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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Interview with Leigh Saunders

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

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

On to the interview!

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many interesting things… so many stories!

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

What’s next? What are you working on?

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

The enigmatic and mysterious Leigh Saunders

About Today’s Guest:

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

Connect with Leigh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually it was the Antarean I saw first.

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted in on the action.

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

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

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

“You’re drunk,” he said.

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

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


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


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 B.A. Simmons

Last weekend the amazing Tremonton library held their annual Summer Reading Kickoff party; an outdoor extravaganza with games, food, firetrucks, a chalk fight, and an amazing community turnout. Ben and I were almost author table buddies and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview him while I was there.

Come sail with us on a new journey!
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Onto the interview!

What are two things most people know about you and two things most people don’t? 

Two things most people know about me: – I am a jr. high English and social studies teacher – I have a collection of swords.

Two things most people don’t know about me: – I have six kids (hers, mine and ours family) with ages ranging from 21 to 2. – I grew up on a medieval living history farm. 

If you had a warning label, what would it say?

Just because I don’t say anything, doesn’t mean I’m not silently correcting your grammar.

Tell us about your Archipelago Series and even better, what inspired you to write seafaring science fiction?

The Planet Archipelago is a fictional world of islands and seas; there are no continents. It is home to four sentient races; humans being one of these, are the most recent to arrive to the planet. The humans on Archipelago are the descendants of a failed colony. Their ancestors came in spaceships with advanced technology, however they were cut off from Earth and the rest of humanity and because the planet is full of dangerous, hungry creatures, they found it necessary to regress to a more sustainable, medieval technology level.

It’s been hundreds of years since the first humans arrived and humans have spread across thousands of islands. Earth for them has become a myth, a religious legend. On one of these islands, a young man named Rob Engleman is curious about the world he lives on. His mentor, Doctor Morris, tells him all he can about the planet, but the conservative small-island community they live in forbids him from encouraging youngsters like Rob to explore. It’s just too dangerous. When an abandoned boat comes to the island, Rob sees this as his one chance to get away and begin the exploration he’s always dreamed of. Together with his older brother, cousins and some new friends, he sets off on a danger-filled journey of discovery where he learns about the lost history of his own people as well as that of the planet itself.

But there are more dangers on the planet than just the wildlife. A faction of humans called the Falcon Empire is the warpath, looking to conquer all the islands of Archipelago in the name of humanity and Rob’s home is next on their list of conquests. Rob must decide whether to stay and defend his home or continue his explorations of this strange and fascinating world. 

What’s the most important lesson your main character has learned so far?

Now, three books into the series, Rob has learned that true friendship and loyalty are just as important, as knowledge. 

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 a small house, therefore my writing space is a corner of the dining table. I suppose the most interesting thing is the space itself. When I decided to take my writing seriously and publish my work, my wife agreed to support me on condition that I not neglect our family. Being at the dining table rather than cloistered in a back room ensures that I can’t ignore her or our children. It also has a great view of our yard, which is a constant reminder of my duties as a homeowner. 

What’s next? What are you working on?

My current WIP is the fourth installment in the Archipelago series. I’ve taken time here and there to write short stories, most of which are set on Planet Archipelago as well as develop other ideas unrelated to this series. I’m determined to finish this series (five books in all by the end of 2020. After that, I’ve outlined three other novels, but we’ll see which takes my priority when I come to that place. 


Sneak Peek into the Archipelago Series –

“Keep back,” Tyler shouted. “You’re interfering with an arrest!”

“Why are you arresting them? What have they done?” Mark asked.

He had an arrow nocked on his bowstring but hadn’t raised it. Tom and Pete followed suit, trying to be as non-threatening as possible.

“They’re thieves! Now back away or we’ll arrest you also.”

“Sir, I can assure you they are no thieves. They’re part of my crew and we’ve done nothing illegal,” Mark said as he slowly stepped closer.

“You take another step and I’ll gut this boy here and now,” Tyler threatened. He moved the point of the sword to Edwin’s abdomen and pressed there.

Mark paused. He looked at Edwin wincing as the point of the sword broke the skin and a small bloodstain formed on his tunic. He looked at Anna who had exhausted herself trying to break free of the deputy’s grip and now stood with her arms wrenched behind her back.

“Sir, whatever you think they’ve stolen, we will compensate you for.”

“I doubt you could. These were … rare and valuable items,” Tyler said. “So I suggest you give us no trouble as we take these thieves to the jail and you can visit them there until after their trial.”

“What happens after their trial?” Pete asked.

“When they’re found guilty, they’ll be executed. We don’t believe in long prison sentences here.”

There was silence. Each side-eyed the other, waiting for one of them to make a move. It was into this standoff that a new figure emerged from behind the nearest house. Rob ran out into the road and struck the deputy that held Anna with his bronze axe.


The ultimate nice guy, B.A. Simmons

About today’s guest –

B.A. Simmons grew up roaming the mountains of the western United States. He still finds time to explore and run the trails. He started writing when only 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His love of science fiction is only rivaled by his love of history, or his love of family.

He attended Utah State University where he graduated with a degree in English Education in 2011. He teaches junior high school English and social studies. He is a self-professed sesquipedalian ludditish renaissance man.

He currently resides in Ogden, Utah with his amazing wife and kids, two dogs, a cat and myriad of imaginary worlds.

Connect with B.A. Simmons

Check out B.A. Simmons’s books!

Book 1: The Voyage of the Entdecker

Book 2: The Hellhound Consortium

Book 3: The Perils of Archipelago


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 C Michelle Jefferies

Creatives attract other creatives like the last cheerios in a bowl of milk. Today’s creative, C. Michelle Jefferies, redefines what it means to incorporate creativity into her own life by pursuing everything that sparks her interest – from writing assassin fiction to hand dying meditation wraps.

Michelle and I met at a writing retreat years ago and became fast friends over talk of yoga and the best ways to kill people in fiction. While we don’t see each other often, it’s a real treat to spend time together. Nowadays, we tend to cross paths while teaching at different writing conferences.

Michelle’s dream – Owning a creative space with room for all her creative outlets and yoga. (Photo by Dmitry Kotov on Unsplash)

On to the interview!

First, a getting to know you question. If you had one million dollars and 24 hours to enjoy it, what would you do with it? (and why?)

I would buy a piece of land, with lots of room for gardens, trees and a pond to do paddle board yoga in. And hire someone to build my dream house, with a dye/workroom and retreat space for people to come and do conferences and retreats. I would love a place that I could dye and make stuff in that could be cleaned with a hose and mop. Instead of my kitchen. 🙂

You are perhaps one of the most chaotically creative people I’ve ever met. What are three creative things you do that most people don’t know about?

Hehehehehehe, how appropriate that title is.(chaotically creative) Can I use it for my business cards? [Yes! Go for it.] Well, I have a lot of passions. And I imagine most everyone knows I love dye, soap making, and book binding. But probably not that I have been looking at making shoes for a while. Or that I have sewn clothes and knitted for years. And I love hand building ceramics since high school. Or that I have become obsessed with growing certain plants in my flower bed.

I think the best way to describe me is that I am a maker. I see things and either want to make them for myself, or I get this desire to deconstruct the process to understand it and do it myself. I spent last fall studying what plants in my area I can make paper from, and how to make paper and cotton thread. Or that I’ve researched how to take an animal hide and make rawhide and leather. Or to use the hooves to make glue. This week is ink making week. Next week is paper making. I’m fascinated with process. (You should see my office! It’s like the (craft supply) room of requirement in Harry Potter!)

My goal this summer is to make a book from scratch. From the paper inside to the leather and rawhide thread for binding it. I’ve even researched making my own needles for sewing it. As well as the ink and dip pens to write in it. (and charcoal pencils, oil paints, water color paints, paintbrushes, etc.)

What has been your favorite project/series to work on and why?

Project wise my favorite non writing thing is dye work. I love taking blank white fabric and making it colorful. I just finished gathering all the supplies I need to do Shibori and Indigo dying like the Japanese artists do.

Writing wise I have to say my first series (Chrysalis series, Latent, Ascension, Interlude, Convergence, and Catalyst) is my favorite. It was my first real project and the first time I ever experienced those writing milestones, creating characters, finishing a draft, getting published and then finishing the series. I love all of my work, but Noble’s story is my favorite.

I have a few non-fiction books that I have produced that I am quite happy with as well. I have two how-to write books, one on structure and master chapter outline, one on writing series. I am working on a third how-to book on series bibles.

And I have two books written for middle grade age children 8-12 that teach manners in a fun way. They’re called Enchanted Etiquette, and Dragon Decorum.

During the course of all your writing and teaching what’s the funniest/most amazing/inspirational experience you’ve encountered?

I’ll have to go with amazing, I was teaching my structure class at a conference and as I started to teach the head editor of a big Utah publishing house came in and sat on the front row. I noticed them and kept teaching even though my heart rate had probably doubled. After that class they stopped me in the hallway and, in front of some of the conference organizers told me how much they enjoyed my class and wanted a copy of the slides to show their authors who struggle with structure. I was definitely flattered. That was the day I learned that I knew my “stuff” and that I was worthy of teaching it.

What’s the most interesting item you keep in your writing space?

After standing in my office for at least 15 minutes, (I have a lot of strange things in there) I would have to say my musical instruments especially because I am not musical at all. Yeah, definitely my drums and pentatonic flutes. Not traditional western drum set but hand- made drums of wood and rawhide. Hand carved wooden flutes tied with leather. (and a very cool western made “ocean drum” that I found at a thrift store.)

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am working on two series. I switch between them when I get blocked or need a break.

One is Storm Compass, a YA coming of age adventure about a boy who is born a nobody and how he just happens to save the world.

The other is my Trinity Operations series, It is about a group of people who organize and fight the powers that be, facing amazing odds against them to do so.

I am hoping to get these done by the end of this year to release this next year and the next.


About today’s guest:

C. Michelle Jefferies is a writer who believes that the way to examine our souls is to explore the deep and dark as well as the shallow. To manipulate words in a way that makes a person think and maybe even second guess. Her worlds include suspense, urban fantasy, and an occasional twist of steampunk. When she is not writing, she can be found on the yoga mat, hand binding journals, dyeing cloth, and serving ginger tea. The author and creator divides her time between stories, projects, and mothering four of her seven children on the wild and windy plains of Wyoming.

Connect with Michelle:

Check out Michelle’s Ashes Series –

Description of Descending, book #1 in the Ashes series:

All he wants is to fly.

Ashby Standing has it all planned out. Prove his ability to captain a starship in the simulator. Then enter the Star Captain Academy a year early skipping another hellish year of being bullied at school.

When a new street drug proves fatal, taking the life of Elija’s son Nicolai. Noble has no choice but to step back into his role as an agent for Trinity. In spite of his age and his other duties. Including coordinating a twenty year celebration for the colonization of Caledonia.

After losing Arial, Lyris is hyper focused on making sure all of her children are safe nd protected. Even if it skirts what is legal or moral.

Everything converges into a complicated mess as moral obligations, desires, and ego’s battle for dominance and for some, descending into the depths of dark is the option seems the best choice. .

Buy Descending Here!


Need more convincing? Here’s a sneak peek!

Someone slammed hard into Ashby Standing’s shoulder, forcing his chest into the cold metal of his locker as his cheek smashed into the chevron shaped vents at the top.

“Nice balance, four eyes, maybe you should get your ears checked as well,” Ashby’s personal bully, Mitchell, said. Laughter erupted from the students within hearing range. Ashby adjusted his glasses, more annoyed with their constant presence than the other student’s antics. The bully continued down the hall toward the science labs.

“What a freak,” another student whispered as they passed.

Ashby pushed himself away from the door and brushed his fingertip over the sensor to open his locker, then proceeded to place his books on the shelf and exchange his morning class notebooks for the afternoon ones. He was glad that Mitchell had moved on instead of making a bigger deal out of something.

“Ash!” Doran’s voice echoed off the metal. Ashby cringed at the nickname. He hated the burned and fire jokes that often came with it. Still, his eyebrow raised as his triplet brother, Doran, bolted down the hall toward him, followed by a few people in the far distance. Doran almost never called him Ash. Unless it was important.
“Ash!” Doran pulled some object from his satchel.

Ashby sighed. Doran never learned. It seemed Ashby was forever doomed to be dragged into all sorts of problems by his brother.

“Oh no, absolutely not,” Ashby countered. “Dad said I didn’t have to help you.”

Doran panted as he shoved a black ball into Ashby’s hands. “Remember when I said that I thought the coaches were altering the dantu puck weight?”

“I think—”

“This is the proof.” Doran met Ashby’s gaze with a certain pleading. “Please. Ash. I need your help.”

“What do you want?”

“Hide it. Put it in your pack, no one is ever going to suspect you.” Doran begged.

Ashby put the ball on the shelf in his locker behind the large physics workbook, then set his English book on the top to hide it from sight.

“Mr. Doran Standing, what do you think you’re doing?”

Doran looked over his shoulder then ran.

“Wait, hold on,” the principal said as he slowed to a stop next to Ashby. One of the other teachers continued to follow his brother.

Ashby turned and raised an eyebrow. “Me?” He looked over his shoulder. Doran was gone from sight.

Excerpt from Descending, available on Amazon

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Interview with Jared Garrett

Last weekend was the annual Spring into Books mega author signing where all of us authors got to have a mini writerly family reunion. It was there I learned that my buddy Jared has a brand shiny book coming out soon – Red Prince, a mesoamerican fantasy (very cool). So I had to grab him for an interview!

Fun fact! Jared keeps Anduril, the Flame of the West at his writing space, among other interesting things.

On to the interview!

First, let’s get to know you a bit better. How would you feel about being stranded on an uninhabited tropical island and what are the three items you’d bring?

I would be all right with being stranded on said island for a limited period of time. If it was permanent, I’d probably have to register a complaint with my travel agent. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Also, New York’s hottest stranding has every item you could need: a hatchet for cutting, hammering, and being the steel to spark off of for fire; a jet-ski which is that thing where you can ride around in bodies of water and do sweet tricks; and plenty of gas for the jet-ski.

What I’m saying is that all I’d need is a hatchet and a conveyance off the island. To stick to the conventional rules, I would bring a hatchet, a big spool of bailing wire, and 10 lbs of dental floss. And if someone could have a big slice of cake ready for me after I was rescued- that’d be great.

What are two pet peeves of yours that make you want to flip the table?

I have a lot of these, so I’ll narrow them down to things that happen at tables. I get pretty frustrated when the people I’m eating with aren’t paying attention enough to the group to hear when they should be passing things to folks asking for the steaks or mashed potatoes or what have you. Granted, I have a +13 on Passive Perception, so I hear everything being said, but folks need to tune in and maybe not slip into their endless private conversations about string theory, Breath of the Wild, or what have you.

Another table-related pet peeve is a wobbly table. You sit there and lean on the table and you just see-sawed your companion’s food into their face. No bueno. This really makes me want to flip the table over and fix the dang leg.

Okay, in truth, all joking aside, I have two actual major pet peeves. First is when someone leaves trash or mess. How hard is it to clean up after yourself? How inconsiderate can you be to not care about the people you share that space with that you leave a mess? Second, someone eating or drinking while they’re on the phone with me or anyone else. That makes me want to flip the table, chop it to pieces with my hatchet, then burn it. Is this civilization or isn’t it?

You’ve written in multiple different time periods and genres. Which one is your favorite and why?

My debut was a novelization of my own childhood in a cult that splintered off of Scientology in the sixties – which I happily escaped from when I was 17. So that’s a modern, coming of age story. And I loved writing it. I have a few more like that in my folder of projects to get to. That book is probably my favorite since I poured five years of my writing life into it. That said, it’s a blast writing in a speculative future where I can riff on modern technology and try to come up with cool evolutions of today’s tech, societal trends, and governments. But it’s a lot of work to put real science into science fiction. Which is why I tend to stick to fantasy. I tried writing fantasy set in a sword and sorcery world and it went okay, but felt very derivative of masters like Mercedes Lackey, Terry Brooks, and R.A. Salvatore. So now I write fantasy in our world, with the fantastical elements being largely influenced by world religious mythology and legends of the regions and times I write in. This stuff lands in the sweet spot of where I like to speculate based on all of my studies and reading about world cultures and history. So I’m happy in my fantasy stories right now– writing fast-paced action filled with big heroes who get the stuffing beaten out of them and keep going. It’s a lot like if you mashed up Tarzan or Princess of Mars and Die Hard.

All that said, I’m planning an espionage thriller series set in our modern day. I adore Robert Ludlum and other espionage masters, so it’s high time I give it a whirl.

Whatever I’m writing, what readers will quickly learn I love is to write about flawed, determined, tough people who choose to stop evil at great cost to themselves. And the good guys always win. And there’s always some romance.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself while writing your books?

That I don’t write for an age. For the longest time, I thought I was a YA author. But I write for all ages and literally everyone. I have a couple books that are used for reluctant readers. I write clean enough for anybody to read. It was a great thing when I had my “I don’t care about age categorization” epiphany. I could break free from some of the goofy baggage attached to some of the age categorization sub-cultures, which was very good. I don’t feel weighed down by having to be careful of this or that crowd. I just write awesome stuff now, with zero worry about the opinions of self-appointed gatekeepers.

Another thing that was surprising to me was that when I tried to write a love triangle in Beat and Push, it didn’t work. It didn’t ring even close to true. It occurred to me that in my, admittedly limited, experience, I’d never encountered a love triangle. And I read YA books that were awash in angsty love triangles and it turned out I didn’t believe them.

As for learning something about myself- I have learned that if I want to write stories that make me proud, I have to put my all into it. It’s scary to have such ambitious ideas for my books, but screwing my courage to the writing point has been a valuable exercise. I feel comfy in my skin now that I’ve learned to write the story the way it is in my head and heart. Without skirting or taking the easy way out.

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 Andúril, the Sword of Kings, reforged by Elrond for Aragorn to wield in the ultimate battle against the dark forces of Sauron. It hangs on my wall. So does Sting- the sword not the singer. I have a fancy picture of the Serenity and one from Battlestar Galactica. I have a huge print of Frazetta’s Death Eater glowering at me. I’ve got a six inch tall, beautiful sculpture of Gollum looking over my shoulder and the Argonath looming over me from a bookcase behind me.

But the most interesting thing to me is the six bibs and completion medals from the endurance races I’ve done and a print copy of every book I’ve published. These remind me that I can do the hard things, and not only that, I love doing the hard things. I thrive on pushing past what I thought were my limits. The bibs and books remind me of that and keep me going.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m querying for my memoir and am on the last possible submission place for my Old West Gunpowder fantasy with dragons and monsters- if the place I’ve sent it doesn’t want it, I’ll self-publish it. I am outlining my espionage series. And for actual new words, I’m finally going to write the rest of Passenger to Carthage, my steampunk time travel story about a woman trying to save Joseph Smith from assassination so he can become president. For entirely secular reasons. She thinks Manifest Destiny is one of the worst evils ever and wants to save the indigenous peoples from it- and Joseph Smith was opposed to Manifest Destiny. This started as a short story and is going to be at minimum a novella.

Also, my newest book, Red Prince, is out on May 31st. It’s the third in a mesoamerican fantasy trilogy and it is no holds-barred fun.

Red Prince, coming May 31st!

About Red Prince

Lakhoni and his family are in search of a home away from the blood, evil, and memories of Molgar and his plans to rule two nations. Alronna’s dreams are leading them north, to a land of abundance and peace.

But when they come upon a slaughtered village, the chase begins anew. Gadnar, Molgar’s, powerful brother, escaped the showdown at the end of Usurper and is spilling blood everywhere he goes. He seeks the final ancient Relic, certain it will give him power over the land.

Setting aside their quest for peace, Lakhoni, Alronna, Simra, and their companions track Gadnar, determined to end his reign of terror. But as the source of his power becomes clear, they will have to face down an evil as ancient as creation. If they fail, monsters beyond imagination will enshroud the land, putting all the people under thrall. But to succeed, they will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Sneak peak!

Alronna dropped onto the smooth log next to Lakhoni. He flinched. “Alronna. Haven’t seen you much.”

She nodded. “I’ve been trying to figure out these dreams.” Her face, lit orange and yellow by the flames, looked confused. “I know what they mean and know I’m going to listen to what they’re telling us to do—go north. But why am I having them?” She grew quiet for a moment. The next thing she said was so quiet he almost couldn’t hear. “And why do they only come if I’m holding the Sword while I’m sleeping?”

“What?” Cool tingles slid down his neck and back. “You never told me that.” Lakhoni’s eyes dropped to her side. The Sword of Nubal hung there, resting and poking out somewhat awkwardly on top of the log.

“I realized it only a few days ago and tested the idea.” Alronna swallowed. “I’m sure. If I sleep with one hand on the Sword, the dreams come. If not, they don’t.”

“So don’t.”

“You mean ‘so do.’” Alronna shifted and gave Lakhoni a sardonic smile. “Why would I not have the dreams if they’re guiding us the right way? What else could they help us with or warn us about? Why would I ever let go of the Sword?”

“So you can have a peaceful night’s sleep.” Lakhoni took in his sister’s face—no longer gaunt from slavery, but not young and soft like before she had been taken. Now she looked like a warrior woman, a lot like Anca and Marana of the Azarites to the northwest. She looked strong. Unstoppable. But right now, she also looked worried and confused.

Excerpt from Red Prince, by Jared Garrett

He’s in plaid, he’s got grace, he’s got a beard on his face – it’s Jared!

About today’s guest:

Jared Garrett is the author of the number one bestselling scifi thriller Beat and a bunch of other lies in book form. He is a family man raising seven kids with his best friend and wife of two decades.

Jared had an odd childhood in a nomadic cult, which he left at seventeen. He’s worked as a firefighter, a BBQ restaurant manager, a cowboy theater actor, a bellman, and as a rubber vulcanizing engineer, among many others.

His favorite authors are Terry Pratchett, Robert Ludlum, Katherine Paterson, Douglas Adams, Patricia McKillip, Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, R.A. Salvatore, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many more. If you ask him where his story ideas come from, be prepared for a lengthy discussion about inspiration dust, hauling a towel wherever you go, and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. No, seriously. Dogs.

Looking for Jared’s books? Look no further –


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Interview with Kenny B. Smith

There are authors, there are editors, there are mentors, and then there’s Kenny – a snarktastic bundle of the three, plus a good friend of mine. It’s a pleasure to bring her to the blog today and share more about her journey and what makes her tick.

Kenny and I have bounced around various writing events ranging from signings at the Printed Garden, to fan conventions such as Wizarding Dayz, and to writing conferences such as Fyrecon. We share a lot of the same darkly cynical humor and sarcasm so it was only a matter of time before we became fast friends.

How about some dark and stormy reading? I’m in!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

On to the interview!

First of all, I’d love to get to know you better. What makes you laugh the most, and why?

Puns. The more horrible, the better. And B SciFi movies. The terrible ones with descriptions that don’t match and awful plot ideas. Airplane vs Volcano and Sharknado – like that. I think I just like bad acting and both of those fall under that category. They usually have one really good A-lister (at least 70% of the time). Those are the funniest because they know how to act well. The people acting in the show around them make them look overly dramatic or just bad themselves. It’s hilarious.

If you could choose any fictional character (including ones you have created) to have dinner with, who would you choose and why?

Carmen Sandiego – I was always a fan as a kid and she seemed like such a bad guy. The kind who knows things you can’t possibly know and will never learn. But then, Netflix flipped the script on it. So, I have to wonder, which one is the real Carmen. Besides, the adventure stories would be so much fun to write up. Ca you imagine retelling the story of stealing the Great Wall of China? Masterful.

Tell us a little about the Evolution series and your journey in writing it.

The Evolution series came about when I was writing some history curriculum. I am obsessed with World War II. While not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe it was a body double that was burned in the ditch at the end of World War II and the high ranking Nazis, some of them, escaped to South America, which is why the CIA was so involved in controlling the government in those countries in the 50’s and 60’s. The documentary series Hunting Hitler is very telling. Had Germany managed to take Britain by any amount of special circumstances, then they would have crossed to friendly countries and started over here. I am currently knee-deep in the third and what should be the final book but I feel like it doesn’t close everything up. So, I am debating changing the ending or writing a book four, for gratuitous reasons. The story develops well on its own and I don’t want to force it. This is not the first series I have written but some are published as a ghost writer. So, I can’t share those.

For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been deeply involved in all sorts of events. What’s the most bizarre or weirdly wonderful thing you’ve encountered at a writing conference or fan oriented convention?

1 – The first KidCon I was ever involved in, we built a castle out of donated foam. My husband was the architecgt and project manager and it was some long hours. During the event, someone stole the PVC pipe holding things together on the back wall of the castle itself. It was strange and caused quite a scare as we thought the wall was completely broken and falling..

2 – Deflowering the Castle!!!! Okay, you have to understand the delirium that comes with FanX Comic Convention. It was Saturday night around 10pm and we were still breaking down KidCon. Mind you, I had spent ten hours a day at the Salt Palace since Monday helping to set up. By this time, we had seen at least 3000 kids and were just tired. Brain fried, I removed all the plastic plants from the castle walls and declared it had been deflowered! And someone else wanted to know if my husband knew I wanted something so big. Yep, I need to start a blog on stories behind the scenes working with kids. So – the second one is less family friendly than the first. Use whichever you like, or both.

I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.

My dolphin pen. When it falls on the floor, it will cut you with a fin. It no longer has a cap or ink but I wrote my first query letters 20 years ago with it and now, I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more of a weapon now than it was then because it literally could stab someone in so many ways. On the bad days, I contemplate trying to break it open to see if I can add ink. It sits next to my army issue typewriter which still functions by the way.

What’s next? Tell me about the next project (or projects) you are working on.

Finishing book three in the Evolution series. Then we have the Blue Quill Anthology that we are publishing through Teapots Away Media. We have an awesome idea for a podcast that will be taking things back to the 1950’s (think War of the Worlds) if the media arm can pull it off. We are compiling a set of memoir stories relating to the original versions of fairy tales that take on current issues. I am working on another dystopian scifi and a new Adult Fantasy myself and we have two authors who have submitted works to be released next year. I have short stories coming out in a charity Halloween anthology for Fyrecon and possibly with the Salt City Genre Writers.

The ever talented and always amusing, Kenny B Smith

About Kenny B Smith

Kenny likes to read, of course, and when she’s not writing, she is researching history, one of her favorite subjects. Researching allows her to rewrite history in her speculative fiction novels. Accuracy is something she values in her work.

In her spare time, she enjoys quilting and sewing, hanging out with her kids and teaching. As someone who has volunteered her time with children often, she values their creative space and loves to help them express it. She also teaches classes to adults. Her latest class is how to write an effective query letter.

Not always a teacher, she loves to learn and learn she does. She has certificates in Radio & TV Broadcasting, Private Investigation & Security and is working on one in Antiques. As history was her major, she knows how to learn about anything although research is not her favorite task.

When she’s not dreaming up new book ideas in the fantasy and speculative fiction genres, she is writing non-fiction (ghost writing), unschooling her kids, watching crime procedurals or playing Hunt A Killer with her husband. He says she has an unhealthy fascination with serial killers and their psychology, war artillery and military strategy.

Her current venture to help others – she’s started a publishing house. Not traditional, not boutique, not vanity, not just services. They are a mentor publishing house. Do we know what that means exactly? No. But if you ask her, she is always willing to explain.

Connect with Kenny:

About Kenny’s most recent book D-Evolution

D is back and now finds herself inside city walls, which is proving to be no safer for her than the comfort of her former home in Bunker Six. While Doc is determined to find more people with potential like D, others are looking to rid themselves of anyone with potential. Can D save herself and others like her?

Xayres has known for his political successes but inside the city, he is fumbling. With little knowledge of the world outside and even less practice with the skills necessary for successful missions, Xayres finds himself being saved by everyone around him. Can he learn the skills he needs to survive before it’s too late?

Erack loves his solitude but is forced into the limelight to lead the charge to find the defunct Bunker One. Can he hide enough to focus on the task at hand and get his colleagues to safety before the resistance erupts into its own civil war?

Find D-Evolution and the rest of the Evolution series on Amazon

***

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Interview: Nikki Brown

There are people who come into our lives almost by accident and after spending time with them you can’t imagine what life would be without them. That’s what it was like when I first met Nikki Brown. Last year, a friend of mine begged me to join her new online writers group because she enjoyed it and thought I would like it as well.

Dozens of meetings later, I’m still in – and loving it. Nikki heads up the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit along with recent guest here at the blog, Annie Oortman. Nikki has a special kind of caring confidence that makes everyone around her at ease. I’ve loved my time getting to know her better and am thrilled to share about her life, inspiration, and thoughts with my friends here at the blog.

A flock of birds flying through clouds resembling pink cotton candy. Super inspiring.
Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

On to the interview:

Let’s start with a getting to know you question. Tell us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t.

One thing most people know about me is that I have two young adult children and that I am incredibly proud of them. We homeschooled them from Pre-K through high-school graduation, and they have done extremely well in college. They are also just really cool people who add so much joy to my life. It’s hard to believe how slowly some of those days seemed to pass as a young homeschooling mom and how quickly it all seems to have gone by now.

Another thing many people know is that I am blind. Of course, that isn’t really what people are interested in. All anyone really cares about is that I am usually accompanied by my very handsome and overly friendly guide dog, Perry. I have been a guide dog handler since 2004.

One more thing many people know about me is that I am a personal coach. they don’t always understand what a personal coach is though. they usually think of a sports coach or a fitness coach, and that’s definitely not me. I do a few different things in the coaching world including helping writers find their voice and fuel their creativity. I love helping writers gain more confidence in themselves and put together systems that help make their creative process more effective. My husband and I also do staff development programs for businesses who want to empower their employees.

As for something most people don’t know about me, I suppose that would be that I love to sing. I usually only sing in the shower, but one of these days, I’d love to get up the nerve to sing karaoke in front of an audience—maybe in another state where nobody knows me. 🙂

Another thing most people don’t know is that I have been married to the same man for nearly 29 years. We have been through a lot together and haven’t murdered each other yet. Now, that’s love. Seriously, he has been my biggest supporter and has always done his best to help and encourage me even when I made things difficult for him. I can be a bit ornery at times. There, that’s another thing many people don’t know. People tend to think I’m really sweet. I think they are disarmed by the southern accent. LOL

What are three things that drive you toward your goals?

I’ve always been very self-motivated. I like accomplishing things, scratching things off my list and winning stuff. I’m fairly competitive, but it’s also fine if I don’t win. My main goal is to always learn from every situation and improve myself in some way from each experience.

A good external motivator for me is my family. I definitely want to be a good role model for my kids. That’s a lot harder now since we relate to each other much more as equals rather than as parent/child. They see all my flaws and don’t usually hold back at pointing them out. They aren’t unkind, just honest. I told someone the other day that God gives us children to keep us humble.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

The absolute best bit of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. I had joined a 4-H club as a teenager and was promptly placed on the telephone committee. I think it was a committee of one person. Anyway, I was quite introverted (back then, we just called it shy) and hated the idea of calling people on the phone to remind them of an upcoming meeting. One day, I mentioned this to my grandfather who said incredulously, “Why are you afraid? You’re just as good as they are.” I didn’t really believed it at the time, but that bit of encouragement got me through all those phone calls. It took me decades before I actually began to truly believe those words but they have echoed in my heart and helped me through difficult moments many many times over the years.

Where do you think creativity comes from?

I think most people have limited ideas about what it means to be creative. When you say the word creativity, many people often jump to the conclusion that you are talking about the kind that is expressed as music, art, or performance. I think of creativity as much more than that. It is the ability we have to discover new ways of doing things, overcome problems and connect dots that, on the surface, don’t seem to be related at all. I respect that not everyone has the same views I do, but I firmly believe we were created in the image of God meaning that each of us  was created to be creative in our own right.

Many assume that authors and creatives live glamorized lives.  What is your life as a writer and life coach really like?

As with creativity, I think many people define glamorous in a way that is limited. We are surrounded by beauty and love and amazing opportunities, but do we see them? Are we so caught up in the worry and stress of making it through the day that we fail to notice the truly glamorous moments like a child holding our hand, the amazing colors of the wildflowers lining the highway or the awe-inspiring view of a star-filled night sky?  We compare the dust bunnies we see inside our lives with the meticulously manicured exteriors of other people’s lives and judge ourselves based on that faulty comparison. The truth is, at our core, we are all the same. My life isn’t glamorous at all based on Hollywood ideals, but I wouldn’t trade it with anyone. As Tolkien said, “All that is gold does not glitter.”

What are you working on right now that excites you?

I joined Toastmasters one year ago, and I recently participated in their 2019 International Speech competition. I won my Area and Division contests and had the opportunity to compete in the much larger District contest. I did not win there, but the experience was amazing and taught me so much about stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to find the humor in every situation. It has given me an even greater desire to do more public speaking, so I am excited about looking for more opportunities in this area.

***

About today’s guest:

Nikki Brown, the Authors ally, is a life coach with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for good stories.

Over the years, Nikki has progressed from reading the encyclopedia for fun to helping clients write website copy and even doing a little ghostwriting. Many years ago, she joined her local writers guild to support her teenage daughter’s love of creative writing and found kindred spirits with others who enjoyed discussing things like sentence structure and  correct comma usage.

For many years, Nikki has helped writers learn how to connect with readers online, but her real calling is coaching writers to help them learn how to find their voice and fuel their creativity. She loves to see her clients break through the roadblocks standing in the way of reaching their goals.

Connect with Nikki:

Want to meet a bunch of writers? Join us at our weekly hangout!

Meet Nikki online weekly at Wednesday Writer’s Whatchamacallit

Wednesday Writers’ Whatchamacallit is a weekly virtual meeting for writers of all genres and all ability levels who like having fun and are looking for an easy way to connect with kindred spirits. Hosted each Wednesday by Professional Coach Nikki Brown and Professional Editor Annie Oortman, meetings are open to writers of all types: fiction and non-fiction, pros and novices alike.

We meet in our online video conferencing room for a mid-week pick-me-up, a dose of encouragement and inspiration, a chance to flex our writing muscles, and an always great discussion mixed with a lot of laughter.

To find the next scheduled meeting, head over to the WWW webpage.

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Interview with K. Scott Forman

Last weekend was the annual League of Utah Writers Spring Conference. While the point of attending the conference is to learn new ideas and techniques to better our writing and understanding of the industry, the real reason many of us attend is to reconnect with all our favorite writer friends. It’s like a huge family reunion.

I was super happy to spend a few minutes with Scott, and even happier when he agreed to be interviewed as this week’s guest.

Step into my interview salon, you’ll fit right in!
Photo by Spencer Tamichi on Unsplash

Onto the interview!

First, let’s take a minute and get to know you know you better. I imagine as a horror writer you have to face your fears on a regular basis. Tell us, what is your biggest fear?

I don’t know if I would consider myself a horror writer – yes, I write horror, but I also write suspense, fantasy, poetry, and even some non-fiction. That said, back to your real question: what is it that I fear? Well, there’s only one word for that, and that word is Sasquatch. Yes, Bigfoot, the North American Yeti, even Cain if you want to go in the direction of David W. Patten. I think it started when I was a small child, back in ’72 or ’73. My friends and I used to go to the local movie theater, the cinema, whatever it was called. Our haven was a little place called the Queen Theater located in the sleepy bedroom community of Bountiful, Utah. Saturdays would always have a double-feature, and usually it would be Disney. I clearly remember watching the snakes in The Living Desert paired with prairie dogs in The Vanishing Prairie, or The Scarecrow paired with Swiss Family Robinson. This particular Saturday, the first feature was a pseudo-docu-drama, I don’t even remember the title, but Bigfoot was the star. I think what was the most troubling was actual, physical evidence, Bigfoot captured in the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, or PGF. From that moment on, I was hooked, and terrified. I find it interesting that I’ve never written a story about Sasquatch. Hmm???

Everyone has secrets. Tell us three things that most people don’t know about you.

I love Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, the whole canon – Northanger Abbey is my favorite. What else is there to tell? I really don’t have a lot of secrets, but maybe there’s a lot that people just don’t know about me. I’m a combat veteran, I’m a Mason and a card-carrying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which pairs nicely with my pseudo-Nome-de-plume: The Prince of Darkness. I find that once you sit down with a person there are lots of things you may not know about him or her, but they aren’t really secrets. Oh, here’s a big secret: I’m an aspiring writer.

What was your most interesting experience with writing Lovecraft’s Pillow?

Well, considering Lovecraft’s Pillow is just the title piece in a collection of previously published short stories, I’m not sure if you want experiences putting the collection together, experiences with each story, or just experiences with the lead story? The project itself took me down the road of re-learning everything about publishing? I had previous experience in grad-school with a few college pals – we produced seven or ten volumes of flash fiction, a novel or two, and were lucky to break even. I have a Press, per se, Fear Knocks Press, and this was my first paperback and eBook publication. For the last twelve years, Fear Knocks Press has been more of a dormant project waiting to sprout, grow and blossom. It was the home of the eZine, Fear Knocks, but that kind of went the way of the Dodo, so…

As far as the individual story, Lovecraft’s Pillow, that takes me back to several experiences. First, reading Michel Houellebecq’s book, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, which included a Stephen King challenge to write a story, the story. Then, I think traveling back to Lovecraft’s hometown, Providence, Rhode Island, stopping by his grave, and getting a feel for the region really inspired me to go through with it. It didn’t hurt that my wife and I had just made a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, during the month of October, and there were all kinds of things floating around in the grey matter.

You’ve always been a wonderful support for local authors, including myself. What is the most powerful lesson you can share with a writer who is just starting the process of creating their stories?

Okay, this is a great question – a wonderful question – and the answer is one I don’t think most people are willing to take. Write a lot, write, write, write, and read a lot, read, read, read, read even more than you write. And not just books on craft, or books in the genre you plan to write in, books on everything; and get out and experience life. It’s true that, as writers, we put pieces of ourselves in the work we do. If you’ve only lived in a small town and only ventured between your notebook, typewriter, or word processor, and the kitchen and bathroom, you probably are going to have a very limited and unrealistic point of view in your work. Add a few books, a few across several genres, a book or two that you would never be caught dead reading, and you will start to open up vistas that are ready to lend themselves to your work. Then, if you can, travel, see the world, even the world around you. Most people would be surprised at how many secrets wait to be discovered just outside their back door within 5 or 10 miles of where they live. So, this begs the question, what books would you suggest a person read? Well, how about I include a list of my favorites at the end of this blog post?

I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.

I have a Día de Los Muertos skull. It’s more of a planter, one of those little trinkets with a succulent growing out of the top, the kind of plant that no one can kill. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of things. When I was a kid, I loved the Old Testament and Edgar Allan Poe (and comic books). I had the opportunity to learn a few foreign languages over the years, one of them Spanish, and it got me hooked on some of the culture and traditions of Latin America. After traveling to several Latin American destinations, I had lots of information to ruminate on, to use as fodder for stories. What’s interesting, at least for me, these kinds of experiences usually do more for my settings, the feel of the story. For some reason, and I blame Anne Rice, most of my experiences take me back to the flavor and feel of New Orleans. If you’ve never been, you need to go. New Orleans is much more than Mardi Gras. There’s the whole Cajun culture, Marie Laveau and Voodoo, and the feel being at the mercy of the elements. I think these all merge with things closer to home, Native American legends, the Four Corners area, and a little Magical Realism courtesy of Gabriel García Márquez or Isabel Allende. They all manifest themselves in this little, living skull that watches me write and may even contain my muse (wow, I never considered that until now).

When your muse just happens to be a Dia de los Muertos skull, you can’t help but write some amazing stuff.

What’s next? Tell us about the next big thing you’re working on.

How about this blog post – yes, this is actually a big thing. I’ve been going through a period of very little productivity. We all have these moments, I’m sure. I was getting ready to pitch an urban fantasy at the upcoming Storymakers conference, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of Night, something a little like Harry Potter meets Angels and Demons, but with a female protagonist and links to Dracula and Old Testament Egypt. Like so many projects, by the time I get to the second draft, I hate the whole thing. So, I started an epic Fantasy novel, got 100 pages in, and then something changed in my life, an almost spiritual manifestation, and I started something else. I’m on a journey now, at least through the pages of the LDS canon of scripture, to meet, greet, and try to understand every female character. I’ve started with Eve and the wives of Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth – I don’t think there’s a whole lot of information there, but there’s lots of hints and indications that there’s more to each of their stories, something that might become creative non-fiction. I love re-reading about these characters, women most people have never heard of, characters like Jael, Rahab, Tamar, and Dinah, or even those that have no names like the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the handful of widows, or the queens (Vashti, Esther, Sheba, Lamanites), or even the Daughters of Onitah – there’s got to be a story there. I’m off to a great start. I’ve got over a hundred names to work with, so far. All that being said, how about I give you an exclusive, a cover reveal, the story I mentioned at the beginning. Well, here it is, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of Night, soon to be pitched at a writing conference near you.

Madison Blackwood, quite possibly the next big thing. Coming to a pitch session near you.

Here’s that Suggested Reading List I promised. I’ve only included one title per author, and only the ones off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed several of my favorites, several that are much better written, but what the heck. One of these books I absolutely hated, not because it was poorly written, but because the author made me hate every character by the end of the book. That’s got to say something about the writing, right? I’ve included some non-fiction, short stories, and poems as well.

  •  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Blight Way by Patrick F. McManus
  • A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
  • Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn
  • The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  • The Book of Job (get a good copy with commentary)
  • The Tyger by William Blake
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood
  • The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
K. Scott Forman, AKA my favorite writing conference teddy bear.

About K. Scott Forman

K. Scott Forman is a writer and editor. He co-edited and contributed to the first three volumes of Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction along with working on three more volumes, a novel, and a flash novel for Fast Forward Press. With the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), he selected and edited the volume It Came from the Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror. Scott graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and was the recipient of the Robert Creeley Scholarship in 2007. He also received a Master of Arts and Education degree from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland. Scott teaches English Composition at Weber State University and was an adjunct faculty member at the National Cryptologic School. He has taught courses in Developmental English, Composition, Research, Writing for Math and Science, and Haiku. He is a member of the HWA and League of Utah Writers and enjoys long walks in inclement weather, sunsets with blood in them, and Metallica at volumes determined unsafe by the Surgeon General. He has had several short stories and poems published and is currently at work on the Great American Novel. He makes his home in the Rocky Mountains with his family and a collection of guitars. Find out what he’s up to at http://fearknocks.com

Connect with K. Scott

Lovecraft’s Pillow, and other weird tales by K. Scott Forman

Lovecraft’s Pillow and other Weird Tales is K. Scott Forman’s first collection of stories that plumb the depths of imagination when the lights go out. In these 12 tales and 1 poem, we revisit Jack the Ripper (The House that Jack Built), suicide and the consequences (Mumford’s Ghost), sympathy for the devil (Neighbor of the Beast), redemption (The Rescue), PTSD (The Stranger Within), a Frankenstein short (Lost at Sea), a Lovecraftian-story inspired by Stephen King (Lovecraft’s Pillow), and more.

Find it on Amazon

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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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