Interview with Rafael Hohmann

At this year’s Fyrecon 2019, I asked a few author friends if there was someone I needed to meet who would be a good fit for my interview series, and I was immediately directed to the outgoing and talented Rafael Hohmann. I’m thrilled to share his thoughts with you all today.

On to the interview!

Image by Sophia Hilmar from Pixabay

First, let’s get to know you better. Please share with us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t. 🙂

Ooh, I like this question! One thing people know about me is that I’m an author who is tired of the same ol’ in fantasy. Mostly elves, dragons, dwarves—and in more recent years, current world politics and gratuitous sex. I want fantasy escapism that doesn’t involve me rolling my eyes or getting frustrated. I might be in the minority on that one though…I’m not sure. Another thing most people know about me is that I’m a networker. I love meeting other authors, readers, publishers, editors, etc…you name it. Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give, and experiences to share. Although I take everything people say with a grain of salt, I would like to think there is always something new for me to learn from someone else—or at the very least I can use them as inspiration for a future character. Lastly, kind of a given, people know me as an epic fantasy writer. I love wielding limitless creation when it comes to storytelling. I went from being the kid who was always getting sucked into stories other had written into being an adult who gets sucked into other people’s stories and now my own stories too…I guess not much changed.

Two things that people don’t know about me…well most people don’t know that I was born in the dungeons of a castle in Brazil, in South America! I guess that aligns pretty well with me being a fantasy author and all! Also, I love adding lore, ancient history, songs, and food into my stories. It keeps the written world feeling fresh and exciting.

Every author I’ve met has had an Ah-ha! moment where they decided they wanted to write a book. What was yours?

I was in junior high, selling my own home-drawn comic books to my friends in exchange for candy or coins (to buy candy), daydreaming about being stuck in the school, surviving the zombie apocalypse. Since I didn’t see any attacking zombies, I decided to record my zombie daydream in the form of a story. I really liked how it turned out and loved the idea that I was able to turn this internal fantasy of escapism into something I could read. I think it was at that point that I realized I had found my new favorite thing to do, which was to write. That was probably my ah-ha moment.

What do you think is your writing superpower? What do you do really well?

Probably world-building and monster creation! I say that because I like to put a lot of effort into creating unique places, cultures, lore, history, and creatures. I want people to read my work and feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m also really good at snacking while I write, except Dorito fingers and typing is not a good combo.

So far, which of your characters is your favorite? And which is most like you?

My favorite is my main antagonist Wahala in the SunRider Saga. She is a woman who is not anywhere in the league of raw power and strength as some of the other bad guys or even the good guys. But her insane drive, her hunger to learn the bigger mysteries of the world while everyone else is out fighting great wars, and her manipulative wit make her this underdog you can’t help but root for, even knowing she’s a really bad person.

The character that’s most like me is probably Goblin, who is the main character Finn’s best friend. We’re both food-a-holics and love to play ruthless practical jokes on others.

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 have the carved skull of a ram that’s been painted gold in my study. It stares into my soul. Really though—it inspires my darker adventure-fantasy style writing, its really frikin’ cool, and it connects with a few concepts seen in my SunRider Saga. One specific group of people in my series come from this dead land that is populated with the dangerous corpses of various monsters, ancient warriors, and plants because of a prehistoric enchantment. Throughout many millennia while they have survived there, the people of that land developed the cultural practice of replacing limbs with gold as a means to help dissuade carnivorous monsters from eating them. Over the many years, that practice became a religious act. In the end though, I bought the skull because who wouldn’t want that as a decoration???

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am working on book three of the SunRider Saga, to be released hopefully at the end of this year! It’s a big boy, which is what my readers want in a adventure fantasy novel. I’m also constantly going to various conventions, podcasting with local authors in a really cool writing group I’m in, the Four Seasons of Epic Fantasy, and I’m building from scratch a leather-bound fantasy-style version of SunRider (full of maps, red ink, and metal inlays) and recording the process as a YouTube video.

Raf says, “Have I got a story for you!”

About today’s guest​

Born near the oceanic coast of Brazil inside the dungeons of a castle, Rafael moved to the United States at the age of six. He spent his young years reading, cliff climbing, exploring abandoned mines, and drawing strategy maps to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Obsessed with sharing his stories with others, he writes whenever he can and talks a bit too much about books. You can often find him gorging on sushi and trying to convince his wife to let him ​buy a dog.

Connect with Rafael:

Amazon description of SunRider

I have seen men become Gods and I have seen Gods become dust…

Magic pieces of armor rain from Lenova’s skies, granting common men God-like abilities. These individuals have been dubbed the Star-Children, and their magical suits of armor can reshape land, nations, and the future of man. Each of them wield a seemingly random and distinctive power: the
capability to create clouds of gems, the skill to bend lightning by command, the means to suck the air out of one’s lungs. They are marked by the bracers they wear: a single piece donning their arm, a piece which shifts and slides, forming their unique armored suits of might.

“A perfect mix of super-powers and fantasy!”

No one knows why these bracers have fallen from Lenova’s skies, picking seemingly random individuals to hold such power. In the absence of knowledge and with superior beings now in existence, chaos reigns. The few Star-Children with morals wield their powers with honor, those with darker intentions…seek blood and conquest.

In the midst of this emerging chaos, teenager Finn SunRider only cares for escaping the mines within the burning desert of the Crust and exploring the world he lives in. When an ancient bracer different from those which have fallen from the sky grafts onto Finn’s arm and the last of a dead race warns that albeit no future is certain, he will be thrust in the middle of godly battles and mystery, Finn’s plans of freedom take a different turn.

From flaming, coal-covered vat-worms and two-directional streams to floating cities and slagged landscapes, follow a fantasy adventure of epic proportions!

***

Sound amazing? Buy Sunrider here, and its sequel, In the Land of Hershel, here.


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.

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

Interview with Bree Moore

It’s always a joy to bring a fellow fantasy author here to discuss what sparks their creativity and learn about their journey. Today, Bree Moore joins us to talk about her journey and give us a peek into her life as a writer.

On to the interview!

Love Arthurian Fantasy? You’ll love today’s author!

Hi Bree, thanks for joining me here today! To get things started, I’d love to get to know you better. Tell me, what was the moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?

I was a voracious reader from a really young age. My addiction to books and the stories inside led me to want to write. In 4th grade we received a school assignment to write a story, and my teacher gave us an actual hardbound book with blank pages to write the story inside before turning it in. The whole process enchanted me. I wrote a really terrible story, but I’m really proud of the effort I put into it. I still have that book, actually. Soon after I wrote, by hand, another story that was 60 pages long. We got our first home computer around that time, and I started another story. It just felt natural to write. I really enjoyed it and the feeling of accomplishment I had every time I finished a story. I knew then I wanted to be a writer.

If you were to magically gain a creative super power, what would it be, and why?

Probably the ability to perfectly translate the images in my head to paper. It’s so frustrating when a scene plays out perfectly until I try to write it down!

In the course of writing your books, what has been your greatest challenge to overcome?

Finding time and energy to make it all happen. I homeschool my five kids. They’re all under the age of seven right now, my youngest is five months old. I’ve published three books and two short stories in the past two and a half years, all while in the thick of motherhood. It’s tough to find the motivation when you’re exhausted and stretched to your limit. I currently wake up at about 5am every day to get my writing in. Difficult, but worth it. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without making the sacrifice to keep doing what I love. Writing, and accomplishing my publishing goals, keeps me sane. It gives me opportunities to meet people and do more. So, even though it’s my greatest challenge, it’s so worth it.

Your stories have characters who have to be brave and make hard choices. What is your favorite inspiring moment in your most recent release?

In my novella in the “Beyond Instinct” anthology, women gain their magical abilities when they give birth for the first time. I love the part where my character, having just had her baby, decides to confront the antagonist. She has her baby strapped to her chest, and she’s so beautifully furious at what’s been done to her people. I love the power of that moment.

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’m still working on having a designated writing space, but something that will be in it when I have one is this picture that a friend once drew for me. It’s a beautiful ink drawing of all these fantastic worlds, and the message he wrote on it is about the value of stories. I’ve had it for about eleven years, it inspires me every time I see it.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m currently writing a paranormal fantasy trilogy about a world where paranormals are illegal citizens until they go through “Naturalization” and conform to certain standards of humanity. My main character is a raven-shifter. The first book, Raven Born, comes out in November.

Creative powerhouse, Bree Moore

About today’s featured guest –

Bree Moore lives in Utah, is wife to an amazing husband, and is a mother of five children. She writes fantasy novels between homeschooling and folding laundry.
In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing. Bree loves shopping for groceries like other women like shopping for shoes (no, seriously), movies that make her cry, and Celtic music. She likes both her chocolate and her novels dark. 

Bree is also a member and contributing writer at www.WritingThroughBrambles.com, a blog for fellow authors and readers.  

Connect with Bree –

Woven, by Bree Moore

About Woven –

For thirty years, Elaina has sat in her tower, fingers caught in an eternal dance, cursed to weave the tapestry of life on her loom. Bound by an enchanted mirror whose magic shows her the distant lives of the people of Camelot, she must forever watch a land which remains beyond her reach. Elaina despairs that she will ever experience more than just the shadows of life, until one day a face appears in the mirror that will change her life, and possibly her fate, forever.

Guinevere is losing her mind. When a severe injury to her head nearly kills her and awakens alternate personalities suppressed from her past, Guinevere learns that one of them is plotting with a knight of the round table to murder King Arthur and take control of Camelot. In the midst of war, Guinevere fights to save both her own life and the man she loves, each day coming closer to succumbing to the violent personalities within her.

Fans of “Once Upon a Time” and the legends of King Arthur won’t be able to let Woven slip through their fingers.

Find Woven on Amazon!


A huge thank you to Bree for joining us today and sharing about her creative life and inspiration!

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.

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

Interview with Kenny B. Smith

There are authors, there are editors, there are mentors, and then there’s Kenny – a snarktastic bundle of the three, plus a good friend of mine. It’s a pleasure to bring her to the blog today and share more about her journey and what makes her tick.

Kenny and I have bounced around various writing events ranging from signings at the Printed Garden, to fan conventions such as Wizarding Dayz, and to writing conferences such as Fyrecon. We share a lot of the same darkly cynical humor and sarcasm so it was only a matter of time before we became fast friends.

How about some dark and stormy reading? I’m in!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

On to the interview!

First of all, I’d love to get to know you better. What makes you laugh the most, and why?

Puns. The more horrible, the better. And B SciFi movies. The terrible ones with descriptions that don’t match and awful plot ideas. Airplane vs Volcano and Sharknado – like that. I think I just like bad acting and both of those fall under that category. They usually have one really good A-lister (at least 70% of the time). Those are the funniest because they know how to act well. The people acting in the show around them make them look overly dramatic or just bad themselves. It’s hilarious.

If you could choose any fictional character (including ones you have created) to have dinner with, who would you choose and why?

Carmen Sandiego – I was always a fan as a kid and she seemed like such a bad guy. The kind who knows things you can’t possibly know and will never learn. But then, Netflix flipped the script on it. So, I have to wonder, which one is the real Carmen. Besides, the adventure stories would be so much fun to write up. Ca you imagine retelling the story of stealing the Great Wall of China? Masterful.

Tell us a little about the Evolution series and your journey in writing it.

The Evolution series came about when I was writing some history curriculum. I am obsessed with World War II. While not a conspiracy theorist, I do believe it was a body double that was burned in the ditch at the end of World War II and the high ranking Nazis, some of them, escaped to South America, which is why the CIA was so involved in controlling the government in those countries in the 50’s and 60’s. The documentary series Hunting Hitler is very telling. Had Germany managed to take Britain by any amount of special circumstances, then they would have crossed to friendly countries and started over here. I am currently knee-deep in the third and what should be the final book but I feel like it doesn’t close everything up. So, I am debating changing the ending or writing a book four, for gratuitous reasons. The story develops well on its own and I don’t want to force it. This is not the first series I have written but some are published as a ghost writer. So, I can’t share those.

For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been deeply involved in all sorts of events. What’s the most bizarre or weirdly wonderful thing you’ve encountered at a writing conference or fan oriented convention?

1 – The first KidCon I was ever involved in, we built a castle out of donated foam. My husband was the architecgt and project manager and it was some long hours. During the event, someone stole the PVC pipe holding things together on the back wall of the castle itself. It was strange and caused quite a scare as we thought the wall was completely broken and falling..

2 – Deflowering the Castle!!!! Okay, you have to understand the delirium that comes with FanX Comic Convention. It was Saturday night around 10pm and we were still breaking down KidCon. Mind you, I had spent ten hours a day at the Salt Palace since Monday helping to set up. By this time, we had seen at least 3000 kids and were just tired. Brain fried, I removed all the plastic plants from the castle walls and declared it had been deflowered! And someone else wanted to know if my husband knew I wanted something so big. Yep, I need to start a blog on stories behind the scenes working with kids. So – the second one is less family friendly than the first. Use whichever you like, or both.

I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.

My dolphin pen. When it falls on the floor, it will cut you with a fin. It no longer has a cap or ink but I wrote my first query letters 20 years ago with it and now, I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more of a weapon now than it was then because it literally could stab someone in so many ways. On the bad days, I contemplate trying to break it open to see if I can add ink. It sits next to my army issue typewriter which still functions by the way.

What’s next? Tell me about the next project (or projects) you are working on.

Finishing book three in the Evolution series. Then we have the Blue Quill Anthology that we are publishing through Teapots Away Media. We have an awesome idea for a podcast that will be taking things back to the 1950’s (think War of the Worlds) if the media arm can pull it off. We are compiling a set of memoir stories relating to the original versions of fairy tales that take on current issues. I am working on another dystopian scifi and a new Adult Fantasy myself and we have two authors who have submitted works to be released next year. I have short stories coming out in a charity Halloween anthology for Fyrecon and possibly with the Salt City Genre Writers.

The ever talented and always amusing, Kenny B Smith

About Kenny B Smith

Kenny likes to read, of course, and when she’s not writing, she is researching history, one of her favorite subjects. Researching allows her to rewrite history in her speculative fiction novels. Accuracy is something she values in her work.

In her spare time, she enjoys quilting and sewing, hanging out with her kids and teaching. As someone who has volunteered her time with children often, she values their creative space and loves to help them express it. She also teaches classes to adults. Her latest class is how to write an effective query letter.

Not always a teacher, she loves to learn and learn she does. She has certificates in Radio & TV Broadcasting, Private Investigation & Security and is working on one in Antiques. As history was her major, she knows how to learn about anything although research is not her favorite task.

When she’s not dreaming up new book ideas in the fantasy and speculative fiction genres, she is writing non-fiction (ghost writing), unschooling her kids, watching crime procedurals or playing Hunt A Killer with her husband. He says she has an unhealthy fascination with serial killers and their psychology, war artillery and military strategy.

Her current venture to help others – she’s started a publishing house. Not traditional, not boutique, not vanity, not just services. They are a mentor publishing house. Do we know what that means exactly? No. But if you ask her, she is always willing to explain.

Connect with Kenny:

About Kenny’s most recent book D-Evolution

D is back and now finds herself inside city walls, which is proving to be no safer for her than the comfort of her former home in Bunker Six. While Doc is determined to find more people with potential like D, others are looking to rid themselves of anyone with potential. Can D save herself and others like her?

Xayres has known for his political successes but inside the city, he is fumbling. With little knowledge of the world outside and even less practice with the skills necessary for successful missions, Xayres finds himself being saved by everyone around him. Can he learn the skills he needs to survive before it’s too late?

Erack loves his solitude but is forced into the limelight to lead the charge to find the defunct Bunker One. Can he hide enough to focus on the task at hand and get his colleagues to safety before the resistance erupts into its own civil war?

Find D-Evolution and the rest of the Evolution series on Amazon

***

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.

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

Interview: Nikki Brown

There are people who come into our lives almost by accident and after spending time with them you can’t imagine what life would be without them. That’s what it was like when I first met Nikki Brown. Last year, a friend of mine begged me to join her new online writers group because she enjoyed it and thought I would like it as well.

Dozens of meetings later, I’m still in – and loving it. Nikki heads up the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit along with recent guest here at the blog, Annie Oortman. Nikki has a special kind of caring confidence that makes everyone around her at ease. I’ve loved my time getting to know her better and am thrilled to share about her life, inspiration, and thoughts with my friends here at the blog.

A flock of birds flying through clouds resembling pink cotton candy. Super inspiring.
Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

On to the interview:

Let’s start with a getting to know you question. Tell us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t.

One thing most people know about me is that I have two young adult children and that I am incredibly proud of them. We homeschooled them from Pre-K through high-school graduation, and they have done extremely well in college. They are also just really cool people who add so much joy to my life. It’s hard to believe how slowly some of those days seemed to pass as a young homeschooling mom and how quickly it all seems to have gone by now.

Another thing many people know is that I am blind. Of course, that isn’t really what people are interested in. All anyone really cares about is that I am usually accompanied by my very handsome and overly friendly guide dog, Perry. I have been a guide dog handler since 2004.

One more thing many people know about me is that I am a personal coach. they don’t always understand what a personal coach is though. they usually think of a sports coach or a fitness coach, and that’s definitely not me. I do a few different things in the coaching world including helping writers find their voice and fuel their creativity. I love helping writers gain more confidence in themselves and put together systems that help make their creative process more effective. My husband and I also do staff development programs for businesses who want to empower their employees.

As for something most people don’t know about me, I suppose that would be that I love to sing. I usually only sing in the shower, but one of these days, I’d love to get up the nerve to sing karaoke in front of an audience—maybe in another state where nobody knows me. 🙂

Another thing most people don’t know is that I have been married to the same man for nearly 29 years. We have been through a lot together and haven’t murdered each other yet. Now, that’s love. Seriously, he has been my biggest supporter and has always done his best to help and encourage me even when I made things difficult for him. I can be a bit ornery at times. There, that’s another thing many people don’t know. People tend to think I’m really sweet. I think they are disarmed by the southern accent. LOL

What are three things that drive you toward your goals?

I’ve always been very self-motivated. I like accomplishing things, scratching things off my list and winning stuff. I’m fairly competitive, but it’s also fine if I don’t win. My main goal is to always learn from every situation and improve myself in some way from each experience.

A good external motivator for me is my family. I definitely want to be a good role model for my kids. That’s a lot harder now since we relate to each other much more as equals rather than as parent/child. They see all my flaws and don’t usually hold back at pointing them out. They aren’t unkind, just honest. I told someone the other day that God gives us children to keep us humble.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

The absolute best bit of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. I had joined a 4-H club as a teenager and was promptly placed on the telephone committee. I think it was a committee of one person. Anyway, I was quite introverted (back then, we just called it shy) and hated the idea of calling people on the phone to remind them of an upcoming meeting. One day, I mentioned this to my grandfather who said incredulously, “Why are you afraid? You’re just as good as they are.” I didn’t really believed it at the time, but that bit of encouragement got me through all those phone calls. It took me decades before I actually began to truly believe those words but they have echoed in my heart and helped me through difficult moments many many times over the years.

Where do you think creativity comes from?

I think most people have limited ideas about what it means to be creative. When you say the word creativity, many people often jump to the conclusion that you are talking about the kind that is expressed as music, art, or performance. I think of creativity as much more than that. It is the ability we have to discover new ways of doing things, overcome problems and connect dots that, on the surface, don’t seem to be related at all. I respect that not everyone has the same views I do, but I firmly believe we were created in the image of God meaning that each of us  was created to be creative in our own right.

Many assume that authors and creatives live glamorized lives.  What is your life as a writer and life coach really like?

As with creativity, I think many people define glamorous in a way that is limited. We are surrounded by beauty and love and amazing opportunities, but do we see them? Are we so caught up in the worry and stress of making it through the day that we fail to notice the truly glamorous moments like a child holding our hand, the amazing colors of the wildflowers lining the highway or the awe-inspiring view of a star-filled night sky?  We compare the dust bunnies we see inside our lives with the meticulously manicured exteriors of other people’s lives and judge ourselves based on that faulty comparison. The truth is, at our core, we are all the same. My life isn’t glamorous at all based on Hollywood ideals, but I wouldn’t trade it with anyone. As Tolkien said, “All that is gold does not glitter.”

What are you working on right now that excites you?

I joined Toastmasters one year ago, and I recently participated in their 2019 International Speech competition. I won my Area and Division contests and had the opportunity to compete in the much larger District contest. I did not win there, but the experience was amazing and taught me so much about stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to find the humor in every situation. It has given me an even greater desire to do more public speaking, so I am excited about looking for more opportunities in this area.

***

About today’s guest:

Nikki Brown, the Authors ally, is a life coach with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for good stories.

Over the years, Nikki has progressed from reading the encyclopedia for fun to helping clients write website copy and even doing a little ghostwriting. Many years ago, she joined her local writers guild to support her teenage daughter’s love of creative writing and found kindred spirits with others who enjoyed discussing things like sentence structure and  correct comma usage.

For many years, Nikki has helped writers learn how to connect with readers online, but her real calling is coaching writers to help them learn how to find their voice and fuel their creativity. She loves to see her clients break through the roadblocks standing in the way of reaching their goals.

Connect with Nikki:

Want to meet a bunch of writers? Join us at our weekly hangout!

Meet Nikki online weekly at Wednesday Writer’s Whatchamacallit

Wednesday Writers’ Whatchamacallit is a weekly virtual meeting for writers of all genres and all ability levels who like having fun and are looking for an easy way to connect with kindred spirits. Hosted each Wednesday by Professional Coach Nikki Brown and Professional Editor Annie Oortman, meetings are open to writers of all types: fiction and non-fiction, pros and novices alike.

We meet in our online video conferencing room for a mid-week pick-me-up, a dose of encouragement and inspiration, a chance to flex our writing muscles, and an always great discussion mixed with a lot of laughter.

To find the next scheduled meeting, head over to the WWW webpage.

***

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.

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

Interview with K. Scott Forman

Last weekend was the annual League of Utah Writers Spring Conference. While the point of attending the conference is to learn new ideas and techniques to better our writing and understanding of the industry, the real reason many of us attend is to reconnect with all our favorite writer friends. It’s like a huge family reunion.

I was super happy to spend a few minutes with Scott, and even happier when he agreed to be interviewed as this week’s guest.

Step into my interview salon, you’ll fit right in!
Photo by Spencer Tamichi on Unsplash

Onto the interview!

First, let’s take a minute and get to know you know you better. I imagine as a horror writer you have to face your fears on a regular basis. Tell us, what is your biggest fear?

I don’t know if I would consider myself a horror writer – yes, I write horror, but I also write suspense, fantasy, poetry, and even some non-fiction. That said, back to your real question: what is it that I fear? Well, there’s only one word for that, and that word is Sasquatch. Yes, Bigfoot, the North American Yeti, even Cain if you want to go in the direction of David W. Patten. I think it started when I was a small child, back in ’72 or ’73. My friends and I used to go to the local movie theater, the cinema, whatever it was called. Our haven was a little place called the Queen Theater located in the sleepy bedroom community of Bountiful, Utah. Saturdays would always have a double-feature, and usually it would be Disney. I clearly remember watching the snakes in The Living Desert paired with prairie dogs in The Vanishing Prairie, or The Scarecrow paired with Swiss Family Robinson. This particular Saturday, the first feature was a pseudo-docu-drama, I don’t even remember the title, but Bigfoot was the star. I think what was the most troubling was actual, physical evidence, Bigfoot captured in the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, or PGF. From that moment on, I was hooked, and terrified. I find it interesting that I’ve never written a story about Sasquatch. Hmm???

Everyone has secrets. Tell us three things that most people don’t know about you.

I love Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, the whole canon – Northanger Abbey is my favorite. What else is there to tell? I really don’t have a lot of secrets, but maybe there’s a lot that people just don’t know about me. I’m a combat veteran, I’m a Mason and a card-carrying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which pairs nicely with my pseudo-Nome-de-plume: The Prince of Darkness. I find that once you sit down with a person there are lots of things you may not know about him or her, but they aren’t really secrets. Oh, here’s a big secret: I’m an aspiring writer.

What was your most interesting experience with writing Lovecraft’s Pillow?

Well, considering Lovecraft’s Pillow is just the title piece in a collection of previously published short stories, I’m not sure if you want experiences putting the collection together, experiences with each story, or just experiences with the lead story? The project itself took me down the road of re-learning everything about publishing? I had previous experience in grad-school with a few college pals – we produced seven or ten volumes of flash fiction, a novel or two, and were lucky to break even. I have a Press, per se, Fear Knocks Press, and this was my first paperback and eBook publication. For the last twelve years, Fear Knocks Press has been more of a dormant project waiting to sprout, grow and blossom. It was the home of the eZine, Fear Knocks, but that kind of went the way of the Dodo, so…

As far as the individual story, Lovecraft’s Pillow, that takes me back to several experiences. First, reading Michel Houellebecq’s book, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, which included a Stephen King challenge to write a story, the story. Then, I think traveling back to Lovecraft’s hometown, Providence, Rhode Island, stopping by his grave, and getting a feel for the region really inspired me to go through with it. It didn’t hurt that my wife and I had just made a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, during the month of October, and there were all kinds of things floating around in the grey matter.

You’ve always been a wonderful support for local authors, including myself. What is the most powerful lesson you can share with a writer who is just starting the process of creating their stories?

Okay, this is a great question – a wonderful question – and the answer is one I don’t think most people are willing to take. Write a lot, write, write, write, and read a lot, read, read, read, read even more than you write. And not just books on craft, or books in the genre you plan to write in, books on everything; and get out and experience life. It’s true that, as writers, we put pieces of ourselves in the work we do. If you’ve only lived in a small town and only ventured between your notebook, typewriter, or word processor, and the kitchen and bathroom, you probably are going to have a very limited and unrealistic point of view in your work. Add a few books, a few across several genres, a book or two that you would never be caught dead reading, and you will start to open up vistas that are ready to lend themselves to your work. Then, if you can, travel, see the world, even the world around you. Most people would be surprised at how many secrets wait to be discovered just outside their back door within 5 or 10 miles of where they live. So, this begs the question, what books would you suggest a person read? Well, how about I include a list of my favorites at the end of this blog post?

I ask this question to everyone – What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and what is the story behind it.

I have a Día de Los Muertos skull. It’s more of a planter, one of those little trinkets with a succulent growing out of the top, the kind of plant that no one can kill. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of things. When I was a kid, I loved the Old Testament and Edgar Allan Poe (and comic books). I had the opportunity to learn a few foreign languages over the years, one of them Spanish, and it got me hooked on some of the culture and traditions of Latin America. After traveling to several Latin American destinations, I had lots of information to ruminate on, to use as fodder for stories. What’s interesting, at least for me, these kinds of experiences usually do more for my settings, the feel of the story. For some reason, and I blame Anne Rice, most of my experiences take me back to the flavor and feel of New Orleans. If you’ve never been, you need to go. New Orleans is much more than Mardi Gras. There’s the whole Cajun culture, Marie Laveau and Voodoo, and the feel being at the mercy of the elements. I think these all merge with things closer to home, Native American legends, the Four Corners area, and a little Magical Realism courtesy of Gabriel García Márquez or Isabel Allende. They all manifest themselves in this little, living skull that watches me write and may even contain my muse (wow, I never considered that until now).

When your muse just happens to be a Dia de los Muertos skull, you can’t help but write some amazing stuff.

What’s next? Tell us about the next big thing you’re working on.

How about this blog post – yes, this is actually a big thing. I’ve been going through a period of very little productivity. We all have these moments, I’m sure. I was getting ready to pitch an urban fantasy at the upcoming Storymakers conference, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of Night, something a little like Harry Potter meets Angels and Demons, but with a female protagonist and links to Dracula and Old Testament Egypt. Like so many projects, by the time I get to the second draft, I hate the whole thing. So, I started an epic Fantasy novel, got 100 pages in, and then something changed in my life, an almost spiritual manifestation, and I started something else. I’m on a journey now, at least through the pages of the LDS canon of scripture, to meet, greet, and try to understand every female character. I’ve started with Eve and the wives of Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth – I don’t think there’s a whole lot of information there, but there’s lots of hints and indications that there’s more to each of their stories, something that might become creative non-fiction. I love re-reading about these characters, women most people have never heard of, characters like Jael, Rahab, Tamar, and Dinah, or even those that have no names like the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the handful of widows, or the queens (Vashti, Esther, Sheba, Lamanites), or even the Daughters of Onitah – there’s got to be a story there. I’m off to a great start. I’ve got over a hundred names to work with, so far. All that being said, how about I give you an exclusive, a cover reveal, the story I mentioned at the beginning. Well, here it is, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of Night, soon to be pitched at a writing conference near you.

Madison Blackwood, quite possibly the next big thing. Coming to a pitch session near you.

Here’s that Suggested Reading List I promised. I’ve only included one title per author, and only the ones off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed several of my favorites, several that are much better written, but what the heck. One of these books I absolutely hated, not because it was poorly written, but because the author made me hate every character by the end of the book. That’s got to say something about the writing, right? I’ve included some non-fiction, short stories, and poems as well.

  •  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Blight Way by Patrick F. McManus
  • A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
  • Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn
  • The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  • The Book of Job (get a good copy with commentary)
  • The Tyger by William Blake
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood
  • The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
K. Scott Forman, AKA my favorite writing conference teddy bear.

About K. Scott Forman

K. Scott Forman is a writer and editor. He co-edited and contributed to the first three volumes of Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction along with working on three more volumes, a novel, and a flash novel for Fast Forward Press. With the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), he selected and edited the volume It Came from the Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror. Scott graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and was the recipient of the Robert Creeley Scholarship in 2007. He also received a Master of Arts and Education degree from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland. Scott teaches English Composition at Weber State University and was an adjunct faculty member at the National Cryptologic School. He has taught courses in Developmental English, Composition, Research, Writing for Math and Science, and Haiku. He is a member of the HWA and League of Utah Writers and enjoys long walks in inclement weather, sunsets with blood in them, and Metallica at volumes determined unsafe by the Surgeon General. He has had several short stories and poems published and is currently at work on the Great American Novel. He makes his home in the Rocky Mountains with his family and a collection of guitars. Find out what he’s up to at http://fearknocks.com

Connect with K. Scott

Lovecraft’s Pillow, and other weird tales by K. Scott Forman

Lovecraft’s Pillow and other Weird Tales is K. Scott Forman’s first collection of stories that plumb the depths of imagination when the lights go out. In these 12 tales and 1 poem, we revisit Jack the Ripper (The House that Jack Built), suicide and the consequences (Mumford’s Ghost), sympathy for the devil (Neighbor of the Beast), redemption (The Rescue), PTSD (The Stranger Within), a Frankenstein short (Lost at Sea), a Lovecraftian-story inspired by Stephen King (Lovecraft’s Pillow), and more.

Find it on Amazon

***

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.

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

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. 
Crystal queen
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.

***
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!
John M. Olsen 2

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.

***
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.

Discussing Worldview with Candace J Thomas

Today we are privileged to have my dear friend and fellow fantasy author, Candace J Thomas, here on the blog. Candace has been my cheerleader and spirit animal from the first day we spent time together behind Xchyler Publishing’s sales table at the 2015 Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium. At that point, she embodied everything I wanted to be. She had two amazing books and was working on the third, she radiated warmth and confidence, and she knew the industry.

61iOZETme4L

My big question for her is:

How has creating new worlds and characters changed your world view?

Candace’s answer:

This is a beautiful question.

There are two answers that I came up with.

My first answer – It’s all in the details. I am an observer of life. I’ve always been a people-watcher. People fascinate me, their mannerisms, drives, motivations. When building characters, I focus on these kind of things and strive to make them real, as real as if I knew them in high school.

Also, as an observer, the world becomes a more vivid and interesting place. I search for the interesting peculiarities to bring a more human experience – or basically, the Charm of things.

Currently, I am writing a story that takes place in Chicago. When I visited, there were little things I noticed, like how sidewalks wind around where trees are planted. It’s a charming fact that makes it interesting and human. Maybe the casual reader wouldn’t notice such a little detail, but I find it fulfilling and necessary to my stories. Adding charm is attractive to me.

When in Austin, I saw a side wall outside of bar completely littered with industrial staples where band flyers once hung. I admired the dreams that once were and wondered what happened to the thousands of dreams that came and went.

Nature is a big fascination to me. I like the veins in leaves and how they change color. I like watching fuzzy caterpillars slink across the tree branches, just wandering about their day. I like broken sidewalks and aged cobblestone. As an author, I have a responsibility to bring an experience to the reader. If I don’t add the little details, the bits of charm, I feel like I’m failing. You can find little details in everything I write.

As to the second answer – being an author, in general, has changed my world view. I’m a simple person, with a very simple idea of life, but I am driven by creativity. I view things differently and communicate in the language of art. I am also dyslexic, but that never changed my desire to be creative and write. It did bring challenges and insecurities to what I was trying to do.

I have always ached to be a writer and had the drive to do it and be successful. There are pros and cons to authoring. Becoming an author has pushed my private writing public. It takes me out of my comfort zone and brings this out-going character to the stage. As an author, there is no hiding your mistakes and insecurities in writing. It’s out there for readers, and every reader has an opinion.

I’ve had to learn that not everyone loves reading fantasy, and not everyone will like what I’ve done. I’ve really grown and matured over the last five years being published. I’ve become a confident author and mentor to others. I’m much wiser and more conscientious about how my name, as a brand, is perceived. It’s like I took the blue pill in the Matrix and I can never view the world as general as I did before. But on the flipside, I get to influence readers and creators every time they open my books. That is the very best feeling in the world.

***

Headshot Full Body 8.13.17 Full Res

Want to connect with Candace? Of course you do, she’s awesome.

Links: 
Twitter: cjtwrites
Instagram: candacejthomas
News! Candace’s book, Everstar, will be released in Audio very, very soon. Watch these links:

Candace J Thomas is an award-winning of Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi. She is the author of the Vivatera Series and Hawkweed, published by Xchyler Publishing. Her debut novel Vivatera won the LUW Diamond Award for Novel of the Year. Her Paranormal Satire, Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale, was published July 2016.

Candace is a freelance editor of the award-winning Billy Blacksmith series by Ben Ireland. as well as founder of Shadesilk Press.

Candace is known for her extreme fanatical love for both Count Chocula and smart, witty writing that expands her imagination and makes her wish she had thought of the idea.

***

Candace also hosted me on her blog in an Author Spotlight, go check it out!

Interested in doing a blog swap? Send me a line! Don’t worry, I don’t bite.

***

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.

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