Monday, February 13, 2012

An LTUE Recap

Once a year, for thirty years running now, a bunch of geeky nerdy science fiction and fantasy fans and writers gather for a conference here in Utah to talk about the craft and industry. The name of the conference is: Life, the Universe, and Everything or LTUE for short. I discovered it just a few years ago and have gone ever since, even though, as I've mentioned before, I'm not an aspiring writer. But, as you all know, I do have an author stalking problem! Plus I love learning about the above mentioned craft and industry. The enthusiasm here is infectious and fun!

And this year was no different. In fact, I think more people came then ever before. What a crowd!

I don't have time and space to go into detail about all the stuff I learned and soaked up, but here's a list and a blurb about all the classes and panels I was able to attend:
  • Avoiding Cliche: the teacher made us think of familiar phrases, plots and characters in a different way.
  • Book Bombs: We learned how book bombs can be effective, if you have a big fan base already. And if you have famous friends. 
  • Urban Fantasy: Grittier than "normal" contemporary fantasy, fun because you can make an ordinary person have extraordinary adventures.
  • Villains: I learned the villains who have good in them are actually considered anti-heroes. I really enjoy those types!
  • Book Signings: Authors talked about how they push their books through signings. Some of them really struggle with this particular marketing expectation.
  • Conflict: Conflict is good! :)
  • The Flaw in the Plan: Did Dumbledore Plot Snape's Death?: This was someone reading a huge long research paper they did on this subject, which, while interesting, was very boring to have read to us. 
  • Fractured Fairy Tales: I love fairy tale twists and this was a discussion on doing that well.
  • Romance: Romance is good! :)
  • Book Trailers: Fun discussion on how to make a good one and not a cheesy one. For one thing, use good music!
  • Marketing and Publicity: They thing I took from this discussion? Book bloggers are your friends! Indeed.
  • Plots, Subplots and Foreshadowing: Rousing discussion on why and how to have subplots and ways to use foreshadowing to move things along.
  • Pod casting: Several pod casters talked about their experiences creating and maintaining a pod cast. I think this sounds fun, seriously. 
  • Creativity: This guy showed a lot of funny pictures where people used awesome creativity. His point was that we should realize that creativity is very important in education and we shouldn't be taking it (arts) from the schools, and that some kids learn better in other creative less tradition ways.
  • Suspense: Suspense is good! :)
  • The End of the World: We counted how many times the world has already ended, but not really. We also talked about why end of the world stories are fun... because we get to be the hero.
  • Using Reviews to Improve Writing: Loved this presentation by J. Scott Savage where he told the writers in the audience to look at Goodreads three star reviews and see what people are saying about books that are like the ones they are writing. Learn from it. He talked about all the different people that will/can review their books, including once again, book bloggers! (I remember going to this conference just a few years ago where book bloggers were not mentioned at all, and if they were, no one knew what they were. Things are different!)
  • A Vampire is NOT Your Boyfriend!: A discussion on what makes a vampire a REAL vampire. I got a kick out of this one. It made me giggle.
  • If I Could Do It All Over Again: Mistakes to learn by as told from seasoned authors.
  • Horror: Horror is good! :) 
We also got to sit in on an hour of live recording of three Writing Excuses pod casts. Always a laughing good time! You really should take a listen some time (only 15 minutes long of course!) 

At the end of the second night, there was a mass book signing with about 40 or so authors, ranging from brand spanking new, to New York Times bestselling famous ones! (The complete list of authors you can see here.) But here are the ones I talked to and got autographs from:

Bree Despain: She gave away ARCS for The Savage Grace, the third of her trilogy to come out in a month or so, to the first six people in line. Somehow, I ended up the first person in line! Wahoo!

Mary Robinette Kowal: So I got to thank her in person for her letter, and for starting the fun letter month campaign, and then I bought her book, which sounds fabulous, and she signed it. 

Amber Argyle: I've had her book, Witch Song, on my phone for a long time, but just can't seem to read it there, so I bought the "real" book and got her to sign it.

Abel Keogh: I bought his book, The Third, and had him sign it.

Brandon Sanderson: I took my already purchased (and one read) books The Way of Kings and The Alloy of Law for him to sign. He said he plans to write the second of the Stormlight Archives this year. Yay! And also I told him that I was totally stuck in the middle of the 8th Wheel of Time and he said that yes, 8, 9 and 10 are hard ones.. and that I should just read the summaries and skip to 11! What? I told him that would be so cheating! But then he said, that something big happens in 9, and something big happens (to Mat) in 10, so... then I said, dude, I have to read them.

James Dashner: I forgot my The Death Cure book so I nabbed him after a panel the next day for a signature. Now all my Dashner books are signed once again!

Dan Wells: I nabbed him before a panel so he could sign Emily's ARC of Partials. He warned me of letting others see it and that I might be mobbed. But it was too late, I had been already! Sort of. But it was nice to tell him that even though I didn't have my own ARC for him to sign, I had read and loved it.

Of course, I didn't take one picture. Not even one! What was I thinking?

Anyway, I wasn't going to go this year, but I'm glad I did. Jenny and I sure did get sick of sitting though, and we started making fun of several weird and bizarre audience members, but even that was a blast.


  1. Congrats on getting The Savage Grace! That's pretty awesome! :) And, I'm glad you had a great time. I wish I could've gone.

  2. I so very jealous of this experience!! It all sounds so interesting. I would like to meet (and in some cases remeet) all of these authors. Thanks for the recap.

  3. I've been to LTUE for the last several years, but it didn't work out this year. It sounds like I missed out. Maybe next year. :)

    1. I didn't think I would be going this year either, but things changed at the last minute.

  4. You saw me and didn't say hi!??!?!? If I would have known you were going I would have looked for you! I need to get around to blogs more... Next time make sure to stop me! I would have loved to say hi!

    1. I know I know! I did say I was pathetically shy-ish, right? Dang, I hate that! Yes, next time for sure!

  5. Oh this sounds like a lot of fun! Wish they had something like that here.

    1. It is insanely fun. Crazy and nerdy and fun!

  6. Nice recap. I'm sending people from my blog over here, if you don't mind. I don't wanna do a recap.

    I'm glad you had fun making fun of people with me. ;) I think I'm rubbing off on you.

    1. I guess we'll see if any of your followers come say hi. Yes, it was fun making fun. Weird people, sheesh. Us included though, right?

  7. Sounds like loads of fun! Wish I could have gone to some of those panels, they sound really interesting. Good to see you guys even for a few minutes!



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