Get Your Tickets Now! League of Utah Writer’s Spring Conference

It’s Spring time and virtual writer’s conferences are popping out of the ground like daisies. Spring, being a time of renewal, is a wonderful time to learn something new, or reinforce something you’ve learned in the past. On May 23, the League of Utah Writers is holding a day long virtual conference complete with live Q&A sessions.

This year, and every year, there is a great lineup of teachers sharing their experience on everything from character creation to story structure, from utilizing social media to romantic relationships. Chances are, if you have a writing related question, there will be a class tailored to fit your needs.

Because this is a virtual conference there are several perks that you can’t get in a standard conference. First and foremost, it reduces costs down to the bare minimum for attendees. There are no travel expenses and no trying to find a decent lunch or snacks. You can take a break whenever you like, pause the presentation video if you need to jot down more notes, and you’ll never have to worry if the person next to you might just start eating ranch-flavored corn nuts while you’re trying to pay attention.

If anything, you get a better educational experience and the chance to see all the presentations instead of picking and choosing between two favorites in any given time slot.

The only thing you miss out on is meeting friends and fellow writers in person, and that’s a little sad.

This year I’m teaching about getting over creative roadblocks using a few psychology hacks. There is a discussion of the role fear plays in our ability to make progress in our creative work as well as several practices that can help.

I hope to see you there!

For more information and to register head on over to the League of Utah Writers website.

Shout out to North Ogden Junior High Creative Writers

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

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

Best Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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NaNoWriMo 2019

It’s that magical time of year again! No, not the holidays. Oh … wait, those are magical too. I’m talking about NaNoWriMo, the one month novel writing challenge that has grabbed the worldwide writing community by the fingers.

Over the years I’ve participated and succeeded in meeting the 50,000 goal words enough times that I have to think back and count on my fingers. It’s at least four times, if not five. Not super important. Some years I’ve used the challenge to write the second half of books in progress, like the upcoming release of book two in the Stonebearer Saga, Stonebearer’s Apprentice. This year I’m trying something new – writing a novella set in the Stonebearer Universe.

The lovely people running NaNoWriMo create awesome badges and swag for those participating. Aren’t they nice?

Novellas are short books ranging between 20,000 and 50,000 words (~80-150 pages) long and would be about half the length of the books I normally write. Yep, I’m excited.

The story will center around Isben, a young man who plays a critical role in helping the main character, Katira, in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. I will be backing up several years into his past and showing the path he needed to take to become part of the Stonebearer society.

Most years I promise myself I’ll do lots of great pre-planning and figure out all my characters and places and significant story points before the start of November. AAAAND, most years I end up running out of time and end up figuring it out as I go.

Guess who ran out of time again. Yep. This girl. Remember that awesome trip I took with my family? Turns out it’s really hard to work on stuff like this in a car. Some people can do it, I’m not one of them.

That said, normally scheduled blog posts are probably going to be short and snarky this month.

Wish me luck (and send treats!)


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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FanX 2019

This weekend from Sept 5-7 is FanX, Utah’s biggest fan experience. People from all over the world come to share their love of comics, superheroes, fantasy novels, TV series, and movies. Cosplayers wander the halls, New York Times bestselling authors hang out playing DnD, celebrities come for signings, photo ops, and to be interviewed on the main stage.

And I’m there too.

Thanks to the friendship and support of some truly amazing individuals, I was able to connect with the event organizers and join the brave pack of panelists who share their expertise on everything from costume building tricks and hints to the finer points of novel writing.

On the panel: Robert J. Defendi, M.K. Hutchins, Tom Durham, yours truly, and Corey Moss

The first panel I was part of talked in depth about literally everything hobbit. We covered where they come from, how they influenced the storytelling in Lord of the Rings, which Hobbit was our favorite, and on and on. There was a bit of a love fest about the Silmarillion, which strangely doesn’t really discuss hobbits more than a few mentions.

My favorite hobbit – Samwise Gamgee’s father, often referred to as the old Gaffer. Why? Everyone says Sam is their favorite character because he’s the true hero in Lord of the Rings. Frodo couldn’t complete the task of destroying the ring on his own and would have failed without Sam. Throughout the books, Sam relies on lessons learned from his father to get him through tough times. So I would argue that without the influence of the old Gaffer, Sam wouldn’t have been able to be the hero he needed to be.

On the panel: DJ Butler, Eric Swedin, Mark Avo, me, Cody Goodfellow, and Johnny Worthen

My other panel focused on the American Apocalypse and we discussed everything from religious belief in the end of the world to the nature of the word “apocalypse” which literally means revelation, not destruction as most would assume. We debated on what the real apocalypse might be and where the idea that this would make good fiction stems from.

The strongest argument of what’s going to end it all for us currently is either the AI apocalypse or something horribly bacterial. Although, the supervolcano hiding under Yellowstone was a strong contender.

Come for the free bookmarks! Stay to chat about anything from writing to awesome cosplay.

As part of being a special guest author, I get to do two official signings. One was yesterday night, and the next Saturday at 11. If you’ve been dying to get your hands on a signed copy of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, I’d love to see you!

This year I’m not cosplaying as anything, it would have been one more thing to worry about and I’m supposed to be playing the part of a professional author. But … I saw some amazing clothing items I might have to get …


Don’t forget! The Labor Day sale of Stonebearer’s Betrayal ends this Saturday. You can grab the ebook for FREE over on Amazon this week only!

Here’s a handy link!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Fyrecon 2019

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

Hey, I know her!

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

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

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

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

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

For more info, go check out their website.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

FanX 2018

It’s FanX weekend and the streets of downtown Salt Lake have transformed from uptight and respectable to downright weird. This season’s characters are heavily from the Marvel universe. Everywhere you look there’s a Gamora or Peter Quill. Dozens of Tenth Doctor are mixed in with a healthy assortment of stormtroopers wander through the food courts.

And I’m all for it.

In 2015 you would find me wandering the con as a snooty General Kala accompanying the fabulous Emperor Ming. Probably one of our most ambitions costumes of all time. We spent many weekends sewing and piecing together the intricate designs. We even entered the costume contest and were invited to the stage show as finalists in the group division. By the way, if you haven’t watched the 1980 Flash Gordon, you’re missing out.

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In 2016, we took out cosplay in a different direction and tried out large-scale puppetry, with a Miyazaki character affectionately known as No Face. The perk of a puppet is that hubby and I could trade who wore the puppet and who acted as the handler to make sure No Face didn’t accidentally walk into a wall or trip on anything on the floor. We designed him to grow, so at random he’d jump up to over 12 feet tall and startle anyone we happened to be nearby. He could also shrink down to about 3 feet and interact with kids.

 

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Tall No Face

 

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Mini No Face

This year we will be bringing No Face again on Friday only as he is a crowd favorite. We would have loved creating a new costume but this year has been super crazy with the kids getting older, huge projects coming to fruition, and, well, life.

If you are at FanX this weekend, give a shout out in the comments. Even better, if you are cosplaying this weekend, tell me all about it! I’d love to hear what your favorite characters are.

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Brief writing update –

We finalized the cover for my book this week, stay tuned for the big reveal!

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Find me at Fyrecon 2018

b6228817e7c6ee37bfcc7f548def5a6e-rimg-w720-h273-gmir.jpgWith Spring into Books (Utah’s Awesome-st Author signing and workshop) at the beginning of the month, paired with end of school craziness for my kiddos, June has been a wild ride – and it’s getting wilder.

Fyrecon, the conference that encourages writers and artists alike to “Burn Your Creative Path,” kicks off tomorrow – and they are kind enough to let me play!

Writing conferences are wonderfully gratifying because they give creatives a chance to spend quality time with like-minded people. They are my tribe and I love all of them. This year I decided to be super ambitious and offered three brand new classes to teach, with the hopes that perhaps one or two might be chosen.

And … they asked for all of them. Woohoo!

Needless to say, I’ve been working my little fanny off getting ready and I’m super excited to share the awesomeness that I’ve learned.

Here is my schedule – come find me!

  • Class – Overcoming Ego for Better Head Space (Thurs 11am, Building D2, Rm 318)
  • Panel – Portrayal of Death and Dying: Discussing the Philosophy of the Memento Mori (Friday 1pm, Building D2, Rm 111)
  • Panel – Medical Accuracy in Fiction: Common Pitfalls and What is a Better, More Believable Approach (Friday 3pm, D2 – 111)
  • Class – Gut Punch your Audience with Emotion (Saturday 9am, D2 – 117)
  • Class – Finding Balance in Storytelling: Not Everything can Explode all the Time (D3 – 341

For those of you trying to decide whether you want to go or not – come! If you register at the door for the whole conference it’s only $50 and daily rates range from $22-27. If you’re a student it’s cheaper than a hamburger, $10 dollars for the whole conference or $5 a day. Military gets a 10% discount. That’s a whole lot of amazing for an extremely reasonable rate.

If it doesn’t work out for you to come this year, be sure to like Fyrecon on Facebook to be the first to hear about future events.

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LUW Fall Conference 2017

LUW logo.pngAround these parts, writers are drawn to writing conferences more readily and faster than cats chasing a laser pointer. For those of us who have been around for a few years, a writing conference is a great excuse to hang out with our awesome writer friends and claim it as a business expense. For newer writers, a writing conference is a place to find new friends and feel supported all while learning the tricks of the trade.

The League of Utah writers held their annual conference October 6-7.  Even better, they let me come play. I got to moderate a panel titled “Mindfulness and the Modern Author” where we explored the importance of finding your center and using mindfulness techniques to acheive greater focus and more importantly, get more and better words on the page. On the panel with me were Jef Huntsman, Peggy Eddleman, Lauri Schoenfeld, Amanda Luzzader, and Dan Allen. If you are nice to me, I might do a blog post about the  key points in the future.

LUW 2017 panelOne of the other perks once you’ve been around for a while is the chance to volunteer. On a whim I asked to help out and the next thing I knew, I was in charge of the special guest check-ins in the green room. Major Score. I got to spend the majority of my conference doing what I like best, having conversations with some of my favorite local authors, including our keynote Kevin J Anderson. I also had access to the best snacks.

While I didn’t get to go to as many classes as I would have liked, I did get to go to a few. DK Godard did an amazing presentation on the use of ballistics gel and let us play with some that he brought. Liesl Seborg taught about how authors can get involved with their local libraries, Patrick Tracy did a mini workshop on flash fiction and let us play with some random generated story prompts. I wrote a story about an astronaut waking up from a medical hypersleep and being hit on by an alien who thinks he’s cute. He rejects her because he’s still tired. I might just post it here if I get brave enough. There was also an insightful lecture given by John Patten about leadership for those in the league in leadership positions, including myself, one of their chapter presidents.

All in all, a terrific conference, fabulous guests, good food, and good memories.

LTUE 2017

jodimilnersocialmediaThe 2017 Utah writing conference season kicks off with the ever popular, and oh-so-affordable “Life, the Universe, and Everything” symposium on science fiction and fantasy. I’ve attended this particular conference a handful of times as a hopeful starry-eyed participant in the past.

However, this year for the first time ever, they let me play with the big kids. That’s right, yours truly got to be an expert panelist. If that wasn’t exciting enough,  I got to be a panel moderator as well, which is a huge first.

It’s hard not to read too deeply into the committee’s choice to include me, a mere short storyist. My qualifications as an author are still a bit thin. There are so many super talented and super published authors in Utah that you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. I’d love to say I was picked because they had seen some of my presentation work before and they were impressed.

The truth is, I apparently have in-depth knowledge of several obscure fields of study, knowledge that most gals in my position don’t have.  I also volunteered to be part of several obscure panels. My first panel discussed the realities of what happens at death. I haven’t personally died yet, so my experience is limited there. I’m holding off on trying it out until it goes on sale. Instead, I have worked in health care for both humans and animals and seen plenty of death that way. My fellow panelists included a firefighter, a seasoned RN and personal friend, a physicians assistant obsessed with cellular biology, and the moderator who I still haven’t figured out the background on. In fairness, he’s still puzzling out mine.

The other panel centered on the visual comedy of Rowan Atkinson. I know, I laughed too. death goes so well with visual comedy. On the panel was the founder of the LTUE conference itself, Dave Doering, and the TMA track head, Nick Mills, and another guy who apparently spent his childhood the precisely the same way I spent mine, watching late night PBS when all the British comedies came on. Yes, I didn’t have that many friends, why do you ask? Needless to say, having two fairly influential people on the panel stressed me out to no end.

To sum up – I had a great time and I believe that my panels went well. I wanted to attend a few other panels and perhaps glean a few nuggets of new writerly wisdom, but instead I hung around with writing friends instead, which honestly is the best part of the conference anyway.

A huge shout out to the following awesome people who let me play and were kind enough to let me hang out with them: Jared Quan, President of the League of Utah Writers; Candace Thomas, Eliza Crosby (who got a full manuscript request – you go girl!), Sarah Seeley, Chris Roche, DawnRay Ammon, Jenna Eatough, and all my other LTUE talented friends!

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