Apologies for the late post. The holiday threw me off. But I have been excited to post this week, because, as I've been very vocal about, this past weekend was Life, the Universe, and Everything science fiction and fantasy symposium. And I was on a panel AND, as it turns out, I had a reading! And here is my report on the weekend.
Thurs., Feb. 14:
Day 1 of LTUE. I woke up early and drove down to the hotel where the symposium was being hosted. The registration line was not so bad, and I was lucky because I got to stand in the fast-moving participant line and get an orange name badge. I have to admit, I felt pretty special, even though it wasn't all that merited. I ran into Daniel, my editor, who told me that they're not going to be able to release my novel as soon as I'd hoped (SIGH), and that they're taking time to get some really great cover art. All I can say is this: I'm way excited to see the cover art when it arrives.
I went to as many classes as I could before I had to leave to go to my own class at BYU, so I didn't take time to eat lunch. I brought snacks (apples, fruit cups, granola bars, Pop-Tarts, etc.) and ate them during the 10 minute turnover between panels. I didn't eat my whole stash before going back to school, so I finished there. I have never been so hungry without realizing I was hungry. The best panel of the day, for me, was one on creating a villain's backstory. The takeaway message: every villain thinks he or she is the hero. I got thinking about my own villains and how they see themselves, and how they got that way. I also enjoyed seeing the costumes people came in, and the T-shirts that said things like, "That's what I'm Tolkien about."
Fri., Feb. 15:
Day 2. As soon as I arrived I ran into Brett, my publisher (not to be confused with my editor) and he discussed my novel with me. It sounds like it's progressing well enough, though he confirmed the later release date. My panel was first thing in the morning at 9 am. I would be discussing The Hunger Games and why it is so popular. So, I thought, since it's the second day of LTUE and so early and not a craft class, no one would come. Not so. The room filled up. I also comforted myself thinking that because I was on the panel, the other panelists would be inexperienced like me. I was joined by a librarian, a military expert, a writer who has written an essay on The Hunger Games and a prolific writer. But, I am glad to say, I didn't embarrass myself, and fit well enough in with the group. Though I felt like quite the underachiever when everyone was introducing themselves.
After my panel I hurried off to class at BYU, and then returned in time to scour the area for parking, park, go inside, decide I didn't trust that spot, and rush back to repark the car somewhere I knew would be safe. And then I got to do my reading. Fortunately, I had told some friends that I had a reading, or there would have been only 2 people in the room. As it was, I had a small group. Want to know what I read? Read it here.
I spent the rest of the day watching panels. Not many, because the day was winding down, but I will say that the Tracy Hickman Pick-A-Path musical about gamers at LTUE was kind of wonderful. A great way to end the day.
Sat., Feb. 16:
Day 3. I got to the hotel early with my bag full of food. Just enough to tide me over, but it would be okay, because that morning I picked up my ticket to the gala banquet that night! I would be able to fill myself there. I spent the whole day going from panel to panel, and while there's not much interesting to report, I learned a lot. I went to panels about writing from the perspective of the opposite gender, panels on worldbuilding, a panel on antiheroes, and panels on the small details you need to know if you're going to create a believable story.
And then I went to the gala. I brought a dress and flats, but it was casual dress, so I was good in my regular clothes. The food was great (especially the chocolate mousse cake), and I got the prime seat, or so I thought. To my right was Cheree Alsop, the winner of the LTUE poetry contest, and to my right was Tracy Hickman himself, the toastmaster of the banquet. He told us how he began writing, and it was great to listen to. And then he gave a speech after the meal on science fiction, fantasy, and the changing world. That speech was the highlight of the evening for me, because in my MFA program I feel like I have to constantly defend writing fantasy and science, the snubbed genre fiction. But after hearing how science fiction inspires tomorrow's technological advances and how fantasy inspires people to be greater, more heroic people, I understand what to say when people talk my genre down. I have always wanted to leave the world changed, and fantasy can do that. I have no shame. And I will write excellent fantasy and science fiction, beautiful stuff that speaks to people. I can combine my passion and my education, and I will.
Anyway, that's my LTUE experience. I had a great time, even if I didn't get too much sleep or food during it. I got a lot of inspiration, however, for my work-in-progress novel. Now I have no excuse not to revise, so I did. A lot. Yesterday. I still have more to do, but now that I really understand my characters and the cultures they come from, it will go smoother.