Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pet Adoption Day...Or A Better Title: Rip You Heart Out Day

"Lets go check out the animals," I said to my wife after I parked the car. We had to drive past the pet store on our way to the grocery store. Outside under a beautiful summer sky stood several cages and around them were gathered several people.

We knew what it was.

We'd seen it before.

Pet Adoptions...

Oh, the horror!

Still, what can it hurt to just go look? I thought.

I should not say those words--I should not even think those words. What can it hurt? Are you kidding me?

The answer is--lots, lots of hurt.

I believe the feeling one gets when looking into the eyes of an animal in search of a home is one of the shared experiences of every human on this planet. You remember doing it. You see the animal--be it dog, cat, bunny, even a reptile--and your mind races. Can I do it? Do we have the space? Are we allergic? You think of the trade-offs. There's a million things in the "No" column. Those things seem to dissolve right in front of you eyes when you look at the animal, leaving a big "Yes" as not only a reasonable choice, but one you desperately want it to be.

We have several pets, a dog and two cats--one of which we rescued and gave a home during the middle of a Utah January. And even though those eyes that stared back at me and communicated to my soul, I knew it was not to be. These beautiful, vulnerable creatures would call others their saviors.

We walked away, and to make matters worse, we had to drive by the same caged animals on our way home. A new group of potential adoptive parents now clustered around metal enclosures. I hope someone in the new group looked into those eyes and to them, the "Yes" overcame the "No." I sure hope so.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016...A Celebration Of Steampunk Panel

After the vendor floor closes and the con is winding down, there will be some of us still in the building trying to keep the experience of it all alive as long as possible. And if you're like us and want to get the absolute most out of your Salt Lake Comic Con experience, just come to Room 253A Saturday night, September 3, 8pm.

Because we're talking Steampunk!

Steampunk will always hold a special place in my heart. My first published story was a steampunk adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. Mine's called Little Boiler Girl, and it's a story I'm still proud of. That little story opened up a lot of doors for me.

So when they announced my name on the A Celebration of Steampunk panel, it made my day. And those sharing the panel are some amazingly talented people.

Rebekah R. Ganiere
Cindy Grigg
John M. Olsen
Leigh Statham
And me.

So, if you're a fan of steampunk, or you'd just like to know more about it, stick around. We'll do our best to entertain and inform! See you there!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Just Bought A Book...Eve Nicholson's "The Tripartite Soul!"

We got the news a few months ago--our friend Eve Nicholson published her book, The Tripartite Soul. You can pick up your own copy: HERE. We bought it, or I should say, my wife bought it. And what I mean by that is, technically we bought it, but it ended up on my wife's Kindle.

I thought, "no big deal--I'll just read it when I get a know, like on Sundays when I have access to her Kindle."

The problem was, I never picked it up and began reading. So today I decided to buy my own copy and download it on my own device.

Eve has been best friends with my wife forever. And if they lived closer, I would like to think the Taylors and the Nicholsons would party more than the once-per-decade schedule we've been keeping. Maybe one day we'll rectify that issue, but as our kids grow and need some stability in their lives, living far apart will just have to do.

Personally, I'm very excited to start reading this book. I've got a crazy week coming up, but I'm hoping life calms down in September (I really hate typing this because of the "jinx factor" that's naturally built in when one says such things...). Oh well--I'll risk it.

Completing a novel is tough. I've been trying to crank out a presentable one for many years. It is no small task. I mean, the hours just getting the words down is tough, not to mention the bouts of soul-crushing doubt and feelings of inadequacy. I don't know an author who hasn't at one time or another, believes he or she is a complete fraud.

But I digress. Congratulations Eve on your amazing accomplishment! I look forward to getting lost in your words.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016...Stephen King's "On Writing" Panel

On Friday, September 2, 2016 at 8pm, guests and panelists will gather in Room 253A of the Salt Palace Convention Center to discuss a little book written by Stephen King. 

It's called, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Here are the panelists scheduled to attend: 

Richard Paul Evans

Cindy Grigg

JP Roth

Jonathan Ryan

J. Scott Savage

Callie Stoker

And me, Scott Taylor

As you can see, there's a lot of knowledge and experience in this group. I finished King's book the first time a few months ago. I was so impressed with it, I suggested this panel, and the Salt Lake Comic Con scheduling gurus blessed me with a killer line-up. I know several of the authors personally, others I'm excited to meet. If you Google any of these people, you'll be blown away by their accomplishments. I feel both honored and humbled to be a part of this team.

My goal was to gather authors who both write full-time and those (like me...) who do what we can while working another job. I believe we'll have that. If you're attending this year's Salt Lake Comic Con, check us out. You'll not only receive great writing counsel from one of the most successful writers of our time, but hear from others who love the art of writing.

Remember, Friday, September 2, at 8pm in Room 253A. We'd love to see you there!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The House On The Hill...Is Again For Sale

There's a house on the hill, just up from ours. In 2003 the first owners moved in. Since then the building's sheltered three families, and soon, it'll shelter a fourth.

Before the land was prepared and a street put in, an orchard of fruit trees stood where the house is now. The trees were planted back in the early 1970s and they remained until the early twenty-first century. We used to pick the fruit, can it, and put it away in my mom's basement. I think a lot of the fruit we harvested decades earlier was thrown out when we sold my mother's house and the new owners moved in.

The house on the hill is a great house--a unique one to be sure. The entire upper floor is the master suite. And from the master bedroom you can look through that incredible wall of windows and see the valley below, Antelope Island, and what's left of the Great Salt Lake east of Antelope Island. The views are spectacular.

And now, another individual or family will call it home. They'll say to themselves as they approach, "Boy--that's a long driveway!" And it is. They'll wonder just how big a job it will be to shovel snow in the winter, and if they don't have a 4x4 vehicle, they'll consider getting one if they end up buying the home.

But any worries of the long driveway will disappear once they step inside. That is, of course, if this is the house for them. They'll learn that the lot is 1 1/4 acre big, and that because the land above their lot is National Forest land, no one will ever build above them. They'll be told that they have a private trail that allows them access to the rest of the mountain.

And they'll consider what life will be like living there, where they'll put their furniture, or will they buy all new stuff. If they have kids, they'll imagine them playing on the hill, or in the basement theater room . They may even envision having a twenty foot Christmas tree (if they observe the holiday...) rising skyward in the home's main room.

They'll see all these things.

And they'll buy it.

And we'll be neighbors.

And another chapter in the building's history will begin.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Public Displays Of...Art

Several years ago came the announcement that light rail train service would soon criss-cross the Salt Lake Valley. I don't know who ultimately gave the "thumbs up" on the decision, but approved and built it was.

And at each light rail stop someone (most likely the same people responsible for giving the project the green light, but maybe not...) said, or thought: There should be art at each stop and we should make that art different, as each stop is different.

And it became so.

The other day I took the Green light rail line so I could catch another train home. And as I had time to kill, I looked around a bit. And behold--there was art right in front of me, art I had not mostly likely seen, but did not ever before acknowledge.

The art at the 1900 West North Temple stop is called Spacial Perception, an example of Shawn O. Porter's artwork. Hopefully, you can read the write up that sits on a plaque adjacent to the artwork on the platform. 

Many people ride the train. I take public transportation almost everyday to and from work. Yet, last week I noticed this commissioned piece of art. I wonder how many people have noticed what Mr. Porter produced. I hope it's more than me.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016...Navigating Critique Groups: Getting the Most out of Your Writing Panel

I received word that I will be part of another panel at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con. It's a great panel, especially if you're a writer! 

It's a panel on writing groups.

How cool is that?

The answer--pretty cool!

Here's who else was invited to be on the panel:

M. Todd Gallowglas
LJ Hachmeister
Lehua Parker
Aaron Michael Ritchey
E.B. Wheeler

I know Todd, Lahua, and Aaron. The others I'm excited to meet and discuss the topic.

Being part of a good writing group is like having a set of excellent knives if you're a chef. You can get by with substandard knives, but the right equipment helps so much. Being a part of a successful and effective writing group is invaluable to your writing success, at least, that's how I look at it.

This week alone I went to one writing group last night and another tonight. In the next week I'll try and get a hold of these authors and collaborate a little so that the experience will be the best possible for the guests.

So if you're going to this year's SLCC, after the Mark Hamill panel, head on back to the Salt Palace and find us in Room 150G from 1pm to 2pm on Thursday, September 1. We'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Right Place...Right Time

Yesterday I had a fifteen minute wait for the train to take me out of the city.

So, what did I do?

I took out my camera and snapped a video.

I saw the northbound train pull in and I've really enjoyed utilizing my iPhone's camera features. One I especially like is the one I used yesterday--the Time Lapse feature. I positioned myself against the wall of a shelter on the platform and began filming as the train pulled up.

I expected to get people scurrying about on their way to work or pleasure, their actions sped up to give the illusion of chaos. What I didn't expect to happen is to film about twenty LDS missionaries step off the train and form an assemblage of people and luggage.

As I filmed, I watched the mostly teenagers get organized, make sure everyone was accounted for, then haul all the earthly belongings they'll have for the next eighteen to twenty-four months and make their way to the Green Line. Soon they'd be waiting in more lines and finally sitting in a big plane to transport them to all places north, south, east, and west.

I was excited to see the result and I was happy with how it turned out. So much so, I had to send it out on various social media sites. Of course, had I a tripod to stabilize the shot, it would be cleaner, especially when that guy walked within inches of my phone. But that's a small thing. I captured life--though sped up--as it existed on a train platform on an August morning in Salt Lake City. As it turned out, I was in the right place, at the right time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Trip To Provo...With Yodeling

About twice a year the team I'm on at work meets with another team to discuss work, places to improve, and other work-related stuff. Today we held that meeting and we traveled to Provo, Utah to do it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Provo, it's on the southern end of a one-hundred or so mile area that constitutes the most populated area in the state. It's famous for many things--the most Republican county in the nation, and it's home of Brigham Young University. Perhaps you've heard of it.

Provo gets a bad wrap, especially from certain people living north, south, east, and west of the city. It's an easy target, actually--because it is a different place to live. It's got some of the most spectacular scenery in the nation and some of the nicest people you will ever meet live within its city limits.

At work we had the first half of our meeting then broke for lunch. I called a friend, Dave, and we went for Indian food. We talked shop (writing and publishing) and it was great just hanging out with him.

In the second half of our meeting I learned that it was my previous boss's birthday (happy 51, Darren!) and that my current boss can yodel. That's right--yodel! In fact, he's very good. He says he doesn't do social media so I'm hoping he doesn't find out I'm adding this. But I want to because I think it's excellent.

After the meeting we boarded our train. It brought us from Central Utah County to home. Yes, I spent the day in Provo. And even though I'm one of the ones who knock it from time to time, it's really a beautiful place.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Maurie Tarbox And "Hello Dolly!"...Simply Amazing

Last week my family attended a production of Hello Dolly at our local theatre. Having been in several shows at that theatre in the past couple of years, I knew many in the cast, so watching a show where you know the performers personally adds an extra element to the whole experience. Though many gave exceptional performances, one stood out. And it just happened to be the one who played the title roll.

I first met Maurie back at least a decade ago. She was a music director for a production of A Christmas Carol, and I'll be forever thankful a decision she and the other directors made when they gave a solo to my then six-year old daughter. My daughter still remembers it, and it was a proud moment for me to watch this beautiful little girl stand and sing her solo.

Over the years I've been fortunate enough to work many times with Maurie as she expanded her repertoire, from music director to director. Once again she chose my daughter and I to help out in several shows and she always treated us and all the performers with the upmost respect.

But I'd never seen her on stage.

Until last week.

She totally nailed it!

Really, I shouldn't have expected anything different. She's a pro, be it directing or while on stage.

There was one scene where Mr. Horace Vandergelder turned to Dolly and said, "Simply Amazing." The actor, the very talented Chuck Gilmore, could have been describing Dolly, the character, or the person playing her. 

The show plays for another couple of weeks. If you'd like to know more, click: HERE for details. Of course, everyone, from the excellent director--Jan, the fantastic choreographer--Addison, to the stage managers--Derek and Daniel, the costumers, prop people, other principles, to the ensemble, all contributed to make the show wonderful. I could (and probably should...) write a blog post highlighting all involved. It was a pleasure to just sit and watch the magic onstage. Thanks everyone for making our night so much fun. And a special thanks to Maurie, for the show and everything else.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

K.R....Who Are You?

A few months ago my wife got me a present. They purchased a D.N.A. testing kit from Ancestry.Com. Last week I got the results.

Turns out, as far as my ancestry goes, I'm pretty much what I would be if I had been born to my adoptive father and mother, which is kind of amazing.

In my culture, we research our ancestors. There's religious reasons for this, but it's so ingrained that it becomes who we are. We know where we came from and we work hard to learn even more. My parents, aunts and uncles have done a lot of the family research work for me. I know that my adoptive family comes form Europe, Great Britain, and Scandinavia.

Last week I opened up my D.N.A. results and guess what--according to my D.N.A. I come from Scandinavia, Western Europe, and Great Britain. In all honesty, where I come from doesn't really surprise me. I look like I come from that area of the planet. What did surprise me is how close that comes to the heritage of my adoptive family. It's like I'm one of them physically, and not just spiritually.

The Ancestry.Com also includes some other information. It identifies relatives. Turns out my D.N.A. connected me to at least one second cousin, a few third cousins, and many fourth cousins. The second cousin is my closest relative, according to the results, and the only information I have on her is that she's identified by the initials K.R. I've never met my birth parents--don't even know who they are. I've not devoted a lot of time to fine out, either. It's something that I figure I'll know one day. But now I have a nugget of information. I have something to research.

So, who are you, K.R.?

We share great-grandparents, all of whom are listed on my Ancestry.Com account.

Looks like I've got a real-life mystery on my hands.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Waiting For Lightning...

Storms rarely roll across the valley in the summer, so when we heard thunder echo off the mountains one afternoon a few weeks back, a tingle rippled through each member of the family.

Finally, rain!

From where our house sits, we can usually tell how bad a storm's going to be. From the west, clouds approach. If they're bringing rain the bottom of the clouds disappear like cotton being pulled from below. But when we can't see Antelope Island, it means it's big and we'd better make sure things that are prone to being blown away in storms are secured. 

We live surrounded by mountains. Thunder, like the sounds from celebratory fireworks, bounce off the Rocky Mountains until the sound disappears into space. In the summer rain's a luxury. When we heard the thunder, we stopped what we were doing and opened up the front door. Was the storm to the south, the north, the west? We weren't sure, but we knew it drew close.

Rain in summer means relief, and not just for the fauna . It means relief from the heat, from the dry dry air, from the sun that beats down on our house, our roads, and our heads when outside. In the sky the sun proves it's power from millions of miles away. It give and takes away life--it rules us and we bend to its will.

And yet, it can be tamed, if only momentarily, by the condensation of evaporated water that solidifies in the chilled air above and wanders by the wind's will until the weight of the liquid proves too heavy and it releases its load.

And sometimes, there's lightning.

And when there's lightning, we wait.

And watch.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yard Work...For A Vampire

I think I figured it out, or at least, it made sense this morning. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know of my distain for yard work. There's many reasons for this. First, I suffer from seasonal allergies, and the usually kick in in the spring, just after the snow melts and those crazy thoughts that doing some yard work may be fun tries to enter your mind.

But it's not just the allergies. Again, if you follow this blog, you also know that I'm not a fan of the summer sun and the summer heat. If I spend too much time in the outside in the summer when the sun's out, doing things like mowing the lawn or pulling weeds I get a headache and need to cool off.

So, when the time comes that my allergies aren't bad and it's not hot outside, I can find myself doing some yard work. Of course, there's one other thing that keeps me from going outside on my days off and pulling weeds--I like to sleep in on the days I don't work. I suppose you could say I like to stay up late the night before.

This morning I slept in a little bit, but I dragged my butt out of bed and did some yard work. Yes--I know it's hard to believe. Allergies didn't get me, but as the sun crept over the mountain, I packed up my tools and headed inside.

It was like I was a vampire, afraid the sun would burn me.

I was the Yard Work Vampire.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Salt City Steamfest Fashion Show...

Last weekend I attended another convention, this one not necessarily a literary convention, but more  a cosplay convention. It's called Salt City Steamfest and I've attended each year since 2013. There's rumors that this year's local celebration of all things steampunk will be the last. Of course, they said the same thing last year, and they did it again.

On Saturday they had a steampunk fashion show so I grabbed the Nikon and took some pictures. One thing that draws people, myself included, to steampunk is the ability to take it to so many places. Those who showcased their talents steampunked Star Trek, Wonder Woman, and Hell on Wheels, among other things. Really, the only thing that restricts steampunk are people's imaginations.

I attended Friday and Saturday. On Friday I participated in a Space Balrogs "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" panel. I finished second--just like last time. If you've seen any of the Space Balrogs Apocalypse panels, you know what I'm talking about. It was still fun.

The costumes was amazing, as usual. I don't know if next year you'll be able to see this level of cosplay. If Salt City Steamfest returns, then possibly. Also, at the large Comic Cons, people do dress up and use their incredible talents to impress. The fashion show at Steamfest--very impressive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My New/Old iPod Mini...What A Blast!

Over the weekend we stopped by a yard sale--not to pick up stuff, but to drop off. We rounded up some items around the house and basically gave them away. At the sale we laid out our free stuff. Once we did that, I noticed another free pile next to ours, and in that pile there was an iPod.

An ancient iPod.

And I grabbed it!

You may wonder why I would want this particular piece of technology. It's a fair question. The previous owner didn't. I had no idea if the thing even worked. But for free, I wasn't risking anything. I brought it home and powered it up. It worked. Not only that, but it had over five-hundred songs still on it.

Okay, so some of the artists I would not have chosen to put on my iPod, but some I definitely would. I had listened to a song or two, but hadn't really put the thing through its paces. Until today, that is. At work I fully charged the pale blue beauty and plugged in the earbuds.

I had a blast!

When iPods first came out, I never got one--we couldn't afford it. Plus, there was always the radio and the old standby--the Walkman to use instead. So I never got to enjoy the iPods with their hundreds of songs and unparalleled portability. It was a lot of fun, using the wheel to control everything and enjoying music, plain and simple.

Of course, it has many downsides compared to its modern counterpart. There's no Bluetooth--you have to be physically attached to the iPod. It's 4 gigs, which I'm sure was huge in its day. And if you're only talking about music--no videos, none of the extra stuff--4 gigs is plenty. And the battery's pretty much gone. I drained it to almost empty listening for only a few hours.

When I watched those hypnotic iPod ads more than a decade ago, they made iPods fun--fun to have, fun to use, fun to own. Today I caught a glimpse of just how much fun iPods really are.

...or were.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Time To Revisit Those Acrylic Grapes...

This is the second time I've comeback to this same topic, but I think it's time to return to it again.

Acrylic Grapes.

They're as popular as they are mysterious. For a certain age group in our culture (basically, everyone but millennials...), when they see these grapes, it brings back a ton of memories--I know it does for me. And when I saw this cluster of acrylic grapes at the Deseret Industries in St. George in September of 2011, I should have bought the darn things.

Just the other day I got a comment from a post I wrote on the same acrylic grapes back in 2013. It's just amazing how popular they are.

So, for those who never saw either my 2011 (click: HERE) or 2013 (click: HERE) posts, here's what they look like and how to make them. Since there's so many DIY'ers out there, maybe my humble post can be the start of an acrylic grapes revolution.

You never know.