Overall, it was a great time for me. For those local Utahns who are writing, I highly recommend this conference. Life, The Universe & Everything is 100% free of charge, is held annually at the Brigham Young University campus, and no, you don’t have to be a Mormon to attend. Most of those who do attend, are, but nobody cares if you’re not, and there is a significant writing track populated with established and up-and-coming pro authors.
For example, Brandon Sanderson — now finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and doing a damned good job of it by most counts — was the 2010 guest of honor. Brandon is the kind of ‘big’ author who is still close enough to his aspirant roots that he doesn’t put on airs and he will happily talk to anyone after panels, on panels, in the halls, and so forth. He and his close friends Dan Wells — the David Hasselhoff of horror fiction in Europe — and Howard Tayler — excellent humorist and creator and artist of Schlock Mercenary, are LTUE fixtures. I had a chance to speak with all three of them at various points during the 3-day event, and Howard especially was fascinating to speak with, since he and Eric James Stone and I spent a fair amount of time gabbing in the Green Room on Saturday. Thanks, Eric and Howard!
I also spent a fair amount of time gabbing with Larry Correia and John Brown. Larry is, of course, the author of Baen’s latest, very-explosive hot property, Monster Hunter International. MHI is selling like hotcakes and Larry is already onboard for numerous sequels, in addition to the recently-sold Grimnoir Chronicles. John meanwhile is one of Tor Books’ latest entities, and his Servant of a Dark God is out in hardback and available nationwide. As with Sanderson & Co., Larry and John are super-friendly fellows and will happily talk with and entertain anybody. John and Larry did a 2-hour class on Thursday that was a hoot, and it’s clear John is passionate about helping aspirants and other writers succeed with their fiction. I had copies of both their books and got to play fanboy, in addition to baby author.
Speaking of playing fanboy, I also got L.E. Modesitt, Jr., to sign one of his books for me, in addition to answering questions about the editorial process at novel houses vs. magazines. L.E. (aka “Lee”) is a terrifically smart person who has lived a lot of life and learned a lot of lessons and is a magnificent addition to any panel he is on. He’s generally only at LTUE for the Saturday session, and this year he was only there for the morning, which is why I knew I had to nab him early. Unassuming, intelligent, immaculately dressed, L.E. has been publishing longer than some of the aspirants in the crowd have been alive. Insightful, patient, yet not willing to suffer fools or foolishness gladly, Lee is sort of the Honored Patriarch of both the LTUE and CONduit writing tracks, and I consider myself fortunate that Lee is willing to come out and share knowledge with newbies, aspirants, and established writers alike.
Other notables I was able to meet and speak with are…..
Robert Defendi, who has quite a funny rep among Utah’s SF&F writing scene and has done a lot of work in the role-playing industry for many years. His track record in that regard is extensive, and he’s quite the character in person.
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury, a self-described ‘cat herder’ at Orson Scott Card’s Hatrack River writers’ forum, as well as being a published author, Writers of the Future winner — along with Eric James Stone, myself, Robert Defendi, Lee Allred, etc.
Dan Willis, who has written some Dungeons & Dragons novels and is now poised to strike out on his own, most recently with a Steampunk series.
The previously-mentioned Lee Allred, a fellow servicemember and published author who — I found out in conversation — is quite friendly with Kris Rusch and Dean Smith, so I will be sure to say hello to both Kris and Dean for him when I go out there next week.
Dave Wolverton, wasn’t able to attend this year due to a movie commitment in China(!) but like L.E. Modesitt, Jr., he’s something of an Honored Patriarch at LTUE and CONduit and has more wonderful insight and writing wisdom in him than half a dozen other authors combined. Dave, you were missed.
I don’t know if James Dashner is a regular at LTUE, but he was this year’s ‘victim’ for the live Writing Excuses podcast, wherein James declared that Brandon Sanderson smells like poo, and much hilarity was had by the packed-room audience who did all they could to derail the podcast from its serious intent. Oh, and Dan Wells is a bacon afficianado. I shall have to remember that.
And this list doesn’t contain even half the names of wonderful and talented people who attended — and attend — the LTUE symposium. Makes me wonder how it is that so much professional talent has managed to collect itself here, in the reddest of the ‘red’ flyover states. Especially when the bigger regional cons like NorwesCon sometimes don’t have a writing track even half as strong as that offered by LTUE.
My deep thanks to all the established writers and especially the Patriarchs and the Name pros who took the time to shake my hand, listen to my questions, answer at length, and then ask a few questions of their own. Also thanks to all the aspirants who asked me questions — about Writers of the Future and much else. I hope I was able to provide useful information and I hope I was able to make the time you spent attending my panels worthwhile. Both the Friday panel on Military SF and the Saturday panel on short stories were well attended, and for next year I’m hoping to get LTUE to expand the military panel to two hours, and possibly add a one-hour panel dedicated specifically to Writers of the Future — LTUE has winners falling out of its ears — or maybe a ‘boot camp’ type panel that discusses the writing life: how to set and keep goals, how to prioritize, common mythbusting about submissions and format, etc.