Thursday, May 10, 2018

Summer Fear

What it is about summer days, bright and clear that fill me with anxiety? Shouldn’t summers be a time for excitement and joy? Should I not remember my school days when weather like this was portent and promise of months of freedom with my friends? Maybe once, but now the days are lurking outside, the sun shines on the edge as if waiting for me to accept my good fortune so it can drop another bomb.

Summer nights are better for me. That time does not judge like summer days. In warm shadow I am not exposed. Among crickets and moths I can neglect and procrastinate. Under cool moonlight I can hide, fraud, liar, thief. The stars don’t judge, they barely notice if I don’t do all I could have done. Their indifference is a blessing.

Sunshine is stark and inviting and alien to me. Somewhere in my life, at some pivotal moment, I was given too much responsibility and the sun knows it and shines and watches. And judges.

And if I brave to think this day in all its yellow and green, blue and warm is deserved, I know to expect a reminder. The shoe is perched and waiting. Daring me to relax.

Anxious days with no excuse but fear. Shining, brilliant, hot and breezy fear.



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rites of Passage

I sit down with finger on keyboard to celebrate and lament another rite of passage. My son is graduating from the University of Utah today and in time-honored tradition, I’ll get to sit in a basketball arena while he and the thousand of other future-uncertain students march in cap an gown. I’ll probably cry. Another rite, another mile marker, another moment to reflect.

This spring has been full of such moments actually. I taught a great group of people creative writing. The final class after twelve weeks had all the call back of last day of high school where you say goodbye to friends hoping it’s not for the last time.

The same feeling of loss and accomplishment (for what else can such feelings be?) came Sunday after Pikes Peak Writers Conference wrapped up. For four intense days I lived and breathed, laughed, talked, drank with great writers and new friends. It’s an all enclosed conference, all meals included and a room on the fourth floor, so it was like a sleep-over. I reconnected and made new friends with whom I hope to reconnect someday.

This pattern is of course universal. The difference is marking the end. Most important things in our lives do not come with such an obvious expiration date. They just kind of fade away like an old soldier or dream in the daylight, an ellipsis after a comma. When such a hard end occurs, a period, it is only right to have a ritual to mark the moment. Graduation, hugs in the eh lobby, a funeral for a friend. It’s a moment to reflect and be grateful, a moment to remember the person that used to be here and compare them to the person who leaves. It is a celebration of the law of the universe: change. It is nature caught and named, marked by borders and hopefully better understood.

It is a moment of transition. Of celebration, and yes, of loss. Potential ended in action, paths passed for progress along a choice.

I’ll sit in the arena today and I’ll look for the speck who is my first born and I’ll weep because I’m a softy. And if anyone asks me why, I bet I won’t be able to put it into words. Luckily, I don’t think anyone will.





Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pikes Peak Writers Conference This Week!

Colorado Springs, home of many things I don't really want to talk about, things the shouldn't exist, things that piss me off, BUT also home of one of the greatest writing conferences I have ever attended.


Colorado Springs Marriott
5580 Tech Center Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80919

If you go to only one conference this year, it should be the League of Utah Writers Quills Conference, BUT if you can do two, this is the other one.


Thursday, April 26, 2018


PRESENTATION: Magick: A Seminar of the Occult

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon — Eagles Nest 1 & 2




PRESENTATION: Techniques of the Advanced Novelist
(with Aaron Michael Ritchey)

1:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. — Eagles Nest 1 & 2






Friday, April 27, 2018

YA Genre Roundtable

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. — Ascent Library



Saturday, April 28, 2018

PRESENTATION: Writing to Theme

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Salon GH




Sunday, April 29, 2018

PRESENTATION: Writing Young Adult

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Aspen Leaf






Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Hunger, A Collection of Utah Horror

It has been said that Utah is a pretty horrible state. It is. It's pretty and some things are horrible. But I digress, I'm here to announce the release of a new short story anthology featuring horror stories from Utah authors or authors with Utah connections or people who've heard of Utah or people who hunger for Utah. That last one was a reach, I know. I'm punchy.

THE HUNGER: A COLLECTION OF UTAH HORROR is here!

My story Audra's Confession is featured in The Hunger, a gentle horror if you will, and I'd recommend the hell out of this book for that alone, but there's more. I had the distinct opportunity and pleasure to be the primary editor on The Hunger. Yep, I got my name on the cover twice. I've arrived!

Now available from Twisted Tree Press.




Thursday, April 12, 2018

Saturday Writing Bonanzas

I am double booked this week. Two of Utah’s premier writing events are happening this Saturday and I can’t do both.

This Saturday down in Provo is the annual Teen Author Boot Camp, a stellar convention of young writers eager to create and explore words.

I’ve been invited to teach a couple classes and and couldn’t be more exited. If you’re a teenage writer and in Provo, this is the place for you this Saturday.



Also happening this Saturday is the League of Utah Writers Spring Conference happening on the Campus of Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville.

this annual event offers over thirty-five hours of programming, classes on all aspects of writing for all agents and levels. It’s a convention of the tribe of writers. You don’t have to be a member to attend, though if you are, you get a discount. Click on this link to find out more.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bingeable I, CLAUDIUS

Continuing on with the struggles of writing distractions.

Binge watching series is a new and wonderful modern vice that as a true American, I have taken up to compliment my long list of other vices. But to be honest and to sound like a hipster, I was binge watching before it was cool. i unplugged the TV twelve years ago and have been cycling through DVDs to keep my brain good and mushy. Now I have NetFlix, a computer program specifically designed to indulge the habit, I will not want for distraction.

I mention this because it’s easy to forget some old binge-worthy titles in the wave of new ones. One of my favorite binges was catching up with Game of Thrones. I was l late to that so had four seasons back to back to back to enjoy when I got the discs from a friend. Good stuff.

I bring that up because a predecessor to GOT exists that I knew about growing up but hadn’t the time or energy to pursue, it being on public television imported from the BBC which meant it was too dry for a child to enjoy. I speak of course of the classic I, Claudius starring Derek Jacobi and a who's who of English actors from Patrick Stewart (with hair) as Sejanus to John Hurt as the mad Caligula. I finally got around to seeing the whole thirteen episodes last week thanks to my public library,  and I am here to tell you, it is frankly wonderful.

It is adult. There are bare chests and murders and lots of talking. It was controversial at the time (1976) for these things and was aired late at night, further hindering the American hinterlands from enjoying them. I say adult, but decadent might be a better description. In those terms it is very much the ancestor of the great Game of Thrones. Court  intrigue and plots, torture, great empires rising and falling, all with boobs and blood. Good stuff. What I, Claudius doesn’t have are the breathtaking special effects and the styles of modern filmmaking. This, however, is no drawback. What it lacks in CGI it makes up for acting, great career making acting. The scenes are long and played out with theatrical talent that cinema is quick to minimize with short cuts and close ups. Theatrical is the best description and watching I, Claudius —from the great Caesar to the lowest surf — we get to see the art and power of real acting. It’s amazing. It’s intimate and it’s grand story telling in the rich tradition of Shakespearean tragedy.

It’s based on Robert Grave’s great book by the same name which in turn is based on actual Roman History. So, not only is it damn fine entertainment, but accounting for some poetic license, it is also a solid history lesson. You’ll come away knowing the early emperors of Rome, their vices the forms and costumes of antiquity complete with accurate hair styles.

Yeah, I enjoyed the series. It was research and I even got a blog out of it.

Now to get back to writing my novel.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Johnny Worthen THE BLOG MANSION: Distractions

Johnny Worthen THE BLOG MANSION: Distractions: Has there ever been a time when there’s been so much cheap and accessible distraction? Think TV, radio, movies, games, computers. Tuning out...