Saturday, June 23, 2018

Attending Convention Classes...Realizing What I DON'T Know

The 2018 version of Fyrecon is over. It was another successful conference. For me, there were differences in last year's convention and this one. The biggest change this time was I hardly attended any of the classes or panels.

Except for one.

I went to the Screenwriting Essentials: Building a Cinematic Story class presented by Blake Casselman and David Howard. And it was excellent. It made me realize just how much I don't know. 

I know that statement makes me sound like I knew everything about the craft before I walked into the classroom. I didn't think about that consciously, but maybe on some level I thought about it unconsciously. I've been studying writing and screenwriting for over a decade--not intensively, but off and on. And I've attended several conferences and attended many classes talking about this specific thing--how to become a successful screenwriter. Throw in being a part of a screenwriting writing group and I thought I would have heard everything they were going to talk about before.

That's what surprised me. Even though I've heard much of the lecture before, being part of a discussion fires up the brain, makes me think of new things, and inspires me to the possibilities. Also, the presenters brought up things I hadn't considered, things I really need to know if I want to have success writing screenplays.

For most of the convention this year I manned the vendor table. There were literally dozens of classes spanning the past three days. Maning the table representing the publishing company is important, but I know I could have gotten a lot out of those panels, if I had only gone. 

Next year plans are already being made for Fyrecon 3. I hope I'm fortunate enough to be part of it and I hope also I can take advantage of the classes. There was a lot of excellent knowledge at this year's convention, as I expect there to be next year. And if I attend them, I'm sure I'll come out of those classes realizing yet again how much I don't know.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Blogging...At The Village Inn

When I pull up my blog stats, I see that I have successfully posted 2709 blogs editions. This one will be 2710. And I believe I've written every one of those blogs either on my old MacBook Pro laptop or the MacBook Pro I'm using to type this now...

...all except two.

There were two blog posts where I hit the "Publish" button on a device other than my Mac. And both those times I had no other choice but to use my iPhone.

The first time I did this, it was a nightmare.

It happened last September. I took a job at our local amusement park for their Halloween season. Around 11pm it became apparent I was not getting home by midnight. I have a few rules about my daily blog. A big rule is I need to post between 12:01am and 11:59pm, Mountain Time. We were cramming to get the show on its feet before we opened and I was going to be there for several hours after midnight.

No problem--I had the Blogger App!

Blogger App to the rescue!

Except the Blogger App was total garbage. Of course, it could have been my phone, but I think it was the app. Another rule I have is to include a photo for every blog post. I pulled up the app, clicked a new post, added the photo, then began to write. The problem I ran into is after every single word I typed, the program crashed so I'd have to re-open it, go through the process of starting over (because it wouldn't allow me to save anything...) and try again. I finally was able to crank out a couple of sentences and published the blog. When I got home--well after midnight--I cleaned it up and it turned out okay.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. I was helping out for the upcoming Fyrecon convention and I found myself at 9pm about thirty miles south of where I live. I thought I would have time to write my blog post until I was told two things: 1--the group wanted to get a late dinner, and 2--I needed to drive an extra fifty or so miles after we were all done with dinner.

That's when I took out my phone to try and post a blog again. Turns out, the Blogger App is no more.  I had my laptop with me, but no internet access, so I had to access my blog via the Chrome App. As others ate and conversed, I sat at the end of the table at the Village Inn on Redwood Road in South Jordan and posted pictures and wrote a short blog post. No crashing, no maddening thoughts.

I hope I won't have to use my phone to blog again--the MacBook Pro is like driving a Ferrari vs. a skateboard. But, I'm glad I was able to do it and keep the daily blog going, for at least another day.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

So...What Does A Vendor Table REALLY Look Like?

Today Fyrecon 2 began in Layton and I was fortunate enough to be involved. It's a testament to people's hard work and a desire to give writers and artists the tools to succeed in creating art. This convention, like many I've attended, have a vendor room, and my book is one of the items you can buy.

Vendor rooms are great. They're like an entirely different world--a different show--from the regular convention. Of course, many of those on panels and teaching classes can be found in the vendor room hoping to sell their books, or art.

And in each vendor room some things are the same. One of those things are the vendor tables. At least, the tables where I've had my books always seem to be the same. I noticed this as we sat and chatted at our table. I even snapped a photo.

If you look carefully, it's the little things that make this a classic vendor table. There's places for each of the books we're selling--everyone has a little bit of space. We've got our bookmarks and business cards, too. And, because we're at a convention with access to the green room, there's snacks and the remains of snacks. And if the green room is poorly stocked (unlike Fyrecon's...), it seems someone always brings granola bars, licorice, and bottled water. You know, the basics.

There's things you don't see in the photo, like not having enough leg room because underneath the table are boxes stacked on boxes of books waiting to be sold. You don't see that there's never enough chairs for everyone, or even if there were enough chairs, there's never enough room for all the chairs of everyone who wants to hang out at the vendor table.

I suppose I've been lucky. I've always been around a lot of people at these events. It's one of the things I enjoy most--just sitting around and talking to friends about books, writing, movies, other conventions, and why we gave our kids the names we gave them (among other things...).

The vendor table--I don't see it going away any time soon and I don't see it changing, either. Now, if we can only get all those books sold...

We'd have more room for snacks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Genius Of A Panel Discussion...

In the past five years I’ve sat in on and attended dozens of panels. Tonight I sat in on another. As I sat and listened to the questions and answers, it made me think of just how much better other things would be if we would only just sit down and not just talk, but actually listen to each other.

The topic of tonight’s panel discussion dealt with heroes and villains. Of course, it could have been a host of other topics and the authors and illustrators would have done equally well. Each was respectful to each other and to us, the audience. Each had an opportunity to express their views and opinions. And when the last question had been answered, everyone left hopefully improved in some way.

Now, the answers to life’s great questions were not discovered. We didn’t unlock the mysteries of the universe. We talked about heroes and villains, and what the panelists thought about what those words mean. But just think if more serious issues were discussed in just such a manner. Maybe they are, but we don’t see those. We are the tweet, the ten-second video clip, the sound bite, the “zinger.” This might get views but nothing gets accomplished.

And maybe that’s why I found tonight’s discussion so refreshing. It was a group of people talking and another group listening. And both groups came away better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fixing The Hurt...A High-Tech Way

Yesterday I went to the chiropractor to help with back pain. Last year I pinched a nerve in my back causing pain to be in my right arm. I don't know how many visits I made to the chiropractor, but eventually the pain went away and I forgot about it.

That is, until last week. I didn't do anything except get dressed and I felt something tighten in my back. That's when I knew whatever I had happen before was happening again. The back is tricky. If I knew what to do to avoid having this happen again, I'd do that, but you never know with backs.

Yesterday the doctor hooked some sticky things on my back then activated them. I've had the therapy before so I knew what to expect. The other day I was at the store and I saw a similar product for sale advertising lower back pain relief. I asked the chiropractor if I might be able to use that product for what caused my pain. Turns out, they had a little electronic gizmo themselves.

I bought the Tens AA, brought it home, and used it throughout the day today. 

Isn't technology great?

Of course, I may not have put the stickers on the same spot as they did. I tried remembering as best I could where they stuck them. I think I did okay. The ability to set the level of juice was a cool option. And I could wear the unit on my belt while I worked. The doctor just counseled I need to not have it on more than I had it off. In other words, if I had it going for fifteen minutes, I needed to wait fifteen minutes to start it up again.

These things have probably been around for years. I've been lucky and haven't needed to use them. I don't know how long the discomfort will hang around this time--hopefully not long at all. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ben Ireland...An Author You Should Get To Know

"Plus he's British. And not just regular British--space British. 
Which is like three times sexier than earth British."

Ben Ireland

I heard about Ben some time before I met him (oh, and he's Australian, not British...). He and I both published stories with Xchyler Publishing. They chose several of my short stories as well as short stories and a couple of novels from Ben. I always admired the novelists--back then I hadn't written a novel and wondered if I ever would. It's like being a mountain climber, having reached several lower summits, but seeing a Denali, Kilimanjaro, or Everest and wanting so much to climb them, but being terrified to do so at the same time.

If climbing is writing, then Ben's not only climbed the big mountains, but reached the top.

What make's Ben's writing even more impressive is he's two series, one middle-grade and the other, for an older reader. One exciting thing about the Blacksmith Legacy series is it's soon to have another edition. Billy Blacksmith: The Irønsøul is due out later this summer. I'm hoping to get all three books for my son who is just beginning to understand the importance and awesomeness of reading. And I think Ben's books are an excellent way for him to continue on that literary journey.

You can access Ben's Amazon page: HERE. You can also catch him at this year's Fyrecon writing symposium going on this weekend in Layton, Utah. You can access Fyrecon's website: HERE. I attended a class Ben taught last year--definitely engaging, definitely helpful. And--this is really cool--you can get artwork from Ben's books at his Teepublic site: HERE. You can get the images put on shirts, mugs, wall art, even computer covers. Check it out--there's some great stuff there!

One of the most amazing things I've discovered by attending these conventions and writing stories is getting to know local authors--getting to know them both as individuals and as authors. If you get a chance to pick up one of his novels or short stories, I recommend you do it. I'd love to hear what you think. Plus, if you get a chance to meet the author/mountain climber, I recommend you do that, too. Support your local artists--the world's a better place when you do.

An image posted by the author.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Remembering Dad...On Father's Day

One thing I absolutely love about social media are the posts on the holidays, especially the holidays that spotlight individuals. Veterans Day is one, but the ones I especially enjoy are Mother's Day and Father's Day. I spent time today scrolling through posts from family, friends, and even strangers who posted pictures, recalled memories, and gave thanks for their fathers. It helps change the image of not only how I see social media, but of humanity. If only we could be the people we are today everyday.

It's impossible for me not to think of my own father on this day (and on Veterans Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day...). A few years before my mother passed away she compiled a book full of photos, family histories, and memories of the people in my family. There are several sections dedicated to my father.

I'm so glad they're there.

You can see from these photos my father was born a long time ago and passed away almost fifty years later. I was eight-years old when he died. I knew the man as "dad," but I did not know the man who grew up in the Great Depression and used his excelling marksmanship skill to literally help feed his family, the man who at twenty-years old enlisted for one of the most dangerous jobs in the army, the man who became a policeman, an engineer, a judge.

I have been fortunate enough to be a father of four amazing people. They've never known a day without a father. As friends my age grow older, their parents are leaving them behind and passing away. For the first time in their lives, they know what it's like to not have someone there, someone who protects them, shelters them, defends them, loves them. And it's hard.

Maybe that's why I love seeing all these posts celebrating these men that are so important to them. I can see the role fathers have played in their lives. But instead of being sad that I didn't have that, I'm glad they did. It's one of the great joys of being a child.