Thursday, January 18, 2018

League of Utah Writers Spring Conference

It's that time of year again. Spring is in the air (it helps that we haven't actually had a winter yet.) Spring means writing (well, everything means writing when you're a writer... ) But I digress.

The 2018 League of Utah Spring Writing Conference is coming up!

Mark your calendars April 14th, 2018 at the Redwood Road, Taylorsville campus of Salt Lake Community College. 

This day long workshop will offer classes on all aspects of writing. It's a celebration of the League, a family reunion, and a chance to sharpen your writing tools and pick up a few more.

It's a cheap date, $35 for members, $50 for non-members. All day event. Snacks too. 

Also, there are opportunities to volunteer and present. 

Yes, we're looking for presenters. I'm a big believer that everyone needs to give back so we're opened a presentation portal for those writers who have something to share. We're open to all ideas from writers of all levels because we all have something to share.

If you're interested in presenting, click here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Writing Advice—Finish What You Start

I have a rule that has served me well when writing: I finish what I start. It’s a handy little rubric that turns out completed projects at a tolerable rate.

It’s a simple idea, sounds obvious and easy, but in practice it’s neither.

When churning through a project, writing long novels, there invariably come a few moments when one’s interest in it wanes and it’s like pulling teeth to turn the corner and start another page. This is usually accompanied by the birth of a new idea, a better story, more interesting plot, more exciting quest.

It’s diabolic. To quote Tony Flaner, there’s a pull and a push to a new thing.

But beware noble squire, thus are desk drawers filled with half finished manuscripts and the airs reek of failure.

I’ve written fifteen novels by forcing myself to keep going, at least to the final chapter. One story fought me so hard that I ended at “the end” and never looked at it again, but at least it was done: beginning, middle, and end. 107,000 words, A book.

It had to be done. I had to finish it. It was practice and wordcrafting, time spent on my art, but I had other projects lurking that could sell, that would be lighter, more fun. Songs of the sirens. I stuck to it because if I stopped one story, I could stop them all.

The trick is to turn the hatred of the project into action, bite the bit and gallop to the end. It’s surprising what that kind of motivation can do. It’s like a deadline (which in and of itself is as magical a device for writing as a dictaphone with transcribing house elves).

There’re value judgements that need to be put aside. “The book sucks, I should just stop here and start again. I can do better.” But that’s not the thing. A corollary of the rule answers that concern: you can fix anything but a blank page. Also, completion has a quality all its own.

It’s discipline, but’s also illusionary. I write on “spec,”—speculation. No one is paying me to write. I pen a book and then try to sell it. It’s not the best situation, but at my level it’s the only game in town. With no boss, no real penalty, there’s only my own delusion that tells me that I have to finish and can’t just take the treat I’m holding out any time I want.

You have to be a little insane to be a writer, or any kind of artist really. This is just a symptom of that. It’s a pretend rule, and as an artist, I am well aware that rules are there to be broken. One day I will break it. I’ve bent it. I’ve stopped to write a short story in the middle of a novel and there’re always new edits on old stuff that have to be done, but as for big projects, book length, I’ve never a new one without finishing the old. I’ve never faltered.

It is a made up rule, a pretend law, but it has served me well.

I recommend it to everyone.

Better to have a mediocre finished book than a great fragment, or dozens or them.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Peace 2018

It’s a cliche, I know, to make resolutions at New Year’s but it’s also a tradition. This year, I’m acknowledging that tradition. Traditions, unlike cliches are good things. They’re full of… well, tradition. History is good and having a day on the calendar to remind one to do something is usually helpful. Like Thursday baths and garbage nights.

I once gave up Diet Coke for Lent and it changed my life. So this year, I’m trying something more radical. First, I’m going to try to break a more sinister addiction. I’m going to try to lessen my stimuli addiction represented by countless hours spent surfing the internet. I’m a news junky and last year was all about bad news getting worse. Like many, I’ve been in shock and beyond sucking my time, it’s sucking my soul. I’m going to pull back a bit (I won’t lie and say I’m going to give it up) and see if that improves my wellbeing.

But what shall I do with all the time I’ll get from a digital diet? Funny you should ask. With the increased concentration and focus I hope to experience, I’m going to read. I’m going to read lots. With all the distraction and my own writing, I’ve fallen woefully behind on my reading. I have a stack waiting and I’m excited to plow through them. So far, since Christmas, I’ve read four. Feels good.

It’s about time.


I got into the writing thing because I felt my own mortality. Bright computer lights, TV computer, phone, movies and such distracted me from that, but it didn’t go away. I work best under a deadline and let’s be honest, there’s a big one coming and I’d be a fool to ignore it or not to use it as the motivator it is.

So, along with reading, and focusing, I will continue to write. Two novels is my goal.

All that for the prize. Peace. My own personal peace and wellbeing.

Peace to you too.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Spring 2018 Writing Classes

I'm teaching three classes next semester at the University of Utah. This will probably be the only time I'll teach MYSTERY and QUERYING this year since they're pretty specialized, awesome but specialized. They offer something for the beginner as well as the expert. Follow the links below to join me writing adventure! email me if you have any questions.

Lifelong Learning - University of Utah

University of Utah Annex Building
1901 E South Campus Drive
SLC, UT 84112

A Study in Mystery 
(LLWRC 837)

Tuesday Nights (7 sessions)
January 16th - February 27th

A Study in Mystery (LLWRC 837)— Look behind the curtain of the formulaic, but eternally popular genre: the Mystery Story. Learn about the constructions, tropes, types and methods that make the modern whodunit. Designed for both writers and fans of the mystery genre, class will include assignments and activities on plot, character web, record keeping, suspense, tension and conflict. Refine your work as you're asked the questions: Did you hide the clue well enough? Does the audience care about the victim? Is the suspense tight enough? By the end of the course, if the crime is writing a mystery story, the "Whodunit" will be you!

Lifelong Learning - University of Utah

University of Utah Annex Building
1901 E South Campus Drive
SLC, UT 84112

Literary Querying
(LLWRC 844)

Tuesday Nights (6 sessions)
March 6th - April 10th
, 2018

Liteary Querying (LLWRC 844): So you've written a book. Now what? Approaching the publishing world can be a lonely and daunting task. This class will give you a jump start by providing the knowledge and skill required to navigate the world of agents and publishers. It is recommended (but not necessary) that you bring a finished piece of work you are trying to place. This is a workshop heavy class, where we'll polish your pages and develop a plan to give you the best chance in the great publishing hunt.

Lifelong Learning - University of Utah

University of Utah Annex Building
1901 E South Campus Drive
SLC, UT 84112

Creative Writing Bootcamp
(LLWRC 842)

Saturdays (2 sessions)
March 24th & 31st
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Creative Writing Bootcamp (LLWRC 842)Have you always wanted to write creatively but never had the chance to start? Or is your writer-self blocked and unable to finish anything? In Creative Writing Bootcamp, we'll launch into a series of generative exercises designed to give you plenty of material for your own stories. In between exercises, we'll share our work in an open and joyous environment, discuss craft, and explore how to incorporate writing into daily life. You'll leave class with a series of flash fictions ready to be polished or expanded in your writing practice.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Vegas Visit

I had the absolute pleasure of going to Las Vegas last week and hanging out with the Henderson Writers Group, I presented a talk on mystery and gave a reading of WHAT IMMORTAL HAND as part of Dime Grinds, a wonderful community outreach to bring new authors to the public at a local coffee shop. I couldn’t have been happier if it had been a brewery. Well,… maybe.

Here are some pics (ignore the belly, I'm working on it)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Fifteenth Novel - CORONAM 2

I’m not going to win Nanowrimo this year officially, but I did anyway. With the push of the magical November event, I completed my fifteen novel.


This is the middle book of a trilogy I’m working on. My Dune, my Game of Thrones. Full of moving parts and science fiction. It’s thematic and historical and by far most the complicated and challenging thing I’ve ever worked on.

Book one took half a year months, a record at the time. This one took fourteen months—far and away the longest any book has ever taken me to write a first draft. A lot happened in that year, distractions a plenty, but I didn’t give up and this month, here it is.

My next step is to edit it. Then let it sit. Send it to a reader maybe. Write something else. Edit again and then write the third one.

I don’t know where it will land, but I’m confident it will find a home with a forward looking epic-loving, literary science fiction press that my agent is at this moment looking for.

In the meantime. It’s done and I'm relieved. Plus It’s good so I'm thrilled.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

URGENT - Save Net Neutrality

We interrupt the Thanksgiving visit to The Blog Mansion to sound the alarm.

I’m losing sleep over this. Net Neutrality is about to be taken away. The FCC against overwhelming opposition is going ahead with a corporate sponsored coup to control the internet.

They will be able to choose which sites are available to you, speed up the ones that pay them, slow down or stop the ones they don’t like. Imagine Googling the term “net neutrality” on your ComCast connected computer and not getting a response. Imagine doing the same for your favorite political candidate, rival network, religious icon.

This is serious. This is awful. This will destroy one of the best technical innovations in history by making it literally pay to play and giving corporations the right to control the flow of information. It's Orwellian and dangerous.

"Want fast FaceBook, buy our special social network plan. Sports scores? It comes bundled for another $10/month. Research? $20 bundle gets you into Wikipedia. YouTube $30 bundle with Vimeo, otherwise it crawls slower than dialup. And don't even try to look for sites arguing against corporate control of what information you're allowed to see. Those are not available."

Small business can't compete. "You have a nice website there, shame if no one could see it. Pay us." Really.

Oh, and the rules they're pushing through stop municipal broadband suppliers as well, so if your city wants to do its own thing, no good, monopoly. Yeah, it's that bad.

This very scenario is already a reality in some places. It’s insane. It’s unpopular, but it’s being forced down our throats again (we’ve stopped this like five times already). The current administration doesn’t have our backs here. It could really happen this time.

Get involved. Click here and share this post, link, scream. Call your congressmen, stop voting against your self-interests. HERE

What am I Thankful for this year? The Internet. God, I hope we an save it.