Summer is usually a dry spell for writing conferences in Utah, most tend to be in the spring or fall. There is one shining exception – Fyrecon, happening this weekend from June 20-22. Boldly proclaiming its independence from the norm, Fyrecon takes the standard writing conference plan and bumps it up a notch. Its motto “Burn Through Barriers” captures this feeling. There are classes for all flavors of creatives ranging from visual arts to fiber arts to table top RPG to gaming software design – all very cool.
Even better, they let me come play! This year I’m teaching three classes:
The Art of Active Setting: Bring your stories to life through the principles of active setting, including the importance of sensory integration, character viewpoints, and how to anchor a scene.
Inside-Out Worldbuilding: Learn how to build a unique and engaging fantasy world using your main character as a guide.
Magic Systems 101: From Tolkien to Sanderson, a review of what makes good magic a great read and even better, how to build your own
And best yet – I get to play with some pretty cool friends on two different round table discussions:
Blood Basics for Beginners with Candace J. Thomas and Maxwell Alexander Drake
Muddling Through the Middle: What to do When You’ve Lost Your Map, with Maria V. Snyder, Eric Flint, and David Mark Brown
If you’re a creative in Utah, there’s lots of good stuff for you to find here at Fyrecon.
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?
With Spring into Books (Utah’s Awesome-st Author signing and workshop) at the beginning of the month, paired with end of school craziness for my kiddos, June has been a wild ride – and it’s getting wilder.
Fyrecon, the conference that encourages writers and artists alike to “Burn Your Creative Path,” kicks off tomorrow – and they are kind enough to let me play!
Writing conferences are wonderfully gratifying because they give creatives a chance to spend quality time with like-minded people. They are my tribe and I love all of them. This year I decided to be super ambitious and offered three brand new classes to teach, with the hopes that perhaps one or two might be chosen.
And … they asked for all of them. Woohoo!
Needless to say, I’ve been working my little fanny off getting ready and I’m super excited to share the awesomeness that I’ve learned.
Here is my schedule – come find me!
Class – Overcoming Ego for Better Head Space (Thurs 11am, Building D2, Rm 318)
Panel – Portrayal of Death and Dying: Discussing the Philosophy of the Memento Mori (Friday 1pm, Building D2, Rm 111)
Panel – Medical Accuracy in Fiction: Common Pitfalls and What is a Better, More Believable Approach (Friday 3pm, D2 – 111)
Class – Gut Punch your Audience with Emotion (Saturday 9am, D2 – 117)
Class – Finding Balance in Storytelling: Not Everything can Explode all the Time (D3 – 341
For those of you trying to decide whether you want to go or not – come! If you register at the door for the whole conference it’s only $50 and daily rates range from $22-27. If you’re a student it’s cheaper than a hamburger, $10 dollars for the whole conference or $5 a day. Military gets a 10% discount. That’s a whole lot of amazing for an extremely reasonable rate.
If it doesn’t work out for you to come this year, be sure to like Fyrecon on Facebook to be the first to hear about future events.