LTUE handouts now available (I think)

It has been more than a month since my computer worked well on a regular basis, and most of that time I was without a computer at home at all. It still isn’t working well–there are days when it will take 15 minutes just to type a paragraph—but at least it kind of works… ish. Dell sucks, is all I’ll say, and I promise never to buy anything else from them as long as I live.

At any rate, sorry for being out of touch, particularly those who were waiting for the handout from LTUE. If that was you, can you comment here so I can send it to you? Just be sure to put your email in the comment form, and I’ll be able to contact you.

Update: handouts

Just wanted to let everyone know: if you’re waiting on me to email you a handout, can you remind me in about a week or two? My home laptop has finally given up the ghost, so I’m without a computer at home for at least the next week or two, and that’s where the last version of the handout lives (backed up on the external hard drive, thankfully). I’m also moving this weekend, so in general it’s kind of nuts right now, but once the computer is back I’ll be glad to share it with you. In the meantime, feel free to browse the “diversity” tag on this site, which will give you many of the same resources, or check out the SCBWI roundup link from a few posts back, in which I linked to the book I discussed on Deep Culture.

LTUE through a cold-fogged lens

As those who went to LTUE can attest, it seems that I caught a bad cold either on the plane or on the moment my foot touched Utah soil, and I was a little bit out of it during the con. But even so, I had a great time, and got to catch up with a lot of old friends, meet new people, and even sit down with some writers I might work with someday. Hopefully I didn’t give them a cold while I was at it.

Normally I’d give a more complete run-down, but others might remember it more clearly than I could due to the fog of this cold, which I’m still getting over. I had the worst time remembering people’s names—I even blanked on the names of long-time friends. 🙁 Sorry, guys! You know I really love you, but names aren’t my forte even when I’m thinking straight, and this week it was very hard to think straight.

I was able to think straight on my panels at least (though with moments of “you go ahead, I forgot what I was going to say”), and my Writing Cross-Culturally presentation was both well-attended (wow, standing room only!) and included attendees who had some great questions. For those who have come to this blog looking for the questions we discussed at the end of class, go to my SCBWI wrap-up, where I summarized those same questions. Also, if you didn’t get the handout and were looking for the links and resources I gave out in class, comment or email me with a request for it, and I can get you the Word document. Or perhaps I can just post it here, but later, once I’ve caught up on all I missed when I was out of the office.


Karen Sandler signing at LTUE

For you TANKBORN fans in Utah, not only is Karen Sandler joining me this Wednesday night at the BYU Linguistics Event before LTUE and attending LTUE itself, she’s signing at the mass signing this Friday night from 8:30 to 10 pm. For more details, check out the LTUE schedule. Well, kind of. It hasn’t been updated with the change (the signing was originally supposed to start at 8 pm) and I’m not sure what room it’s in. If you come to LTUE, though, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out from the printed handouts.

My LTUE schedule 2012

I’ll be in Utah this February again this year for the excellent science fiction/fantasy convention Life, the Universe, and Everything. It’s the convention’s 30th anniversary this year. Normally it’s hosted at Brigham Young University, but due to scheduling difficulties it’ll be held this year at neighboring Utah Valley University only a few miles away—and a few miles closer to my greatest restaurant love, a restaurant I have yet to find matched in New York City (seriously), Sakura. Seriously, best deep-fried sushi (sometimes called tempura—not just for shrimp!) that I’ve found anywhere. Particularly the Geisha, Spider, Firecracker, Ninja, and Hawaiian rolls. If you’re in Utah and you haven’t discovered this place yet (and you’re not Jessica Day George) GO. It’s SO GOOD.

But I digress. (Good sushi can do that to me.)

Anyway, my point is that you need to attend LTUE, especially if you live in the Intermountain West. Sure, they’ve started charging a nominal fee (it used to be free), but that fee makes sure this great convention can continue to happen every year, giving them a modest budget for facilities, guests of honor, and so forth. The committee that runs the con are all volunteers.

Speaking of guests of honor, I’m looking forward to meeting a longtime internet but not (yet) real-life friend, James A. Owen. He’ll be talking about both writing and illustration, including a whole seminar on how to draw dragons, so if you’re an illustrator, you want to come to this LTUE.

Also attending will be the Writing Excuses team—not just locals Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler, but also SFWA vice president, puppeteer, and author Mary Robinette Kowal, not to mention a number of locally-based pros, writers and editors like Mette Ivie Harrison, Larry Correia, James Dashner, Bree Despain, J. Scott Savage, Tyler Whitesides, Chris Schoebinger, Robert J. Defendi, Lisa Mangum, and many more.

Check out the full schedule here (where there may be some tweaks to the schedule, so you might want to check back before the con), but here’s my schedule:


Thursday, February 8, 2012

10:00 AM—What Exactly Does an Editor Do, Anyway? (Rick Walton (M), Stacy Whitman, Suzanne Vincent, Lisa Mangum, Kirk Shaw)

11:00 AM—Middle-grade books for boys (Tyler Whitesides, E. J. Patten, Michael Young, Stacy Whitman(M))

2:00 PM—Feeling Fake: What to do about that pervasive feeling that everyone belongs in the publishing world except you. (Sandra Tayler, Jason Alexander, Ami Chopine (M), Stacy Whitman)

7:00 PM—A Vampire is NOT your Boyfriend!: Real Vampires (Mette Ivie Harrison, Michael R. Collings, Dan Lind, Stacy Whitman(M))


Friday, Febrary 10, 2011

No panels for me, though I will be around the convention, so I’m open to individual meet-ups for lunch (particularly at Sakura…). I’m also looking forward to James Owen’s main address this day, and the Writing Excuses live podcast. .

EDIT: I have been added to the below panel to give the editorial side:

6:00 PM—Book Bombs: How to make an bestseller (Randy Tayler (M), Robison Wells, Larry Correia, Stacy L. Whitman, Michaelbrent Collings)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

1:00 PM—Writing Cross-Culturally: Mistakes to Avoid, or, How to Avoid Cultural Misappropriation (Stacy Whitman)

This will be a workshop in which we talk about all the mistakes that even well-meaning authors can make in diversifying our writing, and how to use strong worldbuilding and characterization to prevent that. Also: how making mistakes doesn’t mean we’re racist—it just means we’re willing to learn.

2:00 PM—Plots, Subplots, and Foreshadowing (Bree Despain (M), J. Scott Savage, Brandon Sanderson, James A. Owen, Stacy Whitman)


I’m not on the following workshop, but want to highlight it because both Sandra and Mary are people to learn from, and given that the workshop will be two hours long, you’ll get an opportunity to really go in depth.

3:00-5:00 PM

– The Published (and aspiring) Author’s Toolbox: Learning skills for networking, blogging, social media, and self-promotion.  This workshop will teach principles and give you a chance to practice skills to integrate networking, blogging, social media, and self-promotion into your professional life without being the person who annoys and without pulling you out of balance with yourself.

(Sandra Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal)


Romance vs. romantic elements in a story

At LTUE last week, I was on a panel that gave me some food for thought, which I’d like to get some discussion on. The whole panel was set up around the difference between a romance (maybe Romance, capital R) and a story with romantic elements. Panelists included adult SFF author John Brown, YA fantasy author Mette Ivie Harrison (here’s her take on the same panel), and romance author Lynn Kurland. I believe (and I hope she corrects me if I’m wrong) the other panelist Amy Chopine writes YA fantasy as well.

So add me into the mix and you’ve got a panel skewed toward books for young readers (we focused on YA), which I think does affect how we view romance, because we’re not talking happily-ever-after most of the time, even with happy endings—you know in a year or two, even though you want the couple to stay together, they’re young enough that they’ll probably break up off-screen, because life happens (though happily-ever-afters do also abound in YA; there’s just not always that kind of pressure, you know?). John had some really interesting questions he asked the panel, though I didn’t take notes and can’t remember a one of them. The thing that stuck out to me, really, was the idea that Lynn and several other romance writers in the audience insisted upon that the best (maybe only) kind of successful romance story is one in which the main love interests hate each other at first, ala Taming of the Shrew or perhaps Lizzie and Darcy.

I love me a good vehement discussion (some would call it argument, yes), and I took issue with this position. I think that there can be successful romance stories in which the main characters like each other at first, but some other plot element is the driving conflict. But perhaps this is the difference between a romance vs. another genre with romantic elements (in YA, Twilight might be considered a romance, for example, rather than a fantasy with romantic elements—the romance drives the plot, not the other way around).

Lynn also described a really interesting way she decides whether a story is a romance or just a story with romance in it: if the plot points that resolve first are the romance, then the saving-the-world or whatever other plot line you have wraps up, it’s not a romance. Vice versa, and it is.

That is, the emphasis the plot places on romance vs. other conflict is what defines the genre. I can totally go with that.


What of this “only stories where the protagonist/love interest hate each other at first but then fall in love are good romances” stuff?

Does something have to keep the protagonist/love interest apart the whole time for a romance story—whether Romance capital R or romantic element—to be successful? And does the thing that keeps them apart have to be that they don’t like each other? Is this just a big difference between YA and adult category romance?

Somehow the conversation then turned to love triangles, which I’m not fond of but my dislike of them pales in comparison to Mette’s, which includes thinking up ways to kill off the girl caught between two boys, and matching up the boy she likes with one of her own more sensible characters.

I like Mette’s description in the first post I linked above, of the couple against the world, working together against the main conflict of the book. That’s the kind of story I’m drawn to. I’m having trouble coming up with good examples of couple-against-main-conflict, though. Except I suppose Tankborn (which I can’t link to because we are not quite to catalog-and-covers-to-share stage, but soon you will be able to see why I love it so!) which involves the two main characters eventually finding themselves in such a situation (which I can’t tell you about yet because I don’t want to spoil it!). The love triangle in The Hunger Games and Katniss’s PTSD do get in the way of any romance going very far, but that story also has a lot of Katniss & friends (including two love interests) against the world. That might be why Mockingjay made me so angry, because Katniss’s team, especially Gale, was broken so severely.

What do you think? Do you prefer obstacles to be contrived for the couple not to get together (see how I loaded that question?)? Do you like couple-against-the-conflict-together plots? Are there other kinds of romance and/or romantic element-al stories that work better for you? What makes a story a Romance vs. a story with romantic elements?

LTUE schedule

Also, one more reminder: If you’re in Utah and have a chance to get to LTUE next week—only $20-25 to rub elbows with a bunch of professionals working in fantasy and science fiction right now and free for students—you should definitely come. I’ve been filling up my schedule left and right, and if you’re at BYU you might also want to know about the English dept event I’ll be at on Wednesday night (February 16):

BYU’s STET Student Editing Club presents . .  .

Stacy Whitman, editor of fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults

  • Editorial director of Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, New York (publisher of multicultural fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults)
  • Freelance editor
  • Former editor at Mirrorstone, an imprint of Wizards of the Coast (publisher of children’s and YA fantasy)
  • Former editor at Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Former editor at Electrical Apparatus (a trade magazine), Chicago
  • Graduate (M.A.) of Simmons College, Boston, in children’s literature, 2005
  • Graduate (B.S.) of BYU, 2001

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
5:10 to 7:40 p.m.
3714 HBLL

I’ll be talking about publishing both for a writer’s perspective (because this is picture book author Rick Walton’s class, after all) and an editorial perspective (because the professor over the editing minor, Mel Thorne, who also happens to be my old boss, is bringing his students along too).

If you aren’t a BYU student or faculty, come to LTUE! Here’s my (hopefully) final schedule:

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

2:00 PM:

Beyond Orcs and Elves: Diversity in Fantasy and Science Fiction for Young Readers (Stacy Whitman) Recent cover whitewashing controversies and the internet discussion tagged #RaceFail have brought to light how little diversity can be found in fantasy and science fiction for young readers. We’ll discuss the history of diversity in these books, including diversification through fantasy races that all share the same traits, and ways for authors to consider diversifying their own stories. We’ll also discuss writing cross-culturally, cultural awareness, issues of appropriation, and other things to consider as you write.

6:00 PM:

– Marketing and Publicity–what can you do? (Stacy Whitman, Bree DeSpain, James Dashner, Laura Card, Elana Johnson) Closet Costuming (Heather Monson, Jessica Haron, Sarah B. Seiter)

Friday, February 18th, 2011


– Romance vs. Story with Romantic Elements: Injecting romance into saving the world (John Brown,  Ami Chopine, Stacy Whitman, Lynn Kurland)

6:00 PM:

– How NOT to talk down to your YA audience (Michaelbrent Collings, Clint Johnson, Stacy Whitman, James Dashner, Frank L. Cole)

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

10:00 AM:

– What Exactly Does an Editor Do, Anyway? (Lisa Mangum, Suzanne Vincent, Stacy Whitman, Tristi Pinkston, Karen C. Evans, Dave Wolverton)


– Anime/Manga–what it is; what’s good in SFF (Stacy Whitman, Jessica Harmon, Scott Parkin (M), Joe Monson, Charlotte Randle)

I feel like I’m missing a panel I was supposed to be on, but I think that’s it. But there’s always plenty of chat in the hallways between panels. I always go to these conventions looking for writers who know their stuff, and what better way to learn your business than to come listen to a bunch of experts like James Dashner, Jessica Day George, Bree Despain, Dan Wells, Tracy Hickman, and a long list of others talk about writing memorable villains, pitching to agents/editors, paying the bills via your dreams, religion in science fiction, what writers wish they had done if they could do it all over again, how to recover from writing slumps, Tracy Hickman’s Killer Breakfast (hilarious how-fast-can-you-get-killed-off D&D for a crowd), what you can and can’t do in a YA novel, finding a writing group, dialog tags and speech patterns, the problem of sequels, how to write a good short story….


You get the idea.

My LTUE schedule

There’s a great little science fiction/fantasy convention (well, they call it a “symposium”) at BYU every year in February called Life, the Universe, and Everything. I’ve been going as a panelist for several years (I was an editor guest of honor a while back, too), and I highly recommend it for writers and fans who are relatively local—especially because it’s FREE!

Brandon Sanderson, bestselling author of Mistborn and a bunch of other books, is a guest of honor this year, as is James C. Christenson (Thursday only). The program is filled with a bunch of great Utah-local writers and artists who are well-known nationally, most of whom don’t have their names on the main page of the symposium website (they never put me on there, either, weirdly—this is the way it’s been for years). Let’s see: Mette Ivie Harrison, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Howard Tayler, Jake Black, Clint Johnson (who writes as R.D. Henham), Dan Wells, Nathan Hale, Eric James Stone, and on and on. Weirdly, also, they have Jessica Day George on the website, but I don’t see her in the schedule, so it makes me wonder if they just copy and paste last year’s list in (it never seems to change).

Despite having a slightly out-of-date website, though, the symposium itself is a good experience, and writers get a LOT of good free advice, and get to meet a lot of their favorite published writers and working artists. So make sure you save the date—Feb. 11-13, 2010 in the Wilkinson Center at BYU (upstairs on the 3rd floor; there are usually signs).

Here’s my tentative schedule, and the people who are on the panels with me:

Thursday, Feb 11

(This first one’s a trick question:)

1 pm—Defining Children’s Literature: What are a children’s book, a middle grade reader, a YA novel and an adult novel? (Stacy Whitman, Lisa Mangum, Mette Ivie Harrison, Dan Willis)

4 pm—No More Dead Dogs (or moms): Why do mothers and dogs always die in children’s literature? How do we pull at the heartstrings and give child characters independence without killing off dogs and moms? (Paul Genesse, Stacy Whitman, Clint Johnson, Julie Wright)

Friday, Feb. 12

Apparently I don’t have anything on Friday. I’m confused on that. But I’ll probably be around, working, chatting, etc.

Saturday, Feb. 13

10 am—What Exactly Does an Editor Do, Anyway? (L. E. Modesitt, Jr.,  Stacy Whitman, Susan Vincent, Lisa Mangum, Tristi Pinkston)

2 pm—Regional Publishers (Lisa Magnum, Stacy Whitman, Linda Brummett, Garry P. Mitchell, Tristi Pinkston, Dave Doering)

5 pm—-Edgy YA vs. not-so-edgy (Stacy Whitman, Laura Bingham, Mette Harrison, Julie Wright)