The Origins of Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Everyone wants to hear some fantastic story about how their favorite books came to be. While it would be easy to say that a dream angel gifted me with such a powerful idea that I stayed up for the next three nights feverishly writing down every beautiful word until my fingers bled, it wouldn’t be true. The fact is, Stonebearer’s Betrayal came into the world much like an unruly apple tree.

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

It started with an idea, parts of which were tactfully borrowed from my favorite fiction tropes. This idea burrowed into the soil of my imagination and poked at my waking thoughts from time to time. When the time was right, I watered it with my attention until it started to grow, and grow, and grow. It was an ugly thing, overgrown, shapeless, and crowded by weeds. Over time I learned to prune away each unneeded character and subplot. It hurt but was necessary to allow the healthy branches to grow strong and bear fruit.

I still remember the moment when I decided I’d give this whole writing thing a try. In the sleep-deprived weeks and months following my daughter’s birth, the stress of caring for a newborn, paired with exhaustion, tacked on to also having a toddler to care for, pushed me past the breaking point. I had to escape. Some women shop. I dive into worlds created by the written word.

It was on one of these dives when I noticed that my reading experience had changed from when I was younger. I used to allow stories to eat me whole and I would only come up for air when I absolutely had to. As a parent, the distractions and needs of a busy family came first. I couldn’t dive deep, yet I craved that immersive experience.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

So I started writing. During nap time I typed away at dark ideas wanting to be explored. Every late night feeding was a chance to imagine different story twists and possibilities. It kept me sane and gave much-needed release. Years later, and a lot of learning about the craft of writing, I finally felt ready to let someone else take a look.

And … it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. Inside the bloated and unwieldy story there were ideas that accidentally got sucked into the void alongside whole side stories that didn’t really matter. World building ideas needed to be solidified and developed and character motivations needed lots of shining up.

Bit by bit, year after year, I made agonizingly slow progress as the chapters and scenes started coming together and behaving nicely with each other. The big turning point was when my youngest started to attend school and I could have a few hours of undisturbed headspace to dig in and finish.

The book went under contract when he was in kindergarten and was published when he was in 1st grade.

Did I totally have a crush on Duncan Macleod? Yes, yes I did.

Where did some of the key ideas come from? I’ll admit, this book is my love letter to all my favorite books and TV shows I used to enjoy as a teen. I adore the Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings, alongside pulpy favorites such as Highlander: The Series and Kung Fu: the Legend Continues. There might be a dash of Life in the ER as well…

Currently, I’m eyeballs deep in finishing final edits on the sequel and letting the characters drive the story to where it was always meant to go. Man, this is going to be good.


Stonebearer’s Betrayal is available in print at all major online retailers and in ebook exclusively through Amazon.com. Pick up your copy today!


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Power Word: Create

When was the last time you visited a museum or attended a concert? Visited a historical site? Ate at a great restaurant? The draw of all these activities is rooted in our desire to experience that which stirs the senses, whether it be sight, taste, sound, smell, or touch. The people behind these experiences, the painters, musicians, architects, or chefs, all have one thing in common – they create.

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

The word ‘create’ is simple, yet powerful. Everything that surrounds us is a result of an act of creation. From the first moments we discover the use of our hands, we create. As children, we spent a great deal our energy creating crayon art, play dough sculptures, sand castles, digital worlds, Lego worlds, and endless stories.

As adults, we have less and less time to spend in carefree acts of creation. I find this sad, but I’m guilty of it as well. Ever since I shifted my writing from something I did as a hobby to a career, that element of carefree play has been lost. Each time I sit down to write or edit something, it’s to meet a deadline, a goal, or a career milestone.

That said, I still enjoy the act of creating new ideas and putting those ideas into a story. There is a rush of fulfillment and joy every time I get to hold a new book or anthology in my hands for the first time. Finishing a project that has taken weeks, or months, or even years is an emotional thing.

Happy mommy otter

Using ‘create’ as a power word means to remind myself how much I enjoy the process of writing. It’s a reminder to make progress on other creative projects, like the half-finished crochet Totoro that’s been stuffed in a box. It’s gentle encouragement to try something new.

Ultimately, the joy that comes from creating art; whether it be visual, edible, or word driven, can’t come from any other pursuit. It’s the ability to look at something with pride and say, “I made that.”

What are you going to create today?

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This post is part of the Power Words series.

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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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Writing Update – July

upward graph

As expected, July turned out to be hot and busy. Between plenty of family activities and long days home with kids, it was hard to consistently find time to work on my book.  Even with these challenges the word count rose from around 57,500 words to 72,000 words – a net increase of 14,500 words or about 60 pages, and that deserves a happy dance all around. A good part of these words were salvaged from an earlier draft and edited to fit the new needs of the current draft. The rest are new scenes written to round out the story.

These pages contain both the action climax and the emotional climax of the book, and have been a bear to work on. I owe my family an apology for the days I was mentally withdrawn as I worked through some of the emotions myself.  Part of me feels bad about what happens to my characters, I have put them through the wringer and there’s not much I’ve given them as a reward.  During future editing I’m going to have to make sure that the payout for completing their quest is enough or my readers might end up throwing the book against a wall. 

I’m excited to have reached this point in writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal. At this pace, I should finish this draft during the month of August and be that much closer to publication. After this, I’ll begin the more detailed and painstaking work of filing down the rough edges and filling in gaps and holes, of which I already know there are many.  

Between this draft and the next, I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few weeks and working on some short fiction to submit to magazines and contests.  I’ve collected a few fun ideas that I hope will turn into some great fiction.  

Until next month,  happy writing!