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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Five Things I Learned From Reading a Janet Evanovich Novel

I did something a little off the beaten path this week and tried out a Stephanie Plum mystery, famously written by Janet Evanovich. My pick, Hardcore Twenty Four, loosely centers around a zombie mystery. This is so far from my usual cup of tea, it’s laughable. In fact, it’s so far from what I’d normally pick up, that I almost put it down.

Then curiosity got the best of me. These books are NYT and USA today bestsellers, and there are over 200 million Evanovich novels in print. Those are some pretty amazing statistics. So, I put my research hat on and decided to take a deeper look.

I discovered that this is the kind of book that’s the perfect read for anyone who wants a happy distraction, and judging from the state of things these days, that’s literally everyone. The prose is easy to digest, the characters are unique and likable, the problems are relatable but treated in a way that they are more humorous than anything. And, there’s a splash of intrigue to glue everything together.

It’s like cotton candy. Sweet, fun to eat, and mostly fluff.

Have no fear, I did grab a few important lessons that are applicable to everyone

For every itch there is a scratch

There are people who love, and I mean love, these books and characters. Reading these books is the perfect escape and a great way to spent a weekend or long afternoon. If you don’t love them, that’s okay too. It goes to show everyone had their own likes and dislikes.

All you really need are charismatic side characters

Stephanie Plum is an interesting character by herself. She has a pet hampster, a crazy grandma, and works as a bounty hunter. But, it’s her friends that spice up the story. From the mysterious Diesel, to the romantic cop Morelli, to her bedazzled coworker Lula, there’s a little of everything to keep things interesting. It goes to prove that life is way better with interesting friends.

The bad guy is the one you’d least expect

This is true for lots of villains in fiction, the one responsible for all the problems is usually the one you’ve been led to least suspect. Or, they sincerely believe that what they are doing is going to either help someone, or give them a unique opportunity. This is true in real life as well, usually people aren’t being jerks because they’re evil. Usually there’s something else far more complicated going on.

If you’re going to have a fantasy boyfriend, make him hot (and talented)

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It allows us an escape. It allows us to dream of new possibilities. It makes reading fun fluffy stories that much more colorful. Every one of the men in Stephanie’s life are a) gorgeous and b) have a unique set of skills, and c) are committed to helping her with anything she might need. Spending a little time in her shoes means readers can dream they have the same thing. Just a heads up – in real life you can only have two of the three.

Everyone has a story

If anything, these books prove that everyone’s got a story, and if you dig deep enough it’s an interesting one as well. In Hardcore Twenty-four, we learned all about grannie’s lovelife, Ranger and Diesel’s special set of skills, and Ethel the boa constrictor’s food preferences. If you want to make someone’s day, find out about their story. I’m sure there’s something interesting there you’d never expect.

Get your copy of Hardcore Twenty-four on Amazon today.


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Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.