Interview with Scott W. Taylor

From acting, to film making, to daily blogging, to writing books, today’s guest loves pushing his creative limits. I think, Scott Taylor and I first met at a book signing event, but it might have been a conference. He’s one of those guys that you feel like you’ve known forever, because he’s always very warm and friendly to talk to.

We crossed paths again at this year’s Fyrecon writing and arts conference in Layton and I offered to bring him here to share some of his wit and wisdom with all my wonderful readers.

Without further ado, let’s go to the interview!

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

To kick things off, let’s begin with a getting to know you question. Tell us a little about yourself, including what scares you the most.

My name is Scott Taylor. I live on the side of a mountain on a plot of land my parents bought for pennies (compared to today) back in the 1960s. I write speculative fiction, steampunk, fantasy, even a little paranormal and horror. My debut novel Chaser was released in 2018 from Immortal Works Press. I am a blogger and have blogged every day since January 24th, 2011. I also keep a daily journal and have done so since January, 1985. Two things that scare me most are sharks and drowning, but if I’m ever in the situation where I’m facing both possibilities, I’m not entirely sure which would be worse.

In the past year, what’s one experience you’ve had that you could describe as amazing.

In April of this year, I joined the Programming Team with the FanX Comics Convention in Salt Lake City. My main responsibility centered around a stage located on the convention floor—a first for the con. I helped book the acts, schedule them, and I had the honor of watching the con patrons enjoy panels, musical acts, even dance and self-defense demonstrations. I loved introducing a new facet of the convention and seeing how it affected the overall con experience of those in attendance.

Of all your creative endeavors, of which there are many, which have you found the most rewarding?

I believe a creator never tires of hearing about how their work has affected others. When a parent tells me how much their children (and them) loved my book, or watching a person cry after watching a film I wrote, you realize what you’re doing is not only for your own satisfaction and interests, but can affect and entertain so many others—that’s the best part of what we do (in my opinion).

Tell us about the inspiration behind your most current book, Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and His Dog.

Chaser came about for two reasons. I wanted to finally complete a November NaNoWriMo project, and I wanted to write a book for my youngest child to read since he’s not a reader. I asked him what he wanted to read, and he responded, “science fiction.” So, I had to figure out how much “science” I needed to put in a middle-grade science fiction story.

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 don’t have a writing space, per se. I suppose the most interesting thing I have is my custom MacBook Pro cover. It’s leather. It zips. It has inside pockets to store additional materials. And the best part, it’s from the Deseret Industries, a local thrift store. I noticed when I bought my first MacBook Pro I noticed it was small enough to fit in a regular-sized planner. I bought one for 50¢ at the D.I. and it worked perfectly, so when I enter an Apple Store and see how much their MacBook Pro covers cost, I can’t believe how much I’m saving to protect my laptop.

Quite possibly the most unique MacBook cover ever.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am about a quarter into a fantasy/alternative history story that I’ve been kicking around for several years. This year I decided to get serious about finishing a story that’s been swimming around in my brain since the idea first came to me. I also like the world surrounding the story and that it can hopefully continue to several other stories, both in the past and in our current time.

Coming soon to a venue near you, it’s Scott Taylor!

About today’s guest:

Scott William Taylor lives with his family on the side of a mountain. When not working, performing, or sleeping, he loves writing novels, short stories, and screenplays. He writes Steampunk, Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal. His debut MG novel, Chaser, is published through Immortal Works. Taylor earned his Master’s of English degree from Weber State University.

Find Scott Online:

Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and his Dog

About Chaser: An Interplanetary Tale of a Boy and his Dog

Twelve-year-old Kennedy Barnes and his dad are on an interplanetary mission to transfer Earth’s animals to Planet X489-B, a habitable world without animal life.

But one animal not on their spaceship’s manifest is Kennedy’s dog Chaser. Unable to part with his beloved Chaser, Kennedy smuggles the Labrador Retriever onto his father’s ship.

What follows is a story of strength, deception, harrowing escapes and painful lessons learned.

Join Kennedy, Chaser, and the entire crew of Trinity Base as they travel billions of miles from home on an adventure as big as the universe, and find out just how far one boy will go to save his best friend.

Find Chaser on Amazon!


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“The Magic System Mad Science Experiment” by Ryan Decaria


Magic and Science? It’s my dream come true! When it comes to magic there are two distinct teams. One team cheers for hard magic systems, such as what’s found in Brandon Sanderson’s books, where there are clear rules and limitations. The opposing team cheers for soft or undefined magic, such as what’s found in The Lord of the Rings, where there are no limitations and those who use it are shrouded in mystery. Which team will win? Easy – the team you like the best!

Today we welcome my favorite mad scientist author and board game enthusiast to the blog. Ryan Decaria is going to try to win points for Team Hard Magic in his article about magic systems and mad science. Cue the lightning! Muah ah ah!


Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

The Magic System Mad Science Experiment

by Ryan Decaria

My mantra when writing science fiction and fantasy worlds is to treat magic like a science and to treat science like magic.

I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute.

Magic comes in two varieties: magic systems with rules and undefined magic. Brandon Sanderson is famous for the former in his Cosmere novels. Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings is a great example of the later. Who knows what powerful spell he’s going to come up with next. Still, in either methodology, magic can be seen as a part of that world’s natural laws.

Like any other natural force, magic can be studied, classified, and theorized about. The scientific method can be applied, because the cause and effects can be scrutinized. I’m going to say it again. Treat magic in your story as a science field of that world.

Now, your characters will probably not be scientist studying that magic (cept how cool is that), so they won’t necessarily care to use science or science terminology when wielding magic. I don’t think about gravity or how my internal combustion engine gets me to work. I just drive.

I came up with a great litmus test for your fantasy’s magic system. Let’s call it the Mad Scientist Experiment. For your magic system, imagine a mad scientist character living in your world who is trying to use the magic in new way by combining aspects or segments of your magic in unnatural ways. This can be the Frankenstein scientist, driven by the desire to create, the Doc Brown scientist, eccentric but good-hearted, or the nefarious scientist like Doctor Poison from Wonder Woman.

Does your magic have enough meat for them to operate? Can they create life? Can they seek immortality? What are the costs? What are their methods.

If you can’t answer any of these questions, perhaps you haven’t given your magic system enough depth. Answering these questions, might give your magic system a needed boost.

Here are some examples of great mad scientists in epic fantasy with mild spoilers:

  1. Saruman from Lord of the Rings
    • Focused on industry at the expense of the natural world
    • Breed a new species of orc
    • Created great forges and explosives
    • Became obsessed with power
  2. Ex-maester Qyburn of A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Anatomical experimentation on still-living people.
    • Excellent surgeon or a Torture Technician
    • Created a Frankenstein-like creature
  3. The Lord Ruler in Mistborn (spoilers in this one get a little meatier)
    • Found a way to gain immortality
    • Created new races and the inquisitors
    • Changed the natural laws of the planet
    • Combined two kinds of magic to great effect

But what about science fiction?

There are two kinds of science fiction: One cares about how the science works and the other cares about how the science affects the world.

In the first, science knowledge is at a premium, and you better get it right. In the latter, the science just works and no one is questioning why. Take hyperspace in Star Wars or transporters in Star Trek. The more you dig into the science, the more preposterous they sound, so you don’t dig into the science. You avoid the science because it just works and your story is about what that technology does to society and to people.

You treat it like magic.

I love the term handwavium because it describes the science in terms of magic. Handwavium is what powers unrealistic or impossible technology, such as faster-than-light travel, teleportation, and artificial gravity.

In conclusion, to create a rich and deep magic system, imagine how a scientist would study the magic and how a mad scientist would exploit it. You might discover a few plot points and a couple of awesome characters along the way.

Remember my mantra:

When writing science fiction and fantasy worlds, treat magic like a science and science like magic.

My favorite mad scientist author, Ryan Decaria

About today’s guest:

Ryan Decaria was raised on science fiction and fantasy novels and 80’s adventure movies. On rainy days, he sulks on the window, sill waiting for a treasure map, an alien buddy, and his own luck dragon. Ryan is the author of Devil in the Microscope and its soon to be release sequel, We Shall Be Monsters. He is also the host of the Meeple Nation podcast where he discusses the board game world. You can find him at madsciencefiction.com musing about how mad science uses the best bits of science fiction and fantasy at the same time.

Connect with Ryan:

Ryan’s Book: Devil in the Microscope

Bonus points if you can spot the rat in the picture!

When “science-fair-geek” Anika goes to live with her scientist father in a town built around his mysterious genetics laboratory, she is determined to prove herself worthy of his legacy. But all preconceptions about her new life are thrown out the window when Anika discovers her father is a megalomaniac living in a town populated entirely by mad scientists. Now Anika will have to navigate her way through a high school filled with vindictive evil geniuses, deadly science projects, and unspeakable human experimentation. Relying on her wits, scientific know-how, and talented allies, Anika fights for her very life, and the lives of her new friends. Will Anika have to become like her mad scientist father in order to save the day?

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Inside the Head of an Author, by Holli Anderson

Artists and creatives, including writers, come in all different varieties. Some are organized. Some work fast. Some like to follow their muse all over the place. Some have unique rituals they follow. What we all have in common is a passion for creating our own unique form of art.

Holli Anderson, friend and Chief Editor at Immortal Works Press, is here to talk about what it’s like to be an author with a chaotic creative mindset, and to give us a tour of her creative space.

The talented and amazing Holli Anderson

Inside the Head of a Writer

By Holli Anderson

Hi! I’m so happy to be a guest here on Jodi’s blog! I’ll start with a short introduction. My name is Holli Anderson, I write YA and MG under this name that happens to be my real name. I write Adult Romantic Suspense under the name H.L. Anderson – which is my real name using initials…

Besides being an author, I’m also a mom to four grown boys, a grandma to a girl (who is nine and a half and can’t wait until she turns eleven and receives her Hogwarts letter – because I am that awesome of a grandma) and a boy (age five, and whose sister and I are indoctrinating into an HP lover as well), a wife to one man-boy, a registered nurse, and Chief Editor of a small publishing company. The reason I tell you all this is; it might help explain why my mind is in such continual chaos.

Now, back to my head. My brain is always running a million miles an hour in a gazillion different directions. It can sometimes be difficult to grab an idea out of this pandemonium—that’s why I know, when I latch onto an idea that shines brighter than the rest, it must be a GREAT idea. That’s when the plethora of notebooks I keep hanging around come in handy, they’re where I write these GREAT ideas down (moment of truth here: they aren’t always GREAT ideas, sometimes they turn out to be GROAN-WORTHY ideas when I go back and look at them later).

There have been times when I’ve been somewhere I can’t write an idea down – like driving, or in the shower – during these times of immense duress I have to resort to repeating the idea over and over in my mind until I can get to where I can safely (and dryly) write it down. The book I’m working on right now was one such GREAT idea. My husband knows this is what’s happening when I burst through the door after work and show him the palm of my hand as I frantically dig through my backpack to grab a notebook and pencil (yes pencil—all GREAT ideas must be written in pencil). 

(FYI—as I was writing the above paragraph a FOX ran down the sidewalk across the street and partially into a neighbor’s yard before taking off the way it had come. I had to run outside to tell my husband and son, who are changing brakes on a car—and they didn’t believe me!)

This is getting a little longer than I had planned, but I need to explain one more thing about this author’s head. EVERYTHING around me, every trip to the store, every date with my husband, every walk around the neighborhood—everything—can be turned into something to do with Harry Potter, Supernatural, LOTR, or The Avengers. EVERTYTHING. Drives my husband crazy. How many times he’s said to me, “You know that isn’t real, right?”

That’s when I mumble “Muggle” under my breath and continue on.

The pictures scattered throughout this blog are pictures of my office/library. I think they help explain my head to you. This is the room that calms me. Makes me smile. Helps me write. It’s my favorite room in the house.

Oh, and, in case you want to check out the end result of all of this “chaotic thinking,” feel free to buy my newest release, a YA Superhero/Dystopian novel titled MYRIKAL.  Here’s the Amazon link to make it easy:  https://www.amazon.com/Myrikal-Holli-Anderson-ebook/dp/B07M6GKJ5J/

And here are some other places you can find me:

A virtual tour of Holli’s creative space

This a view of ¾ of my desk from above.
This is what sits directly in front of my computer when I’m writing.
The right corner of my desk
The left corner of my desk.
On top of one of four bookshelves.
Second row of same bookshelf.
Third row of same bookshelf.
Fourth row.
Fifth row (that’s an umbrella there next to all of Brandon’s books).
I had to show you my Sorting Hat!
Wall and shelf behind my desk (did I mention I like Supernatural?).
Wall and another shelf behind my desk.
Life-size Dean, always giving me that brooding stare from beside my desk.

A huge thank you to Holli for sharing about herself today. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to head over to her webpage and other social media.

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Toxic Fans and How Not to be One, with James Wymore

Every single one of us has that one friend who hates things with an unusual passion. You know the one – and if you don’t, it might be you. The conversation will start with a casual discussion about the most recent movies they’ve seen and the next thing you know, they are ranting about some aspect of the show that you frankly could care less about.

This is a toxic fan – and James Wymore isn’t one of them. Trust me. He’s got opinions a plenty about recent reincarnations of certain franchises, but he also has that wonderful thing called perspective. As an author who has
solved the puzzles and fought to find what makes his fans happy, he gets it.

James and I are friends and fellow authors at Immortal Works press.

Solo, the story of why Han has trust issues

Toxic Fans and How Not to be One

by James Wymore

I can’t count how many times over the years I’ve had somebody tell me how awful the Star Wars prequel trilogy is. At conferences, during convention panels, over pizza, at family gatherings, and so many times on social media. They are generally nice people, with notable exceptions. I just can’t figure out why they have taken it upon themselves to actively campaign against a nearly twenty-year old movie in a franchise they claim to love. What is it they hope to gain?

So I started engaging some of these folks in conversations, to find out what about those movies caused them so much irritation that they would publicly proselyte against them.

The responses varied, of course. Some became defensive, as if they couldn’t understand why anybody would have to justify such an obvious opinion. Others broke down into lists of reasons, some I suspect were regurgitated from online or other sources. The last group just increased their vitriol, adding emotional weight to their claims. The only common thread I could find was that each of them felt it should have been done differently.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it takes a lot of self confidence to believe you could imagine or produce a better movie than the franchise’s original creator, writer, and director.

I wrote this off as people being people and didn’t let it upset my own enjoyment of those movies. However, over time, the anger and animosity toward Star Wars creators grew exponentially when Disney bought the franchise and began making new movies. Abrams managed to make most of the fans moderately happy with episode 7. Rogue One caused a new division. Then waves of social hate rose up to actively protest episode 8. And I can’t even explain why so much anger was aimed at Solo.

Disney responded by cancelling all the spin-offs. Then they changed their mind and cancelled everything after episode 9 (which had a year left before it even came out). Way to go, whiners, you got Star Wars put on permanent hiatus. You literally killed the thing you claimed to love. Even if it wasn’t what you wanted, did you have to ruin it for everybody else? If you couldn’t have the movies of your imagination, does that mean the rest of us shouldn’t have any either?

If you like something, great. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. But why the hate? Why the need to actively tear it down? Did it ever occur to you that you could just leave peacefully and let the rest of us enjoy it?

Fandom has grown toxic.

 We all need a little more zen in our media consumption. Rather than lashing out when you’re disappointed, maybe a better strategy would be to just watch what you like and don’t watch what you don’t. Are you getting paid to review movies? Have you been inducted into the posse to protect innocent citizens from bad media? Did the “fix the franchise” crusaders make you their missionary?

Trust the market. If people don’t like something, they won’t buy tickets and the company will lose money. That’s the only feedback they really listen to anyway. If you don’t like the new Ghostbusters, don’t watch it. But be cool. Don’t go after the company and start spreading negativity. Offer people the dignity of deciding what they want. And be secure enough to not like something without rage.

Creating a hostile environment just ruins it for everybody. In the end, isn’t it supposed to be about entertainment and fun? If not, maybe you should reevaluate why you are emotionally invested in it. If so, then making it toxic is counter-productive.

Peace.

The real James Wymore

About James Wymore

Growing up on a steady diet of Spider-man cartoons and television shows like Batman and Wonder Woman, James Wymore knew he would someday find his own super power and join the fight for justice. He did everything right, from experimenting with arson to jumping from great heights, but his ability to control fire or fly never kicked in.

As he went past the teenage years, he accepted that he probably didn’t have a hidden mutant power waiting to manifest. Neither would he uncover any unexplained alien origins, so he threw himself into searching for enhancements designed to bring his latent abilities to the surface. He travelled the world studying arcane magic. Throughout college, he experimented with volatile chemicals, extreme temperatures, lasers, and various forms of radiation.

Eventually, he discovered the power of hypnosis through fantastic stories. He plunged into writing, filling his work with the subtle triggers that would allow him to one day take control of all his readers’ minds and use them as an army to conquer the literary world. Until that day, he works tirelessly to create more and better books. Follow his progress at http://jameswymore.wordpress.com

Want to connect with James, here’s his links:

Book Soon to be Released

Thug #1

Superheroes and villains constantly battle for control of Denver, Colorado, so somebody has to do the heavy lifting. CJ Cruz found his niche working for whichever super-flavor-of-the-day happens to be running the show at the time. Since most of the self-labeled heroes claiming to be on the side of justice don’t hire henchmen, he usually winds up doing the street-level work for supers operating outside the law. His family and priest just think he’s a gangster, but CJ knows his motivation is pure. He keeps on the windy side of law enforcement by following a few simple rules, the first of which is keep your head down and never be the boss’s right-hand man. People tell him he should get a new job, but he likes working around supers. Besides, except for intimidation and roughing-people-up he doesn’t have any other skills necessary to make rent and pay child support.

“Thug #1 is a fast-paced, action-packed book written in comic book style. The artwork is amazing, too!”


Holli Anderson, author of Myrikal
Theocracide – newly released in audiobook!

Theocracide

In the future, everybody wears computer glasses that scan the world and project whatever you want to see right in front of it. Through perfected augmented reality, the buildings and people blend seamlessly into whatever movie or video game is running. We all see whatever we want, all the time. Nobody cares what clothes they wear, because the rest of the world sees them as pirates, robots, or anything that suits their current media. Even the cars are self-driving, because nobody wants to pause the streaming feed.

In other news, the world is under attack by aliens. Disease is decimating the human population. A man takes over America and declares himself to be a god.

Nobody cares, so long as they don’t turn off the wi-fi.

Jason Hunt has the perfect life. A scholarship university athlete with an amazing girlfriend, his future couldn’t be brighter. Then his father drops a few family secrets on him—

Secrets of treason and heresy, which put him in direct conflict with the reigning Theocrat.

“Wymore weaves a fantastic tale while taking a good hard look at religion, politics, immortality, entertainment, and technological advancement.  If you’re looking for a thrilling sci-fi adventure that beautifully mirrors current real-world issues and advancements then this is the book for you.”


Andrew Buckley (Author, Hair in All the Wrong Places)

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From Contract to Launch – The Journey to Here

I believe I’ve said it here before, but creating a book is a lot like having a baby, morning sickness and all.

Not mine, but super cute! (image attribution: Pixabay)

Over the past few weeks I’ve had several people want to hear about my journey of what it’s been like to publish a book. Last year, I wrote a post about my experience with querying and finding a publisher. Ironically, that post was immediately preceded by one talking about rejection and accepting yourself as you are, proving that this industry is indeed a roller-coaster ride of emotion.

What a year it’s been!

If my book “pregnancy” officially began the day I signed the contract, then the morning sickness set in when I started work with my editor. Women suffering from morning sickness will tell themselves it will all be worth it in the end as a way to cope with the misery. During the editing process, I kept telling myself that the nauseating discomfort of learning about all the weak parts of my book had to be a good thing as well. My editor at one point in the process may, or may not, have compared my main character to Bella Swan from Twilight. Ouch.

Editing is hard work. Each chapter, sometimes each page, takes long hours of intense focused thought to bring it to the next level. When I’ve done my own rounds of polishing and editing it’s taken months to work from cover to cover. Under contract, I’m given thirty days to complete an editing pass. Fun fact – if I spend one hour per page, editing the book would take over 300 hours. That’s THIRTY ten hour work days back-to-back with no breaks. Which is why it really wasn’t fair for my kids to be off-track during the first crucial editing pass as I transformed my main character Katira away from being a passive Bella and into a strong, capable protagonist.

Deadlines are aptly named. If you aren’t feeling half-dead with exhaustion as you slide your edited manuscript back, you probably have better time management practices in place than I do. In the first pass, we cut away almost 15,000 words of dead weight and replaced them with hundreds of small additions sprinkled through the book like salt. I learned quickly that one of my writing weaknesses (besides poor Bella) was not tagging dialogue in a way that added motion and life into a scene. After spending days of work inserting more action into my dialogue sequences, I think I’ve learned my lesson.

This process is repeated until both editor and author agree the book is as good as it can get, or can’t stand to look at it again. I’m still not sure which. Morning sickness fades into a period of waiting, preparation, and sheer terror contemplating the vastness of all that should be done. There’s waiting for the proofreader to finish, waiting for the cover artist, waiting for formatting, waiting for proofs, waiting for digital copies, waiting for early reviewers – so much waiting.

At this point self-publishing starts to look good. While I’ve loved having the support of a company to help me through this process, especially since it’s my first time, the waiting and not knowing what’s happening – or if anything is happening – can drive anyone a little nuts.

Just like a first-time mom, a first-time author (despite all their research, and best efforts, and fellow author friends who try to show them the way) experiences so much uncertainty with the whole process that the stress is unbelievable. Looking back, I could have done so much more with this waiting period to prepare for the books release, but I was naive. Now I’ve been through it I know what really needs to be done, and when I go through this again I’ll have a much better plan.

Launch day speaking to the crowd.

Launch day is literally a book’s birthday. It is pushed out into the world and is on display for all to see, warts and all. All the early teasers, quotes, articles, and efforts that happen before the launch are the same as showing people ultrasounds. As the author, I can see the cute little nose and the tiny precious fingers, and all that amazing potential inside because I’ve studied it – but to everyone else it’s just another static filled picture.

There’s no way to feel truly prepared for launch day. Some authors do hundreds of hours of prep and set up and marketing and a blog tour – the options are dizzying. Some moms fill their freezer with weeks’ worth of meals and create and fill a schedule for people to come help them.

Some don’t.

The results are the same. The book still comes, the baby is born. The family and friends that planned on supporting and helping the author still show up. Sometimes friends of friends are dragged in as well.

Unlike a baby who demands care, feeding, and endless love and attention, a book won’t demand anything and immediately starts fading into obscurity unless the author continues to push and work to keep it in the public eye.

This is where I am now. My book has entered its infancy where it still doesn’t know its place in the world. I’m working everyday, trying hard just to keep it alive until it can start building momentum on its own. Just like a real infant, the work keeps me awake at night and requires a steady stream of care and feeding for it to thrive.

It’s exhausting, but worth it.

Proud Momma and Book Baby

My family will tell you that this process has changed me. I believe it. I’m a stronger more confident person than I was before. I’ve learned how to squeeze the most out of short periods of time, and utilize every moment – especially when I’m under a deadline. These skills have transferred into home life as well. Putting off doing something I don’t like doing, like creating a meal plan, only serves to prolong stress. Get it over with. Having a messy house won’t kill me, but it doesn’t help me find peace either. It’s important to seek out ways to feel centered, even when lots of crazy is going on.

While I wrote the book because it was one of my life goals, it has helped my kids see that they can reach hard goals as well and that anything worth doing takes real work. I love hearing the pride in their voices as they tell their teachers and friends that their mom is an author.

Hopefully they don’t mind too much that this book baby might be expecting a little brother in 2020…!

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Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!) Here’s a handy link to Amazon to learn more.

Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships with Dacia M. Arnold


As the holidays are upon us, the stresses of meeting expectations and being around family are very real. I’ve asked friend and fellow writer Dacia M. Arnold to join us today and share an important message about healthy domestic relationships, a message that resounds in her newly released book, Apparent Power.

tour logoDacia’s Message:

Modeling healthy domestic relationships in my novel, Apparent Power, was extremely important to me. I lost my best friend to domestic violence when I was deployed to Iraq the second time. She was killed in her home at 4am on Christmas morning 2010. The phone call home that day is both vivid and a blur of emotions in my memory.

In Apparent Power, readers will recognize the very distinct difference between a healthy romantic relationship and an unhealthy relationship.

The main character, Valerie Russell, is hell bent on making sure her son is safe. Her next priority is to find her husband and, with his help, figure out the next steps. As a wife, I make no major decisions without my husband. Though he respects when I am extremely passionate about something like saving the world, my husband is my sounding board and voice a reason. There is no doubt he would fight with me to the ends of the earth, or run as far away as we could because the decision would be made together. This healthy relationship drives the train through the story. From page one yes, a mom is trying to save her son, but her teammate, partner, and best friend is her husband.

Later in the story, the reader encounters a narcissistic character who is in such a place of power, there seems to be nothing left for Valerie to do but concede to her situation for the sake of the lives around her. I even went so far as to have the main character recognize the abuse and narcissism but feel so inferior to do anything about it. Many people are in the cycle of abuse knowing it should not be that way but feel trapped by money or other circumstances. In the end Valerie finally reaches out a hand to find strength existing within her the whole time. I will leave the rest for the audience to find out.

Love should not hurt physically OR emotionally. Sometimes relationships are hard, but this should not be the majority of the time. There are resources to not only identify domestic abuse, but find resources in your area to remove yourself from the situation. Psychological abuse is just as damaging as being hit, pushed, or raped. Crisistextline.org is free. Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States. If your texting is monitored you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are unsure if you are experiencing abuse you can CLICK THIS LINK to find out what domestic violence is.

5Dacia M Arnold is an award-winning American novelist, freelance writer, mother, medical professional and a ten-year Army Veteran. She is the author of Apparent Power, Reactance and Shifting Power, plus short fiction in the international anthology COLP: The Passage of Time. As a freelance writer, Dacia contributes monthly to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s blog where she shares her relatively short experience in the literary world.

Dacia spent fifteen months working in Baghdad Emergency room with the 86th Combat Support Hospital. During her second deployment, then Sergeant Arnold managed the busiest outpatient clinic in southern Iraq.

Now, as a mother of two, Dacia incorporates her experiences in all aspects of her life into her writing.  

Apparent Power correctedJust in time for Christmas, the perfect gift for the book loving person in your life (maybe that’s yourself). Apparent Power has been critically linked to Hollywood blockbusters like Divergent and Annihilation by Kirkus Reviews and is available for sale December 11th through all major book retailers including Amazon. 

Connect with Dacia:

Apparent Power on sale December 11th through all major book retailers including Amazon, Tattered Cover, and Barnes & Noble

Influences of Podcasting with Daniel Swenson

Today, friend and fellow ginger Daniel Swenson comes on the blog to talk about his most influencial podcast guest in the ten years he has run the Dungeon Crawler Radio podcast. Daniel and I met through our connections in the Utah writing community and have plenty in common, including a passion for fantasy fiction, a love of meeting inspiring people, and a shared publisher, Immortal Works Press. 

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My question to Daniel – Which podcast guest has influenced you the most over the years, and why? 

Daniel’s answer:

The question of who has been the most influential person in my podcasting and writing career was one that was a bit difficult for me to narrow down as I have met many amazing people over the last ten years that I have been doing my podcast Dungeon Crawler Radio. When I first started, I had these grand dreams that I would meet all the authors that I had come to love in my formative years. And amazingly enough I was able to fulfill most of those dreams. So, to narrow it down to one individual was quite a challenge, but in the end when I finally decided on who that individual was, it was quite obvious and apparent.

As I’ve said, I have met many amazing and talented people over the years and this is in no way to discount them because many of them have helped shape my life in one way or another. However, the one person who really stands out in my mind that made the most impact in my life as a person, a podcaster, an interviewer and a writer has to be author R.A. Salvatore. It was during those Awkward High School years that I discovered Bob’s first Drizzt novel, The Crystal Shard. The book was set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms setting and at the time was published by TSR. The cover was fascinating, on it was a burly dwarf with a massive battleaxe, a huge human barbarian easily hefting a warhammer in both hands, and a dark elf was crouched on the ground examining a blood trail. I knew right then and there I wanted to know what happened within the pages of this book. 

I devoured every book R.A. Salvatore put out and they always found a way to effect me emotionally on some level with the events going on in my life at the time. It was amazing. Fast forward fourteen years later and I was two years into running my podcast and we’d had some success with interviewing author like Larry Corriea, Dan Wells, and Brandon Sanderson before their careers took off. It was around this time I gained the courage to email Bob and see if he would be willing to come on the show to talk about his latest book. To my amazement, he said yes and we planned when he’d come on. The show was beyond amazing, there I was talking to the author equivalent of my hero and it was like we had been friends for years, he joked with us, he spoke to us about writing, he gave us and the listeners some really great advice. He was also very interested in what we had to say regarding our insight with his novels, the characters and our questions about writing and he was very gracious and responded in kind. 

Bob continued to come back on the show year after year sometimes as much as twice a year depending on book release and each time he continued to leave great advice on writing and being a decent human being.

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With each visit I wrote down the amazing advice given and tried to incorporate those things into my daily life, my writing for my gaming campaign and the podcast. The advice given was so impactful that I am sure it is part of the reason the podcast has been so successful and authors like R.A. Salvatore and so many others have wanted to return over and over again. But more importantly, it was the advice given about writing and the need to write that really changed my life as it had given me the foundation I needed when I began to write my first novel. All those lessons over the years had been the greatest writing class anyone could ever hope for. 

I am grateful for the friendships I have made over the years with individuals in the writing and gaming communities due to my podcast and writing. I still continue to meet amazing individuals everyday and I hope that through my podcast, my writing and when I speak at events that maybe I too can spark the joy of being creative in someone else like Bob helped ignite in me.


About Daniel Swenson

Daniel Swenson is a fantasy writer that enjoys writing about dragons, guns, swords, magic and more. Daniel’s debut novel The Shadow Above the Flames came out in 2017 and was an Amazon Best Seller. The sequel, A Dragon’s fate will be release in June of 2019. Daniel is also the creator and host of the Hugo-nominated podcast Dungeon Crawlers Radio.

Connect with Daniel:

About his book, The Shadow Above the Flames:

How do you save the world from two monstrous entities? A power-hungry corporation and a newly awakened dragon…

In a world left reeling at the loss of fossil fuels, and after giving years of service to the military, Henry Morgan just wants a normal life. But between nagging feelings from his past and a strained relationship with his brother Rick, “normality” always feels just out of reach. 

The Union Forest Corporation puts profits ahead of safety and with a dragon on the loose threatening to kill innocent people, something incredible happens… 

Henry learns that Rick is among the force of elite commandos sent by Union Forest to battle against the dragon at the drilling site, he’s forced back into the roles of soldier and protective older sibling. He’ll do anything he can to save his brother . . . including risking his own life at the hands of a ruthless corporation. Henry may be the only person who can keep the world safe from total annihilation…

If you like fast-paced thrillers, brutal dragons, witty heroes, and evil villains, then you’ll love Daniel Swenson’s first novel – The Shadow Above The Flames. It’s a high octane thrill ride! 

Buy The Shadow Above The Flames today to watch an ordinary man become a hero!

“An awesome premise combining old and new. Tons of fun.”

– Dan Wells, New York Times bestselling author of “I Am Not A Serial Killer”

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A huge thanks to Daniel for joining us today! Be sure to check out both his podcast and his book, they are awesome.

Speaking of podcasts, did you know that Dan and I did an interview a few weeks ago? Come check it out.

Positive Influences of Writing, with Rachel Huffmire

Having a creative outlet in today’s busy modern life is a wonderful way to relieve stress, find greater fulfillment, and meet new people. Today we are talking to author Rachel Huffmire about how writing has influenced her life for the better.

Rachel and I met because of our mutually shared passion for the written word. We both are Immortal Works authors and we both have books coming out soon. In addition, we both are moms who work hard to find an ideal balance between filling our creative wells and spending time with our families.

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Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash

My big question for Rachel is:

How has writing influenced you to be a better person?

Her response:

Learning to write is a great form of self-discovery! One of the first books I read about the craft was called “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. Ueland taught me I didn’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to be a good writer—I don’t have to spend a summer abroad, I don’t have to try Thai food (though that was a happy discovery)… I merely had to be honest about the way I saw my immediate world. So, I started to look deeper into the things I found commonplace. I realized how cool my life actually was! I grew up as a homeschooler in Utah, surrounded by wheat fields, raising a pet duck named Penelope… To me that was normal. To others, apparently, it was super interesting!

Writing also taught me to appreciate living in a whole new way. When you decide to become a creator of any kind, you absolutely must be deliberate about the way you observe, interact, and sense the world around you. In “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks about filling up a creative well to draw from by engaging your senses while seeking out a spectrum of emotions and details around you – not just the pleasant or comfortable ones. I learned to write three daily pages of subconscious jabber to get all the inhibitions, fears, and tasks out of my way so I can produce stories without being blocked by inner negativity. In an online interview, Liz Lemon Swindle recounted how her mentor told her she could become a professional artist in ten years. Liz said she would push herself and get there in a year, but her mentor replied with “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of life.”  I’ve been writing consistently for seven years now, and am so grateful for the struggles, joys, and experiences that have stretched me over that time. All of it. The good, the bad, and the new.

Writing also teaches me to live life deliberately. I’m a homeschool mom to two little boys and I make sure that writing always comes second to them. If I want to be as prolific as I hope I can be, I have to be very careful not to spend too much time engaged in things that don’t matter. And finally, writing has led me to some wonderful friendships that have shaped and changed my life for the better. Writers are some of the most friendly and encouraging bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Basically, writing taught me to embrace the life around me and savor every little piece of it, then figure out how to write it down in a way that others can enjoy it too.

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Rachel Huffmire works as a novelist and acquisitions editor for Immortal Works Press. You can find her in Southern California where she enjoys sand at its finest: the beach and the desert. She homeschools her two little boys, writes science fiction and fantasy novels, and reads bedtime stories to her husband every night. Her first novel, Shattered Snow, will be released on January 8, 2019.

Connect with Rachel! 
Facebook: Rachel Huffmire, Author
Twitter: @RachelHuffmire
Instagram: rachelhuffmire

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More about Rachel’s upcoming debut novel, Shattered Snow

The story

In 2069, time-travel is restricted to observation and research. But Keltson Grammar doesn’t mind breaking a few laws. Known only as “The Mirror”, Keltson runs an underground empire that rescues unfortunate souls throughout history. However, a single misstep could send an entire agency to reinstate his clients to their original dismal fates.

Lilia Vaschenko is a Russian mechanic surrounded by cinderblock towers, ladders she cannot climb, and a glass ceiling that holds her down like a casket. She’ll do anything to escape— even work for the world’s most wanted renegade.

Margaretha is a young countess, destined to be poisoned at twenty-one. But when she discovers a mysterious mirror in the woods that transforms the world into shadows and ice, her future shatters. Chased from her familiar home, will she ever find where she truly belongs?

Shattered Snow is a YA science-fiction retelling of Snow White. It is based on the real-life history of Margaretha von Waldeck, a sixteenth-century countess that may have inspired the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.

Sounds awesome, right? You can preorder Shattered Snow on Amazon and other online book retailers.

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Hi everyone! Jodi here.

Release Day for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is coming up next week! I can’t tell you how exciting it is for this day to finally come. For those of you (wonderful people!) who preordered, your copies will be shipped to you or delivered to your e-readers on Nov 13th.

Want your own copy? Head on over to Amazon or your favorite online book retailer today!

Want a signed copy? Head over to my online store!

Utah locals! Come celebrate with me at the Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party next Friday, November 16th, from 7-9pm at The Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070). There will be fun, food, and prizes!

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Why Adults Should Read Fantasy with John M Olsen

I had so much fun featuring Candace J Thomas here on the blog last week that I invited another dear author friend to come join us this week. Be sure to stop by her blog to see her wonderful interview with yours truly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writer friends are the best.
Today we have John M Olsen with us. He is a fellow Immortal Works author who also has roots back at Xchyler Publishing. In fact, he and I met during the same event where I met Candace back in 2015. John is also currently president elect of the League of Utah Writers and just this summer released The Crystal Queen, the sequel to his first book The Crystal King. 
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My big question for John is:

Why should adults read fantasy?

John’s answer:

A man by the name of G. K. Chesterson said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Adults also know dragons exist. We face them every day. Maybe your dragon is a mortgage or a boss with a personality disorder. Maybe your dragon is a disability or a dear friend who refuses to make good life choices. Many of us like to escape into fantasy worlds, but there is much more than escape going on as we march page by page through a fantasy world. These worlds of the imagination are fraught with peril and doom, and good storytelling puts us on the edge of our seat as we hope good overcomes evil, or that true love will conquer all.

I love themes that confirm my faith in the goodness of humanity and of the universe, especially when we see so much entropy and failure if not outright evil. The bad guys may take the upper hand as a story progresses, but in the end, they will lose. Fantasy, at least the sort I prefer, shines a beacon of success despite the odds and illuminates a path forward. If the hero of your story can achieve great things, then you as a reader can as well, no matter how dark the night.

This is why I write, too. I love to write about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, something all readers can relate to. I’m a regular guy. Most readers are regular folks, too. Few achieve great fame or fortune, and the world spins on its merry way oblivious to our existence. But history is filled with true stories of ordinary people who stepped up just like fantasy characters to do what nobody could expect. We have power we don’t recognize. Power we don’t understand, and power we don’t use. But we will recognize, understand, and use that power as we learn by example. As long as we immerse ourselves in stories of success and never give up on ourselves and those around us, we put ourselves on a path to change lives, and through that to change the world.

Fantasy gives us power over reality’s dragons.

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A huge thanks to John for joining us and for his insightful thoughts on why fantasy is so important for readers of all ages, not just kids.
If you liked this message, please share it using the handy links below!
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You can find John all over the place, here are some handy links:

Twitter: @john_m_olsen
Find his novels and short stories over on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen

 

About John M. Olsen

Motivated by his lifelong love of reading, John M. Olsen writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to entertain and inspire others. His father’s library started him on this journey as a teenager, and he now owns and expands that library to pass his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create things, whether writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways. He usually prefers “Renaissance Man” to “Mad Scientist” as a goal and aesthetic.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog. Safety goggles are optional but recommended.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

To Bear a Stone

For the longest time I’ve struggled with a perfection complex. If it’s not a perfect fit with what is “supposed” to be done, I get crazy anxious and most of the time end up not starting. This might explain why this novel has taken so long, and why I don’t post here as often as I should. Go figure. It’s my stone to push, which leads me  into what I’d like to talk about today.

The other reason I haven’t posted for a while is that, until recently, I haven’t figured out what my message is, or in industry speak, my brand. Thanks to the amazing and talented J.H. Moncrieff and this years Quills Conference hosted by the League of Utah Writers, I finally think I get it.

If you like noble but dark stories, beautiful Gothic architecture, interesting history tidbits, magic, and finding the best in the worst circumstances – you’re going to like it here.

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Today’s history lesson

Within the boundless reaches of Greek Mythology (Greek! – sorry, inside joke) is the story of the sinner Sisyphus who was condemned to push a boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down day after day. Sisyphus was a cunning trickster during his life. When he died, Hades came for him. Instead of going peacefully, Sisyphus “tested” his new handcuffs on him and tossed him in a closet for a couple of days. I’d be a bit peeved too.

Shenanigans ensued. No one could die because Hades had gone missing. When Sisyphus freed Hades, the cunning trickster was promptly ordered to go to the underworld for his eternal assignment. But – he had another trick up his sleeve. Through a series of bureaucratic loopholes involving a missing coin and an improper burial, Sisyphus managed to sweet talk Persephone into letting him return to his wife and set things straight – and then cheated death until Hades hauled him back to the underworld a number of years later.

For his crimes, and for royally annoying Hades, he was sentenced to to hard labor of the most frustrating kind – rolling a boulder up a hill for no good reason for eternity.

Hades gif.gifTo this day, when people have a frustrating and/or pointless job to do, the story of Sisyphus comes to mind.

What is a Stonebearer?

In the Stonebearer’s Betrayal universe there is a society formally called the Stonebearers of the Khandashii. These are the magic users. Simply put, those belonging  to this society possess a power that enables them to manipulate the world around them and grants them relative immortality. They can still be killed, but they will not die of old age or disease. The term “Stonebearer” comes from the stone they wear that enables them to use their power safely. The Khandashii is the name of the power itself – and is a brilliant topic for another post.

Having the power means enduring the responsibility of being a guardian of mankind, regardless of the prejudice and superstitions mankind have curated to hate any one who demonstrates supernatural abilities. This, paired with a centuries long life, is often more of a burden than a blessing. Like Sisyphus, to many it seems like an endless frustrating punishment.

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Discussion

What are some of the frustrating things you’ve had to do? For me, it’s got to be trying to make a bed when a toddler wants to play on top of it. Or laundry … there’s ALWAYS more laundry, it’s never done! Or … working with flaky people who don’t know how much they don’t get it.

Share your frustrations down in the comments!

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Writing Update

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is entering the final stages of production and we’re steadily getting ready for its November release. Currently we are refining the details on the cover.  I can’t tell you how excited/terrified I am to reach this point. Everything is so, so real.

Also, awesomeness has been happening over at my blog for writers. (Seriously though, go check out the suite of presentation notes I’ve been creating, they rock.)

Other publishing news – If you like dragons, I will be part of a dragon themed YA anthology coming out earlyish next year. If you’re at FanX, one of my flash fiction pieces will be read at the Immortal Works Flash Fiction Friday LIVE podcast, Friday, Sept. 7th at 6pm (255a).

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Stonebearer’s Betrayal comes out November 2018 through the amazing people at Immortal Works Press and will be available on Amazon.

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Don’t want more emails? That’s great. I don’t either. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Pick your favorite social media flavor. I won’t spam you with posts, I promise.

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