This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Life, the Universe, & Everything Sci-Fi and Fantasy symposium. The symposium was chock-full of panels, workshops and presentations by authors, publishers and sci-fi/fantasy gurus. According to their site, LTUE is the longest, student run symposium of its nature in the nation. Pretty cool, huh?
I was fortunate to hear about the symposium on Twitter a little over a week before it started. I hopped onto the site and found out that, as a student, I could attend for free! I had no idea what the conference really was, just that some cool authors would be there (Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Dragonlance series for one) and some of the panels seemed interesting. Sign me up!
John, my encouraging, amazing husband, graciously said that he would watch Samantha every moment that he wasn't in class (he even had a few big projects to work on) so that I could go to as many panels as possible. All in all, i was able to attend 13-one hour sessions and a ginormous mass author signing event over the course of the three days. Pretty amazing. My head hurt by the end of it all, but it a totally good way, if that makes any sense.
This was my first time going to any type of writing conference, but I figured I would give my two cents on my overall experience. First, I thought the location was a good fit. It was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Provo (just 2 miles from my apartment) and the layout of the hotel made finding the rooms easy. It was also nice to have a very roomy lounge area with many comfy-looking couches and chairs for breaks in between panels. Unfortunately, because I was running back and forth between home, class, and the symposium, I didn't actually get to do much lounging! But it was cool to see fellow participants sitting, chatting, and networking.
I also thought that the symposium was very well organized. I was able to get right in and get my badge and program (note: I did not get to the conference until about noon on the first day, so I do not know what kind of chaos ensued at the registration table when the doors first opened.) Almost all of the panels that I attended started on time and stayed on topic. The moderators were fantastic as well. There were a few times, however, that technical difficulties (mostly projectors now being set up) made the start of a panel lag a bit)
The symposium was a great place to network. I felt like everyone was very approachable and open to chatting. People from all walks of life were in attendance.
It was especially fun to rub shoulders with the authors. The mass author signing was great in that I met tons of authors, but I wish they would have held it in a larger room. It was just so crowded and loud that I went home a little hoarse from having to nearly shout to be heard. I did have a really neat experience, however, when I had an author ask if I was working on anything at the moment. I gave him a 2 sentence summary of my current project, and he asked to know more! He said that it sounded like a great idea and he then bounced one of his ideas off of me. It was pretty neat, and, I'll admit, a bit of a confidence booster.
All in all, I had a wonderful time I would definitely attend the symposium again. I would especially recommend attending if you are in the area next year.
I'll post part 2 of this review soon where I'll talk about some of the great things that I learned during the symposium--I learned a lot and this post is long enough already!