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  • Writer's pictureJessie Oliveros

Storymakers Part I

Updated: May 29, 2019

I've had my eye on the Storymakers Conference in Utah for years. I'd met many regulars online, and I always followed their posts when May came around with a some longing. So I determined that 2019 was going to be the year. I recruited a writing friend from home to attend with me. I submitted a proposal for a class--which was accepted! I was committed.

Now, here I am on the other side of the 2019 conference. I can say I have no regrets. It was amazing in so many ways a mere blog post can't capture. But I'll try.

Do you believe in signs? I don't believe in signs. Unless they are really good signs. Then I believe in them. And when you rent an economy car and the rental car guy hands you keys to a sparkly red, four-door Jeep at no extra charge? Well, I call that a good sign. Admittedly, my travel friend, Cristina, was more emotionally affected by this car.

Transitioning between the too-hot spring in San Antonio to the cool, breezy mountain spring in Utah was a blessed thing. I spent six year living at the base of those mountains in Provo while I attended BYU. The mountains and I became good friends, and they would often send their breezes down their slopes to cool my face and ease my soul. There is magic on those mountains, I tell you.

I've been to other conferences. I love them all equally for different reasons. It's like your kids--you don't really love one more than the other. BUT, there is something distinctly warming about gathering together with people who share your faith AND your passion for writing.

One of the greatest blessings about attending this conference was officially meeting friends I have known for years online. Like authors Jolene Perry, Renee Collins, Natalie Whipple, and Jenn Johansson. Or like THIS wonderful person and YA author...

Kasie West and I were both blogging and trying to be published ten years ago, and here we are on an escalator with names on our books. (Okay, Kasie has like FIFTY books with her name and I have one.)

Then there were talented and inspirational speakers such as J Scott Savage. I met him at a signing in San Antonio a few years back, before I was published or agented. My son and I attended a book signing while he was in town--he had done a school visit at my son's school earlier that day. After the crowds died down, my son and I stayed and chatted with J Scott Savage and his wife. About his books. About Storymakers. About my son's writing projects. About my writing projects! He encouraged me to keep on querying. Two months later I had an agent. It's funny because J Scott Savage's inspirational morning devotional was all about failure. How failure was all part of the journey. How good comes out of failure. When I approached him after his devotional, I mentioned having met him in San Antonio. His eyebrows raised. "I remember that! The bookstore hadn't ordered any of my books!" But I told him what I remembered. That he had encouraged me to keep at it. That I had landed an agent soon after, and that I would be going to Washington DC next month to receive an ALA award. I told him that my son had done a school project at the end of the year listing all of his favorite moments of the year and "Book signing with J Scott Savage" was one of them. It may have been considered a "failure" because B&N failed to order his books (kind of a big whoops if you ask me) but he definitely left an impression. Failure indeed.

I suppose I should extend the "failure" talk to my presentation that day. Oh dear. I think what could have gone wrong...went wrong. I'd skipped the first two breakouts to look over my presentation in my hotel room.

I had charged my computer earlier but forgot to plug it in again during this last-minute rehearsal. (Note, above pic taken during my early-morning preparations when I'd remembered to plug my computer in.) So with about ten minutes of the class to go, my computer died. A helpful lady in front gave me her laptop to plug in. I could log onto Google Slides and continue my presentation. But due to about five minutes lost and overwriting my presentation, I didn't make it through the whole thing. AND (we are not done yet), I had plugged my phone into a bluetooth speaker because I had planned on using it to illustrate something in my presentation. During that presentation, I received a call from the school and a call from my husband. My doorbell app let me know (two separate times) that someone was at my door. And my family tracking app let me know that my husband had left the house. At the time, I was flustered and didn't have the presence of mind to TURN OFF MY PHONE. But there it is. Some say it was a fun and entertaining class. I say it was insanity. But I hope they learned something.

I enjoy putting together presentations. I enjoy giving presentations. But there is something cathartic about being done. I had a friend say to me, "Now you can enjoy yourself." Well, I enjoyed myself from the beginning, but there was a pure enjoyment without the nervous energy of having to perform.

Storymakers Part II includes Best Critique Partner Ever!, the Whitney Awards, Mass Author Signing, and Beautiful Remember Balloons Moments....


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