Interview with Scott W. Taylor

From acting, to film making, to daily blogging, to writing books, today’s guest loves pushing his creative limits. I think, Scott Taylor and I first met at a book signing event, but it might have been a conference. He’s one of those guys that you feel like you’ve known forever, because he’s always very warm and friendly to talk to.

We crossed paths again at this year’s Fyrecon writing and arts conference in Layton and I offered to bring him here to share some of his wit and wisdom with all my wonderful readers.

Without further ado, let’s go to the interview!

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

To kick things off, let’s begin with a getting to know you question. Tell us a little about yourself, including what scares you the most.

My name is Scott Taylor. I live on the side of a mountain on a plot of land my parents bought for pennies (compared to today) back in the 1960s. I write speculative fiction, steampunk, fantasy, even a little paranormal and horror. My debut novel Chaser was released in 2018 from Immortal Works Press. I am a blogger and have blogged every day since January 24th, 2011. I also keep a daily journal and have done so since January, 1985. Two things that scare me most are sharks and drowning, but if I’m ever in the situation where I’m facing both possibilities, I’m not entirely sure which would be worse.

In the past year, what’s one experience you’ve had that you could describe as amazing.

In April of this year, I joined the Programming Team with the FanX Comics Convention in Salt Lake City. My main responsibility centered around a stage located on the convention floor—a first for the con. I helped book the acts, schedule them, and I had the honor of watching the con patrons enjoy panels, musical acts, even dance and self-defense demonstrations. I loved introducing a new facet of the convention and seeing how it affected the overall con experience of those in attendance.

Of all your creative endeavors, of which there are many, which have you found the most rewarding?

I believe a creator never tires of hearing about how their work has affected others. When a parent tells me how much their children (and them) loved my book, or watching a person cry after watching a film I wrote, you realize what you’re doing is not only for your own satisfaction and interests, but can affect and entertain so many others—that’s the best part of what we do (in my opinion).

Tell us about the inspiration behind your most current book, Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and His Dog.

Chaser came about for two reasons. I wanted to finally complete a November NaNoWriMo project, and I wanted to write a book for my youngest child to read since he’s not a reader. I asked him what he wanted to read, and he responded, “science fiction.” So, I had to figure out how much “science” I needed to put in a middle-grade science fiction story.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I don’t have a writing space, per se. I suppose the most interesting thing I have is my custom MacBook Pro cover. It’s leather. It zips. It has inside pockets to store additional materials. And the best part, it’s from the Deseret Industries, a local thrift store. I noticed when I bought my first MacBook Pro I noticed it was small enough to fit in a regular-sized planner. I bought one for 50¢ at the D.I. and it worked perfectly, so when I enter an Apple Store and see how much their MacBook Pro covers cost, I can’t believe how much I’m saving to protect my laptop.

Quite possibly the most unique MacBook cover ever.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am about a quarter into a fantasy/alternative history story that I’ve been kicking around for several years. This year I decided to get serious about finishing a story that’s been swimming around in my brain since the idea first came to me. I also like the world surrounding the story and that it can hopefully continue to several other stories, both in the past and in our current time.

Coming soon to a venue near you, it’s Scott Taylor!

About today’s guest:

Scott William Taylor lives with his family on the side of a mountain. When not working, performing, or sleeping, he loves writing novels, short stories, and screenplays. He writes Steampunk, Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal. His debut MG novel, Chaser, is published through Immortal Works. Taylor earned his Master’s of English degree from Weber State University.

Find Scott Online:

Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and his Dog

About Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and his Dog

Twelve-year-old Kennedy Barnes and his dad are on an interplanetary mission to transfer Earth’s animals to Planet X489-B, a habitable world without animal life.

But one animal not on their spaceship’s manifest is Kennedy’s dog Chaser. Unable to part with his beloved Chaser, Kennedy smuggles the Labrador Retriever onto his father’s ship.

What follows is a story of strength, deception, harrowing escapes and painful lessons learned.

Join Kennedy, Chaser, and the entire crew of Trinity Base as they travel billions of miles from home on an adventure as big as the universe, and find out just how far one boy will go to save his best friend.

Find Chaser on Amazon!


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Power Word: Serenity

As we plunge into the full throes of Summer, this power word holds much more significance than during other parts of the year. Serenity doesn’t mean to be surrounded by peace and a zen-like atmosphere, although I would really like that right now. Serenity means to find that peace within regardless of what’s going on around you.

Which is why I’ve chosen it as the power word for July, when school is out.

Photo by Amanda Flavell on Unsplash

Like many people, I find great comfort in predictability. So much in life is unpredictable – the weather, the news, the rampant mouse issue in my backyard – that finding parts of my day that can stay the same, brings with it small amounts of peace. Having a schedule and routines take the guess work and stress out of the mundane things needing to be done.

Don’t get me wrong. I seek out joy in the unpredictable. I smile in the rain. I laugh at butterflies and bumblebees. These things are pleasantly unpredictable.

It’s the things I can’t predict, but must manage regardless, that cause amazing amounts of stress. While I hate to say it, that’s the definition of having multiple kids at home and trying to get work done. At any moment, a fight will break out, something will break, someone will need help, something will be lost, and I’m the one who has to fix it.

There’s a word for it – hypervigilance. It means even when you are relaxing or doing something you enjoy, you’ve got a huge part of your brain constantly monitoring for any unrest among the natives. And it’s exhausting.

Back to serenity. Deep breaths. I totally didn’t just have to leave in the middle of writing this post to deal with an argument about computer turns.

Having serenity as a power word means every time I see the word stuck to the bottom of my monitor, I take a few seconds to breathe and remind myself to find peace in the now. Every moment there isn’t a crises to be dealt with, is a mini zen moment. The more this practice is performed, the more the mind will auto regulate to seek out and acknowledge these moments of calm.

What helps you find your serenity?

Do you like routine or do you prefer to let your heart guide you?

Let’s discuss in the comments below!

If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.


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.

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Don’t forget! Stonebearer’s Betrayal is eligible to win a Dragon Award. The deadline for nominations is July 19th. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, head over to the nomination page, and vote for Stonebearer’s Betrayal in the Young Adult/Middle Grade Category. Anyone can do it!

Interview with Rafael Hohmann

At this year’s Fyrecon 2019, I asked a few author friends if there was someone I needed to meet who would be a good fit for my interview series, and I was immediately directed to the outgoing and talented Rafael Hohmann. I’m thrilled to share his thoughts with you all today.

On to the interview!

Image by Sophia Hilmar from Pixabay

First, let’s get to know you better. Please share with us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t. 🙂

Ooh, I like this question! One thing people know about me is that I’m an author who is tired of the same ol’ in fantasy. Mostly elves, dragons, dwarves—and in more recent years, current world politics and gratuitous sex. I want fantasy escapism that doesn’t involve me rolling my eyes or getting frustrated. I might be in the minority on that one though…I’m not sure. Another thing most people know about me is that I’m a networker. I love meeting other authors, readers, publishers, editors, etc…you name it. Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give, and experiences to share. Although I take everything people say with a grain of salt, I would like to think there is always something new for me to learn from someone else—or at the very least I can use them as inspiration for a future character. Lastly, kind of a given, people know me as an epic fantasy writer. I love wielding limitless creation when it comes to storytelling. I went from being the kid who was always getting sucked into stories other had written into being an adult who gets sucked into other people’s stories and now my own stories too…I guess not much changed.

Two things that people don’t know about me…well most people don’t know that I was born in the dungeons of a castle in Brazil, in South America! I guess that aligns pretty well with me being a fantasy author and all! Also, I love adding lore, ancient history, songs, and food into my stories. It keeps the written world feeling fresh and exciting.

Every author I’ve met has had an Ah-ha! moment where they decided they wanted to write a book. What was yours?

I was in junior high, selling my own home-drawn comic books to my friends in exchange for candy or coins (to buy candy), daydreaming about being stuck in the school, surviving the zombie apocalypse. Since I didn’t see any attacking zombies, I decided to record my zombie daydream in the form of a story. I really liked how it turned out and loved the idea that I was able to turn this internal fantasy of escapism into something I could read. I think it was at that point that I realized I had found my new favorite thing to do, which was to write. That was probably my ah-ha moment.

What do you think is your writing superpower? What do you do really well?

Probably world-building and monster creation! I say that because I like to put a lot of effort into creating unique places, cultures, lore, history, and creatures. I want people to read my work and feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m also really good at snacking while I write, except Dorito fingers and typing is not a good combo.

So far, which of your characters is your favorite? And which is most like you?

My favorite is my main antagonist Wahala in the SunRider Saga. She is a woman who is not anywhere in the league of raw power and strength as some of the other bad guys or even the good guys. But her insane drive, her hunger to learn the bigger mysteries of the world while everyone else is out fighting great wars, and her manipulative wit make her this underdog you can’t help but root for, even knowing she’s a really bad person.

The character that’s most like me is probably Goblin, who is the main character Finn’s best friend. We’re both food-a-holics and love to play ruthless practical jokes on others.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I have the carved skull of a ram that’s been painted gold in my study. It stares into my soul. Really though—it inspires my darker adventure-fantasy style writing, its really frikin’ cool, and it connects with a few concepts seen in my SunRider Saga. One specific group of people in my series come from this dead land that is populated with the dangerous corpses of various monsters, ancient warriors, and plants because of a prehistoric enchantment. Throughout many millennia while they have survived there, the people of that land developed the cultural practice of replacing limbs with gold as a means to help dissuade carnivorous monsters from eating them. Over the many years, that practice became a religious act. In the end though, I bought the skull because who wouldn’t want that as a decoration???

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am working on book three of the SunRider Saga, to be released hopefully at the end of this year! It’s a big boy, which is what my readers want in a adventure fantasy novel. I’m also constantly going to various conventions, podcasting with local authors in a really cool writing group I’m in, the Four Seasons of Epic Fantasy, and I’m building from scratch a leather-bound fantasy-style version of SunRider (full of maps, red ink, and metal inlays) and recording the process as a YouTube video.

Raf says, “Have I got a story for you!”

About today’s guest​

Born near the oceanic coast of Brazil inside the dungeons of a castle, Rafael moved to the United States at the age of six. He spent his young years reading, cliff climbing, exploring abandoned mines, and drawing strategy maps to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Obsessed with sharing his stories with others, he writes whenever he can and talks a bit too much about books. You can often find him gorging on sushi and trying to convince his wife to let him ​buy a dog.

Connect with Rafael:

Amazon description of SunRider

I have seen men become Gods and I have seen Gods become dust…

Magic pieces of armor rain from Lenova’s skies, granting common men God-like abilities. These individuals have been dubbed the Star-Children, and their magical suits of armor can reshape land, nations, and the future of man. Each of them wield a seemingly random and distinctive power: the
capability to create clouds of gems, the skill to bend lightning by command, the means to suck the air out of one’s lungs. They are marked by the bracers they wear: a single piece donning their arm, a piece which shifts and slides, forming their unique armored suits of might.

“A perfect mix of super-powers and fantasy!”

No one knows why these bracers have fallen from Lenova’s skies, picking seemingly random individuals to hold such power. In the absence of knowledge and with superior beings now in existence, chaos reigns. The few Star-Children with morals wield their powers with honor, those with darker intentions…seek blood and conquest.

In the midst of this emerging chaos, teenager Finn SunRider only cares for escaping the mines within the burning desert of the Crust and exploring the world he lives in. When an ancient bracer different from those which have fallen from the sky grafts onto Finn’s arm and the last of a dead race warns that albeit no future is certain, he will be thrust in the middle of godly battles and mystery, Finn’s plans of freedom take a different turn.

From flaming, coal-covered vat-worms and two-directional streams to floating cities and slagged landscapes, follow a fantasy adventure of epic proportions!

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Sound amazing? Buy Sunrider here, and its sequel, In the Land of Hershel, here.


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Exploring the Five Orders: Guardians

No magical secret society would be complete without its dedicated protectors. In the Stonebearer universe these are the Order of the Guardians. Not only do they protect the society’s interests, they also lead its defense in times of war and unrest. In this latest era of the world, they must step forward again to counter the dark forces rising up from the barrier between worlds.

Image by Torulus from Pixabay

Most guardians tend to stay at the Stonebearer stronghold, Amul Dun, to protect those living there against attack and to train and refine their skills. After the last war, far fewer guardians returned to the keep. Many were killed. Of those who survived, some stayed away because they sought peace deep in the isolated villages far from the cities.

A Stonebearer Guardian must possess the talent to strengthen both physical and intangible objects with their power. This means any weapon in their hands becomes unbreakable, any armor, impenetrable. As long as they have the strength to cast the glyphs, they are untouchable.

As with the other orders, guardians must train hard to develop their skills. They learn fighting techniques from those who have mastered various fighting styles over centuries of effort. Many legends have stemmed from lone guardians fighting against impossible odds.

The most notable guardians in Stonebearer’s Betrayal are Katira’s father, Jarand and his trusted friend who’s stood by his side in the worst of times, Issa.


If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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Interview with Bree Moore

It’s always a joy to bring a fellow fantasy author here to discuss what sparks their creativity and learn about their journey. Today, Bree Moore joins us to talk about her journey and give us a peek into her life as a writer.

On to the interview!

Love Arthurian Fantasy? You’ll love today’s author!

Hi Bree, thanks for joining me here today! To get things started, I’d love to get to know you better. Tell me, what was the moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?

I was a voracious reader from a really young age. My addiction to books and the stories inside led me to want to write. In 4th grade we received a school assignment to write a story, and my teacher gave us an actual hardbound book with blank pages to write the story inside before turning it in. The whole process enchanted me. I wrote a really terrible story, but I’m really proud of the effort I put into it. I still have that book, actually. Soon after I wrote, by hand, another story that was 60 pages long. We got our first home computer around that time, and I started another story. It just felt natural to write. I really enjoyed it and the feeling of accomplishment I had every time I finished a story. I knew then I wanted to be a writer.

If you were to magically gain a creative super power, what would it be, and why?

Probably the ability to perfectly translate the images in my head to paper. It’s so frustrating when a scene plays out perfectly until I try to write it down!

In the course of writing your books, what has been your greatest challenge to overcome?

Finding time and energy to make it all happen. I homeschool my five kids. They’re all under the age of seven right now, my youngest is five months old. I’ve published three books and two short stories in the past two and a half years, all while in the thick of motherhood. It’s tough to find the motivation when you’re exhausted and stretched to your limit. I currently wake up at about 5am every day to get my writing in. Difficult, but worth it. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without making the sacrifice to keep doing what I love. Writing, and accomplishing my publishing goals, keeps me sane. It gives me opportunities to meet people and do more. So, even though it’s my greatest challenge, it’s so worth it.

Your stories have characters who have to be brave and make hard choices. What is your favorite inspiring moment in your most recent release?

In my novella in the “Beyond Instinct” anthology, women gain their magical abilities when they give birth for the first time. I love the part where my character, having just had her baby, decides to confront the antagonist. She has her baby strapped to her chest, and she’s so beautifully furious at what’s been done to her people. I love the power of that moment.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I’m still working on having a designated writing space, but something that will be in it when I have one is this picture that a friend once drew for me. It’s a beautiful ink drawing of all these fantastic worlds, and the message he wrote on it is about the value of stories. I’ve had it for about eleven years, it inspires me every time I see it.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m currently writing a paranormal fantasy trilogy about a world where paranormals are illegal citizens until they go through “Naturalization” and conform to certain standards of humanity. My main character is a raven-shifter. The first book, Raven Born, comes out in November.

Creative powerhouse, Bree Moore

About today’s featured guest –

Bree Moore lives in Utah, is wife to an amazing husband, and is a mother of five children. She writes fantasy novels between homeschooling and folding laundry.
In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing. Bree loves shopping for groceries like other women like shopping for shoes (no, seriously), movies that make her cry, and Celtic music. She likes both her chocolate and her novels dark. 

Bree is also a member and contributing writer at www.WritingThroughBrambles.com, a blog for fellow authors and readers.  

Connect with Bree –

Woven, by Bree Moore

About Woven –

For thirty years, Elaina has sat in her tower, fingers caught in an eternal dance, cursed to weave the tapestry of life on her loom. Bound by an enchanted mirror whose magic shows her the distant lives of the people of Camelot, she must forever watch a land which remains beyond her reach. Elaina despairs that she will ever experience more than just the shadows of life, until one day a face appears in the mirror that will change her life, and possibly her fate, forever.

Guinevere is losing her mind. When a severe injury to her head nearly kills her and awakens alternate personalities suppressed from her past, Guinevere learns that one of them is plotting with a knight of the round table to murder King Arthur and take control of Camelot. In the midst of war, Guinevere fights to save both her own life and the man she loves, each day coming closer to succumbing to the violent personalities within her.

Fans of “Once Upon a Time” and the legends of King Arthur won’t be able to let Woven slip through their fingers.

Find Woven on Amazon!


A huge thank you to Bree for joining us today and sharing about her creative life and inspiration!

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.

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Book Review: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

There are those books that are just interesting and fun to read and there are those books where you feel something magical has happened. The Name of the Wind is the latter. I read this book a few years ago, but because it’s summer and I’m behind on my normal reading, this was the perfect time to finally review it. 

The story:

As the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle, The Name of the Wind introduces us to the famous Kvothe, who is trying his best not to attract attention by taking a fake name and serving as a small town innkeeper. When Kvothe rescues a traveling scribe known as Chronicler and is recognized, the scribe asks to record his real story and his unfortunate rise to fame. As with many popular main characters, Kvothe’s life is full of hardship and misfortune. Lucky for him, these misfortunes tend to open doors, often in the most unexpected places. 

The story that’s recorded covers his childhood with a traveling performer troupe, his lost days as a beggar and pickpocket, his desperate attempt to get into the University where he can track down information, the many different ways he works to get enough money to attend the school, and all the many problems he encounters along the way. And trust me, there are plenty of those.

My Review:

I’m a sucker for any fantasy book. But, when I can find a book with an unusual magic system, a well-formed world, and beautiful language, it’s a rare treat. The Name of the Wind has all three. Perhaps Rothfuss’s greatest strength is his ability to transform his ideas into evocative fluid images. You can’t help but feel pulled into his world. 

Another strength is in the construction of the story itself. Instead of the standard narrative tale starting with a character discovering a great need, this book starts at the end and then carefully gives the readers the pieces of Kvothe’s story through a scribe. From the first page, the reader is presented with questions that need to be answered. Part of the joy in reading it is piecing together the clues to see how everything fits together.

The last point that I loved, but some readers might be squeamish about, is that Rothfuss does not shy away from including physical injuries and their care afterwards. Poor Kvothe has many enemies who really like to hurt him. With inexperienced writers this can often be a pitfall, but Rothfuss weaves it in as a natural result of danger and adventure and it really works. 

Recommendations:

This is a fantasy that is better suited for older readers, I’d recommend it for readers no younger than sixteen because of the beautiful language and puzzle-like nature of the story itself which might be too abstract for younger readers. For those who love a unique magic system, beautiful writing, and plenty of danger, this is a good pick.

For readers who prefer knowing clearly what is going on from the beginning, and not having to wait, often several books, for the answers, this book might prove frustrating. 

I give it a 5 out of 5


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Interview with Leigh Saunders

Space might be the final frontier, but the imagination knows no limits. When it comes to science fiction and speculative writing this is especially true. Come meet my friend Leigh Saunders who continually pushes the boundaries of her own imagination with both heart and enviable skill.

Leigh and I are partners in crime in the Utah author scene, often seen tucking ourselves into corners at conferences and planning our next move. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, with authors as friends there is never a dull moment.

On to the interview!

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Hi Leigh, welcome to my blog! To kick off this interview I’d like to get to know you better. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve never been the stereotypical, introverted writer – though I have been known to “lurk” quietly in new situations while I figure out the lay of the land. Growing up in a military family was probably a big part of that. It allowed me to see a fair bit of the world — and also taught me to adapt to different cultures and customs every time we moved. Then I read the phrase “…the things are also people” in a SF story (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I think), and I never looked at the world quite the same way ever again. I’ve been fortunate to have worked as a full-time writer (of various things, not all fiction) for most of my adult life, and love to travel, learn new things, see new places, meet new people – and then weave some version of what I remember into my stories – yeah, I do that – but by the time I’ve dumped so many bits and pieces into the blender, then poured them out and stretched them like taffy, it’s only the essence of the real people or events that make it to the page. The rest is some kind of alchemy that I don’t even pretend to understand. I just accept it for the magic that it is.

What skill have you always wished you were amazing at, but haven’t had the time to learn?

I’ve always been curious about so many things – In college, I studied accounting, architecture, modern dance, and technical theatre (all the backstage/behind-the-scenes stuff), but I never made it into the horse training program at Findlay College, which would have been a lot of work, but also great fun. I’m a competent rider, but some of my characters are truly one with their horses in a way I’ll never be.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever researched for a writing project?

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to bid on a project with the National Center for Human Genome Research (now the National Human Genome Research Institute). Our small project was cancelled due to funding limitations before it got off the ground, but my interaction with the project team led me to further research in the Human Genome Project. Since I came to it with a science fiction author’s world view, my primary focus was “what if…?” Fact and fiction tumbled around in my head for some time as a result, and Brianna Rei, the genetically-engineered heroine of my 2011 novel “Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record” was the result. I’ve written a handful of short stories featuring Brianna Rei since then, and this year am launching a new series of short, interstellar heists and capers, called “The Misha Kif Chronicles” where Brianna, always on the run from the bounty hunters, has returned to her career as a master thief under the alias, Misha Kif.

“Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record” is available through all the major ebook retailers

“The Misha Kif Chronicles, Vol 1: Partners in Crime” is available exclusively as part of the Storybundle “Space Traveler” bundle through July 4, 2019 (www.storybundle.com/space), and will hit the major ebook retailers later this summer.

In all the books you’ve read/written/edited, what character has captured your imagination the most?

If I have to pick just one, it would be the Comte de Saint-Germain, the delicious vampire immortalized (pun intended!) by the amazing Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I’ve always loved well-researched historical novels, and Yarbro wound her meticulous research skills around a character based in part around the very secretive, real-life Count de St. Germain, creating an intelligent, charming, heroic vampire who I have always loved. Yarbro has written nearly thirty stand-alone novels about Saint- Germain the series over the past many years (I believe the first one came out in 1978), together with two spin-off series, and while the style is somewhat old-fashioned and reminiscent of historical and Regency novels, I am a true fan of Saint-Germain. Other vampires may come and go (or sparkle… why?) but I have always thought of Saint-Germain as the vampire whose acquaintance I have been most happy to have made.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

So many interesting things… so many stories!

I have this oddly-shaped, fist-sized blob of blown glass. Sometimes it’s on a bookshelf, right now it’s sitting on the corner of my desk. For the most part, it’s clear, but veins of red, the color of blood, wind through it and if you turn it this way or that in the light, it almost seems alive. I picked it up from a glassblower in Oregon, because it almost perfectly symbolizes a magical talisman I created in my very first (as-yet-unfinished) novel. One of these days, I’ll get back to that book; in the meantime, the heart of the talisman beats on…

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m usually working on multiple projects simultaneously, almost always in distinctly different genres. Right now, I’m deep into the first few volumes of “The Misha Kif Chronicles,” which I like to call “the t.v. series ‘Leverage’ in space.” On the other side of the desk are the books and outlines for a fantasy series-in-progress, which is loosely based on the Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe… but with magic. I’m in early stages with that one. And, of course, tucked in around the edges of my schedule are short stories – I’m a fan of the form, and love to explore new worlds and new ideas in short fiction whenever I can.

The enigmatic and mysterious Leigh Saunders

About Today’s Guest:

Leigh Saunders grew up as a “military brat.” And while she’s long-since settled in her Rocky Mountain home with her husband and a large fluffy cat, her life-long wanderlust regularly inspires her to write about the people and places that spark her imagination. When not writing speculative fiction for a living (her day job is writing computer software manuals), Leigh enjoys writing “practical magic” and  “social science fiction” – stories that focus on people (or “things” that are also people) in distant places, and how everyday magic, futuristic events, or advances in technology impact their lives. A 1993 Writers of the Future finalist, her recent short fiction can be found in multiple Fiction River anthologies, BundleRabbit short story collections, and more. She has won awards from the League of Utah Writers for both long and short fiction, and her short story, “Tendrils,” was listed on the 2018 Tangent Recommended Reading List. To learn more about Leigh and sign up for her occasional newsletter, visit her online at www.leighsaunders.com

Connect with Leigh

More about Leigh’s book – Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record

Tour guide, emissary, diplomat, thief — and a long-lived, genetically engineered Synth — Brianna Rei travels the Hundred Worlds, hiding in plain sight. She knows her survival depends on staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters who have nearly exterminated her kind.

All that changes when she teams up with fellow-thief, Jerrold McKell, and he discovers her true identity. Now Brianna must choose between trust and survival, and what it means to be truly human.

Excerpt from Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record, Chapter 1 (first page)

I have never analyzed the thought processes that caused me to spend my three hundred seventeenth birthday on Earth, in the relative obscurity of a noisy, dimly lit, backstreet bar in Old Milan, and I don’t intend to do so now.

For whatever reason, that’s where I was – dancing on the table with a couple of newly-met, long-lost loves, in a skimpy black silk jumpsuit that showed off a lot of leg and left little else to the imagination – when I first saw Jerrold.

Actually it was the Antarean I saw first.

There weren’t many aliens in the bar, and her short, bluish fur stood out in the crowd. It was Sisal. I knew her by reputation as a top fence, though I’d personally never had occasion to utilize her services.

She was sitting with two men, both human: one a roguish-looking sort with a rough-trimmed beard and long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck; and the second, a big, brawny Thug, who, from my vantage point, I could tell hadn’t quite checked all his weapons at the door.

Sisal’s fur was on end, her claws tapping a staccato rhythm on the small table around which the three of them sat.

That she was here, obviously negotiating a deal, I considered nothing short of serendipitous – the deal she was negotiating would be worth a lot of money, and I was between lifestyles at the time.

I was curious. I was more than a little drunk.

I wanted in on the action.

I jumped down off the table, much to the dismay of the long-losts, who called after me, begging me not to desert them. I laughed and waved them away, scooping up a couple of bottles off the bar as I made my way over to the table.

I dropped the bottles on the table between the Thug and Sisal, narrowly missing her paw, and leaned across the table to speak to the rogue, whom I would later come to know as Jerrold McKell.

“I feel very left out,” I said petulantly. “You didn’t even save me a chair.”

“You’re drunk,” he said.

I laughed. “You always have had a gift for understatement, my dear,” I said, flipping my hair back over my shoulder as I stood. It was long and black and rough-cut, as was the style on Riga at that time, with its thousands of tiny ends tipped in silver. “Of course I’m drunk. That’s the point of coming to a bar. Or at least, half the point.”

Find Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record on Amazon and other online book retailers.


Thank you Leigh for coming and joining me here on the blog, this was a wonderful interview! I’m excited to see the fruits of all the amazing projects you’re working on!


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Amazing Woman: Ada Lovelace

In this exciting world where everything from our cars to our toaster is run by a computer, it’s nice to pay homage to those who made these modern conveniences possible.

Next in the Amazing Women series, we learn about a woman who as been referred to as the ‘prophet of the computer age’, Ada Lovelace.

Charming and fiendishly intelligent, Ada Lovelace deserves attention.

Daughter of the esteemed poet Lord Byron and his mathematically inclined wife Annabella Milbanke, Augusta Ada Byron (1815-1852) was already fit for a fascinating life from the day she was born. Her mother insisted that in her studies with a private tutor she also learn mathematics, in the hopes that, get this, she not fall into her father’s moody and unpredictable attitudes. Don’t forget, in this time period learning anything that even hinted at applied sciences was most unusual for a woman.

Difference engine at the London Science Museum built from Babbage’s design.

In 1833, Ada met Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Babbage Engine – the first automatic computing machines also known as difference engines. These engines are used to tabulate polynomial functions.

Whoa, a little of my nerd popped right out there. Let me tuck that back in…

Long story short, she got to see one of these very early computing machines at the hands of Babbage himself in 1833 and it was magic. She was fascinated at the possibilities that such an engine could offer.

Still being a woman, marriage and motherhood interfered with her mathematical studies and she had to make do with studying about these mathematical engines in her spare time. (I totally understand the feeling – one of my darling children is calling me as I write this…)

One of these undertakings included translating an article on the Analytical Engine, in which she added extensive notes of her own. In fact, her notes were three times longer than the original article. The translation as well as her notes were published in 1843 in an English science journal under the initials A.A.L.

Within these notes is the very first description of a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems. For this, Ada is considered ‘the first programmer’ to have graced our world.

Her speculations and analytical thinking pushed the boundaries of mathematics beyond merely numbers and into the realm of manipulating ideas and concepts, such as music.

Ada died young, at age 36, of uterine cancer.

Next time you fiddle with your phone, thank Ada for giving rise to the idea of computer programming.

References:


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Head on over to Amazon.com to get yours today!

Fyrecon 2019

Summer is usually a dry spell for writing conferences in Utah, most tend to be in the spring or fall. There is one shining exception – Fyrecon, happening this weekend from June 20-22. Boldly proclaiming its independence from the norm, Fyrecon takes the standard writing conference plan and bumps it up a notch. Its motto “Burn Through Barriers” captures this feeling. There are classes for all flavors of creatives ranging from visual arts to fiber arts to table top RPG to gaming software design – all very cool.

Hey, I know her!

Even better, they let me come play! This year I’m teaching three classes:

  • The Art of Active Setting: Bring your stories to life through the principles of active setting, including the importance of sensory integration, character viewpoints, and how to anchor a scene.
  • Inside-Out Worldbuilding: Learn how to build a unique and engaging fantasy world using your main character as a guide.
  • Magic Systems 101: From Tolkien to Sanderson, a review of what makes good magic a great read and even better, how to build your own

And best yet – I get to play with some pretty cool friends on two different round table discussions:

  • Blood Basics for Beginners with Candace J. Thomas and Maxwell Alexander Drake
  • Muddling Through the Middle: What to do When You’ve Lost Your Map, with Maria V. Snyder, Eric Flint, and David Mark Brown

If you’re a creative in Utah, there’s lots of good stuff for you to find here at Fyrecon.

For more info, go check out their website.


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Power Word: Strive

Everyone knows there are goals worth working for. These goals are as unique as the person who sets them. They are what you spend your free time on, what you think about when you are drifting off to sleep, and what excites you when you hit milestones.

Striving to achieve these goals isn’t only important to overall well-being, it also brings intense satisfaction.

For me, I have plenty of goals I’m working toward as well as other areas where I want to excel. The most obvious is with my writing career. I want to achieve success as an author. Other things are equally important to me as well. At home, I want to be an awesome mom, a decent chef, have a beautiful yard, and keep an organized home. In my personal life, I’d love to learn character sketching and graphic design and take up karate once more.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

It all has to start somewhere. For me, the word strive means to work with a goal in mind. It means spending time learning, practicing, and applying new skills. It means stepping closer toward mastery. It means sacrificing free time and sleep.

Many people have this belief that someday they’ll find the time to do the things they’ve always dreamed about. It could be after their kids have left for college, after they retire, after they get their next bonus, or after they pay off a debt.

What usually happens is that they keep putting off their dreams until they no longer have time or energy to be able to live them – and that’s tragic.

Some dreams require significant investment, like traveling abroad. Some require huge amounts of time, like writing a book. Some require additional schooling, like getting certified to be a life coach. Every single one starts with a baby step in the right direction.

While there are many things I would love to dive into right now, I know what my time limitations are. I also know the power of small consistent effort over time.

For now, I’m striving to be a successful author by spending time everyday writing, editing, and producing my next books. I spend time every week communicating with other authors and learning and growing. I make time to attend conferences. Every page finished, every new skill honed, every effort brings me that much closer to my goal.

What are you striving for?

What dreams are you willing to take the first step in accomplishing?

Let’s discuss it all in the comments below!


If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.

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.

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