Sunday, February 16, 2014

Star Struck at LTUE

By Keith N Fisher

The symposium this year was better than ever. With the exception of a few things said in panels, the information was helpful and inspiring. I’ve been attending LTUE for years and I must say it’s getting better.

With that said, I want to talk about something I’ve seen before, but never in a conference in Utah. Several years ago, in an effort to become a better writer, I attended my first writer’s conference. One of the things I loved about it, was the human qualities exhibited by the major talent. Those who’d made a name for themselves, were just the same as me.

I experienced a sense of community that made me feel like a family member. I made friends who are national market superstars today. I walk down the hall at a conference, and they call me by name and ask how my writing is going.

The bottom line is they are human. They are normal people with some of the same problems we have. Some time ago, one of the superstars, a science fiction author, was the keynote speaker at an LDStorymakers conference. I didn’t know who he was because I don’t write science fiction, but he’d just signed a book contract that would net several figures.

That author was treated like any other author. I felt comfortable being around him. He makes a lot more than that now, and he was at LTUE this year. To say, I was shocked by the way he was treated this year, would be an understatement. The behavior didn’t come from by those who usually attend, but the people I’ve never seen before. The superstars are just people, writers who feel sad when they can’t spend time with each attendee.

I never realized how bad the problem was, until I tried to leave a conference room at the end of a presentation. The next panel would have some of the superstars in it and there was a solid mass of people trying to get in while many of us were trying to get out. It was like trying to continually fill an elevator. Eventually, the cable will snap, and it will fall to the first floor.

I waited for a second, asking to be let out before they rushed into the room. Finally, I realized those crazed fans were fighting for a place inside. The blank stares said it all. Being a large man, I was able to push my way through the crowd. Like moving through a heard of cattle, They moved aside. I was able to get to the next panel.

Please know, that although, I am jealous of my friend’s contracts, I have no axe to grind. I am reminded of when a famous entertainer moved into my LDS ward. In my neighborhood, there are many famous and successful people. They are people who I admire and look up to. I want to grow up and be like many of them. I saw many of those successful people grovel and kiss up to the entertainer.

I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. They eventually got over it, but just like the aspiring writers I saw at LTUE, they were star struck. I hope my superstar friends find the peace and quiet they deserve. Now, that the conference is over.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Flaking Out and LTUE (Life The Universe & Everything)

By Keith N Fisher

Okay, I’m ready to admit I’m a procrastinator. I didn’t use to be. I used to plan ahead, thinking about up coming projects. I used to promote my writing career. What happened? I’m not sure. Middle age, maybe. Sudden life changes are a major factor, but I suspect a PTSD condition of sorts.

I planned to write an LTUE (Life The Universe and Everything) preview for today, but as you can see, I’m late posting. Webster’s second definition says this about flaking out. 2 slang: to be overcome especially by exhaustion. Yep, a condition of sorts.

I missed the early registration deadline for LTUE, but I evaluated my finances. I’m going to be there. I won’t be wearing any bells, but I needed the networking time. I made a comment on Author’s Incognito recently and somebody asked who I was. I’m the middle aged big guy with a beard that runs around acting like he’s a writer.

If you see me at LTUE, please say hello. Be advised, however, I shaved my beard. I assure you it’s me. I still feel naked, but some people say it makes me look younger.

I started this post talking about flaking out. Please be patient with me. I’m trying to rebuild a life. If it goes well, I should be back soon.

Good luck with your writing--see you next week.   

Saturday, February 01, 2014


By Keith N Fisher

While writing the other day, I tripped over my story line. I fell into a place where I had to explain why the character came home early from her trip. My character isn’t pretty, like her sister. She’s not promiscuous, like her friend. She chose to get recognition by being smart.

She grabbed valedictorian honors at her graduation and received several academic scholarship offers.

I know, it’s too late to make this short, but basically, she goes on a trip to tour the universities and meets a famous astrophysicist at MIT, although I can’t specifically name the university in my story.

Because the scene in question isn’t really vital to the plot, spending a lot of time on research seemed counterproductive. Nevertheless, it is necessary for the story, so I did. The astrophysicist, a professor, is a fictitious person. The scene is at MIT although I won’t say that, because I hate making mistakes with facts. (Those mistakes can come back to haunt you.)

So, let’s go back to the story line, and my character. She manages to impress the professor by naming the formation in the center of the picture. It is the Horsehead Nebula. Since the dark nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, most of his students miss the subject in the photo. When the professor points at the center of the picture and asks, "What is this?" They answer, "The Orion Nebula."

That’s a lot of research for one scene, don’t you think? Like I said, I hate getting the facts wrong, and to be truthful, I am conceptualizing a little.

The professor takes my character under his wing, and convinces her to attend his school. Having made that decision, she cuts her trip short and goes home to share the news. That’s when crap hits the fan.

I once overheard a conversation at a writer’s conference that gave me pause. It still does. The statement went, "I hate doing research, I love to just write what’s in my head." In answer to this I would say, even high fantasy writers need to research the possibilities. Have you ever observed a writer, who is in the zone? Have you seen them twist their hands, move their bodies, and make gestures? They’re trying to describe actions and they are doing research. Sometimes I use people as dummies to see if my visualization is physically possible.

See the picture I attached? Look at the beauty of the colors. I made it my desktop background. I learned a lot in my research. I learned the Horsehead Nebula was discovered at the very observatory where I drafted the scene. Coincidence? I discovered the horsehead by googleing nebulas and picking the first one I saw.

My character spends a few days at MIT. She never thinks about nebulas again. The professor is not in the rest of the story. Is it worth it? What do you think? In my life I’ve been a carpenter, milwright, typesetter, document preserver, and truck Driver. I studied to be an Architect, and even managed a bar. I also pumped gas, hauled hay, and designed houses. I schmoozed customers as an inside salesman for many years. As a writer, I use all these experiences in my fiction.

Our minds are like a super computer. We start adding data when we are born, and I believe that data goes with us into the next life. Which data we collect is up to us, but as writers, we have a whole lifetime of data to draw from. I might never write about nebulas again, but it’s nice to know I don’t need to conceptualize those facts next time.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.