2018 Dragon Awards Nominations are Open!

It’s that time of year, readers! The nominations for the 2018 Dragon Awards are open! You can click the link and nominate this last year’s (July 2017-End of June 2018) best Science-Fiction and Fantasy novels for the running of … well, the best!

I’ve supported The Dragon Awards every year since they’ve opened, because it’s an open award, decided by the public. Anyone can vote, not just a select few. Anyone can nominate, not just a select few. And the more people vote and nominate, the more representative the award is of what fans consider the year’s Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy.

Speaking of which, unlike last year, this year I’m eligible! That’s right, Shadow of an Empire‘s release date puts it squarely in this year. So if it was your favorite Fantasy novel this year, it’s 100% ready for your nomination! You know, just in case it was (and I’ve already heard from some that yes indeed, Sali and Meelo’s adventure was definitely in that category).

But either way, nominate for the Dragon Awards!

The LTUE 2018 Report

It’s time for another LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) report! And this time, not in place of Monday’s Being a Better Writer post!

Why, you may ask? Okay, and you may be asking “What’s LTUE?” as well. So, in reverse order then.

LTUE is one of the best “secret” cons for writers out there, if not the best. It always has a massive, smashing guest list full of friendly authors, editors, and publishers, hundreds of awesome panels those same people participate in … and then just plenty of fun stuff too. Want to learn how to write romance, or common submission pitfalls? Want to catch the latest scuttlebutt and undercurrents from the industry, or hear embarrassing mistakes from now-famous authors?

Okay, you might not get all of that in one year, simply because you’d probably have to hit multiple panels at the same time, but all of that can be found at LTUE. It’s a convention for writers, about writers, by authors passing on their knowledge. If you like BaBW, LTUE is a con you should go to. February of every year in Provo Utah.

Now, the second question: Why is this report going up early? Oh, and shorter? Well, quite simply because I wasn’t paneling this year and was too broke to go to all three days (much sadness on that point). LTUE is a con, after all. Expect to pay (though students get in for $5 a day).

Anyway, with my knee dragging my finances down, I only was able to afford going to a single day. Naturally, I picked the day I most wanted to go to, which included a relaxed sit-down with Larry Correia (because the guy is fun to talk with), and went then.

So, what’d I pick up from this year’s LTUE? It was a mixed bag. Not at all because the con wasn’t as good this year or something, but because, personally, where I’m at.

Look, I’ll get two things out of the way right away. The first is that LTUE is fun. Like, ridiculously fun. Even if you’re there flying solo, it’s a good time. Everyone is there to talk about writing in some facet or another, from just starting out, to being stuck in a death spiral, to trying to submit their first manuscript. That’s awesome.

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Being a Better Writer: The Value of Fiction

First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had a shift at work Monday(I’m still playing catch-up on a small pile of debt incurred during my knee injury and trying to be able to make rent this month, so I’m working more shifts than normal) which, as expected, put this post behind the clock. Thankfully, looking at my daily views, it seems that many of you don’t mind—a large number of you have just been checking on Tuesday rather than on Monday, which is sad as far as my ability to get these posts up on Monday is concerned, but otherwise isn’t a bother.

So … today’s topic … This is one that I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. Years, actually. But I wasn’t positive if I wanted it to be a Being a Better Writer post or just a random post until recently. I can’t recall quite what the context of it was, but there was a forum post on a site I was browsing that made me immediately turn to my topic list and write down “Learning by Example – Value of Fiction.”

Now, for some, this post is going to seem somewhat … Well, perhaps obvious is the best way to put it. But the odd thing is, for some it won’t.

See, I once had a fellow student in one of my creative writing classes who could not understand why we were bothering to read stories that ‘hadn’t happened.’ They were incredibly incensed by it (for the record, none of us, including the professor, could determine what they had expected otherwise from a course in creative writing), constantly complained about the books we read, and even, if memory serves, flat-out refused to do the writing assignments because ‘it wasn’t real, therefore it was of no worth.’

The thing is, as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and seen more of the world, I’ve come to find that this student was not alone in sharing this opinion. There are a lot of people out there that do not see the value of reading anything that is a work of fiction and hold it to be of no merit. Why? The answer is, when boiled and distilled down, because a work of fiction isn’t something “real.” Therefore, not being “real,” it has no place in the real world.

Now, obviously I disagree. But, naturally, this disagreement doesn’t start or end with “Well, you’re wrong.” Crud, there’s a reason I put “real” in the last paragraph in quotes. Because fiction isn’t simply something that’s “not real.” In fact, simply thinking of it as such shows a lack of understanding of what fiction is.

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The LTUE 2017 Report

As usual, this year’s LTUE report is going to take the place of today’s (well, technically yesterday’sBeing a Better Writer post. Three day’s summation of the best writing-related con stuff ever? You bet!

So, where to start? How about with a quick reminder of what LTUE is? For those who’re missing out (and yes, you are), LTUE is short for Life, The Universe, and Everything, and it is a writing con by writers and editors of genre fiction, for writers and editors of genre fiction. And anyone else who wants to come (*cough cough* unlike certain other cons I could think of).

Which basically means it’s freaking awesome. The guest list is, as always, insane. L.E. Medesitt Jr. Mary Robinette Kowal. Dan Wells. Lisa Mangum, Larry Correia … Seriously, that’s barely scratching the surface. Everyone from Sanderson to Wiesskopf has showed up at LTUE before (and many are regular attendees). It’s probably one of the best-kept “secret” cons out there.

And you really should be going. Seriously.

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