“In the Eyes of the Lore: The Village it Takes” Guest Post by Kaki Olsen

I promised I wouldn’t totally do away with guest interviews and featured posts – and here we are! Kaki Olsen is a friend and fellow author who loves sharing her knowledge and experience with other writers and quite possibly has the largest internal database of obscure literature of any one I know.

I was thrilled when she wanted to share something here on the blog with my readers. Enjoy!

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

In the Eyes of the Lore:  The Village It Takes

By Kaki Olsen

Happy October and welcome to my satellite installment of my literary analysis and book club, In the Eyes of the Lore.  If this intrigues you, you can also find more of the same on my author site:  www.kakiolsencreative.com.

It’s my favorite month to discuss spooky things ranging from the proper way to end a séance to the allegories of possession narratives.  I can bore you to tears or fascination with citations of an article on modern manifestations of fear that was coauthored by the author of Psycho.  I took a class on horror, science-fiction, and mystery writing in high school and have a lot to say on things that can make people feel deeply uncomfortable.

But, as you may know, that’s not the genre I’ve been published in.  I have written retellings of all but one of Tchaikovsky’s ballets, one astronaut drama, one dragon-smuggling android, one gardening romance and a lot of non-fiction.  That’s just based on what I’ve signed contracts for.  On my laptop are stories about secret societies made up of people with day jobs, a kingdom where fairy tales are regulated by law, and a 1920s murder mystery inspired by T.S. Eliot.

What I’d like to talk about today is how to write community-building.  This can apply to something as low-key as a family or as far-reaching as an entire nation.  I could even spread out to tell you how to invent an intergalactic system of politics, but I believe in working in closer quarters than that.

Let’s first talk about two of my favorite fictional communities:  Omelas and After the End Times.  You may not have familiarity with either unless you’re a Leguin fan or familiar with Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, but they’re rich in world-building for very different reasons. Spoiler warning because it’s nice to let you know I might tell you the ending in advance.

I remember reading Ursula K. Leguin’s “The Ones Who Walk away from Omelas” in Ms. Rodburg’s 9th grade English class. Ms. Rodburg was fond of shattering any idealism, so we also read stories like “The Nine Billion Names of God” (God commands humanity to know Him completely, then wipes them out for knowing him too well) and “The Star” (Jesuit priest discovers the remnants of a utopia that was destroyed in a supernova and is able to determine that the death of this society happened so there could be a Star of Bethlehem).  She’s incidentally the same teacher who taught me about horror writing. 

Omelas is a thriving community with festivals, pastimes, sophistication, and joie d’vivre.  The problem is that this utopia demands that one child be kept in the worst kind of squalor, neglect, and depravity.  Everyone in Omelas comes to know about this at one point or another and they are able to accept the sacrifice that makes their perfect lives possible or choose to abandon it.  The narrator admits to not knowing what happens to those people who choose to walk away from this horrifying perfection.

Contrast this with  After the End Times.  This is not a city or state or country, but as impersonal a forum as possible.  It is a company of bloggers across the world, most of whom will never meet each other in person.  This is largely due to the fact that, ever since the zombie apocalypse, travel has become something of an unnecessary risk.  People are terrified to venture out of their houses and one of my favorite sections of the first novel is when the narrator, Georgia Mason, goes to a political convention that is 7/8 shopping spree and 1/8 nomination of a presidential candidate.  It’s a place where people take advantage of being in public long enough to have a normal life and get Starbucks or buy a new car or check out the latest in self-defense technology.

Georgia and her brother Shawn have little sense of family.  They were orphans of the apocalypse adopted as a publicity stunt and have long outgrown their parents’ need to act like a family.  What they have in place of that is their website.  They are the main contributors to the highest-ranked reporting blog in a world where bloggers have replaced CNN and MSNBC because they are brave enough to still go into the world and confront the dangers.  Their beta bloggers and baby bloggers are something of an extended family, all under the jurisdiction of various trusted colleagues.  In a world where very little is up close and personal, the Masons’ community is the closest thing most of them has to intimate friendships.

When I talk at conferences about diversity in world-building, I bring up protected classes.  I ask about how the elderly, young, male, female, mentally sound, mentally challenged, physically fit, disabled, etc. are treated and regarded.  Then, when I have those answers, I ask what that says about the society.  In Omelas, we see that happiness is worth impersonal suffering.  In Newsflesh, we see that strangers can be more trusted than family.  The answers to these questions can also form the basis of a utopia or dystopia.

The project I’d like to feature today of my own writing is from the Iron Doves anthology.  This charity anthology was a collaboration of several authors in which all of the protagonists had to have three traits from a list of potentially marginalized people.  I wrote “Just One Chance” and made my protagonist a time-traveling android maiden.  Just when you think that’s unusual, she’s time-traveling to save a large number of people traveling to a new world from death and she does it by giving them a secret to keep.  If you were paying attention before, this is what my dragon-smuggling android refers to.

I based the entire society on the dynamics of a cruise ship to explain the setup, but then built the world around smaller-scale choices.  There is a culture among the stewards, but also a conspiracy of schoolchildren who hate being out of the loop.  There is a wide range of ways that adults respond to children having very inconvenient boundaries.  But the place where I have a soft spot for this society is that when the dragon hatches prematurely, the adults know that they will have to put her and her mother on a shuttlecraft or find a way to live with a fire-breathing monster the size of a pit bull in their midst.  They decide to let the children decide whether or not the dragon is a threat or another member of the already unconventional community.  The children, seeing no reason to judge a creature by the sins of its fathers, decide to treat it as one of their own.  The story ends before we ever find out what that means in the long run, but there are stories in the works that explore that as well.

About today’s featured guest:

Kaki Olsen is a Texan by birth, Bostonian by upbringing, and a world traveler these days.  She has been to twenty countries on five continents and her stories of pocket universes in Istanbul or pilgrim’s trails in Austria are as much fun to tell as the stories she writes.  She loves ballets, but is always rewriting them for modern audiences.  She is passionate about space exploration, but has been known to tweak the makeup of a colony ship.  Because she writes essays for fun, she has written on topics such as theologically debunking the zombie apocalypse and why poor characters make the best heroes.  She studied English at Brigham Young University and currently divides her time between a desk job at a law firm and being on the board of an arts non-profit.  She can be found at www.kakiolsencreative.com

Connect with Kaki:

About Iron Doves:

A set of short stories featuring female protagonist, dedicated to support those who have been in abusive situations and needed help. All proceeds will be donated to the Doves Program.

Find Iron Doves on Amazon!


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Learning by Going, by Caryn Larrinaga

Everyone loves a good ghost story and with October lurking just around the corner I thought it was a brilliant idea to bring on a friend who has mastered the art of spooky. Today I’m thrilled to share a wonderfully insightful article written by the talented and imaginative Caryn Larrinaga.

Learning by Going

by Caryn Larrinaga

Table of Contents for Fey Sidhe

Many years ago (don’t ask me how many; I’m in denial), I had to put together a notebook of poetry for my high school creative writing class. Looking back, I’m a little in awe of myself. Not because of the quality of my poems—they were exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a lovestruck sixteen-year-old to be writing—but because I had the balls to put my own work next to the likes of e.e. Cummings and Theodore Roethke… and an awful lot of lyrics from Delerium’s Poem album. Fitting, right?

Cover of Fey Sidhe

Much as my own poems and the choice to name the collection “Fey Sidhe” make me cringe a little bit (I was obsessed with elves and fairies… okay, fine! Am obsessed with them), this hand-bound notebook is my favorite souvenir of high school. Teenaged Caryn, though a terrible poet herself, had pretty decent taste, and some of the pieces I chose to include had a lasting impact on me, especially the opening stanza of Roethe’s “Waking.”

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

I learn by going where I have to go.

The Waking, by Theodore Roethke

I love those three lines, especially the last. I learn by going where I have to go. It’s similar to the “zen driving” idea Douglas Adams came up with in the Dirk Gently books (which I also love). The idea that we can have destinations in mind but not really know where we’re supposed to end up until we start taking the journey… it’s something that’s resonated with me as I’ve bumbled through my adult life, and especially as I’ve bumbled through my writing.

Some writers are super organized and plot their books thoroughly. I try to do that with everything I write. I chart out the beats, working backwards from the ending, and jot down a few sentences about what each scene needs to do for the story.

Then I start writing, and that’s when I really figure out where the story is going. Most of the time, I deviate from my plot a lot, especially in the meaty middle part of the book. With short stories, things weirdly go even more off the rails (you’d think fewer words would give me fewer opportunities to deviate from the plan, right?).

This combination of plotting and flying by the seat of your pants is lovingly referred to as “plotsing” in writerly circles, and for me, it makes the writing journey so much more fun. I don’t feel like any of the words I end up throwing away are wasted; they all gave me some much-needed experience and were opportunities to get to know myself a little bit better.

Writing, just like any art, is something you can’t get better at just by reading books and soaking up advice at conferences and conventions. In the end, you actually have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start making words. It’s one of those things you can only learn as you go, putting your fear of failure aside as you grow and improve.

So plot… or don’t. Make plans… or don’t. Either way, you’ll learn by going (and writing) where you have to go.

Don’t let that twinkle in her eye fool you, Caryn’s got some deliciously dark stories hiding inside her.

About today’s guest author:

Caryn Larrinaga is an award-winning mystery, horror, and urban fantasy writer. Her debut novel, Donn’s Hill, was awarded the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist.  

Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. Her 90-year-old house has a colorful history, and the creaking walls and narrow hallways send her running (never walking) up the stairs. Exploring her fears through writing makes Caryn feel a little less foolish for wanting a buddy to accompany her into the tool shed.

Caryn lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit www.carynlarrinaga.com to claim a free ebook and audiobook!

Connect with Caryn:

Be sure to check out the first book in the award-winning Soul Searchers Mysteries series, Donn’s Hill. I hear the sequel, Donn’s Shadow is due to come out the end of October – so much win!

About Donn’s Hill –

Mackenzie Clair needs a fresh start. The death of her father and a broken relationship rendered her old life unlivable. What better place to build a new one than Donn’s Hill, the most haunted town in America and her favorite childhood vacation spot?

But returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. As memories resurface, so does a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead… a power the poltergeist haunting Mac’s apartment is eager to use. 

Aided by her new roommate—a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker—and the ghost-hunting crew of the Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to control her newfound talents. She’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.

First in a new series, this cozy paranormal mystery was the 2017 winner of the League of Utah Writers Silver Quill award. “A genre-bending gem of a book, cozy meets horror meets cat fancier in a unique town of psychic tourism and ghostly secrets.” -Johnny Worthen, award winning author of THE FINGER TRAP, THE BRAND DEMAND and WHAT IMMORTAL HAND

Find Donn’s Hill, and Caryn’s other books, on Amazon!

Even better, if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can get this title for free!


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Interview with Irony Mitchell

Today’s author interview is brought to you by the mysterious and ever delightful Irony Mitchell, the letter Y, and a hot fudge sundae (because, why not?). While I know the secret identity of today’s guest, I’ve sworn a secret ice cream oath not to share. Let it be known that I’m a woman of my word.

Irony and I go back several years now, starting with my awkward childhood – no wait, that’s actual irony… Today’s guest and I go back several years and I’m thrilled to be able to get to know her alter ego better.

On to the interview!

We are thumbs up to go on this interview!
Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

First things first, a getting to know you question – What is the origin story of your unique name?

Thanks so much for interviewing me, I’m excited to virtually be here!

One of the most ironic things about this earth is that by going through all sorts of trials and enduring all sorts of wounds, we can come out stronger and better than we were before. To me, Irony is facing this soul-crushing world and finding hope, as well as the determination to smile and laugh your way through it. I don’t mean to sound flippant. When facing a personal apocalypse, I hope I can stare down the pain, square my shoulders, and boldly declare myself the victor. However, I also hope I’ll recognize the irony that is life and laugh my way to a happy ending.

What is your biggest dream and what are you doing to reach it?

How do you choose just one dream to the “biggest?” Writing wise, my biggest dream is to write something that touches someone’s life in some way. Whether that means they found an escape in reading my fiction or a connection with my non-fiction, I just want to be a source of positivity.

I think that’s why I am drawn to comedic writing. If I can put a smile or an eyeroll on your face, I’ve done my job.

Of all the different stories you’ve created, which one came from the weirdest idea, and what what it?

My Psychotic series came from not one, but two crazy ideas. First off, I wanted to write a story about a teenage girl who is the only one that can see the monsters that feed on her schoolmates. She sees invisible demons that are drawn to negative emotions, which are plentiful in her school.

Then, one day, I was having a conversation with someone about how intensely the smell of microwaved broccoli can hang on. At that moment, the tone of my psychotic series was born. I desperately wanted to write a story where I used the line “The monster hung on to me like the smell of microwaved broccoli, but I continued to fight.” So, I did. And now I make it a point to fill this series with as many crazy statements as I can. It’s one of the things I love most about these books.

If you could teach a new writer one thing, what would it be?

You will get rejections, from readers and agents alike, and that is OK. Even the most popular novels have haters, your book will be no different. Embrace the rejection and realize that it legitimizes you as an author. Getting to the point where people are able to judge your work means that you have made it through the trenches of un-finished novels. Congrats.

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 was writing a story in college that I ended up turning in to a short film for one of my university projects. In the story, one of the main settings was a dance hall. I made a sign for the dance hall that never made it in to the film because I was just messing around with how I wanted the logo to look. I did it on a scrap piece of huge cardstock, so it wasn’t anything special. But, somehow that logo ended up on my wall for years and I’ve carried it around with me. It reminds me of the first story that really pulled me in to the world of writing. Sometimes I think about that novel and wonder if I should revisit it . . .

But, since I rarely write in my writing space and just write wherever I feel like it, maybe I should say a bowl of ice cream? Creamy sugar spurs my creativity.

What’s next? What are you working on?

The latest installment of the Psychotic series (Psychotic: Embarrassed) just published this last week, and now I am working on the next (Psychotic: Revenge). Chariot, my main character, sees invisible monsters that feed on negative emotions. To make things even more awkward, she has a mega-crush on a boy that can see invisible angels. But, she isn’t the only girl at her school that has fallen head over heels for this guy. When the other girl brings a revenge demon into the school, will Chariot back down from her mega-crush or will she take a stand?

About today’s guest, Irony Mitchell

Mitchell spends a great deal of time exploring mythical worlds, telling groan-worthy jokes, and playing with the family’s imaginary golden retriever. As a child, Mitchell won a contest by writing a story that started with the main character throwing up. As an adult, Mitchell’s ideas haven’t gotten any better.

Mitchell believes that there should never be a rom without the com, and that clean comedy is one of the highest forms of art available to the human race.

Connect with Irony (Yes, I totally giggled at that too!)

Check out Irony’s Psychotic series starting with Psychotic: Not all monsters can be seen, here’s the blurb:

Seeing monsters doesn’t make you psychotic, does it?

For 16-year-old Chariot, seeing monsters is just another part of her high school experience. Unfortunately, no one else can see these demons that thrive on her classmates. It’s up to Chariot to help fight off the monsters. But, when no one else can see them, will she be branded: Psychotic?

Find it on Amazon today!


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Interview with Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Joining us today is one of my favorite indie press authors. Kathryn has taught at my local writing chapter meetings about the perks of being your own creative boss and also how to make the most of a small marketing budget. She’s made a name for herself in the Utah writing community and is amazingly friendly and generous with her time and talent.

On to the interview!

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Let’s kick things off with a getting to know you question. What are the three most unique things about you most people know, and one thing they don’t?

I love to read, take long walks on the beach, and enjoy interior decorating. One thing others may not know is that I just got hired on as a kindergarten teacher for American Preparatory Academy. I love children, but I never thought I’d be teaching. That goes to show you want a freelance writer can do at age 58!

How much of you ends up in your characters, are there certain traits that you tend to include?

That depends on the book. When I wrote “The Parables of Virginia Bean” – especially the first book in the series called, “Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones” much of my spiritual heart went into writing about the character. The journey she takes is much like my journey, and, from what I hear, many a reader relates to her story because it connects with their own.

Of the many books you’ve created, which one has been the most rewarding and why?

I have a new book coming out entitled, “Enlightened”. It’s a nonfiction book that speaks to scripture journaling and prayer. I have been on this particular journey for over 20 years and share my insights in connecting with God.

Tell us about your creative process. What does it take for you to create one of your books?

The creative process is always different. When I began “LightShade”, a science-fantasy for middle readers, it began as a prompt from my grandson. He wanted a ‘boy’ book, and previous to that time I’d only written the ‘girl’ variety. For this book, I had to do a little scientific research before beginning, and I found as I continued to write, that there were other opportunities to make the story real by doing even more research. I am usually a by the seat of my pants sort of writer or a “pantster”, but there are many times when I feel the need to research to make the plots I come up with plausible. With some research under my belt, I head forward, allowing the characters to sort of introduce themselves to me. I usually have a pretty good idea of the main character, but the others come as I write, sort of like a visit from new friends.

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?

The most interesting thing in my writing space is a cup with the words, “I Write, What’s Your Super Power?” We all have a superpower! It may be writing. And it might even be teaching kindergarten. I guess I’ll find out 😊

What’s next? What are you working on?

“Enlightened: My Personal Journey with Christ Through Scripture Journaling” will be released in September. The second book in The Space Adventures of Aaden Prescott series, “LightDescending”, will be out in the fall of this year. I also have a third book in the Brianne James Mystery series, “Slipped Up,” coming out next year. With my now extra busy schedule, these books should keep me ahead of the game until I get to another new book during the summer. Still wondering what that will be.

About today’s guest:

Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.

Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn’t something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.

Kathryn’s first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.

Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.

Connect with Kathryn:

Did you know Kathryn can help you fulfill your dream of being published? If you’d like to know more, be sure to head over to her business website at: Ideacreationspress.com!

Excerpt from LightShade

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard E. Cohen

Beginning of the End

You’ll probably hate me but I don’t care. Most people on Earth hate me already, and if you’re reading this book you are one of the few who escaped. Wait, that can’t be right. I wrote this book long after the Earth was hit.

But I’m getting a head of myself.

It all started with the newscast. I don’t usually listen to the news, but there it was that day like fire. My Mom was making dinner and I was playing with Lego’s. If you remember how Lego’s used to be, you’ll be surprised that I heard anything, but that day, that day I’ll never forget, we were told the horrifying truth.

Mercury was on its way to Earth. Not to visit, if you get my drift, but to crash land. At first, I laughed it off, but then I remembered it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. It was August 1. It was hotter outside than the heater running, or fire lighting up a swimming pool.  If I told you I wasn’t scared, I’d be lying.

Mom hadn’t heard it. But I blinked at the projected flat screen in shock. Sure enough, the words repeated themselves. “Prepare yourselves” the man said. He had fake hair on the top of his head to look real and a frown on his face that was so wide I knew that if he could be tipped upside down, the smile I’d get would be as big as anyone would give if they’d received what they wanted for Christmas.

Except – this wasn’t Christmas. It felt like the stuff I’d learned in Sunday school about the Earth ending and the apocalypse. Except, it wasn’t that, was it?

I dropped the Lego I was holding. It was green. I still remember the color because of what happened afterwards. If you don’t believe in little green men, you should.  And you should believe in UFOs, patches in the grass in the shape of circles, and the movie ET.

But I’m forgetting already.

My Mom looked at me in shock. “What?” she asked, even though I’d told her the truth as calmly as possible. My hands were shaking, but I hid them in my jean pockets so she wouldn’t know the complete truth.

Some things are better for a mom not to know.

So, I told her again.

She laughed.

I got mad.

She laughed harder. And then she looked into my eyes. Really looked, you know the way moms do when they think their boy has messed up or told a lie to their brother. I don’t have a brother, but I know these things.

She said, “Really, Aaden.”

I’d been told about my ‘imagination’ since the time I knew what people were saying. And I knew something else; something so terrible, that, up until that night and the newscast, I thought was the most horrifying thing I would ever hear.

“Aaden… really. What fire are you going to start now?”

I’d been told about the meaning of my name for years, and now that I was ten, I was beyond tired of hearing it. I suppose you want to know what it means, as if you really care, but maybe it will be of some interest to you after you hear what the newscaster told us next. For, after I got Mom to leave the kitchen and come into the living room – which took some effort I can tell you – she stood with her mouth open, as if I’d told her I was going to leave home or something.

But then again, we were all going to have to leave home – and soon – or we’d be scorched.

So, here it is. Two years ago, when I was bored and really had to know the truth for myself, I went to Mom’s computer, and put in the spoken password I wasn’t supposed to know.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. “Someone like fire,” the computer said.

I looked into my Mom’s eyes now, and the television was still blaring the news of Mercury. We had only two weeks to find safety.

Find this and all of Kathryn’s books on Amazon.

Do you love audiobooks? Kathryn has tons of them! Go find out more on Audible.


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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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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“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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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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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!

***

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


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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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