Did You Know Students Get In LTUE Free?! Where I’ll Be at Life, the Universe, and Everything 2016

LTUE 2016

It’s upon us! Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) 2016 begins next week, and I’m so excited to be part of this fiction writing conference.

I’ve been attending and presenting at LTUE for a couple years now, but I’m only this year realizing that students get in for free!

This conference is a great opportunity to meet with authors, filmmakers, artists, gaming professionals, and other speculative fiction creatives.

Plus, Provo. Exotic!!

Here’s where I’ll be during Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium (LTUE) 2016.

I am looking forward to speaking on the Genre Innovators of Note panel at 12 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2015 (Arches room). I’ll be on this panel along with David Yurth, Michael R Collings, J. D. Raisor, and Callie Stoker. Here’s the description:

Sometimes a tale comes along that’s so startlingly different from previous works that it starts a new movement or subgenre. Jules Verne and Lord Dunsany kicked off the science fiction and fantasy era over a century ago. In the 1960’s Harlan Ellison rocked the science fiction world to its core as writer, editor and provocateur. In the 1980s William Gibson invented cyberpunk. Come learn about the Pandora’s that went before, and maybe speculate on who the next one might be.

It should be really fun, so come check us out in the Arches room.

This conference is where I’ve met many writer contacts in the past. It’s an awesome way to refocus on what matters and streamline best practices for this overwhelming thing called writing fiction!

And I mean, check out the lineup: LTUE Guests.

The Productive Authors Guide to Dictation 45For those who haven’t been to this conference, LTUE is less about dressing up than Comic Con or Fantasy Con, but if I see any awesomeness, it will be photographed and reported, as I did last year.

If you’re a writer who can’t make it, here’s my single best writing tip: Learn to Dictate! Check out my book about how I learned this skill.

Yes, dictation presents a learning curve. But it also has so many benefits, that any time invested pays off. It’s a drafting tool that can be a serious game changer for fiction or non-fiction writers, though I use it mostly for fiction.

Highlights from LTUE 2015: Why I Love Writing Conferences!

As a writer, I’ve learned to love the conference scene. Actually, I’m completely drained by large social gatherings–evidence that I am a legitimate introvert. But here’s why I have evolved to deem conferences worthy of the energy expenditure!

This list is in context of a few highlights from Life, the Universe, and Everything 2015 (LTUE), a symposium for speculative fiction authors, which was absolutely awesome this weekend. I woke up today wired with so many ideas for my works in progress. Pretty epic for a Monday morning…!

LTUE Symposium 2015

1. The People (and Aliens, Supernaturals, Superheroes…)

I meet so many interesting writers and other creative people, which is a treat. Case in point, props to author Adam Jordan’s approach to putting a writer’s group together. Awesome!

IMG_0565

Yes, it’s a relief to get away from that intensity but for a few days there’s just something about having at least some instant rapport and understanding with people. I loved this past weekend’s Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium for this very reason.

2. The Social Challenge

That’s not to say I don’t feel awkward 50% of the time. Conferences are a nice place to reconnect with talking to real people!

Conferences are also full of organized ways to team up or participate with others. I loved this campaign at LTUE put on by “The Secret Door Society“. To include bathroom stall doors. 🙂

IMG_0562

3. The Practice (Pitch or Crit Sessions)

Speaking of challenge, I love how LTUE and other conferences offer the opportunity to book “pitch or critique sessions” with publishers and agents. It’s terrifying, yes. But it makes you get that stinking elevator speech, outline, summary, or manuscript done.

It’s the best kind of practice, in my book, because it’s not practice. It’s the real thing–well, with training wheels, I suppose. Because everyone I’ve pitched to has been understanding, encouraging, and constructively helpful to me getting better at it. I advocate taking advantage of this at conferences! It’s worth the $10-20 sign-up fee. Even though those 10 minutes will cause you days of anxiety, as they definitely do to me.

I got so much awesome feedback from my pitch to Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books. It’s pretty cool to have access to this kind of coaching and input.

4. The Creative Inspiration

The writing panel topics are inspiring, and I especially like productivity-focused presentations. I get re-inspired on how to be disciplined about my writing. This weekend, I loved Johnny Worthen’s presentation on writing a novel in 90 days. His energy and sense of humor is so infectious!

IMG_0553

And the character sourcing is inspiring, too. I get so many ideas just from observing other attendees. If you think airports are great for people watching, you haven’t been to a fantasy or science fiction conference.  It really is like a creativity energy-shot.

5. The Intersection with Other Art Forms

Even conferences focused on writing, like LTUE, draw other artistic forms and I love seeing those creations. Like this fabulous steampunk dragon by J. Scott Savage!

IMG_0567

So if you’re a writer, start finding your way to conferences! Even if it’s a stretch.

And thanks to my fellow panelists in the Madeleine L’Engle and E. E. “Doc” Smith – Space Travel – Warp Speed vs Tesseract discussion. We covered the far reaches of the galaxy with that one. I loved the audience participation and hope it sparked some creative ideas for everyone. Afterwards, I thought about how we touched on the line between hard science fiction realism and daring to broach the more speculative non-realistic. I know I’m always trying to balance those myself. It’s a fine but fun line to venture along!

Have a fantastic week…!

My Panelist Schedule for Life, the Universe and Everything (LTUE) 2015

LTUE Symposium 2015

This has been a busy couple of weeks, but in the best way–with awesome spec fic conventions! Last week was so rewarding because I got to be a part of Salt Lake ComicCon FanX 2015. This week, I am excited to be a part of the Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium (LTUE) 2015.

This conference is a great opportunity to meet with authors, filmmakers, artists, gaming professionals, and other creatives of speculative fiction.

I am of course super interested in what the Guest of Honor Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books has to say.

I am looking forward to speaking on the Madeleine L’Engle and E. E. “Doc” Smith – Space Travel – Warp Speed vs Tesseract panel at 12 pm on Saturday February 15, 2015. What a topic, right?! I love that title, so kudos to whoever came up with it, and I appreciate being invited to this panel!

With my upcoming time travel serial The Salt Sheen Paradox slotted for release in early 2016, I definitely love this topic and am excited to hear what my fellow panelists share. Should be an awesome, mind-bending discussion!

I hope to meet skads of other writers and learn from the incredible programming lineup. Since I am working on some steampunk titles due out later this year, I’ll be like a sponge soaking up best practices and inspiration.

LTUE is less about dressing up than Comic Con or Fantasy Con, but if I see any awesomeness, it will be photographed and reported!

The Subconscious of Orson Scott Card

I just attended LTUE 2014 (Life, the Universe, and Everything), a science fiction conference where the keynote speaker was Orson Scott Card.

Orson Scott Card at LTUE in 2008, Wikipedia Commons

Orson Scott Card at LTUE in 2008, Wikipedia Commons

Card detailed some interesting things about the recent Ender’s Game movie and some upcoming adaptations of the story, which is a favorite of mine.

The Subconscious Origins of a Character

What impressed me most about his keynote address was his recent realization that the unusually low-key leadership style which his character Ender exhibits was a product of Card’s own experiences as a young teenager frustrated with how local church leadership sometimes functions.

I find the writing takeaway an interesting one. Card mentioned that he did not sit down and say, “In this novel, I’m going to vent my adolescent and adult qualms about leadership.” Only later did Card connect it all consciously.

As a Creative You’re Probably Doing This, Too

In the novel I’m working on right now, I’ve very consciously addressed certain issues that have affected me. But I’ve been surprised at some of the subplots and details that, upon reflection, arose even more organically. Only looking back do I see they have a direct link to my own experiences.

A lot of us know that creativity seems to naturally connect us with subconscious motivations but maybe even in ways we don’t realize right off. If we look back at our work like Card did, what might we see?

An Example: My Cave-Dwelling Beatrice

One example in the novel I am working on now is that my character lives in a cave. I chose this for her because I like to write characters who are more brave than me. I wouldn’t go live in a cave, not because it wouldn’t be interesting but because I lack the guts! I thought I was choosing it for that reason.

But what was my subconscious thinking? Looking back, I think that more subtle part of my mind chose the cave because of other traits I relate to from my adolescence, namely, being at times a reclusive oddball. I think my subconscious let me think I was writing about a gutsy cave lady, when really this woman needed to be a recluse in order for my story’s theme to really shine.

I see that now, but it was an accident. I never consciously made that connection.

Getting Better at Validating Our Subconscious

I never would have written my character as a recluse to start with. Maybe the subconscious has to be all tricksy because some the best we have to offer is hidden behind our own judgment. On some level, I don’t approve of being reclusive, at least not for myself. I didn’t like the things that kept out of my life. So why would I want to write a character like that?!

My subconscious had to trick me into it. That part of knew that I have a pretty good understanding of being reclusive.

My current takeaway is to trust your first image of details or story lines. Invest some time in them and develop them. It may be your subconscious trying to add some cool layers while you’re not looking!