Thursday, November 16, 2017

Going back to high school

I got a chance to go back to my old high school and talk to students. It was part of the career fair where like four dozen different people come and talk about their jobs. Mostly it’s a how I did it kind of thing, or at least it was for me.

I had to give two thirty minute presentations about my path to being where I am now. It made me look back over my career journey and consider it. Considering things is one of the main things author do; they absorb life, reflect and refract it and then shine it out.

Looking back on my life, I realized one thing that kind of surprised me; I’m right where I want to be. I can see how each different journey I took helped the equation to ad up to now. I was also impressed how true I was to my original goal in life: being happy. It was my thematic lighthouse and when I veered off course for long, the pain of not following the light, brought be back, usually by upturning my whole life and lighting it on fire, but still, it was true.

I don’t know if the students I talked to today know anything more about being an author after I talked than before, but I hope I made it clear that life is for living and happiness should be your goal. Ignore the odds, think outside the box, measure in different metrics, be true to yourself. Yeah, it all sounds corny her, but it’s really what it was all about.

It’s good to walk the old halls and measure the distances between. Alta High School made me who I am, as did every other thing that ever happened to me. But still, Alta was huge. Well done.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Good Day Writing

A good day writing is the best tonic I know for my emotional well being. Exercise is good, don’t get me wrong. Eating right could happen. Could. I might find time to meditate, like if the stars align right, but the only true and consistent medicine I have for happiness is writing.

I know this, but like most things that are important, we take it for granted and we can forget. NaNoWriMo, happening this month (see last week’s blog post) has reminded me of how good it is to get the words in day after day.

Only a week in, I’ve had my challenges. I missed an entire day last Saturday and have struggled with a couple others, but I’m still plugging away. I am reminded that I know I can do this, I know I can finish this big project and this project has been kicking my ass.

How much of an ass-kicking you might ask. (you might), Well I had a terrible shock yesterday as I poked around my NaNoWriMo dashboard to see my past achievements and such. I’ve done a few Nano’s but not all of them since I began my journey into authorship. Anyway, what I discovered in looking at my Nano scorecard is that last year’s NaNoWriMo project is the same as this years! OMG- I knew this book was talking a long time, much longer than any of my other books, but to see the same title for the 2016 project as the 2017 project shamed me to the core and gave me new motivation. (Shame can be good if used properly. Ask the Puritains. No. On second thought, don't.)

I didn’t make the 50,000 worlds last year for the project; it really is a complicated piece, and I doubt I’ll make the required words this year (because I shouldn’t have that many left to finish it, but still. Jeeeez, What a year it has been if I haven’t finished a single book, complicated or not. There were years when I’d do three or four, then two or three, then one or two, then one, then, not one. Not good.

NaNoWriMo however has juiced me up. The writing retreat ahead of it primed me and the speech propelled me, but now I’m going. I’m paying attention. I’m doing the work and making real progress. I may be a few hundred words behind, but I’m on the track and I’m blazing. And if I finish the book by the end of the month, regardless of the word count, I’m going to be winner. Not just because the black is on the white, but because I feel better. A good day writing is a good day. Period.

Nano is all about made up deadlines and goals, but if you believe them and they get you there, what’s the difference? It gets me good days.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo is here

If you’re not a writer November can be a fun month. It’s got Thanksgiving, where we eat until we’re sick and then have a piece of pie. However if you’re a writer, it’s a month of stress and endurance. It’s National Novel Writing in Month month—NaNoWriMo.

Last week, I had the privilege of giving a kick-off speech to our local group entering upon this great and important undertaking. Many had done it before, some had succeeded, but there many newbies. I warned them that this simple personal promise to write 50,000 words in a month, to complete a “novel” might be the most dangerous thing they’d ever done.

It’s about confidence. It’s about goals. It’s about success and not giving up. It’s about realizing your power.

I wrote my first novel for NaNoWriMo, I realized I could do it. That’s it. A simple confirmation that I could actually consistently write and produce something that didn’t make me want to throw up. I had done what my heroes do—I was a writer. Being an author was short easy step compared to that.

I don’t mean to over simplify the experience but it was life-changing. To this day, when I am on my game, I use the NaNoWriMo model for my daily work-1,666 words per day, record progress, minimum editing for first drafts and keep going. Finish what I start and critics be damned. I’m a writer.

I’ve fallen off my game a bit of late. My new project is beyond complicated and technically challenging. I’m also lazy and distracted, but that’s beside the point. It’s time to get serious again.

Deadlines are magical. I’m embracing them again—NaNoWriMo here I come. I’m joining the race this year. I haven’t had a November project in a while, but I do now. I might not have 50,000 words left in this book, but with the pressure, deadlines and support of the community, I’m confident I can finally finish this work and start another in November.

Put the black on the white. That’s what NaNo is about.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Making Sense of The World

“Human beings are the only creature on earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn’t got one.” — Hunter S Thompson

Like many people today I’m concerned with the state of the world. Politics are failing. Hate and division are the hallmarks of our current social climate while the world’s climate burns itself up like a blazing match.

I grew up on terrifying prophesies of the end of days. Whether it was Christians or Nostradamus, I was taught that I’d see the end of the world in my lifetime I can’t say now they were wrong.

It has been a theme in my life, a horror I’ve carried in the back of my mind, like the children of the atomic age fearing the bomb. My fear was compounded by questionable interpretations of dodgy religious texts and mediaeval riddles.

Still it is in my imagination and I’ve struggled to come to terms with the idea of it, if not the reality.

It was this struggle that led me to write WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. If I could find a good side to destruction, a meaning behind apocalypse, a nobility in evil, then perhaps I might sleep better at night.

To find an answer, I had to leave my cultural landmarks behind. I had to travel to India, I had to face the devil and dance with Her.

Man created Gods to understand the universe. They are symbols. Their existence beyond our own minds is suspect to say the least. The are projections. Good and evil are constructs and a vision of the universe based on that finds an amoral universe. Better to see cycles of birth, life, and death. Better to surrender to the organic rhythms as terrible and frightening as they are than to fight against nature.

Terrible things are happening. Things that could have been delayed if not wholly avoided. There’s a meanness in my country that is horrible. There’s ignorance and fear that can do nothing but harm. I’d stop if if I could. I—with countless others I try to extinguish the flames but there is no guarantee.

I don’t believe in the apocalypse any more, but I do understand that things can get so fucked up that there may be no return. If that is the case, I pray the next cycle creates better beings than us who will last longer, seek farther, grow wiser than we who hurried our own meteoric destruction with selfishness and greed. Perhaps our sacrifice will sate Kali long enough for them to succeed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LUW 2017 Fall Conference Report

This year's League of Utah Writers Fall Conference was even better than I thought it would be. Great program, location, guests and classes. It was fantastic.

I was master of ceremonies but will remain President-Elect for a while longer as we extended the term of our very awesome sitting president Jared Quan. I'll take over August 24-25, 2017 at the next conference, now to be known as The Quills Conference.

I got to announce that one of my favorite living authors will be a keynote speaker there. Tim Dorsey, creator of the amazing Serge Storms books will kick off the new Quills Conference with irreverent style.

On other fronts, I get to announce that I won another award. Let me preface this by saying that our contest this year had about 500 entries and we received personal congratulations from our secret judges stating that they do a lot of judging, and they were seriously impressed by the quality of our work.

My story The Strange Vanishing  of Charles Prescott, Billionaire won a Third Place in this year’s League of Utah Writers contest in Speculative Fiction Prose.

Since I entered it, this story was published and is available now in even better form in MIRAGES AND SPECULATIONS, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FROM THE DESERT. You can buy it now on Amazon or wherever they're sold.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

League of Utah Writers Fall Conference

Today’s Blog is in anticipation of a great weekend.

This weekend is the League of Utah Writers Fall Conference. Officially, it’s October 6 & 7 at the Taylorsville campus of Salt Lake Community College.

And, get this, the first day o the conference is FREE!

That’s right. Friday, is open to the public. Come on down and get some eduction, talk to writers, publishers, friends,. People who are literate and love the word. You know, good people! Saturday is cheap too and includes meals and the award banquet.

Everyone who is anyone will be there.

We have great guests including Kevin J. Anderson and J.H. Montcrieff. I, as president elect of the League will also be there. I am teaching several classes and hearing pitches (see below) but mostly hanging out and helping out where needed.

I know I should be stressed out about it, but I’m not. Its going to be a party!

Here's my official schedule if you want to hook up with me.

Friday, October 6, 2017

10:00-11:50 a.m.
Room 130 (ABC)

3:00-4:00 p.m.
Room Blue (030)

Kevin J Anderon
Master Class: Professionalism and Career Building
7:00 p.m. Oak (201)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

9:00 -9:50 a.m.
Room 023/025

Plus, I'll be all over everwhere as Master of Ceremonies!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND release report

This years’s Salt Lake Comic Con was one that I will always remember. It had the usual array of stars and cosplay, vending, networking, hanging with the like minded fandom of the state, but this year it also saw the launch event for my new book, WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. 

I’ve been talking a lot about this book, and will some more, but right now let me share a bit of what happened last Friday.

Salt Lake Comic Con graciously shared some space with us this year on Friday to coincide with the official release date for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND on Amazon and beyond.

My publisher came in from Los Angeles for the event. We handed out hundreds of tickets to fans and friends and we assembled in one of the writing rooms for a reading and a raffle.

It was grand.

We aslo used the opportunity to launch MIRAGES AND SPECULATIONS, a new speculative fiction anthology yours truly is a part of. We collected a few of the authors from the anthology who were at the Con and celebrated that new book with a Q&A and also more drawings for books and games.

I carried the glow from the event all through the convention and beyond. I still have a perma-grin. Of course I sold out of WHAT IMMORTAL  HAND before Salt Lake Comic Con was done.

Yeah, I had a good time.


Jay Barnson, Julie Frost, Paul Genesse and David West

Working the crowd

My table before the storm