Hey folks! Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the writing sphere, you’re probably all geared up and pumped for LTUE (that’s Life, The Universe, and Everything) 2023! I say this because 100% of the writing-invested people I know are, so the data’s pretty solid on this end.
But maybe your excitement isn’t quite as energetically apparent as those nearby or that you’ve been seeing online. Maybe this is your first LTUE, and you’re not sure where you’re going to be going or why everyone else is so excited.
This is fine. Totally understandable. I first stumbled across LTUE when I was a college student, and wasn’t at all certain what was going on until I saw a sign on a door proclaiming the subject being spoken about inside an ‘in-depth study of Tolkien’s languages and how they both reflect and intersect with the world he created.’ Or something of that nature. I was intrigued, then excited, then hooked.
Anyway, if you’re planning at being at LTUE tomorrow and haven’t taken a gander at the official LTUE Program Book yet (that’s a PDF link, just for those of you on mobile), well, maybe I can get some of that excitement ramping for you. Because there are—as always—some cool panels to check out, and I’m going through the whole list and picking out a few of my favorites. Some are cool, some are fun, some are interesting, and some I’ll label critical, which just means there will likely be essential writing tips and elements discussed you’ll definitely want to attend if you’re concerned about the topic.
So hit that jump, and catch sight of a few of the panels that have caught my attention. Note that just because it’s caught my eye doesn’t mean there aren’t other awesome panels you may want to attend. These are just some of the ones I’ve noticed and am looking forward to, but I as of yet lack the ability to be in multiple places at once. See you at LTUE!
Thursday – February 16th
So You Want to Be a Writer – Tips and Tricks for New Creators
9 AM – Critical (New Writers)
Yes, I’m on this panel, so it might seem a little biased to recommend it right away with “critical.” But it just happens to be one of the first panels of the day. Also, it’s all about tips and tricks from professionals for how to get your own writing adventure started. We’ve got a bevy of panelists on this one, so there’s bound to be plenty of knowledge ripe for the taking. If you’re looking to start your writing journey, begin here!
9 AM – Fun
A panel discussing how various Sci-Fi and Fantasy greats have tweaked science to produce the fantastic? Yeah, this sounds like a fun one.
Why Do You Need a Rosetta Stone?
9 AM – Interesting (Worldbuilding)
Definitely a worldbuilding panel, this one is all about languages, language barriers, interpreters, and other fun details of language that can bring a lot of depth to your world and worldbuilding. If you’re working on something that has facets of this playing a part, this might go from interesting to critical.
The Growth of a City
10 AM – Cool/Interesting (Worldbuilding)
Yes, I’m calling it cool, but I really could call it critical, because real cities are far more organic and living than a lot of their counterparts in fiction … Mostly because a lot of authors, especially back in the day, did not do the research. Nowadays? We have a lot more creatives who grew up playing The Settlers who understand that in order for a town to have a baker, there has to be a miller, and where is the candlestick maker getting their ingredients? Panels like this are awesome and informative.
Enlistment to Discharge: Military Basics
11 AM – Critical (Military)
An entire panel about how militaries are structured and operate? If you’re writing any sort of fiction with a military angle, be it ancient Fantasy or far-future Sci-Fi, this should be on you “must attend” list.
Paths to Publishing
Noon – Critical (Need to Publish)
The title says most of it, but the description noting that this is all about publishing options from traditional to indie, says if you’re wondering about this, you should attend. Bring questions, and don’t be surprised if a bit of (non-literal) fire starts between the trad pubs and the indie folks!
Hanging On for Dear Life: Make Your Thriller Impossible to Put Down
3 PM – Interesting
This one may edge to critical if you want to write a thriller. Either way, if the topic alone draws you toward it, you may want to attend this one.
I Loved That Book When I Was Growing Up
3 PM – Cool
A panel with a bunch of authors discussing their favorite books from (presumably) their younger years. If you’re looking for reading material, this might be one to go to. Or if you’re curious what favorites an author you enjoy on the panel is going to talk about.
Swords and Spears and Axes, Oh My! – Medieval Weapons 101
3-5 PM – Fun/Cool/Interesting/Critical (Weapons)
Yes, it’s two hours. Actually, last year it went even longer. But this panel is everything you want regarding ancient weapons. If you want to write about them, or learn about them, or just handle a 2000+ year old bronze dagger (no stabbing, please), this is the place to be for a few hours.
4 PM – Fun
A panel all about how a culture could live in extreme places and how that might cause for specific manners of living? Like volcanoes? Yes, this is fun!
We Have the Technology: Making the Science Matter in Your Story
4 PM – Interesting
A panel about making the science in your Sci-Fi more than meaningless jargon, and applying consistency to it.
Beyond ¡Hola!: Writing Realistic Bilingual Characters
5 PM – Critical (Language)
This panel is about going beyond just having a character swear in another language, but instead is about code-switching and how you can write more realistic bilingual characters.
Power to the People: Utilities and Infrastructure
5 PM – Interesting
An entire panel on civic infrastructure, like power, water, and garbage, and how you can better integrate (or even reflect) them into your worldbuilding? Yes, I will be there if at all possible.
Star Realms Tournament
7 PM – Fun
You’ll need a copy of the game to attend, but other than that entry is free and open to all. Seeing as I have a copy, I’m a bit tempted. This is a fun one and a way to round out the evening.
Friday – February 18th
Vanishing Wounds: Why You Won’t Be Battling with That Broken Arm
9 AM – Critical (Injury)
Ever read a book where a character “walks off” a broken leg? Or doesn’t at all seem to suffer any effects from a concussion, or being choked out? This panel is all about reflecting injuries in a way that enhances the story, not detracts from it.
Farming in Rough Terrain
10 AM – Fun
A unique topic, and also a panel I happen to be on (as well as having a bit of personal experience with). If you’ve never thought about the farming in your setting past “someone farms” this may be a panel you want to check out!
Top Ten Video Games for Writers
Noon – Fun
A bunch of panelists debate the best video games for writers to play, discussing story, character, and other elements. Should be fun, and hey, you may get some new titles to check out!
Life on an Eighteenth-Century Tall Ship
1 PM – Fun/Critical (Sailing)
I’ve gone to this one before, and it’s a blast. Coming from someone who actually works crewing an 18th-century sailing vessel, you’re going to learn a lot, and if you’re at all writing about this kind of ship, you should be there. Oh, and if you’re thinking “I’ve been on a boat, that’s good enough,” I—who grew up on modern boats—spent a whole hour and a half in the Green Room chatting with this presenter once, mostly talking about the differences between modern sailing vessels and a 18th-century sailing vessels and swapping sea stories. So, you know, get there.
Tooth, Tail, and Claw: How to Write Compelling Creatures Into Your Fiction
1 PM – Fun/Interesting
As a counterpoint, if you aren’t interested in sailing ships, I’m on another panel about writing and creating compelling animals and ecosystems for your setting, both as worldbuilding and powerful plot impactor to affect the story.
Historical Sources for Historical Research
5 PM – Interesting
An entire panel about where to find good historically accurate information (so, you know, you don’t end up using Legend of Zelda dye recipes in your bit historical fiction book, cough cough) as well as discussing when you can stop being concerned about an absolute detail and just generalize a little.
Spies! They’re More Likely Than You Think
6 PM – Fun/Interesting
A worldbuilding panel about spies and espionage throughout history? I regret deeply that I will have to be setting up for the book signing at this time, so please go in my stead to this panel and let me know how it was!
Book Signing Event
7-9 PM – FUN!
Yeah, hundreds of authors, myself included, signing books and chatting with folks? You’d better be there! And swing by the booth! I’m going to have some cool stuff on display!
Saturday – February 19th
Back-Alley Healers and Traveling Doctors
9 AM – Cool/Fun
I wonder how long it will take one of these panelists to quote “I take lungs now, gills come next week?” This panel sounds like a blast from the title alone, but there’s more to it than fun, because people have largely forgotten a world in which doctors traveled to towns and made house calls.
Accurate Clothing in Period Fiction
11 AM – Critical (Clothing)
You’d be amazed how much “period” pieces get wrong about clothing (especially corsets, which are almost never reflected accurately). If you are at all writing about a world involving a period based on Earth’s history, and plan to address clothing, you should probably be at this panel.
Exposition Etiquette: Sharing Your Worlds with Readers without Overwhelming Them
11 AM – Critical (Exposition)
Naturally, I stated above that a bunch of you should be at that panel, when I’ll be here. This is another critical one, however. This is a panel about exposition, and how to deliver it to readers without overwhelming them. Now, I will note that a lot of what I’ll be discussing here is material already contained on Being a Better Writer, but I won’t be the only panelist there. Definitely come if you’re at all thinking about exposition.
Beginning Board Game Design: How to Have Fun with Your Great Idea
Noon – Fun
No, this has little to do with writing (though there is a panel earlier in the con about creating games for stories). It’s just cool.
Horses Aren’t Bicycles
1 PM – Fun/Critical (Mounts)
Way too often books treat pack animals and mounts like machines. They’re not. This is a panel about being aware of this. It’ll be fun, but also very useful if you’re writing about mounts, pack animals, or similar.
Mystical Workarounds and Cybernetic Implants: Disability in Fantasy Settings
3 PM – Interesting
A panel discussion about the advantages, drawbacks, and changes that might come about due to the ability to remove, via magic or tech, disability.
Girl Genius Radio Play
6 PM – Fun/Cool
I mean, I link to Girl Genius. Of course I’m going to recommend the live recording of a Girl Genius radio play with audience participation.
Of course, this isn’t everything. This is just some of what caught my eye that I guessed some of you may be interested in, but there are a lot of other panels as well for you to check out. Tons of topics, buttloads (it’s a cask size) of writing advice, and lots of fun to be had, no matter where you go.
Oh, and a final note. If you’ve not seen a picture of me (there’s one on the about page, but a bit old), I’m rocking long hair and a braided beard. On day one of LTUE I’ll be wearing a red shirt with a dragon sitting atop a pile of presents, on day two a grey shirt with a inkwell and quill transforming into a fantasy scene, and day three a black shirt with an adorable young dragon envisioning their future on it.
I carry signing pens. Copies of Axtara – Banking and Finance, Shadow of an Empire, and A Dragon and Her Girl will be available once again in the vendor hall (and hopefully we won’t run out of either of the first two this time). Grab a copy and track me down for a sig!
I’ll see you there, folks!