs. Other former and current faculty who have ties to the film industry include Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game—Summit Entertainment), Jennifer Nielsen (The False Prince—optioned by Paramount Pictures), Shannon Hale (Austenland—Sony Pictures), and more.

Fame is great, but making lifelong friends in the process of pursuing a career in literature is nothing to sneeze at either.

“Writing is a lonely business,” says conference-goer Misty Sutton. “Not only is it something you must do in solitude, spending hours strapped to a computer screen, but even when you are with others you are trapped within the world inside your head, experiencing roller-coaster story lines and relationships that no one else—even your readers—will ever appreciate or understand as much as you.”

Two-thirds of the conference-goers polled for this article reported finishing their manuscript after attending. One-quarter signed with a literary agent or publisher, many for their first published book. Nearly one hundred percent found lifelong friends.

Though LDStorymakers guild is open only to LDS authors who have published a full-length novel or signed with an agent or publisher, the conference is open to writers of all religions and experience-levels. Also available to writers and would-be writers is the Storymakers Tribe, a free Facebook group that gives support, offers storytelling tips and sponsors annual luncheons in cities throughout the western United States. To celebrate the October anniversary of the guild, this year’s luncheons will be held in October and will be open to the public.

Storymakers Conference is a three-day event scheduled for May 3-5, 2018. Registration opens in January and typically sells out by April. Visit LDStorymakersConference.com. For luncheon locations and pricing, search Storymakers Tribe on Facebook.

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Nikki Trionfo
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