Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 2 At FanX...Making A Cool Cosplay Costume

Cosplay--if you're attending the latest local comic con, you'll see a lot of cosplayers dressed as...well, if you can imagine it, there's a good chance someone is wearing it. In the past couple of years, I've attended several of these things and I've seen a lot of costumes--some better than others.

Still, part of the draw for many who go is to see those in costume. Today I saw a great one! A girl dressed up as "Toothless" from the How To Train Your Dragon franchise. She was at the event yesterday and today she stopped at our booth and I was able to get a few pictures.

I have no idea how long it took for her to create this. I can say that she had to figure out how to walk (hopefully comfortably...) on all fours, and how to make the head look like the character's from the movie. She did a fantastic job on both.

It looked like she used a backpack frame to attach the wings and the whole wing assembly slid back when she stood upright when she didn't want to be in character. It actually took a lot of thought to design and build Toothless. 

Cosplay is another reason that if you haven't attended a comic con, you should, at least for one day, and just check out the sometimes amazing things people come up with!

Tomorrow this incarnation of our event comes to an end. I've got two panels: Beyond the Deadly Hallows: The Past and Future of Harry Potter at 4pm in Ballroom C, and the last panel of the day, Sometimes It's Okay to Kill the Good Guy at 8pm in Room 150G. Also, please stop by table Purple 8 in the Dealer's area to check out our books.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 1 At FanX, Great Harry Potter Panel...And I Sold A Book!

I always say after coming home from a day at a major convention, "I should have taken more pictures," which is weird  because if anything, I take TOO many pictures. There's just something about being at Comic con where I don't necessarily want to take pictures. I just want to enjoy the experience.

And that's exactly what I did today.

It was a great first day. I even sold a book!

Doors opened at 3pm for VIP's and 4pm for everyone else. Our table (Purple #8) has a great view of those attending. We're also right across the way from the Studio C booth. I met many new authors and hopefully made some new friends. I also participated on my first panel.

And that was fantastic!

The line to get into the panel stretched almost half the length of the hall. The sight of all those people lining up for a panel was a bit daunting. With everyone seated, there were a few seats here and there, but it was mostly a packed house. And the fellow panelists were great! We even had a doctor from Utah State on the panel and she helped SO much to add a depth to the event that I've rarely experienced when doing these type of things.

Tomorrow I've got two panels: How To Get Past Writer's Block, Ballroom C, 11am to 11:50am, and How To Write For Middle Grade/YA To Specific Audiences, Room 150G, 1pm to 1:50pm. If you're in the neighborhood, I'd love to see you!

And finally, I sold a book. I know that's not monumental news and many authors sold many many more books today. But for me, it's a milestone and it made me feel good. Thank you fellow author from Utah County for the purchase!

Day 1 = done. Day 2, bring it on!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Salt Lake Comic Con FanX Is Here...Almost

It's been such a crazy week, I haven't had time to even think about the big event this weekend. I mean, I've thought about it, but haven't had a lot of time to prepare. But, whether or not I'm prepared, the event's coming in a few hours and there's nothing I can do to stop it, not that I'd want to.

Tomorrow is the first day of FanX, even though it's only a half-day. The doors for VIP guests open at 3pm and general admission begins at 4pm. I'm going early to set up our table. This will be the first time our publisher will have an official presence there, even though many of Xchyler's authors have bene involved in the cons since they began in 2013.

I am also participating in a panel tomorrow. If you're going, I'd love to see you there. It begins at 5:30pm and goes until 6:20pm in Room 151G. The title of the panel is: Harry Potter: Why Harry Needed Hermione and Ron to Survive. Every. Time. I'm excited, even though I'm not the most knowledgeable about the subject. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute.

FanX starts tomorrow. If you've never gone, it's an experience like none other. Would I like to meet the celebrities? Sure, but it's not really why I go. I am excited to be with other Xchyler authors who have become my friends over the past few years. And I hope to also spend time with other friends, authors, bookbinders, and artists of all kinds. Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

James Wymore's "Exacting Essence"...A Book Review

I met James Wymore in the spring of 2013. It took me this long to get around to reading one of his books. I finished Exacting Essence yesterday.

I shouldn't have taken so long.

I had no idea what this book was about when I began reading it. The cover shows us some spooky woods behind a girl holding an axe that's reflecting the face of a scary-looking clown. The book pretty much had all those elements and a lot more contained within its pages.

The girl, Megan has been suffering from extreme nightmares for years. They're so bad she wakes up with physical injuries and blames them on the dreams. Turns out, they're not just dreams--they have an element of reality to them that could prove deadly if you cross the wrong people while in the dreams.

Dreams fascinate a lot of people--probably why so many stories have dreams as either a subject in a story or a main plot point. Exacting Essence deals with the latter. The story begins with Megan and her nightmares. She is soon joined by Rose, a doctor who is hired to help Megan deal with terrors that come at night. In a separate storyline, we are introduced to Carrie, someone who is literally trapped in a dream. The two subplots continue until both stories merge and each victim is helped by the other.

And because this is a book about dreams, anything goes when it comes to what happens to them while they dream. The book is a quick read--a couple of hundred pages--and it opened my mind as to the possibilities that could exist in a dreamworld.

I was given the book by James last year at a convention. He wanted us to have us, mostly because the girl on the cover resembled my teenage daughter. I hope to never experience my daughter holding an axe with the reflection of a scary clown while in a spooky wood, but you never know. Good book! I enjoyed the read very much!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Frank Ferrin Stingham...Rest Well

How do you find out the character of a man you barely knew but who has died? Today I attended a funeral with my wife. The man, Frank Stringham, and his family played an important role in my wife's life. Today he was honored by friends and family.

If you're not familiar with Mormon funerals, they're kind of like other things...Mormon weddings, Mormon baptisms--they're a little different. Mormons not only believe in an afterlife, they base their philosophy on the fact that not only will they be reunited with their loved ones, they'll get to spend eternity with them if they've done all they could in this life. So, when we gather to say "goodbye" to someone, we believe it's a temporary situation.

This, of course, doesn't mean the pain of loss isn't any less real, but just knowing this helps make a Mormon funeral not as depressing as it could be.

The funeral was nice. Family spoke and musical numbers rounded out the program. We saw friends and reunited with loved ones. I'm glad I could attend even though I didn't know the man as well as many. I was able to get to know someone who loved his family and was loved by them. Just by attending, the service made me want to be a better husband and father because of the man Frank Stringham was.

How do you find out the character of a man you barely knew but who has died? Attending his funeral and hearing the testimonies of him is a pretty darn good way. Rest well, Brother well.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Airplane Ride...A Short Story

Weekly Writing Challenge

It's time again for another writing exercise. This week its one picture and five words. I like both the one photo and five words and the two photos version of the weekly writing challenge. Just different, I guess...

As always, if you'd like to join us in our little literary adventure, here are the rules:

1) Use the above photo and the provided five chosen words in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less (or a few more words if they're needed...).
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your story.
4) Use the Blue Link to add your story at Leanne's or Tena's websites and follow the instructions.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

The five chosen words:


Well, here goes!

The Airplane Ride

"Seriously, mom--you should write a novel about your childhood! It's the stuff of legend."

"Oh, I don't think so...we were just poor kids getting through the Depression." She gets up and takes the dishes away from the dinner table. The meal, as always, was delicious.

"No," she says as she returns. "My brothers and me had a lot of fun but we weren't really nice to the neighbor kids. Sometimes I can't believe the things we used to do--oh, how we'd spar with them. I'm sure those kid's parents thought none of us kids had any morals."

"Mom, were you in the airplane that you guys built?"

"No, thank goodness. If so, I might have died. We're lucky none of those dimwit kids weren't hurt more than they were."

I'd heard the story several times, but I wanted to hear it again. "So, mom, how did they get the airplane up in the air? I remember they tied one end to grandpa's truck. Did they tie it to a pulley on the barn?"

"No. They tied it atop the derrick. I still can't believe they did it." I knew I wouldn't need to needle her any more. She loved telling these stories.

"The boys were already in trouble for building that Ferris Wheel--you know, the one that didn't turn once it reached the top and the kids just tumbled out on the ground? Yes, that one. Well, this time they built that rickety airplane out of the top of a stool, an old packing crate that my dad had farm equipment shipped in, and they even nailed on a couple of wings. They put up wind socks at the end of the driveway, as if any wind would have made a difference, then they hooked up a rope to the plane, threw it over the derrick and tied it to the truck's bumper.

"I still can't believe it. Who drove the truck?"

"I can't remember his name--probably one of the Johnson kids. He was way too young to drive."

"So, he gets behind the wheel, starts up the engine, then what?" I ask, even though I know.

"Well, he gunned the engine and the truck jumped down the driveway. The airplane flew straight up until it reached the very top. The rope broke and the plane with those three numskulls fell twenty feet. When it hit the plane disintegrated and the kids all rolled away. They were hurt, but by some miracle, not seriously."

"What did grandpa do when he found out? He must have been spitting mad."

"Oh, he was! I used to complain that my brothers never involved me in any of their adventures. But I tell you, I was glad they left me out of that one."

"Great story, mom," I say. "You really should write a novel about your childhood! I mean, you all survived it for some reason."

"Indeed," she says and we both share a smile.

Word Count: 499

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Feast Or Famine? For Me...It's Time To Feast

You know how some people believe that when the planets align, something big is going to happen, or those who say, "When it rains, it pours?" Perhaps you don't know anyone like that. Perhaps you do. When I think about the first two months of 2015, my mind thinks of things like planets aligning and pouring rain.

I can't believe the things that are happening to me in the next couple of weeks--each one would be newsworthy on its own, but you add them together, it's almost overwhelming!

A few months ago I was informed a short story I submitted to Xchyler Publishing was selected for their upcoming anthology. This was special news to me because about two years ago Xchyler gave me my first break in the publishing game--a short story in Mechanized Masterpieces Steampunk Anthology, or MMSA for short. That, in turn, opened up many new doors for me and is still providing benefits to this day. The next edition comes out next month, Mechanize Masterpieces II, and this one's going to be a great book as well. I'll be sure to update my blog with the book release information. Again, a very exciting development.

Speaking of books, for the past several months I have been working to get a collection of short stories published. After months of edits and working here and there on the project, Speckled became available to the general public in both paperback and Kindle versions (you can find them: HERE...).

 Over the past two years I've gotten to know a lot of writers, many of them newly-published authors. I've read of their reactions to getting a box containing fresh, never before read copies of their published book in the mail and the incredible feeling they have as they open the box and see those beautiful books, all awaiting anxious readers (whether the readers knew it or not...). I can say with one-hundred percent certainty that those newly published authors were not exaggerating. It was a very cool thing to experience.

The reason I wanted to get my book done was the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con FanX event happening at the end of January. Because of some wonderful people, I've been privileged enough to be a panelist at each of the past Salt Lake Comic Cons. This time, however, they chose to highlight me as a featured guest. That was a shock, a shock about which I am very happy. Many of my friends have been featured guests in the past, and for good reason. They've earned it. As for me, I'm working on it. I'm excited for the con that begins in less than a week.

Also at this year's FanX Comic Con Xchyler Publishing will have a table--the first time our publisher has had an official presence at this convention. I will be there with not only great writers, but great people.

Which brings me to the last of the cool things that seems to be converging--next month's Life, the Universe and Everything convention (or LTUE...) begins its thirty-third installment. I've gone twice before to LTUE, once in 2012 as a attendee and last year as a panelist. This time the cool people at LTUE highlighted me being a panelist. There are bigger conventions, but LTUE is the most affordable and one of the most fun events I've ever been to. It's a great place to really get to know the local talent as well as some of the biggest names in the business.

So there it is! Two books, two conferences all in the next couple of weeks. I'll be on panels aside amazing writers and talking to the best audiences that can be found anywhere.

It's a good thing I'm not in a play rehearsing five times a week or that I have a major project at work coming on-line at the beginning of February, because...well, that would be just nuts!