Archive for January, 2010

Life, The Universe, & Everything 2010 Schedule

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on January 27th, 2010

If you’re a writer, you’ll find Life, The Universe, & Everything (LTUE) an excellent convention. Yes, it’s focused on science fiction and fantasy, but the principles of writing discussed apply generally and there are a lot of authors who will be there that write in different genres–YA, romance, etc. In fact, there will be a LOT of published authors there, period–including two that have recently been on the NY Times best seller list and others who have just broken in.

If I were an aspiring author, I’d be making sure I had arrangements to attend at least part of the convention. Follow the link above and look at the list of panel topics. And remember: it’s open to all and FREE of charge.

Dates: Feb 11-13, 2010
Wilkinson Center
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
(801) 422-4636 (BYU information line)

I’ll be doing the following. Hope to see you there!

BTW, Stephen Nelson has graciously offered to film the workshop. If the recording and class pass muster, we’ll post it for your viewing enjoyment!

Thursday, Feb 11

5 – 7 PM: Writing workshop: “How to Write a Story That Rocks” (John Brown, Larry Correia)

Friday, Feb 12

9 AM: Panel: “Paths to publishing: When is traditional best and when should you try an alternative” (Stacy Whitman, John Brown, Dan Willis, Eric Swedin, Sandra Tayler)

Noon: I will be attending Dan Well’s Pacing and Story Structure presentation.

1 PM: Panel: “Killer Openings – How to write a gripping, engaging and interesting opening paragraph” (Dr. Steven C. Walker, John Brown, Mette Harrison, Heather Horrocks)

Saturday, Feb 13

9 AM: Panel: “A Guys Take on Writing Romance (Male Panelists)” (L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Clint Johnson, Aleta Clegg, Dan Willis, John Brown)

Noon: Panel: “Building different cultures….” (L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Roger White, John Brown, Brandon Mull, Marty Brenneis)

1 PM: Signing. (Wish very much I could go to Eric James Stone’s reading at the same time. I’ve gone to 2 or 3 of his and have never been disappointed)

2 PM: Reading from CURSE OF A DARK GOD.


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Smith’s grocery and Curse update

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on January 26th, 2010

SERVANT has been spotted in the Orem, Pleasant Grove, Salt Lake City, and West Jordan Smith’s stores. It appears we’re still running, folks. Fingers crossed. Please post a comment if you see it in your local Smith’s.

As for CURSE OF A DARK GOD, I’m moving along. I’m such a slow writer. But I had to yank about 50-70k words from draft 2. Just yank them right out and start over. I’ll give a full report when I’m done, but I’m very excited about this new version. Sugar is becoming a fell-maiden. Talen is becoming more heroic. And I’m just having a great time.

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Free stories from Year’s Best Fantasy 9 anthology!

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc., Zing  by John Brown on January 22nd, 2010

Tor is posting ALL the stories in the Year’s Best Fantasy 9 anthology (published summer 2009) for FREE. Mine was in the second installment, but you can already get it here. What you want are all the others! For example, installment 3 has one of my favorite short stories I read last year: Kij Johnson’s “26 Monkeys and the Abyss.”

Here’s how to get them.

  1. Go to the site.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of that post and click the “Year’s Best Fantasy 9″ tag to see all of the installments.
  3. Click on each installment and download!

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Please, Mr. Brown, I recommend you undress

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on January 21st, 2010

Yesterday a man asked me to get naked.

It’s true, I can do that to some people. Not wanting to pass up any chance to go native, I agreed. Yes, I know what you’re thinking–these writers think they can bend all the rules! However, the man was a dermatologist. I was there to have this annoyance on my left ear checked. When he found out my sister had some skin cancer once (it appears I should have had my skin viewed annually), that’s when he became interested in my undressing. And in my glorious state of undress, well, with a “gown” that was about as big as a dish towel, he found this thing on my leg.

He’s like, “How long have you had that sore?”

I said, “That old thing, I don’t know, years.”

“Humm,” he said. He noted some odd moles that seemed to be of the happy and peaceful sort. Then he ordered a biopsy of my leg and my ear.

Don’t know the results of the leg yet. He suspects it’s not cancer, just some random mutant growth, which may be a result of the Lizard people that control our lives and which I learned about on book tour when I was at a Barnes & Noble in Arizona telling some folks my novel was about humans being ranched, and a glassy eyed dude sitting on a nearby chair stood up and said, “Your book is true! Your book is true!”

The biopsy of my ear demonstrated that I’m a squamous cell carcinoma head. I’m going to have a bit of Mohs micrographic surgery next Tuesday. He said we caught it very early. So I expect there to be no issues. In my mind it’s like finding a wart. True, this wart could spread. But it isn’t like they’re going to have to cut my ear off and replace it with that of a baboon.

Now, not only did I find Reptoid mutantcy yesterday, but I think the Reptoids have invaded the Logan, Utah police department. I say this because I went to the wrong hospital yesterday. I realized my mistake and zoomed off to the right one. There’s a hundred yard stretch along the road through fields. Lo and behold, after passing through that area, a short 4 seconds, I was pulled over by a cop who gave me a $240 speeding ticket for going 51 in a 30 mph zone. Does this not suggest to you some sort of conspiracy? To me it does. He’s obviously a Reptoid sympathizer.

Here’s more information for the curious.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Mohs micrographic surgery


I think this clearly shows that what separates us from our primate cousins are brassieres and other articles of fine underwear. And as you can see here, they want them! Just another instance of sad human tyranny.

Look at this woman’s face. These are the kinds of people who they feature in horror movies. I think this must be part of casting. Put the actress in a car and see what she does with a troop of baboons. She sits and screams? Perfect. What, she taught them the meaning of roadkill? No, we don’t want anyone like that.

The Reptoids that Control our Lives and Prove My Book is True!

They live in the hollow part of the earth. Which is probably where the 10 Tribes of Israel went as well. And when they return we’ll have all sorts of lizard people high priests and prophets. Anything’s possible. (scroll down to “Reptilians and Shape-shifting”)

Entrances to hollow earth?

Are they real?

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New Workshop: How to Write a Story that Rocks

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc., On Writing  by John Brown on January 20th, 2010

Folks, the first tentative schedule for Life, The Universe, & Everything (LTUE) has been set. For the past few years I’ve been teaching a 2-3 hour workshop called “The 3 Things You Must Learn To Write Killer Stories.” I think I must have taught it over 15 times in different venues. Hundreds have attended and said they loved it.

However, this year I’m going to be doing something different. I’m developing a new two-hour workshop called “How to Write a Story that Rocks.”

I’ll be teaching it Thursday evening, February 11th from 5 PM – 7 PM at LTUE at BYU. It’s FREE and open to all.

What I found was that a lot of new aspiring authors get lost in mountains of rules. But great storytelling isn’t about rules. They try to form stories with word counts, chapters, and weird plot diagrams. But stories aren’t about those things. They have a hard time knowing what to write next because they don’t understand how story works. In fact, some don’t know how to start at all. They just flounder in their piles of zing. Finally, even if they can get a bullet outline, they have a hard time turning that into a scene.

So what we’re going to do in this workshop is this.

  1. I’m going to bring in some ideas for character, setting, and problem. We’re not going to generate from scratch as we’ve done in the past because I want to get to the next steps.
  2. Then I’m going to teach you how to go from idea to outline–we’re going to do it together, and you’re going to learn exactly how to know what comes next 
  3. Then we’ll go from outline step to scene sketch.
  4. Then from scene sketch to draft.
  5. At every step I’ll be pointing out key story development concepts and principles

When we finish, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the essential story objectives and story development questions–get these right and the rest doesn’t really matter. This will include the HANDFUL of key things you need to worry about and develop with character and plot.
  2. Develop more likeable and interesting characters
  3. Develop more powerful story concepts (call it premise, problem, situation, whatever). Once you get this the story writes a lot of itself.
  4. Explain the real Story Cycle. Not Campbell’s mumbo-jumbo hero’s journey. Not the three, five, seven, nine acts. Not Freytag’s diagram. Story.
  5. Explain what it means to “move a story forward,” “increase the stakes and tension,” “complicate the plot,” “complicate the motive” and how that’s done using surprise, conflict, motive, and problem. Included in this are “turns,” “rugpulls,” and “reversals.”
  6. Use the Story Cycle concepts to generate a story bullet outline and take a bullet step idea and turn it into a scene.
  7. Explain the creative principles that help you generate stories more easily.

Larry Correia will be there as well. So I’m expecting this to be a very helpful workshop. I’m going to do all I can to make it as good or better than the first.

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Go Shoot Somebody, Feel like Captain Kirk

Posted in John's Reviews - books, movies, whatever  by John Brown on January 18th, 2010
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Imagine running and dodging for thirty minutes through dimly lit corridors as kids with guns chase you down and shoot you with glee.

That’s what happened to me recently.

The kids were daughters 1, 2, and 3. On my team were dead-shot Nellie and daughter number 4. The dimly lit corridors were provided by the Cache Valley Fun Park. The guns were lasers.

This was my first time playing laser tag, and I must report that we had an absolute blast. For twenty minutes we dodged and ran and shot with wild abandon. It’s like paintball without any of the pain, unless of course you crash into someone.

Here’s how it works. You divide up into two, three, or four teams. The attendant gives each of you a vest and scans you onto the appropriate team (your laser has a bar code and is attached to the vest with a cord). There are markings on the front and back of each vest. If someone lasers those markings, you lose points. If you shoot someone else’s vest, you earn points. It’s that simple.

All the teams go into the half-lit battle room–cut up with walls, corridors, and windows–and the game begins. You try to kill them. They try to kill you. You try to shoot their bases, but if you linger too long the bases shoot you. It quickly turns into chaos fun. You shoot someone only to have a daughter sneak up behind you and nail you in the back. You flee, waiting to regenerate, only to find that sneaking daughter has followed you through all the twists and curves and kills you the moment you come back to life. But the next time you escape, and you’re the one that’s got them running. It’s like a video game except better.

The system automatically keeps score for each individual and each team so you can have a player on the losing team actually be the high scorer. We could have gone on for another hour.

Of course, me and my exceedingly svelte figure might have had to take a breather. Or not. I don’t think twenty minutes of aerobics has ever passed so quickly. And I didn’t have to follow some gal in a pink leotard to do it.

But you’re not there for the cardio-vascular benefit. Although I can see the ads now—the Laser Tag diet! Featuring Bob, a happy nerd who played laser tag for thirty minutes each day and lost 200 pounds. He could join up with Subway’s Jared so they could be geeky together. Hey, wait a minute. . . I’m smelling moo-lah!

The only negative is that the game isn’t bargain basement cheap–$4/person for 10 minutes of play, $10/person for 30 minutes. So we might not do that every time we take the family to Logan for some fun, but you can bet we’ll be doing it again.

Go shoot somebody. Feel like Captain Kirk. You’ll love it.