Something to Look Forward to
Every year, writers, artists and those who aspire gather in Provo Utah for LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium) to learn, share, teach and network. It’s a three-day conference for all things writing and art, and something I—and many of my friends—look forward to every year.
Panel After Panel of Goodnes
The Symposium takes place at the lovely Marriott Convention center in downtown Provo where there are an ample number of rooms to have up to nine panels, discussions, and/or presentations going on every hour that cater to the odd-ball interests of writers and artists. Discussions and panels include topics like How to Network, build a brand, and start a business. How to Self-Publish, How to write Query Letters, What is Evil?, How to Write Romance, Story Mapping, Food Preservation, Fighting Styles and weapons, Horses and Survival. Physics of Space Travel… and much, much more.
Just Hang Out
There are open common areas where you can just hang out and meet other writers, as well as private booths where you can plug in a laptop and write for a while. It’s a great place to practice your networking skills and toss out an elevator pitch to get feedback.
Much Needed Support
A constant struggle for most writers is finding support. If you’re a writer, you might find that your family and most of your friends aren’t as big of readers as they claim to be. At least, not when it comes to your work. Most people don’t understand how much WORK goes into writing and art. If you are good at it, people tend to think it must come naturally, and so you must be fast at it. So, they don’t see the value in your time and effort. So, the life of a writer is often lonely and isolated. Until you meet other writers. That was what I was missing in my life. The first time I attended LTUE, it was a lot smaller than it is now and it hadn’t moved to Provo yet. A kid I was training at work asked me if I’d ever gone and told me it was going on that weekend. I got off work and drove straight there. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a panel with Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks on World Building and the lady who sat next to me smiled and said, “Hi, what do you write?” I had never been asked that before by someone who was actually interested. I attended only three panels that night and got home feeling so inspired I wrote until three am, then got up in time to hit the nine am sessions Saturday morning. I’ve attended ever since. Every year I have found more and more support and made more friends.
LTUE 2018, It’s where I met my writing group. There are meetups for every genre so you can make friends with like-minded people and form lasting relationships that foster growth in an atmosphere of support.
This year I had the privilege of seeing one of my friends, Raphael Hohman, from my writers group succeed and grow. He was on several panels and discussions and even did a reading with David Farland. As a group, we supported him, and I know I couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishments and I look forward to seeing the rest of my group likewise succeed.
FX & Evermore & sculptures – Oh-my!
Then there’s the ART! There are always artists and panels about artists and even a showroom full of art. Sculptor Devon Dorrity brought in this incredible sculpture of Vin from Sanderson’s Mystborn, and worked on it right there in artists ally.
This year, LTUE featured Evermore, which is a fantasy theme park in Pleasant Grove Utah. Themed like a European village with its own buildings, citizens, and epic story, Guests interact with characters, go on quests, and become a part of the world of Evermore. The Village of Evermore is a growing entity with changing themes, buildings, citizens, and quests. Some of the activities you can indulge in while being a World Walker at Evermore are Storyline Discoveries, Games and Quests, mini productions, musical characters performances, Archery, Axe throwing, Bird and reptile shows and much, much more. This is where I had the pleasure of seeing the success of another of my dear friends as Bobby Cody, the showrunner at Evermore, was a guest of honor at LTUE 2020. But he didn’t come alone. He brought his crew with him so guests at LTUE could experience Evermore. The actors interacted with people as though they were in the realm of Evermore, and even sang shanties in the lobby! When it comes to art, their director of FX is Logan Long, who’s done special FX on several movies, as well as competed on Face Off. So, they have some incredible talent there that everyone is sure to enjoy.
Another artist featured was guest of honor Mr. Howard Lyon. Mere words really cannot describe this guy and how incredible his talent is so please, if you want to be amazed, go to: www.howardlyon.com.
Can’t Beat the Price
On of many great things about LTUE is the pricing. For conventions like this, you will usually pay hundreds of dollars to attend. But LTUE is pretty reasonably priced. I believe I paid an early bird price of roughly fifty bucks for 2020 when I purchased my tickets for this year in 2019. You can pay for a day or all three days. Or you can just come and hang out with friends. If you’re not attending any panels, it costs you nothing!
After three days of panels and networking, LTUE always wraps up with a gala in which awards are given, and a certified Toastmaster gives a speech while guests enjoy a fantastic dinner provided by the Marriott. This year, the guests of honor were Bobby Cody, the Show Runner for Evermore, Howard Lyon, Illustrator/artist, and Brad R. Torgersen, science fiction/fantasy author. The incredibly inspiring Toastmaster speech was given by horror/science fiction/fantasy writer Michaelbrent Collings. And I had the pleasure of sitting at the same table as Brad R. Torgersen and his wife through the meal. It was a great night of inspiration and good company to wrap up a fantastic weekend.
And finally… this.