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What People Say About the First StoryCon Meeting

"Storycon was the best writer's conference I've attended in over 30 years of being a professional novelist and nonfiction author. The people were extraordinary, the presentations enlightening and inspiring, and the format so jam-packed that I never had a moment for boredom. I loved it - and look forward to next year!!"
Thom Hartmann, author of 12+ books, Unequal Protection, Prophet's Way, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Greatest Secret. An award-winning best-selling author, international lecturer, teacher, and psychotherapist. His books have been written about in Time magazine, and he has appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, and on numerous radio and TV shows including "All Things Considered," CNN, and BBC.  A former journalist, international relief worker, and the executive director of a residential treatment facility for abused children, he now lives in Vermont where he is a guest faculty member at Goddard College and fulltime writer.
"This is the best experience I’ve had in the story field since I’ve been talking professionally.
Melanie Phillips, Co-author, Dramatica Pro
"An amazing richness of storytelling talent all assembled in one place. I learnt a great deal about Hollywood storytelling, which has changed my thinking somewhat."
Steve Denning, Steve was selected in 2000 as one of the world’s ten Most Admired Knowledge Leaders (Teleos) along with Jack Welch (GE) and John Chambers (CISCO). Former Program Director forKnowledge Management at the World Bank, he now works with organizations on knowledge management and organizational storytelling. Former director of the World Banks, African region ($10 billion budget)


"This was the first time that the various schools and practices of story came together - writers, artists, organisational change, anthropologists etc etc, a rich, creative and stimulating gathering for anyone interested in story."
David Snowden, Director of IBM's Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity with responsibility for Asia Pacific, Europe Middle East and Africa. He is one of the pioneers in developing the use of story and narrative in Knowledge Management He regularly consults at the board level on Knowledge Strategy with some of the world's largest companies as well as to Government and NGOs.
    "StoryCon was nothing I feared it would be, and everything I had hope it would be and more. I will definitely be attending next year's conference and I plan to recommend it to every writer I know.
    "I love stories. I've always loved stories. The conference expanded my perspectives of story beyond my limited view. The funny thing is, I didn't realize my view was so limited until I saw where some of the other speakers were coming from. It was impressive. It provided an amazing opportunity to see Story in all its incarnations-- in literature, in mythology, in business, in communications, in marketing, in social structures, in every place we gather to share what the world means to each of us.
    "StoryCon gave Melanie (Phillips) and I the first, real opportunity to present the Dramatica theory to a group of people truly interested in story theory.
    "StoryCon far exceeded my expectations. It had never occurred to me that stories are used in such diverse ways and for such diverse purposes. The meeting opened up my eyes to new possibilities."
Chris Huntley, co-creator and co-author of "Dramatica software. Co-founded Screenplay Systems in 1982 to develop software for writers and the entertainment industries. Their first product, Scriptor, won a 1994 Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
It was an extraordinary story conference. I recommend it to every type of writer, especially those who need to know what makes stories great and successful.  I also plan to recommend next year’s StoryCon to all my students and colleagues. It was the first writer’s conference that I’ve been to that the speakers participated in an open, sharing dialogue that was informative, creative, stimulating, thought-provoking and fun. Brilliant ideas and great chemistry.”
   James Bonnet, Author, Stealing from the Gods, A Dynamic New Story Model for Writers and
   Filmmakers, Screenwriter, and Teacher, James Bonnet’s Storymaking: The Master Class
"Made me aware of vastly different P.O.V. on the meaning of story."
Neill Hicks, Screenwriter, Author, Screenwriting 101
    "A FANTASTIC CONFERENCE! I had a non-stop wonderful time. I met some great people whom I hope will become close colleagues in the future. I can't imagine the conference being any better for me. I came to love the non-stop flow of information...
    "If a bomb went off in this room (at the storycon conference), the art of storytelling would be set back a generation.
    "The art and Science of story is finally telling its own story. Where does story begin inside us, and where does it take us... each individual’s notions of reality are shaped by the stories that live within them; intelligence itself can be defined as how we apply our stories to our lives.
     "Having no expectations when I arrived, my mind was open to the experience. What unfolded around me was nothing short of amazing. The breadth and depth of the presentation was mind-boggling. Spending four days surrounded by such a vast array of brilliant people, and all of them anxious to talk about their writings, theories, and practical applications, is the true definition of a conference.
  "I know the conference made a difference... I am changing the way I look at my business, my relationships, and my own writing. The conference reinforced my my own ideas, while at the same time, it opened my mind to entirely new lines of thinking. Can’t wait ‘til next year."
Dan Decker, Screenwriter, Playwright, author, Anatomy of A Screenplay, director of The Screenwriters Group, one of the largest independent schools for screenwriting in the country. Owner/ operator , Stylus Management, a writers management company
  "You have no idea how important story is in your life -- or, for that matter, in all of our lives -- until you see the masterful composition of presentations and ideas that make up StoryCon. 
   "If you make and/or tell stories for a living, this conference is an absolute must.  If stories are a part of your work, you will get obvious and subtle benefits from what you learn here that you can use right away but also other benefits that will unfold slowly over time.  This is a unique and essential conference; make it a point to be there.

  "Great people, mentally stimulating, very enjoyable, opened new vistas for me, personally and professionally. This was the first cross disciplinary approach to story. I was able to look at story, for the first time, from a lot of different points of view. That’s important because story is part of my work and also because story is part of my being. This meeting gave me unique insight that I simply couldn’t have gotten anywhere else from any other seminar. I’ve also met a terrific group of people here. Just the contacts alone, that I’ve made were worth coming for.    
    "I’m thrilled with all the new friends I’ve made. I know this has changed, will change my thinking. I am confident that because of what I’ve learned, I will be a more effective and a more versatile writer and storyteller."
David Garfinkel is a leading direct-response copywriter, copywriting coach, and author of "The Money-Making Copywriting Course." He's also a gifted storyteller, and relies heavily on good stories to get sales from his ads and websites.
"A dynamic gathering of kindred spirits and intellects. Despite the incredibly diverse set of ideas and interests, there was openness and passion in the dialogue that allowed the ideas rather than the ego to blossom. It provided me with new lenses through which to see story and therefore the world. It has given me very usable tools to do with structure and more stories to tell."
Ben Callaghan, teacher who came from Australia to present on his work using story as a tool to empower teens.
"I had a wonderful time. Storycon was very different than the typical writers conference, actually, more interesting. I very much want to be involved. I terribly believe in all of this stuff. It's my life. As it was the life of the conference. Yes, Rob, it's BIG. And important. And crucial. And, yes, you're the wonderful man to do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Robert Burdette Sweet author of Writing Towards Wisdom: The Writer as Shaman, Professor Emeritus of English from the California State University at San Jose.

In the weeks preceding the meeting I was sometimes visited by a twinge of doubt. What would it be like, this Science of Story conference? Perhaps it would all be far too theoretical, pretentious, clannish for me. Yet there was an overriding compulsion to take part, a compulsion I couldn’t explain. I had to go.

On the day of my journey to California from the UK this strange compulsion was sorely tested. There I was, in the centre of London - and the Tube was on strike! Getting to Heathrow Airport by road, on a good day, would be about an hour. On a bad day like this – who knows? Half an hour later there was I, still in central London, stuck in a bus caught in complete gridlock. The streets were jammed. As we inched our way towards the airport I rang my travel agency and told them I was about to miss my plane. They replied that my ticket was non-refundable and non-changeable. I wouldn’t be able to buy a new one.

There was nothing I could do. I might not make it to the conference.

A delicious sense of calm descended on me. I knew that if I had to be there, somehow I would get there. And if I was not supposed to be there – then what could be clearer than this? It was all in the hands of God…

Well, as all my new-found friends know, I was very much there. United Airlines put me on the next plane without any fuss and without any charge, and I even caught my original connection to Palm Springs.

What I found there not only allayed every lingering trepidation within the first half hour – it exceeded every positive expectation I had ever dared to imagine (and I do have a very fertile imagination!)

The quality of the presentations and the workshops were of the highest order. I found so much to inspire and fire me, both on a professional and personal level. New insights, new levels of understanding. It’s as if every speaker held the key to some new facet of the wonderful world of storytelling, and each one opened up to share his or her vision. Though the approaches differed, there was never even a hint of conflict – it was as if we could all accept that each approach was valid, and each of us could pick and choose. For me, one presentation in particular supplied exactly the new understanding I had been seeking for months in vain - in books, on the internet, in discussion groups - and has given me more confidence and my work-in-progress new impetus. I shall most certainly be working with this speaker professionally in the months to come, and I look forward to that immensely!

Though some of the talks were less relevant to my line of work, I was amazed and delighted to find that there seemed to be a golden thread linking them all together. We were such a diverse bunch, and yet in our diversity there was a unity, and that was the secret of the meeting’s success.

At the risk of sounding terribly New-Agey and esoteric, I feel that there was reason in this random coming together. It was the right time, the right place, and the right people. Because finally it comes down to that: the people. We were a group that had to happen. From our various points around the world we converged and met in one single spirit and that was the force that gave our meeting such authenticity, such sincerity, and such power. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Sharon Maas,author Of Marriagiable Age, Peacocks Dancing

I've been home from StoryCon for over a week and I'm still buzzing with the excitement and possibilities that your conference created within me.
Let me just give you a skattershot reaction:
-I have never before attended a conference that was so devoted to learning and sharing -- in an non-egoistic way;
-The speakers (and I have since learned that they are heavies in their field) were accessible, humble, open and genuinely interested in communicating and sharing -- both at the lecturn and in off-line casual conversations.
-Putting together so many great thinkers with so many perspective set the tone for genuine growth and reflection.
-The conference was so jam packed that the linear/rational brain was forced to shut down and the intuitive, transcendent mind was allowed a free romp. And magic happened -- for me I know; and for many others I sense.
-StoryCon was a springboard for me into a rich and full arena of thought and experience.
I could go on and on about the profound impact this conference had on my life. Thanks for putting on this visionary conference.
Deborah Nikkel former consultant to management; novelist and non-fiction writer
     Although I was only in attendance for the first couple of days I felt that there was a extraordinary moment being created and I was honored to be a part of it. The eclectic nature of the conversation was beyond what I had expected (coming from LA and often having the screenplay/show biz approach in my ear) I was truly sad to leave in the midst of the creation/chaos and for me (an individual who doesn't like a crowd) that was surprising.
    Kudos for pulling this event off and beginning what I hope will be a yearly coming together of minds and hearts that will trace the intersections of story , art , science and everything between .
    It certainly changed my attitude toward conferences. I usually look on these events as a bit of a chore, but this was anything but. When I arrived in Palm Springs I imagined myself sitting in my room, getting a lot of work done and emerging for my talks. When I went down to register I wandered into the big room for the intro talks, fully expecting to stay for 20 minutes. I sat down and didn't get up for 3 hours.
    From the surprise of encountering scientists, business people and therapists at the conference (my life is a fairly provincial one, filled with artists, filmmakers and other low-lifes) to the midnight romping with over-sized puppet heads I found my appreciation for what story is and what they can do constantly in a state of flux.
     Directly from Storycon I went to San Diego and ran a 3 day workshop on story boarding and pre-visualization for filmmakers. I have given this workshop many, many times in the past 10 years. this time it was different in that I allowed my personal stories to infuse the content in a new way. I set them up with the words 'I want to tell you a story' priming my audience with an age-old promise-to take them somewhere they hadn't been before-- somewhere personal and mysterious. It worked in a lovely way and I was pleased with the results
Marcie Begleiter author of "From Word to Image, Storyboarding and Filmmaking Process" is a writer and educator who specializes in pre-visualization and has worked extensively in the film, television and interactive industries. She is owner of whose client list includes Paramount, Tristar, New Line, and ABC. She is currently on the faculties of Art Center College, the American Film Institute and the new International Film School in Cologne, Germany.