Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life, The Universe, and BYU

I attended the 29th annual Life, The Universe, and Everything conference at Brigham Young University last week. It's geared towards Science Fiction and Fantasy writers, but as those non-romance writers who have attended some of the Utah RWA chapter's events can attest, there are many things a writer can learn that are valid across the genre board. Plus it was only an hour from my house and a paltry $20. So, what's not to like.

Some of the workshops were geared towards beginners. (What's a query letter? What does an agent do?) I have no problems with sitting in on beginner workshops because it gives me a chance to rest my brain. While my brain is in neutral I watch cartoons in my head, which is my happy place. Since I had my netbook and internet access, when I got bored of my head-cartoon re-runs I watched some You Tube videos. One of my favorites is about a Mini Horse named Cupcake. I love the song that goes with the video.

(Warning: catchy song that will give you an earworm and also make you want to run to the bakery and get a dozen cupcakes. And adopt a miniature horse. Do not do either on the spur of the moment! Both options have consequences.)

Cupcake The Herdmaster

I also admit to searching eBay for a Hari-Kari swords during one of my darker, more bored to death moments. But my compatriots lured me away from ritual suicide with the promise of wine at the end of the tunnel.

I also skipped some of the presentations because I'm not religious in any way, shape or form and do not figure much religion into my writing. A class on Mormons and the Paranormal or Using the Scriptures as a Basis for Fiction are too chocked full of potential triggers for me to spiral down into paroxysm of donkey-like braying that it is best for all involved if I abstain.

I was intrigued to find out that the presenters had to sign a contract with a non-swearing clause. I would have liked to have taken a look at such a contract; are the naughty words spelled out or only alluded to? It is three strikes you're out kind of thing or can you get a do-over? And does it count if you either apologize or say, "Oops!" after murmuring the offending word? Also, while Damn and Hell are specific (you wouldn’t "Sentence someone to heck for all eternity" as it's weak and confusing) should you get nailed for spirit as opposed to letter? Substituting "Fricking" still gets the initial idea across, although to me it's lame. And while no one dropped the "F-Bomb" the term "F-Bomb" was used. Since people can simultaneously translate "F-Bomb" or "F-Word" into its actual form, are you really accomplishing anything? Plus, it's all subjective anyway. What one person finds offensive another might find wry.

During one workshop about villains I discovered that the instructor had no idea who Hannibal Lecter was, which to me was appalling. I regret missing the lecture titled Zombies! but I had by that time behaved myself well enough during some most of the classes that I had earned several glasses of wine and wanted to reap my rewards. But my most favorite class was titled Lessons on Story from "The Hunger Games" which I enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately the presenter had only read the first book so he could not comment on my question about the love triangle conflict.

BYU, for those who are college geography impaired, is in Provo, Utah. People who live in Provo call Salt Lake City "Sin City". You don't even want to know what they call Las Vegas. When my friend and I stopped for breakfast at Village Inn the waitress asked if we wanted to start off with water, juice or hot chocolate. I had to ask for coffee, and then I had to wait for them to brew it. There was also a woman participant in the conference who brought her infant into Every. Single. Class. Many of which we had together. And her infant never failed to fuss and cry. In one class I heard a woman comment to a man sitting next to her that, "People don’t mind at all, this is Utah." This made me realize she was sitting behind me. I got up and moved. And her answer for every time the baby squawked was to pop the tot onto her breast for a meal.

No wonder we have an obesity problem in America.

Note: Shameless promotion ahead -->

My short story Splitting The Differenceis available at Amazon.com for the low low price of .99 cents. I saw a Motor Home at the RV show last weekend I really like. It's $329,000.00 so if I sell 1,096,645 more copies I can buy that puppy outright!

*Cupcake is a member of BlueStar Equiculture You should go to their website and read all about the great work they do.


Mary said...

Oh I so relate to this post. I'm glad you were able to unwind at the end with wine. Though I think you may have had to take your own.

Great post.

Dreaming said...

Little cupcake is too cute. He looks like he is in pretty good shape. So many mini's share the obesity problem you mentioned earlier!
I forgot to tell you (I think???)how much I enjoyed "Splitting the Difference". It's such a fun, feel good story!

Natalie said...

*shaking my head mournfully*
May I just point out a small but distinct point: I live in Orem, not Provo. Please don't lump me with others from Utah County. ;)

On a happier note, at least your coffee was fresh!

kippen64 said...

I admit to feeling sceptical when I read that I would want a miniature horse and cupcakes after watching the video, but I stand corrected. The idea of scoffing cupcakes whilst admiring my new miniature horse holds tremendous appeal.

Lisa Deon said...

Mary, nope. We went to Outback Steakhouse. Had two glasses of wine. Life is good.

Dreaming, thank you! If you have the opportunity would you go to Amazon and write a short review? Thanks!

Natty, I never lump or judge. Ok, I do judge, but since my standards are much lower then most people, my judging is very lax.

Kippen, is'nt he a doll? Although from what I hear about him he likes to bite, Then again if someone dressed me up in a sombrero I'd probably bite too. And that song is just fabulous!

April M. Williams said...

Doesn't hot chocolate or any chocolate for that matter contain caffeine?

Just asking.....

Lisa Deon said...


As with all religions, there are a lot of loopholes involved...

K Gorman said...

Will you be making it available on Smashwords as well? I have a Kobo reader, you see...