About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.

A Swiftly Tilting Experience

What a week. Between the constant fear of exposure to COVID and witnessing the protests, there has been plenty to worry about. People are justifiably angry. Any action, including inaction, is met with such criticism that many people feeling trapped and helpless in trying to figure out how they should respond.

Know this, you are not alone if you feel this way.

As for me, the best I can do is be kind and fair in all my dealings and teach my kids to do the same.

This week has also been filled with lots of positive experiences. Both my own kids and close family members have made it through another school year and they deserve to be celebrated. Seeing these kids grow up to be confident and capable adults carries a bittersweet joy and is a constant reminder that life is precious and always changing. The cousins and nieces I watched grow up since they were babies are heading off into the world to make their mark.

Photo by Ambreen Hasan on Unsplash

It is a new month and a time to be thinking about goals and things that I want to get accomplished. The production of Stonebearer’s Apprentice is all wrapped up, which is a goal five years in the making. I started drafting the first ideas for this book back in 2015 during that year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m thrilled for it to be hitting the shelves next Friday, June 12th. You can preorder the ebook today!

The next big project is the third and final book in the Shadow Barrier Trilogy, Stonebearer’s Redemption. It’s already drafted, but since I do a lot of discovery writing, editing is a long and involved process. It’s the best part, because this is when I find ways to bring characters, settings, and the story to life. My goal is to spend 5-7 hours a week working on this project with the deadline of finishing the edit at the end of July.

As for everything else business wise, I still plan on writing my usual weekly articles, spending time seeking out marketing opportunities, and there are a few shiny projects on the side I get to play with as well.

My biggest challenge this week will be to figure out how to best manage my time now that we don’t have school so that everything gets done without an undue amount of stress or burning myself out.

If you have a magic solution for that, let me know!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Book Review: The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane

In celebration of the seventh book of the Last Oracle series being released literally yesterday, I thought it would be a great time to review the book that kicked it off. The Book of Secrets is urban fantasy, which is a genre I don’t normally wade into unless I have a really good reason, and being friends with the author is a really good reason.

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

The Story

Helena Davis is eager to move on with her life and out of her parents basement. That means getting a job. Working at a bookstore seems like a perfect fit. At least it’s not fast food and the pay is reasonable. But, Abernathy’s Bookstore has plenty of secrets, and none of them are willing to make life easy for Helena.

In case you weren’t convinced, her boss gets murdered in the basement before the end of her first day. There is a war happening between magical forces and alien invaders trying to suck the world dry of its magical energy. The bookstore is the last living oracle and uses it’s books to give important insights and information to those fighting in this war.

There are those convinced that Helena is the enemy, and others that believe that she’s been specially chosen by the oracle itself. This puts Helena in a very dangerous position where she doesn’t know who to trust. She must figure out this new world before whatever killed her boss comes after her.

My Review

The best part of any fantasy is getting a peek into how the world would work if there were different rules. The Book of Secrets introduces a world where magic is fighting against aliens, which is definitely a twist I’ve never seen before. McShane does a great job capturing this world and making it feel real to readers. I especially loved the descriptions of the different parts of the bookstore itself. Her words made the place feel like somewhere I would want to go visit, just to say I’d been there.

While the main character was exactly what she needed to be to make it through this story, it was her supporting cast that made the story shine. Helena herself is loyal and has a great work ethic, not to mention enough grit to see tough things through. Viv, her best friend, is who I really loved for just being a complete character who loves fashion, music, and making sure her bestie has a boyfriend at all costs.

The story itself did get dark, there’s plenty of suspense and danger to keep things interesting. From the nasty creatures running around, to Helena’s perpetual worry that she doesn’t know enough about her new world to understand what she should be worried about, there’s enough intrigue to keep readers on their toes.

Recommendations

This is a solid read. If you like urban fantasy and are looking for something with great magic and an interesting world that doesn’t have vampires, this is a good choice. It’s not perfect, there are a few things here and there that could have been expanded on, but it’s also part of a large series that fleshes out all of those ideas, so it’s forgiveable.

There’s one trope that does drive some readers nuts and it deserves mentioning. The main character is kept in the dark about some fairly important things by the other characters. It’s not that no one knows, it’s that they are intentionally not telling her for some half-brained reason, like if she did know she’d be in more danger. I’m not buying it. It does, however, make the book more suspenseful, which is a good thing.

I’d recommend this for urban fantasy readers ages 16 and up for elements of horror, story line complexity, and intense situations.

I rate The Book of Secret 4/5 stars

Check out The Book of Secrets on Amazon – available for $0.99 on Kindle!

Also, be sure to check out Melissa’s new release The Book of Harmony, (The Last Oracle series #7)


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Stonebearer’s Apprentice Ebook Now Available for Preorder!

It’s official! The ebook of Stonebearer’s Apprentice, the second book in the Shadow Barrier Trilogy, is now available to preorder. Squee!

Putting the finishing touches on this project couldn’t have come at a more dramatic time. Important decisions about final edits, cover text, and marketing had to happen in the cracks left between the extra work needed to help my kiddos get their school work done. I imagine many of you are just as relieved as I am that the school year is over.

Which means … it’s reading and relaxing time!

Better still, if you missed the first book in the series, now’s is a great time to grab it as well. The ebook is only $2.99, and is also part of the Kindle Unlimited program. (Just a secret between you and me, I’ll also be giving it away for free from June 12-16 as part of the celebration during the release of book two.)

Paperback lovers never fear! I’m taking care of you as well. You can grab your Stonebearer’s Apprentice paperback on the official release day June 12. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you. If you also wanted the paperback copy of book one, now is a brilliant time to grab it. Currently it’s listed at about $6 on Amazon. I’m not sure how long that will last. If you want to treat yourself, grab it before the price goes up.

Click here to preorder Stonebearer’s Apprentice!


Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Movie Review: Onward

Watching this movie happened as a bit of a fluke. Youngest kiddo needed something to watch in the evening after a busy day and we’d worn out our usual favorites. We’d seen the trailer and it looked interesting, but wasn’t something we were going to make a special effort to see.

That was before the lock down and the world was our very large oyster. It took a few weeks to reach the attitude of “heck, why not?” when it came to watching pretty much anything. And, it was on a streaming service we already had. Win.

The story

In New Mushroomia, magic and mythical creatures are a part of history. The world was full of elves, centaurs, pixies, and manticores and their magic was the force that made things work. Everything from transportation to interior lighting was taken care of using spells and unicorns.

Then technology happened – and it was easier, faster, and every one could use it. Fast forward a few generations in New Mushroomia and magic is nothing more than a part of history. People keep small dragons as pets and drive mini vans.

Ian Lightfoot is a teenage elf trying to make it through high school in one piece and survive his driving test. He’s shy, has a hard time talking to people, and would much prefer if he never had to leave his house ever again. He also has a wild older brother who lives and breathes fantasy role playing games.

On Ian’s sixteenth birthday he and his brother are given a gift from their deceased father, a real wizard’s staff with a single spell, the power to bring their father back for a single day.

But, this is a movie and something has to go wrong. In the process of attempting the spell the boys only bring half their father back – his now very alive pants. They set out on a quest to finish the spell before it wears off.

The rest of the movie turns into a fantasy twist reminiscent of Indiana Jones where the boys hunt down clues in unlikely places and test their courage. Are they successful? That would be an awful spoiler and I won’t tell you. But – I will say that it has a satisfying ending.

My review

Onward is urban fantasy at its most entertaining. It’s relatable, down to earth, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is a real problem for the boys to solve that’s incredibly important to them, but isn’t so big that it feels forced. They’re not saving the world. They just want one more day with their dad.

After everything, I ended up liking it more than I expected to. My biggest worry going in was that there wouldn’t be enough relatable material. Not a problem, we’ve all been teenagers and had to navigate that world. Add to that sibling issues, trying not to get in trouble with mom, and then layer on top of it a chance to see a dear parent who died too soon, if only for a day.

Yep. It hit all the feels. Not only was there action and adventure, there were also sweet moments of reflection and introspection. There were emotional highs and plenty of laughs as well as moments of loss and sacrifice.

I’ll admit, I cried at the end.

Recommendations

This is a solid family film that I think anyone would enjoy, although those who like any form of fantasy would especially like it. There is enough action and laughs that even very young kids will find lots to entertain them, although the climax scene might be too intense for some.

Because the boys quest is wrapped around being able to see their father one more time, I’d counsel anyone who’s recently lost a parent to proceed with caution. While I feel the film redeems itself, it might be too much to take.

I give Onward 4.5/5 stars


Need a lovely short read to get you through your afternoon? Grab my free short story “Breath” for your favorite ereader. It asks “Is a life without love worth living?” and is available for a limited time through StoryOrigin.

Moving Forward Slowly is Still Moving Forward

We all remember the story of the tortoise and hare. They both had the goal of crossing the finish line but the tortoise won because he simply kept moving while the hare stopped and goofed off, believing that he could make up for lost time later. Lately my own work has felt a lot like the story of the tortoise and the hare, except I’m playing both parts. There have been days during this whole COVID thing where my inner hare wins. On those days I find myself saying dumb things like “I’ll have more time tomorrow” or “I’ll wake up early and get this thing done.” Neither of which happen.

Photo by Ludvig Hedenborg on Pexels.com

Then, there are the days where my far more sensible inner tortoise wins. I know what my goal is and that taking small consistent steps, no matter how broken up they are, will bring me closer to reaching that goal than not taking the steps at all. It’s these days that make all the difference in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of crazy inner hare days where I do end up in a dead sprint towards a goal I’ve procrastinated on. This type of rush feels icky and the work that comes out of it is less than great. At the end of a spring I am exhausted and often can’t bring myself to do any sort of work towards the goal for days, if not weeks, afterward.

Looking back, taking the tortoise approach makes much more sense. Maybe there is only fifteen minutes to spare in that space between lunch and a meeting. Maybe it’s a half hour before bed, or right as you wake up. Using these small chunks of time might not feel like much, but as the work they produce accumulates, these small efforts can really add up.

Another perk of having a tortoise mentality is that it helps you seek opportunities that you might not consider otherwise. If you are always waiting for that perfect evening, or that free weekend to work towards your goal, it might never happen. On the other hand, if you are content with the small pockets of time you can find, you stand a much better chance of getting things done.

Dean Wesley Smith has famously talked about the idea that you should always set optimistic goals with the drive to get as close as you can to reaching them. He talks about it at length in his article Failure Must Be An Option. He says the only way to move forward is to try, and fail, and try again, over and over. This forces us to lose the hesitation of trying something new, or doing something that frightens us. Growing requires trying lots of things and failing as many times as it takes before we learn. Failure is an option, quitting is not.

Often those of us who haven’t quite figured out how to reach our goal will look on those who do and how easy it looks. It’s like watching a professional ice skater, they make ice skating look so effortless and dreamlike that it seems as natural as breathing. What we don’t see is all the hundreds of times they’ve fallen and the thousands of hours it took to get to where they are.

One of the best quotes to come out of Indiana Jones is, “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage”. It’s not time that grants us the experience we need to finish a big goal, it’s sitting down and doing the work and being willing to mess up and fail from time to time.

So, when the days feel like they are crawling by and you aren’t making much progress, remember the tortoise the hare. Lots of little efforts still add up and being willing to try matters.

You got this.


Stonebearer’s Apprentice

Book #2 in the Shadow Barrier Trilogy

Ebook preorders start NEXT FRIDAY!

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

Holy snot balls, Batman! Did you know it’s been 20 years since Galaxy Quest came out. I could have sworn it was only like, I don’t know, eight? The time has flown by and yet Galaxy Quest is one of the rare movies we watch at least once a year. Even better the whole family likes it, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

To celebrate, the lovely people at Screen Junkies and FANDOM, created a documentary that was released November 26th, 2019. While we watched this one weeks ago, I wanted to review it today because our family recently visited the one and only Goblin Valley this last weekend. This is where the weird alien planet was filmed and is a favorite camping spot of ours.

Never Surrender is entertaining in that “Wow, I never knew that” kind of way. While a large part of the film is spent with the actors themselves reacting to just how many people love the movie and consider it their favorite, and another large chunk was spent in loving memory of the late Alan Rickman – the best parts for me were when they talked about the development of key story ideas.

For instance, did you know that the Thermians unique speech patterns and body language weren’t part of the original script? Instead, they were an accidental invention of Enrico Colantoni, the actor who played Mathesar. Mind blown.

While I would never doubt it for a heartbeat, I didn’t realize there were so many cosplayers devoted to Galaxy Quest. Two of the people interviewed for the documentary are Utah’s very own Harold and Roxanne Weir who do an amazing Mathesar and Laliari. I’ve caught them doing other cosplays, such as Harold’s spot on Severus Snape, at conventions and events I’ve attended as an author. Seeing them in the film was a special treat.

For those of you who love Galaxy Quest, you’ll enjoy this documentary. There’s a little of everything in there from the history of the story’s development, to the actors reminiscing, to the development of key scenes.

I rate Never Surrender 4/5 stars – solidly good.

Stonebearer’s Apprentice Cover Reveal!

The day is finally here! Cover reveal day! I’m thrilled to be able to show the cover to book #2 of the Shadow Barrier Trilogy. Many of you have been with me from the beginning and I’m so happy for you to share this moment with you today. A huge thank you to my cover designer, Fiona at Fiona Jayde Media, for combining my vision and her artistry to create something truly magical.

Without further ado, here it is!

In this installment the Shadow Barrier Trilogy, Katira must come to terms with the life she’s fallen into. She’s expected to face her fears as she endures training that will push her to her limits and beyond. But, things can’t be easy. There is a traitor hiding within the walls of Amul Dun. Wrothe is not defeated as everyone believed. If Katira is going to survive, she must master the power of the Khandashii. Without guidance, it will kill her. Her apprenticeship tests not only her strength and courage, but her determination to do what is necessary.

Sound like a good read? I sure hope so. One of the things I loved about writing this book was digging deeper into the personalities of the characters that appeared in book one, but didn’t get a chance to shine. We get to see much more of what makes these characters unique.

Psst – if you want to have the first dibs on seeing cool stuff, consider signing up to be part of my fantasy reader’s community. They get all sorts of good stuff before the general public, including free short stories, offers from other authors, early chances to snatch up preorders, and fun stuff like this cover reveal (they got to see it a few days ago). Go ahead, do it, I’ll wait.

Good news! Two weeks until I open ebook preorders for Stonebearer’s Apprentice to the public. Stay tuned for the link! I’ll be posting it literally everywhere.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Get Your Tickets Now! League of Utah Writer’s Spring Conference

It’s Spring time and virtual writer’s conferences are popping out of the ground like daisies. Spring, being a time of renewal, is a wonderful time to learn something new, or reinforce something you’ve learned in the past. On May 23, the League of Utah Writers is holding a day long virtual conference complete with live Q&A sessions.

This year, and every year, there is a great lineup of teachers sharing their experience on everything from character creation to story structure, from utilizing social media to romantic relationships. Chances are, if you have a writing related question, there will be a class tailored to fit your needs.

Because this is a virtual conference there are several perks that you can’t get in a standard conference. First and foremost, it reduces costs down to the bare minimum for attendees. There are no travel expenses and no trying to find a decent lunch or snacks. You can take a break whenever you like, pause the presentation video if you need to jot down more notes, and you’ll never have to worry if the person next to you might just start eating ranch-flavored corn nuts while you’re trying to pay attention.

If anything, you get a better educational experience and the chance to see all the presentations instead of picking and choosing between two favorites in any given time slot.

The only thing you miss out on is meeting friends and fellow writers in person, and that’s a little sad.

This year I’m teaching about getting over creative roadblocks using a few psychology hacks. There is a discussion of the role fear plays in our ability to make progress in our creative work as well as several practices that can help.

I hope to see you there!

For more information and to register head on over to the League of Utah Writers website.

A Different Kind of Tired

I know you’ve felt it, heck, you might be feeling it right now. There are different flavors of being tired. The one most associated with the word tired is that fatigue that results from lack of sleep or doing too much. If your stress levels have been like mine, you probably have had bouts of insomnia to accompany the whirlwind that is adapting to everyday life, which in turn makes the vicious cycle of being tired that much worse.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Then, there is the tired that actually means overwhelmed. This is when there are too many items on the to do list, too many thoughts in your head, and too many responsibilities that you feel you can’t possibly meet. Often it’s not that there are actually too many things to do, it’s that trying to wrap your head around doing all of them is downright scary.

It gets even worse when any of those items are frightening by themselves. Lately, some of the simplest things have become scary. Before COVID, I never liked grocery shopping and treated it more like the Grand Prix; prepare ahead, plan my route, get in, get fueled up, pay, get out. The faster the better.

Going to the grocery store now has an extra layer of scary. Nothing like the chance of catching a horrible case of death to spice things up, right? There are all sorts of new rules that people should be following, but everyone you see are doing their own interpretation. Psst … the masks go over the nose, people.

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

This entire week as been filled with the dreadful anxiety that comes with being overwhelmed. This time it’s not the perpetual hedonistic treadmill that is policing my darling kiddos through the rigors of online school, we got that all figured out. It’s not even the ever growing pile of dishes that seem to spontaneously reproduce in the sink and then vomit out all over the kitchen. They’re annoying, but they don’t make my blood pressure go up.

Nope, the biggest source of my overwhelm tiredness hamster wheel is reaching the ‘you better get it done stage’ of releasing book two of the Stonebearer Saga. I’ve made so many promises to get it out earlier this year and I’ve broken everyone. After having to adjust my timeline so many times already, actually committing to something makes me break out in a cold sweat. The goal was to have it out in March. Yeah, that March – you know, the one when the world closed it’s doors and the economy started to slip down the drain.

If I commit to a release date again, I have to complete it. But this time, I’m armed with a manuscript that’s about five hours away from being called completely done. Which leads me to make the following announcement.

Drum roll please …

Stonebearer’s Apprentice will be released June 12 come hell or high water.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

For early bird access to the cover reveal and preorders, come join my Fantasy Reader Community. My readers get everything from free ebooks from authors around the world, sneak peeks inside my writing world, random advice about life, and the occasional opportunity to help me shape the concepts I use in future stories.

This announcement also means that YES, I am looking for reviewers and friends on social media to help me spread the word. If you are interested, let me know and I’d love to work something out!

Squee! So exciting!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

The Hobbit, Extended Edition

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was surprised that my entire family was excited to watch every single hour of the extended Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. As a geek parent, these movies are part of our heritage and an important milestone to pass on to the next generation. Not only do they represent an icon in the history of fantasy, which is understandably important to me, but they also mark a turning point in movie history. Lord of the Rings, Return of the King swept the Oscars and was the first high fantasy to do so.

Just as you can’t just watch part of the Star Wars saga and call yourself a fan, you can’t just watch Lord of the Rings and not the Hobbit. The stories build off of each other and give valuable backstory to their characters.

Last week we embarked on a new adventure following Bilbo Baggins deep into the Lonely mountain and narrowly escaping the jaws of the dragon Smaug. We watched as power and riches nearly destroyed the last dwarf prince Thorin Oakenshield. We saw how in the wrong hands, the ring of power corrupts its wielder. We learned that the most important power one can have is that of grit, determination, and courage, although magic is nice at times.

When Hobbit originally came out, I boycotted it. I was mad they choose to stretch a single slim novel into three fairly long movies. When this had been done with other books I liked, it always resulted in massive disappointment. I love the books of both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Even the huge success of Lord of the Rings as a movie wasn’t enough to convince me to invest my time into watching the entire Hobbit trilogy in all its extended glory.

It didn’t help that when Hobbit came out my personal situation had changed drastically from when LOTR came out. LOTR came out when I was in college. The Hobbit came out when my youngest was one. Going to movies was difficult at best. I have a whole long story of how we tried to take a nursing baby into Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull thinking he would sleep only for him to cry the whole time and then explode a diaper.

Time heals all wounds and when it came time to find the next movie to watch as a family, the Hobbit was a perfect fit. The kiddos already liked LOTR and knew the characters and at a run time of nearly 9 hours, it would take several days to finish – perfect for all those nights we were scratching for something to do while stuck at home together.

Turns out, the Hobbit is an excellent series of movies. Yes, I know that the screenwriters took lots of liberties with adding elements that didn’t originally exist in the book, but they stayed true to what we understand of Middle Earth and the world Tolkien created.

Is it a family friendly film? Sure. There’s no course language, no nudity (unless you count the extended scene where the dwarves are playing in the fountain at Rivendell, I don’t), and while there’s expected violence, there’s very little graphic injury. The same as LOTR, there are, however, several horror elements so I don’t recommend the Hobbit for young or sensitive viewers.


Heads up! My Book Cave is running a promotion featuring 51 free books and stories for anyone to download, including my short story Breath. Anyone who downloads one of these stories is registered to win a $20 gift certificate to the online book retailer of their choice. It’s a perfect time to fill up your eReader with some fantastic fantasy and sci-fi. With so many to choose from, you are guaranteed to find something you like!

Click here to download free ebooks!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!