Interview with Scott E. Tarbet

One of the first friends I made in the writing and authoring world was Scott E. Tarbet. He and I were both in the Toll of Another Bell fantasy anthology through Xchyler Publishing and both local Utah authors – and we were also in the same chapter of League of Utah Writers for several years. So it goes without saying that we go back a while.

I was thrilled when Scott agreed to an interview because I know he’s led quite the interesting life. From adventuring abroad, to creating gripping stories, Scott’s got a little of everything.

On to the interview!

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

The best place to start is a question to get to know you better. Tell us a little about yourself, including the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a dare.

I have bombed straight down icy double black diamonds, free-climbed vertical cliffs, free-dived to fifty feet to take a ten-pound lobster away from a moray eel. I have charged into burning buildings and torn apart burning vehicles, run marathons, survived being marooned on a deserted seacoast. I have peered down into the glowing containment pool of a nuclear generating station and been stranded without light deep in a limestone cave rapidly filling with water. I have been attacked and robbed at gunpoint, faced down assault weapon wielding Mexican Federales while armed with nothing but righteous zeal and the chutzpa of youth. I have launched three businesses and have failed at two. AND I have published my literary offspring out into the cold, cruel world. In short, I don’t wait for someone to challenge me to perpetrate a craziness. I just do it.

As a creative person, what are your three greatest strengths?

  1. Fearlessness. (See above.)
  2. Craft. I have always been a storyteller, since before I could read or write. I love to read and re-read the literary masters and masterpieces, in every storytelling genre, taking careful note of how they make their stories come alive. In short, I am a student of the craft. Someday I hope to achieve mastery. If I write out every novel in my current writer’s notebook, I should accomplish that sometime before I’m a hundred and twenty.
  3. Love. My characters are my children and my friends. I truly believe no artist can adequately represent something they do not understand at a profound, granular level. Those who try are instantly revealed as frauds to the discerning reader or viewer. And that understanding usually shines through as unmistakable love. Or its polar opposite.

Of all the different projects you’ve worked on, either with the opera, writing, or one of your other many interesting pursuits, what experience has changed you the most?

No other experience has shaken me as profoundly as standing onstage as Otto Frank, father of Ann, at the opening of “The Diary of Ann Frank.” A representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had just finished an hour-long multi-media presentation on the Holocaust. The images of the death camps were so burned into my soul that I had a difficult time even drawing breath.

At the opening curtain, Otto reenters the family’s attic grotto hiding place after surviving the Nazi death camps and the extermination of his family and friends. As he enters the empty stage a bell slowly tolls six times, once for each of the million Jews killed in the Holocaust. I felt each toll pound through my own brain as if I were being struck a felling blow. I, and a good share of the audience, wept like heartbroken children as the seconds stretched into minutes. I hope never to be so affected again by another piece of art.

In your most recent novel release, Dragon Moon, who was your favorite character and what part of writing it was your biggest challenge?

Dragon Moon was a high concept: the U.S. abandoning the capability to reach the moon and Communist China publicly announcing their intention to turn it into a military base can only turn out badly, right? I believed in the premise. I still believe in it. It’s happening before our eyes.

Bringing that story to life meant creating two main characters that I truly loved, into whom I poured every good impulse that I could imagine. One was a reluctant Chinese-American Air Force intelligence officer, Mu Guiying, manipulated into a world of violence and intrigue she never wanted. The other was a star-gazing teenage boy, Mason Young, obsessed with saving the world by finding and stopping the next extinction-level asteroid. Together they represent so much of the ideal for me that I dedicated the novel “To those who look up and out, and to those who guard their backs while they do it.”

The biggest challenge of writing the book was being humble enough to give up a character whom I really loved to despise, who was Mason’s girlfriend in the first draft. She was deliciously self-centered and snarky in a delightfully Mean Girls sort of way, but my editor pointed out that she was taking up a lot of word count that more rightly went into developing the other threads of the story. But she’ll always have a special place in my “characters I love to hate” pantheon.

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?

My great-grandfather Enoch Cornia’s missionary hymnal, no bigger than the palm of my hand, dated from his mission in 1891. It really should be in a shadow box. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do that next . . . month . . . maybe . . .

What’s next? What are you working on?

I always work on multiples at the same time. I literally have three documents open at any given time. If I start to slow down on one, meaning that I have to give it some more thought before proceeding, I switch to another. While I dump out the stuff that is already thought through in another piece, the first one marinades. Then I jump back to it. I’m actually more productive doing it that way rather than staring at the screen while my brain chews like a puppy with a new slipper.

So the next things are:

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk 2: Perils of Pauline. The genius young artificer heroine of the first book is after her new replacement legs, but a meddlesome time traveler has other ideas of where—and when—she should go next. Changing history once is not enough.
  2. Battles of the Stripling Warriors. The iconic young warriors, the Sons of Helaman from the Book of Mormon, return in the second in the series that began with Rise of the Stripling Warriors, which I hope against hope will get out of editing and onto the shelves before the end of 2019.
  3. The Thousand. (working title) A self-aware .2c starship is on a mission thousands of years in duration, to reach thirteen new worlds and choose the right candidates from among the 1,000 best and brightest minds, the cream of humanity that were digitally stored when the race was extinguished. Brigham, the ship’s cantankerous AI, will print them strong young bodies, implant their memories, seed the new colony, and move on. But as Brigham approaches the thirteenth and final planet, s/he has made a discovery that will change the mission, and the fate of the human race, forever.
From great books to amazing Texas style BBQ, Scott Tarbet really can do it all.

About today’s guest –

Scott Tarbet’s speculative fiction stories have garnered multiple awards, critical acclaim, and entertain a burgeoning fanbase. He writes in several genres, including Steampunk, fantasy, paranormal, techno-thriller, and historical fiction.

When he is not submerged in one of his created worlds, which he finds nearly as fascinating as the real one, he sings opera professionally and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of authentic Texas-style barbeque. He was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves Steampunk and cosplay conventions of all flavors. He makes his home in the mountains of Utah.

Follow his writing adventures:

About Scott’s book Dragon Moon –

A new space race explodes into violence when China quietly sets its sights on the Moon. Now, an unlikely team of US Navy SEALs, Russian Spetsnaz, and a Chinese-American agent have one chance to stop the activation of China’s powerful new weapon before all hope is lost. The cost of failure: worldwide Chinese empire.

Find it on Amazon!


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Book Review: When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne

In honor of the passing of Toni Morrison, I felt it appropriate to pay her tribute by reviewing a book of poetry that has been influential to many. I know it’s not one of hers, to lend my uneducated opinion on her poetry feels like a disservice. Her writing is evocative and deep and would require more time than I have to really dig deep and give it the attention it deserves. Instead, I chose something recently recommended to me.

I asked Candace, my fellow author buddy, what her favorite book was and she told me When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I had to pick it up and give it a go. It’s a little thing, easily enjoyed in an hour or two. I read poem at a time while waiting at orthodontic appointments and cowering in the shade while hanging out with my kids at parks.

It really is a lovely collection of ideas drawing the reader back to a simpler time when a kitchen chair was a cage for a lion and a tubby bellied bear felt bad about his roundness until he met a handsome and equally tubby prince.

I also loved the freedom of using words for their rhythm and repetition and not being tied down to grammatical standards. After writing prose for so long, it’s a nice change to see it done differently. A. A. Milne does a wonderful job using repetition to create a sing-song quality to his verses which would make it fun to read these aloud to children.

I’m told this is the first appearance of Winnie the Pooh’s character, although at this point he is only referred to as the tubby bear. Christopher Robin pokes his head in as well. The first Winnie the Pooh book wasn’t published until two years after this book had been out.

For me, I’ve been working on developing more lyricism in my prose. One of the things that can help is reading more poetry and piecing together the parts that draw my attention. I think I’ll be playing with a few new ideas this week. I’m looking forward to it.

Perhaps I should find another poetry book…

If you enjoy simple lovely poetry, you’ll enjoy When We Were Very Young. If you’ve been meaning to read more poetry and don’t know where to start, or don’t like complicated themes, this is a good pick for you as well.

However, if you were hoping for profound truths about life the world and everything and want the poem itself to do the heavy lifting, these won’t do that. That is, unless you choose to apply lots of your own logic and theories, then perhaps they will. I won’t judge.


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!

“A Love Letter to the Creative Process” by Tara C. Allred

Back at the beginning of summer I attended a fun library kick off program put on by the wonderful people of the Tremonton Library. Tremonton is a small town with a huge heart and it shows in the kindness and friendship of the families who came to enjoy the event. Tara and I shared an author signing table where we chatted and shared our writing journeys with each other.

We had such a great time that I knew she would be a wonderful choice to share something with the readers here on my blog.

Enjoy!

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

A Love Letter to the Creative Process

When Jodi invited me to be a guest on her site, she suggested some options, like sharing an article about creativity, and then she added, “Like a love letter to the creative process.” That phrase grabbed me. I jotted it down and whether Jodi meant for me to take the phrase literally or not, in the end I did. This is my love letter to the creative process. Thanks, Jodi, for this perspective. I enjoyed connecting with my writing in this way.

Dear Muse,

I’ve been away for a bit, but I miss you. A lot.

You’ve been a friend.

At times a very good friend, at other times a nuisance, but beloved friend.

In our younger days, you would wake me in my sleep. 4 am. 3 am. 2 am. Whatever it took. Beckoning me to flip on a desk lamp, grab a notepad or fire up the laptop, and let the words pour out as fast as they could fly. Special early mornings, tender late nights, just you and me, pouring over words, finding magic swirling around us, dancing with us, seeping into a reality that belonged in another time and place but had invited us in. Together, we heard the protagonist speak, the conflict grow, the setting materialize. Characters exposed motives. Story took on movement. Action unfolded.

My little office space, or dining room table, or soft sofa radiated with life. Rich purpose swirled around me. Carols of eager joy pulsed through my veins. I miss that. I miss you.

From age five, when I learned that books came from people, I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted to be first in line when you were ready to share a story. I wanted to hear it first, watch its plot unfold around me, taste the life of characters, of this other realm through you.

You indulged me. By fifth grade, when my child-authored book bulked out in pages, refusing to be restrained by the comb binding that the other students’ dozen pages fit so nicely within, others saw the passion inside me too. I told them I would be an author someday. They believed me. You believed me. You granted me courage to fight the fight to do this. To work, hard, harder than my youthful wishes understood.

I fought, I worked, I learned, I lost, I found, I rejoiced, I sorrowed, I won, I published. I found readers, I found a voice, I found purpose swirling furiously within me. With a deep hunger, I wanted to share with others the wonders from you and your stories.

Dear Muse, where did it go? Life came. Responsibilities. Other jobs. Competing professions. Success in other ways. Better financial rewards. Other purpose. Other rewards. Reality. Harsh. Cruel. Critics. Disappointment. A changing industry. No longer fun. Losing the passion. Losing me.

How do we reunite again?

Do you find me? Do you call me up again in the middle of the night and see if I will come play again?

Do I find you? Do I pound at the keyboard, over and over again, searching for you in the words, trying to see where your shadow might be?

And if we find each other again, will the magic return? Like first love, the youthful innocence that turns the passion into an addiction? Where I think of you ever waking moment? Where I hunger to be with you again?

Or, is it now mature love? More of a tempered wisdom, a comfortable friend, one who knows me so well, and I too have come to better understand you? Where we can be together, and know how the day will go. The highs, the lows, my weaknesses, our combined limitations. Yet, there would also be our love. Our deepening love, an acceptance of continuous change, of growth, of becoming.

Could we unite again? Embark on a journey together once more? If I left my fears of a final destination, and turned my focus on the present moments of creating, would you come?

I want those moments again. When in the stillness of the world around me, you allow me to see and pen a scene that is untouched by another. Those initial gasps of wonder. The first awe of beauty. A moment with you, when I see something so remarkable about human nature to be shared in a way that only fiction provides. Then eagerness comes, followed by anticipation. The hope burning inside me of a reader someday, curled up in bed, or on the couch, or during a paused moment of a vacation, and we will connect. That breathless moment when fiction speaks to a soul, when reader, writer, and you, connect together. A touch with humanity.

I want that moment again!

In its purest form. In all it’s beauty. Without the thorns of the world, just you, me, and a reader, together again, learning together, rejoicing together, crying together, loving together, being better people together.

It’s time to find you again, dear friend.

I look forward to our reunion.

Much deep appreciation and love,

Tara

About today’s featured guest:

TARA C. ALLRED is an award-winning author, instructional designer, and educator. She has been recognized as a California Scholar of the Arts for Creative Writing and is a recipient of the Howey Awards for Best Adult Book and Best Adult Author. She lives in Utah with her husband.

Her published works include Sanders’ Starfish, UnAuthored Letters, Helping Helper and The Other Side of Quiet, a Kindle Book Award Finalist and Whitney Award Winner. 

Connect with Tara:

Special offer!

Sign up for Tara C. Allred’s newsletter and receive SANDERS’ STARFISH, the first book in the John Sanders series for free. Then follow it up with the award-winning UNAUTHORED LETTERS, the second book in the series.

About Sanders’ Starfish:

Dr. John Sanders is about to begin his career as a clinical psychologist. Full of optimism, he believes he can make a difference and is eager to provide hope to a group the world has deemed hopeless. Yet in John’s quest to offer those in his care a second chance, he embarks on his own journey of self-discovery. In his search, clear answers become scrambled confusion while the unimaginable truth is trapped in a complex web.

About UnAuthored Letters:

“Allred shows excellent insight into the psychological interactions of her characters in this gripping mystery of greed and redemption.” – ForeWord Clarion Reviews

Dr. John Sanders has given Rebecca Brownell a new chance at life. After an isolated childhood, an abused adolescence, and an institutionalized existence, Rebecca is finally free to conquer her demons and build a promising life.

However, just as it appears Rebecca has achieved her dreams, eerily personal letters begin arriving in the mail. Letters sent from an unidentified source who knows far more about her past than anyone should. Letters which question and threaten Rebecca’s sanity.

UnAuthored Letters is the inspiring tale of a woman’s troubled past, a man’s quest to protect her, and their fight against a mysterious foe. It’s a story of trust strained by illness, love tried by lies, and promises terrorized by illusive danger.

Winner of the Howeys 2014 Best Adult Book & 2014 Best Adult Author
Winner of The Blot Writing Contest


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Interview with Aaron Cance

Sometimes happy accidents are the best ones. I needed a friendly bookstore that would help me with an author event. Having a small hoard of authors to ask opinions from, the overwhelming reply was that I had to get to know today’s guest, Aaron Cance, owner of the Printed Garden in Sandy, and all around awesome guy.

In fact, Aaron and I got on so well, I held my book release party in his store and we’ve buddied up at various events ever since.

I’d love to introduce all my lovely readers to him. On to the interview!

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

First things first, let’s start with a getting to know you question. Share a bit about yourself, including the two things you’d bring to a deserted island.

The easiest way to answer this will be to tie the two parts of the question together. With the exception of about fifteen years of my life that I was lucky to get out of alive, I’ve mostly been pretty introverted so I would probably take a couple books along with me.  They would have to be books that I’d want to spend a whole lot of time with. One would be my Holy Bible and the other would have to be something like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man or Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.  Books that defy a single read and must be reread and reread and untangled over time.

Those who know you, know of your passion for books and supporting local authors. What was the defining moment when you decided to own your own bookstore? 

Most of my life has revolved around books and reading.  Even when I was very young, we didn’t have very much money and not a whole lot of furniture, but there were always books in the house.  Outside of school, I started with a healthy addiction to comic books that transitioned right into the limited pool of young adult books that were available in the 1970s and then right into science fiction and horror.  Then a period of not reading very much for a while.  Simply put, after a while I realized that my life had some empty corners, that something really satisfying and meaningful was missing.  I eventually realized that it was the pleasure that I took from reading so pledged to start building a library for myself.

Then school.  That sense of something missing led to the realization that if I didn’t want to work on factory floors or in distribution centers my entire life, that I’d better go back to college.  I could chase a degree that would allow me to read for occupation, as well as for pleasure in the evenings.  This also led to my first bookstore job in 1996, and I’ve never done any other type of work since.  After working for Crossroad Books in Wisconsin, I started my own online business brokering the sale of rare and signed books, and did pretty well with that.  Eventually we moved to Utah for graduate school and I worked for Barnes and Noble, Ken Sanders Rare Books, and The King’s English.  I think it was at The King’s English that the seed to open my own shop germinated.  I was trying, for quite a while, to work my way into a management position there but hit a certain point where I realized that it wasn’t going to happen, so started plotting my own store, which was the logical alternative.

Of all the books you’ve encountered, what’s the one that impacted you the most?

I can probably trace different formative events in my life back to books.  I think the one that had the single most profound impact on me, an impact that has lasted to this very day, was Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  I wont try to unpack all the reasons that Ellison had for writing it here, but it affected me on a number of different levels.  First and foremost, it’s a novel about the voyage of self-discovery.  I think a lot of people are not happy in life because they’re either not happy with who they are or they don’t know who they are or want to be.  Invisible Man plumbs the depths of these questions pretty seriously, including going so far as to consider what your place in and relationship to history is or will be.  It was a novel about black identity, but is, in the most basic sense, just a novel about identity in general.  On a mechanical level, it had a profound influence on the way I both appreciate writing and on how I write myself.  Ellison was a master word-smith.  It’s not an easy book, but I honestly think that anyone who’s serious about writing (in any genre) would do themselves an enormous service by working through Invisible Man.  Ellison was concerned with his narrative, but also with the way that words sounded together on the page, the way the worked together, the musicality and rhythm of language.  He was making music – but he was doing it with the written word.

Many might not know this about you, but you’re also working on writing a book. What can you tell us about it?

Right now, I’m finishing up what I think will be the last round of revision work on my second novel.  I’m pretty excited about it because my first took just over ten years and I think that it’s pretty much unpublishable.  I’m really proud of it, but having been in the book industry as long as I have, don’t really know that there’s a market for it.  The one that I’m finishing up now is much more straightforward, and just a terrific story with, i feel, really strong commercial potential.  As soon as I put the finishing touches on it, I’ll be looking about for an agent for it.  I have a couple leads, but those can come and go pretty quickly, so I’m probably looking at about another 6 months of finding a good agent.  If nothing happens with it within a year’s time of what I’d consider it’s completion, I’ll probably publish and market it myself because that a considerably more viable means of publication today than it ever has been before.

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 hope this doesn’t sound like a cop-out answer, but my answer to this would be music.  I don’t really have sculptures, posters, luck-items, or anything like that around when I’m writing.  Like other writers, I’m heavily influenced by other writers, but don’t really have an inspirational object at my desk.  What I do use, however, is music.  Most every word I’ve ever written, whether part of one of the two novels, a short story, a poem, or an essay, was written to music.  In the back of my head I want my prose to play like music.  Not in a campy ‘it’s perfect as a song’ type of way, but I want it to have emotional impact, and rhythm and tone.  I always write to music that is similar in tone and emotional impact to the work on the screen in front of me.  It helps keep me in the game.

What’s next? What are you working on?

Right now I’m working on a short piece of horror fiction called “A Man of the Cloth.”  It’s  a three tiered short story in which my main character has three terrifying life experiences that come to be interconnected and exist structurally in the story like a Russian nesting doll.  I’ve also put down 6,000 words of a realistic fiction that’s written for a YA audience.  In a market that’s still hungry for YA fantasy and science fiction, I’m not really sure what’ll happen with this story, but it’s the next story that wants to come out.  So I’ll write it now and figure out what to do with it later.

Meet Aaron, the friendliest bookstore owner I know!

About today’s guest:

Aaron Cance holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and a M.A. in British and American Literature from the University of Utah.  His essays and reviews have appeared in Fiction Writers Review and 15 Bytes: A Utah Arts Journal, and a few of his poems have been published by Southern Minnesota State University’s Bare Root Review.  Some of his  poetry was collected for the chap book Nocturnal.  He has been selling books to people since 1996 and is the owner of The Printed Garden, Booksellers in Sandy’s historic Union Square.  He lives in Holladay with his wife, daughter, and two very eccentric cats.

Connect with Aaron:


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Amazing Woman: Desdemona Stott Beeson

In Utah, the 24th of July marks a time of celebrating the state’s unique history. Which means, it’s a perfect week to celebrate one of Utah’s most interesting women, Desdemona Stott Beeson.

photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

Desdemona was born in Eureka, one of Utah’s many silver mining towns, in 1897. During a time when men’s and women’s roles were very polarized, Desdemona wanted nothing more than to be a part of the mining industry, and not just as a cook or boardinghouse keeper, as most women around the mining industry tended to be, no sir. She wanted to explore the mines themselves and see the veins of silver.

Panorama of the Tintic District at EurekaJuab County, Utah.

Growing up in a mining town, most of her male relatives were involved in silver mining. She would tag along with them whenever she could, riding mine elevators deep down into the earth and watching the men hammer away.

After high school, she wanted to study engineering and geology at the University of Utah. Remember, this was around 1916. Her parents managed to talk her out of it and she ended up studying the less male dominated degree of psychology. When she graduated, she moved to another silver mining town, Alta, where she met her husband – the Stanford-educated Joseph Beeson. Soon after their marriage they discovered a large ore body in the Emma Mine and together they managed the mine until it went bankrupt.

The outbreak of the First World War meant opportunity. Joseph went to Europe as an engineer and Desdemona made her way to Stanford to finally pursue her studies in engineering and geology. It was an uphill battle to maintain respect among the faculty and staff and thankfully she was up for the fight.

Mine Shaft Bldg From W. – Silver King Mining Company, Mineshaft & Main Hoist, Woodside Gulch, Park City, Summit County, Utah

With her credentials securely tucked under her belt she proceeded to join her husband to manage an independent mining venture in Bingham, Utah. When Joseph was away on geologic consulting, she managed the day to day operations of the mine, including correcting and firing men who couldn’t use safe and proper procedures.

Throughout her life she traveled with her family from mine to mine, facing discrimination to do the thing she loved, and doing it anyway.

From my back porch I can see the terraced hills of the famous Kennecott Copper Mine in Bingham Canyon and am thrilled that a woman full of grit and determination made a difference in Utah’s mining history.

Resources


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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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