The Answer is 42,  The Business End of a Pen

On LTUE — the SFF symposium, that is

Attendees of LTUE 2017 between sessions at one half of the conference hall.

I attended LTUE for the first time this year, and it was a blast! The science fiction and fantasy conference bills itself as a symposium “centered around writing, art, literature, film, gaming and other facets of speculative fiction”, and boy did it deliver.

LTUE2017: Sessions, sessions, everywhere!

As with any conference that I attend, I preview the schedule ahead of time to see what sessions, panels, and activities I want to earmark and make sure I attend. For LTUE, I had a devil of a time planning because there were 9 session tracks, plus various small group activities like critiques and kaffeeklatches happening elsewhere. Multiple times, I found myself highlighting several sessions within the same hour that I wanted to attend. Oh, but to have Hermione’s Time-Turner!

I wound up sitting in on 9 sessions on Thursday (by far the day with the most sessions highlighted, for me), 5 sessions Friday, and 5 sessions Saturday. I did not attend the Saturday night gala as I had a flight to catch the next day and wanted to get home early enough to pack. (Plus, hubby had the flu. He’s had a rough month.)


  • Free books! Many of the presenters who were also authors had giveaways in either the SWAG bag the attendees received or leave behinds during their sessions with promo or QR codes. My TBR pile just got that much bigger.
  • Hearing from short story authors — Short fiction folks are often scarcely found. LTUE  was the first conference where I heard and learned from more than a few, and their insights are influencing the way I’m writing and editing my long-form fiction today. (For the better, hopefully.)

    A packed house for one LTUE 2017 session.
  • Recurring themes — Across multiple sessions and panels, authors hammered home one point: Don’t expect a publisher to market you for you, even if you wind up going the trad route. Get a website set up, even if it just has your name and contact info, get blogging, get networking … get going! Start now even if you don’t have anything published. Write about what makes you unique and interesting, and drop in a few teasers about your works in progress along the way. Anyone can do it.
  • New resources — I’ve added several more resources (websites, books, experts) to my stockpile. Even if you’re at the top of your game, if you don’t keep learning and improving, you won’t stay there.
  • Hearing from one of our keynote speakers, Beth Meacham, Tor executive editor — She worked with Orson Scott Card, one of my SFF heroes (“Ender’s Game” was, literally, the first SF book I ever read), and has 30+ years of SFF industry stories to tell. I loved hearing her speak about SF literature with quiet passion and enthusiasm, and getting microscope peeks behind the curtain at what how a few of my childhood heroes became successful SFF giants.

The LTUE conference overall tends to lean heavily toward the craft side of writing rather than the business side, so it may hold a lot of old tropisms for writing veterans. I’m a firm believer, however, in that there’s always something to learn, so I already signed up to attend LTUE again next year.

For $40 (-ish, I think it goes up to $45 soon, but still … $45. Come on), this is a dirt cheap conference for anyone interested in writing in the SFF genre.  (Even outside the genre; many of the principles can be applied to writing overall.) It’s about as affordable as it gets for writing conferences, and therefore makes it a can’t-miss event for aspiring writers.

See you there next year!

C.H. Hung writes about magic living in a contemporary world populated by ordinary people, extraordinary creatures, and the various factions trying to keep them all in line.