This was a great one this year. After getting bounced around between BYU’s campus (until their English department got too high and mighty for low brow sci-fi/fantasy and stuff that actually, you know, gets read by actual people and not just a bunch of uptight literati snobs in their crappy literati magazines with a readership in the hundreds–literally–and that’s only if you count the editorial staff) and then UVU’s campus (which was good, but now they are remodeling their covention center) so for the first time that I’m aware of LTUE was held in a hotel/convention center like a regular con. We used the Provo Marriot. And personally, I really liked the change.
I know some people think that since LTUE is a writing symposium, and not a regular convention (which tends to be more about fandom) then it should always be held on a university campus. To that I say, grow up. You’ve got to graduate and move on with life sometime. Out in the professional corporate world in every other industry we manage to hold educational symposiums all the time without a professor holding our hand.
The important thing is that aspiring writers get to attend and learn to write better. And from what I could see, the attendence this year was remarkable. Pretty much every panel I attended, the room was packed. And these were big rooms, and there were lots of them. When you’ve got a Thursday 9 AM panel and you walk in and there are 200 people trying to get in, then you know that the attendence is going to be good.
The panels were great. I think I was on eight or nine of them. (5 in one day) Which sounds like a lot until I sat down next to Dave Wolverton and saw his card. I think he was on 14. I know he’s a wealth of knowledge, but you can’t just work the poor guy to death like that. Wow.
I’ve found that at educational writing events like this, the panels can go one of two ways. Either the panel will spend their time defining the terms of the subject, and then going over rules, and trends, and all that boring checklist English class bullshit, or the panel will get down to the nuts and bolts, okay this is the topic, we figure you’re all smart enough to know what it is or you wouldn’t be here, so now lets talk about how to actually DO IT professionally so that you can sell some books and GET PAID. Personally, I’m a nuts and bolts kind of guy. Maybe it is my business background (I barely passed every English class I’ve ever been forced to take) so I want to spend that hour sharing tips and tricks and lessons I’ve learned so that you can write better books so you can GET PAID. And of course, tell jokes and screw around and be funny with the other panelists, because believe it or not, you’ll actually remember the class you laughed in.
In that respect I think LTUE is probably the best writing symposium there is. It is three days and it is cheap to attend. I would really encourage everybody who wants to improve as a writer and GET PAID with a publishing deal to try and attend. And from now on, GET PAID will always be capitalized on this blog.
I did a solo panel on Writing Action, which went over well. Then there was Gun Use in Fiction, which was pretty good, even though most of it was me putting my firearms instructor hat on telling people not to write all that stupid wrongness that drives us nuts. I was on another about World Building that was a lot of fun where the panel had to first build a fantasy town, and then a sci-fi world, on the fly, in a couple of minutes, in order to show the audience how it can be done. (James A. Owen thinks fast, I was impressed) I was on one about Contemporary Fantasy that was fun. Another about contracts where I was fairly useless (that panel had Dave, who has signed a billion contracts, and Michaelbrent Collings who was an IP lawyer in Hollywood for 10 years, so very valuable info shared).
I attended a few that I wasn’t on, and the best one was Zach “Minimum Wage Historian” Hill’s panel on using real military history to make your fantasy battles better. It was great, he was in the zone, and my one regret was that my buddy Zach didn’t tell the room full of college girls that he was single! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, MAN!?
Now, for those of us who are already professionals we attend these things for two basic reasons. First, we actually enjoy helping people try and improve. Second, we enjoy hanging out with other writers. And that second order of business means that I get to sneak out and play some Warmachine.
This is my side of the table Thursday night, with Howard Tayler’s big rock monster coming over to kick my poor conquistador’s face’s in.
But I brought my own giant steam powered robot! Much violence ensued while we ate Indian food. But in the end, the Monster Hunter Nation was triumphant and Schlock Mercenary had been defeated. (just barely, and I’m 1-3 playing against Howard, so I really can’t talk too much smack)
Speaking of food, the highlight of LTUE was this friggin’ thing.
That is a buffalo, pastrami, fried egg burger, and it was possibly one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever had in my entire life. And it was a hotel burger! How is this possible? I don’t know, but I had to quote How I Met Your Mother as I ate it. “This burger is God talking to man through food.” Yes. It was that good. But then the rest of the con couldn’t have any, because my table of novelists had eaten all the buffalos.
So that was it for my fifth LTUE. It was good to see many old friends and make new ones.