Tag Archives: Gama Martinez

LTUE – Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium

A Guest Post by Gama Martinez

LTUE

There are writer conventions and conferences all over the country. Most are small with one or two big guests. Others are large with many more guests, but these often have so many attendees that it’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful conversation with anyone. There are a few conferences where the attendee is low and the number of big names is high. The cost to attend these, however, can be hundreds of dollars. Add to that the cost of travel and lodging if it’s not local, and it becomes unfeasible for many to attend these. In this kind of environment, Life, The Universe, and Everything stands out.

LTUE is a relatively small convention in Provo, Utah, an hour south of Salt Lake City. Largely because of the high concentration of scifi and fantasy authors in Utah, many big name authors attend. Brandon Sanderson, Dave Wolverton, Dan Wells, Larry Correia, and Howard Tayler are regular attendees. Previous keynote speakers have included Orson Scott Card and James Artimus Owen. Additionally, the even draws a number of agents and editors, enough that pitch sessions are a regular feature, something that normally only happens at larger, more expensive conventions. It’s more a writing convention than anything else, and as a result, you get to hear some of the top names in the industry talk about topics that they specialize in.

This being a writer’s convention, there are plenty of writers of all skill levels so not only does it provide the opportunity to learn from more experience writers by also to network with writers at a similar skill level as you. The convention ends on Saturday with a banquet which, by itself, provides fantastic networking opportunities as well as a speech by the keynote speaker.

I’ve mentioned cost. In spite of having so many well-known authors, the price of LTUE is comparable to many smaller local conventions with the price ranging from $55 at the door to only $40 for early bird registration. The convention hotel is relatively affordable as well, only $99. There are other, less expensive hotels in the area as well if that one doesn’t suit. With a little careful budgeting, you can get your hotel, registration, and most of your meals for less than the cost of registration at conventions like WorldCon. In fact, when I lived in Dallas, there was a conference that provided a similar worth, but the cost was so high that it was about the same price as flying to Utah and paying for my hotel. Given with the amount of information and networking opportunities makes LTUE have one of the highest cost to benefit ratios of any convention I’ve been to.

The next Life, the Universe, and Everything takes place February 11-13th in Provo, Utah. It’s one of my favorite conventions, and if you can make it there, you should.

Guest Bio:

Gama Martinez lives near Dallas and collects weapons in case he ever needs to supply a medieval battalion. He greatly resents when work or other real life things get in the way of writing. Other than writing, he does normal things like run from bulls and attempt to leave the Earth to be a Martian colonist. His trilogy, The Oracles of Kurnugi, is available now. Shadowguard, the first book in a seven book series, will be released September 22.

www.GamaRayBurst.com

Perfectly Harmless Lake Flies

A guest post by Gama Martinez.

lakefliesWhen asked to do this post, a couple of things came to mind. I could’ve written about how a trip running for the bulls turned out to be the beginning of a friendship with someone, or about how I once managed to get away with stealing a test in high school even though every shred of evidence said I’d done it. I almost wrote about the time I nearly poisoned myself with peanut butter. I finally settled on the time I got attacked by a swarm of perfectly harmless African lake flies.

It was 2009. As people (or at least I) tended to do in those days, I kept my eyes on the prices of plane tickets to Uganda. You see, I have some dear friends who at that time were long-term missionaries, and I wanted to see them. I’d also been saving up for this trip for a while, as the price of the flight tended to run about $2,000. I was a little more than halfway there when the flights suddenly dropped to $1,200, so I bought my ticket for March the following year. I didn’t have a lot of vacation at that job, so I only took a week.

A few months later, I had my yellow fever shot, a box full of malaria medicine, and a couple of carry-ons filled with clothes (I don’t need to check luggage unless I’m transporting weapons or am staying longer than ten days). Twenty-four hours of travelling later, I landed in Entebbe, Uganda. It was late so we spent the night there. The next morning, we travelled to the village of Mitiyana. No, we’re not talking mud huts or anything. They actually had a rather nice house, but I digress.

There is a nine-hour time difference between Dallas and Uganda. A week just wasn’t enough time to acclimate myself to it. It was never bad. I would just wake up at 5:00 in the morning or something like that. Generally, I stayed in bed and tried to sleep more, but one day I decided to read. You see, I was going to the very first Superstars Writing Seminar two weeks after I got back, and I was way behind on Dune. By the way, going from Dallas to Uganda and spending a week there followed by returning to Dallas and going to work for four days and then a trip to L.A. for an intense seminar on the business of writing… not the best idea if you don’t want to take yourself to the very brink of exhaustion.

Anyway, back to Africa at 5:00 in the morning.

I flipped on the light and started read The Winds of Dune. Before long, I noticed a large winged insect crawling on the mosquito net around the bed. I slowly reached out and grabbed another Dune book, intending to smash the insect between the books, but by the time I had done that, a second insect appeared. Then a third. In a few seconds, the room was swarming with them.

Being a writer, naturally, my mind was filled with all the terrible stories of deadly animals that live in Africa. Could these animals sting? Were they poisonous? There was an episode of The Simpsons where a butterfly lands on Homer’s finger. It then curls up and burrows into his hand. You can see it move under his skin until it reaches his head and digs into his brain. I know it’s ridiculous, but that was what I was thinking. Hugging the wall, I made my way out without getting killed. I woke my missionary hosts and was promptly informed that they were just lake flies. They were completely harmless and had probably been attracted by the light.

People get attacked by deadly animals in fiction all the time, but those are generally plot devices. For the most part, real animals don’t attack unless provoked. People are willing to overlook that because it advances the story, but being attacked by a swarm of perfectly harmless animals? I could just imagine trying to put that in a story and having the editor come back and say, “No, that’s stupid.

10306784_10154114800860057_1389195880_nGuest Writer Bio:
Gama Martinez lives near Dallas and collects weapons in case he ever needs to supply a medieval battalion. He greatly resents when work or other real life things get in the way of writing. Other than writing, he does normal things like run from bulls and attempt to leave the Earth to be a Martian colonist. He has the first two books of the Oracles of Kurnugi trilogy out, with the third coming later this year. Take a few minutes to visit his website!

A Swordsman Unmatched

10338844_10154114800340057_22003699_n A guest post by Gama Martinez.

Many years ago, when I thirteen or so, I was in a Walden Books. I decided I wanted to start reading big thick books. I also knew that I liked books about wizards. With no other criteria in mind, I went to the fantasy section and used my allowance to pick up two books. The first was Wizard’s First Rule, which you may have heard of. The second was The Western Wizard by Mickey Zucker Reichert, which you probably haven’t. The Western Wizard was about Colby, a swordsman who survived the destruction of his people, the Renashai, a tribe of warriors whose skill with the sword was unmatched. Even among them, Colby was the best. He finds himself at the center of plots by wizards, kings, and gods. Even though parts of the book didn’t make sense to me, I really enjoyed it. Eventually I realized that it didn’t make sense because it was actually the second book in the Renshai Trilogy which, as far as I can tell, I’m the only one to have read ever.

The first book in the series, The Last Renshai, starts off with the destruction of the Renshai. One boy, Rache, survives the destruction of his people and eventually finds a home in the house of a city lord. Impressed by his skill, even as a boy, the lord promises him a position as a soldier when he gets older. He begins to build a life for himself, eventually becoming a soldier and later the captain, though he never reveals his origins. The Renshai were universally feared and hated even to the point that the word “Renshai” was a foul curse, and in some places, it was a serious crime to speak it. Due to his beliefe that everyone should be able to defend themselves, he begins to teach the city lord’s daughter how to use a sword, but he teaches her the Renshai style. By Renshai tradition, it is not blood that makes one a Renshai, but training. Meanwhile, the world is heading for a great war prophesied in the distant past. Rache begins to hear rumors of another survivor of his people while the four wizards who are the stewards of the world worry about the ever looming Ragnarok.

Now, at this point, you’ve probably noticed something. This trilogy does something I haven’t seen before or since. It’s a second world fantasy that overtly uses a real world pantheon and mythology, Norse. It even includes some lesser known gods. The Renshai’s patron god is Modi, one of the sons of Thor. Thor himself shows up as does Odin, Loki, and Freya. The trilogy eventually weaves together the plots of various powers to either stop or survive Rangarok. There is a follow-up series as well, The Renshai Chronicles, which starts with Rangarok as a prologue, with the rest taking place 300 years later. The wizards have been replaced by an immortal guardian who maintains the balance between good, evil, law and chaos. It deals with the return of Odin and stopping him from conquering everything.

The Renshai books were, among other things, my introduction to Norse mythology which in turn led me to look into other mythologies and get inspiration from them. I looked for commonalities throur different mythologies. Essentially, it was my introduction to what Joseph Campbell calls the monomyth, that timeless story that has been told over and over again yet retains its magic.

These books take advantage of cultural conflicts (for example, in some cultures, it’s a sign of trust to turn your back on an armed person, and others, it’s an insult as if saying that even with your back turned, they’re no threat). The city lord’s daughter must find the balance between her family and the Renshai. There are also an interesting mix of personal conflicts (the boy trying to make a life for himself after his home is destroyed) to epic scale ones (Ragnarok). It also deals with different concepts of honor and how these differences clash with each other, even to one point, where two warriors who respect each other are forced to fight to the death. It is ultimately, a fascinating series, and one that I read through several times.

Guest Writer Bio: 10306784_10154114800860057_1389195880_n
Gama Martinez lives near Dallas and collects weapons in case he ever needs to supply a medieval battalion. He greatly resents when work or other real life things get in the way of writing. Other than writing, he does normal things like run from bulls and attempt to leave the Earth to be a Martian colonist. His first book, Delphi, based on Greek Mythology, will be released Tuesday, May 27.http://www.GamaRayBurst.com