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.


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Meet the Cast: Mirelle Pathara

Mother to Katira, the main character in Stonebearer’s Betrayal, and companion to Jarand, Mirelle is both a nurturer and councilor. In sticky situations, she is the one most likely to stay rational and calm and keep the other characters from making rash decisions. This works well because both Katira and Jarand both tend to let their emotions guide their actions.

“Healing Silverstars” By AnthonyFoti

From her youth, Mirelle has been passionate about the healers art. It came as no surprise that when her powers manifested, her strength and talent aligned with this passion leading her to join the Order of Healers. She is unique among healers with the power, as she also has gathered a wealth of information regarding medicinal herbs. This knowledge is put to good use in the small town of Namragan, where she lives with Jarand and Katira and works as the town’s healer.

Among her peers, Mirelle is considered one of the best Stonebearer healers, second to Master Firen the head of the healing arts at Amul Dun, the mountain fortress of the Stonebearers.

Katira grew up watching her mother work healing the sick, tending to the wounded, and preparing salves, tinctures, and other medicines, all with an expert hand. Katira admired her mother so much in this ability to make people feel better that she begged to learn the healing art as well. As soon as she could lift the heavy mortar and pestle she pulled up a chair and worked alongside her mother. When Katira was old enough to announce her trade as a young teen, she proudly declared she would follow in her mother’s footsteps.


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Want to learn more about the cast of Stonebearer’s Betrayal? Check out these posts:

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Discussion

Do you have a favorite mother character in fiction? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Don’t miss it, Stonebearer’s Betrayal received another wonderful review this week from book review blog “Why not? Because I Said So!”

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

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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

The Inner Jerkface and You: How to Deal with your Inner Critic – with James Thompson

Authors tend to be introspective people. After all, we spend an ungodly amount of time uncovering the inner workings of our characters down to the point that we know what will break them – and then we do, often with gleeful abandon.

This is what makes great storytelling. However, like most people, we still stubbornly refuse to master that little voice that keeps telling us that we aren’t good enough, aren’t worthy, or don’t deserve to succeed. Today, friend and fellow author James Thompson is with us to talk about how we can deal with that niggling little voice.

The Inner jerkface and you: How to deal with your inner critic

Just who is this inner jerkface?

It’s our inner critic on steroids. It’s the little voice that knows what we’re afraid of. Knows the anxieties plague us on a daily basis. It’s the guy that pumps adrenaline into our bloodstream at night, so we can lie awake and worry.

Our Inner Jerkface, or whatever you want to call it, comes into our life at the most inopportune moments.

Here’s the really scary part. The Inner Jerkface speaks in a rational, logical sounding voice. Even though it’s telling you irrational, illogical things. The lower we feel, the more depressed we feel, the more this voice makes sense to us.

“You’ll never be as good as your successful friend.”

“You are a fraud.”

“You are failing your family.”

I could go on and on.

Like you, I hear this voice on the daily. Even when things are going great, this voice will still be there, trying to make us shut down and curl into a ball.

Fortunately, we have another voice we can listen to. Paying attention to this particular voice can counter the Inner Jerkface.

I’m talking about the voice of our optimism.

I can hear the eye rolling now.

Optimism gets a bad rap, oddly enough. People associate optimism to thinking life will be sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and kittens.

Not so.

Optimism is seeing the problems we have, and telling ourselves to keep going. That things will get better.

When things look bleak we can either listen to the Jerk, or we can listen to the voice that tells us this.

“Your friend is very successful, and that’s awesome. That success is motivating.”

“Frauds only look like they’re working this hard. I know you’re putting in the hours on this.”

“I know this is difficult right now. I also know you’ve got great support and your wife and kids love you. You can do this. ”

The Inner Jerkface will always be with you. So will the voice of your optimism.

You’re always going to have anxiety, no shame in that. It’s part and parcel of the human condition. So, too, is realizing that somethings are more important than our fear. Finding out that you have that kind of courage is a huge deal.

Don’t worry if you haven’t found your courage yet. You will.

About today’s guest:

James Thompson lives in Sandy, UT. He loves a good story wherever he finds it. Primarily he loves the myths and legends of every culture in the world. He also loves reading DnD, Star Wars, GURPs, White Wolf, and other RPG source books. He even participates in role playing games when he finds folks crazy enough to let him play. When he isn’t reading or writing, he is a stay at home father, helping to raise twin boys who are growing up too fast. He is also a blade and exotic weapon enthusiast. Lineage is his first published book. He is currently working on the sequel to Lineage, and other projects.

Connect with James on Facebook, on Twitter, and on his blog.

James’s Book, Lineage


This is the story of Connor Murray, a young hooligan from England who finds out that he is a direct descendant of the Legendary King Arthur. He is taken to a school where other lineal descendants of the Court of Camelot gather to be taught by the progeny of Merlin. Lineage brings the names of the Knights of the Round Table from the dust of the old tales and gives them new life. Most importantly, it brings back the ideals of Arthur’s Camelot: that might is not right and mercy is not weakness.

Lineage is available on Amazon.

The Courage to Write, with Elesha Teskey

Fear of the unknown haunts our steps at the start of any adventure . A skydiver’s parachute might not open. A rock climber might fall. The horse might bite and kick.

Writing is no different.

Today, Elesha Teskey is here to share her personal experience about what it means to have courage as a writer. It’s the perfect message for all of you endeavoring to start new projects here in the new year.


Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Courage to Write

Writing is hard. If you’re a writer, you know that. It’s hard enough to come up with a story, string it together into something entertaining, then sit down and craft those ideas into something that other people will enjoy, but add the fear we all feel into the equation and it’s enough to make you quit some days.

When I first started writing, I just wrote. I knew enough about telling stories that it wasn’t terrible, it also wasn’t great, but we all have to start somewhere. As I progressed on the journey, I learned more (as one hopefully does). One would think that more knowledge would lead to it being easier to craft a story. It hasn’t. I found myself worrying about everything. What if my character is too unlikable? What if there’s no market for this story? What if I put a comma in the wrong spot? What if my word count is too high or too low? Sometimes the self-doubt is paralyzing.

This issue has been on my mind a lot lately. I miss the days when I put words on the page and wrote in blissful ignorance. What I’ve learned on my journey has helped me grow, I can’t unlearn it. What I want to do this year, is use what I know and write without fear. There are certain things that are important to keep in mind, like pacing and word count, but it’s okay to let some of the other stuff fall away while I write. I was listening to the audiobook for View From The Cheap Seatsby Neil Gaiman. He mentions that he writes stories for himself, stories he wants to hear, and people happen to like them. Now, writing that way won’t lead us all to Neil Gaiman status (if only), but it will make us a lot happier.

If you have a story burning inside you, write it. Don’t hold back. Allow your imagination to go where it will. I’m not saying you’ll end up with a masterpiece, but your end product will be more authentic, which makes your story unique.

The Fabulous Elesha Teskey

About Elesha

Elesha lives her life surrounded by books. She managed to land a job as a librarian a few years ago, which allows her to discuss books all day. In the evening, she writes dark stories that often involve magic and monsters. She also helps put other people’s books into the world in her role as publicist for Pen & Kink Publishing (www.penandkinkpub.com). When not doing bookish things, she tries to find time to read Tarot cards and watch Supernatural between her parental duties.

You can find her at her blog and on Twitter

Pen & Kink Publishing (www.penandkinkpub.com) is a micro publisher run by editor-in-chief Cori Vidae. I was lucky enough to have been brought on board as publicist when Cori launched the press. I’m so lucky to get to help people launch their books. We have released some great titles over the last three years, everything from hot and steamy romance to sweet stories, from creepy to cowboys. Check out our books, I’m sure you’ll see something interesting.

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Hi, Jodi here. I’m so glad you stopped by. The message Elesha shared is so important, not only for writers, but for everyone who needs a little boost of encouragement. I’d love to hear about your projects and what helps you be brave down in the comments – I will always comment back.

Like this post? Want to stay in the loop? Be sure to like and subscribe!

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Meet the Stonebearer Cast: Jarand Pathara

A few weeks ago we discussed the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Katira. That discussion can’t be complete without also learning about her father, Jarand Pathara.

Jarand wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life as a father, husband, and blacksmith, hidden away in the remote village of Namragan. He wants to raise his daughter and teach her the wisdom he’s gathered over the long years of his life. He knows it can’t last, there are forces at work that will put an end to this peace, but at the start of Stonebearer’s Betrayal he refuses to dwell on the changes that will come.

He chose Namragan for one reason alone, it is the least likely place his enemies would look for him and the best possible place to keep Katira safe. Jarand’s history stretches back further than a mortal man, he wasn’t always a simple blacksmith.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know immortals play key roles in this story. Jarand is one of them.

Jarand is an oath-bound Stonebearer of the Khandashii. While his immediate concerns are to protect his family, his larger duty is to protect the people of the world against dark creatures escaping from the mirror realm. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to wear the stone, there’s a blog post about that too.

Amidst the Stonebearer society, there are five orders that stem from the five distinct types of magic. Jarand is a guardian and well-trained in warfare. He survived the great wars when the world turned against those who could use the power.

I mentioned in the blog post about Katira that in the early days of writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Jarand used to be the main character. I loved writing about him because I loved what his character represented. In the end, it wasn’t his story to tell.

His creation is a result of my own wish fulfillment. I took the best traits of all my favorite characters and allowed him to grow from them. In Jarand, we find the wisdom and fierce protectiveness also found in Doctor Who. We also see how time has worn him down. He is a world-weary tired warrior, much like Geralt of Rivia. He holds his oaths dearly and for that there is a feeling of nobleness to him, much like Ned Stark. I promise, I’ll let Jarand keep his head.

mattsmith

The 11th Doctor

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Geralt of Rivia

ned-stark-game-of-thrones

Ned Stark

The big question is – do I see Jarand as the perfect man? My answer is no, simply because there is no such thing as a universally ‘perfect’ man. He is a good man and something all men can strive towards. He is caring, selfless, and hard-working. He’s also had hundreds of years to learn from his mistakes and discover what brings him the most fulfillment, which for him is the safety and happiness of his family.

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Join the conversation! Who is your favorite “noble man” character? Brownie points for sharing why they are important to you.

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Meet the Stonebearer Cast: Katira Pathara

It turns out that it’s unexpectedly hard to create a post about the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal without giving away some of the disastrous things that happen to her in the story.

I’ll do my best.

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“A Strong Girl” by schattenlos 

Katira Pathara is the daughter of Jarand and Mirelle, two respected members of the small mountain guarded community of Namragan. Mirelle is an herbalist and medicine woman, while Jarand works the village forge and sits on the town council. Katira has been studying medicine and healing under her mother’s tutelage since she was old enough to lift the heavy mortar and pestle. As the story begins, she is on the cusp of entering her formal apprenticeship when she turns eighteen.

Katira is levelheaded and willing to try things that are difficult. What I love most about her is in this book is she grows to overcome fears that are holding her back. She learns she can be fearless when it really counts.

In the beginning of the journey to create this world and this story, Katira wasn’t the main character. That role I assigned to her father, Jarand. Of all the characters in Stonebearer’s Betrayal, he is the only one to fall onto the page fully formed and demanding I share his story. Most authors have one character archetype that they adore to use and I’m no different. I love strong silent fighters who are world-weary, caring, and once you’ve earned their respect, willing to sacrifice. In the end, this wasn’t his story to tell which was something that took me years to figure out. We’ll talk all about Jarand in another post.

Katira, like many teen girls, made me fight and work to understand her and even now, I’m not sure of what she’s going to do next. She’s uncertain of her place, and desperate to be accepted and respected in the same way she sees the people of her community treat her mother – although she’ll never admit it.

I know what you are thinking, Katira is secretly me. Yes, and no. She’s tiny parts of me. But, on that note so are all of my characters. You can’t create a fictional character without drawing from your own experience. Katira loves the science behind how things work. She genuinely wants to help people. She’s logical. So am I.

Game-Of-Thrones-Season-7-Arya-Stark-Set

Arya Stark from Game of Thrones

Confession time, I was watching lots of Game of Thrones during the refining editing passes where the finer story points of Stonebearer’s Betrayal and its characters took shape. Arya Stark is such a cool character that I wanted to capture some of her struggle and spark in Katira. Katira shares her dark eyes and dark hair and both grow into something that when the story starts they would never have expected. Does Katira go off assassinating the enemies who betrayed her family? No. But she is willing to do what it takes to ensure her survival in what looks like a hopeless situation.

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Let’s talk! Share your favorite “strong girl” main character in the comments. Bonus points if you share how that character has influenced you in your life.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. I’ll follow back. Pick your favorite platform, either here on WordPress, or you can also find me on  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.