Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life, the Universe & Everything or Dinner with Dashner.

dragon3PoseySessions has been ranting and raving for an entire year about LTUE, and to be honest for most of that time I had no idea what she was talking about.  Only as it grew closer did I bother to check out the website.  From the get go it looked pretty good and I started to get excited about it. Tracy Hickman was going to be there and I figured the highlight of the experience would be meeting him and getting a few of my books signed.  While that was definitely one of the cooler moments, LTUE just got better and better the longer it went on, and capped with one of the coolest experiences of my life. (skip to the bottom for that)

I attended several panels during LTUE, the first was Mormons and the Paranormal.  This panel was interesting, but the panelists (Blake Casselman, Eric Swedin, Nathan Shumate, Scott Parkin)  Spent way more time talking about Mormons and vampires and werewolves than anything I was interested in.  I thought they would address something about spirituality and hauntings, nope, nothing at all so I left a little downtrodden.

Larry CorreiaThe next panel was one of my favorites: Writing Action with Larry Correia.  I had never heard of him until his name came up in the previous panel.  then I saw him talk about writing action ( and have since read his book and realized he was perfect for that presentation)   Larry put on a great presentation, a lot of what he had to say was pretty straightforward (as in “action would be awesome”) but there were a few gems.

The next panel, and the one from which I felt I took the most information was How to Scare People with Dan Wells.  Wells laid out some basic techniques for writing horror and displayed them with clips from famous horror movies.  Some of them had pretty dirty words and situations for BYU, I couldn’t believe it.

Tracy HickmanFriday morning was a presentation by Tracy Hickman a deconstruction of The Lord of the Rings as a way to display elements of a story and literary theory.  It was excellent.  Tracy laid out the Campbell Monomyth and the 8 character archetypes.   I took so many notes in this presentation and I learned a lot about story and characters. I also loved this quote.

It is nothing to be published. It is everything to be read.

- Tracy Hickman

Killer-Breakfast-f1557Then Saturday morning was Killer Breakfast, which was NOT breakfast.  It was a session of Dungeons and Dragons run by the legend that is Tracy Hickman.  This was a fantastic experience. Tracy was extremely charismatic as he went on a murderous rampage killing players left and right in his Dungeon Master bloodlust.

I also attended a tutorial on using photoshop to draw fantasy maps, a presentation by David Farland on self-editing, a panel on plot and foreshadowing, and a blast of a panel about story ideas with Correia and John Brown (whose debut novel Servant of a Dark God I am reading right now.)

Another great part of LTUE was the author signings.  I got books signed by Farland, Correia, Hickman, John Brown and James Dashner.  All of the authors were very friendly and seemed happy to be there.  We had a chance to talk with James Dashner for a few minutes as he signed our books.  He told Megan and I that we were a perfect couple, that made me happy, and it set the stage for what would happen alter that evening.

So, the cool experience?

James_DashnerLTUE concluded with a banquet which Megan and I attended.  We entered the mostly empty ballroom which held about 20 round tables with seating for 6.  We picked a table on the left side of the room and settled in watching as people filter in and choose their seats.  James Dashner (the guest of honor)  walked in with 4 women.  I tracked him to see where he would sit. He hung his coat on the back of a chair then turned and looked at Megan and I.

“Lets sit with these guys it should be fun”

And he walked over and took a seat right next to me, for a moment I was twitterpated.  I guess I should tell you about Dashner.  he is the author of The Maze Runner, which will be a major motion picture directed by the woman who did the Twilight movies (hope it is better!)  The sequel The Scorch Trials released last year, and the final book of the trilogy, The Death Cure is due out later this year.  I read The Maze Runner and quite enjoyed it.  I have also read the first book in his 13th Reality series, which I also thought was pretty good.

So there we were, Me, Megan and a New York Times best-selling author sitting at a banquet table in a room in the BYU conference center.  I am usually pretty calm when meeting famous people.  I think I did well, I tried to be respectful, we said hello and I thought we would probably spend the night listening to him talk to the 3 other people who entered the room with him.  Not the case.  He engaged us in conversation almost immediately and we spent almost 2 hours chatting about books and movies.  At one point he asked me about my writing and I told him some of my story ideas.  He responded sincerely saying some of them sounded very interesting.  Then he told me something that I will not soon forget.  “You have what it takes, you are a good storyteller.”  Or something along those lines. I don’t think he knew how much that meant to me.

All in all it was a fantastic evening.  Later he tweeted about it, and made Megan and I feel even more special.

Even though Brandon Sanderson was not there LTUE was an amazing experience and I cannot wait for next year!

** PoseySessions and I took a ton of pics but she has them all on her computer, so these google image pics will have to do**


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