FanX 2018

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.

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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.

 

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Tall No Face

 

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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.

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Brief writing update –

We finalized the cover for my book this week, stay tuned for the big reveal!

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Find me at Fyrecon 2018

b6228817e7c6ee37bfcc7f548def5a6e-rimg-w720-h273-gmir.jpgWith 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.

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LUW Fall Conference 2017

LUW logo.pngAround these parts, writers are drawn to writing conferences more readily and faster than cats chasing a laser pointer. For those of us who have been around for a few years, a writing conference is a great excuse to hang out with our awesome writer friends and claim it as a business expense. For newer writers, a writing conference is a place to find new friends and feel supported all while learning the tricks of the trade.

The League of Utah writers held their annual conference October 6-7.  Even better, they let me come play. I got to moderate a panel titled “Mindfulness and the Modern Author” where we explored the importance of finding your center and using mindfulness techniques to acheive greater focus and more importantly, get more and better words on the page. On the panel with me were Jef Huntsman, Peggy Eddleman, Lauri Schoenfeld, Amanda Luzzader, and Dan Allen. If you are nice to me, I might do a blog post about the  key points in the future.

LUW 2017 panelOne of the other perks once you’ve been around for a while is the chance to volunteer. On a whim I asked to help out and the next thing I knew, I was in charge of the special guest check-ins in the green room. Major Score. I got to spend the majority of my conference doing what I like best, having conversations with some of my favorite local authors, including our keynote Kevin J Anderson. I also had access to the best snacks.

While I didn’t get to go to as many classes as I would have liked, I did get to go to a few. DK Godard did an amazing presentation on the use of ballistics gel and let us play with some that he brought. Liesl Seborg taught about how authors can get involved with their local libraries, Patrick Tracy did a mini workshop on flash fiction and let us play with some random generated story prompts. I wrote a story about an astronaut waking up from a medical hypersleep and being hit on by an alien who thinks he’s cute. He rejects her because he’s still tired. I might just post it here if I get brave enough. There was also an insightful lecture given by John Patten about leadership for those in the league in leadership positions, including myself, one of their chapter presidents.

All in all, a terrific conference, fabulous guests, good food, and good memories.

LTUE 2017

jodimilnersocialmediaThe 2017 Utah writing conference season kicks off with the ever popular, and oh-so-affordable “Life, the Universe, and Everything” symposium on science fiction and fantasy. I’ve attended this particular conference a handful of times as a hopeful starry-eyed participant in the past.

However, this year for the first time ever, they let me play with the big kids. That’s right, yours truly got to be an expert panelist. If that wasn’t exciting enough,  I got to be a panel moderator as well, which is a huge first.

It’s hard not to read too deeply into the committee’s choice to include me, a mere short storyist. My qualifications as an author are still a bit thin. There are so many super talented and super published authors in Utah that you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. I’d love to say I was picked because they had seen some of my presentation work before and they were impressed.

The truth is, I apparently have in-depth knowledge of several obscure fields of study, knowledge that most gals in my position don’t have.  I also volunteered to be part of several obscure panels. My first panel discussed the realities of what happens at death. I haven’t personally died yet, so my experience is limited there. I’m holding off on trying it out until it goes on sale. Instead, I have worked in health care for both humans and animals and seen plenty of death that way. My fellow panelists included a firefighter, a seasoned RN and personal friend, a physicians assistant obsessed with cellular biology, and the moderator who I still haven’t figured out the background on. In fairness, he’s still puzzling out mine.

The other panel centered on the visual comedy of Rowan Atkinson. I know, I laughed too. death goes so well with visual comedy. On the panel was the founder of the LTUE conference itself, Dave Doering, and the TMA track head, Nick Mills, and another guy who apparently spent his childhood the precisely the same way I spent mine, watching late night PBS when all the British comedies came on. Yes, I didn’t have that many friends, why do you ask? Needless to say, having two fairly influential people on the panel stressed me out to no end.

To sum up – I had a great time and I believe that my panels went well. I wanted to attend a few other panels and perhaps glean a few nuggets of new writerly wisdom, but instead I hung around with writing friends instead, which honestly is the best part of the conference anyway.

A huge shout out to the following awesome people who let me play and were kind enough to let me hang out with them: Jared Quan, President of the League of Utah Writers; Candace Thomas, Eliza Crosby (who got a full manuscript request – you go girl!), Sarah Seeley, Chris Roche, DawnRay Ammon, Jenna Eatough, and all my other LTUE talented friends!

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