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.

A Couple of Poems for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month so this week I’m posting a couple I wrote.

I like poetry as a terse yet nebulous space in which to fling messy emotions. Basically, this means I write untidy poetry of the non-cuddly and free-form variety.

I enjoy reading all kinds of poetry but when I write it, I tend to want it to be like the reverse side of a cross stitch rather than the clear-cut, heart-warming front side. I want it to be a mess of threads reaching  toward a message but somehow still tangled and wild and weird, a bit like that line from Hamlet: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t”.

If you write poetry, I’d love to read it! Feel free to leave a link as a comment.

Soul Lift

(this one’s about the intersection of scientific and spiritual progress)

 

Trivial as this bus is, I feel like it could become everything if it morphed into an invisible levitating ski lift system,

A Soul Lift complete with the creaking, swaying, sunny-sick sensation of a mammoth insect overhead–

Fate turned Mantis–swatting at the invisible cords that take us everywhere we need to be,

Like our legs never could.

 

Common as our legs are now, on the Soul Lift they would dangle out into the universe like dandelion gossamer

About to be whisked away for good, and as I bounce mine from the high seats at the double bus’ pivot points–

These benches packed with children squealing with delight and dismay,

As if legs should be wings,

 

Disappointed at how unamusementpark it has all turned out to be.

 

I realize that, exhausted as our legs are on a bus at 5:30 p.m. in the land of lithosphere gone to asphalt and concrete,

From our perch on the Soul Lift, legs would still be exhausted but like steam trains rusting down into the salt flats,

The saline yesteryear of it all would convince us to flaunt them like fashion accouterments

Like our legs always were.

 

But like rebellious vintage skateboards, the nostalgia of legs would be unreliable, skeetching out from under our torsos

When we demonstrated them as parlor tricks that would make us laugh, flounder, wince, and muse–

When it suited us.  Because they would still somehow represent freedom more than

Our tangible increase of freedom.

  

Carrion

(this one’s about the battle to be a writer)

 

When I am again a full-fledged Predator,

my courage applied to things real and speculative and not the past’s nit-picked hunts,

I will no longer trip over carrion carcasses like potential or security.

For too long an interim I have chosen against effecting proof,

reserved possible disaster for a fiercer soul…

And once I’d have done the faster faiths and so differently.

I’d have had the onslaught.

I’d have caught day.

I’d have had the deep flesh.

I’d have used the gums I’ve lost

from meatless gnawing at the dreamt.

Happy writing this week!

A Few Stunning Quotes About Imagination

In my experience, imagination is an important part of mental and spiritual well-being. It’s also rather handy for writing fiction!

Here are a few quotes about imagination that inspired me this week…

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I write fantasy because it’s there.  I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination.  Daydreaming.   Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places.  Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps.  It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.   Making it tell the same tale over and over again makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke.  It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something nonexistent; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can’t be transformed into food for the imagination.  It must be visited constantly, or else it begins to become restless and emit strange bellows at embarrassing moments; ignoring it only makes it grow larger and noisier.  Content, it dreams awake, and spins the fabric of tales.  There is really nothing to be done with such imagery except to use it:  in writing, in art.   Those who fear the imagination condemn it:  something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten.  Not all of us dream awake.  But those of us who do have no choice.

― Patricia McKillip

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

― Gloria Steinem

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I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.

― Dr. Seuss

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

― Sylvia Plath

I imagine that yes is the only living thing.

― e. e. cummings

Lyrics to “Young at Heart”

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart.
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on its way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive.
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

― Johnny Richards (Song performed by Sinatra, Micahel Buble, and others)

My 6 Favorite Quotes from J.K. Rowling

I love much of how this woman thinks, so today I’m celebrating that.

Here are my 6 favorite quotes from Joanne ‘Jo’ Rowling (the K is for her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, if you’ve ever wondered)…

1. “I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

2. “I think writing about the time in Hermione’s life that I write about – growing from childhood into womanhood, literally, I think it brought back to me how very difficult it is. So much is expected of you as you become a woman, and often you are asked to sacrifice parts of you in becoming a girl, I would say. Hermione doesn’t.”

3. “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

4. “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

5. “I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them.”

6. “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.”

Happy writing this week!

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!

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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. 🙂

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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!

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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!

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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 4 Resolves for 2015 as Inspired by Ray Bradbury

Writing Goals for 2015

Last year I took on an overarching theme as my resolve for my personal and writing life: to become more congruent. I had never gone this route of approaching my goals thematically more than specifically and loved doing it.

For 2015, my thematic goal isCONTENTMENT. I want to be more content both personally and as a writer, though I have a few more writing goals beyond contentment.

In a way, this is code for: I’m taking this year off from goals! And I’m really looking forward to it! But actually contentment can be elusive and therefore is a goal.

Why Contentment is My Main Goal for 2015

In all things personal, I’m orienting myself toward accepting things as they are and seeking to improve things only insomuch as they maximize my enjoyment of life. By that I just mean, I’m going to eat healthy and work out, for example, because I’m happier when I do. Those things make me feel good. No other reasons are allowed in my mental space, because this year I’m strengthening my ability to savor life in its imperfection–to include downright enjoying who I am in my imperfection.

As Inspired by Ray Bradbury…

For my fiction writing, the fight continues and I have four resolves as inspired by Ray Bradbury’s ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING:

Zen in the Art of Writing

1. Contentment (as opposed to desperation!)

None of us wants to be desperate so it can be a funky thing to own up to. But I feel like every one of us is desperate from time to time, because that’s what happens when you care wildly about something. I’ve been desperate to make fiction writing work. Too bad that doesn’t work!

“That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.”

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

2. Bravery of the pen

I have things to write about that I’m scared to. Messy things. Inconvenient things. I’m going to face that this year in my fiction.

“What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

3. Joyous disintegration

In 2014, I needed to amp up my writing discipline and wrote a lot about productivity, but in 2015 I’m going to reprioritize joy and passion when writing my first drafts–or disintegration as Bradbury puts it!–while not letting go of any of that discipline. I’m requiring myself to draft in this state for at least one hour a day, six days a week:

“This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today-explode-fly-apart-disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, by reading your story, will catch fire, too?”

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

4. Poetry

I used to read and write poetry a lot, and it made me happy!! Why do we let those things go which make us happy?!

“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.

And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.

What poetry? Any poetry that makes your hair stand up along your arms.”

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

I’m looking forward to new writing adventures this year. Happy 2015!