This last weekend was the annual Life, The Universe, & Everything, writing symposium at BYU. I really enjoy going to LTUE. It is probably one of my favorite events. Not very fannish, no costumes, no Storm Troopers, just lots of writers talking about writing. For 3 days I get to hang out with writer friends, meet fans, do panels, shoot the bull with interesting folks, help aspiring authors, and inevitably eat too much. This was my fourth year attending.
On the way down my Ford Taurus turned into a toboggan and I got to slide down my road and into a ditch. Yay winter! Luckily a couple of my neighbors came along and pushed me out. No damage except for my pride.
The first panel that I did was all by myself, and it was Writing Action, which is based loosely on the Ask Correia post of the same name. I was surprised to see that they stuck me in a gigantic auditorium for that one, and then even more surprised when it totally filled up. I asked who had read Monster Hunter and had 200 hands go up… Wow. I just got a shiver. The Writing Action panel went extremely well, and I’m kicking myself for not getting somebody to record it.
I was on like 4 panels Thursday so they’re kind of running together now. I think I did something like 7 in all and recorded an episode of Writing Excuses. I was able to be on a few panels with some of my favorite writer friends like Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Jessica Day-George, and Dan Willis. And on Friday night we did the second version of the John Brown-Larry Correia show again, and this one was recorded. I’ll post a link as soon as I get it. I was able to visit with many of my writer friends that I’ve known for a long time, like Paul Genesse, Eric James Stone, Brad Torgersen, and several others who I’m probably forgetting and offending by leaving off this list, but in my defense, I’m being audited today and I’m still on my first Coke Zero.
Speaking of Coke Zero, Howard Tayler is a quick thinker. See, Howard is an artist. He needs his right hand in order to make money for drawing stuff. I am a friendly person that likes to greet everyone with a handshake. However, I am five times larger than Howard and apparently have a very “enthusiastic” handshake. So now, if Howard is at an event he knows I will be attending, he keeps a can of Vanilla Coke Zero in his pocket. When he sees me coming, he immediately throws the can my way in order to distract me… Clever… Howard’s hands are safe and I get Coke. I approve of this plan.
James Dashner was this year’s guest of honor. James is a great guy, but I missed his main address because that was when the sandwiches arrived in the Green Room. Dashner… Sandwiches… Hmmm… Sorry, James. The turkey ones had cranberry dressing on them. There were other superstars there, like the extremely knowledgeable Dave Wolverton and Tracy Hickman.
Speaking of Tracy, I was able to attend my first Tracy Hickman’s Killer Breakfast. If you don’t know what that is, imagine a gigantic role playing game, that is mostly comedy improv, where the guy that wrote Dragonlance is the DM, and his goal is to run through as many audience members as possible, while killing them in the most entertaining way possible. If you manage to amuse Tracy, you stay alive longer. The first question he asks is how you got there, (meaning your character), and you have to come up with something entertaining on the fly.
When it was my turn, the “party” had just arrived at a terrifying castle (after the tavern had exploded, long story). I said that I was a mystic accountant, and that a spreadsheet had gone terribly wrong. Then Lord Soth came to kill me, so I told him that this was a splendid coincidence, since I had just finished Lord Soth’s taxes. I just needed him to sign here, and here, and then I could send them in. I got the evil overlord an excellent return this year. I was spared for one round. However, next round, he did not need any assistance on his 401k and I was brutally killed. I can only hope that he decides to resurrect me for next year’s tax season. If you ever get a chance to attend a Killer Breakfast, DO IT.
Speaking of role playing games, after a fourteen year hiatus I’ve started playing again, this time with a group made up of other writers. Yes, I know I don’t have any free time, but as a writer, I need to recharge my creative juices. I can’t just sit in front of my computer every night, and ammunition is very expensive. Thus my other geeky hobbies. Don’t worry, you will still get your Larry Correia novels in a timely manner. But anyway, I’ve started playing Legend of the Five Rings and I’ve been having a blast. I play an enormous, socially awkward, angry, disgruntled, uncultured Crab Clan samurai. (I let my tetsubo do my talking!) One night, we hooked up at Dan Well’s house where his bulldog immediately established dominance and declared that his proper sleeping place was on my shoe. That’s cool though, because Dan cooked gyoza.
I had a book signing on Saturday. Second year in a row, the BYU bookstore managed not to order any of my books. Thanks BYU! I was ready though, and had a couple boxes in my trunk. I sold a pile of them and autographed many more.
So, three days in Provo, spoke on seven and a half panels, attended a few others, talked to hundreds of people, sold a few boxes of books, slept on my sister-in-law’s couch, slid my Taurus off the road into a ditch, and ate all-you-can-eat sushi and all-you-can-eat pizza (in the same DAY!).
Even with all that, one of the most memorable moments for me was when I was walking down the hallway, and I overheard a few people that I didn’t know talking about me. It was basically, “Yeah, this Correia guy, I remember when he was brand new and nobody had ever heard of him.” “I know, right? Look at how he’s doing now. It hasn’t been that long. I want to be like him.” Then they saw me and got embarrassed. If you’re reading this, you really didn’t need to get embarrassed, because all I was feeling at that moment was humbled. It has been a crazy few years, and I’ve been really lucky and really blessed. I was exactly where you aspiring writers are now, and it wasn’t even that long ago. Successful writers took the time to help me out when I was new, and I love having the opportunity to pass it on now.
EDIT: I forgot to add…
HOW TO SCORE TEN MILLION COOL POINTS WITH YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW
I found out at LTUE that Lynn Kurland was going to be one of the guests. My wife is a fan of Lynn Kurland, but her mom is really a super hard core fan. So I went up to Lynn after her panel, introduced myself, and we talked for a bit. So, having had fans ask me to do this for them, I asked Lynn if she would mind if I called my MIL so Lynn could say hi. We missed her, but Lynn left a nice voice mail. My MIL thought that was super cool.
Thereby ensuring my place as FAVORITE SON-IN-LAW FOREVER! Sorry Rich and Eric. You guys are going to need to like win the Nobel Peace Prize or something… (on the bright side, looking at what they give those out for now, that could probably be arranged)