Monday, September 26, 2016

I Got Out Alive: Tales From The LUW Conference

I didn't realize how much I was worried about my upcoming performances presentations at the League of Utah Writers Conference until after they were already over and I was finally able to sleep at night. I had spent about a month preparing notes and doing research and trying to decide which relevant information to include and practicing in front of friends.

Being a first-time presenter at a conference full of people with more writing experience, I had a lot to prove. Thankfully, (by the grace of God, I think) I came away victorious. Usually after social gatherings (even if they are family gatherings full of cousins who I love) I tend to slink back home and nurse a desire to hide in a cave for a week or so. Instead, I came away from all three of my presentations feeling very pleased with how they had turned out. I received many sincere compliments and gracious thanks.

But hoo boy, it was an exhausting weekend. Exhausting. I do not think I could make this a lifestyle. Plus my kids missed me a lot. I met some people there who "conference hop" and attend lots and lots of conferences all across the intermountain west.

When I came home on Saturday night, I told my husband that I wasn't going to do this again for a very long time and that I would stay home next year.

And then I found out that Kevin J. Andersen, who is one of my most favorite authors, is going to be there next fall. Dangit. This will really mess with my desire to stay home...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Something Cool I'm Doing This Weekend

Remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to present at a writing conference?Well, check this out!
I have an officially official graphic that they made just for ME!

Back in 2011 when my short story "George Washington Hill and the Cybernetic Bear" was accepted into the Monsters and Mormons anthology, I felt really small and humbled to have my name next to the names of other people who were so much more experienced and talented than I was. I am experiencing a lot of those same emotions now.

I'm going to spend my weekend rubbing shoulders with people who have a lot more experience in the field than I do, and I find this exciting as well as terrifying.

If you'll be in Provo this weekend and can find the time, you could do a lot worse than coming to watch me ramble on about spinning wheels (3:30 on Friday), short stories (1:30 on Saturday), and fight scenes (6:30 on Saturday).

Monday, September 12, 2016

Making Spinning Pay

In addition to that spinning demonstration I'm doing at The League of Utah Writers Conference in a few weeks, I managed to land a gig teaching spinning to the kids at The Engineer's school. (Tangent: it's this school.)

It is very well received. The kids like it, and I like teaching it.

This weekend I ran into a fellow spinner when I was out and about and she asked me how the class was going. "How did you land that gig?" She asked (I'm paraphrasing.) "You managed to make spinning pay!"

I didn't really think much about her words until a day or two later (that is, today). Then it hit me. I did manage to make spinning pay! The great ray of hope that belongs to all spinners and I did it! That was most of the reason I started this blog in 2008. The goal has been achieved. Does this mean I can stop blogging, now? At the very least I think it means if I die tomorrow, I am guaranteed to die happy.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I Am Presenting at a Writing Conference

Yes, I am doing that.

It's this one, from the League of Utah Writers. If you are or will be in Utah on September 23 and 24, and like to write, I hope you will stop on by.

I'm kind of excited about it. I've been hesitant to advertise it much in public for fear of it all being a dream and somehow not real. But my name is on the schedule and has been for about a week, so that's a good indication that it is really happening.

I'm actually presenting on three separate topics. I submitted three proposals because I really wanted to go to the conference, and I guessed that presenters would be able to attend at a steep discount. I figured I would increase my odds of getting chosen. According to the schedule, they accepted all three of my ideas! (I have to keep referencing the schedule, because I'm geeking out about it so much I have to make sure it's all really true.)

Class #1 - A spinning wheel demonstration. The spinning wheel plays a really big role in fairy tale literature, but since it's been a couple of hundred years since it was replaced with factory machinery, knowledge of its workings has faded from the public consciousness. I have given so many spinning demonstrations in my day I could give this one while only partially conscious.

Class #2 - How to track down itty bitty online magazines and submit your short stories to them as a means of expanding your publishing credentials. This is how I've managed to publish every single thing that I've published, from my bit in Monsters and Mormons to the personal essay I did for Sukoon Magazine. I don't have a published novel (yet?) but I've got these, plus my gig over at The Survival Mom, wherein I talk about food storage and sometimes people think I'm funny.

Classs #3 - The Anatomy of a Fight Scene, wherein I create a marriage between my writing prowess and my knowledge of the martial arts.

My hometown has become a total writing hub. We have like a million writing conferences every year. Just a couple of days after the League of Utah Writers conference there is the Book Academy at Utah Valley University in the next town over. Earlier this year we had the Life, Universe, and Everything conference; a conference devoted to writing horror; and the LDS Storymakers conference. I think there's one more that I'm missing. The Provo City Library hosts one devoted to children's literature - Ann M. Martin came this year! I was really sad to miss it.

So if you are an aspiring author, instead of moving to New York City where the rent will make you homeless, consider moving to Provo instead, where we have mountains and drinkable tap water and BYU creamery ice cream.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Warcraft III Fan Fiction by Beth

I have an ongoing project that involves reading back over my old notebooks that I kept starting from when I was 9. I was extremely prolific as a teenager and during my college years, but after I got married I got busy doing wife-and-mom stuff and it went by the wayside. Every so often, though, I'd pick up a pen and dash off something amusing.

This was written in 2010. I vaguely remember coming across a Warcraft-themed writing contest that fall. I used to play a lot of Warcraft with The Husband, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. If I were writing it today, I'd write it a lot differently. I publish it here, as-is, for your personal enjoyment.

Garn Stonelock scratched his head with the back of his hammer. He was wearing a red tunic this time, a welcome change from the usual blue. 

"Run it by me again," he asked the general. 

General Xade Darkblade harrumphed. "I've already told you three times. If you can't figure it out, I'll find someone else to build our country's defenses - someone with more intelligence than half a turnip." The General was a tall man, broad-shouldered and well-muscled. His blonde mustache was streaked with grey. His sword was easily two inches taller than Garn and possibly heavier. 

"What is it with all these ridiculously heavy swords?" Garn thought to himself. "Perhaps they are compensating for something," he decided. The General was pompous, condescending, and incompetent, but Garn decided to feel sorry for him. "Poor man," he thought. "Probably don't got no wife at home." 

"Are you listening to a word I'm saying?" screamed the General. Specks of spittle flew onto Garn's face and landed on his beard. 

"My Lord?"

"I told you to go build a guard tower over there!"

"I can do that," said Garn, ignoring the embarrassing shade of purple of the General's face. 

Garn's friend, Parlon, was already laying the foundations. Garn joined his friend, knowing instinctively what to do. He had built countless guard towers over the course of his career. 

"Funny assignment, this, innit?" He asked Parlon, feigning nonchalance. "I still don't get why we gotta build all these towers." 

"You heard the General," Parlon replied. "There's beasties and infernals and whatnot invading our land through the portals." 

"But I thought mistress Jaina an' Malfurion an' the Orcs defeated all them beasties at the tree of life months ago?"

"Nah, that's just propaganda. The real war ain't over yet. The higher ups jus' wanna lull us working classes into a false sense of security so's they can lay down heavier taxes an' lower wages an' we won't even know. We'll show 'em. We're not idjits."

"So we're building towers to destroy the bad guys?"

"Yup." 

"Why not just send some o' them Paladins to take care of it? The General said he wanted six towers around here, an' there's talk of more. Paying for a military division to come through here'd be much cheaper, innit?" 

Parlon glanced around conspiratorially. "Rumor has it the clerics are receiving their orders directly from The Great Hand In The Sky." 

Garn rolled his eyes. 

"I forgot," Parlon said. "You're not religious, are you?"

Garn reached into his pocket and pulled out a few nails, which he held in his mouth. "I may be less intelligent than 1/2 a turnip, like the General said, but I'm not a moron."

"Just cuz you don't believe  don't mean the big hand in the sky en't real."

"So if the monsters're invading, won't they tear down the towers?"

"Nah, they just head straight towards the circle of power in the middle of town." 

"But don't they know they're gonna get slaughtered?"

Parlon didn't have an answer to that one.

Just then, General Darkblade showed up with a large armload of rolled-up blueprints. 

"When you're finished with that tower you're working on," he said through his mustache, "Build as many of these as you can." He deposited the blueprints and left before Garn could say anything. 

Garn put the finishing touches on the guard tower as Parlon unrolled the blueprints to examine them. 

"This one houses a weapon that shoots poison. This one has a magical attack, good, good. Wait a sec, this tower hurls baby seals at people. You have got to be joking." 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How To Help Your 7-year-old Write a Primary Talk

In Mormonism, be believe in public speaking. Everyone takes turns speaking in Sacrament Meeting, and even The Husband, who hates public speaking, got roped into teaching Elders Quorum when we were first married. There are lots of opportunities to talk in front of large groups of people. And we start 'em young. As in, three-years-old (Sunbeam age) young.

The Engineer, who is now seven, has thus far been able to avoid the dreaded Primary Talk, but when the Primary secretary asked me this week if he could, I strong-armed him into doing it. "It's part of life, and it's part of our Church," I told him.

I didn't want to write his talk for him, though. It was his talk, and he needed to write it. But since he's in second grade, I helped him out a little bit.

He and I sat down with a paper and pencil. The topic was on "My Body is a Temple." I asked some open-ended prompting questions. "What do you like about Temples? What was your favorite part about the Provo City Center Temple Open House? What do you like about your body? Why do we need to respect our bodies?" I wrote down his answers. I thought that we could rearrange things as needed, but in the end what he came up with had a decent logical structure of its own.

It's not great literature, and he only briefly touched on why in Mormonism we believe that our bodies are holy temples of God, but these are his own words, so I am very proud.

I reproduce it here for you.

I like how temples are built and the way the windows are made. I just like they way they build everything. I remember when they built our temple, it was on stilts. I like the carpets. I like how they built the stairs. 

 I like how my body is built, too. I can pick up stuff and walk and see and hear and talk. 

They made temples so that they're really pretty. You show respect for Heavenly Father when you're inside the temple. 

I can show respect for my body by staying clean and eating healthy food. Our bodies are presents from Heavenly Father. We need to respect our bodies so that we can live with Him again. We will have our bodies when we live with Heavenly Father. 

I am glad we have bodies, and I am glad we have temples. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
 

Monday, August 15, 2016

An Anecdote About Peer Pressure

I got out my old journals. Oh, man. I have learned so many things about myself that I didn't think I wanted to know before. Like 1) if my journal entries from the age of 10 are any indication, I was a very sour young lady and it is no wonder that the kids in my primary class didn't like me, and 2) it would have made everyone happier if I had never, ever dated anyone until 2004.

But I found this little gem in an undated entry from the summer of 2000. I remember the actual event, and I am pleased that I wrote it down. I had gone to Chili's in Kuwait with some friends from school for lunch. I didn't go out with my friends often because I lived an hour away from everyone else. On this occasion, they attempted to introduce me to a tradition they followed every time after eating out together.

I watched in disgust amusement as they shoved all the leftovers into one glass. Cheese dip, ice cream, mounts of salt and pepper, french fries, ketchup, onion rings. But my amusement turned to disgust as they passed the glass around and started drinking from it through a straw.

"It's just one sip," they said. 

Just one sip. It always starts out that way, doesn't it? Just one glass of wine, just one drag on a ciggarette. Just once. Although the "vomit in a glass" was not harmful or addictive or bad for your body, the principle was the same. 

Why should I do something I don't want to do just because everyone else is doing it? As the glass of leftovers came to me, I said, "I'm going to take this opportunity to express my inner weirdness. Therefore, I am going to NOT be the same as everyone else."

Later, they told me that the noxious stuff really did taste like vomit. That's my story. 

I think my failure to drink from the cup of poison did signify that I would never really be "one of them," but as I don't have any contact at all with the people I had lunch with that day, I can't say I have any regrets. 

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