Exploring the Five Orders: Guardians

No magical secret society would be complete without its dedicated protectors. In the Stonebearer universe these are the Order of the Guardians. Not only do they protect the society’s interests, they also lead its defense in times of war and unrest. In this latest era of the world, they must step forward again to counter the dark forces rising up from the barrier between worlds.

Image by Torulus from Pixabay

Most guardians tend to stay at the Stonebearer stronghold, Amul Dun, to protect those living there against attack and to train and refine their skills. After the last war, far fewer guardians returned to the keep. Many were killed. Of those who survived, some stayed away because they sought peace deep in the isolated villages far from the cities.

A Stonebearer Guardian must possess the talent to strengthen both physical and intangible objects with their power. This means any weapon in their hands becomes unbreakable, any armor, impenetrable. As long as they have the strength to cast the glyphs, they are untouchable.

As with the other orders, guardians must train hard to develop their skills. They learn fighting techniques from those who have mastered various fighting styles over centuries of effort. Many legends have stemmed from lone guardians fighting against impossible odds.

The most notable guardians in Stonebearer’s Betrayal are Katira’s father, Jarand and his trusted friend who’s stood by his side in the worst of times, Issa.


If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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Exploring the Five Orders: Healers

In the Stonebearer universe there are those who possess a magical power called the Khandashii. This power manipulates matter. Specific abilities and skills are determined by the strengths and talents of the user. Today we explore the Healing order of Stonebearers.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

What’s the use of magic and the ability to change the reality of the world, if it can’t be used to help someone? For Healers, the call to help those who are sick or injured is the strongest and best way they fulfill the drive to make the world better.

Just like today’s medical professionals, to become a Stonebearer Healer requires rigorous study and training. They must have a working understanding of how the body functions down to the most minute details. Without this knowledge, using healing magic is useless.

Those who become Stonebearer Healers must have a talent in using the parts of the power that make broken things whole. With this power, healers can knit back together bones, ligaments, tendons, and tissues that have been injured. To some extent they can also draw away viruses, bacteria, and toxins.

Most Stonebearer Healers venture out into the world to ply their trade in small towns and villages, places where they can do the most good. The use of magic is feared by the world at large so this is a challenge. However, in life or death situations when there are no other options, they will use their power to make the difference.

Healers featured in Stonebearer’s Betrayal include Mirelle, Katira’s mother, Firen, the Head of the Healing order, and his assistant Cassim.

I would totally stick Bill Nighy in as Firen, but I can’t find him in anything but a suit and tie. Go figure.


If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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From Book Launch to Now – Going off the Rails, in Style!

Back in December I wrote, in super dramatic terms, about bringing my first book into the world and how it was way more like being a first-time mom than I ever expected. Looking back, I agree with every word.

It’s been almost six months since the release of Stonebearer’s Betrayal and the roller coaster of emotion is now more like a carousel. There are still ups and downs, but they don’t make me scream and I only get motion sick if I close my eyes for too long. Each turn is predictable with each next step already planned. Each tiny up has its own tiny down.

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

It’s all very manageable and to be honest – a little boring. It’s work. Plain and simple. I create goals to complete. Some are big, like finishing 2000 minutes of editing each month to finish Stonebearer’s #2. Some are tiny, like making sure my email stays under control. Some can be tedious, like ensuring my social media presence stays solid. (By the way, my Instagram is fabulous.) Some are fun, like attending conferences and signings.

I find myself hoarding time like a miser. Each minute I can work in peace while the kids are at school is measured and optimized. The hours of the day are sliced and diced into focused chunks, 45 minutes here to write today’s blog post, 10 minutes there to fold the laundry, 15 minutes here to answer an email, another hour there to edit another scene.

Right in the beginning, when the world of possibilities was wide open, I lost focus on my big goal, to earn my success by creating great novels, and instead spent way too much time chasing micro opportunities down rabbit holes. Whole days were eaten in the search for podcasts and book review sites willing to even look at me. I didn’t write or edit a word of fiction for months.

I turned into a crazy person. I collected every bit of data and studied each analytic hoping to see an upturn that said I’d won the author lottery and the mainstream market had noticed my little book. After months of working and watching, I realized the only way to continue growing my fan base would be to keep writing more books for people to enjoy.

So here I am. Working. Hard. Everyday.

I don’t regret my weeks and months spent being a little crazy and obsessive – it comes with the whole becoming an author package and needs to be experienced to be understood.

I’m all better now. Here, have a smiling potato.


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

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

Exploring the Five Orders: Seekers

The defining characteristic of books in the fantasy genre is the existence of magic and/or magical creatures. Last month, we explored the magic used by the Traveling order in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. This month’s focus is the Order of the Seekers.

Photo by j zamora on Unsplash

For many, both in fantastical worlds and also here in the real world, the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong process that is both gratifying and compelling. Researchers, writers, documentary creators, and news reporters (to name a few) all seek out the facts they need to prove a point, entertain, inform, or improve the world around them.

Seekers are no different, except they have magic at their disposal. Where a Traveler can manipulate the location of themselves, items, and others, a Seeker can use their magic to locate items and facts. Some seekers are rumored to even be able to peer into time itself and see the past or future to an extent.

Most seekers prefer working as historians and spend their days recording their insights on significant events. Some, however, choose to be informants and use their skill to uncover plots and learn the truth behind circulating rumors.

The darker side of those in the seeker order is the unsavory practice of extracting information from those who don’t wish to give it. Stonebearer society has strict rules governing when and if this practice can be allowed.

As we said when we were learning about Travelers, the use of the power is inherently dangerous. Seekers tend to be the safest of the five orders as it’s difficult to overextend oneself.

The most notable Seekers in the first book in the Stonebearer series are Bremin, the High Lady Alystra’s master spy and Regulus, Isben’s master and Wrothe’s first victim.

If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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Exploring the Five Orders: Travelers

Back in January, I shared a little about the magic system that exists in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Today I’d like to dive deeper into the magic system and talk more about Travelers.

Where would you go if you could magically Travel?

Star Trek fans can appreciate the science and technology surrounding the idea of teleportation and how useful it can be. If you can move from one place to another in moments rather than hours, a whole new reality presents itself. With this ability, escaping from danger or running to the rescue can happen in a heartbeat. No prison can hold a Traveler and no location is secure, unless protected by a greater magic.

In the Stonebearer universe, the use of magic is dangerous and therefore those who possess it must use caution. Those who have a talent for Traveling, are able to manipulate objects and themselves through space using a series of magical symbols or glyphs.

The most important rule a Traveler must adhere to is that they can only send themselves the same distance they can travel on foot in the course of a day. Pushing to move themselves farther than this drains their energy beyond what is considered safe and they risk loss of consciousness or even death.

When sending objects, a Traveler must consider the items weight and the distance. The lighter the item, the further it can be sent. This is why Travelers tend to be great spies. Not only can they escape from danger, they can send messages to someone days away. The places they can travel to, or send things to, are limited to where a Traveler has visited personally.

The energy to work all magic, including Traveling glyphs, comes from within and can be replenished with rest and time. In an emergency they can draw this energy from other people, but avoid doing so.

Dame Judi Dench would make an amazing Lady Alystra

In Stonebearer’s Betrayal, the most conspicuous Traveler is the High Lady Alystra. Not only is she the head of the Stonebearer Society, she is head of the Traveling Order. She uses her power to maintain lines of communication among the Society as a whole and has a network of spies that help her stay informed. Her head spy is Bremin, a member of the order of Seekers and her bonded companion.

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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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.

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Positive Messages in Stonebearer’s Betrayal

While there are a lot of books out there with terrific messages, there are also a rampant amount of books out there that idolize unhealthy relationships and glorify questionable life choices.

While Stonebearer’s Betrayal is far from perfect, it does contain several positive messages that I think are important for everyone.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

#1 – The power is in you

Perhaps the most important message in Katira’s story is that everyone, regardless of if they have magic or not, has the power to change a situation. Choosing to be brave and make hard decisions can be scary, but in the long run it’s ultimately more rewarding.

#2 – There is a special magic that can only happen between people who have been together for years and years.

Katira’s parents, Jarand and Mirelle, have been together for almost two hundred years.
They share a magic bond that helps them feel and understand what the other is feeling. Throughout the story we get to see the beautiful give and take of their relationship and how close they are to each other. While magic like this doesn’t exist in the real world, this kind of closeness and empathy can be cultivated when a couple is willing to continually work on improving their understanding of each others needs.

#3 – If a relationship isn’t working out, it’s okay to part in friendship.

Sometimes things don’t work between people. It happens. Pop culture constantly shows us that this break up calls for drama and nastiness, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Often, all that’s needed is a heartfelt conversation where each person feels safe to talk about how they feel. It takes a lot of courage to do this because as we all know, feelings hurt. The more people can see this happen in the media they consume, the more likely they will be willing to try.

#4 – It’s okay for things to go badly, it’s not okay to endlessly wallow in it.

Most fiction does an admirable job showing that those who wallow in self-pity only manage to prolong their own suffering and cause themselves additional problems. However, sometimes stories reinforce the message that the sad person gets all the attention while the person who chooses to move on is portrayed as heartless or uncaring. There can be a balance. It’s okay to feel bad when things go wrong, in fact it’s healthy to allow a moment to mourn or be angry. It’s not healthy to remain there longer than necessary.

#5 – You don’t have to be a princess or specially chosen to do something amazing.

There is this very damaging idea that ordinary people can’t do important things, that they need special permission or the perfect opportunity or the right people to guide them. This is far from true. Anyone can take steps to work toward a challenging goal. It takes courage to step out of the box, to break the mold, and to do the incredible – and that’s why it’s powerful to see when others succeed. You can succeed too!

Fortune favors the bold, Aristotle

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Meet the Cast: Mirelle Pathara

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

“Healing Silverstars” By AnthonyFoti

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

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

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


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

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

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Discussion

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

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

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Book Review, Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Posting a full review here feels way too much like tooting my own horn, but today’s review is special. Last Friday, my oldest son job shadowed me as I went about my day as an author. He learned about free writing, work/life balance, drafting, and marketing.

Watching an author work is awkward for the author and boring for the watcher. The best way to experience what any job is like is to try it. And … since he is my perfect target audience and has already read my book, teaching him how to write a book review was the ideal exercise to learn how to draft out a new project. Even better, he’s thrilled to have his work published here on the blog.

Here’s his review of my book, which is it’s own special kind of adorable.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal Book Review

by Timothy Milner

Stonebearers Betrayal is a fantasy book about a girl named Katira and her friends who get wrapped up in this adventure featuring magic, demons, travel stones, magic stones, an alternate reality, and a creepy old guy who kidnaps her for a couple days. Not as creepy as it sounds, just a bit creepy.

Though there’s a bit of bias in this statement, I love this book.  The sense of adventure and danger really puts this book in a special category, so much so that some would call it a “underrated masterpiece.” Stonebearer’s Betrayal does a magnificent job at conveying emotions. It makes you feel like they’re going to die or feel like she’ll never escape.

I’m not sure about what I don’t like about this book, other than the fact that some of the concepts are a bit creepy. Although I didn’t really like the creepiness factor, I’m sure that others would. It makes the main villain feel even more powerful and demonic.

In stories, it’s usually very important to make the villain feel powerful, make it look like the odds for success are low. You don’t want a story with a wimpy villain, right? If the villain is easily defeated and the heroes go home to celebrate, then there isn’t much story to begin with, especially at the climax. And this is what Stonebearer’s Betrayal does very well.

I’d rate it for people 13+, because anyone below that won’t really understand or respect it. I’m not sure what it’s similar to, I want to say it’s a bit similar to Eragon by Christopher Paolini, but I’m not sure.

About today’s reviewer –

Timothy Milner is a 13-year-old who is way too mature for his age, but nonetheless, he likes to nuke things from orbit, design TNT machine guns, and die to the goddamn triple spike at 53%. Did he mention he was a gamer?

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Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Do you like dragons? Good news! I’m working on several dragon projects at the moment. Two of these are short stories that will appear in anthologies and one is a middle grade novel that I’m co-writing with friend and fellow Immortal Works author, Daniel Swenson.

Written as part research, and part fun, check out my article “Symbology of Dragons” I wrote for Amy Beatty about the significance of dragons in different cultures around the world.

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The Magic System of Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Magic, the final frontier, these are the voyages of… Wait a minute, wrong franchise. But seriously, let’s talk about the different kinds of magic that appear in Stonebearer’s Betrayal.

Alchemical Symbols – Pixabay contributor “MontageVogue”

In the world of Roshnii, a choice few are born with magic in them.
Despite the historians efforts to link it to lineage, it appears at random. Those blessed, or some believe cursed, with the magic are fated to live abnormally long lives and die violent deaths. This magic is formally known as the power of the Khandashii.

To earn the title of Stonebearer one must survive training and pass through the fires of testing. A proper Stonebearer has the right to carry a motherstone which allows them to more accurately use their powers to manipulate the world.

There are those born with the power who escape the attention of the towers are referred to as wielders. They are considered highly dangerous. Most don’t survive long, as the magic kills those who can’t control it.

The magic is granted by the Stonemother and she chooses those she believes are destined to have it, for good or for ill. She shows her mercy by keeping the magic dormant until a child is strong enough to command it. The longer a child lives without it manifesting, the stronger their magic is. Those who have used the power for decades develop markings along their arms, necks, and backs.

The magic is divided into five abilities. Each of these abilities has it’s own order and headmaster. While a Stonebearer in theory can work each ability to some degree, they have a natural affinity toward one far stronger than the rest. This determines what order they belong to.

The magic manipulates the physical nature of the world through a series of symbols and glyphs. The energy needed for the magic to perform a task is taken from the Stonebearer and if they use too much, it can kill them. Using an ability they don’t have an affinity for requires a prohibitive amount of energy.

The Five Orders

Travelers – can manipulate the location of objects, including themselves, and instantly move them up to the distance they can walk in a day. They enable communication over long distances and are also excellent spies, especially when pared with a seeker.

Guardians – can alter the physical strength of an object, making it either stronger or weaker. They are tasked with keeping the peace and most train to be expert fighters.

Seekers – can locate both items and knowledge in the immediate area. They are responsible for documenting the history of the world and also keeping track of magic powered artifacts. Some can see glimpses into the future.

Benders – can change the nature of an object by manipulating its particles into new formations. While it is strictly prohibited, some can even change how people think and act.

Healers – can repair what is broken and restore what has been corrupted. Most will formally train to heal people and become town and village doctors.

Katira, the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, begins the story believing the magic is nothing more than a legend, a story told to children at festivals, or to scare them in to staying in their beds. She discovers, much to her horror, that the magic is indeed real when one of those storybook monsters attacks her. The world is not as it seems, it has never been. If she is to survive, she must fight against those who want to use her as a pawn in a much larger game between a dangerous demon and the entire society of Stonebearers.

You can get your own copy at all major online book retailers, including Amazon.

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If you had the power of the Khandashii, what order would you want to belong to? Answer in the comments below!

From Contract to Launch – The Journey to Here

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

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

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

What a year it’s been!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launch day speaking to the crowd.

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

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

Some don’t.

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

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

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

It’s exhausting, but worth it.

Proud Momma and Book Baby

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

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

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

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

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