Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wonhundred Words - "Like father"

Continuing my play with Wonhundred Word Wednesdays I present:

Took a little different tack, not perfect to prompt but....

“God hates the sinner!” he boomed meaning to say “sin,” but the sight of her at the back of the tent had thrown him off.

He carried on, speaking fire and brimstone from the pulpit, exuding righteousness — that righteousness that had brought people to his tent for thirty years. Usually they weren’t so young as the girl in the back. Maybe that’s why he noticed her. Something about her.

“Do I know you?” he said and as the words left his mouth, he saw her mother in her face.

“You look like my father.”

Thursday, March 8, 2018

LUW Spring Conference coming up!

Mark your calendars, line up your wardrobe, sharpen your pencil, the League of Utah Writers Spring Conference is coming up!

Thirty-six hours of programming in a single day event in the heart of the Salt Lake valley to hone your writing skills, your marketing skills, your networking skills, your parking skills.


Salt Lake Community College
Taylorsville Campus
4600 South Redwood Road
Salt Lake City, UT 84123

Event Schedule:
9:00 – 10:30 Registration / Check-in
10:30 – 11:00 Opening Kick-off – all attendees
11:00 – 2:00 Morning sessions
Six to seven options to choose from each hour
2:00 – 3:00 Break for lunch
“Brown bag” it with a lunch from home or support local businesses off campus
Lunchroom seating is available, and the campus vendors will be open for lunch
3:00 – 6:00 Afternoon sessions
Six to seven options to choose from each hour

Spring Conference is one of the most affordable and enriching conferences I know. If you're a member of the league, it's even cheaper. The value to dollar to time is off the scale. If you write, you should be there.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Teaching - an observation

I’m teaching classes this semester. A lot of them. So many in fact, that I’ve come to think of myself as a teacher who writes instead of a writer who teaches. It’’s been great though. It sharpens my ax and gives me an opportunity to give back, which, if you know me, is a personal goal.

Things will be slowing down soon. While one of my next round of classes has a waiting list, the other, Querying, is too specialized to draw the necessary enrollment right now and I think I’ll have Tuesdays free for a few weeks. It’s not a bad thing because teaching is hard. It takes it out of you.

I’ve toyed with the idea of going full-time into a classroom. The physical and economical disincentives aside, I adore the professional—intellectually and spiritually. Teachers are a rare and wonderful breed. If only we treated them as well as they deserve, our society would be civilized. For my entire life I have suffered with the good folks who do this most important jog without half the compensation they deserve, and I’m not just talking about money. They suffer from bad working environments, a cultural disdain for education, overcrowding, under equipped, the list goes on. With recent horrors, even more is being asked of them now, as stupidity and greed and political opportunity are unleashed on them yet again.

What makes me wonder, what fills me with joy, as I join my efforts to count myself among the noble class is that there are still teachers at all. It is a hard job. I teach two hours a night to students who want to be there and at the end of it, I’m drained. Lets not talk about how long the prep for each section took or the pay or the commute. Suffice it to say it’s a sacrifice.

And yet I love it.

I truly do. And here is what i’ve decided as to why there are teachers in this country at all: they are artists.

It is an artist who takes joy and fulfillment in a job well done, in sharing and preparing, in giving back. It is not a question of money, thought that would be nice. We take our success in other more profound ways. It is not a question of audience size, it is a moment of passing a spark of wonder and knowledge from one soul to another, pushing on the light to the next person, the next idea, the next generation.

It is transcendent.

Artists are easy targets to rob and belittle, blame and overwork. There was a day when teachers were respected and artists didn’t starve. That day will come again. In the meantime, I am grateful for each teacher I know, each one who has moved me, each one who pushed me, each one who has shined and put up with it all like the suffering artists we are.

It is noble. It is Good.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Life The Universe and Everyone 2018

Here's my schedule for one of Utah's greatest writing events, Life the Universe and Everything this year.

LTUE - Life the Universe and Everything

Thurs. Feb. 15 — Sat. Feb. 17th

The Provo Marriott
101 W 100 N
Provo, UT 84601
(801) 377-4700

Thursday February 15 

4:00-4:45 p.m.— Arches Room
WITH: Mette Ivie Harrison, Sarah Hoyt, Johnny Worthen (M), Bob Defendi
What sets crime fiction apart from other genres? Can themes from this type of fiction be explored in other genres?


Friday Febraury 16

2:00-2:45 p.m. — Bryce Room
WITH: Johnny Worthen, Heather Frost, Brandon Mull, Ginny Smith (M)
How do write the opposite gender?

5:00-5:45 p.m. — Arches Room
WITH: Peter Orullian, Larry Correia (M), Ginny Smith, Johnny Worthen, Matthew Kirby
Mystery is a fun genre in itself, but you can add an element of mystery to any type of novel. Learn how to spice up your story and add depth, by adding a little mystery.

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. — Ballroom

Thursday, February 8, 2018

LITerally - Johnny Worthen

A year ago I had the great pleasure to sit down with Kase Johnstun up in Ogden for an author podcast beautifully entitled LITerally that I feel worked pretty well. I don't think I ever shared it properly before. It's full of good stuff. I read a bit of THE BRAND DEMAND and ELEANOR and have a good talk about authors and artists, publishing and the life. It's good fodder for authors and artists, podcast enthusiasts, people with ears. I'm editing today so I'll just leave this here.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

She appeared like an apparition

Continuing my play with Wonhundred Word Wednesdays I present:


I told her it was him or me. 
She hesitated, silent. Speechless.
“You have nothing to say?” said I.
“Not to you.”
“I’ll drive you to him.”
She nodded.
And in she went. Walking up the sidewalk, firm and upright. To the door, into his house.
I sat and stared.
Nothing to do. 
Unable to go.
Nowhere to go.
Swings open the door and out she marches, an apparition. Smiling to see me there, waiting for her. Certain and secure.
"You,” she said. "True, you waited."


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ars Gratia Artis

There are few Latin phrases that are part of American culture that aren’t scary and legalese. Ars Gratia Artis is one of them and it’s a good one.

For decades we’ve seen it over the iconic roaring lion on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) production trailer trademark. It’s a motto. What’s a motto? I dunno, what’s a motto with you?

Ars gratia artis means: “art for art’s sake.” It is a fantastic motto and served as mission statement before everyone had mission statements. For a business it was bold, but for the writer, (or any artist) it should be the heartbeat of their lives.

I’m teaching creative writing at the University of Utah this semester. Lots of it. I have packed rooms of people wanting to write. They are amateurs, meaning they are there for the love of it. The thought of making a career out of lines on paper may be an unspoken dream, but for now they just want to know how to write. How to think of story, how to communicate and create. There’s a purity there that goes to the heart of Ars Gratia Artis. Though doubtless they have motives, personal and profession, for now, we can limit it to spiritual. And that’s how, really, it should be.

I am a huge believer that art is a thing unto itself. A worthy endeavor regardless of its transience, endurance or commercial viability. As strange as it sounds I think if someone writes a story and then puts it into a drawer never to be seen again, or burns it on a fire in their backyard, the universe is still a better place for it. This is not a value judgment. Many critics would say that burning a bad story is a public service, but I say the very act of writing, of creating anything, is holy and powerful. The act will change the author and the cosmos. The experience has its own reward and the making of something from “nothing” — expression and manifestation — are at the heart of the soul.

Though not every stories can be published, all should be written.

Ars Gratia Artis

EDIT: Sorry for the typos in the early version, and any that remain. Thus is my life.