Exactly one year ago today Stonebearer’s Betrayal, my very first novel, entered the world – and oh what a day that was. There’s something to be said about a dream you’ve worked on for years to finally happen. To be honest, I was more terrified and insecure about release day than for the birth of my own children. So much depended on things that were wildly out of my hands, everything from Amazon rankings, to generating a good public buzz, tp the people who ended up coming to my launch party. All I could do was try my best and watch and wait.
With my kids, I didn’t have to prove anything. My responsibilities revolved around keeping them healthy and happy and success was easily measured. The world had nothing to do with their well being, as well it shouldn’t.
Yeah, not quite so true with books… Authors are expected to flaunt their book babies to the unsuspecting public at literally every turn. Even more so, we are supposed to go flaunt it to complete strangers and beg, remind, and cajole them to tell us what they think in the form of a review. We spend hundreds of hours seeking out ways of making connections with as many people as possible, because the health of our book baby depends on it.
The Challenges of First time Authoring
Some authors are much better at it than others. One of those tragic truths about creative people is that we’re good at what we do because we thrive on spending time with words and ideas and finding ways to make them exciting. Most of us struggle to reach out to strangers by the hundreds to find ways to share our message.
For me, this entire year has been eye opening to say the least. Leading up to last year’s release, I spent hours and hours learning about all aspects of authoring books, including researching marketing needs. There is something to be said about learning by doing vs. learning by any other means. While taking classes and reading books about the subject is an amazing way to get a general feel for what needs to be done, it feels like each challenge or obstacle is a burning match and the solutions are as easy as blowing it out.
On the other hand, learning by doing, especially when it comes to marketing your own products, is more like being thrown into a building that is on fire. It’s dramatic, scary, and sometimes you feel like you might die from the sheer volume of what needs to be done. No matter how hard you blow, the flaming challenges keep coming back.
I quite literally burned myself out. During the four months leading up to the release and then the six months after, I spent anywhere between 4-6 hours every single day working to find opportunities ranging from identifying people who would be interested in giving reviews to tracking down podcast hosts and pitching them show ideas. Over the course of the year, I showcased over a combined sixty different artists and authors on my blog as I tried to spread good karma.
Don’t get me started on the amount of time I spent trying to find my voice on social media. I still stink at that… But I’m learning!
Worse still, I lost the time to do the parts of authoring that I truly loved. I couldn’t find the time to write down new shiny stories and then polishing them up until they shone. The sequel novel didn’t get the attention it needed, not to mention the dozens of short story projects that I wanted to be a part of but simply didn’t have the time or energy.
Give me a new baby any day. Actually, I take that back. With my young kiddos still at home, I’m still balancing their needs into my working day.
All that said, the future of the Stonebearers brand is shining bright and I’m excited at all the plans that are coming together as I write this.
The biggest announcement, is that the sequel to Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Stonebearer’s Apprentice is slated to come out the second week of March 2020. Stay tuned for sneak peaks and other amazing stuff I’m planning for its release.
I’d like to thank all of you who have taken this journey with me. It’s been one wild ride, and will only get better. Thank you dear readers. I couldn’t do it without you.
Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.
I’ve been sitting on this news for a few weeks waiting for the perfect time to tell everyone. Stonebearer’s Betrayal is finally out in audiobook – Yahoo!
This is my first time having an audiobook and I’m thrilled because I adore listening to great stories and podcasts while I do housework and yardwork. I know many of you are the same.
Because the audiobook for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is new and shiny… I have a really cool opportunity for you, dear reader.
If you have been wanting to read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, but are a crazy busy person like I am, I have a limited number of Audible codes to share with anyone eager to listen to the book and leave an honest review. It’s as easy as that.
What are you waiting for?
If you are interested in being one of my awesome audiobook reviewers, here’s what you need to do:
Let me know! You can leave a note in the comment section below, send me a message on my Facebook author page, or message me on Instagram. First come, first serve, so act now. I’ll post a note when all the spots are taken.
Listen to the book over the next few weeks.
Leave a review on Amazon. It can be as long or as short as you like. A few sentences is perfect!
Message me that you left the review for a special gift.
Want to learn more about Stonebearer’s Betrayal before you commit? Head on over to the Amazon page and see what people are saying!
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.
Today’s guest is no stranger to magic. In fact, he’s one of those people whom I suspect might have a dose of actual real magic hiding inside him. Not only does he create magic with the stories and worlds in his books, he also has performed stage magic professionally. Does he have a trick or two up his sleeve? Absolutely.
Michael is here to day to share some of that magic with us and I’m super excited to have him.
Welcome to my blog, Michael. Glad to have you here. To get started why don’t you tell us a little about yourself. What’s the most interesting thing that most people don’t know about you?
Hello Jodi and all your excellent Jodians! It’s great to be
here! To answer your first question, I’ve been around the block a few times and
also the neighboring block and at least a small middle-America town’s worth of
blocks along with a few in South America and one or two particularly
continental and historic blocks in Europe. I guess that means I have gathered a
lot of different experiences, which is great as a writer. I can “write what I
know” on a fairly substantial number of topics. That’s true of most writers,
though, who make it out of the house once in a while and pay attention.
Probably the most interesting thing that many people don’t know about me
is—hold on—I can show you. Do you have an ordinary object? Something you don’t
need to get back? Ooo. How about that ring on your finger? Can I borrow that
for just a minute? Platinum and diamonds, you say? Wow, Jodi. That’s going to
keep your attention then. Ok. If you could just release the death grip you have
on that for me. Great. Watch as I place the ring here in the middle of the
table. I’m going to cover the ring with this napkin. Look. My hands are empty
now. You see the shape of the ring under the napkin? Swell. Go ahead and say
the word “Abracadabra” and whip the napkin away as fast as you can. Can you do
that? All right. Wait until you count to three. Not that it will make the trick
work any better, but three seconds will give me enough time to go stand over
there where it’s safe. Okay. Hold the corner of the napkin and one, two, three!
Are you okay there, Jodi? Yeah. I know. Most people don’t
expect to see a full-grown tiger appear on top of their kitchen table. So, if
you haven’t guessed, I worked as a professional magician for ten years or so.
That’s something I hint at but most people don’t know. So—oh—watch out there.
Yeah. Don’t touch his tail or anything. That tiger is faster than you are. No. You’ll
be fine as long as you don’t make any sudden moves. What’s that? Oh no. Thanks.
I’ll just stay over here by the door. You can lob those questions over the
tiger there and I’ll answer them.
Those who know you as an author are
very familiar with your distinct jacket, what’s the story behind it?
I have a few jackets that nobody would wear on a daily
basis. They’re part of my brand, which you’ll find a lot of authors worried
about. Mostly because their publishers tell them to worry about it. I do like
to look distinctive and, to be honest, it’s part marketing, part me wanting to
stand out from the crowd a little. The jackets also help me feel confident and
“authorial” in public. While I have been a performer onstage, feeling
completely at ease in the midst of people doesn’t come easy. Not that I want to
hermit up and become a recluse. Meeting with fans is really a pleasure and I
love talking about writing and stories with readers. Wearing the jacket helps
me feel the part in the same way that magicians and actors have a public
persona and wear clothes that fit how they want to be seen. Being an author is
the closest thing to who I really am as a person on the inside and there’s a
certain vulnerability that comes along with being real that way in front of
The jacket also gives me a chance to joke around. At one
time, I’d tell people that the jacket was made from my grandmother’s curtains,
because I like the brocade fabrics best. Now, however, I like to wait for
someone to comment on the jacket. Then I say, “Well, thank you. There are large
pieces missing from my grandmother’s couch.” That’s a better joke because I can
follow up with, “The nice part is I keep finding spare change and hard candy in
the pockets.” If you catch me at the right time, I’ll even pull a butterscotch
out of the pocket and give it to whoever I’m talking to. The jackets just help
me interact with people in a way that I hope they find disarming and
approachable. Readers are the best sort of people!
You have a brand new, exciting sci-fi novel coming out
(Yay!) Tell us about it!
Ah, yes! Wow! You’re very insightful. Are you a psychic
perhaps? I haven’t told anyone about that project yet, but here you are,
plucking thoughts out of my mind like a professional.
I have written some short stories in the sci-fi genre, but
all my novels so far have been fantasy. My publisher, Future House, was
contacted by a company that develops board games and computer games. They have
a super fun interactive card game called Master of Wills. The game is
set in a futuristic city with a number of opposing factions. Each faction has
distinct criteria that define their approach to winning and a lot of the action
centers on recruiting your opponent’s characters to join your side. There are a
whole bunch of different characters and various game mechanics and it was loads
of fun to develop a novel featuring the characters and settings from the game.
The title is Hollowfall, and I’ll leave it to readers to find out what
the title means. The game developer is Stormcrest, Inc. and I owe a big thanks
to Randy and Josh for letting me play in their sandbox. I’m working on the
final chapters of the novel and Future House has the title slated for
publication early in 2020.
Give me a sec here, Jodi. I’m going to check your fridge.
You should probably stay where you are. Oh good. Ribeye steaks. I’m going to
toss one of these babies to the tiger there. Wow. I’m not even sure he chewed
that. Better give him the other one just to be safe. There. That will keep him
busy for a minute. Next question?
Of all the characters you’ve written, which one is most
like you? Was it intentional?
Oh that’s an easy one. Everyone who knows me and reads my
novels gives me the answer. The main character in Got Luck and Got
Hope is a smart-aleck goofball with a big heart and, apparently, so am I. We
aren’t exactly alike. He’s a lot more skilled than I am and far better looking,
but we both have incredible magic powers and we are both deeply in love with
tall, hot brunettes. I think he’d appreciate the tiger.
I’ve lost count of how many times people have read one of
the novels and tracked me down to tell me they can hear my voice. Especially
when Goethe tells a joke. And, they tell me, the cornier the joke, the more
they hear my voice telling it. Not sure what they mean by that, so I’m taking it
as a compliment.
Was it intentional? More like unavoidable, I think, because
I constantly have unlikely situations and funny things to say and “Got”
provides an outlet. He’s perhaps a fictionalized version of me who is both an
improvement and more flawed. When he’s faced with a challenge, the actions he
takes feel most right when he does what I would do if I were in his situation.
I know that sounds self-serving, but he isn’t perfect either. He makes mistakes
like I do, and he has to learn, and he’s kind of a jerk sometimes, especially
with people who are behaving badly. Once in a while, he pulls off a trick that
magicians would recognize. To put it another way, when Got needs to do
something, I feel the scenes are more consistent to write and more authentic
when he does whatever I think I could do, assuming I were as well-trained and
competent as him.
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?
Hey, Jodi. That blood is from the steak, right? It’s not
yours? Ok good.
So, I’ve used the same little laptop computer to write
pretty much everything I’ve published so far. I have written all over the place
so my writing space is everywhere. Most often, however, I’m at home on the
couch with my feet up. Next to me, chilling out on the floor, is my eighteen-month-old.
140-pound writing buddy. One brown eye and one blue eye. Two extra toes.
Really, it’s my daughter’s fault. She wanted a little
sister. Or brother. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, she
wanted a dog. So we have Appa. He’s a St. Bernese, which is the result of
breeding a Bernese Mountain Dog with a St. Bernard and it’s the next best thing
to a flying bison. We got him because he’s a handsome boy and always up for an
adventure. We really didn’t think about it much deeper than that until the
family we bought him from started laughing. They were first to realize the
Peter Pan connection. The Darling family has a St. Bernard. Funny, right? Now
we pretend like it was all part of a marketing masterplan and nobody knows any
different. Well, except you and your Jodians.
And he actually helps me write as well. One day I looked at
him with his tongue lolling out and him breathing in short bursts and I asked,
“Do you want the shirt that goes with those pants?” He didn’t want the shirt,
but the line made my family laugh and it’s now in a story.
What’s next? What are you working on?
Book three of The Behindbeyond series, Got Lost, is
set to debut in early September, so we’re going hard at final edits for that
one. The Hollowfall novel comes after that. Then I have a couple of new
novels in various stages of development along with the next book in the series.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.
By Michael Darling
The girl with the sapphire eyes stood like a statue against the stones of the wall. She was alone on the far side of the room but didn’t seem to be lonely, staring straight ahead. Her feet were bare and filthy. Her dress was torn and frayed like she’d been chased by dogs and almost caught.
I tapped Faidh on the shoulder. Side-by-side we stood patiently in front of an altar. The hall around us had been decorated for a wedding. The wedding was scheduled for the following day. Realistically, it was only fun because I was here with the woman I loved.
Faidh turned in response to my touch. The hall was warm and her hair was pulled up off her neck. She was breathtaking enough to be the bride, although she wasn’t. I pointed behind us.
“See that girl over there?” I whispered.
Faidh looked, then nodded. “She has beautiful eyes. A little young to be out with no escort.”
“She’s been standing there for a while, and she hasn’t moved a muscle.”
Faidh kept looking. Then, “Are you sure?”
“I’m not even sure she’s breathing.” I replied. “She’s not watching anything going on. Or anybody. Just staring.”
Faidh looked some more. “Her clothes are a mess.”
“Someone here should know her, right?” The group in our rehearsal party wasn’t very large. Only ten or so people, and I was acquainted with most of them. As far as I knew, none of them had a teenage daughter. The girl was shivering now. She was a hundred yards away, give or take, but my eyes were better than most and I could tell. “There’s something wrong.”
“The groom’s place will be closer to the end of the altar, sire.” A hand on my elbow demanded my attention, forcing me to look away from the girl.
Bromach, my valet, had the difficult and ever-thankless job of keeping me from embarrassing myself in princely situations. I moved to stand in the spot where he wanted me. The view from the altar was spectacular, looking out over the cliff to a forest far below and gray-blue clouds in the morning sky.
“Lady Faidh, thy place is here.” Bromach pointed again.
Faidh nodded and stepped to the corner of the altar opposite me. She caught my eye and winked. I tried to wink back but I’d never successfully disconnected whatever link existed between my eyelids and only managed an awkward blink that also twisted my mouth oddly.
The ladies-in-waiting behind Faidh smiled shyly at me as Bromach guided them to their places. I nodded with a smile. Over the past hour, I’m afraid I’d given them rude nicknames. The lady nearest Faidh had decided to resurrect the bustle, but it didn’t quite fit her frame and she was constantly hitching it up and adjusting it, which seemed to give her derriere a rebellious independence. The second lady, to whom I was apparently related closely, had a pallor fairytale writers would call “milky,” and was so pale that the morning sun reflecting off her face was like a searchlight. Or a bat signal. The third had taken a nearly fatal blow from puberty landing on her all at once, instead of spread over the course of a few normal, socially-awkward years. Her acne was closer to road rash.
Thusly, I had dubbed them Creeping Booty, So White, and Ziterella.
Biting my lips for the purpose of smirk control, I chided myself at the same time. They were very nice girls. Polite and graceful. I was only here out of duty and it was wrong of me to make my own fun while I was stuck here.
Yet, their nicknames remained locked in my dark thoughts.
My gaze strayed back to statue girl. The color of her eyes was that deep blue shade of an ocean sky at dusk. Each eye appeared to have a small star twinkling with its own light. She stared at an empty space six feet above the floor. Her hands clenched at her sides as if she were carrying invisible buckets of water. She was shivering harder now. Quivering. Pent-up energy, perhaps, from standing stock still for so long.
Bromach continued to direct the rehearsal, ordering people around, sighing when he wasn’t happy and nodding to himself when he was. He looked to be in his element, running the show in the delicately appointed wedding hall filled with fresh flowers and lace.
Torn between duty and curiosity, I turned back to Faidh for distraction. “Do you wish our wedding had been like this? With all the pretty decorations and food and people? And a church only slightly less modest than Westminster Abbey?”
Faidh looked around, taking in the carved pillars and the crystalline ceiling, made entirely of faceted glass. She shook her head. “We got married under a cherry tree that never ceases to bloom. What could be prettier than that?”
“I’m glad our wedding was quick. It didn’t take a whole week like this one,” I replied.
“Our wedding was so quick, it ended before we knew it had begun.” Faidh laughed.
Curiosity won out. Before I’d taken three steps in the girl’s direction, Bromach called after me. “Sire! Sire? Where goest thou?” He sounded borderline horrified that I was abandoning my post. “Prince Luck! Please!”
Make that full-on horrified.
Halfway to the girl, I paused to look back. “Hang on, Bromach. I’ll just be a minute.”
He sighed. “Thy cousin and thy father will be most displeased.”
“One minute,” I repeated.
Bromach watched me with impatience and pickleface in equal measure. When he saw where I was going he marched in the girl’s direction, determined to get to her before I did. Maybe he was thinking he could get me back to my post if he got rid of her. It was hard for me to be critical. Bromach took his work seriously and his attention to detail meant I owed him my life.
With Bromach ahead of me, I said, “There’s something going on with her. She’s been standing like a statue for half an hour. Maybe longer.”
Bromach slowed at my words and I caught up to him.
We stared at the girl. She stared past us. Standing at arm’s length, I could see she was maybe thirteen years old. No older.
A long moment passed. “She’s mortal,” Bromach said.
She was also Stained.
At some point, the girl had been touched by magic, and the magic had marked her. A shudder shoveled electricity down my spine. Mortals with Stains didn’t often live long. I checked the pattern. It had squarish sections with little points like tridents coming out of them. I’d never seen this particular Stain before. It was subtle, subdued, and almost hypnotic to watch as the wide band of translucent light turned slowly around the girl’s torso.
Well, time has really flown Jodi! By the way, if people ask, only you and I will know if the tiger is real or simply an illusion. Have fun with that. What is definitely real is how much fun I had chatting with you!
You don’t happen to have a ball of wool around here, do you?
About the size of a beach ball? That would be a—no? All right then. Thanks
again for inviting me!
#1 Amazon bestselling author Michael Darling has worked as a butcher, a librarian, and a magician. Not all at the same time. He nests in the exquisitely beautiful Rocky Mountains with his equally breathtaking wife, their normal-if-you-don’t-look-too-close children, and a disturbingly large St. Bernese dog that looks like he stepped out of Peter Pan and is probably a furry-faced attempt to extend the Darling brand. Michael’s award-winning fantasy and science-fiction stories are frequently featured in anthologies. His first novel, Got Luck, was published in 2016 and the sequel, Got Hope, in 2017. Book three of the series, Got Lost, will be released in September 2019. Hot on its heels will be Michael’s first science-fiction novel, scheduled to debut in early 2020. Based on the popular computer and board game, Master of Wills, the novel is titled Hollowfall. Michael loves to meet people, both virtually and in real life, and he can be found online through your favorite culturally-accepted, stalker-approved social media site.
Be sure to check out Michael’s Tales of the Behindbeyond series, and his other works, over on Amazon!
About Tales of the Behindbeyond:
Police-officer-turned-private-investigator Goethe “Got” Luck is known for rolling with the punches and never taking anything too seriously. When he picks up a seemingly dead-end murder case, his life begins to take a crazy turn. Shot at, chased by people he has never met, and attacked by an invisible liondog, Got quickly learns that there is more to this world than meets the eye.
He discovers the Fae. The Eternals. They who dwell in the Behindbeyond. Once, they ruled over ancient realms, but over the centuries, their power dwindled. Now someone wants to restore their rule and subjugate humankind. All it will cost is thousands of human lives.
The clock is ticking. Getting the world out of this one will take a couple friends, more than a few well-placed insults, and a whole lot of Luck.
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.
Today’s author feature, Dea Poirier is all about supporting other authors in their journey.I first met Dea as host of the monthly #DarkLitChat on Twitter alongside cohost Elesha Teskey. Both she and Elesha were amazingly supportive of when my book came out that I was more than thrilled to return the favor when her book came out.
Next Girl to Die comes out May 1st! Be sure to check it out!
On to the interview –
To kick things off, I’d like to get to know you better. What super power would you want, and why?
Oh man, this one is so tough. A long time ago, I probably would have picked teleportation or invisibility, but now I think I’d want immortality. I feel like my entire life is built around wanting to gather knowledge and grow my skillset, so if I had all of eternity to do that—well, I think that’d be pretty amazing.
If you could instill your readers with one inspiring message, either something learned through being a writer or through one of your characters, what would it be, and why?
Perseverance. I think that’s something that’s harped on constantly in the writing community. But really, it’s so, so important. Writing books is hard. Getting feedback is hard. Getting rejected is hard. It’s all part of the process though. Every rejection makes you stronger, all the feedback makes you a better writer. Each step of the process helps to make you grow, so it’s important to embrace it and never give up. There will be bad days, there will be good days. But on the worst days, remind yourself that the world needs your words, and if you give up you could be failing someone out there who needs your story.
What was your inspiration for your book Next Girl to Die?
There wasn’t really any one spark of inspiration for the story. I’d just finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and watching a lot of SVU, and I began working on a mystery with a super emotionally broken heroine, that would become Next Girl to Die.
What was the hardest scene for you to write (no spoilers!) and why?
Hmm… Without spoilers this is tough. There are several very emotional scenes in the manuscript that were very hard for me to write. During the process of writing Next Girl to Die my grandmother died. She was a huge part of my life and helped raise me, so I was able to channel a lot of my own grief about my grandmother’s death into those scenes. Some were very difficult to write, but I think it really did aid my healing.
I’ve recently been asking this question to all of my guests here at the blog, what’s the most interesting item you keep on your desk or bring with you to your preferred writing space?
Probably my gel pens. I write all my manuscripts by hand, and also do all of my edits on paper. I find that I’m much more productive when I have my favorite tools, and gel pens are at the top of my list.
What’s next? Tell us about what you are working on now.
Right now I’m actually taking a break from writing. I just finished up the edits on Book 2 in the Calderwood Cases series, and I’m waiting on copyedits now. I’m also awaiting feedback on a YA historical fantasy I wrote. After that, I’m going to be working on another mystery with an emotionally damaged heroine.
About Dea Poirier
Dea (D.H) Poirier was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she got her start writing in creative writing courses. She attended The University of Central Oklahoma for Computer Science and Political Science. Later, she spent time living on both coasts, and traveling the United States, before finally putting down roots in Central Florida. She now resides somewhere between Disney and the swamp.
Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.
It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.
Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.
When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
When I heard the news that Jana was releasing a new book next week, I had to grab her for an interview. As friends and fellow authors, Jana and I have bounced around at various Utah writing events together and had plenty of fun. I was super excited to learn more about her journey and inspirations in this interview.
On to the interview!
To kick things off, tell us three things about yourself that most people don’t know.
I always love these questions. There are so many odd things to delve into.
Well…first of all I ran a medievalist fighting group for seven years in my college and post college days. I specialized in archery and sword and shield fighting.
My first job in the publishing world was as an Executive Secretary and jaded reader for a small magazine. I opened all of the envelopes – yes this was in the very early internet days – and read all the submissions for content and rejected anything that didn’t fit the magazine’s standards. Then I organized the rest of the subs and prepared them for reading groups.
I love to travel! I’ve been all over the US and visited Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland and Wales. I’ve also been trapped at the airport in Amsterdam twice, but I don’t think that counts for much.
As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal and why?
My fuzzy killer cat is my spirit animal. She’s a little older, like me. She’s a little cranky, like me. She’s occasionally a murder hobo…erm…no comment. But when she chooses someone as her person she’s kind, fuzzy, loyal, and phenomenally loving.
You have a new shiny book coming out! Tell us what it’s about and also the journey leading to its creation.
Said in Stone is my new book baby! It comes out April 9th and I’m so excited. This book kicks off a sister series to my Sentinels of Essence series which begins with Fallen Stone. When I introduced the world of Fallen Stone there were some great secondary characters who I really wanted to tell stories about. However, the Sentinels of Essence series is in tight third person and there just wasn’t a way to expand without breaking that. So I created the Chronicles of Alexandria for short stories that happen in the same world, but involve the other characters.
Said in Stone contains six stories about our heroes dealing with: zombies, a Borg-like collective, gremlins, hellhounds, a specter, and the unseelie court. I love these close character stories where I can focus on moments in these character’s lives, and toss in some surprises for people who read both series at once. You can read the Chronicles separate from the Sentinels of Essence, but together they make a much richer story world.
Every author has a favorite character they’ve created. Who is yours, and what inspired you to make them the way they are?
I have to choose one?!?! That’s like asking me to choose my favorite kid. I love them all, but if I had to select a favorite it would be Dianna McDunna. Dianna’s story hasn’t been published yet, though it will have its day soon. Dianna began as a character in an online RPG where I played for years. I love her because she’s got that kick-ass confidence we love in a UF heroine, but she’s a little older with all the baggage that means. She leads a group of supernatural hunters and takes their welfare very personally.
What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and what is the story behind it?
Hah. Near my desk are skeins of yarn and half finished crochet projects. When I’m stressed, or my subconscious needs some time to ponder something I’ll pick up a yarn project and start working. I find crochet tremendously soothing and when my hands are busy my muse gets a chance to work without the pressure of the screen in front of me. I give away some of my projects, sell some, and others are donated to cancer centers, hospitals, and children’s organizations. I figure my frustrations can help others!
Tell us about what you are working on next!
On the schedule for this year are two more novels. The next book in the Sentinels of Essence which is titled Fallen Leaves and a paranormal romance which is going to have a title one of these first days. 🙂 I am playing around with the idea of a pen name for that one, but we’ll see how things go!
I have presentations coming up for several conferences so I’m also sketching out PowerPoints and handouts, definitely all part of the writing dream!
Thanks for having me!
About Jana S. Brown
Jana S. Brown has been involved in publishing as an Author, Editor, Presenter, Slush Reader, and grundle of other positions (Yes, grundle is the technical term) for over 20 years. She writes the weird and the wonderful with smoochies and prides herself at being a jack-of-all-trades and master of enough.
When the cat’s away the mice will… Play? Fight? Fall in love?
Featuring six short stories from the supernatural world of Denver, Colorado and the mystical Library of Alexandria, the answers are Said in Stone:
Zombies Don’t Play Baseball: What happens when a book on necromancy falls into the wrong hands after the Cubs win the World Series?
Welcome to the Collective: A glimpse into the Heart of the Library where dwells something more than books.
Convention Shock: All Peter Haas wanted was a day off at the DenCon fan convention. What he got…gremlins, lots of gremlins.
How to Train Your Hellhound: Angel the Hellhound goes to obedience school and finds a life of crime.
Merry Christmas to You: One haunted opera house and one visionary storyteller. Can they create sweet music?
The Door to the EverGold: When books are in trouble and knowledge about to be lost, there’s only one place to turn. Librarians to the rescue.
Special Sneak Peek from Convention Shock
Haas closed his eyes, forcing himself to process her words. He allowed her to pull his arm away from his chest and heard the sound of ripping fabric as she tore his sleeve away. It occurred to him that now he really looked like Kirk after an away mission with torn clothes and mussed hair. Though for Kirk the blood was colored corn syrup.
Soft fingers patted his cheek. “Come on. Stay with me.”
Haas blinked a few times. “Bridge to Engineering, please stand by.”
New Release Special Offer!!!
Jana’s book, Fallen Stone, the first book in the Sentinels of Essence series, is ON SALE for $0.99 from April 5-12.
Today I’m thrilled to have friend and fellow author Ben Ireland with me to share his thoughts about writing and his books. Better still, I was able to read the first Billy Blacksmith book last week. If you have a kid in your life (or young-at-heart adult) who likes adventures, danger, and an unlikely hero – this is a great series.
Onto the interview!
Tell us about your journey – What led you to writing Billy Blacksmith’s story?
Billy Blacksmith is actually my second published series. The first, Kingdom City, was published by Xchyler. It’s a fun tale about government sanctioned torture, human experimentation, and the desperate struggle to survive in a dystopian city torn apart by war.
Kingdom City is dark, and sometimes brutal. Which I thought was cool when I was younger. The protagonist of Kingdom City is Autumn, a woman who is powerful, brilliant, and internally shattered by her past choices. But by the time Kingdom City: Revolt had come out in 2016, the real world felt like a darker place to me. I wanted to add some light.
One day I walked into my kitchen, the sun was shining through the window, and it’s almost like I heard a voice in my head, saying: “I’m Billy Blacksmith. I like video games, cupcakes, and baseball. My best friend is a demon, and for some reason, I, have to save the world.”
Then, question after question (Why does Billy have to save the world? Why is his best friend a demon?) The Blacksmith Legacy universe was conceived. And it’s been so much stinking fun.
But seasoned with a little darkness, because I can’t help myself.
I’ve found most authors keep special items close by when they work. What’s the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and why?
I usually have my adopted cat, Bam Bam on my lap. Does that count?
Is there a hidden lesson in the Billy Blacksmith books? If so, what is it?
No. I try really hard not to sneak a lesson into my writing. I like to leave room for the reader to make up their own mind about what is happening in the story. There are characters that say things dear to my heart, while other characters express opinions that I find abhorrent.
But then there are times where my characters say “Friendship has tangible, magical value.” So sometimes I’m not all that subtle.
If there is anything I’m trying to say, is that Billy is about the conflict about good and evil. What I want to do is make you question what good and evil really means.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself while writing your books?
I CAN live off 4 hours of sleep most nights. For a limited time.
What’s next? Tell us about the projects you are working on.
Currently I’m working on Bleakwood Lore. The Blacksmith Legacy: Addendum. The Billy Blacksmith books are all part of The Blacksmith Legacy universe. Bleakwood Lore is the first non-Billy Blacksmith book I’m writing in the series. It has eleven short stories from the perspective of different characters. Some you know, some you’ve only just met briefly. It was that, or have eleven opening chapters to Book Four. I’m really excited about this one. It was incredibly fun to write, and it has a lot of reveals for those who have been paying attention to the series.
The current titles in the Billy Blacksmith Universe:
About Ben Ireland
Born and raised in Australia, Ben Ireland is uniquely qualified to write about horrifying spiders and how much they would like to kill you. An award-winning writer of both Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Cyber-Horror, Ben received the Gold Quill 2017 for Billy Blacksmith: The Demonslayer from the League of Utah Writers. His other award-winning books include Billy Blacksmith: The Hellforged, The Ironsoul; the cyber-horror series – Kingdom City, and several short stories. Learn more at BenIrelandBooks.com
Sneak Peek Excerpt from Ben’s next book, Bleakwood Lore
This is a scene from the 4th story of Bleakwood Lore. Krios—a twenty foot tall demonic spider (and ex-general of the Spider Horde)—has been trapped in the Human Realm with his princess, who happens to be a human. She’s sick, and Krios isn’t sure what to do, so he enlists the aid of a Smith’s worker to purchase some “human medicine.”
A curious, burning smell wafted through the air. Krios crept across the roof and peered over the rearmost wall of the store. The back lot of the store was not brightly lit, a large square of asphalt with several cars parked in the shadows. Around the asphalt unkempt shrubs grew, entangling themselves about a sagging metal fence. To Krios’ left, a ramp descended towards a huge door in the rear of Smith’s store.
Directly beneath him, a single human stood in the dim light. She did not seem large by human standards, with a slim figure and thin arms. Her outfit of black pants and a red collared shirt held the air a uniform. She tucked her short brown hair behind her ear and lifted a small stick to her lips. When she lowered the stick, a cloud which wreaked of burning lifted into the air, much like a demon smoking a pipe, though far less fragrant.
“Human,” Krios grunted in human language.
The woman started in surprise, looking around her for the source of the voice.
“I require drugs,” Krios said. “Are you able to help me?”
The human laughed nervously. “How do I know you’re not a cop?”
“I can assure you, I am not.” Whatever that is. “Can you help me locate drugs?”
“Yeah. I might,” she said. “What are you looking for?”
Krios dropped from the roof and landed in front of the human. “Excellent. I require your assistance immediately.”
The woman screamed and jumped backwards, tumbling over the rail behind her and down the ramp. The burning stick flew into the air, drawing an arc of bitter smoke as it fell.
Krios dashed forward after her, following her down the incline. She scuttled backwards on her hands, her eyes bulging as she took in Krios’ mighty form, until she slammed into the far wall. Her mouth was wide, her body shaking. The only thing she seemed to remember to do was breathe.
“Will you assist me?” Krios asked.
Her eyes passed over Krios, and landed on his sapphyril mandible. “Why can you . . . talk?” she said. “Please don’t eat me.”
“I will not eat you,” Krios said as reassuringly as possible.
She continued her attempts to scuttle backwards, despite the wall hindering any further movement. “What . . . what . . . what do you want?”
Krios rolled his eyes. Humans become quite stupid when you frighten them. “I told you, I require drugs.”
She laughed, though without humor. “I ain’t got a bowl big enough for you.”
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There are very few lessons more powerful than those encouraging people to continually seek improvement and to be their best selves. Today’s guest, Mike Thayer, is a shining example of just that. He’s chosen to live fearlessly and reach for his dreams. He’s come to share a powerful message – why showing is so much more powerful than telling.
Show Don’t Tell – For Literature and Life
You get a lot of writing advice as an author. Murder your darlings, avoid adverbs, shun passive voice. The most oft repeated advice, however, has got to be “show, don’t tell.” It’s one of the simplest to understand and yet hardest to consistently apply. It’s also one of the most powerful when done right.
Don’t just tell me that the house is spooky, show me the house is spooky and I’ll arrive at any and all necessary conclusions myself. Talk of the disembodied whispers, the creaking floorboards, the apparitions that only appear in your peripheral vision. If you’ve done it well, I won’t just understand that the house is spooky, I’ll feel it, I’ll see it in my mind, and I’ll share the experience with others. By showing we unlock the true power storytelling, we tap into the essence of why we’re writing in the first place: to transport someone to a different world or see through the eyes of another person.
The power of “show, don’t tell” extends beyond the literary world, however. It isn’t just the way we should write. It’s a way we should live. If you’ve wronged someone, don’t just tell them that your sorry, show them. If you care for someone , don’t just tell them that you love them, show them. If you want to help the sick, dispossessed, and persecuted, if you want to exercise and eat healthy, if you want to learn to play an instrument or write a novel, then don’t just tell yourself or tell the world. Show it.
If you do it well enough you probably won’t even need to tell the world, because we will see it and we will feel it. Talking about something is easy, but I was always told that talk was cheap. After writing a few novels I think I understand that phrase better than ever. Do more than talk. Do more than tell. Show.
About today’s guest:
Mike Thayer is a proud father, lucky husband, passionate author, viral blogger, degreed engineer, decent impressionist, inept hunter, erstwhile jock, and nerd.
He has cast a ring on the slopes of Mt. Doom, eaten a feast at the Green Dragon Inn, cemented Excalibur in a sandstone block, tasted butter beer at Diagon Alley, built a secret door to his storage room, and written a fantasy novel. What else is left, really?
The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard: The Uncharted Lands
Rebellion against the Emperor of Avalon grows as rumors spread of the Collector’s defeat at the hands of the Techno Wizard. Sam Shelton and his friends now seek powerful new allies as they travel to the Great Rampart of the Uncharted Lands – a towering, armored wall built for a single purpose: to keep the citizens of the Wildland Kingdom on one side and the foulest monsters in all of Avalon on the other.
Something, however, is not right in the Uncharted Lands. The attacks on the wall grow fiercer, more frequent, more coordinated and Sam’s drone catches a glimpse of an evil long-forgotten.
Can Sam and his friends convince the Queen of the Wildland Kingdom to fight the emperor or does a slumbering threat pose an even greater risk?
You can buy your own copy of The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard: The Uncharted Lands on Amazon and also iTunes,Nook, and Kobo.
Thanks for joining us today! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.
Yes, you, dear reader. I am grateful we are sharing this tiny moment of our day together. I’m grateful you chose to click the link and see what I have to say. Writers can’t exist in a vacuum, we need to know there is someone out there who is interested in what we have to say. Today, in this exact second, that person is you.
You are the reason I create magical pieces of fiction. You are the reason I stay up at night thinking of how to untangle a difficult story line. You are the reason why I seek out interesting topics to share. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably be doing something mundane like folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen.
Here at the opening of the holiday season I find myself full of conflicting emotions. With Thanksgiving, and it’s focus on gratitude, this is the perfect time of year to reflect what I’m grateful for here at the blog – and what a year it’s been! At this time last year, I discovered my book was going to be published. I dreamed of what today would look and feel like.
Being here, at this moment, is a culmination of years of dreaming and working. I’m excited about the possibilities the future holds, but also know how much work each of those possibilities require to make real. Everyone wants a runaway success, no one wants to think about how much effort it takes for that to happen.
Which is why I’m grateful for you, dear reader. Every click turns into a number, and while most of you will only be known as a number to me, each number is meaningful, because it means you were here.
Thank you for being here!
Last weeks launch party and book signing was a success. A huge thank you to Aaron and the Printed Garden for hosting, to Jordan for bringing his amazing sword exhibit, and to my friends and family who came and supported me.
Missed the Launch? Have no fear, I’ll be signing at The Printed Garden during the Shop Local Saturday event, Nov 24th from 1-4 pm.
In other news, I’ve been busy connecting with other blogs and podcasts. Here is what was posted this week:
Wonderfully crafted story. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and grew as I read. The characters were well created and brought me into the story, and made me feel all the emotions a good character does. Yes, I even shed a few tears. Well done. Can’t wait for more. – Blyck
This is it, the day I’ve been waiting and working for since I started this blog ages ago. I’m so excited to share this moment with you.
Stonebearer’s Betrayal is now available for purchase on all major online book retailers.
There, I said it! Squee!
Last night, my 12-year-old finished reading it. He came up to me and said the best thing he could have possibly said.
“Mom, this is amazing!”
Yes, he’s a little biased, but he also reads plenty so I value his opinion.
So, what is Stonebearer’s Betrayal about?
At the very adult age of eighteen, Katira had her life figured out. She knew her place, understood her path, and was destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother.
That all changes when monsters from legends step into her real life, throw her world into chaos, and threaten to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must accept that her world is far different from what she ever imagined and she must fight to protect what she loves.
Stonebearer’s Betrayal is a fast-paced coming-of-age story fueled with action, adventure, and danger suitable for readers 12 and up. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the fantasy lover in your family.
Jaleta Clegg loves telling stories ranging from aliens and spaceships to magic and unicorns to elves and airships to monsters and mayhem. Her published works include space opera with the Fall of the Altairan Empire series, steampunk fairies in Dark Dancer, and silly horror short stories. When not writing, she enjoys watching good bad movies, crocheting stuff out of yarn, and messing in the kitchen inventing new dishes.
She lives in Washington state with a diminishing horde of children, too many pets, and a very patient husband.
First, tell us a little about yourself and what originally inspired you to write your first book.
I’ve always loved storytelling, but hated writing things out by hand and all the mistakes I made with typewriters led to typing anxiety. It wasn’t until we bought our first computer, a used Commodore128 at a garage sale, that I felt free enough to really start writing. On the computer, mistakes were temporary. Rewriting was effortless. Words could just flow! Except, I had four little kids at the time. We had just moved to a new neighborhood. I needed to escape. So I escaped into my own head. I started writing. Within six months, I’d finished a fantasy trilogy rough draft, edited it, rewritten it, and was ready to move on to other things. I started a science fiction novel. Life happened. I was interrupted. But I kept pecking away at my novels, here and there, sometimes setting them aside for months, until I had eleven finished books in a series. That was when I decided to pursue publishing. So in a nutshell, my stories are my self-therapy and escape.
What is the project you are working on now and where did the idea come from?
I’m currently in the middle of a story tentatively titled Desert Lighthouse. I had this image in my head of a lighthouse in the middle of a desert. What kind of story could I tell about that? Who would build it there? And why? The questions bothered me enough that I started pulling together a story. It’s a strange one, with several different storylines that all weave together. Eventually.
I’m also working on the sequel to Dark Dancer. I loved the idea of steampunk elves and magic from the first book and wanted to go back to that world. I also realized I left a lot of the story untold and unfinished. Hopefully Winterqueen’s War will fill in a lot of the holes.
I’m also working on a series of stories set in the fictional kingdom of Merkady where the humans have died out leaving behind Humankin, animals that look almost human, and Altereds, animals that can talk and think like people but still look like the original animals. I have a few characters that want me to tell their stories – a rattlesnake fighting for equal rights for Altereds and a bunny Humankin superspy. And don’t let me forget my version of Sinbad in that world, a leopard with a walrus first mate. I can’t wait to get to his story.
I think I have a problem with too many projects going on at the same time.
What authors have inspired you, and why?
I blame Andre Norton. I discovered her books when I was young and impressionable. It amazed me that people wrote stories about aliens and space travel and magic and monsters that weren’t aimed at kids. Her books led me to others by Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and others. I haunted the small science fiction section of our library until I’d read all the books they had. But I wanted more.
I found Julie Czerneda and Elizabeth Moon. These women wrote the kinds of books I wanted to write. They told stories that I loved reading. I found Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony and realized humor could be part of science fiction and fantasy. I found other new authors who inspired me to keep writing and pursuing publication, namely Francis Pauli and Paul Genesse. I met Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia, who never looked down on me, a newbie author, but instead gave me kind words and friendship. I could keep going with the list of authors I love, the ones who keep me reading and keep me dreaming, but the list would just keep going.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Can a whole book count? I really struggled with Chain of Secrets, the eighth book in my series. It’s a dark point in the overall story. Dace, the main character, is struggling with everything, nothing seems to be going right. The whole book was pretty dark, but when I go back and read it again, I love it. It’s about struggling to overcome, about doing what’s right even when it might cost you your life, about dealing with loss and betrayal. It’s about becoming a better person, about being true to your innermost self. It’s also about family and the ties we choose to bind ourselves with. The emotions were powerful and very hard to deal with when I was writing. I’m a very private person, so writing those raw emotions was a lot like walking outside naked. I have a tendency to shy away from the emotions, to put distance between my character and their feelings, so in editing I have to be brutal about closing that distance. Because I know the end result will be that much stronger.
When it’s time to create something new, what is your process?
I start with a scene or a character or sometimes just a line. Then I just write until I start to see a shape to the story. At that point, I usually need to set it aside for a while to let the story ferment and develop. Once I can feel the general shape of the outline, I can write it. With some short stories, the process takes only a day or less. With some novels, I’m still waiting for the story to gel together. I have found if I try to force it, I end up with a boring mess of a story.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I finally mastered fudge! At least the marshmallow creme/chocolate chip version. It’s been my unicorn for a long time. I’d try to make fudge and end up with chocolate frosting. Or I’d make frosting and somehow end up with a layer of fudge on my cake. I recently found a recipe that works for me. Now I can turn out consistently delicious creamy fudge.
I’m also very proud of the anthologies some of my stories have landed in. I have a comedy in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow about a futuristic game show, The Ultimate Space Race, which is also the name of the story. It’s told by an older couple watching the finale together on the couch. Everything is branded, sponsored, trademarked, and commercialized. Kind of a snarky look at the future, but that’s where I see it headed.
I’m also the proud author of the obligatory fart joke cthulhu story, A Brown and Dismal Horror, in the Redneck Eldritch collection. Yes, my reign as Queen of the Fart Joke is far from over.
And I recently finished an afghan that I love. Crocheting those things take hours and hours, about four seasons of the X-files worth of hours.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Yes, I really want to be Han Solo when I grow up. I want my own beat-up spaceship and my own Wookie best friend. I want to explore new worlds and have adventures. If I can’t have the Millenial Falcon, I’ll settle for Wolf’s ship, and his company, from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of my all-time favorite movies. Or maybe I’ll go off adventuring with Captain Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Or maybe I’ll just make up more stories of adventure and pretend they’re real. That’s really why I write.
New Release from Jaleta Clegg!
Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.
The Seligh crushed,
The captives found,
The barrier broken,
The balmorae freed.
A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.
A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.
A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.
And trust that she won’t destroy their world.
To connect with Jaleta, go visit her at her sites: