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.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Going back to high school

I got a chance to go back to my old high school and talk to students. It was part of the career fair where like four dozen different people come and talk about their jobs. Mostly it’s a how I did it kind of thing, or at least it was for me.

I had to give two thirty minute presentations about my path to being where I am now. It made me look back over my career journey and consider it. Considering things is one of the main things author do; they absorb life, reflect and refract it and then shine it out.

Looking back on my life, I realized one thing that kind of surprised me; I’m right where I want to be. I can see how each different journey I took helped the equation to ad up to now. I was also impressed how true I was to my original goal in life: being happy. It was my thematic lighthouse and when I veered off course for long, the pain of not following the light, brought be back, usually by upturning my whole life and lighting it on fire, but still, it was true.

I don’t know if the students I talked to today know anything more about being an author after I talked than before, but I hope I made it clear that life is for living and happiness should be your goal. Ignore the odds, think outside the box, measure in different metrics, be true to yourself. Yeah, it all sounds corny her, but it’s really what it was all about.

It’s good to walk the old halls and measure the distances between. Alta High School made me who I am, as did every other thing that ever happened to me. But still, Alta was huge. Well done.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Good Day Writing

A good day writing is the best tonic I know for my emotional well being. Exercise is good, don’t get me wrong. Eating right could happen. Could. I might find time to meditate, like if the stars align right, but the only true and consistent medicine I have for happiness is writing.

I know this, but like most things that are important, we take it for granted and we can forget. NaNoWriMo, happening this month (see last week’s blog post) has reminded me of how good it is to get the words in day after day.

Only a week in, I’ve had my challenges. I missed an entire day last Saturday and have struggled with a couple others, but I’m still plugging away. I am reminded that I know I can do this, I know I can finish this big project and this project has been kicking my ass.

How much of an ass-kicking you might ask. (you might), Well I had a terrible shock yesterday as I poked around my NaNoWriMo dashboard to see my past achievements and such. I’ve done a few Nano’s but not all of them since I began my journey into authorship. Anyway, what I discovered in looking at my Nano scorecard is that last year’s NaNoWriMo project is the same as this years! OMG- I knew this book was talking a long time, much longer than any of my other books, but to see the same title for the 2016 project as the 2017 project shamed me to the core and gave me new motivation. (Shame can be good if used properly. Ask the Puritains. No. On second thought, don't.)

I didn’t make the 50,000 worlds last year for the project; it really is a complicated piece, and I doubt I’ll make the required words this year (because I shouldn’t have that many left to finish it, but still. Jeeeez, What a year it has been if I haven’t finished a single book, complicated or not. There were years when I’d do three or four, then two or three, then one or two, then one, then, not one. Not good.

NaNoWriMo however has juiced me up. The writing retreat ahead of it primed me and the speech propelled me, but now I’m going. I’m paying attention. I’m doing the work and making real progress. I may be a few hundred words behind, but I’m on the track and I’m blazing. And if I finish the book by the end of the month, regardless of the word count, I’m going to be winner. Not just because the black is on the white, but because I feel better. A good day writing is a good day. Period.

Nano is all about made up deadlines and goals, but if you believe them and they get you there, what’s the difference? It gets me good days.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo is here

If you’re not a writer November can be a fun month. It’s got Thanksgiving, where we eat until we’re sick and then have a piece of pie. However if you’re a writer, it’s a month of stress and endurance. It’s National Novel Writing in Month month—NaNoWriMo.

Last week, I had the privilege of giving a kick-off speech to our local group entering upon this great and important undertaking. Many had done it before, some had succeeded, but there many newbies. I warned them that this simple personal promise to write 50,000 words in a month, to complete a “novel” might be the most dangerous thing they’d ever done.

It’s about confidence. It’s about goals. It’s about success and not giving up. It’s about realizing your power.

I wrote my first novel for NaNoWriMo, I realized I could do it. That’s it. A simple confirmation that I could actually consistently write and produce something that didn’t make me want to throw up. I had done what my heroes do—I was a writer. Being an author was short easy step compared to that.

I don’t mean to over simplify the experience but it was life-changing. To this day, when I am on my game, I use the NaNoWriMo model for my daily work-1,666 words per day, record progress, minimum editing for first drafts and keep going. Finish what I start and critics be damned. I’m a writer.

I’ve fallen off my game a bit of late. My new project is beyond complicated and technically challenging. I’m also lazy and distracted, but that’s beside the point. It’s time to get serious again.

Deadlines are magical. I’m embracing them again—NaNoWriMo here I come. I’m joining the race this year. I haven’t had a November project in a while, but I do now. I might not have 50,000 words left in this book, but with the pressure, deadlines and support of the community, I’m confident I can finally finish this work and start another in November.

Put the black on the white. That’s what NaNo is about.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Making Sense of The World

“Human beings are the only creature on earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn’t got one.” — Hunter S Thompson

Like many people today I’m concerned with the state of the world. Politics are failing. Hate and division are the hallmarks of our current social climate while the world’s climate burns itself up like a blazing match.

I grew up on terrifying prophesies of the end of days. Whether it was Christians or Nostradamus, I was taught that I’d see the end of the world in my lifetime I can’t say now they were wrong.

It has been a theme in my life, a horror I’ve carried in the back of my mind, like the children of the atomic age fearing the bomb. My fear was compounded by questionable interpretations of dodgy religious texts and mediaeval riddles.

Still it is in my imagination and I’ve struggled to come to terms with the idea of it, if not the reality.

It was this struggle that led me to write WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. If I could find a good side to destruction, a meaning behind apocalypse, a nobility in evil, then perhaps I might sleep better at night.

To find an answer, I had to leave my cultural landmarks behind. I had to travel to India, I had to face the devil and dance with Her.

Man created Gods to understand the universe. They are symbols. Their existence beyond our own minds is suspect to say the least. The are projections. Good and evil are constructs and a vision of the universe based on that finds an amoral universe. Better to see cycles of birth, life, and death. Better to surrender to the organic rhythms as terrible and frightening as they are than to fight against nature.

Terrible things are happening. Things that could have been delayed if not wholly avoided. There’s a meanness in my country that is horrible. There’s ignorance and fear that can do nothing but harm. I’d stop if if I could. I—with countless others I try to extinguish the flames but there is no guarantee.

I don’t believe in the apocalypse any more, but I do understand that things can get so fucked up that there may be no return. If that is the case, I pray the next cycle creates better beings than us who will last longer, seek farther, grow wiser than we who hurried our own meteoric destruction with selfishness and greed. Perhaps our sacrifice will sate Kali long enough for them to succeed.

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.