Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sad State

My glasses have taught me to ignore my peripheral vision. A heavy prescription, narrow lenses, loose frames are making me a cripple. Those side spaces are out of focus outside my eyes or closer, the frames. If I reacted to things out there, I’d be jumping in fear at every tilt of my head -the lens edge coming to get me, blur motion and structures.. It’s a terrible thing. It means I walk into low branches and break cups on other cups. It’s a terrible sign of my aging that I can only trust what I see right in front of me.




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Musing on the Pure Amateur


I am always impressed by my creative writing classes. There is so much originality and energy that not a class goes by that I don’t say, honestly, “I wish I’d have written that.” It’s particularly true in the more amateur classes where writers haven’t been spoiled by the “rules of writing” the very poisons I’m spreading in my lessons. Free from the censorship of agreed-upon forms and strategies, marvelous things happen organically.

There’s Picasso’s old adage that one needs to learn the rules like a professional so they can break them like an artist. When you don’t know the rules, sometimes the same effect happens. It reminds me that the rules are misnamed. They’re not rules, not laws. Not even conventions. They are observations of pattern and attempts to define and quantify something that defies it. "X is beautiful therefore for something to be beautiful it must be like X." It is a cart before the horse thing. Shallow and uninspired.

In the publishing world where interns read for imitation more than for innovation, the rules are fixed and demanding mileposts, but in the peace and space of a creative writing class, pure expression from pent up artists is like new bird song on a safari.

I’m glad not everyone in my classes wants to publish. Without the rock tumbler commercialization rules their work can stay beautiful and unique, jagged edged and true. They can explore their voices and meanings. They listen to me however, as I tell them the rules of italics as I see them, show them to shave unnecessary words, develop disdain for passive voice and dialog tags and form them into a projectile more accessible to the masses. But I feel a little dirty for doing it. There’s a majesty in the untrained, unsoiled writer. One who has been taught be reading more than rote, expression more than convention.

The dream of course is that they can remain true to their visions, overcome the learning curve to join Picasso at the other end. True and effective.

I just hope that somewhere in their notebooks they keep those turns of phrase, sentences, paragraphs and words that move me in these classes to wish I had written them.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

THE HUNGER book signing this Saturday

I've been involved in the Utah Horror scene since it began. I was one of the original members of Utah's only chapter of the HWA (Horror Writers Association). Every year they sponsor and promote an anthology of short stories centered around the state with a particular theme. This year, the theme was THE HUNGER. Not only was my little story called AUDRA'S CONFESSION selected to be in it, but I had the distinct honor of editing many of the stories, polishing them up and such. I am very proud of this book. My name appears on it twice, which is a milepost of some kind.

This Saturday at the Jordan Landing Barnes & Noble store in West Jordan Utah, I'm meeting up with a few of the authors for sit down signing event. If you're in the neighborhood, swing by and say hello.

Saturday June 30, 2018
 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

7151 Plaza Center Drive

West Jordan, UT 84084





Wednesday, June 20, 2018

FyreCon 2018

The second FyreCon is set for this weekend and I'll be there. Unlike most conferences I attend, this one is dedicated to arts of all kinds, not just writing. Though the bardic arts will be well represented, visual artists will be abundant. There'll be physical artists there besides. It's a good time. If you're up in Layton way, you should check it out.

Below is my planned schedule. Saturday might change (conflicts arising) but Thursday and Friday are set. Come on out!



Weber State University-Davis Campus

2750 University Park Boulevard
Layton, Utah 84041 



Johnny's FyreCon Schedule:

Thursday, June 21, 2018 

3-TO-1 Editing Mystery Session
12:00 - 12:50 pm Buidling D2 Room 306

PRESENTATION: The Faceted Story
3:00 pm- 3:50 pm Building D2 Room 318

Friday, June 22, 2018

PANEL: Writing a Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Romance
11:00 am - 11:50 am Building D2 Room 110
Johnny Worthen, Christie Craig, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Natalie Whipple, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro 

PANEL: Portrayal of Death and Dying: Discussing the Philosophy of the Memento Mori
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm Building D2 Room 111
Johnny Worthen, Daxon Levine, Graham Bradley, Jodi L. Milner

PANEL: More than the Mistress of All Evil: Does Explaining Away Character's Evil Through Backstories Help or Hurt Friday
3:00 pm - 3:50 pm Building D2 Room 110
Johnny Worthen, David Farland, Dan Willis, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
 
PRESENTATION: Mistakes Were Made
5:00 pm - 7:50 pm Building D3 Room 339

Saturday, June 23, 2018* 

PANEL: Writing YA that Isn't Adults in Teens Bodies
9:00 am - 10:00 am Building D2 Room 301
Johnny Worthen, Christie Craig, David Powers King, Ryan Decaria, Sabine Berlin

PANEL: Literary Literacy: Books You Should Read
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Building D2 Room 111
Johnny Worthen, Michael Darling, Sabine Berlin, Eric Swedin, Jill Bowers

* I have conflicting events Saturday, but I'm going to try to make these panels.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Summer Symposium - This Saturday

This Saturday is the League of Utah Writers Summer Symposium.

This one day conference is for all our friends and members up north in Logan but it'll be worth the trip from anywhere. The program is fantastic, lunch is included. It's cheap and you should  go. There I said it. I'm teaching and panelling and hanging out in a place that isn't over hot with friends old and new. I love these things. See you there.

Saturday June 16, 2018
Registration Opens at 8:30 a.m.

Eccles Conference Center,
Utah State University
5005 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT




Thursday, June 7, 2018

Time Quake with Chris Mandeville

Chris Mandeville
It’s been a while since I’ve had another author out to the Blog Mansion. I’ve cleaned the place, fumigated, got some new carpets in, fed the put sharks, put Stranger Things lights around the evil vortex. It’s nice. I invited a friend of mine, Chris Mandeville to check it out. She has a new book out so it was easy to lure her into my web under the guise of a blog tour post. Plus since her book is about time travel, and I got to break out my Time Spinner Mark IV®.

Chris: Is that a Time Spinner Mark IV?

Johnny: Yeah, I got it on eBay. Used.

C: I heard those were unreliable. Flakey.

J: Nonsense, I'll show you. Here I'll turn it on.

C: Quake.

J: What’s your book called?

Time Spinner Mark IV
C: Allie Bennett is a fifteen-year-old con artist and pickpocket, who's on her last chance at an end-of-the-line foster home. She learns that her mom—who disappeared when she was ten—isn’t a crazy but is actually a time traveler, and Allie’s one, too. She joins a crew of time traveling thieves and goes back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to pull the heist of the century and find her mom. But time travelers are hunted, her crew might be killers, everyone has a secret agenda, and she must pull off the con of her life to make it out alive.

J: What’s it about?

C: This is a science fiction-based time travel story with primarily teen characters, so it falls under YA time travel. I find that adults are enjoying it too, though.

J: What’s the genre and target audience?

C: Mystery is my favorite genre to read. I love mysteries, suspense, and thrillers based on solving a crime.

J: I like how there’s a heist involved. I’m a big crime reader. Are you?

C: So far no visitors have identified themselves as time travelers, but I’m on the lookout for someone to tell me they’re from the future. I’ll definitely listen to any advice they share, especially about lottery numbers.

J: Do time travelers ever show up at your door and tell you not to do something? Happens to me all the time.

C: Parker Hayden Media is my publisher. They believed in me from the beginning and have published all three of my books to date. I couldn’t be happier with my publishing team.

J: Who’s publishing your book?

C: I was trying to write a mystery, but it wasn’t going well. I have a lot of fun reading mysteries, but was having absolutely no fun writing one, so I set it aside to write something fun. The most fun thing I could think of was a YA time travel.

J: Where’d the idea for the book come from?

C: My son’s former college roommate, Rashed AlAkroka, is an incredible artist. I’ve been in awe of his work for years. He told me that he’d love to create cover art for me if I was ever interested. I feel incredibly fortunate that he offered, and am ridiculously happy with the result.

J: How’d you get your cover?

C: The editing process was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. My editor is very skilled, smart, and detail-oriented, and she did a great job of looking at the big picture, checking continuity, pointing out confusing areas, and asking me the right questions. After her initial pass, I made changes to the manuscript, incorporating her suggestions and corrections, as well as feedback from my critique group and beta readers. Then my editor did a final proofread. I don’t think it could have gone much more smoothly.

J: How was the editing process?

C: I have book two in the works, with plans to wrap up the character and plot arcs in book three. After that, I will likely write another set of three books in this series. I’m already brainstorming clues to integrate now for future storylines. Today the planning is going well, but if you ask me next week I might have a different answer—a writer is likely to hit snags in any story, but writing time travel can be particularly sticky and frequently makes my brain hurt!

J: I see it’s a series, how’s that coming?

C: “In Real Time” is actually an important concept in the books. Being “in real time” refers to being in your natural timeline—the one you were born in. When you are in your real time, you are subject to any changes in the timeline. But when you time travel, you are out of your real time and are unaffected by changes to the timeline—you remember the timeline you lived through, even if it gets changed. Yes, I know it’s confusing!


J: When I saw “In Real Time” as the series name, I thought of some kind of gimmick, like a choose your own adventure. Is there more to it than a cool name?

C: I’ve always liked making up stories. I don’t recall when I first started writing them down, but there’s evidence dating back to when I was about ten years old. It’s funny but, as much as I enjoyed writing, I never considered writing for a living. I didn’t come around to that idea until after I’d tried a few other career paths and didn’t feel satisfied creatively. My first novel began in 1990 while I was still working in an advertising agency in Los Angeles. The idea came to me as a “what if” concept: what if when you dream you meet up with the “souls” or consciousnesses of other people who are dreaming. That concept grew into my practice novel, “The Spider Prophet.” I worked on that story for many years, writing and rewriting, learning and starting over. I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but it served me well as I learned my craft. The next novel I wrote was Seeds, which was published in 2015.

J: I’m always interested in how people get started, their first book, their break-in moment. What’s yours?

C: There are so many things I like about writers' conferences! I like being in an environment where the focus is writing. I like learning and sharing with other writers. I like the feeling of community. And I find such joy and energy when I teach about writing. Attending a writer’s conference fuels me.

J: We met at a writers conference. What do you like about them?

C: I’ve never lived in San Francisco, but it’s one of my favorite cities. I attended the University of California at Berkeley, and during one summer I took BART under the Bay to “The City” (i.e. San Francisco) for a summer job. I love the architecture, the people, and energy of San Francisco, and I hope that I captured some of that in Quake. (Phew, dodged that hundred thousand dollar bullet!)

J: Did you live in San Fransisco? If you do can you lend me a hundred thousand dollars?

website: ChrisMandeville.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisMandeville
publisher: http://parkerhaydenmedia.com/
amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Mandeville/e/B00JSUO9ZK
goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40147389-quake

J: Where can my peeps find out more about you?

C: Quake was released May 29, 2018. The next installment in the series will be out before the end of the year.

J: When is your book coming out?

C: Flakey.

J: I think you're right. Time's all messed up. What did you say this was?





Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spring Into Books 2018 - This Saturday!!!


This Saturday is Spring into Books, the annual celebration of pollen and poetry, bushes and books, authors and aphids. something like that.

This annual event bring together some of the areas best local authors in a public forum to meet readers. About every genre and taste will be there. I’ll going; that’s like seven genres right there.

Once again it’ll be held at the Viridian center, a great venue in the heart of the city.

Viridian 
West Jordan Library & Event Center
8030 S 1825 W, 
West Jordan, Utah 84088

This goes from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. so a narrow window this year. Come out and say hi, pick up a great new summer read. Support local artists.