LDS Storymakers Review

Holy crap on a cracker! Storymakers this was awesomesauce. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it was. But I’m gonna try.

First, the M.C. was Sarah Eden. At one point, I was gonna tweet “my cheeks are hurting”. Seriously, I don’t know who they’ll get next year that could even attempt to get the crowd laughing half as much.

There were 10 breakout sessions. I did attend something during most of them.

Session #1: I went to agent Becca Stumpf’s workshop about….you know…I don’t recall it’s base topic. I tried looking it up, but it just said workshop. So I’ll go with Becca Stumpf’s workshop. It was so awesome that my brain must’ve leaked it out. Regardless, she did an awesome job at speaking to the crowd.

Session #2: I finally got to attend a  class taught by my good writing friend Annette Lyon. (Everyone knows how much I love Annette’s Chocolate Never Faileth.) Even better, I actually won a cool little notepad for not being afraid of sharing an impromptu story. Her Show, Don’t Tell class is something I’m going to need to sit and study some more.

Session #3: During the opening exercises (not sure what else to call that), I was privileged to sit at the same table as agent Sara Crowe and be introduced to her as “This is T.J. Bronley, and he’s awesome.” Yeah, I was the first person without publishing credits, but Rob Wells did boost my ego with this. This session I spent listening to Sara explain how to write succinct synopses for query letters (which is difficult to do if you’ve never done it, and even more so when you realize what you’ve written is crap.) It was probably the most informative short-synopsis-writing class I’ve ever had.

Session #4: We’ll call this nap time, in which I sat in the lobby and felt like I was ready to die. In speaking to author friend Nichole Giles later on, she used the term “overstimulated.” At this point in time of the conference, absolutely that’s how I felt. So I’ll title this “Awesome Chat w/Annette Lyon”. I’m really certain I talked to someone else, but I seriously can’t remember who.

Session #5: Rob Wells’ class on Marketing was awesome. Despite the fact that he felt like crap, he did a great job. And I can’t wait to go look up his presentation and learn from it a second time. I got to sit with Krista Jensen, who gave me the Hawaii quarter for my wife’s collection.

There was dinner. Irony: last year during the dinner I sat with two women from Colorado, Gail and Debbie. This year, I ended up sitting with them again. Of course, I know them better from being a part of the same online writing group (the awesome Authors Incognito or AI). But, I also got to sit with other people: Wendy, Tamara, Maria, Daron, and Jeff (were the names of the people at the table.) It was nice to finally meet Wendy in person. It was awesome to see Tamara again. And it was funny that at one point she said “T.J. I’m done holding my daughter, you’re a buff strong guy with bulging muscles and awesome hair, here!” (Okay, I may have said something incorrectly.) So I ended up holding a very bouncy 9-month little girl. After dinner, I attempted to attend the publisher’s meet-and-greet but was still overstimulated. I also attempted the AI mix-and-mingle, but left after about 45 minutes. I was exhausted after day 1.

Day 2 was just as awesome as day 1. Except I was freaking out with my pitch session.

Session #6: I started out in Dave Wolverton’s (aka Dave Farland) class on Worldbuilding. I was a bit of a neurotic mess with my impending pitch so I just couldn’t sit there. I kept wanting to talk to Krista (I think I sat with her the most this year) and decided I didn’t want to bug her too much. So I left. Glad I did because I ran into Lisa Mangum and was surprised to hear her book was out in paperback. So I rushed to buy it for my wife and then interrupted Lisa as she sat and listened to Marion’s class on…I don’t know what it was on. I didn’t go to pay attention. He probably doesn’t like me right now. Lisa does since I bought her book and got it signed and my wife is now done with it.

Session #7: There was a speculative fiction panel moderated by Howard Tayler with the ever awesome (and Whitney Award winning) Julie Wright, James Dashner, Dave Wolverton, and Rob Wells. In the ‘in-between-class-time’ Rob was sitting on the stand and spoke into his microphone. “Hi Krista.” She was sitting next to me so I joked with how special she was. Then he said “T.J. Bronley.” I looked at him thinking “Odd, he’s not saying hi.” Which was followed by “Can you go get me a glass of water?” So I turned to Krista and said “Sure, you get ‘hi’, I get ‘be my errand boy.'” The panel was awesome, by the way. Each of the four had some great insight into the subject of speculative fiction, each of them writing fairly different novels. (Although, if you base The Maze Runner and Variant, they kinda sound the same. But I doubt they are.)

Session #8: This was my pitch time. I’d calmed down during the speculative panel. I’m just gonna say I had a good pitch with a lot of work to do. After my pitch, I got to hear the last half of Rob Well’s Dystopian class. (Makes it sound like his class was a dystopian. Meh, not gonna change it.) Elana Johnson and Abel Keogh both gave their insights as well as Rob’s migraine made him ready to kill.

Session #9: After lunch, where I did not win the first chapter contest again, I sat in on Writing Excuses with Sara Crowe. Sara gave some good insight to her job and to what an agent (especially her) is looking for. Seriously, you can benefit a lot from listening to what an agent says about what they want.

Session #10: This can be called “T.J. is overstimulated, part II.” I just couldn’t sit through anything else. I had a great conversation with John Ferguson, though.

And after that, there was an agent/editor panel. But I still just couldn’t do it. My brain was ready to explode, I was literally exhausted. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. (Although, I did get a message that Howard Tayler should smack me across the head for a tweet I wrote.) So, it was time to say goodbye to the building and leave. And that’s that.

Storymakers was awesome!

As always, I name a class I liked most above the rest. This year, I would have to say that it was Rob Wells’ class on marketing. It lived up to its expectations.

Until next time (a post I’m planning on calling “The Amazing Race: LDS Authors”):

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


What They Should Write

Here I am with some more musings from the inside of my complex mind. Because of some tweets recently, I saw an opportunity to tell people what to do. I mean, what’s more fun than bossing people around. Okay, not really, but I’m entertained by this. So, here is a list of authors and the books I think they should write.

Janette Rallison – Lady of the Bracelet: One Bracelet to Rule the Mall – It just seems to fit with her My Fair Godmother and its sequel, My Unfair Godmother. (This thought was the inspiration for this post.)

Marion Jensen – Superdad – I don’t know what he can do with it. I just think he should write it.

Julie Wright – Genre Jumping: A How-to Guide for Switching Up Your Style – Just because jumping from romance to YA-Sci-fi is about as big of a leap as it can get.

Randy Tayler – How to Lose Friends and Insult People – Why? Because. Follow him long enough on TWitter and it’d make sense. He could co-write it with this next author even. (Yes, he’s not published, that I know of, but this just fits.)

Robison Wells – Complex – What a title! What does it mean? No clue. Just like I have very little clue as to what Variant is about other than the fact that its cover is awesomesauce and its storyline is fairly mysterious.

Sarah Eden – Redheaded in England  – Of course it fits in her Regency romance genre. Some Irish chick decides to go to England. Falls in love with someone…blah blah blah. The title just suits Sarah, that’s all.

Annette Lyon – Living Without Chocolate – Our main character here is dared to go 30 days without a bite of chocolate. Oh the withdrawals! Oh the cravings! Oh how mean!

Dan Wells – You’re Bacon – Serial killer with a weird catch phrase? Instead of “you’re toast” he says “you’re bacon”. Electrocution? Whatever. Bacon and serial killers: two things Dan seems to know best.

Robison Wells and Annette Lyon – Wherefore Art Thou Migraine – A humorous look at tweets by people who want to kill someone because their head hurts so bad. (Note: Rob will take the misconceived “where” section while Annette will hit the true “why” section.)

Josi Kilpack – Chocolate Chip Cookie – Come on! It’s obvious. She’s got a tart, a trifle, a cake, a pie, a crumble, and a roll. (I also know what she’s got coming, unless she convinced someone to switch her mind.) So it’s everyone’s favorite basic dessert!

Sounds good right? Ready, write! Okay, they’re probably all yelling at me: Go EDIT!

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

You Know You’re In Revision

Yes, this taking a lame stab at Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck if…” jokes. But you know what, these are so true that I find them humorous.

You know you’re in the revision process when…

You’re reading a professionally prepared textbook and want to yell things like “Comma splice!” or “‘You’re’ not ‘Your!'”

You’re reading a non-self-published book and say “How did they miss this?”

You’re reading a self-published book and ask “Why didn’t they let me go through this with a red pen?”

You’re wanting to edit what everyone else is saying.

You go somewhere and see a sign and think “if they said ____ instead, it’d be clearer and more concise.”

It takes you five times to write a blog post because it just isn’t ‘right’.

You avoid talking to others because they know you’re in the editing process and if someone asks “how’s the editing going?” you’re afraid you’ll strangle them.

You seethe when another author says “Done!”

You close your eyes and all you see are words and commas floating around.

You do anything you can to avoid being with your manuscript.

Time to get back to editing (at some point). As always,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

What You Know Can Be Wrong

I’m back with another annoyance about critiques I’ve received in the past. You all know I hate it when someone wants to say “Gnome” or “Dwarf” CANNOT be capitalized and I say it can just like I’d capitalize “French” or “Hungarian.” Well, here’s another one I hate.

And in all honesty, this post isn’t a result of someone telling me I did this wrong. No, it’s actually my friend Rosanne suggesting that I do break the general understood ‘rule’ and go with the ‘rule of flow’ instead. In this case, my friend is right. Let me give you an example here (I’m making this up as I go along):

Bob got up from his chair and looked around at his dinner guests. “I am sure that one of you is the murderer. You have killed my butler, so I am sure that he didn’t do it. And before this evening is finished, I’m going to figure out who it is.”
In his mind, Bob saw Clay as the biggest suspect. Bob knew of Clay’s hatred toward the butler. He just wasn’t certain if Clay had a good alibi. “Clay, you hated the butler since he wouldn’t submit to your blackmail any longer. Where were you at the time that he was killed?”

(Okay, not my best work, but it hits my point.) So what is the perceived problem here? Well, I would have people tell me something like “Bob is still talking, it should all be one paragraph.” Seriously, I have gotten bitterly annoyed at anyone who has said something like that to me. Okay, I’ll admit that occasionally I have one person speak in two adjoining paragraphs that needs to be one. However, this is not a rule. If it was then there are some failed people who edited Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Mistborn, and I can go on.

Seriously, this isn’t a rule. Why am I right here? Because Bob in my example has two completely different points. It’s like writing an English paper. If I were to talk about a murder and then talk about the murderer in the same paragraph, I would have to defend it, not the other way around. These aforementioned books do this many times. Katniss in Catching Fire speaks all the time in two adjoining paragraphs. But it seems like most people who have taken a pen to my work seem to think that I’m breaking some sacred law. No, it’s perfectly okay to split one person speaking into multiple paragraphs. I’ve seen it ALL THE TIME. I keep looking at traditionally published books and waiting for the split monologue. And you know what, I find it.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Music Mashups Round 12

You know, personally, I think this has some of my favorite mashups in it. Casey got some good ones for you to check out at Gnarvtopia. So read 1-10 there and come back for 11-20.

11. Lithium, You Make It Easy: for the Energizer bunny to keep going and going and going going. If only he were the Cadbury bunny instead.

12. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang Sirens: Yes, I think that’s what it sounds like. Four gun shots and then sirens. (No, this isn’t like the ‘how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop’ conundrum.)

13. Bleed It Out In My Head: Information that isn’t absorbed in the brain is instead bled out and removed.  It’s the opposite of ‘mulling it over’. This would apply to those who don’t believe they’re airheads and, ergo, it doesn’t go in one ear and come out the other. It just sticks in the head and is used for better purposes, such as bloodflow.

14. Hey Soul Sister, Come Get Some: I can hear it now. Some douche bag trying some moronic pickup line. “Hey, I know we’re soul mates so come get some.” Um…I don’t think she’s interested.

15. Oh No Tiny Little Fractures: I had some friends in high school with the fake threat that they were going to take over the world by killing everyone. Their choice of deadly means? Paper cuts and pouring lemon juice into them. This song is dedicated to them.

16. Heaven Use Somebody: Just not me, okay?

17. Bless the Broken Chocolate Road: Yes, please bless the broken chocolate road. It needs to be fixed now. I must have a road guiding me to my chocolate. I need my chocolate.

18. There She Goes, The Perfect Fool: Failed Twilight titles. Oh wait, that’s not the game we’re playing? Well, this fits it fine still.

19. Violate Colette: This is just so bad (everything in my head is bad and dirty and not worthy of stating). I’m gonna just move on to #20

20. Hanging On a Moment Gives You Hell: At least it doesn’t give you a wedgie or a punch in the crotch. Or worse, the Evil Beaver. (This mash-up may look familiar. And it is. Last week, Casey and I had the exact same mash-up. This mash-up is repeated because it’s happened twice and that’s the first time in the 3 or 4 months of mash-ups that it’s happened.)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

KiTe – Review

So, I don’t do book reviews very often on my site, but I was asked to do a review of this book “KiTe” by Bill Shears. In a new tradition that I’d like to start, I’m going to review the book in a few sections. Today, I’m going with characters, storyline, and voice/grammar. But first, the main gist of it:

KiTe is a story of intrigue and coverup, things coming to life that are supposed to be dormant. With an impending doom concept that threatens Earth, there is also a romantic side with this story. But lets get down to my review. I could bore you to death with plot.

Characters: The main character in KiTe, Mason Dash, fits this roguish stereotype. Kind of the whole “I own my world and I’ve got attitude” idea. I can connect with that because I do own my own arrogance, but beyond that, he was fairly bland. I did like him, but it took some time. Perhaps that was Mr. Shears intent. However, I would have liked a little more depth to Dash. He did have his soft side  when it came to his wife, who I liked a lot better.

Storyline: I think the overall story of KiTe was good. It was just very hard to get used to. Personally, I could’ve lived fine without chapter 1. It just didn’t have anything happen or anything exciting. It was more or less confusing. I don’t mind some confusion in a book, but if I feel lost in the first couple of chapters, I have to force my way through. I also thought it was overdetailed at the beginning. It was a decent et up, but I just wasn’t a fan of it. After that, the story flowed very well.

Voice/Grammar: I’m a grammar guru. I know it’s not the most important thing to a book, but it’s also pleasant when something is written well. And by ‘written well’ I mean the voice. KiTe is in 3rd person with the viewpoints of a few of the main characters. The narration was well done, but very telling. I would’ve liked some more ‘show’ in the story. With that, grammar was very good. I don’t like commas overly used (unless they’re in Facebook posts or blogs, of course). Perhaps it could’ve done with a copy edit, but it wasn’t necessary. I’ve seen professionally published books that I could’ve taken a red pen to.

Overall, on my scale of 1 to 5 I give it a 3.3. It was a decent read, something I’d sit and read on a flight or on a Weekend when I’m bored and feel satisfied.

And, as always,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Month End

Work. Write. Work. Write. Work? Write? Work? Write? Work? Revise? Work? Revise? Work? Revise? Work. Work. Work. Blog. Work. Blog. Work. Blog.

Yeah, that’s basically how life has been for me lately: a bunch of confusion.

See, at my job, I prepare the company’s financials. This means that every month I have gather to make monthly entries into our general ledger, tie out the balance sheet accounts, prepare a gazillion Excel spreadsheets, and then input data into more Excel spreadsheets (which make up the final financial package). I then present this to my boss for review and wait for her dozen or so phone calls, emails, and/or instant messages. Then, my boss and I present this (mostly me) to the General Manager.

During this time, I want to rip out my eyes because they’ve been staring at a monitor for so long that I swear they were literally glued to it. But, you know what is important about this ‘month end’ time period? There is literally 31 days until LDS Storymakers. Even better? I have a pitch to desuckify and perfect. Even better? I have a crapload of craptastic words to remove from my book between now and then. Not that I have to, but I feel the need to. (And yes, I end sentences in prepositions. Is it proper? No. Do I care? No. Why not? Because that’s the way people friggin’ speak in the 21st Century! People not being able to spell, that’s a different horror in this world.)

From the way this post is reading, it seems like I’m freaking out. Yeah, a little. No wait, a lot. I have so much to do that sometimes, I just need to blog to help relieve that stress. Much better.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.