Author Archives: clancy

Life, the Universe, & Everything Symposium aka LTUE

Taken from LTUE’s website:  LTUE “is a three day academic symposium on all aspects of Science Fiction and Fantasy. LTUE is comprised of panels, workshops, presentations and papers on writing, art, literature, media, science and other aspects of speculative fiction.”

I attended it the first time several years back and have been a few times.  It has changed over time growing from a small student-run symposium for active Brigham Young University students being held in random rooms on campus to taking over the Continuing Ed building to now being held in a nearby hotel.  Although it is held in Provo, Utah and run by the Mormon students of BYU, everyone is welcome and it is not religious based.

One time I attended, Richard Hatch, Apollo from the original Battlestar Gallactica, gave a two hour presentation.  I was in full Battlestar-loving-geek mode sitting in the front row… six feet from my favorite teenage crush idol.  I have to think Richard Hatch is used to the glazed looks and drooling women cause he is as cute as ever!

But I digress.  This is a great event.  I’ve met authors like David Farland, James Dashner, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia, James Eric Stone, J. Scott Savage, Lee Allred, Jessica Day George, and Howard Tayler at LTUE.

It’s small enough that you can easily visit with the presenters and panelists.  They have readings, panel discussions, presentations, Q&As, workshops and book signings.  There are generally three or more activities occurring at any one time and you can literally go from event to event for five to ten hours a day… for three days.

Some stand outs for me over the years have been a workshop on how to create your own language, how costuming affects how we see characters, how accurate do you need to be with facts and history in fiction, how to generate ideas, how to create plot, many aspects of world-building, tips on collaborating, how to create web-comics/comic books/graphic novels, how to do research, writing stellar openings, marketing, editing and revision and too many more to mention.

It is a feast of options, knowledge and networking.  People travel to attend this event because it provides so much for the crazy reasonable price of only $30 for three days (and it used to be free).

I do recommend as soon as the schedule is available, highlight the topics you are most passionate about seeing and plan out your day.  You have a few minutes to get from talk to talk, but trust me, you’ll want to know in advance where you are going to next.  Bring lots of paper or a device for note-taking.  In the past, I’ve taken snacks with me so I didn’t have to miss anything by taking a lunch break.  They have evening fun like filking and a banquet as well.

If you are anywhere near Utah or can get here February 14-16, 2013, I highly recommend you do.  LTUE is worth attending in ways you can’t even imagine.

Anyone else attend LTUE before and want to share?

Revise Unto Death or Quit?

The last post of 2012. Oh, the pressure!

This makes me think of endings… and beginnings. These ideas fortuitously play into the topic at hand – when should a writer abandon a scene/plot/character/work that just isn’t working rather than rewriting for the fiftieth time?

My story, A Guardian’s Destiny, was a work in process for sixteen months, give or take.  I wrote, rewrote, edited, revised, rewrote and on and on for what was longer than was good for me or it. I was halfway through rewrites that added a major character when I couldn’t take it any more.  I knew it needed fixed, but  I couldn’t figure out what the fix might be.  Frustration didn’t begin to cover how I felt.  When I stepped back and looked at it with some small measure of objectivity, I could see it had “Edit Face.”  Not pretty. So, I put it in a virtual drawer and began something else.

When do you make that call?  End one thing, begin another?

That is a personal decision, but here are some things to consider.

  • Time – How long have you worked on your scene/plot/character/work?  Think about Return on Investment or Lost Opportunity Costs.  Yes, we want our writing to be its best, but it will never be perfect and we need to recognize the tipping point where we have gone beyond productive effort.  If you could have written a multitude of other scenes/plots/characters/works in the time you’ve spent on this particular one, then maybe it’s time to let it go and move on.
  • Sanity – Is it making you crazy?  My story was.  That’s not constructive and it’s stressful.
  • Distance – Sometimes, it isn’t that you need to completely abandon your scene/plot/character/work, it’s that you need some distance from it.  Your muse may need time to gel. Time to work out exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.  It may be weeks, months, years or never.  You just never know.
  • Perspective – It’s just a story.  We’re not curing cancer. Don’t marry your scene/plot/character/work.  You need to have some perspective.  Sometimes, things just aren’t working and you need to stop.  If it helps, save all the drafts or put any deleted text into a different document.  Then it isn’t really gone, just not where it isn’t working.

A Guardian’s Destiny has been tucked away for six to ten months.  My critique partner asked to read it anyway despite my protestations that it seemed hopeless.  After all this time and with her help, I think it may be time to take it back out and finish it. With a second set of eyes and ideas, it may yet be salvageable, but I know now that if it isn’t complete in a reasonable amount of time (not months on end), then back in the drawer it goes.

Here are some sayings that I keep in mind to help me.

A certain amount of opposition is a great help to man.  Kites rise against, not with, the wind……  John Neal

It’s only a book.  If nothing is happening – hit delete and start over. …..  I don’t remember where I heard this, sorry.

When your moment of truth comes, remind yourself: They told me it would be hard. This is what hard feels like. I can do this. …..  Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

What do y’all think?  I’d love more great quotes and/or tales of death, birth and maybe rebirth of your scene/plot/character/work.




Unmotivated? Uninspired? Me too”¦ But Wait”¦ There’s a Cure!

What do you do when you’re sitting there – ready to write or edit or meet that deadline – and you just aren’t inspired or motivated to do so?  Any distraction is a good distraction, right?  Sigh.

This is how I’ve been feeling recently, so I said to my friend, “I need some methods to keep me motivated when I feel blue and unmotivated.” And I sighed.  And then I remembered I needed to write this post.  Perfect timing to go find some methods to combat this melancholy or apathy or <insert your own feeling>.

After reading several articles… here is what I found.

Have One Goal – when we take on too much in our lives, it’s difficult to find energy and focus to accomplish our one goal.  Clear your plate, that other stuff isn’t going anywhere.  Make writing your one goal for a set amount of time and get to it.  I am notoriously guilty of over-loading my plate.  Must learn to say no.

Be Excited – Don’t write the scenes that you’re struggling with at this time, save them for when you’re on a roll.  Talk about, think about, find inspiration in the fun scenes, the scenes that you can’t wait to write.  That yummy sex scene or that juicy action scene.  We don’t actually have to write in a linear fashion. Yes… I’m guilty of this one, too.

Be Accountable – Post your goals for pubic viewing or be accountable to someone. I always get more excited about writing when I discuss it with my critique partner.  And, it always helps to have goals and accountability(see this post).

Be Positive – Be aware of negative self-talk or that all-too-critical self-editor we have in our heads and hush it up with some positive talk about how great it’s going to be when this scene is done and how we can always edit later.  Harder than it sounds, but practice helps.

Baby Steps – My mom is a great proponent of ‘people can do anything for fifteen minutes’.  So, write for fifteen minutes.  It may be crap and might get deleted later, but so what.  Write for fifteen minutes.  It may turn into two hours or two chapters.  If after the fifteen minutes, you still got nothing, then repeat the next day and the next… at some point the cobwebs will clear and your inner genius will come out to play.

Stick With It – NaNo is all about this!  Just stick with it, even a page a day results in a novel in year.   Focus on the baby steps and do it daily.  This also helps with creating a habit.

Make Writing a Habit – If you create a routine, you can create a habit and that can get you into your writing ‘head-space’ really fast.  Sit in the same place, play the same music, turn off your phone, get your drink, settle in… whatever you need to do to write.  Do it the same way, day in and day out and make it a habit. Then when you’re struggling, this can often get you into the zone because your body and mind know what they are supposed to do next… write.

Use Your Subconscious – If you have a scene you don’t know how to fix or a problem to solve or a plot line to repair, think on it just before you go to sleep.  Seriously, think about what you have already and what you need to continue as you are falling asleep and let your subconscious work it out.  I’m pretty sure mine is smarter than I am.  I always get what I need when I do this. 

So, I’m feeling better already and hey… I wrote this post when I didn’t want to write anything.

Any other suggestions?

How Writing Groups and Goals Keep Us on Task

How good are you at staying on task?  At self-monitoring your writing schedule?  If you’re like me, then the answer to these questions is not as good as you’d like to be.

How about accountability?  I know I’m better at that.

When I have a meeting with either my writing group or with my critique partner, I know I have to get writing done so they have something to read … and I do it.  A chapter or two is a bite size chunk and very do-able.    Even more so when you know others are counting on you to have it done for their critiquing pleasure.  Not some faceless editor on the other side of the country, but a real live person who will be looking at you with their hand out waiting for you to give them what you promised.

When left to my own devices, I can find a million ways to frivol away my writing time on non-writing activities or even writing activities that are not writing.  But, when I have a weekly or bi-monthly meeting arranged with a certain expectation of productivity to accomplish, I get-r-done!

Sure, the meetings take time and that is always a precious commodity, but when weighed against my productivity when I’m not accountable, they are worth it.  Period.

What about goal setting?  I’m not always great, but definitely better if I have a daily goal written down and ‘staring’ at me.  I’m a list maker, to the point of neurosis, so if I have a daily to-do list that says ‘write X number of words’ or ‘write X scene’ today, I will make it happen more times than not.

Sometimes deadlines may feel overwhelming, so smaller writing goals are easier to accomplish.  It’s often more productive to say, ‘I will write this chapter today or this week’, than it is to say and accomplish, ‘I will write this book in the next six months’.  That seems so far out there and so much to do, even insurmountable, especially to those who are new or new-ish.

It’s November and that means NaNoWriMo, and many are out there writing their way towards that 50k goal.  Some by having a daily word count goal, others by just writing their asses off every chance they get in bursts of productivity.  I do better on this one when I have a daily goal, but I have yet to ‘win’ and reach that 50k goal.  I think it’s lack of preparation, but that’s another post.

Do you find that goals and groups keep you on task?  What other ways do you maintain your accountability?