Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LUW 2017 Fall Conference Report

This year's League of Utah Writers Fall Conference was even better than I thought it would be. Great program, location, guests and classes. It was fantastic.

I was master of ceremonies but will remain President-Elect for a while longer as we extended the term of our very awesome sitting president Jared Quan. I'll take over August 24-25, 2017 at the next conference, now to be known as The Quills Conference.

I got to announce that one of my favorite living authors will be a keynote speaker there. Tim Dorsey, creator of the amazing Serge Storms books will kick off the new Quills Conference with irreverent style.

On other fronts, I get to announce that I won another award. Let me preface this by saying that our contest this year had about 500 entries and we received personal congratulations from our secret judges stating that they do a lot of judging, and they were seriously impressed by the quality of our work.

My story The Strange Vanishing  of Charles Prescott, Billionaire won a Third Place in this year’s League of Utah Writers contest in Speculative Fiction Prose.

Since I entered it, this story was published and is available now in even better form in MIRAGES AND SPECULATIONS, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FROM THE DESERT. You can buy it now on Amazon or wherever they're sold.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

League of Utah Writers Fall Conference

Today’s Blog is in anticipation of a great weekend.

This weekend is the League of Utah Writers Fall Conference. Officially, it’s October 6 & 7 at the Taylorsville campus of Salt Lake Community College.

And, get this, the first day o the conference is FREE!

That’s right. Friday, is open to the public. Come on down and get some eduction, talk to writers, publishers, friends,. People who are literate and love the word. You know, good people! Saturday is cheap too and includes meals and the award banquet.

Everyone who is anyone will be there.

We have great guests including Kevin J. Anderson and J.H. Montcrieff. I, as president elect of the League will also be there. I am teaching several classes and hearing pitches (see below) but mostly hanging out and helping out where needed.

I know I should be stressed out about it, but I’m not. Its going to be a party!

Here's my official schedule if you want to hook up with me.

Friday, October 6, 2017

10:00-11:50 a.m.
Room 130 (ABC)

3:00-4:00 p.m.
Room Blue (030)

Kevin J Anderon
Master Class: Professionalism and Career Building
7:00 p.m. Oak (201)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

9:00 -9:50 a.m.
Room 023/025

Plus, I'll be all over everwhere as Master of Ceremonies!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND release report

This years’s Salt Lake Comic Con was one that I will always remember. It had the usual array of stars and cosplay, vending, networking, hanging with the like minded fandom of the state, but this year it also saw the launch event for my new book, WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. 

I’ve been talking a lot about this book, and will some more, but right now let me share a bit of what happened last Friday.

Salt Lake Comic Con graciously shared some space with us this year on Friday to coincide with the official release date for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND on Amazon and beyond.

My publisher came in from Los Angeles for the event. We handed out hundreds of tickets to fans and friends and we assembled in one of the writing rooms for a reading and a raffle.

It was grand.

We aslo used the opportunity to launch MIRAGES AND SPECULATIONS, a new speculative fiction anthology yours truly is a part of. We collected a few of the authors from the anthology who were at the Con and celebrated that new book with a Q&A and also more drawings for books and games.

I carried the glow from the event all through the convention and beyond. I still have a perma-grin. Of course I sold out of WHAT IMMORTAL  HAND before Salt Lake Comic Con was done.

Yeah, I had a good time.


Jay Barnson, Julie Frost, Paul Genesse and David West

Working the crowd

My table before the storm

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Letting go of Michael

2017 Salt Lake Comic Con
Here I am again on the eve of another book release. This Friday September 22 is the official launch for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. Amazon will be live and I’ll celebrate at Salt Lake Comic Con with an event at 2:00 p.m. in room 255A. The whole Con is invited. Come if you can.

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND is a return to novel length horror for me. It is the spiritual successor to BEATRYSEL. The two books share a publisher and I am eternally grateful to Kate Jones at Omnium Gatherum for all her help (quick plug there).

You’d think I’d be used to these by now, having now had seven of them, but I’m not. Maybe when I get to seventy books moments like this will be expected and normal. Maybe. But not now. Surely not now. Not for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND.

Each book that I send into the world is a living breathing creation of mine, a child I’m sending off into the world. Hopeful and anxious that they will be accepted, have a long life, succeed. It’s always emotional. Part vindication, part terror. Part helplessness.

I’m nervous about this one like I haven’t been before because it is the most terrifying book I’ve ever written.

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND is the story of Michael Oswald, a burned-out insurance investigator struggling to find meaning in mundane daily life. It is a holy journey to the past, to faith and to madness. Its permeating horror lies in its challenge to Western philosophy. In writing it, I absorbed this other thinking and studied Hinduism and meditated long about the nature of good and evil against the realities I saw all around me. I summoned Kali, the Dark Mother, and communed with her until she became the muse for the book. I went to dark places and came back with ashes and tigers.

To discover Michael’s madness, I went a little mad myself when I wrote it. Because of this, I am sure,
the book rings true and honest, a story about crime and horror, true because it hasn’t a false note in its perverted reality. At least not to my ears.

Like every book I write, it’ll have to find its own audience—sing me the multiple-genre-author blues—but I think it will. The book is good. really good, in my humble opinion. It is unique and effective. At it’s core is a good yarn. A little experimental (enough to make editors cringe) but it delivers. It is exciting with twists and dark corners. Hallucinations and yearnings for greatness and purpose. It’s complete with complex characters you can love and hate, and profound concepts you can mull over or run past to get to the juicy parts.

Did I just review my own book? I think I did. What can I say? I really like it.

And now it’s out of my hands. Literally. I won’t be there when the reader accompanies Michael down his surreal desert roads. I won’t be there to explain my inspiration and intent, my dislike of commas, the symbolism and literary references.

It is and always will be a part of me. A moment, an idea. I gave it birth and now let it go. Now Michael must assemble his own streak, or he may hunt alone. Such is the nature of the tyger, my dark and brooding son.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Official WHAT IMMORTAL HAND Launch Party - Salt Lake Comic Con

I’m thrilled to announce that the official launch event for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND will occur next Friday at Salt Lake Comic Con!

The event is scheduled for Friday 2:00—3:00PM in room 255A. We will have a prizes (lots!) and I will do a reading, sign some books, take questions and otherwise be damned happy to alive and have another book in print.

HERE's the official FaceBook event page if you want to check it out.

As you know, if you've heard me talking about this book at all, it was really an experience to write. I've never inhabited a character like this before. I shared Michael Oswald's trip across the country, to the past, and to his terrible truth. I acknowledge the Dark Goddess as a muse for this. I read it now and I am struck by how sure every beat is. Fiction or not, it is a true book.

And just in time for Halloween.

Also being celebrated at the release party will by a new anthology I’m privileged to be a part of called MIRAGES & SPECULATIONS. We’ll have other authors from that book there to help celebrate the craft, the art, and the thrill of having a book out.

All Salt Lake Comic Con patrons are invited. Stop by my booth at BLUE-17 on Thursday or Friday morning for official tickets which will get you in the raffle. I think we're giving away a Kindle among other things.

There's also chatter about an after-party at the Destinations bar in the Marriott Hotel afterward. 

Yeah, I'm pretty happy about all this.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Writing Young Adult Literature Class this Fall

If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never be able to experience a Fall without having that feeling of excitement and worry that accompanies going back to school. I have it now and to compound it, I really am going back to school.

This Fall I am teaching at the University of Utah with the Lifelong Learning Program (continuing education).

I'm teaching a class that starts soon. It is a six week course, two hours a week on Tuesdays. It is a workshop and a writing seminar geared toward writing young adult literature. Thus the name.

Writing Young Adult Literature

Tuesday Nights (6 sessions)
September 19th — October 24th
6:30-8:30 p.m.

From Catcher in the Rye to The Hunger Games, 'YA fiction' seeks to address the problems and transitions of its target audience -- while also having the potential to captivate adult readers the world over. Discover the secrets of what makes fiction 'young adult', and what makes great YA fiction, from an award-winning author of the genre. Learn how to appeal to the 'gatekeepers' (the adults who help guide the young adult reader), avoid genre taboos, and how to manage the responsibilities as an author whose work can impact its reader unlike any other genre.

I’ve never taught this one before, so it’ll be an adventure.

Sign up now. Space is still available.

I'll talk about my other class when it's closer. (Hint: Creative Writing Bootcamp.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Johnny is Busy

I write this blog today from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm here to play with fabulous Henderson Writers Group. We're talking Theme!

This event kicks off a month of huge writing events for me. 

After this, Thursday August 31st, I'm in Kearns for an Authors in the Round event. Talking "Editing and Publishing" there.

5350 South 4220 West 
Kearns, UT 84118

Week after that is a big one. The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference. One of my all time favorites.

— September 8-10, 2017

Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel
3801 Quebec Street 
Denver Colorado 80207 USA 

Here's what I'm doing there

Friday September 8, 2017

Presentation: Glimpsing Horror
4:00-4:50 p.m. Big Thompson

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Panel: Birds of a Feather — HORROR
11:00-11:50 a.m. Winter Park 

Presentation: The Faceted Story
3:30-4:20 p.m. Big Thompson 

Not even a week after that, I'm off to Boise for their inaugural BOISE BOOK FEST.

—Septmber 16, 2017 

Boise Centre
850 W Front St. 
Boise, ID 83702

Presentation: A Novel in 90 Days.

The week after that, I begin my six week class on Writing Young Adult Literature at the University of Utah. More on that later.

And of course Salt Lake Comic Con! I've been assigned Blue 17 for an awesome table. Come see

— September 21-23, 2017

Salt Palace Convention Center
100 S West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1408

Back to back to back events! Kinda cool actually. Come chase me down and we'll talk.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND - books in hand

Today I share with you one of the rare and wonderful moments in an author’s life. The moment when we get to hold our actual book in our actual hands.

I got my first copies of WHAT IMMORTAL HAND.

Writing is lonely and hard. It’s full of doubt and second guessing. It is years of working and waiting and wading through more rejection than normal human being should bare.

That is why when the box comes and the tape is pulled, the gleaming covers within shine like the rarest gold.

It is a magical moment, simple yet grand. It is the culmination blood sweat and tears, a rite of passage, a reward. It is vindication and redemption.

It is an idea become real.


And it is damn cool.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND blurbs coming in

The reviews are starting to come in for WHAT IMMORTAL HAND, the blurbs too. Check these out.

Also, remember that I'm giving away real paper copies of WHAT IMMORTAL HAND at GOODREADS. Here's the link to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

What Immortal Hand by Johnny Worthen

What Immortal Hand

by Johnny Worthen

Giveaway ends August 31, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I am giving away copies of WHAT IMMORTAL HAND as a Goodreads giveaway. These are actual shelf-inhabiting copies, made of paper and ink. I'll even sign them, because God knows I'll sign anything. The difference being, these I will have read.

Here's the giveaway portal:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

What Immortal Hand by Johnny Worthen

What Immortal Hand

by Johnny Worthen

Giveaway ends August 31, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Sign on up. Tell your friends, tell your enemies. Tell your streak.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

What Immortal Hand ARCs are afloat

I’ve sent out the ARCs for my new book, WHAT IMMORTAL HAND for reviews, and of course I’m collecting blurbs from other author friends of mine, and acquaintances and a couple flat out shots i the dark of people I like. So far so good.

So far so good.

But I am worried.

WHAT IMMORTAL HAND is dark. It’s a horror—adult and literary, but still a horror. The ideas and directions and content is adult and meant to be challenging if not troubling. All this is well and good and I know all my Horror Writing friends are down with this, but, let’s be honest: most of my fans know me (so far) from my young series, THE UNSEEN—ELEANOR, CELESTE and DAVID. Though there’s some darkness in those books, it’s nothing like HAND.

Granted I have fans of BEATRYSEL and they’ll be down with it, but in offering ARCs to so many of my fans, I know I’ll hit a few who’ll be shocked by my book. Will I lose a reader? A fan? A friend?

Coming September
This is the worry of all multiple genre authors. It’s why writers use pen-names for their different projects: Stephen King, Richard Bachman; JK Rowling, Robert Galbraith. I thought hard about having several pen names, but to be honest, when I started I was too lazy to do the double marketing required for two names. Since I’m now firmly entrenched in at least four genres, I think I made the right decision for me, but possibly not for my career.

Editors and publishers don’t like the multiple genre thing much either. It makes it harder to sell. My fans are spread out, hardcore horror buffs, sensitive YA readers, adult mystery buffs. As with the worry I have about WHAT IMMORTAL HAND, publishers can’t rely on fans of one of my books following me to another. So each books has to stand on its own and that’s kind of working against the momentum and fan base I have gone.

But the ship has sailed (to take a quote from WHAT IMMORTAL HAND). I can do nothing about it now but worry. I write what I do because I need to write it. “I write what I want to read, that guarantees me at least one fan,” is still my mantra, but let’s face it, I’m not alone in this. I like my readers and want them to like me.

I'm consoled in the knowledge that my fans are smart (they like me after all) and also by the strange idea—which most modern media outlets can't imagine—that readers like a little variety. People have favorites but there's room for good writing in any reader's collection.

That's my story anyway, and I'm sticking with it.

In any event, it's out of my hands now. All I can do is worry.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


When you turn most of your life upside down, don’t be surprised when the rest of it goes sliding down the ramp.

I’m moving. All of a sudden it seems. Old house out, new house on its way. Eventually. But first a stress sandwich with a side of panic. Endless hours of excitement, worry, and remorse and everyone’s nerves are frayed to a powder puff.

They say that moving is as stressful as a death or a divorce and I’d go so far as to say they’re probably more related than that.

It’s all about change. Change is a four letter word that’s six letters long just to screw with us.

Change seems to be the only constant in the universe. The delta of a mathematical equation, the crux of evolution, the one thing removed to make a perfect heavenly tableau. On the Christian God’s cloud garden, there is no aging, no death, no change. That’s how we see paradise.

But I digress.

I was bit by the change bug. After eleven years, a perfect storm of logic, emotion, and timing set me to sell my house without having another ready to take us. And it sold. And the factors that drove us to the decision have changed. Some by the whim of the punative universe, others possibly from the stress of the change itself.

The future is uncertain. It is full of change and changing change. And change—real change—is born in pain. And sometimes the pain is too much and to stop one ache, another will be endured. An amputated leg for a gangrenous toe. A new house for a stumbling relationship, a new god for a senseless death.

But I digress.

I’m moving.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

LUW Marketing Workshop

Writing is a joy. It’s an inspired act of creation and expression. It is a tonic for me and for most writers. Sometimes it becomes work and you have to force through it but it’s always worth it. That is always the best part of writing.

The not best parts, you hear me complain about a lot. The querying and glacial pace of publishing are terrible but that just begins the slog of marketing. This is what most new writers don’t understand and few are good at; the marketing of the book. A book, no matter how good or bad, is a product and must be sold. I’ve said many times that right now it’s never been easier to be published, but it’s never been harder to be read. That’s where marketing matters. And it matters a lot.

Writers are not by in large marketers—salesmen. Ir we were, we’d probably be selling cars or condos or bridges or something and getting rich instead of brooding with plots and character arcs, themes and twists that paint imaginary pictures into the aether of art. We tend to be introverted. Even me. Yeah, I know, me? Really. There are several Johnnys; one is a writer; the other a marketer who just happens to adore his product.

But enthusiasm isn’t enough. Marketing, as any business school will tell you, is a dynamic science of luck and perseverance,. The tools that work for one product one day, won’t work the next or for another thing. Finding an audience (customers) is paramount for authors and unless we just get stupid lucky, we're going to have to work a little to find them.

This is why the League or Utah Writers has put together a Summer Conference prequel class on marketing. A common topic in all modern writing conferences, the League thought to have a special dedicated half day seminar about the subject with professionals and amateurs who’ve waded into the ocean of sales and come out alive.

The seminar is Saturday July 29th at the Viridian Event Center, 8030 S 1825 W, West Jordan, UT 84088, Here’s a link to sign up and all he other info (just click on the graphic). If you do go you get a discount for the LUW Fall Conference in October. All good. There’s even going to be snacks.

I’ll be there to hear some great ideas and find reinforcement for some things I know. I invite all authors seeking to finds sales to come join us. It’s a cheap date and the information you glean might make the difference in a career.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Creative Writing Bootcamp Plan

This Saturday, I teach my first CREATIVE WRITING BOOTCAMP for the University of Utah Lifelong Learning Center. It’s a class that’s being taught by several instructors and is very popular. In planning my lessons I landed upon a fundamental philosophical problem in creative writing and thought to exploit it.

The world of writing is separated into two camps: Pantsters and Plotters. It's a reference to how an author approaches their writing. Plotters tend to outline their work first, have the ending in mind, organize. Pantsers “fly by the seat of their pants” and go where the muse leads them. There’s a long-standing feud between the two camps and it often gets bloody (see the famous Merriman City Authors massacre 1977).

I think every author is a little bit of both and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. I’ve called myself a plotter for most of my career because I think it’s the better side to be on. Generally speaking, a plotter is more productive. They can pick up where they left off more easily and have a plan that enables them to finish books. I’ve talked to sworn pantsers who’ve turned to plotting once their careers put them in the hot seat for deadlines. It’s a good way to go.

I still plot for the most part, but lately it’s been a really loose plot. I call it "waypoint writing." I have a list of things I want to accomplish in each book, each chapter and scene, and write to that. It’s a moving target. Sometimes I can’t get what I want to say into a chapter so I have to write another. Sometimes something new and amazing happens and I have to rework later scenes to accommodate. It’s a pantser inside the plot. I always have goals, themes and ideas in lists and maps, and I navigate the ocean between my points by these stars. It works for me.

Certain works demand more or less plotting. Mysteries require extensive thought beforehand if I want to play fair. Character studies can go where they will so long as I don’t loose the thread (see: Write as Fast as You Can). In truth. My most creative moments come from deep pantsting, I won’t lie. When I’m off the grid and letting the muse take over, some absolutely wonderful things happen. However I can’t count on her coming to each session. She seems to have other interests, music probably, so I’m often left to my own devices. That’s why I plot as I do.

I think a lot about these two approaches and notice myself switching sides here and there, leaning more this way or that. I teach plotting mostly, because it can be taught, but I am well aware that art comes from flying and not running on tracks. I struggle with it myself and have learned the hard way never to over-plot.

I will take this struggle of mine, this battle of writing styles, into my class. The first week of my class, we’ll pants the hell out of it (kinda). The second week we’ll plot the snot out of it (kinda sorta). And during the entire class, we’ll talk about how it all works and debate and discuss and come to an understanding if not a decision on what works best for us. At this moment. For this project. During this phase of moon. Sorta. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see what actually happens.