Saturday, June 25, 2022

OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES virtual book club


You're invited!


Hey kids,

The Infinite Monkey Chapter of the League of Utah Writers (my stomping grounds), is hosting a virtual book club next month for OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES*.

I will be there to answer questions and hang out.

Host president Daniel Yocom will steer the conversation and look adorable while I will look embarrassed and fight imposter syndrome.
 

Date will be: Wednesday July 20, 2022

Time will be 7:00 MST

Place will be this Zoom link here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83068169075?pwd=bKYl_Mxb26P2ckQR2WzkDzvP85tEID.1

 

You do not need to be a member of the chapter or the league or even the human race to attend, but it’ll help if you’ve read the awesome book.

To make that easier, my publisher is running a deal for the ebook until July 22nd. You can pick an up an ebook for one dollar nine and ninety cents or less (≥$1.99) from these locations.

 

Amazon

Apple

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Google

Kobo

 







Come hang out and discuss the universe of Coronam, pose questions, meet some fantastic people. See my new glasses.

Email me if you have any questions.

—Johnny

* PS – OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES is an official best-seller as of June 22, 2022. Squeeeeee!


Monday, April 25, 2022

Pikes Peak Writers Conference this week

 Hey kids,

Sorry for not posting in like forever, but as you know, I am at heart, a lazy man.


Depression is a thing too, as are new distractions, like washing and editing.


To counteract my laziness, I have made Frostian promises to keep. Namely, a bunch of conferences coming up. I love conferences. They energize, improve, connect, challenge and emotionally drain me like nothing else. Getting back in front of masses of people, leaving the house to interact with actually nearby human beings, free of Zoom restraints and mute buttons is a welcome return to what I once thought was normal.


My next one is Pikes Peak, this week. If you’re going, look me up. If you’re not going and want to, I bet you can still come. Here's what I'll be doing. It's a lot right? Yeah, it'll be aa blast.





Pikes Peak Writers Conference

Friday through Sunday — April 29 – May 1, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022

8:30-9:30 pm. Pike's Peak 

Panel Moderator with Hannah Andrade • Elizabeth Copps • Lucienne Diver • Alice Speilburg • Samantha Wekstein

Join the agents as they answer questions.


4:45-5:45 pm. Royal Gorge Room 

Presentation: The Faceted Story

A presentation about those elements of narrative fiction that lend depth, value and resonance to writing. Every story has some, the best have many. We’ll learn how to identify which elements to include in your story. Subplots and multiple stories, arcs, settings, themes, novelties, information and more. A little foresight, a touch of research and a clear goal can nurture the muse to bring out the strength of the form.

    Writers will be challenged to expand their fiction into elements beyond mere story and character. Emphasis will be placed on theme as well as history, education and entertainment qualities. Examples and techniques will be offered to help shape niches and expand any story into new areas of interest.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

8:30-9:30 am. Palmer/Academy Room 

Presentation: Morning Zen and the Way of the Writer

Author Johnny Worthen shares his discoveries studying eastern philosophy during the pandemic and their surprising applications to the life of an author. Sessions include directed mindfulness meditation and lecture on basic Buddhist concepts explaining how they may be successfully applied to the journey of writing.


9:45-10:15 pm. Bookstore (Three Creeks) 

Book Signing 

Come out and see me or I'll be so lonely... I'll be signing all my books.


3:15-4:15 pm. Seven Falls 

Panel Moderator: Adapt your Novel to the Screen With Ines Johnson

In this practical workshop, veteran television writer and screenwriter instructor Ines Johnson will guide novelists through a series of steps designed to take a manuscript from the written word to the visual world of the screen and teleplay. Using a number of books that have been adapted successfully, and some not so successfully, into movies and television series, Ines will show authors how to break their novels down to their story core of the word and logline, and translate their plot points into the beat sheet of the screen.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

9:00-10:0 am. Teller 

Presentation: Deeper Reading for Deeper Writing

Consciously or unconsciously meaning is hidden beneath signs and facades in literature, layered in word choice and focus. Through shared reading, discussion and meaning and themes, we will learn to consciously see what our subconscious feels within a text, those elements that unite and undercut, but always elevate craft into art. Once you understand deconstruction, your reading and your writing will never be the same.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Johnny's 2021 Read Books

 It’s time for my annual “What did Johnny Read Last Year” post.

2021 was another year for stress and unpleasant worry. To combat the decline of western civilization and implosion of capitalism, I challenged myself to read 50 books in the calendar year and successfully consumed 59. Pretty awesome.

Below is the list. You’ll see certain patterns there. I fell in love with Cory Doctorow, Ursula K. Le Guin and I devoured books on Buddhism while boning up on the rise of the grain state and astrophysics. And of course, I perused a few classics.


The Totally Awesome Book of Useless Information, Noel Botham

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ursula K. Le Guin

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller 

Ravel, Cassidy Ward

Orlando, Virginia Woolf

5


We Can Build You, Phillip K Dick

White Trash Warlock, David R. Slayton

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking

The Counterfeit Connection, Johnny Worthen

Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D H Lawrence

10


Passage Meditation, Eknath Easwaran

No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners, Noah Rasheta

Squeeze Me, Carl Hiaasen

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh

15

 

Tropic of Stupid, Tim Dorsey

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty

Steering the Craft, Ursula K. Le Guin

Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie

20


The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman

What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula

Skios, Michael Frayn

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

A Briefer History of Time, Stephen Hawking

25


If Not Now, When? Infinite Monkey Anthology 

They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Strong in Broken Places, LUW anthology

A Promised Land, Barack Obama

30


Stargazer, Anne Hillerman

The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

The Upanishads, Eknath Easwaran

Information Doesn’t Want to be Free, Cory Doctorow

Radicalized, Cory Doctorow 

35


Eastern Standard Tribe, Cory Doctorow

Overclocked, Cory Doctorow

Buddhism for Beginners, Thubten Chords

Walkaway, Cory Doctorow

Maximum Bob, Elmore Leonard

40


Little Brother, Cory Doctorow

Runaway: Poppet Cycle 2, Donna J. W. Munro

Bonfire of the Vanities, Thomas Wolfe

Catwings, Ursula K. Le Guin

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

45


Catwings Return, Ursula K. Le Guin

Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, Ursula K. Le Guin

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer

Jane on Her Own, Ursula K. Le Guin

Seeing Sideways, Kristin Hersh

50


Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo

Homeland, Cory Doctorow

The King in Yellow, Robert W. Chambers

Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling

The Man with the Golden Arm, Nelson Algren

55


The Four Seals of the Dharma, Lama Khenpo Ngedön 

Against the Grain, James C. Scott

Why Buddhism is True, Robert Wright

The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber & David Wengrow

59


The challenge continues. 50 books in 2022.

Peace out,

—Johnny

Monday, November 15, 2021

Letting go of Coronam

 OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES; a Book of Coronam



This time it’s different.

Every time I launch a book, I take a moment to consider. It’s a milestone in any author’s life. Even for those authors who’ve forgotten how many books they’ve published and have three lined up for this week. It matters. It’s important. It’s emotional.

The old analogy that books are like children is real. We birth them, form them, love them and then set them out into the world. Our hands are tied then. There’s really nothing we can do after they leave. We can’t control who they meet, how they’re received. The love they get, the heartbreak. Maybe we can offer few good word here or there, a boost where we can, a defense when we’re able, but it’s the book’s life now. We only started it. Nevertheless though our power to shape its destiny is waned, our attachment has not. It is a part of us and will always be so. A reflecting however dim of ourselves. A dream we once had. An hope, a prayer, an idea we dared share.

But this one is different.

It’s been mentioned to me that I have a different voice in every genre, Tony’s sarcasm in the Flaner series is a world different from Eleanor’s longing in the Unseen. The holy madness of WHAT IMMORTAL HAND is a qualitative divergent from the seriousness of THE BRAND DEMAND. To all these genres I now add science fiction.

I write from the inside out. That is, I begin with an idea, a theme, and then form a story around that. I attribute this to my training in literature and critique as opposed to creative writing. Sometimes the theme is constructive, that is to say, another armature to compliment setting, character, and plot as a skeleton for a compelling story. Sometimes, the theme is engulfing and desperate, a long-form reach for meaning and understanding. Coronam is the latter. Coronam is my dread of history turning into fear for the future. My questions here address have to do with the individual and the community and the proposition. that society can evolve.

Through the creation of my fantastic worlds, I found not only a better understanding of history but hope for the future. The key, and here is a spoiler I suppose, is knowledge. I believe we already have the other main ingredient to make it work—compassion—or at least we can find it. That is a certainty.

OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES. Coronam.


A different thing in my writing career. It’s an homage to the great epic science fiction authors of the past, those greats who weened me in the day. Asimov’s FOUNDATION TRILOGY, THE FOUR LORDS OF THE DIAMOND and of course and most importantly, Frank Herbert’s DUNE. Every writer who read these growing up, breeds within them a desire to make their own epic, to join those ranks, to participate in grand storytelling. Coronam is mine. 

It is a complex piece, multiple points of view, many worlds, as many weaving plot lines and history echoes all held together firmly by the idea of evolution and new chances. I have a beautiful queen fighting for her thrown and for her people against a rising tyrant. I have a pirate lover sworn to her side; a zealous priest doing God’s own work, however cruel it may be; a doomed colony with good intentions but bad luck; and a child whose suffering turns to enlightenment. These are alien worlds with familiar shapes, people who look different but aren’t. There is environmental danger, human caused and natural. A sun who warms the planets and makes the miracle that is the system, but is volatile, unpredictable, and dangerous.

Now, on the eve of its release I can only hope that it’ll be well received. It is dense, more DUNE than TWILIGHT, if you know what I mean. It flows in longing ideas and evocative prose. It is epic.

It is different.

I wrote the book because I wanted to read it. That anyone else wanted to, is a bonus. That a fantastic press like Flame Tree wanted to publish it, puts me over the the moon—all of them! It is out of my hands now. I did the best I could and now it stands on its own.

But this time it’s different.

This time the stage is bigger, the distribution world-wide, the fan base potentially global. It’s intimidating. I won’t lie, this book could make me. Or break me.

And anything in between.

All we can ever ask for in life is a chance, right? Do our best and be content? The severing of art from artist which happens whenever a work is finished and released, teaches this lesson in harsh helplessness. The book has its own life now, will have its own fans. We are related but not the same. Our fates will be forever different and yet shared. I have set the solar-sails to catch the storms of the sun. It sails now without me. Others now have the control. But I buoyed in optimism, confident in my team, excited for possibility, and steeling myself for whatever may comes, equally vulnerable to success and failure. I’ve been here before.

But this time it’s different.

Familiar, but new. This is history repeating itself, in micro and macro, fantasy and reality. But this time it’s different. This time it’s bigger. This time the stakes are higher.

OF KINGS, QUEENS AND COLONIES: A Book of Coronam. Humanity gets another chance, but will anything be different?


Thanks for your support.

—Johnny

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Awards are cool


I teach it and I try to live it, but it rain’t always easy. Writing —art in general I suppose, is subjective and hard, full of rejection and heart ache. Any validation of one’s work is welcome and big validation, say, like winning awards from your peers is an absolute wonder. 

At this year’s League of Utah Writers Quills Conference, yours truly won several awards. 

I won two Olive Woolley Burt Awards, the new name for the League of Utah Writers non-published writing contest. I dominated the short fiction category with two wins.

My short story Kintsugi, won a First Honorable Mention. This story renamed to Hardened Scars, will appear in the upcoming anthology STRONG IN BROKEN PLACES, coming this winter. It’s the story of a woman coming to terms with her abusive father.

My short story, The Last Chance won Third Place. This story appears in IF NOT NOW, WHEN? a league chapter anthology released at Quills from the Infinite Monkeys. In this story, a horror or possibly a thriller, an up-and-coming senator meets an old school mate at a midnight cafe called The Last Chance.

In the Novel category of the Quills Contest, which honors published books by league members only, I again did very well. It was a very tight contest this year, with several ties and a crowded slate.

My Tony Flaner mystery novella, THE KNICKKNACK CASE, won a Recommend Read Quill.

MY Tony Flaner mystery novel, IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD, won a Silver Quill. I got a trophy for this one.

High honors. I’m humbled and happy beyond giddy.

Rock on Tony! All the tony Flaner mysteries are available now, click the links below. However, THE KNICKKNACK CASE can be had for free by joining my mailing list here.

Interestingly and excitedly, I have to note that all Tony Flaner’s books have now won awards.

THE FINGER TRAP, Diamond Quill, - best book of the year

THICKER THAN WATER, Recommended Read

THE KNICKKNACK CASE, Recommended Read

IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD, Silver Quill

Thank you all for your love and support. Help me praise the gods of subjectively and taste by joining me in a happy dance. You can do it from your chair if you want, just your arms and head, or like me, you could circle the room in a tie-dye toga imitating cartoon dogs.






Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Letting go of Tony, THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION

Each time a book of mine sets off into the world I’m possessed by a certain sadness. I think it’s akin to the feeling any parent has when watching a child move on, out of their control and protection. There’s a sense of wonder at the act but also self-doubt, did I do everything I could to prepare them? Will they be liked?

THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION is no different, and yet different. It’s my latest book, which means I’ve done this a few times before and so should be an old hat at this. I’m buoyed by the knowledge that readers of this book probably have endured a few previous iterations of Tony Flaner and so know what they’re getting into. There’s a huge relief in knowing that, in putting a book into the hands of fans and friends. There Is also however the worry that I’ll disappoint, that the very people I’m most grateful to, the ones who allowed me to produce this book, won’t like it, that I’ll fail to meet exceptions. That it won't meet the level of its predecessors. That the previous novels, if they were good, were more the result of luck than my skill.

This is imposter syndrome. It is a common thing among creatives, I hear. I know few authors, if any, who don’t wrestle with this idea to some degree. We are so used to rejection that any kind of acceptance seems like a dream, a lucky break, an undeserved theft of affection and attention. There’s also always the phenomenon of not understanding how any book was made. No two projects of mine have manifested the same way ; I get an idea and write it, somehow. In looking back over a project, it’s a blur of energy, effort, and emotion. Did I do that or was I possessed? There’s a disassociation involved that furthers the idea of separateness, of falseness and fakery.

I talked to a big author once – damn if I can remember her name now, such is me, but I’ll never forget what she said about getting books on the New York Times Best Seller List and other accolades she’d earned. Each time, she said, it was worse. It was the con extended. There was never a feeling of “oh, yeah, now I deserve this.” Instead it was that somehow the lie had gotten bigger. She compared it to “leveling up,” that each time the feeling grew and her need of acceptance had to grow too – a new boss level and she needed to just face it.

I’m a big fish in my little pond. For my entire career I’ve been punching above my weight class. I’ve used my special powers of being memorable to my advantage. I’ve used my rampant insecurity to hide myself behind wit and humor. Self-effacing and boisterous, I am shielded. These have served me well, but they’re temporary fixes. In the time of twilight, staring at a blank page, riding the train home, wondering at my Amazon page, I can’t help feeling that the con has gotten out of hand, and at any moment, I’ll be revealed as the fake I am.

Yeah, I write comedies.

This is the theme of THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION. I explore the idea of forgeries in personality and art, all while Tony himself wrestles with his insecurities. He’s never understood what Allie sees in him. He’s seldom taken a hard look at his own work and wondered if he fell into the success or earned it. Usually he is immune from such heady thoughts, but Tony may be growing up a bit. Life is descending and comparisons are inevitable, especially with a high school reunion coming up and an old rival making moves on his lover.

A nice set up personally, but why stop there? The world is full of fakes, creators and artist are all characters in their own worlds, facades, personalities with values defined by expectation. It is a major subject, strangely easy to write about, and unfortunately, unsolvable.

That’s the cheat. I will spoil my new book, a little. I do not solve this problem with Tony in THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION, though I try. I investigate and tease, I exemplify and simplify, but the underlying issue is hardly revolved. I land on a moment of recognition regarding the impermanence of it all and take hope in that. My answer? The best anyone can do is to do their best  and hope their armor is strong enough to protect them from not their failures, but from their successes.

The book is a fun mystery, a trek around my area with all its hypocrisies and ironies. Tony is in his element, smog messing with his senses, problems of his own creation, old friends reaching out for help he’s not sure he can deliver on. A new boss. A time to level up.

And so with stirring trepidation and the sure knowledge that I have failed in whatever grand experiment I undertook and will be revealed as the imposter I am, I can only hope that my readers see through these faults and find a friend, enjoy the ride, sympathize, empathize, euthanize their own fears with a few hours of Tony Flaner in THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION.



THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION, A Tony Flaner Mystery

Now available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited 


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION

 Drum Roll please (funnier than a spring roll, and fewer than a cinnamon).

I present to you, my beloved readers, the next Tony Flaner adventure, 

THE COUNTERFEIT CONNECTION

    After months of nothing, insecure sleuth Tony Flaner gets four cases in one night. Two of them are paying; a background check and a missing person. One is for family pride, the other is personal—because Tony is taking everything personally. A rival detective is talking smack, and a looming high school reunion threatens disaster, exposure, and maybe the loss of his girlfriend. Tony’s angsty teenage son is going through phases which may now include crime, but not appreciation of the new fifty-thousand dollar car Tony gave him for Christmas.

    Tony must face international intrigue, falling fame, angry dogs, and the dreaded—God help him—domestic case, all the while drowning in the mental sludge of imposter-syndrome and the real pollution of the infamous Salt Lake City inversion. Even the air isn’t real.

    Actors and agents, hippies and obsessions, a Burmese coup, and the worst song ever from Rogers and Hammerstein test Tony’s luck, skill, and patience as he uncovers the Counterfeit Connection.

 Behold the cover!


Behold also that it is available on Amazon at this very moment for pre-order. Actual release date is set for June 15, 2021, a Tuesday, because, according to the mountain, all new books are released on a Tuesday. If someone knows why, please email me. I’m not making that up. I heard it somewhere and don’t wholly understand it. First person to give me a good answer will get a free ebook of mine. Something nice.