Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium 2021 (Part II)

What could possibly be better than sitting snuggled up in a warm sweater with a pile of pillows attending LTUE panels with my fellow nerds as fluffy snow covers everything outside?

Okay, maybe it didn’t have to be about -2° (about -18° for Ye Celsius Users) outside making my hands so dry that my knuckles bled…it kind of looked like I’d punched someone in the teeth…but that’s not the point.

The point is that I had a deeply awesome time.

It would be almost impossible to describe all the awesomeness, and I’ve already waited so long to write this post, so I’m just going to hit my favorite things and leave a tantalizing bit of mystery so you have to go find out what it’s like for yourself next year.

  • It was a three-day symposium.
  • Anything was possible. And I mean anything. From discussing WWII dogfighting to what crops to plant when there’s a war to the worst tropes to dodge in romance to women’s combat clothes to real-life magic and superstitions–for research, of course. I love that more than I can say. As soon as we say “This is for the craft of writing,” absolutely anything was on the table. Anything.
  • There were real experts on the panels. Geologists, war veterans, and I think an anthropologist in addition to writers of sci-fi and fantasy. Moral of the story? If you’re going to blow something up while wearing a corset, we will know if it’s not accurate. We will find you. Okay, just kidding. But the level of detail in these panels was deeply gorgeous.
  • It’s not just for writers! I know that’s somewhat obvious from the title, but LTUE is geared for writers, illustrators, and gamers. With different tracks and panels specialized for each.
  • You could pick any name you wanted on the Discord chats, so you know I went as bookmarkedone. And it was so refreshing (and amusing) that when questions were asked of the panels, they had to refer to us by whatever name we chose. As if we could be whoever we said we were. I love a bit of anonymity in my life.
  • The symposium ran from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (or later if you went to Filk singing…and later still in my time zone). Solid panels the entire time. This was positively awesome because there was great content all day long. Except I didn’t quite have the capability to stay squirreled away in my hidey-hole 12 hours straight without someone coming to wonder where I’d gone.
  • The panels are up for an entire month after the event so attendees can rewatch anything they like. So the time machine wasn’t necessary after all so I could go to all the panels at once.
  • Did I mention I got to meet Jessica Day George? I know, I know, I haven’t reviewed any of her books on my blog yet. I have read them. And I was so thrilled there was actually an author I knew on the panels–she’s even more charming in person. I think she was knitting socks during one of the panels. I’m not sure it was possible to dislike her. And thanks to Creator Chats, I and 11 other lucky scamps who called dibs on an hour of her time got to ask her questions of our own. I feel better, thanks to her. That I really can do this great big tremendous overwhelming beautiful thing called being a published writer. Someday. Someday soon. So a big thank-you to her…in the 1/1000 chance she’s reading. You never know.
  • I love going to cons in person, but there were some pros to having it online. If I’m not going as a character or with a group, I tend to be pretty quiet. Absorb information. Assess the situation. Insert a wry comment as needed. There’s a certain freedom in being just a name online. I asked the panel questions and got them answered–something I’d most likely never have done in person. I found myself chatting with other attendees–and yes, I was responsible for more Lord of the Rings and Princess Bride allusions than I had any right to. Nobody stopped me.
  • Writers of the Future had a panel with Joni Labaqui and a few of the big names who judge the stories every year, so now I finally know what this deeply encouraging person who sends me emails every few months looks and sounds like.
  • I’m sure I already mentioned how comfortable and exciting it was to be back among my people again. The world of nerds is really the best place to live. Always. If there’s a way to make the impossible come to life, we’re the ones who will find it.
  • I know I’m forgetting more awesome things. Just guess something wildly fabulous in the comments and I’ll say if you’re right.

But despite all the things I loved about LTUE, there is a downside to all of it.

Now that I’ve gone and done all that and caught up a little on sleep and have softly drifted back down to earth…

…the only thing I want to do is write.


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