This weekend from Sept 5-7 is FanX, Utah’s biggest fan experience. People from all over the world come to share their love of comics, superheroes, fantasy novels, TV series, and movies. Cosplayers wander the halls, New York Times bestselling authors hang out playing DnD, celebrities come for signings, photo ops, and to be interviewed on the main stage.
And I’m there too.
Thanks to the friendship and support of some truly amazing individuals, I was able to connect with the event organizers and join the brave pack of panelists who share their expertise on everything from costume building tricks and hints to the finer points of novel writing.
The first panel I was part of talked in depth about literally everything hobbit. We covered where they come from, how they influenced the storytelling in Lord of the Rings, which Hobbit was our favorite, and on and on. There was a bit of a love fest about the Silmarillion, which strangely doesn’t really discuss hobbits more than a few mentions.
My favorite hobbit – Samwise Gamgee’s father, often referred to as the old Gaffer. Why? Everyone says Sam is their favorite character because he’s the true hero in Lord of the Rings. Frodo couldn’t complete the task of destroying the ring on his own and would have failed without Sam. Throughout the books, Sam relies on lessons learned from his father to get him through tough times. So I would argue that without the influence of the old Gaffer, Sam wouldn’t have been able to be the hero he needed to be.
My other panel focused on the American Apocalypse and we discussed everything from religious belief in the end of the world to the nature of the word “apocalypse” which literally means revelation, not destruction as most would assume. We debated on what the real apocalypse might be and where the idea that this would make good fiction stems from.
The strongest argument of what’s going to end it all for us currently is either the AI apocalypse or something horribly bacterial. Although, the supervolcano hiding under Yellowstone was a strong contender.
As part of being a special guest author, I get to do two official signings. One was yesterday night, and the next Saturday at 11. If you’ve been dying to get your hands on a signed copy of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, I’d love to see you!
This year I’m not cosplaying as anything, it would have been one more thing to worry about and I’m supposed to be playing the part of a professional author. But … I saw some amazing clothing items I might have to get …
Don’t forget! The Labor Day sale of Stonebearer’s Betrayal ends this Saturday. You can grab the ebook for FREE over on Amazon this week only!
We’ve reached the end of the power word series and I saved the best for last. Today’s word is FEARLESS.
While many choose to define fearless as ‘being without fear,’ I define it differently. Being fearless means to acknowledge your fears and then go out and do the thing that’s perhaps a little scary. For me, it’s anything that might result in confrontation. Public speaking is one of those things. It’s scary and this year I’ve done it far more than I’ve ever done it before.
I’m an introvert by nature. Most assume the outgoing, somewhat loud side of me they see in public means that I’m super extroverted – it’s not true. The extroverted persona I wear at conferences is me grabbing the idea of being fearless and doing what needs to be done to best represent myself as an author. At conferences that means being brave and talking to strangers and presenting ideas in classes and panels.
If you’d asked me about this years ago, the idea of attending conferences with the intent to meet as many amazing people as possible and making myself seen, would have reduced me to a pile of anxiety ridden mush. It’s taken time, experience, and lots of watching my wonderful fellow author friends show how they handle being at a conference table, or behave on a panel, or teach a class.
The key to being fearless is developing confidence. Confidence comes from deep within and must be grown over time. It’s a personal understanding that you are a person of worth and have lots to share with the world. It’s also understanding that everyone around you deserves to be treated like they are also an interesting person and letting them shine.
Check it out! I’m doing something super brave and attending FanX officially as an author for the very first time this September. If you’re headed to FanX, I’d love to see you! Search the FanX site for my profile (or just click here) to see the most up-to-date listing of the panels I will be sitting on. You can also find me hanging around the Printed Garden vendor table.
From acting, to film making, to daily blogging, to writing books, today’s guest loves pushing his creative limits. I think, Scott Taylor and I first met at a book signing event, but it might have been a conference. He’s one of those guys that you feel like you’ve known forever, because he’s always very warm and friendly to talk to.
We crossed paths again at this year’s Fyrecon writing and arts conference in Layton and I offered to bring him here to share some of his wit and wisdom with all my wonderful readers.
Without further ado, let’s go to the interview!
To kick things off, let’s begin with a getting to know you question. Tell us a little about yourself, including what scares you the most.
My name is Scott Taylor. I live on the side of a mountain on a plot of land my parents bought for pennies (compared to today) back in the 1960s. I write speculative fiction, steampunk, fantasy, even a little paranormal and horror. My debut novel Chaser was released in 2018 from Immortal Works Press. I am a blogger and have blogged every day since January 24th, 2011. I also keep a daily journal and have done so since January, 1985. Two things that scare me most are sharks and drowning, but if I’m ever in the situation where I’m facing both possibilities, I’m not entirely sure which would be worse.
In the past year, what’s one experience you’ve had that you could describe as amazing.
In April of this year, I joined the Programming Team with
the FanX Comics Convention in Salt Lake City. My main responsibility centered
around a stage located on the convention floor—a first for the con. I helped
book the acts, schedule them, and I had the honor of watching the con patrons
enjoy panels, musical acts, even dance and self-defense demonstrations. I loved
introducing a new facet of the convention and seeing how it affected the
overall con experience of those in attendance.
Of all your creative endeavors, of which there are many, which have you found the most rewarding?
I believe a creator never tires of hearing about how their work has affected others. When a parent tells me how much their children (and them) loved my book, or watching a person cry after watching a film I wrote, you realize what you’re doing is not only for your own satisfaction and interests, but can affect and entertain so many others—that’s the best part of what we do (in my opinion).
Tell us about the inspiration behind your most current book, Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and His Dog.
Chaser came about
for two reasons. I wanted to finally complete a November NaNoWriMo project, and
I wanted to write a book for my youngest child to read since he’s not a reader.
I asked him what he wanted to read, and he responded, “science fiction.” So, I
had to figure out how much “science” I needed to put in a middle-grade science
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
I don’t have a writing space, per se. I suppose the most interesting thing I have is my custom MacBook Pro cover. It’s leather. It zips. It has inside pockets to store additional materials. And the best part, it’s from the Deseret Industries, a local thrift store. I noticed when I bought my first MacBook Pro I noticed it was small enough to fit in a regular-sized planner. I bought one for 50¢ at the D.I. and it worked perfectly, so when I enter an Apple Store and see how much their MacBook Pro covers cost, I can’t believe how much I’m saving to protect my laptop.
What’s next? What are you working on?
I am about a quarter into a fantasy/alternative history
story that I’ve been kicking around for several years. This year I decided to
get serious about finishing a story that’s been swimming around in my brain
since the idea first came to me. I also like the world surrounding the story
and that it can hopefully continue to several other stories, both in the past
and in our current time.
About today’s guest:
Scott William Taylor lives with his family on the side of a mountain. When not working, performing, or sleeping, he loves writing novels, short stories, and screenplays. He writes Steampunk, Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal. His debut MG novel, Chaser, is published through Immortal Works. Taylor earned his Master’s of English degree from Weber State University.
About Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and his Dog
Twelve-year-old Kennedy Barnes and his dad are on an interplanetary mission to transfer Earth’s animals to Planet X489-B, a habitable world without animal life.
But one animal not on their spaceship’s manifest is Kennedy’s dog Chaser. Unable to part with his beloved Chaser, Kennedy smuggles the Labrador Retriever onto his father’s ship.
What follows is a story of strength, deception, harrowing escapes and painful lessons learned.
Join Kennedy, Chaser, and the entire crew of Trinity Base as they travel billions of miles from home on an adventure as big as the universe, and find out just how far one boy will go to save his best friend.
There are authors, there are editors, there are mentors, and then there’s Kenny – a snarktastic bundle of the three, plus a good friend of mine. It’s a pleasure to bring her to the blog today and share more about her journey and what makes her tick.
Kenny and I have bounced around various writing events ranging from signings at the Printed Garden, to fan conventions such as Wizarding Dayz, and to writing conferences such as Fyrecon. We share a lot of the same darkly cynical humor and sarcasm so it was only a matter of time before we became fast friends.
On to the interview!
First of all, I’d love to get to know you better. What makes you laugh the most, and why?
Puns. The more horrible, the better. And B SciFi movies. The terrible ones with descriptions that don’t match and awful plot ideas. Airplane vs Volcano and Sharknado – like that. I think I just like bad acting and both of those fall under that category. They usually have one really good A-lister (at least 70% of the time). Those are the funniest because they know how to act well. The people acting in the show around them make them look overly dramatic or just bad themselves. It’s hilarious.
If you could choose any fictional character (including ones you have created) to have dinner with, who would you choose and why?
Carmen Sandiego – I was always a fan as a kid and she seemed like such a bad guy. The kind who knows things you can’t possibly know and will never learn. But then, Netflix flipped the script on it. So, I have to wonder, which one is the real Carmen. Besides, the adventure stories would be so much fun to write up. Ca you imagine retelling the story of stealing the Great Wall of China? Masterful.
Tell us a little about the Evolution series and your journey in writing it.
The Evolution series came about when I was writing some history curriculum. I am obsessed with World War II. While not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe it was a body double that was burned in the ditch at the end of World War II and the high ranking Nazis, some of them, escaped to South America, which is why the CIA was so involved in controlling the government in those countries in the 50’s and 60’s. The documentary series Hunting Hitler is very telling. Had Germany managed to take Britain by any amount of special circumstances, then they would have crossed to friendly countries and started over here. I am currently knee-deep in the third and what should be the final book but I feel like it doesn’t close everything up. So, I am debating changing the ending or writing a book four, for gratuitous reasons. The story develops well on its own and I don’t want to force it. This is not the first series I have written but some are published as a ghost writer. So, I can’t share those.
For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been deeply involved in all sorts of events. What’s the most bizarre or weirdly wonderful thing you’ve encountered at a writing conference or fan oriented convention?
1 – The first KidCon I was ever involved in, we built a castle out of donated foam. My husband was the architecgt and project manager and it was some long hours. During the event, someone stole the PVC pipe holding things together on the back wall of the castle itself. It was strange and caused quite a scare as we thought the wall was completely broken and falling..
2 – Deflowering the Castle!!!! Okay, you have to understand the delirium that comes with FanX Comic Convention. It was Saturday night around 10pm and we were still breaking down KidCon. Mind you, I had spent ten hours a day at the Salt Palace since Monday helping to set up. By this time, we had seen at least 3000 kids and were just tired. Brain fried, I removed all the plastic plants from the castle walls and declared it had been deflowered! And someone else wanted to know if my husband knew I wanted something so big. Yep, I need to start a blog on stories behind the scenes working with kids. So – the second one is less family friendly than the first. Use whichever you like, or both.
I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.
My dolphin pen. When it falls on the floor, it will cut you with a fin. It no longer has a cap or ink but I wrote my first query letters 20 years ago with it and now, I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more of a weapon now than it was then because it literally could stab someone in so many ways. On the bad days, I contemplate trying to break it open to see if I can add ink. It sits next to my army issue typewriter which still functions by the way.
What’s next? Tell me about the next project (or projects) you are working on.
Finishing book three in the Evolution series. Then we have the Blue Quill Anthology that we are publishing through Teapots Away Media. We have an awesome idea for a podcast that will be taking things back to the 1950’s (think War of the Worlds) if the media arm can pull it off. We are compiling a set of memoir stories relating to the original versions of fairy tales that take on current issues. I am working on another dystopian scifi and a new Adult Fantasy myself and we have two authors who have submitted works to be released next year. I have short stories coming out in a charity Halloween anthology for Fyrecon and possibly with the Salt City Genre Writers.
About Kenny B Smith
Kenny likes to read, of course, and when she’s not writing, she is researching history, one of her favorite subjects. Researching allows her to rewrite history in her speculative fiction novels. Accuracy is something she values in her work.
In her spare time, she enjoys quilting and sewing, hanging out with her kids and teaching. As someone who has volunteered her time with children often, she values their creative space and loves to help them express it. She also teaches classes to adults. Her latest class is how to write an effective query letter.
Not always a teacher, she loves to learn and learn she does. She has certificates in Radio & TV Broadcasting, Private Investigation & Security and is working on one in Antiques. As history was her major, she knows how to learn about anything although research is not her favorite task.
When she’s not dreaming up new book ideas in the fantasy and speculative fiction genres, she is writing non-fiction (ghost writing), unschooling her kids, watching crime procedurals or playing Hunt A Killer with her husband. He says she has an unhealthy fascination with serial killers and their psychology, war artillery and military strategy.
Her current venture to help others – she’s started a publishing house. Not traditional, not boutique, not vanity, not just services. They are a mentor publishing house. Do we know what that means exactly? No. But if you ask her, she is always willing to explain.
D is back and now finds herself inside city walls, which is proving to be no safer for her than the comfort of her former home in Bunker Six. While Doc is determined to find more people with potential like D, others are looking to rid themselves of anyone with potential. Can D save herself and others like her?
Xayres has known for his political successes but inside the city, he is fumbling. With little knowledge of the world outside and even less practice with the skills necessary for successful missions, Xayres finds himself being saved by everyone around him. Can he learn the skills he needs to survive before it’s too late?
Erack loves his solitude but is forced into the limelight to lead the charge to find the defunct Bunker One. Can he hide enough to focus on the task at hand and get his colleagues to safety before the resistance erupts into its own civil war?
It’s FanX weekend and the streets of downtown Salt Lake have transformed from uptight and respectable to downright weird. This season’s characters are heavily from the Marvel universe. Everywhere you look there’s a Gamora or Peter Quill. Dozens of Tenth Doctor are mixed in with a healthy assortment of stormtroopers wander through the food courts.
And I’m all for it.
In 2015 you would find me wandering the con as a snooty General Kala accompanying the fabulous Emperor Ming. Probably one of our most ambitions costumes of all time. We spent many weekends sewing and piecing together the intricate designs. We even entered the costume contest and were invited to the stage show as finalists in the group division. By the way, if you haven’t watched the 1980 Flash Gordon, you’re missing out.
In 2016, we took out cosplay in a different direction and tried out large-scale puppetry, with a Miyazaki character affectionately known as No Face. The perk of a puppet is that hubby and I could trade who wore the puppet and who acted as the handler to make sure No Face didn’t accidentally walk into a wall or trip on anything on the floor. We designed him to grow, so at random he’d jump up to over 12 feet tall and startle anyone we happened to be nearby. He could also shrink down to about 3 feet and interact with kids.
Tall No Face
Mini No Face
This year we will be bringing No Face again on Friday only as he is a crowd favorite. We would have loved creating a new costume but this year has been super crazy with the kids getting older, huge projects coming to fruition, and, well, life.
If you are at FanX this weekend, give a shout out in the comments. Even better, if you are cosplaying this weekend, tell me all about it! I’d love to hear what your favorite characters are.
Brief writing update –
We finalized the cover for my book this week, stay tuned for the big reveal!
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