Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 3 At FanX...Closing Up Shop

The books are packed and all the banners taken down. Thousands have left with their treasures, be they a signed photo, a replica of a sword or a camera full of pictures. The volunteers, authors, artists, craftsmen and women, celebrities and the guests have all earned a well-deserved rest.

I can really only speak for myself, but I had a fantastic time. I made many new friends, had wonderful times on several panels, and even sold some books. That's a win-win-win in my world. This post is simple, just a look back at my day, with photos of some of what I saw and experienced. 

Thanks to everyone who volunteered, who came to the panels, who asked questions, who ate my speckled candy, and who as a collective whole made this weekend something special. Until next time...

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!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quote Of The Night..."Cafe Rio, It's Not That Good."

Great! I thought as I entered the doors of the local eatery, Cafe Rio. It's 6:42pm and we called in our order to be ready by 6:45pm.

"Boy, this place is packed!" I said to myself as I saw the line for sit-down service wind through their built-in people corral and extend to the door. I followed a couple obviously on a date and they took their place at the end of the long line. I wouldn't want to be them, I thought to myself.

Then I walked over to the pick up window.

I had one of those moments where I wasn't sure which group I should join. Should I stand behind the three guys who were standing directly behind the "Phone Order Pick Up" sign or with the half a dozen people not standing in a line, all busy on their smart phones? I chose the guys under the sign.

Occasionally a name would be called and they'd get their order. And about as often another of us in line would have our credit card run. I looked over to one of the phone guys and asked if he'd been waiting long.

"Yeah," he said. "I got here right at my appointed time and I've been waiting ever since."

"When was your appointed time?"

"I was here right at 6:15pm."

And I laughed.

"6:15? You've got to be kidding!" I was about 6:50pm at that time. "No, he said. I've been waiting that long.

Boy--hate to be him, I thought to myself. Eventually all those with their phones were helped and those of us in line paid for our food then took the place of the phone people to wait our turn. At 7pm I sent a text to my wife who was waiting for me in the car. "Did they lose our order?" she asked. "No, just taking too long," was my texted reply. Eventually she got sick of waiting in the car and came inside. 

"What's up?" she asked. "Just slow," I said. She looked at me and gave me the best quote of the evening.

"Cafe Rio's not that good."


As we waited I kept looking over at the slow moving line of those who I once pitied, those waiting all that time to get their food, those who didn't call an hour ahead to get their food. I spotted the blond and her date and I wondered if they would get their food before we would.

Turns out, they did. The guy in the red shirt and the blonde in the picture were the ones who came in with me.

We got our food and returned to our car. The light on the dashboard read 7:30pm as the engine came to life. To the restaurant's credit they did apologize for taking so long (there were many, many others waiting with me...) and they comped our meal. I guess the question is, should I call ahead or just wing it?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cardboard (And Umbrella) Wars...

A friend of mine told me about some of the working conditions where he works. It seems there's a little issue going on at the place of his employment.

And it has to do with cardboard.

But, to be fair, it also has to do with the lighting in his building. Apparently, to some where he works, the conditions at their work stations are too bright, which has caused some of the people (with whom he works...) to take matters into their own hands. Their weapons? Cardboard and an umbrella.

After I saw these pictures that my friend sent to me I was both shocked and intrigued at the ingenuity of my friend's co-workers. I mean, they really go all-out!

I wish a speedy end to the lighting hostilities at my friend's work. May the proper lighting conditions always be in their favor.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lynn Messina's "Little Vampire Women"...A Book Review

Little Vampire Women*

Yeah, you've seen them. If you haven't read any of them, you've wondered what they're like, those books where an author takes a story that's in the public domain and have "enhanced" (some may substitute enhanced with ruined...) the original by adding some type of monster into the story.

They're out there.

And they're out there because people read them.

Today I finished Lynn Messina's Little Vampire Women, an interesting look at the classic, but with vampires. The first time I ever read one of these books was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I found this book fascinating because I had not yet read the original Pride and Prejudice, though I had seen many screen adaptations. When I finally got around to reading the original, my mind kept drifting back to the Bennett sisters attacking the undead.

This time around, I read the original Little Women first. I think what draws people into these books is how the new author incorporates the monsters into the story. Jo and her family are vampires, while Laurie and other characters are humans. The two species co-exist, but there are those who want to kill the vampires. Jo's family are not killers. They only eat animals and do not feast on human blood, or at least, blood of living humans. There are the clever twists that turn the awkwardness of growing up as a vampire and compare them to the awkwardness of just plain growing up as a teenager that make the story amusing. We know where the story will go (because it has to) so the main point, at least for me, is seeing how the author ties the story all together.

I didn't seek out this story. I was available at the library. Will I read another of of these? I can't say for sure that I won't. But, it was available at the library for a reason. All in all, a fun read, especially if you love the original.

* Photo used without permission from :

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Discovering Harry Potter...All Over Again

Next week the crowds will gather in Salt Lake for the next installment of our own Comic Con. And some will find their way to the panels. Several of those panels will focus on the Harry Potter franchise talking about the books, the films, and the future of the Potterverse.

I'll be on two of those panels.

I've got a lot of homework to do.

There's no way I can re-read the books before next week, but I can watch all the films again. Today I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and I had forgotten just was an adorable film it was.

There's an innocence in that film, an innocence that mirror's the main character. We learn of the magical world through the experiences of Mr. Potter as he himself experiences the wonders of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and everything in between.

I can't believe it's been almost fifteen years since these children entered our lives. We've grown with them, re-lived our own childhoods with them (well, without the magic part...). We've shared their successes and their failures. They're almost family.

Episode one is done. Now, on to the rest!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Eli Potash--A Work Of Art...

Last week, while on a break at work I found out that Salt Lake Comic Con FanX posted my picture and bio on their website. It was such an honor, I decided to celebrate so I took myself out to lunch at the Broadway Deli across the street from where I work. And, I brought my camera along.

Inside the eatery there's usually art on the walls and one picture caught my eye, a drawing of what looked like a homeless man playing a cello. To me, it looked like an interesting picture that I thought I could use as my "Pic Of The Day," which I did.

I had no idea of the story behind it.

I posted the picture on Facebook and other social sites, as I do all my "Pics Of The Day." Soon messages from Facebook friends came rolling in. The first message came from a friend who lives downtown. She said she recognized the subject and said as much. His name is Eli Potash. Her comment began a conversation between a group of people--some who didn't know each other--and in the end, the work of art hanging on the wall in a deli transformed into something else, something deeper, something personal, something real.

Here's the dialogue that followed:

  • J. A. I know that guy… he used to play out in front of the broadway movie theater...
  • Scott Taylor Interesting--this was hanging up at the deli right next to the movie theater (but maybe you already knew that...)

  • J. A. I think the owner of the deli used to watch out for him a bit.

  • S. L. So this picture displays at least four different modes of creativity - the musician in the portrait, the artist who drew it, the owner of the deli who displays it (and creates yummy food) (and helped the guy), and yourself who took the picture to share.
  • Scott Taylor Love that S. L.! I hadn't thought of it like that--great way to look at everything, not just this little picture!

  • P. L. I used to work in the Broadway center building and got to know him. His name is Eli Potash. We got to where he would recognize me and we'd chat for a few minutes whenever I saw him. Really nice guy. I'm in a different building now, so I haven't seen him for a while. Hope he's doing okay.

  • J. A. I know he went into the hospital - the owner of the Deli was trying to help him with the medical expenses, but I haven't heard since how he's doing.

  • P. L. Thanks for letting me know. He had issues with a broken wrist that kept not healing correctly. I'll have to go by and try to find him.

  • S. R. Love hearing the story behind the picture!

I googled Eli. There's quite a few links to him, his music and his story. You can see an interview he gave back in March, 2012: HERE. I wish I had seen him or heard him play--just another thing telling me I should sometimes take a break and leave the building once in a while to catch more than just a little fresh air.

This is just one person's story and there's so many more out there...fascinating people with amazing stories.