Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020!

I’ve been waiting to make this post for months now, readers! But with the new year upon us, it’s finally time. Life, The Universe, and Everything 2020 is almost upon us, with a little over a month to go!

Some of you readers are cheering quietly (or perhaps loudly) while mentally double-checking your hotel reservation for next month, but some of you, I’m sure, I are looking at this post and thinking “Isn’t that a Douglas Adams book?” while wondering what I mean about next month. So before we go any further, let me clear that up.

First, yes, it is the title of one of Douglas Adams’ books. Life, the Universe, and Everything was the third book in his Hitchhiker series and released in 1982. So you’re not wrong there. However, that is the LtUE with a lowercase “t” on the “the.” The uppercase variant?

Why, it’s Life, The Universe, and Everything, the premier Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Convention! With an uppercase “T.” But yes, it is a reference.

“All right,” some of you might say. “So it’s another Sci-Fi/Fantasy con. So?” To which I’d reply “No, not exactly.”

See, LTUE is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing con. While other conventions are about getting together just to have fun dressing up and meeting authors and creators, LTUE is different. LTUE is about creation. Where other Sci-Fi/Fantasy cons will have panels where you can meet your favorite author and ask questions about your favorite series or listen to them talk about their favorite moments from the book, LTUE has panels where you come to hear your favorite authors talk about the art of writing.

That’s right. Hundreds of authors on hundreds of panels, talking about writing. How to write. Pitfalls. Elements you may not have considered. Topics for days.

That’s right, LTUE is a convention for writers who want to learn more about writing. With panels given by some of the biggest names in the industry. While also having signings, art shows, game rooms, and all the fun stuff you’d expect from a regular con.

In other words, if you’re a writer of any level interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, LTUE is the con to go to. For learning, for networking, for even just having fun chatting with favorite authors or new ones! It’s the con.

Okay, so that’s what LTUE is. Oh, and if you’re a student (college or k-12), tickets are … around $5. For three days of con awesome.

In other words, what are you waiting for? The website is here, reserve your ticket! And while you’re at it, take a look at their guestlist and schedule to start planning what panels you’d like to attend!

While you’re at it, you may notice a familiar name on the Guestlist and attached to a number of panels! Which brings me to the second reason for today’s post: Letting you all know that yes, I will be at LTUE this year, paneling once more! And signing, and doing a reading …

It’s going to be a big year for me this LTUE. A very big year. I’m pumped.

But it means that, in addition to letting you all know that LTUE is approaching (February 13th-15th), I also get to have the wonderful pleasure this year of putting up my LTUE panel schedule, letting you all know where you can find me over the course of the con! So, without further ado, a list of all the LTUE appearances I’ll be making this year! I’ll repost this as we get closer to the date of the actual con, but for now: Get ready and excited! It’s coming!

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Being a Better Writer: Gestures, Paralinguistics, and Dialogue

Welcome, readers, to the year 2020, and a new series of Being a Better Writer! We’re back at last, ready to tackle all new topics of writing every Monday. So kick back and get ready to talk writing!

If you’re new, well you’ve probably figured it out by now, but Being a Better Writer is a weekly series here on Unusual Things, several years running now, that’s all about writing in its various aspects. We’ve discussed everything from romance subplots to character motivations to common writing cliches.

So, what topic have I chosen to kick off the new year? One I’d imagine many people haven’t thought a lot on. I myself, actually, hadn’t consciously given it much thought until an incident about a month ago got me pondering on it. See, a little over a month ago now, as the holiday season was really winding up, I got talking with someone that had just finished one of my books, and they’d offered their thoughts and opinions. One thing that they pointed out was that the exposition offered by the characters felt, for lack of a better word, thicker than other books. It would cover plot, yes, and needed elements, but would do so in a way that was longer than other books by other authors.

But at the same time, while this threw them off, it wasn’t bad, and they couldn’t say why. For that matter, neither could I, and I puzzled over it for almost a week. Because they weren’t the first reader to note this. More than once it’s been pointed out to me that many readers feel my characters’ moments of dialogue and exposition are larger than other comparable books … but don’t feel drawn out. In other words, they make take twice as many words to say what another book would do in half the amount … but it doesn’t feel like it unless one sits back and looks at the whole.

This puzzled me, as it wasn’t the first time an observation in this vein has been made about my work. I say puzzling because for the majority of readers it wasn’t bad. No one felt that there were “extra” or even unnecessary words or phrases in there, despite the overall length being larger by comparison. Put before a critical editor, they’d hem and haw … but in the end conclude that they didn’t want to cut anything.

See? Puzzling. And so I spent a good week during the holidays pondering on this odd occurrence. What was I doing differently with my writing that made my dialogue and exposition longer … but not filler?

Then, I watched a Youtube video from content creator Tom Scott, and it clicked. I knew what it was that I was doing differently, and why people would note that the exposition was “thicker” but wouldn’t want to cut anything.

It had to do with my characters. Or rather, how I developed and made them come alive to the audience through use of paralinguistics.

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Unusual Things’ Best of 2019

Hello readers, and welcome to 2020! Life here is getting into gear as the New Year (and decade; yes I’m one of those people) starts off, and there’s plenty to do, starting with the final chapter of Axtara – Banking and Finance, which should be done today. At which point work will begin in earnest on Fireteam Freelance. Another chapter of Stranded is almost complete as well, for those of you supporting on Patreon.

Speaking of which, I’ve decided to revamp the Patreon page with the new year, so look for that upcoming project in the next week or so. My goal here is to trim it down and make it a lot more straightforward and clear. As is the page intro is from several years ago and entirely behind the times.

Also, Being a Better Writer will resume this coming Monday, with a whole new slew of topics and writing concepts to discuss. The break is over, and BaBW is back! And some of these upcoming topics well … they’re interesting!

But as I prepare to move forward, I thought some of you may like a look back at 2019. Specifically, some of the biggest events of 2019, articles and otherwise, to have hit Unusual Things. Now with meta-commentary!


 

Jungle

Jungle Cover

Obviously, the elephant in the room, the single biggest, defining moment of 2019 was the release of Jungle. Yes, I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing about it by now because you come here for writing advice, not to hear about the writing from the guy who generates the advice, but tough nougats. My site, my rules, and one of the biggest impacts of 2019 was the release of Jungle.

Jungle was a titan of a project, involving thousands of hours worth of work over several thousand pages. A 457,000 word juggernaut of fiction, Jungle was the sequel to 2016’s smash-hit Colony, and hit with about the same amount of force.

Jungle hasn’t even been out two months yet, but the early response from fans and readers has been clear: This is a worthy successor to what Colony built, and they can’t wait for the next installment.

There was a lot else that happened in 2019, but the release of Jungle was the crowning peak. If you’re one of the few unfortunates that haven’t had a chance to see yet why this was such a big deal, well … You can grab a copy of Jungle here and be reading on your phone in seconds. Or if you’re really out on a limb and haven’t even read its predecessor, Colony, yet, then you can grab that here. Though at this point if you haven’t done either … I mean, really? It’s akin to hanging out at the movie theater but not ever watching anything.

Anyway, Jungle was the biggest event of 2019, but there were other moments that left their impact. Hit the jump and we’ll take a look at a few more.

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