I spent the last weekend at the 30th annual Life, The Universe, and Everything writing symposium. This year it was at Utah Valley University instead of its regular spot at BYU. I didn’t really notice much difference in the venue change except that this time the cafeteria had caffeinated beverages.
I’ve been a panelist at LTUE for the last four years. I always have a good time. LTUE is a great chance to for the writers to hang out with other writers, for aspiring writers to learn stuff, and for everybody to network. It is three days of panels, discussion, hanging out, and goofing off.
I mostly go for the goofing off.
So Thursday I did my big panel on Writing Action. I do this one every year. I kind of have a rep for being good at that topic for some reason. Go figure. I believe it went really well, and was very well attended. I normally also do a panel with Super Author John Brown about developing story ideas, but John couldn’t make it this year, so bummer. That one is always a blast.
But more importantly than teaching stuff is the goofing off. So Thursday night I went out to all you can eat sushi with a bunch of other writers. i.e. MonkeySlothCon II. It was good to see many old friends. I ate too much sushi, then went back to the hotel and crashed into raw fish shock.
Speaking of the hotel, I stayed at the Super 8 in Provo. It was not Super. The room itself was okay. But the shower was awful. I travelled to 11 states last year. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in my life. This Super 8 didn’t just have the worst shower of any hotel, it had the worst shower IN AMERICA. The temperate started at 200 degrees Celsius, and then would randomly switch to the core of Europa. Burnfreezeburnfreezeburnfreeze. Don’t try to adjust it. That will just make it angry. Then it will burn, burn, burn, and as your skin is boiling off you think that you can live with this long enough to use soap, but then you get lathered up, it laughs and you have been deceived it pelts you with ice water. You can deal with one misery or the other, but MAKE UP YOUR FREAKING MIND!
Friday I was on several panels. I did one about how you do different types of magic systems in different types of fantasy novels. Then there was another one about marketing and how to do effective book signings. My last one of the day was about book bombs, at topic which I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for.
I want to talk about the book bomb panel. Book bombs are a relatively new phenomena. They are just another cool tool for marketing a book. Mine have been a bit more effective than most, with a couple of them being downright crazy. You guys know, you’ve been here for them. I told the audience during the panel to not come and ask me to do one for them, but I still got about twenty requests for book bombs.
The issue is that I can only do them so often. I figure about once a month, and any more than that I start to dilute their effectiveness. Next, they need to be books that I think that the Monster Hunter Nation would really like. I can’t just do them because I’m friends with the writer. One of the reasons you guys like my book bombs is because you trust my opinion enough to take a chance on a book. I knew that I was going to get a ton of requests, and it always makes me feel bad when I can’t do it, but it is what it is.
Also on Friday, Bob Defendi, man mountain of awesomeness, brought me this:
That is a 3×4 foot map of Rokugan, which is the fictional empire setting of Legend of the Five Rings. For those of you that have been reading the Friday serial, this is the place Writer Nerd Game Night plays in. Bob made this for his own personal use, and then printed an extra copy to give me as a gift. I’m getting this thing framed.
Between panels I spent a lot of time hanging out in the hallway just talking with and answering questions for aspiring writers. I always enjoy that part. Many of these people feel like they are bugging the authors, but honestly I love helping out and sharing whatever knowledge I can.
I recorded an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast that day. It will be out in a couple of months and the topic is Writing GUNS. Before we started, Brandon Sanderson asked me if I could talk for about 5-7 minutes about things that writers get wrong about guns… Multiply that number by ten and I would just be getting warmed up. Overall I think the session went pretty good. The audiobook pick of the week was Spellbound, which will be available on Audible.com on February 21st.
Okay, helpful writing stuff out of the way, back to the important business of goofing off. (don’t laugh, cons are about the only time I actually take time off) Friday night I went over to Howard Tayler’s house to play some Warmachine/Hordes. Howard even cooked steak. Jordan Sanderson, knowing that I’ve been building a miniature samurai themed army even brought me a couple very cool minis he’s found. Thanks, Jordo.
Then the best part of LTUE weekend, my Skorne army defeated Howard Tayler’s Trolls. Kevin was MVP and punched many trolls in their big blue faces. It was a lot of fun. (in the other game, Dan Wells Khador was defeated by Jordan Sanderson’s Cygnar. The night was a bloodbath of tiny painted men)
In actuality, the only reason I didn’t get my ass kicked was because Howard’s friend Alan came over, and Alan knows how to play Skorne and offered me helpful advice every time I went to do something really stupid.
Saturday was a lazy day (which was good because all of that troll killing meant that I went to bed late). I didn’t have much scheduled as far as official con business until late in the afternoon, so I mostly hung out and shot the bull with people. But then I got drafted to play a game of Star Trek: Fleet Captains board game. I’m not a Trekkie, but it had strategy, combat, and little ships. I’m a sucker for little ships that fight. Me and Dave Butler were the Klingons and Dan Wells and Eric James Stone were the Federation. Four writers enter only two will leave. Let the death match commence!
I’ve played board games with Dave before, and I know that he’s one of those very analytical, super-strategic, good at winning types. Neither of us had played, and Dan Wells is also a hard core gamer (who had played), but I figured me and Dave could pull it off. But little did I realize that it isn’t just Nebula award winner author Eric James Stone that we were facing… It is Captain Eric James Stone of the USS Sutherland, Starfleet hero, and he got his Kirk on and whooped our Klingon asses. Curse you, Captain Stone, you magnificent bastard.
My last thing to do was a reading. However they scheduled my reading at the same time as Dan’s reading. Which meant that we’d have to compete against each other. Which extra sucks since many of the people there are fans of both of us. So we just combined it. I didn’t want Dan’s self esteem to get hurt when my room was way fuller. (on a serious note, Dan’s novel Partials is the next book bomb. He read from it, and it is awesome).
Once it was over I went to dinner with Paul Genesse and a bunch of friends. It was the second time I managed to eat Thai food in one day. Then I drove the two hours back to Yard Moose Mountain.
All in all, it was a really fun weekend.