Reading Review for 2019

Over the last five years I’ve shared my reading lists with you, dear readers. Some years I’m really ambitious. Some years, like this year, I’m kinda burned out and creating a reading wish list is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m sure you can all relate.

Just for fun, here are the lists that I’ve ended up posting –

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I knew 2019 was going to be a busy year. On the Goodreads Reading Challenge I only committed to reading a paltry 12 books. I’m proud to report I managed it and even better, will probably finish three more by the end of the year. Many of these books were books selected by my book club. Should you ever want to be challenged to read things you wouldn’t normally pick, being part of a book club will definitely help with that.

This year’s fiction books include:

This year’s books by people I know:

This year’s non fiction books include:

Books I’m currently working to finish:

  • The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, Desmond Morris
  • Radical Honesty: How to Transform your Life by Telling the Truth, Brad Blanton
  • Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman

The number one book that influenced me this year was one suggested by Annie Oortman, Radical Honesty. What struck me as profound is how the author connects secrets and dishonesty to physical conditions, such as chronic pain and fatigue. Holding back from telling someone the truth, regardless of the reason, quite literally weighs you down. While I have always endeavored to be very honest, this book takes that to a new level. It encourages people to be brave enough to say how they really feel in the moment and not let things fester.

The book I disliked the most was Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter. The story itself revolves around a daughter and her stepmother as they navigate the death of the father. My book club chose to read it because it held examples of good description. While it did have plenty of that, the story itself moved so slowly and had so many scenes that felt unnecessary, that I got super bored.

Let’s discuss!

What were the best and worst of the books you’ve read this year? I’m looking to create next years list – if you’ve got some great suggestions, send them my way.


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!

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Growing up a nerd in the 80s was a unique experience. Of everything weird and wonderful, there were two movies that stood out and still tickle my imagination every time I see any related artwork. Those two movies were Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

I’m sure you’re all suitably shocked.

When they announced they were taking the rest of the Dark Crystal story and making a Netflix series, I was both excited and concerned. The art of the original movie is what captured it’s fans, and not necessarily the story. In fact, while I loved the art and the mystic other-worldliness of the original film, I never paid any attention to the story until I became an author. How were they going to recapture that magic and balance it out with such a complicated story?

The verdict – with amazing artistic talent and skill. The Age of Resistance is exactly what it needs to be for those who loved the art of the original movie. The producers resisted the temptation to use CGI and opted for traditional puppeting, a decision that was both more costly and challenging, and it resulted in a series that looked and felt as if it stepped out of the original movie.

My other concern was how were they going to stretch the source material into ten hours of film? This is where many new comers to the franchise might start losing interest. Because the world of the Dark Crystal, Thra, is complicated with lots of different cultures and influences, both from within the seven distinct populations of gelflings, and also from the alien Skeksis who have taken up the responsibility of ruling the world, there are parts of the series that have to slow down and explain all of this.

No amount of amazing sets and beautiful creatures can make up for the material being slow and boring at times. I didn’t mind, because I enjoy deep worldbuilding and love examining examples of when it’s been done well. For everyone else, the pace of several episodes is slower than what a standard viewer is used to.

I finished watching the series earlier this week and was very impressed at how good it all turned out to be. For me, it’s a lovely reminder of that magical world that captured my imagination as a child.

Also, the music is incredible. I pulled up the soundtrack to listen to as I worked the other day and was swept away. Managed to write 20% faster than usual to boot!

Recommendations:

I recommend The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance to anyone who liked the original Dark Crystal, or who has a love for epic fantasy story telling styles. This will both amaze and delight you. Also, if you love fantasy art and puppetry, this will rock your world.

I don’t recommend this for those who really haven’t gotten into fantasy as it requires the viewer to take a rather large leap of faith on a premise they might not understand. It’s a bit slow and the payout of the story is long in coming. That said, it is beautifully made.


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!

NaNoWriMo 2019 – Halfway Point

Whoa-oh, we’re half way there … whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!

We just passed the halfway point of the challenge and my story ideas are turning into their own little monsters that taunt me at night. I thought I had an okay grasp of what the story needed to do. That is, until I realized that I had no actual villain to defeat. Gasp. I’ve written short stories where there is no villain and it’s worked fine, but I came to realize with a screeching halt that I’ve never done something novel length this way.

Cue the intense character naval gazing. This brings me to problem #2 – I have a set point where Isben needs to end up at the end of all this, and I can’t change it no matter how much the interesting story fairies try to convince me other wise.

This is hard.

In the past, when I’ve been bedazzled by a sparkly plot bunny, I’ve had full permission to follow it to my hearts content. That’s where some of my best ideas come from, chasing bunnies (and watching an unhealthy amount of Netflix, but I digress).

Dearest Isben, stop being so gosh darn internally complicated. I’ve had to psychoanalyze literally everything about you from your childhood upbringing and the expectations of your family, to your bizarrre irresistable urge to leave home, to how your culture has molded you into something that you feel is not right, and all to find a conflict compelling enough to drive you through this story without turning you into furniture.

That would be so much easier. Isben – you’re a couch now. Stop wanting an active role in your life and I’ll drag you to where you need to be without all the trust issues and drama. All I need is a moving truck and a GPS. You’d get there safe and sound with a minimum amount of drama.

Man, that would be dull reading.

Eyeroll. Fine. But I’m warning you, Isben, not only are you not going to be furniture, but you’ll have to struggle through every page until you reach the end. Don’t worry, I gave you a friend, he might quite possibly be the world’s most annoying bard, but he’s got a heart of gold. You’ll make it. I just need to decide in how many pieces…

Here’s to another ten days and the completion of this crazy project! Forget the treats, send a therapist.


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!

Happy Birthday Stonebearer’s Betrayal!

Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash

Reminiscing…

Exactly one year ago today Stonebearer’s Betrayal, my very first novel, entered the world – and oh what a day that was. There’s something to be said about a dream you’ve worked on for years to finally happen. To be honest, I was more terrified and insecure about release day than for the birth of my own children. So much depended on things that were wildly out of my hands, everything from Amazon rankings, to generating a good public buzz, tp the people who ended up coming to my launch party. All I could do was try my best and watch and wait.

With my kids, I didn’t have to prove anything. My responsibilities revolved around keeping them healthy and happy and success was easily measured. The world had nothing to do with their well being, as well it shouldn’t.

Yeah, not quite so true with books… Authors are expected to flaunt their book babies to the unsuspecting public at literally every turn. Even more so, we are supposed to go flaunt it to complete strangers and beg, remind, and cajole them to tell us what they think in the form of a review. We spend hundreds of hours seeking out ways of making connections with as many people as possible, because the health of our book baby depends on it.

The Challenges of First time Authoring

Some authors are much better at it than others. One of those tragic truths about creative people is that we’re good at what we do because we thrive on spending time with words and ideas and finding ways to make them exciting. Most of us struggle to reach out to strangers by the hundreds to find ways to share our message.

For me, this entire year has been eye opening to say the least. Leading up to last year’s release, I spent hours and hours learning about all aspects of authoring books, including researching marketing needs. There is something to be said about learning by doing vs. learning by any other means. While taking classes and reading books about the subject is an amazing way to get a general feel for what needs to be done, it feels like each challenge or obstacle is a burning match and the solutions are as easy as blowing it out.

On the other hand, learning by doing, especially when it comes to marketing your own products, is more like being thrown into a building that is on fire. It’s dramatic, scary, and sometimes you feel like you might die from the sheer volume of what needs to be done. No matter how hard you blow, the flaming challenges keep coming back.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I quite literally burned myself out. During the four months leading up to the release and then the six months after, I spent anywhere between 4-6 hours every single day working to find opportunities ranging from identifying people who would be interested in giving reviews to tracking down podcast hosts and pitching them show ideas. Over the course of the year, I showcased over a combined sixty different artists and authors on my blog as I tried to spread good karma.

Don’t get me started on the amount of time I spent trying to find my voice on social media. I still stink at that… But I’m learning!

Worse still, I lost the time to do the parts of authoring that I truly loved. I couldn’t find the time to write down new shiny stories and then polishing them up until they shone. The sequel novel didn’t get the attention it needed, not to mention the dozens of short story projects that I wanted to be a part of but simply didn’t have the time or energy.

Give me a new baby any day. Actually, I take that back. With my young kiddos still at home, I’m still balancing their needs into my working day.

The Future

All that said, the future of the Stonebearers brand is shining bright and I’m excited at all the plans that are coming together as I write this.

The biggest announcement, is that the sequel to Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Stonebearer’s Apprentice is slated to come out the second week of March 2020. Stay tuned for sneak peaks and other amazing stuff I’m planning for its release.

I’d like to thank all of you who have taken this journey with me. It’s been one wild ride, and will only get better. Thank you dear readers. I couldn’t do it without you.


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!

Assembling a Cyberpunk Heist Team by Jodi L. Milner

My buddy James and I did a super entertaining blog swap. He asked me to stretch out of my writing comfort zone and write a cyberpunk “how to” article. Here’s what I came up with. Be sure to like and follow James at his blog. 🙂

James Wymore

As part of a blog swap (see my last post), Jodi L. Milner wrote these fun instructions, which I think you’ll enjoy.

Assembling your Cyberpunk Heist Team

By Jodi L Milner

Listen, if you’re reading this you are already up to no good. Kudos. I like your moxi. Chances are you’ve got plans, big ones, the kind that needs cash. We’re not talking about rummaging up enough coins to sleep in a real bed, that’s nothing. If you take my advice, you’ll never have to sleep on a pile of cardboard again.

We’re talking credits. Those penthouse-dwelling corporate yes-men got ‘em. You need ‘em.  The cybernetic enhancements you want won’t pay for themselves, and without ‘em you might as well start selling your brain space to the highest bidder.

To pull off a successful heist, you need a team.

The Mastermind – That’s you, sweetheart. Someone must know what’s really…

View original post 832 more words

Janus: The God of Beginning

January is all about new beginnings and I, among others, have beat the goals and resolutions drum loudly and with gusto. But, have you ever thought about where the word January comes from?

Until recently neither did I. That was, until I ran across an article about Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings. Seeing as history holds it’s own special magic, today we will explore the history of how January got it’s name.

Both Rome and Greece both celebrated many gods, each with a very specific purpose. The majority of these gods were shared between the two cultures, each with their own specific name. The Roman Jupiter is the Greek Zeus and stands and the King of the gods. Neptune is Poseidon and is the god of the sea. Venus is Aphrodite and is the goddess of love and beauty.

Janus, in contrast, is purely Roman with no Greek equivalent and is the only god with that distinction. In ancient history, Janus was the god of beginnings and endings and presided over entrances and exits. To represent this role, his is often depicted as a two-faced god, or a god who can look in both directions.

Bearded Janus at the Vatican Museum
By Fubar Obfusco – Foto taken himself, upload to English wikipedia by Fubar Obfusco, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=177247

Unlike other Roman gods, there is evidence that Janus actually lived. One of the myths declares that he ruled alongside the Roman king Camesus and was exiled to Thessaly. His children included Tiberinus, which is where the name of the Tiber river originates. He built a city on the west bank of the Tiber named Janiculum.

Shrines to Janus are generally located near river crossings or bridges and are themselves passageways to enter and exit places of reknown, the most important of these being the shrine near the Argeletum entrance to the Forum. This shrine had bronze doors which were kept open in times of war, and closed in times of peace.

Arch of Janus, Forum Boarium, Rome
Located on the Tevere river
Image attribution: Wikimedia Commons – artist unknown

According to Roman historian Livy, these gates were only closed twice between the 7th and 1st centuries BCE due to the Roman tendency to always be at war.

Many modern day sources will attribute Janus in the naming of January. To my surprise, I found this isn’t technically true. There is an older attribution to Juno, the queen of the gods. While it makes sense to honor her in this way, I will hold with modern sources that persist in tying January to Janus.

January marks both the end of an old year, and the beginning of a new one. It is the doorway marking the entrance of the earth into another cycle around the sun. Janus is the guardian of the same. It simply fits better.

Sources:

***

“Always the Journey” podcast

Last week I joined Jason Woodland on his podcast “Always the Journey.” We had a great time talking about everything from favorite movies, to the influences of travel, to the color that represents my work. Be sure to check it out!

***

Thanks for joining us today! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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

Grateful for You

Yes, you, dear reader. I am grateful we are sharing this tiny moment of our day together. I’m grateful you chose to click the link and see what I have to say. Writers can’t exist in a vacuum, we need to know there is someone out there who is interested in what we have to say. Today, in this exact second, that person is you. 

You are the reason I create magical pieces of fiction. You are the reason I stay up at night thinking of how to untangle a difficult story line. You are the reason why I seek out interesting topics to share. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably be doing something mundane like folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen.

Here at the opening of the holiday season I find myself full of conflicting emotions. With Thanksgiving, and it’s focus on gratitude, this is the perfect time of year to reflect what I’m grateful for here at the blog – and what a year it’s been! At this time last year, I discovered my book was going to be published. I dreamed of what today would look and feel like. 

Being here, at this moment, is a culmination of years of dreaming and working. I’m excited about the possibilities the future holds, but also know how much work each of those possibilities require to make real. Everyone wants a runaway success, no one wants to think about how much effort it takes for that to happen.

Which is why I’m grateful for you, dear reader. Every click turns into a number, and while most of you will only be known as a number to me, each number is meaningful, because it means you were here. 

Thank you for being here!

***

Last weeks launch party and book signing was a success. A huge thank you to Aaron and the Printed Garden for hosting, to Jordan for bringing his amazing sword exhibit, and to my friends and family who came and supported me.

Missed the Launch? Have no fear, I’ll be signing at The Printed Garden during the Shop Local Saturday event, Nov 24th from 1-4 pm.

***

In other news, I’ve been busy connecting with other blogs and podcasts. Here is what was posted this week:

Don’t forget, books make great gifts! Pick up your copy of Stonebearer’s Betrayal now and give it to your favorite fantasy reader for the holidays. 

Amazon 5-star review

Wonderfully crafted story. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and grew as I read. The characters were well created and brought me into the story, and made me feel all the emotions a good character does. Yes, I even shed a few tears. Well done. Can’t wait for more. – Blyck

Thank you Terry Pratchett

The more time you spend working to become an author and to publish, the more you realize just what a big deal it is for your name to be known among the general population. Think about it, there are millions of authors out there who are published, and several million more who are working to become published.

Knowing an author’s name, even if you haven’t read them, means that they have attained a level of success that few can even dream of.  Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman, are now household names.

1654Terry Pratchett is one of those authors who have  broken the mold among the fantasy community. Over the course of his career he has published  an astounding 66 books. Forty of these books belong to the globally popular Discworld series.

What makes Pratchett’s writing unique is his firm grasp on satire and knowing just how far to push an illogical situation. Some of his most iconic images are in fact the most silly, such as the Luggage, which is described as this:

The Luggage is a large chest made of sapient pearwood (a magical, intelligent plant which is nearly extinct, impervious to magic, and only grows in a few places outside the Agatean Empire, generally on sites of very old magic). It can produce hundreds of little legs protruding from its underside and can move very fast if the need arises. It has been described as “half suitcase, half homicidal maniac” (Sourcery paperback p22).

tumblr_mn98y9YnC51r3yo7eo1_400Terry Pratchett died in his home last week after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His courage and wit have inspired millions, including me.

Thank you Terry!

Literary Interview with the Twins

Happy President’s Day everyone! I hope you all have fun plans to celebrate the day.

My friend and fellow writer Ginger Commander Mann had the brilliant idea to allow  the twins from her story “Jilted River” to interview the twins from my story “Breath”. Both our stories appear in the Xchyler Publishing fantasy anthology The Toll of Another Bell.

Head on over to her blog to check it out!

Twin Walks at the Edge of Time

image

New Favorite Musicians – The Piano Guys

Pop culture has everything to do with the latest and best incarnations of our favorite things, and music is no exception. In my high school years I loved the piano music of Jon Schmidt almost as much as I loved and still love soundtrack music.

Yesterday I found the best of both worlds – Jon Schmidt playing awesome mixes of some of the best soundtrack music out there along with his awesome buddies in The Piano Guys. Here’s my new favorite mix, Batman Evolution.  Not only do they weave the best of the Batman theme songs from across the years, but they have been allowed to borrow three of the original Bat mobiles as set pieces.

Check it out: