Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reflections Of A Launch Party...

Tonight Xchyler Publishing held a book launch for their latest anthology, Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology and I participated because my short story can be found within its pages. I've participated in several of Xcyler's book launches, but this is the third time one of my stories has been included. 

How was it?

It went great, much better than the first time I attended an online book launch. Two years ago (roughly...) Xchyler chose a story of mine  for their first steampunk anthology, Mechanize Masterpeices: A Steampunk Anthology. I remember that book launch--I think I even took the day off from work so I could take part as much as possible in the event. I remember being very confused.

Xchyler used Facebook to launch their books online. It makes sense since the authors are all over the world. They announce the event, we join then invite friends to attend. When the time comes, we go to that Launch page and respond to questions for prizes or to ask the authors questions, but basically to have a great time. That first launch I didn't know how any of it worked. I was confused by the questions. It seemed some of the authors wanted us to answer questions from their stories and since it was a book launch, almost none had read the stories.

Since that first event, I've gotten to know more about how their online launches go. Tonight I had a blast! I actually participated in a theater while watching some wonderful people perform a show. I had submitted two games to play and I even joined in on the other author's games. This time, it didn't seem like any of them asked specific questions from their stories. And I even got a cool gift for one of my game's prizes, a copy of Captain Nemo, signed by the author, Kevin J. Anderson.

The next book launch isn't too far into the future. I am goin gto do my best to make sure I can attend. Oh, and I'll try and let people know when it is, too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Wise POLAIK...Scott Tarbet

 "So, you're Scott?" people would ask me when they see our Xchyler Publisher signs. "Yes," I would answer, but then I usually need to add. "But, I'm not Scott Tarbet. I'm Scott Taylor."

You see, during Xchyler's relatively short history, there's been two Scotts, Scott Tarbet and myself. Of course, I don't mind being mistaken for the other Scott. The man can write.

I met Scott at the first themed convention I attended, the 2013 Salt City Steamfest. Scott and I were Facebook friends before we met. My short story, The Little Boiler Girl had been released in Xcyler's Mechanized Masterpieces, A Steampunk Anthology only a few weeks before, and Scott had his first published short coming out in a Xchyler anthology a few weeks later.

A Midsummer Night's SteampunkMechanized Masterpieces 2: An American AnthologyShades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology

Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk AnthologyThe Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology

Since then Scott and I have attended have attended a lot of conventions together. He's had many many shorts published with Xchyler and has even written a novel, A Midsummer Night's Steampunk, which I have not yet read.

Like many of the Profile Of Local Authors/Artists I Know (POLAIK), Scott is not a full-time writer, unfortunately. If you want a definition of a man of many talents, he's your guy! He's an award-winning barbecue chef, and he is a regular with the Utah Opera Company. Plus, the man's got many college degrees, which tells me that he never stops learning, never stops expanding that knowledge base.

Once again, as I'm prone to do with my POLAIK posts, I recommend you seek out Scott and get to know him better if you find yourself at one of these conventions. If you do, Scott will be as engaging and entertaining as his stories. No, I don't mind people thinking--albeit temporarily--that I'm Scott Tarbet. It's quite a compliment.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

49 Years And 13 Weeks...

49 years and 13 weeks...that's how long my father lived. "How old was your dad when he died?" people would ask me when they found out he passed away when I was young. I remember thinking he was 50 because he was born in 1924 and died in 1974. Even with my limited math skills, I knew that totaled 50 years.

But, like me, my father was born in the month of November and he passed away in February so he was in his 50th year, but he was only 49 years old.

49 years and 13 weeks.

I don't know if it's like this for everyone who's father passes away when they're young, but I alway wondered if I would live as long as my father, because when you grow up without a parent because they died, a fairytale existence where everything works out isn't guaranteed. Bad things can happen and people can die young.

Of course, at the time he passed away (I was eight...) I thought 49 year old was OLD! I mean, he was so much older than my friend's dads. They were all in their 30s. My father was older when he got married. Well, older for Mormon culture. Then he and my mom tried for years to have kids of their own without success so by the time they ended up adopting three kids, my father was into his 40s. Now, when I think of people in their 40s, they're no longer old. In fact, they're pretty darn young.

As I grew and got older, I often wondered if I would live as long as my dad. Again, because I know it happens, I wondered if it would happen to me. Would I reach 49? I knew that if I were to pass away in my late 40s my kids would be older than his kids were, even though I got married a little older than some. 

The reason I'm thinking about this, and more specifically, writing about this is because as of today, February 26, 2015, I have lived exactly 49 years and 13 weeks. Which means, as of tomorrow, my time on this planet will have eclipsed that of my dad. 

Because we're human, we compare. We compare salaries, home sizes, car models, even talent levels. I've sometimes thought of all my father accomplished in his life and it's staggering. The man helped raise his younger siblings during the depression. He enlisted in WWII and was stuck in the back of a B-17 as a tailgunner--arguably the most dangerous place to be on a plane that had a greater chance of being shot down than finishing the war unscathed. He was a deputy sheriff, an expert marksman and a justice-of-the-piece. He completed his undergraduate degree in three years. He built a radio, a television and even the house where I grew up. He also married a wonderful woman and adopted three pretty cool kids. I can't think of a better example of a man to emulate. 

Tomorrow I'll wake to a new day, one day more than my father had--49 years, 13 weeks and one day. And because of who he was and what he did for me, I can only hope to honor him by being the best man possible. Thanks dad...for everything!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Holli Anderson...Author, My Next POLAIK

There's a theme that's I've noticed as a relatively new author venturing forth into the sometimes scary world of "putting yourself out there as a writer."

I've notice how incredibly nice many of the authors are, especially to us newbies. Since I was so new, I had not attended a lot of conventions so when I met someone and I saw them again a few months later at another function, it surprised me that they remembered me, and some even remembered my name (perhaps the name tag had something to do with that...). But you can tell when someone remembers you. And they do. And it feels great.

I'd like to think that maybe this was because of my magnetic personality, but I don't think it's that. I think it's because when you write something for others to not only read, but fork out their hard-earned cash to acquire, you are extremely vulnerable and that trust between yourself and your readers is real. It's something we share--just as all actors understand the pressure of an audition or all cops feel about fellow cops. It's a brotherhood and sisterhood that binds us.

So, what does all this have to do with Holli Anderson, my next POLAIK (Profile Of Local Authors/Artists I Know)? That's a fair question. The first time I met Holli she sat with others at her publisher's table (Curiosity Quills) at the first ever Salt Lake Comic Con (I apologize if it was the second Salt Lake Comic Con where I met her...). What I do remember was when we met again, it was like talking to someone I had known for a while. She's always made me feel like that, like she's someone I can easily talk to.

The funny thing about Holli is she is many times surrounded by very strong and colorful personalities when she attends these conventions. I've written about some of them in previous POLAIK blog posts. She's also the only female member of the Space Balrogs performing group, and I think she's an excellent choice to join these guys. There's a calming presence about her--something that is many times much-needed in both the Space Balrogs and at convention tables in general.

Five Out of the Pit (Five, #2)

I cannot wait to read her books! The reviews for both books in her series are strong. You can access her website: HERE for more information about the books and her appearances. One of the things I've most enjoyed about getting to know these local authors (and, to some degree, artists...) is reading their words and contrasting that from what I know of their personalities. It can be very enlightening. Will Holli's books be calming or will she surprise me? I'll let you know!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mechanized Masterpieces: An American Anthology...The Book Launch!

It's a humbling experience to have a story chosen to be published. Almost two years ago it happened to me for the first time. I submitted a little story--one I'm still proud of--and it was picked, edited, revised and included in a terrific anthology.

It was a blast then.

And it's a blast this time, too!

On Saturday, February 28, 2015 beginning at 8pm CST, Xchyler Publishing will officially launch Mechanized Masterpieces: An American Anthology, and we're inviting everyone to join us for the launch party! Just log onto Facebook and follow the link: HERE. If you've never participated in a book launch from Xchyler, they are great! There's contests, prizes, quizzes and a chance to chat with the authors who wrote the stories.

Here's a breakdown of the stories:

My story is the second-to-last, Mr. Thornton. It's a steampunk retelling of a character from Jack London's Call of the Wild.

This Saturday night, skip the movie! Save money and by not eating out--just grab a pizza and log on to the book launch for Mechanized Masterpieces: An American Anthology! It's WAY more fun!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Announcing The Taylor Academy Teen Writing Group!

Attention--all teenager writers in the Davis County area, or if you're close enough to central Davis County and you don't mind commuting. There is a new writing group forming and we'd love for you to be a part of it!

Taylor Academy (the name we call our homeschool...) is starting a writing group for teenagers. We will meet each Friday afternoon at our home in Farmington. Three of my children participated in a similar group under the direction of the wonderful Margot Hovley and they loved the experience! Unfortunately for two of my children, the bulk of the group graduated to bigger and better things and the group disbanded.

We want to bring it back!

So, beginning Friday, March 6, 2015 (exact starting time to be determined...) we will gather and share each other's stories. If you've not belonged to a writer's group, here's how we're going to run ours. 

• Each of the participants will have a week to prepare a section of your current WIP (Work In Progress...).
• Each person will e-mail their selection to the group before Wednesday.
• You will then have two days to read and critique each of the selections.
• Then on Friday, we meet as a group and go over each person's writing sample. Obviously, the more people attend, the less time the group has to get through each critique. My kids group was big so they didn't have a lot of time.
• We also would like to keep the time for each get together to between 90-120 minutes. Margot also charged a small fee per session.
• I will take Margot's place (although, if you know Margot, she's irreplaceable!) as group mentor. I have a master's degree in English from Weber State University. I have had several short stories published through Xchyler Publishing and published a collection of short stories in January of this year.

That's the basics. Since this is new to us as well, there will be growing pains and adjustments. If you have teenagers that are budding writers or you're a teenager yourself and want to get involved in a fun and educational experience, please let me know! You can e-mail me at: hygge123 at yahoo dot com.  I'll also be making a Facebook Page with information on what we're doing. It will be up soon.

For those of us who are writers, being part of a writer's group can be an invaluable opportunity. I wish I could have found something like this when I was a teenager. Heck! I wish I could find something like this now! ;)

Again, please let us know if you're interested. We'd love to have you join our group!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cap't Monkey And Tooele Boy And The Academy Grad...A Short Story


The Duo Returns!

It's been a few weeks since I wrote a short story for this blog. I usually write these little stories on Sunday evenings, but with the conventions I've recently attended, there's just been too much to write about.

I thought I'd resurrect two of my favorite people, Cap't Monkey and Tooele Boy! If you're thinking about writing a story of your own, please give it a try! It's fun! Here are the rules:

1) Use the above photo and five randomly-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, Tena's or Heather's websites and follow the instructions.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

The Five Random Words Are: 


This week they wander into the world of academia. What adventures lie in store for our two heroes? Let's find out!

Cap't Monkey and Tooele Boy and the Academy Grad

"Up!" Cap't Monkey yelled at his flatmate as he kicked the companion's bed frame. "Chop! Chop! We've got places to go and people to see and time is no longer our ally."

A groggy man crawled out of bed and dressed after his friend left the room. "I forgot today's the day we are to visit the Academy," Tooele Boy said as he tried unsuccessfully to clear the mental cobwebs in his brain. 

"Yes, and we must hurry. Our appointment to meet with Headmaster Phillips begins at 9 a.m. sharp!"

The men climbed aboard their trusty bicycles and headed down to the pride of the township's educational community in order to make their date. They parked their bikes and rushed inside.

"You there!" Cap't Monkey yelled at a chap standing alone in the hall, an open book in hand. "Good sir, can you direct me to the office of Headmaster Phillips?"

"You're in luck, my good sirs," the lad said. "He's right here" he said, a large smile stretched across his boyish face.

"Where is he?" Tooele Boy said looking up and down the empty hall.

"You're looking at him," the man said closing his book.

"You?" Cap't Monkey exclaimed. "But you can't possibly be Headmaster!"

"But I can, sir."

The flummoxed captain experienced something rarely seen--a loss for words. Eventually he found his wits. "Then, we're here for our appointment. Shall we go to your office?"

"Certainly," the headmaster said and escorted the two down the hall and to his quarters. They entered and found chairs around the man's large ornate desk. "Make yourself comfortable," Mr. Phillips said as the men did just that. "May I offer you something to drink?"

", NO!" Cap't Monkey said. "I'm sorry, sir, but my mind is having a tough time accepting someone who obviously looks as if he's a student within the walls of this institution to be, in actuality, the headmaster!"

Mr. Phillips laughed as he retrieved three glasses and a pitcher of water from the corner of the room. "I can well understand the difficulty you're having. I actually get that a lot." He placed the glasses on the desk and poured the men a drink.

"But, you're not in uniform!" Cap't Monkey objected.

"We've change the dress code." Headmaster Phillips calmly said.

"I like it," Tooele Boy said as he took a drink and spilled water onto his lap. "Oppsie," he added.

"And where is your Academy pin?" Cap't Monkey raged as his cheeks flamed.

"Pin?" Mr. Phillips asked.

"Yes, the Cave and Coffin? It's been a tradition of this institution for hundreds of years!" Cap't Monkey jumped to his feet.

"It's right here," Mr Phillips lifted his lapel and shown the men the shinny object. "Don't worry--not everything's changed. Now, why did you want to meet with me on this fine morning?" he said as Cap't Monkey took his seat, obviously relieved. 

After a moment, he said, "To be honest, I've completely forgotten."

Word Count: 497

Saturday, February 21, 2015

No Longer Just A Gym...

There are shows on TV, lots of them, actually, that showcase the splendor and pageantry that is a wedding. Some shows highlight the extreme lengths we go through to make that event one of the most memorable and special in our lives.

But, oh, at what a cost!

I ought to say at this point that I am cheap, very cheap, or using the more finessed word "frugal." It's probably because I've never really had a lot of disposable income in my life. And I'm okay with that. I know some people have more money and have worked very hard to give their children what they want. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It's just what some do.

Of course, there's a lot of cheap/frugal people out there. I believe many in the area where I live consider themselves the same. I've noticed this when it comes to weddings. 

I heard a news report this week that indicated Utah has the highest number per capita of church-goers in the nation, just above 50%, and if you've driven through the state, you'll notice in many areas there are churches everywhere! Almost all of them are the same denomination: LDS.

Like many religions, the churches are not only used on Sundays. Most LDS churches, at least in America, have kitchens, basketball gyms, as well as rooms for worship and instruction. It's also a wonderful place to hold a wedding reception. The gym and kitchen (and parking lot...) function well as a location for several hundred visitors to gather, congratulate the couples and their families, and even have a snack.

There is one HUGE advantage for a member of the congregation to have a wedding or wedding reception at a LDS church--it's free. My cheap side likes this. But there's another equally HUGE disadvantage of having a wedding or wedding reception in a LDS church.

It's in a gymnasium!

There are basketball standards at each end and three-point lines on the floor! I can overlook these things (cheap...), but I understand that others cannot. Tonight my wife, daughter and I attended a reception in a church gym, but when we walked in the space, we saw something different. The family hired a service that constructed an indoor tent of sorts with flowing white linens and lights that made you completely forget you were standing inside a church gym. Now, I know it probably wasn't cheap to decorate the space like that, but it made such a difference. It was so beautiful looking up, I didn't even notice the three-point lines on the floor.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sean Ricks...POLAIK With Attitude!

What can I say about Sean Ricks? I'm sort of at a loss because...well, over the past year I've gotten to know Sean. He's been a mainstay at the local conventions I've attended and, like many of the POLAIK (Profiles Of Local Authors/Artists I Know...) I've written about over the past several weeks, Sean has a big personality. And when I say "big," I mean HUGE!

Sean is an artist, the first I've profiled. His website has examples of his art and if you're in the market for some of his art, you can purchase it. His website is: HERE.

The last time I saw Sean was at the Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015 Edition. He didn't have a booth, but the man was in marketing beast mode. Within a matter of only a few minutes he had secured several contracts to personalize Kendama cup and ball sets. He's also customizing skateboards and snowboards. He was so excited about it, and for good reason. He does fantastic work--something any shredder would love to have on their board.

Sean is a born salesman. He's even gone out of his way to try and sell our own books. He's also a budding author--maybe it's because he's spent so much time around us. It wouldn't surprise me if his novel reaches the NY Times Bestseller List before any of ours.

With many of these POLAIK blog posts, I recommend people find my friends--seek them out, if you will--and introduce yourself. With Sean, however, there's more than a good chance, he'll find you!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brandon Sanderson's "Firefight,"...A Book Review

Firefight (Reckoners, #2)*

You ever feel sometimes like you're one of those people who is fighting an evil superhero and your mission is clear--kill them before they kill you?

Then after you DO kill the evil superhero that no one believed could actually die, life gets even more complicated?

Personally, I've never been in that exact situation, but that's what life is like for Jason, the main character in Firefight, Book Two of Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners Series. You'd think after taking down a seemingly un-killable foe Jason's life would be easier, or if not easier, less complicated. But, as in real life, with one challenge conquered, things don't get easier...they get crazy.

Jason is a reckoner, one of the freedom fighters who take on epics, or those with super powers who have chosen to use their talents to forward their evil desires. The thing about epics is each one has a weakness. The trick is finding out what that weakness is and Jason is the best around and determining what those weakness are.

In Steelheart, Book One of The Reckoners Series Jason and his friends take on Steelheart, a wicked ruler of Chicago, a Chicago set in the near future after epics have basically taken over America with each evil superhero claiming a city. Against all odds Jason and the Reckoners defeat Stealheart and are now moving on to a future New York City. The new city presents new challenges with several high epics (the most powerful...) tormenting the citizen. And because of how Stealheart ended, Jason must not only face evil superheroes, but love as well.

The book sets up perfectly a third installment of the series with just enough of the story wrapping up to make Firefight a very satisfying read, but with enough loose ends and potential storylines to make me look forward to reading Book Three to find out how this grand adventure ends.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

POLAIK, The Next...Nathan Shumate

When you attend a local literary symposium or convention, you're bound to meet people with many varied skills. Sometimes, you may run into someone who has several of those varied skills themselves. My next POLAIK (Profile Of Local Author/Artists I Know...) is Nathan Shumate. He's one of those people.

Like many of these POLAIKs, I first met Nathan at a convention. I believe it was at either the first Salt Lake Comic Con or the second. But during the past few years, Nathan and I have shared many a crowded table, trying to sell books and snacking on whatever tasty treats someone else (usually one of the Butler clan...) brought to the party.

The Golden Age of CrapThe Demon Cross (Avalon & Company, #1)Ethnic Albanians Need Not Apply

Nathan is an author, but he's also an editor. Because he's such a people person, many of the works he's edited contain stories from some of the biggest and most successful local authors in the area. Some may argue that many of these authors wrote stories for Nathan's anthologies before they got big, but I believe they'd write for him no matter how successful they become. He's always willing to help someone out, no matter where they are in their literary or artistic career.

Space EldritchArcane II

Besides being an author and editor (and book publisher...), he's also a gifted artist. You can check out several of his sketches on his website: HERE. And, if that's not enough, he also builds works of art. At one conference he asked if I wanted to attend a panel where the topic was creative physical art out of garbage. Okay, I'm sure that wasn't the name of the panel, and that it wasn't garbage from which they made art. But, Nathan sat with several artists and showed off his creations. I do remember him saying that he was excited when he found a dead bird in his yard because he wanted to use various parts of the bird--specifically the skeleton--in the pursuit of his next project. I think I asked about that particular project at another con. Turns out bird skeleton and certain chemicals don't mix--or they mix all too well.

Yes, Nathan will "Novel For Food," and apparently, will do other things as well. If you're at a convention or symposium and you happen to run into Mr. Shumate, let him tell you a little about what he does. You might be there a while.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Something For Nothing...And Your Sub For Free

The deal was two slices and a can of pop for $5. I've participated in that deal before. At our office they'll do this for a fundraiser, and it's a pretty good deal. This time, though, there was something different. 

This time, there was a raffle. 

I didn't know there'd be a raffle--I was just hungry. So, I made the purchase and enjoyed my lunch. A few hours later an e-mail notified me that mine was one of the numbers chosen as a winner. I went upstairs and claimed my prize.

A $5 gift card to Jimmy John's, so I paid $5 for lunch and got $5 back, and there's a Jimmy John's about a block away from where I work.

But as I sealed up the envelope of my weekly letter to my son serving a mission, I decided to pass along my gift card to him. There's probably a Jimmy John's next to him, too.

Monday, February 16, 2015

David J. West...My Next POLAIK

During the past few years, when I attended a lot of local conventions, I met many new authors and artists, but one seemed to elude me. I noticed that he and I were Facebook friends with several of the same people, but for some reason, we had not yet met.

That changed at Westercon last year. That's when I finally met David J. West. He's my next Profile Of Local Authors/Artists I Know (POLAIK). The first thing that I noticed was how well dressed he was. I never know how to dress when I go to one of these things. Should I be casual, or dress up? Should I wear a tie or at least, a jacket? I usually opt for comfort over fashion. David looked great! He had a very nice tie and jacket and he looked like a serious contender.

The Mad Song: and other tales of Sword & SorceryBless The ChildWeird Tales of Horror

And when it comes to writing, he is serious. The man has produced several volumes of content, from short stories to novels. I've only picked a few from his lexicon. Another interesting aspect of David is the guy seems to get a lot of pictures at these conventions. You can see some examples of his selfies at his website: HERE

The more I've gotten to know David, the more I like him. He's done just about everything when it comes to jobs. He works so he can write and the pictures he's shared of the library he's building at home is more than impressive. It shows how important the written word is to him. There's a reverence, a respect.

David's also part of the Space Balrogs performing group. Their website can be found: HERE. I had the pleasure of taking part in one of their events at last year's Salt City Steamfest. Basically, in this particular game, three authors represented three different populations. The goal of the game was to convince as many of the audience members as possible to support your cause. The winner was the author who ended up with the most supporters. Dave Butler, David West and myself faced off and in the end, it came down to David West and myself to see who'd win the game. I'm not saying David cheated, but when someone wandered into the game near the end, David pounced and that one person tipped the scales in his favor.

No, I'm not bitter.

If you're at a convention and you see David J. West is going to be there, seek him out and strike up a conversation with him. It will be well worth your time. But, just a warning, he might be wearing Larry Correia's credentials. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Symposium Tale...

"Hey," I looked up from where I sat at our table in the Dealer's Room at LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium...).

"What's up?" I asked the diminutive person standing before me. The cute girl with sandy hair and sunglasses positioned with attitude on her head. Turns out she wasn't there to take candy from my customer-attracting stash of Cadbury's Mini Easter Eggs used to increase sales of my collection of short stories (candy which probably ate up all my book sales profits...). No, she had a simple question. 

"Can I draw your picture for a dollar?"

Now, I'm no celebrity, but I've been asked for my autograph on a number of occasions. Kids will sometimes ask cast members to sign the playbills after a show of which I am a cast member. And after those plays there are times when people want a picture taken with someone in the play--especially when we're dressed as a pirate, or Bob Cratchet. 

But I believe this was a first--the first time someone wanted to draw me. Before I could give my answer she told me who she was--a daughter of one of the fellow LTUE attendees. She then told me why she was using her extreme cuteness to persuade someone with such "frugal" tendencies.

"I want ten dollars so I can buy that video 'Christmas Dragon' and that's why I'm drawing people." She pointed across the aisle to where a vendor of locally produced action and fantasy videos hawked his wares. 

"Of course! I'd love for you to draw me," I said and retrieved my wallet. Halfway through the artistic process the young entrepreneur/artist asked, "Are you a nerd?"

"Yes, I am a nerd," I proudly proclaimed. After a quick adjustment to my representation, she handed me the finished product. I loved it, so much so, I recruited several of my friends to participate too. Soon, I watched an excited budding artist run to the video vender and purchase her well-earned prize. Just another little tale, one of many experiences that make the gathering of like minds so much fun. Personally, I think it's an amazing likeness.