Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Farewell April, 2014! Here's Some Of What I Saw...

What a month it's been! As the day fades into the western sky I picked a few photographs and put them on this blog post to remind me of the month. It's been a very busy month for me and the fam!

It was a month of birthdays! My son, daughter, and mother-in-law had birthdays this month. Happy birthday, guys (and gals...)!

We painted our aging mailbox--the only purple mailbox that I know of.

I switched job locations. I now work in Ogden, Utah, and for all you photographers out there, there's a million things to photograph in Ogden. If you've got a day, or an afternoon, grab your camera and just drive downtown. You'll be blown away!

And to get me to work, I've begun taking the train, and I love the train!

We had Easter...

And Comic Con FanX...

And, of course, sunsets.

April, you were good. Let's see what's next!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And So, It's Over...

Today marks the official end of a monumental project in which I participated. To celebrate we gathered and broke bread and laughed and remembered the past 14 months. For me, the meeting was bittersweet.

Any time there's enjoyment to an activity, there's the opposite feeling once that activity ends. A great movie must ultimately end--even The Hobbit will eventually end. Friendships, marriages will end, at least, in the form we know them. And the project ended. We got a catered lunch a water bottle, and a lot of praise for the work we did together.

Even if the same group of people--everyone who worked on this one--assembled again to slay the next giant beast, it wouldn't be the same. In fact, no one in that room was the same person we were when we first met over a year ago. We're wiser (hopefully...), more educated, but also older. Kids have been born to some, others have lost parents and loved ones. We are different. We've all, in our own way, moved on.

And so will I. After the lunch I got in a car and we drove 30 miles to the north where I now work. It's highly possible I'll never see some of those people again, which makes me sad. But if it wasn't fun, it wouldn't suck when it ends. Thanks, Kevin, for the opportunity.

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Steampunk Christopher!

Today is Monday which means, Missionary Letter Day at our house. We've got a son out on a mission and on Mondays they can write home and we can send them electronic mail that they'll be able to see. Since we live in this amazing age, we can e-mail photos instantaneously. I told my son I would send him pictures of this month's Comic Con FanX.

What does that have to do with a steampunk-costumed, ukulele-playing Christopher? That's a good question. As I searched through the numerous photos I took of the event (not nearly as many as I could have taken, or should have taken...), I came across a photo of my friend Christopher at FanX. I almost sent this photo of Chris to my son, but I thought, 'No, he doesn't know him.'

As these things go sometimes, my son sent us his e-mail after I sent him my photos. He talked about his week, the work he's doing, and some background about the pictures he sent. He then said in his e-mail that some missionaries were talking about someone they knew who served in Denmark. Then he asked me if I knew a former Danish missionary named Christopher--the same Christopher I photographed at Comic Con. I should have gone with my instincts and sent him the picture of Chris the first time. He would have been blown away!

On the last day of FanX Chris dropped by the booth where we were selling books and he was decked out in his steampunk costume. The best part--he carried with him a fully-functional steampunk ukulele that he made himself. Very cool!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Timmy's Adventure...A Short Story

 A Picture And Five Words
It's that time again, time for a spot of short fiction--under 500 words short fiction. This picture reminds me of the first one of these I did back in May, 2012. The link to the first short story I ever wrote for the Photo Blog Hop is: HERE.

And so here's my latest try in conjuring a story using the above photo and the five provided words. Here are the rules:

1) Use the photo and five randomly-chosen words in your story
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your post.
4) Add your story (Blue Link) at Leanne's or Tena's websites.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.
This Week's Five Words:

I used to like the challenge of the five words, but then I found using two photos and no required words more liberating. Oh well, here's what I came up with!

Timmy's Adventure

The one thing about Timmy Coulton, he was--for a five-year old--very determined. In fact, if he had an idea come to him, few things could dissuade him of his goal. So when he marched downstairs on a cool February morning and announced to his mother that he was going exploring, it was as natural an act for the child as running in the park.

"Where you going to go?" his mother asked as she watched her son search the kitchen for supplies.

"Maybe Africa...maybe the Amazon. I don't know." The boy opened the junk drawer and withdrew a flashlight. He then went to a pile of dish towels and stuffed a few in his pockets. "I'm going to need towels."

"Why's that?"

"You know, so I can bind the wounds when I get bit by a python or when I cut off my fingers."

"Your fingers?" 

"Or toes, either one," Timmy said as he reached for one of the block of knives resting on the counter.

"Oh, no you don't!" his mother said as she intervened and prevented the curious little boy from reaching the dangerous implements. "You're not taking any knives with you on this adventure." She made a mental note to move the knives to a more secure location.

"Okay," and his mother could hear the dejection in her son's voice. "I'll just take some licorice."

Hardly interchangeable, but much safer, she thought. "How long have you been planning this trip?"

"Practically, all my life!" His shout surprised her.

"Hmmm, that's a long time."

"Darn tootin'" Timmy said as he put the flashlight, towels and licorice into a plastic bag and slung it over his shoulder. "Today when I looked outside my window and saw all the fog, I thought, 'It's a great day for an adventure!' so I'm going today."

"You warm enough?" she asked as he headed for the back door and the field beyond. Timmy stopped and thought.

"You think I'll need a jacket? How cold is it?"

"Last time we had fog like that, it was around 45 degrees Fahrenheit--give or take a degree. I think you'll need a coat." Timmy looked at his mother, then outside, then headed for the closet to get his jacket. He returned and once again placed all the possessions a five-year old would need for an adventure over his shoulder.

"Um...You mind if I go with you?" his mother said hesitantly, as if she didn't want to know the answer. Timmy stopped and thought about her request.

"Okay, but what can you bring with you, to know, with the adventure?" She looked and grabbed the first thing she saw, a flour sieve she used earlier in the morning to make cupcakes.

"This!" she showed him. "I'll bring this." Timmy nodded. "We'll need one of those for sure."

As the two left the house, Timmy said, "Mom, I'm glad you're going with me on this adventure."

"Me, too," she said.

Word Count: 497

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Request For Salt Lake Comic Con Committee...Get Us Some Downton Abbey!

I am in no way an expert on how a large Comic Con is organized. In fact, I've only attended two--both Comic Cons held in Salt Lake City. I would imagine booking guests combines the elements of luck, timing, acts of God, deals with the devil, and luck.

Having said that, I have a simple request for the next Salt Lake Comic Con in September, 2014.

Do what you can to book ANYONE from Downton Abbey!

You may ask yourself, what in the world does Downton Abbey have to do with a Comic Con? It's a fair question--a question that was answered at one of the panels at last week's FanX Comic Con. I was fortunate enough to be on a panel that discussed this very thing. The name of the panel was: Downton Abbey: How A Stuffy British Drama Became One of TV's Most Addictive Shows. Thanks to Bryan Young for suggesting the topic and doing a wonderful job as moderator.

We attempted to answer the initial question from the title of the panel. We discussed what we felt were the reasons for its success--excellent writing, relatable characters, an in depth looks at both the haves and the have-nots, and a chance to witness the decline of a society after a thousand years of tradition. We talked of other things as well, but when we finished up both the members of the panel and the audience in attendance agreed, it is a great show, a show we all love.

But would it work to invite a major character from the show to one of the nations largest Comic Cons? In my opinion, it would be a home run! The show has it all--distinctive costumes, a well-recognizable genre, and everyone from grandparents to grandkids could dress up (or be dressed up...) as their favorite Downton Abbey Character. I think the lines to get autographs and pictures would compete with any of the big names from either of the previous Salt Lake Comic Cons.

Of course, a Comic Con committee member might be thinking that getting a cast member from Downton Abbey would be great. They may agree or disagree with the points brought up in this post. Or they may just be working full-time putting on the best show possible for September and beyond. 

I suppose my 2¢ timer has expired so I'll end by repeating my humble request. From a fan, dear Salt Lake Comic Con Committee--if you would be so kind as to secure a cast member, writer, director, or even costumer from the extremely popular show, Downton Abbey, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Friday, April 25, 2014

D.J. Butler's, Crecheling...A Book Review


A few weeks ago I attended a literary conference and had the opportunity to spend time with my friend and fellow author Dave Butler. As the conference came to a close, He took a book from the many stacks of his books he was selling (illustrated by another friend, Nathan Shumate...) and grabbed a pen. He opened it, he signed it, and he gave it to me. I tried to pay for the book--he declined payment. I tried selling him a book which contained my short story. He took it, but he insisted on buying it.

Dave's a good friend, and classy like that.

I began reading the book he gave me, Crecheling, but I stopped after the first chapter--not because it wasn't good--it was, but because I have not set aside time to read into my daily schedule.

Until now, that is.

This week I grabbed the book and read it while going back and forth to work on the train. Tonight I finished it. Here's what I thought.

In the Crecheling world in order for youths to come of age, they must complete a ritual which involved the murder of system members. This information is only made known to Dyan, the story's main character, and her friends the evening before the ritual is to take place.

But, as it sometimes happens in dystopian stories, things don't go as planned and Dyan finds herself captured by those who should have died. We now find ourselves following Dyan as she must choose between the life she's always known and the uncertainty of a future on the run. 

I especially liked the way Butler set up his world. As the story progressed, I learned more about the situation. Some dystopian stories feel a need to front-load a story with explanation. I learned of the fictional reality as I read and it surprised me, pleasantly surprised me. It also allowed my imagination to wonder as to where the story could lead. I like that in a book, too.

Butler writes a story that's light on profanity, but not so light on gore. However, the gore helps express the seriousness of the situation and the harsh realities of the cruel world in which they live. In short, I liked it a lot. And I hope to be reading more of this author's books in the future.

* Photo used without permission from:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Michaelbrent Collings, Darkbound...An Audiobook Review


Question--do you think a person who is dead can keep screaming?

In Michaelbrent Collings's Darkbound they can.

I met Michaelbrent back in 2012, but I didn't read one of his books until last year. Darkbound is the third of his books I've read and I liked it the best. In the previous books of his I've read, they followed the same pattern...somewhat. A group of people are trapped in a situation and they are then picked off one-by-one until only a few remain (I hope I'm not giving away any spoilers here...).

But this one is different. Sure, a group of people are trapped, this time on a NYC subway car, but it's the way they were picked off that intrigued me. Of course, you don't know why the things that happen to the people happen to the people until the very end. In the first two books I understood basically who do the killings. The why was not much of a stretch, but still entertaining. In Darkbound I had no idea who or why these people had to go through this horrific experience.

In the end, however, it all made sense. Hats off to Mr. Collings for this one.

I'd also like to thank the author for converting his stories into audiobook formats. I was fortunate enough to receive a gratis audiobook from from Michaelbrent himself. I love audiobooks and Steve Marvel does a fantastic job narrating the story. Sometimes when a narrator changes to a different character, it's awkward, but Marvel does a good job making each voice believable.

To sum up--good book, good narration, good ending, and my favorite Michaelbrent Collings far. That's a win-win-win-win in my book.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FanX-Perience Preserved In Pictures...


My friend's been bugging me about posting some of my Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 FanX photos. Truth be told, I didn't take a lot of pictures--I usually take a lot more at such an event, but my mission at the conference was a little different. I was trying to meet people, sound somewhat intelligent (which is another word for "qualified"...) on the panels and strengthen relationships. And besides, if I took a picture of every cool thing I saw over those three days, I wouldn't have had time to do anything else.

So, here are some photos! Thanks goes to Kenn Johnson for sending me the only photo of me at a panel (that I know of, anyway...). Thanks to Dave and Candice for the table space! And a HUGE thanks to Blake Cassleman for the invite. I had a fantastic time!