About Jodi

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

The Irresistible Pull of Laughter

The other day hubby was browsing Reddit and suddenly he started laughing. It was one of those infectious belly laughs that instantly grabs the attention of anyone nearby and makes them smile. I’m convinced that nothing pulls on the curiosity harder than figuring out what has made someone else truly laugh.

Sure enough, as soon as hubby laughed I stopped what I was doing to see what it was and my youngest son (who was supposed to be finishing his dinner) did also.

If you’ve ever been out in public, obviously not recently, and caught someone truly laughing in joy or amusement over something, I bet you smiled too.

Let’s share some smiles today!

Here are a few things that made me smile recently, feel free to share them with friends!

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t e c h n i q u e s

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DragonHeart (1996) – No Good Trope Goes Untwisted

If there is one thing we can agree on, it’s that most fantasy books and movies tend to lean on a series of expected tropes. The 1996 DragonHeart movie tries so hard to twist many of these tropes that the outcome is, well different.

Hi everyone! As a survival tactic, I’ve turned to some of my old favorite fantasy movies, and this one has stood the test of time better than others. Even better, they’ve made a handful of sequels that are begging to be explored. Fun fact: this is one of the few movies accidentally acquired because I rented the DVD then turned it into the wrong Hollywood Video. Does that date me, yes it does.

Evil Overlord

Perhaps the biggest trope that gets twisted in this movie is that of the evil overlord found in King Einon. He’s greedy and kills indiscriminately and doesn’t hold to the vows he’s taken. Where this gets twisted is that he has half of a good dragon’s heart so lots of story twisting has to happen for this villain to get what he deserves.

The Good Bad Dragon

Dragons in most fantasy are either all bad or all good. They are only around to either roast precious damsels and hoard gold or dispense much needed help to the main character. DragonHeart has a bit of both. All the villagers seem to agree that dragons are always bad and out to heat and eat their livestock. However, the nobility have insider info on the dragons where they are good and can be appealed to for favors. Our noble-ish night Bowen skirts that line by using the good nature of the dragon to blackmail poor villagers.

Willful Ignorance

There has to be some suspension of disbelief in all fantasy storytelling or the audience wouldn’t listen at all. We are willing to accept the existence of dragons in order to enjoy a good tale. Most stories have a few times where the main character refuses to believe an obvious truth because we like the whole twisty-ness of it all. In DragonHeart, Bowen has been searching the entire British Isles to kill off all of the dragons. When he gets to the last one and has to make a deal, he doesn’t realize this is the same dragon that he feels betrayed him. It’s not until it’s relevant to the story that the dragon reveals himself.

The Noble Sacrifice (Um, Spoiler Alert…)

This one happens all the time. Someone super important to the story has to sacrifice their life in order to make victory possible. In DragonHeart this gets super literal. The bad king, Einon, can’t die unless the dragon dies because he has half the dragon’s heart. They literally have to kill the dragon to emerge from the battle victorious. It’s bittersweet and noble (and such a stupid waste of perfectly good dragon!).

The Charming Rogue gone Good

Our dear knight is a good guy at heart who has bad things happen to him so he feels justified doing less than noble things to get by. Think Han Solo. He’s a good guy but also needs money and happens to have a few tricks up his sleeve. Bowen is charming and everything a gal could want in a rogue, but ultimately has to save the day by doing the last thing he’d ever want, kill a friend – in this case the dragon.

My review of DragonHeart

DragonHeart is entertaining even after all these years. The CGI is great considering the year this movie was released and the story is interesting and has some nice twists. There are a few things that will always bother me. Namely, the script is super kludgy and obvious – no subtlety here. Also, I wouldn’t have picked Dennis Quaid for a Medieval period piece, like at all.

It was fun to see actors like Jason Isaacs and David Thewlis when they are practically teenagers, especially since they both were in important rolls in Harry Potter.

For it being family friendly, I’d say it’s fine for the majority of families. There is violence stereotypical to standard Medieval fantasy (not Game of Thrones, mind you. More like Conan the Barbarian), mild depictions of injury and blood, no offensive language, and one cringey moment of bedroom innuendo that doesn’t result in anything.

For sentimentality’s sake I give DragonHeart 4/5 stars


If you like Dragon stories, check out these two anthologies!

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.

Introverts Guide to Being Stuck Home with all the Family

There’s been an unexpected complication to all this social distancing and working from home. Whereas last week I covered how all you extroverts might find ways to survive being away from groups of people, this week I realized us introverts might be struggling as well. Suddenly, that time we used to have to ourselves is gone. All the times where we used to be able to send kids off to go play or attend classes have vanished. For some of us, we are now homeschooling for the first time ever.

It’s a big change and I’m feeling it far more than I expected I would. I expect many of you are the same. As an introvert, I refuel in the somber silence of my home turf and my cozy spots. Most weeks, my system works wonderfully. There were times of the day where I knew the house would be empty and quiet and I used this time to find my center again – that, and actually get some work done.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my family at home. But with them here ALL THE TIME those chances to find a little peace and quiet have been ripped away. After five days of it, it’s the closest I’ve come to having a full on panic attack in years because I wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of my needs.

Because having the family at home is like a party that never ends. And you’re the hostess. And everyone is hungry.
Photo by Miguel Teirlinck on Unsplash

This is for all of you introverts out there who are struggling to find balance with all this change.

Mark your territory

Everyone needs a spot where they feel safe and able to relax, introverts especially so. Be intentional in choosing yours. It may be a chair, it might be your side of the bed, it might be a home office or a large beanbag. Remind yourself that it is your safe and quiet place where you can recharge, even if there are other people around. Keep a pair of headphones nearby and some great music ready for when you need to take a few moments and recenter. By being intentional with this space, you can train yourself to associate it with peace and a sense of well-being.

Redefine what your “you” time looks like

Change means compromise. The way you’ve always done something might not be possible with the whole family stuck in the house with you. If you’ve always taken a shower the second everyone leaves the house, you might find yourself frustrated because no one is going anywhere. You might need to wake a touch earlier to ensure a peaceful experience. If that’s not an option, search out ways to make those moments you used to enjoy in silence special. Light a candle. Indulge in special treat. Turn on your favorite songs.

Communicate clearly

There will be people in your life that just can’t understand why your “you” time is so important. If you find yourself getting anxious, tired, or upset more easily because you can’t find a good balance between being around people and being alone, you need to be able to share this with the people around you. If you don’t they might start assuming things that aren’t necessarily true. Start with the obvious. “I’m having a hard time always being around everyone this much.” Then, work towards asking for help getting what you need. “What would really help is having an hour to just read without interruptions.”

Stay in tune with your brain fairies

Things won’t be perfect. There will probably not be as much quiet alone time as you really need. This is where it’s critical to stay in tune with what your brain and body are telling you and coming up with methods that work for you to maintain your cool. If you are feeling anxious, practice a breathing exercise. If you need quiet, go take a walk. Having a plan will give you the tools you need when things start getting overwhelming.

Be gracious with yourself

Above all, this is most definitely not the time to beat yourself up about anything. Being frustrated and anxious because there is change is normal. Allow yourself to feel all of this while telling yourself that this is a normal response to what is happening. Let these cues help you make the right decision for what you need to do to take care of your needs. Pretending everything is fine when you are secretly falling apart, will only hurt you in the long run.

This looks really nice… Totally doing this somewhere once the weather cooperates.
Photo by Unsplash on Unsplash

You’ve got this

We’ve all dealt with big changes before and survived. We’ve gotten married, separated, started a new job, changed schools, and lost people dear to us. Sometimes adapting to a big change takes a while. Things might not be comfortable for a while and that’s okay. In the end, with patience and introspection we figured things out, just as we will figure things out in our current situation. The sooner you can accept this new normal and find ways to make things work for your unique needs, the faster you will start feeling more centered and at ease.


Check it out, free reads!

Robin Glassey, a friend and fellow author gave me this heads up about some free science fiction and fantasy ebooks that are available for a limited time.

Click here to see all the books offered

Click here to go straight to Robin’s freebie


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.

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — Potential Gone Wrong

Hi dearest readers! I’m trying something new for a few weeks, if it works how I hope it might then it might end up a permanent change. I’ve recently started posting to Medium and am feeling my way around how to best share my articles with even more wonderful people like you. If it works well, it will also help me meet my business goals.

Enjoy.

To read the article – click here!

Added later – it appears that Medium and WordPress don’t like each other which makes it impossible to share a post preview here. Sigh.

Staying Away from People: An Introverts Guide for Extroverts

The world is gripped it in a pandemic fueled frenzy. If you’re experience is anything like mine, I’m sure you are all experiencing events being canceled, gatherings being rescheduled, and hand soap and toilet paper almost impossible to find in grocery stores.

It’s a bit scary, I’ll admit. The people I feel the worst for are all you extroverts out there. Being around other people is what gives you energy and fulfillment and your opportunities to do so have now been greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated.

Never fear. We introverts have been preparing for this moment for literally our entire lives.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

I have some pointers

Find things to do

Boredom is everyone’s enemy. Introverts tend to handle boredom a bit better because our favorite activities can easily be done at home. Should you be quarantined, this is a perfect time to finally tackle some of those projects you’ve been wanting to work on. Pull out a board game to play with the family, dust off that old gaming console, or pick up one of those books you always been meaning to read.

Take time to introspect

When was the last time you took a walk with nothing but the silence to keep you company? Being under quarantine doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself inside. Find somewhere beautiful and take a walk. Allow your mind to wander. If you get ideas or insights, jot them down so you don’t forget. If you tend to be a tactile person, you can do the same thing by a writing down your thoughts long hand and letting what ever your brain wants to tell you to flow out. You might find things that surprise you.

Celebrate what you have

It’s really easy to fixate on the things you want but don’t have. Why not use this time to cultivate a new respect and gratitude for the things you do have? An abundance of stress lowers the immune system’s ability to to fight off illness. However, gratitude and a positive outlook have been proven to reduce stress. Take a few minutes as often as you can to consider something you are grateful for.

Honor your body’s needs

It’s really easy to let a huge change in schedule throw everything off, especially if you are trying to work from home for the first time. Pay attention to what your body needs. Get enough sleep. Drink lots of water. Balance work and play. Don’t binge on junk food. Set clear boundaries between when you need to work verses when you get to relax.

When all else fails, there’s always social media and online games

If you end up in quarantine, what a good age to have it in. We have everything we need to stay in contact with loved ones. There’s Skype and Facetime, there’s the full pantheon of social media outlets, there are masses of online gaming communities. For every itch, there are lots of scratches if you are feeling lonely. Try something new.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Regardless of what happens

Please observe common sense cautions. No, really. Doing the easy things is often forgotten. Wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, and use common sense. We’ll get through this, I promise.


If you just happen to need something to read, you can totally download my free short story right now straight to the device of your choice. It’s so easy, just click this link.

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!

Toy Story 4, a lesson about letting go

If Toy Story 1 taught us one thing as kids, it’s that our toys had this rich inner life that revolved around being the best toys they could be for their kids. This created a weird hoarding issue for many families. Getting rid of a toy meant the toy itself would feel bad about it for the rest of their little lives, or until they get incinerated in Toy Story 3. (Too soon?)

Either by a writers innate sense of creating balance in a long arc story line, or perhaps a rapidly declining likelihood of Tom Hanks willingness to voice Woody for the eternities, Toy Story 4 had one lesson – the importance of letting go.

A character-by-character study

Let’s start with Forky. He’s a fork that Bonnie has glued eyes and feet to. He doesn’t want to be a toy, he knows he’s meant to be disposable and that his destiny is a trash can. He spends the first half of the movie trying to throw himself away. He desperately wants to be let go because he doesn’t understand his importance to Bonnie.

In contrast, we have Woody who believes the worst thing that could ever happen to him is for his kid to no longer want or need him. He knows exactly who he is and what his role is supposed to be. He’s now struggling to adapt to change as Bonnie grows up.

Little Bo Peep is in the same boat as Woody. However, instead of fighting the change and the loss of her role as one kid’s toy, she has embraced her new lifestyle of being a toy who no longer has a kid. She has become a Mad Max style renegade vigilante of the playgrounds and goes from from place to place finding a new kids to play with. Compared to Forky and Woody, she has found fulfillment and happiness in her new role.

And finally we need to talk about Gabby Gabby, Toy Story 4’s unique villain. She was a defective toy right out of the box. The core belief that has driven her for an untold number of years is if she can get fixed, she can finally be loved. When she discovers that Woody has the part she needs, she will do anything and to get it.

The important lesson in Toy Story 4

Every toy in this movie had something they wanted. Woody wanted to take care of Forky because that was the best way he could take care of his kid. Little Bo peep wanted adventure and freedom. And Forky wanted to fulfill his destiny of becoming trash.

In each of these cases the toys needed to learn a valuable lesson before they could let go and move forward. What he learned that it was OK to let his responsibility to go to the other toys and let someone else take charge. Bo peep learned to make the best of challenging circumstances and do what she really loved. And Forky, dear Forky, learned that his destiny was much greater than being thrown away because a kid loved him.

Each one of us has a little bit of these characters hiding inside us. Sometimes we take responsibility for things that we should really let go to other people. Sometimes we need to learn how how to make the best of challenging circumstances. And sometimes the hardest part is figuring out who we really are and what our true destiny is.

What are your thoughts about Toy Story Four? Are you a Woody, Forky, or Bo Peep?


Exciting news!

I finally setup a mailing list to better help me connect to all of you out there in this wonderful community of readers. Sign up today and receive a free ebook of my short story “Breath” – a story about interconnection and the importance of seeking out one’s destiny. Click here to sign up today!

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!

Shout out to North Ogden Junior High Creative Writers

As an author, getting to talk and teach in Utah schools is surprisingly difficult. Which means I was all the more thrilled to go talk to not one or two of the English classes at North Ogden Junior High, but all off them.

Myself, along with Charlie N. Holmberg, Steven Heumann, and Scott E. Tarbet, were interviewed by friend, fellow author, and English teacher, Ben Simmons, in a panel style discussion that covered everything to what inspires us, to what sports have we included in our writing. For each period of the day we addressed a different group of awesome teens and answered their questions. So much fun.

Best Questions

The most asked student question was which of our books was our favorite. Lucky me, I only have the one (so far!) so the choice was easy. Charlie choose her Smoke and Summons, Steven chose his Gavin Baller Collection, and Scott choose his Mission: Dragon Moon.

My favorite question of the day was which superpower we as authors would like to have. True to the fiendish plotsters we are, we came up with some pretty bizarre stuff. My favorite was Charlie’s idea of having extreme intimidation as a super power so people can’t bully you.

All in all, we were treated like celebrities, given a yummy lunch, and were able to talk to the wonderful English teachers, librarians, and students of the school. The questions were excellent and the energy and excitement for us to be there validating and much appreciated.

To all the young aspiring writers at North Ogden junior high, you got this! I can’t wait to see what marvels you come up with. Go Knights!

A big shout out to my fellow authors on the panel, check out their books, they’re all amazing

Charlie Holmberg is best known for her Paper Magician series and is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She also has the best collection of cool purses and glasses I’ve ever seen. Her most recent release came out January 2020 and it’s called the Will and the Wilds.

Scott E Tarbet has grundles of amazing short stories published everywhere, including a title where we are both contributing authors with, but the book he brought to share with the students is a steampunk version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk.

Steve Heumann, who has the greatest name ever, writes books that have awesome twists reminiscent of Black Mirror or Twilight Zone. His favorite book and character he’s written is his Gavin Baller series. He’s also has several short stories available, the most interesting to me is Kaleidoscope Shadow: A Dark Sci-Fi Fairy Tale, which takes the idea of the Pied Piper and turns it completely on it’s head.

And our panel moderator, Ben Simmons, who bravely faces the drama that is being an Junior High teacher, everyday. You have my respect sir. Ben’s Archipelago Series is a great science fiction adventure that lines up with an amazing tabletop RPG he’s created. The first book in the series is The Voyage of the Entdecker.

As for me, I’m simply thrilled to be part of the experience. I offered the students my free short story, “Breath” that contains the opening scene to Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Here’s to finding new readers!


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.

Aladdin 2019, Hello Bollywood

Am I the last one to jump on this bandwagon? Yep. Am I going to use my usual excuse of literally not seeing the movie until last week again? Absolutely. After the whole fiasco with the live action Lion King, 2019, I had my doubts about watching another live action Disney. Hearing rumors of Will Smith being digitally painted blue didn’t help either.

But … I was pleasantly surprised. They took the original story from the 1992 Disney Aladdin, and breathed some new life into it, all without falling into the pitfall we call the uncanny valley. If they had decided to make Abu the monkey talk, then we would have had real problems.

What they did right

Any story that transports the viewer into a new time and place will have an inherent sense of wonder about it, and Aladdin is full of wonder. They created a gorgeous palace and city that felt full of history and culture. The costuming stayed true to the feel of the original animation, but was brought to life in a way that was both beautiful, colorful, and detailed.

Any story set in a foreign land that’s loosely based on a real one needs to be sensitive to offensive stereotypes and unfair comparisons. The very first Aladdin had a handful of these missteps that were corrected in a way that didn’t feel gimmicky. For instance, they swapped out the whole Aladdin runs through a harem bit. The harem is now clearly a school for girls.

Lastly, they framed the story in a new way that added a nice little twist at the end that I thought was charming. One of the biggest questions that the first movie struggled to resolved was ‘What happens to a genie when he is no longer a genie?” In the 1992 movie, Genie stayed magical and didn’t turn into a human. This didn’t seem right. So, the 2019 turned Genie human instead. Works for me.

What they got wrong

I know that CGI is a super fun toy and it lets movie makers create whatever they can dream up (and afford). But – for a critical audience, the best CGI is when you can’t tell there’s been any at all. Poor Abu got CGI slaughtered a few times. Nothing serious, just you could tell where real monkey ended and robomonkey began.

The use of fast and slow motion. This was a directorial choice. Guy Ritchie thought the chase through the market scene that happens when Aladdin runs parkour through Agrabah singing “One Jump” would be cooler if they altered the filming speeds. Dramatic moments were subtly slowed down and action sequences sped up. For me, it made it more silly than necessary.

Ugh, let’s talk about the awkwardness, shall we? Aladdin’s character is known as being a smooth talking, smooth moving street kid. The second he has to pretend he is a prince, all that smoothness flip flops into some amazingly awkwardness that had me hiding under a blanket. It was like 1997 all over again. I get why the awkwardness was important, Aladdin’s big message is that you have to be true to yourself. Whenever he wasn’t true to himself, he turned into a big lump of social disaster. A little awkward is great, funny even, but when it gets to cringe level, tone it down.

And Cue Bollywood!

As promised, let’s talk about how a film that’s meant to have very Arabic origins ended up just like a Bollywood style film. For reference, here’s some of the keystone needs of a Bollywood film:

“Standard features of Bollywood films continued to be formulaic story lines, expertly choreographed fight scenes, spectacular song-and-dance routines, emotion-charged melodrama, and larger-than-life heroes.”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bollywood-film-industry-India

Of the five criteria, Aladdin 2019 solidly hits at least three. The first and most obvious are the spectacular song-and-dance routines. The two that stand out are the parade welcoming Prince Ali Ababwa into Agrabah and then the wedding dance at the end of the movie. Both rely on large casts, bright costumes, tightly choreographed dances, and a catchy song.

The next of the three is the emotionally charged melodrama. Yep, we got that. Aladdin is playing a high stakes game with a princess, a sultan, and a nasty advisor. Melodrama is baked right in. Did I mention the tiger?

The last of the three is the formulaic story line. There are three wishes, we know what needs to happen, who needs to do what, and why it’s important. There’s an obvious enemy in Jafar. There’s an emotional problem where Aladdin needs to be true to himself. And there’s the secondary story line where the supporting cast may or may not fall in love. (No spoilers!)

All in all

I said it before, I’ll say it again. I thought it was a great movie. Fun to watch with the kids. Visually impressive. Good music. Entertaining story. It’s a great family movie night pick, or even a sing-a-long. My kids liked it, which is saying a lot.

I give the 2019 Aladdin 4 out of 5 stars, solidly good.


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!

Meditating when you’re cold

It’s a well known fact that modern life is stressful. I’ve harped on this a few time before – probably because I don’t like stress and I want to be proactive in reducing it in my life. I can’t always kill off one my characters when I’ve had a really bad day. For starters, it takes forever to fix that, especially if you need that character in the future, like at all. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve resurrected characters that accidentally got dead.

Finding inner peace is one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you try it. For me, I lean on a few methods that work for me, namely journaling and meditation. The benefits of both are measurable in my own life and I feel it when I’ve missed a few days. My meditation practice isn’t a terribly formal thing. I literally do it while waiting in my car for my kid to get out of school – using an app or YouTube when the network isn’t being fussy.

The car is fairly comfortable and I’m assured a few minutes of undisturbed peace. Even better, since I literally can’t do anything else, thoughts of housework don’t haunt me.

There is only one snag. The drive to the school isn’t long enough to let the car heat up and I refuse to idle the engine as I sit there parked. During the winter months it’s cold. Even in a jacket you can’t get away from it. And, because I’ve spent the last few hours madly typing away in my office, I’m already a little chilled to start with.

Let me tell you right now, trying to achieve a state of relaxed contentment is impossible when you’re shivering. There’s no relaxing when your shoulders are huddling around your ears for warmth.

Mr. Pug has the right idea. Snuggle in a blankie.

So why try? If it’s frustrating, then maybe trying to meditate in a car when it’s cold is a bad idea. Maybe I should find a happy alternative involving chocolate and reading a juicy novel. Maybe I’ll do that anyway … wait, sorry. Got distracted.

Hang on, hear me out. A meditation practice is meant to help people find their zen state, even when the conditions aren’t ideal. Someone who regularly spends time doing breathing exercises and finding their inner calm will be able to find that calm much easier when things are frantic.

Meditating when cold isn’t a complete waste of time. Instead, it demonstrates a challenging situation where it’s necessary to adapt. Getting mad at it won’t help, so you have to learn to roll with it. Or wear a warmer coat, and gloves, and a hat.

That said, I’m happy it’s warming up. I’d rather find my inner peace without a challenge. (thankyouverymuch).

How do you cope with stress? Does it include chocolate? Inquiring minds want to know.


Psst! If you’re the type that likes a good indulgence read, grab my free story today. Like the rest of my writing, it’s lovely, dark, and deep. You can also sign up for my mailing list while you’re at it (win!).

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!

Five Things I Learned From Reading a Janet Evanovich Novel

I did something a little off the beaten path this week and tried out a Stephanie Plum mystery, famously written by Janet Evanovich. My pick, Hardcore Twenty Four, loosely centers around a zombie mystery. This is so far from my usual cup of tea, it’s laughable. In fact, it’s so far from what I’d normally pick up, that I almost put it down.

Then curiosity got the best of me. These books are NYT and USA today bestsellers, and there are over 200 million Evanovich novels in print. Those are some pretty amazing statistics. So, I put my research hat on and decided to take a deeper look.

I discovered that this is the kind of book that’s the perfect read for anyone who wants a happy distraction, and judging from the state of things these days, that’s literally everyone. The prose is easy to digest, the characters are unique and likable, the problems are relatable but treated in a way that they are more humorous than anything. And, there’s a splash of intrigue to glue everything together.

It’s like cotton candy. Sweet, fun to eat, and mostly fluff.

Have no fear, I did grab a few important lessons that are applicable to everyone

For every itch there is a scratch

There are people who love, and I mean love, these books and characters. Reading these books is the perfect escape and a great way to spent a weekend or long afternoon. If you don’t love them, that’s okay too. It goes to show everyone had their own likes and dislikes.

All you really need are charismatic side characters

Stephanie Plum is an interesting character by herself. She has a pet hampster, a crazy grandma, and works as a bounty hunter. But, it’s her friends that spice up the story. From the mysterious Diesel, to the romantic cop Morelli, to her bedazzled coworker Lula, there’s a little of everything to keep things interesting. It goes to prove that life is way better with interesting friends.

The bad guy is the one you’d least expect

This is true for lots of villains in fiction, the one responsible for all the problems is usually the one you’ve been led to least suspect. Or, they sincerely believe that what they are doing is going to either help someone, or give them a unique opportunity. This is true in real life as well, usually people aren’t being jerks because they’re evil. Usually there’s something else far more complicated going on.

If you’re going to have a fantasy boyfriend, make him hot (and talented)

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It allows us an escape. It allows us to dream of new possibilities. It makes reading fun fluffy stories that much more colorful. Every one of the men in Stephanie’s life are a) gorgeous and b) have a unique set of skills, and c) are committed to helping her with anything she might need. Spending a little time in her shoes means readers can dream they have the same thing. Just a heads up – in real life you can only have two of the three.

Everyone has a story

If anything, these books prove that everyone’s got a story, and if you dig deep enough it’s an interesting one as well. In Hardcore Twenty-four, we learned all about grannie’s lovelife, Ranger and Diesel’s special set of skills, and Ethel the boa constrictor’s food preferences. If you want to make someone’s day, find out about their story. I’m sure there’s something interesting there you’d never expect.

Get your copy of Hardcore Twenty-four on Amazon today.


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