Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Got me a hat!
At Salt Lake Comic Con 2015, I had one vendor table, three guest panels, and about hundred twenty thousand friends.

It was four days of hectic mayhem. I'm including the set up day which was Wednesday. I had my good friend, Athena Jones to help me. Ben, her son by birth, mine by association helped as well. Thanks to all the other vendors who remembered their supplies - tape, pins and such, and Athena's resources, we got it together in short order.

Then the Convention began. Wow.

There's an energy in a Comic Con that's unlike anything else in the world. It's a gathering of the tribe, fans, geeks and glory. It's a collection of the most amazing wares anywhere in halls full of icons. Smiles and excitement, tired kids and dazed zealots. Cosplay, heroes, stars and celebs. Like I said, it's like being surrounded by a hundred twenty-thousand of your closest friends.

Here are some of them.


Jesus saves.

A superb Dalek. Not the droid I was looking for though.

These jokers were cool.

Nux! Shiny and chrome.

Crow and Tom. 
Johnny, Jim and Julia

Me and Jafar.


Me and my neighbor, Totrro.

Timelords rule!

Awesome, but not the droid I was looking for.

It totally geeked out on the MST3K guys. They were five tables from me.

Now that's a knife.

And they had freakin' laser beams on their heads!

My vote for best Cosplay at the con.

This is the droid I was looking for.

Me and Peter Orullian

Larry Correia and I

Me and Brandon Mull

A sweet cosplay family

The biggest autograph book I'd ever seen.

My other vote for best cosplay of the Con.

Hauntingly cool.

Big shout out and thanks to the creators and contributors of Salt Lake Comic Con, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, also Blake Casselman, Ryan Call and all the volunteers for making this the best Comic Con yet and the premier geek-fest in the state! See you at Fan-X in 2016.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jenn Loring, Torsos and Firebirds

Jenn Loring
Today at the Blog Mansion we have Jennifer Loring, a multi-genre author like myself. We share a publisher in Omnium Gatherum Media, one of my all time favorite places. There she has Those of my Kind, a dark fiction. Creepy cover, chills just reading the blurb. Good stuff. She has a new project. FIREBIRD

Johnny Worthen: And now for something completely different.

Jennifer Loring: You mean my new book FIREBIRD?

JW: Yes, you went from horror to "headless male torso fiction." How'd that happen?

JL: Not much of a stretch. I mean, the guy is headless.

JW: Don't get me wrong, headless male torso fiction is an up-and-coming genre. B&N will have a section dedicated to it this year if they don't already. Actually, I think they do. What's FIREBIRD about?

JL: It's about a very famous hockey player and the love of his life, and the terrible things that happen on their way to finding a happy ending. Because I like making terrible things happen.

JW: You know this is the kind of thing that gets made into TV movies. What are you doing to market this?

JL: I've got two release-day blitzes and two blog tours scheduled, ARCs going out to all the major romance reviewers, a Facebook takeover event in December... Why? You interested in the movie rights? *calls lawyer*

JW: Is there sex in it? Because there better be sex in it. 

JL: There is so much sex in it. 

JW: You're very open minded about relationships. I notice from your bio that your husband is a turtle.

JL: What?

JW: it's right here on your bio sheet: "Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, a turtle, and two basset hounds." I assume the hounds are there to protect your husband so raccoons don't take him away and to tip him back over if he gets on his back.

JL: Thank the Elder Gods for the Oxford comma. Otherwise he'd also be two basset hounds.

JW: Who's publishing FIREBIRD?

JL: Limitless Publishing. Good people, and their covers are fantastic.

JW: I see you've self-published and gone traditionally as well with small press, namely Ominium Gatherum, Dark Fuse, Fox and Raven. You're a hybrid author. How's that working out for you?

JL: I haven't self-published in ten years and don't plan to again, unless it's a project I absolutely can't place with anyone. I don't have the kind of time it requires (I like to, you know, actually write) nor the money for a cover artist, editor, etc. I also think its less-than-stellar reputation continues to exist for a reason, so until that gets sorted out, I'm sticking to traditional.

JW: FIREBIRD seems a departure from you. Dark fiction runs in your veins. What is it about Dark Fiction that attracted you?

JL: I think it's the acceptance that life isn't always happy and wonderful, and we shouldn't pretend it is. It forces us to confront our deepest fears but in a "safe" way. Without giving anything away, FIREBIRD does get very dark, as do its two sequels. So while its main focus is on the characters' relationship rather than on external supernatural events, I wanted to push the boundaries of contemporary romance a bit and explore that darkness. Marianne Williamson said, "Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone's darkness, we don't really know what love is."  That's pretty much FIREBIRD's theme. In horror, the most disturbing revelation is often that the true monster is the face we see in the mirror. Since FIREBIRD's main character, Alex, is both protagonist and antagonist, in that sense it's not much of a departure at all. 

JW: What is it about headless male torso fiction that attracts you?

JL: Look at those abs!

JW: Stupid question. I want you to know that I have a male torso like that.

JL: Under all that hair?

JW: No, in this room. Wanna see?

JL: The Blog Mansion has a 65% author kill rate. I'm not sure I want to see your torso room.

JW: Yes you do.

JL: Yeah, okay. Anyone I know. Wait. They're all mannikins.

JW: What did you expect?

JL: Headless, limbless human bodies.

JW: Now my standard question: how'd you get started? What was your break? How did you go from writer to author?

JL: I've had a lot of short fiction published over the past fifteen or so years. Short stories were my first love. My first pro sale was in 2000, and four years later one of my stories received an honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, but I feel like my "break" didn't come until I signed with DarkFuse in 2014. I wrote Conduits shortly before grad school ended in 2013, and it's still one of my best stories. Grad school, by the way, is probably what turned me into an "author." I had the privilege not only of attending a program devoted to genre fiction but also of being mentored by Tim Waggoner. And it's how THOSE OF MY KIND got written in the first place.

JW: Your turtle must be very supportive.

JL: You know how turtles are.

JW: Give us a hint about the FIREBIRD TRILOGY. What's next? Where is it going?

JL: I'm working on the second book now (no title yet), which takes place less than a year after FIREBIRD ends. The third book jumps seventeen years into the future. It's hard to reveal where it's going without giving away the first book's plot, but Alex will continue to be the focus--and believe me, he's not done suffering. *evil grin* 

JW:Where on the Internets can people find out more about you?


JW: Now just step into the delimbing room and we'll call it good.

JL: The what?

JW: Delimbing room. I'm want you to be the first in my a headless female torso room.

JL: What?

JW: I delimb you then make a fiberglass mold of your torso and then cast you in plastic.

JL De-limb?

JW: I have a machine. It's very quick.

JL: The things I do for publicity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reflections from RMFW 2015

The great Jeffery Deaver and me at RMFW. 
Conferences are a good place to find out how truly enthusiastic you are about a subject.

If the entire experience is one big party, a running journey of discovery, friends and fun, you’re in the right place. If you find yourself slipping into depression and hating strangers because they’re interested in dental plaque removers and cross-marketing synergies, you have a problem. If your hotel room is a retreat and a cage and you find yourself watching daytime television rather than attending the luncheon, God’s giving you a message. If however, your hotel room is practically unknown to you, a place only where you sleep as little as possible, a storage area for toys and business cards of new friends and in my case, books—precious and wonderful books, then again, God is telling you something.

After years of hating conferences — really and truly despising them, they are now the greatest events in my life. I love them. I feed on them. The difference? I’m going to writing conferences and fan conventions. I’m hanging out with my people.

I just got back from the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference (RMFW) at Westminster Colorado and I am stoked. Next week it’s Salt Lake Comic Con. Do I have a great life or what?

I contacted RMFW and begged to be part of it. I try to barter my talents as a presenter, as great or small as my skill may be, for a ticket to get in. I’m a starving artist and barter out of necessity. To my delight, they let me loose for two classes and I got a ticket to go. 

Colorado was much flatter than I thought it would be.
I have some writer friends in Colorado, but they weren’t going to RMFW. The only people I knew before I got there was the organizer, Suzie, and her by email. Making the long drive from my home in Sandy to Denver, with Hunter S. Thompson telling me about Hells’s Angels, I was visited by “the fear.” Doubts and worries, mistakes I’ve made, choices I’ve messed up. I must be crazy to want to be an author. The looming loneliness of a conference of strangers, hundreds of miles from my support group. Vulnerability, failure, pain. My imagination went wild and convinced me I was driving to defeat.


Armored in tie-dye, free from rational thought, I approached the writers when I got there. They were easy to find even before we got our name badges. They clustered in groups and chatted excitedly about books and writing them. The first night was touch and go, I hung out with an old friend and that put my soul at ease. The next day, fueled by coffee and confident that I had 2 fans (Thanks Dave!) I dove in and mingled.

Now I know that people are people and all that, there’s good and bad in everyone, politics and pettiness to be found in every gathering (just look at what’s happened to the UAA) but I’ll tell you what, RMFW was for me a singular friendly, enthusiastic and supportive group. I didn’t meet a single soul I didn’t like. I didn’t meet a single hater, not one person who’d rather hide in their room than be with the horde. I felt no jealousy or competition. I’m not just talking about the others here, I am prone to those low feelings and I didn’t even get them. The vibe at that conference was that good. I had my usual roller coaster of emotions, I was self-critical of my presentations, again underdressed for the big dinner and didn’t impress every agent and editor I met, but on the whole, I was like a lightbulb in Tesla’s laboratory.

Writing is a lonely, isolating endeavor. A mind and a keyboard, hours, days, months, years in a fantasyland, bleeding on paper and then sharing the bandages. I think of us like Mountainmen, wandering the forests hunting for furs alone for years with our asses (appropriate image to be sure). Conferences are like the Rendezvous where we all get together to swap tales, get drunk, and reconnect with our people. Maybe we’ll sell a fur, I mean, a manuscript. You never know.

I want to thank the RMFW first of all for having a loud, over-enthused tie-dye wearing freak like me on the presenter list. I had a great time and hopefully did my part to make it as awesome as it was. Second, I want to thank them for making it as awesome as it was.

If you’re a writer and don’t go to conferences, you’re missing out. Find one in your area. If you’re in my area, look at my events page, I go to everything. Let’s hook up. You owe it to yourself to mingle and network, get educated on the business side and hang with other people who know the struggle and can rejoice in each others’ successes and yearnings.

Go. Even it it takes you eight hours driving alone in an electric car across the hot mid-day Wyoming plains to get there, you’ll be recognized and welcomed as one of the tribe.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Junior, my writing companion

Junior is a good listener

 but she steals my chair

and she's not a fan of sibilant sentences.

I couldn't writer without her.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Another Great Night

Today at the Blog Mansion I’m celebrating.

Last year the League of Utah Writers Conference changed my life. There’s no other way to describe it. They honored my beloved ELEANOR with a Gold Quill for Best YA Novel int he State and named me a Writer of the Year. I gave the keynote address and got a standing ovation. I was humbled and excited. The whole thing was like a dream.

This year’s League Conference was also a fantastic event. I got to teach three classes, panel twice and hang with all my friends from all over the state. I sold out of books and once again I was honored with awards.

My unpublished short story LAST SUMMER received an honorable mention in genre fiction short story category - something I didn’t expect but better than that, this year, my novel THE BRAND DEMAND received a Silver Quill in the Best Novel category. I was again surprised, humbled and excited.

It was a great night and I’m still stoked about the whole thing.

an award winning mystery 
about blackmail, politics and personal meaning. 
Available now.