Those of you who frequent this blog know that I’ve been decidedly lax in posting over the last few weeks outside of a few cursory posts about posting more frequently. The irony in that is not lost on me. However, today’s post will make up for that – I hope. It will be long and go over all that has happened since LTUE in February. I’m deep into writing Book 3 in the Sharani Series, two short stories, and attempting to still maintain my sanity in a day job and at home. Thankfully, Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out the other day and I’ve watched it 4 times in the last few days. That has helped.
If you haven’t ever gone to the Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Symposium in Provo, UT you’re missing out. It is, undoubtedly, the bang for your buck when it comes to introductory writing conferences which focus on fantasy and science fiction. The symposium is held every year at the Provo Marriot and Convention Center over Valentine’s Day Weekend, but is worth the time and effort. This year was no exception.
This was my third year attending the symposium and my first as a panelist. It was intimidating and amazing at the same time. I was able to be on four panels ranging in topic from Plate Tectonics to Fantasy, Monsters, and Horror. The highlight of my panelist experience was the later. My fellow panelists included some intimidating figures, notably, Larry Correia, Michaelbrent Collings, Dr. Michael Collings, Steve Diamond, and then me. Needless to say I felt hopelessly underqualified. Nevertheless, I’m not one to do anything halfway, so I did my research, took some notes beforehand and went into the panel prepared. I answered some questions, said some stuff (which I can’t for the life of me remember) and learned more than I brought to the table from the other panelists.
Two things I do remember well though were first, when Larry Correia liked my answer to a question so much he referred back to it later in the panel and second, when – after the panel was over – Dr. Collings wife came up to me after the panel to compliment me on holding my own on such a loaded panel. I’ll take that as a success, even if she was just being polite. I was on cloud 7 (I missed Cloud 9 due to being so tired that day bounced off cloud 8 and landed on cloud 7, which was just as euphoric as it sounds) for the rest of the symposium. All in all, it was a resounding success, including the mass book signing afterward. Some guy called Brandon Sanderson had the longest line, but we all felt sorry for him since he’s normally such an obscure author and didn’t complain about it. Good times were had by all.
Two weeks later, I was on an airplane to CA for my first ever (mini) book tour!
Santa Maria & Orcutt California
Let me start off this section by saying that this trip to California was a long time in the making and required some air travel and then a long drive. I hadn’t flown in close to 5 years and have a mild fear of heights (go figure), so when I was packing I was already nervous about it. When my wife and kids dropped me off and I realized I’d have to carry on everything I’d originally
thought I’d be checking, I became even more nervous. After getting stopped at security and having them go through my bag because I had granola bars on top of books in my suitcase that looked like a bomb on their scanners I was even more nervous. When I realized my publisher and I were in the wrong terminal and we had 5 minutes to get across from the C terminals to the furthers B terminal I was even more panicked and – by the time I made it onto the plane – dripping in sweat, tired, nauseous, and cursing my luck that the only seat left on the plane was between two older women that looked at me like I was insane.
That adventure behind me, we made our connection flight, got the car, and drove the three hours from the Burbank, CA airport down to Santa Maria, California. I wish it had been light out at the time because I hear the drive itself is beautiful since the road is right up against the beach. Oh well. Maybe next time. I stayed with a host family that night and then spent the next day giving presentations to the Orcutt Academy High School, Orcutt Academy Junior High, and then a book signing later that night. Somewhere in all that, I ate lunch and had the chance to catch a movie by myself for the first time in over a decade. It was a full, action packed day. People had said I’d encounter some resistance from that age group during my presentations, but they were attentive, respectful, and interested in what I had to say. I had a blast.
The next day, I went back to the schools for small group Q&As, then book signings, then a lovely dinner at a restaurant in wine country and was – literally – on the beach. The dinner was hosted by the San Luis Obispo Reading Association and both the food and the company (the members of the association and those who had paid to come to the dinner and hear a bunch of us authors speak) was amazing. I had a great time and would go back in a heartbeat. If you ever have a chance to go, do it. Beautiful country and the people are even more so. From there, it was a three-hour drive to a hotel (we’re talking 1am arrival here) then up at 5 to get on a plane to fly back home at 7am. Long trip, but totally worth it. And I SURVIVED! Phew.
Two weeks after that, I was at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX
FanX is the smaller version of the Salt Lake Comic Con. Having now been to both, I think I prefer the larger event, but FanX was a blast this year too. Three days of signing and selling books, buying trinkets and seeing awesome people in amazing costumes is a bucket of fun topped with ice cream. I’ve already
mentioned the panels I was on at that event, which included my favorite of all time, the Heroes, Anti-heroes, and Villains Panel. I seriously wish someone had recorded it, it was that awesome.
Well, now I’m back to work on book 3 in the Sharani Series along with a couple short stories. I work the day job and spend time with my family. I watch movies now and then and occasionally read a book or two. That’s life.