About Jodi

I'm an aspiring novelist working in fantasy and suspense, for now. I also have two pretty awesome blogs! http://myliteraryquest.wordpress.com and https://jodilmilnerauthor.wordpress.com

A Querying I will Go!

IMG_5208It’s been a wild spring with unpredictable weather and plenty of changes to adapt into my life. As a family with young kids, the only thing I can depend on from day to day is unpredictability.  My youngest has developed a fascination with Minecraft and loves to play on the worlds he is creating with someone else. I’ll admit, I think it’s really fun to play with him as well, but every hour spent playing video games is an hour not spent doing anything that will help me reach my goals.

That said, perhaps the biggest news is that I’m starting to query out my epic fantasy novel. I didn’t image there would be this much stress associated with waiting for publishers and agents to give me their approval, or rejection, or no response at all. I’ve been at it since December but have only started sending out multiple queries at a time this last month.

The plan for the next few months is to always have five queries out at a time and to participate in whatever Twitter pitch contests drift my way. While this isn’t super aggressive, it doesn’t take over my life either.

[For those scratching their heads – a query is simply a formal letter sent to publishers and literary agents that tells about the book and about the author. A pitch is a short sentence that sums up the book. Both are mind-numbingly hard to create.]

On the short story front, I have two pieces that have been accepted and are awaiting scheduling with the publisher. I will most definitely be posting as soon as I have more info. One is a retelling of classic Vietnamese folklore, the  Starfruit Tree and is slated for an anthology. The other, The Skull Collector, is best described as a cross between Moana and the Hunger Games and will be in a magazine.

Other news, I was asked to judge a short story contest for the University of Utah Valley’s Warp and Weave speculative fiction literary magazine. While I’ve judged stories before, it’s never been for anything more than my writing group. All the stories were amazing so it was a true challenge to pick those that rose above the rest.

There’s always a ton of fun/agonizing work to do. While waiting for query responses from agents and editors I have a bundle of great ideas I’d like to work up into publishable short stories and a draft of the sequel novel to create. I also have a handful of presentations to prepare for upcoming conferences, for more info click here.

Here’s to a great Spring!

***

Love reading my content? Hate getting weird emails? Get all the latest updates by hitting “Like” over at my author Facebook page.

 

LTUE 2017

jodimilnersocialmediaThe 2017 Utah writing conference season kicks off with the ever popular, and oh-so-affordable “Life, the Universe, and Everything” symposium on science fiction and fantasy. I’ve attended this particular conference a handful of times as a hopeful starry-eyed participant in the past.

However, this year for the first time ever, they let me play with the big kids. That’s right, yours truly got to be an expert panelist. If that wasn’t exciting enough,  I got to be a panel moderator as well, which is a huge first.

It’s hard not to read too deeply into the committee’s choice to include me, a mere short storyist. My qualifications as an author are still a bit thin. There are so many super talented and super published authors in Utah that you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. I’d love to say I was picked because they had seen some of my presentation work before and they were impressed.

The truth is, I apparently have in-depth knowledge of several obscure fields of study, knowledge that most gals in my position don’t have.  I also volunteered to be part of several obscure panels. My first panel discussed the realities of what happens at death. I haven’t personally died yet, so my experience is limited there. I’m holding off on trying it out until it goes on sale. Instead, I have worked in health care for both humans and animals and seen plenty of death that way. My fellow panelists included a firefighter, a seasoned RN and personal friend, a physicians assistant obsessed with cellular biology, and the moderator who I still haven’t figured out the background on. In fairness, he’s still puzzling out mine.

The other panel centered on the visual comedy of Rowan Atkinson. I know, I laughed too. death goes so well with visual comedy. On the panel was the founder of the LTUE conference itself, Dave Doering, and the TMA track head, Nick Mills, and another guy who apparently spent his childhood the precisely the same way I spent mine, watching late night PBS when all the British comedies came on. Yes, I didn’t have that many friends, why do you ask? Needless to say, having two fairly influential people on the panel stressed me out to no end.

To sum up – I had a great time and I believe that my panels went well. I wanted to attend a few other panels and perhaps glean a few nuggets of new writerly wisdom, but instead I hung around with writing friends instead, which honestly is the best part of the conference anyway.

A huge shout out to the following awesome people who let me play and were kind enough to let me hang out with them: Jared Quan, President of the League of Utah Writers; Candace Thomas, Eliza Crosby (who got a full manuscript request – you go girl!), Sarah Seeley, Chris Roche, DawnRay Ammon, Jenna Eatough, and all my other LTUE talented friends!

***

Don’t miss out! Followers get all the latest updates and interesting tidbits. Don’t like following blogs? Not a WordPress patron? That’s okay. You can get all the latest, and more, by hitting “Like” on my Facebook author page.

Sigil in Shadow by Constance Roberts

Sigil in Shadow WEB ONLY

Let’s review a book, shall we? First things first, the important stuff. Sigil in Shadow is a YA fiction novel set in a time period where royal intrigues between princesses and commoners can take place.  At a smidgen over 250 pages, it’s a good length and it definitely doesn’t get boring.

I was given an advanced reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 🙂

On to the story!

This lovely back cover copy does a lovely job of summing up the story without spoilers –

“Ellary Dane knows she deserves to die – but not for a crime she didn’t commit.

She believes her 19 year streak of bad luck is over when she accidentally saves the life of a highborn officer and is taken to court to study under the tutelage of the most renowned healer in the kingdom. Suspicions surround her sudden presence, making her more enemies than allies. She soon finds herself ripped from her warm palace sheets and thrown into a dank prison cell.

 As nobles vie for their spot on the throne, Ellary learns she is bound to a secret history that could change the kingdom forever. If she is going to break her chains, she must trust the stranger labeled as her accomplice and face the lie that pushed her into the silent warfare of highborn society.”

Ok, now for the good stuff. This book has great prose and it’s a nice read for the imagery alone. The characters are enjoyable and well-rounded. Ellary herself has strength and a good heart, although she is a touch paranoid about her big secret being discovered. In her situation, I would be too.

Is this a perfect story? Nope. But, let’s be honest, perfect stories are predictable and boring. In this story, Ellary has all sorts of challenges to overcome. While she does conquer her biggest challenge which revolves around how to maintain her integrity while being forced into a social position where she doesn’t belong, she fails many smaller but super significant challenges.

 

I would recommend this book to readers who love royal intrigue, Cinderella stories, and a strong female lead.

 

Sigil in Shadow can be found on Amazon. 

Want to see more from this author? Here’s her website.

Fresh Fantasy: Shadows of Angels by L. G. Rollins

There’s nothing better than a book you can sink into, one that grabs your attention and wrestles you for your time until you finish. L. G. Rollins debut fantasy novel does just that.

I have read my fair share of fantasy. I write the stuff, I owe it to myself and my future readers to stay on top of the latest and best there is out there.

When the author, who also happens to be one of my critique buddies, asked me to be a part of her blog tour to announce the release of her first novel, I had to say yes!

I’ve known Laura for several years and can honestly say that she’s got what it takes to spin a riveting story.

Shadows of Angels Cover

My Review: Shadows of Angels is a mix of magic and intrigue. The main character, Aerbrin, faces a life full of new challenges when her father is murdered and leaves her rightful owner of his mysterious and powerful Zaad stone. She must survive against all the forces who would force it from her.

The story has surprises right and left, including people who aren’t who they say, inventive and terrifying  magical creatures, and cursed places that exist to destroy the pure in heart.

If I were to compare it to anything, I’d say it would be like a darker version of the 1986 cult classic movie Labyrinth if it were directed by Guillermo del Toro. There’s no maze, but there is a dream trance place where stolen memories are hidden away. Very cool stuff. And as a bonus, Aerbrin is much stronger and more clever than Labyrinth’s Sarah (Jennifer Connelly).

If you like reading well-written books that have lots of thrilling near death experiences, kings in hiding, noble men, plenty of magic, and unique fantasy settings, this book is perfect for you. Oh, and I should mention that this is a clean read, meaning no profanity or explicit anything. There is a fair amount of tastefully executed violence.

However, if you shy away from characters in pain, need a strong romantic side story to keep you interested, or can’t stand powerful magical characters, you may need to steer clear of this book.

***

Because I love you – check out this exerpt:

Stay calm, her father’s words echoed in her head. When you find yourself in danger, above all, stay calm. Aerbrin took a deep, steady breath and leaned down, reaching for her bow. one of the Forest Dwellers charged. It collided with her and knocked her to the floor. Raising a knotted fist, he bashed her head.

Sparks exploded across her vision. She tried to raise an arm, tried to call out. Her body wouldn’t respond. The Forest Dwellers grunted again. The creature above her raised its fist again. She looked up. This was the end, she knew. When these monsters attacked, they killed everything. Animals, plants, and particularly humans. No one survived.

Closing her eyes, Aerbrin forced her body to relax. This time, there was no pain.”

About the Author:

L. G. Rollins grew up in a far off land fighting dragons, stealing talismans, and traveling with dwarfs and elves. She is especially skilled at bribing giants with sweets. Currently, her husband and four kids live in Utah so that is where she spends most of her time. She may, or may not, have a Zaad Stone. To learn more about L. G. Rollins and her books visit LGRollins.com. Shadows of Angels comes out December 8th and is the beginning of the Zaad Stone trilogy.

 

Shadows of Angels Blog Tour Image.jpg

League Flash Fiction Prize Winner

image_1I almost forgot – In all the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks I won a prize! Yay! Someone out there actually likes my work, and it’s not my mother (although she likes it too…I think).  The League of Utah Writers holds several conferences and events throughout the year. In their big Fall conference they hold a large writing contest for anyone who wants to participate.

There are a ton of categories to choose from including first chapter, whole book, short story, article, etc. I usually end up doing flash fiction because of time constraints. I can finish and polish a 1000 word or less story much faster than say, a novel.

My story “Mundane Chores” centered around a playful interaction of mother and young child. The mother is trying to fold laundry and the child is doing his very best to distract her from it. It’s not really a story, but rather a vignette meant to capture a moment of childhood and parenthood. Had I managed to make it a story with an inciting incident and clever ending I might have taken a higher prize than third place.

I’m not complaining. This was a piece I wrote in a car driving to Yellowstone with my family, which includes several young children. I’m ecstatic to take home anything.

Winning is a huge confidence boost. I hope to write and enter more contests in the future.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Hello friends!

I’ve been off on hiatus for a while, but I promised to come back if anything interesting happened, so here I am.

FullSizeRender

This last weekend was the 3rd annual Salt Lake Comic Con held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. My husband and I took the weekend to go live it up with 120,000 other creative and devoted fans of fiction. One of the unique parts of any comic convention is that the participants are encouraged to dress the part of a favorite character, and boy did people dress up. By far the most popular characters to copy this year were the Joker and his plaything Harley Quinn, with Doctor Who coming in a close second with different iterations of the various doctors, especially Matt Smith in that deplorable fez.

Where's Waldo?

Where’s Waldo?

This was an opportunity not to be missed. Hubby and I pooled our creative talent and created the power duo of Ming the Merciless and his fabulous General Kala, using the imagery from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. 12063892_1130999466927661_4069948762659839179_n

We were stopped by adoring fans everywhere in the con and counted 115 different people asking for our picture. It’s easy to see why people love to come, the inner narcissist in me was having a hay day. My inner introvert, on the other hand, cowered in the corner and waited for it all to be over.

We entered the Cosplay Competition and made it to the semi finals, which meant we got to walk the stage in front of hundreds of people and strut our stuff. There’s a video out there somewhere… We didn’t win, but we had fun.

Another reason to attend the conference is to see celebrities. We attended panels with Marina Sirtis (counselor Troy on Star Trek), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee on Lord of the Rings), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley on Harry Potter), Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswald on Doctor Who), and Anthony Daniels (C3P0 on Star Wars). We signed up for photo ops with the Phelps twins and Anthony Daniels who was delightfully friendly.

P-47V-NYV-Q5M

P-Z2Q-T63-W5W

There were also hoards of local authors in attendance, including many of my friends, which made wandering the vendor hall that much more fun.

Book of the Month: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Discworld_Postal

“Discworld Postal” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Discworld_Postal.jpg#/media/File:Discworld_Postal.jpg

As part of the ever popular Discworld series, Going Postal marks the 33rd novel that takes place in the world.  I love the writing of Terry Pratchett and was very happy to return to one of his novels after not having the pleasure of reading one for a long time. His passing this year was felt deeply by his adoring fans.

The book is about a con man with the unfortunate name of Moist von Lipwig, which was never a problem to him because he always used an alias. That is, until his crimes caught up with him and he was given the option of a government job or death. Being a reasonable man, he chose the job figuring that the first minute no one was watching he could slip away and return to his dishonest ways.

However, what he didn’t expect was a magical golem as a parole officer who could track him tirelessly across oceans if the need existed. He learns this the hard way when Mr. Pump hauls both him and his horse bodily back to the defunct post office where Moist has been forced to serve as Post Master.

Half the fun of the book is in the unpredictable and amazing world that Pratchett has created. This post office hasn’t delivered a piece of mail in decades and the backed up mail has been stuffed into every nook and cranny, every spare office and attic space, until immense glaciers have formed.

Moist is determined to make his new job work, but more importantly, he is determined to make a buck or two in the process.

My Review:

It is a delight to read the work of a master who truly excels at his craft. Pratchett has a knack for creating terribly flawed characters who are both charming and charismatic in unexpected ways. They are not your typical heroes or villains, but real people with real issues that are often really funny.

These people are set into a fully fleshed and intriguing world where magic is real but very practical. Discworld is an amazing place and it is clear that Pratchett knows every facet of the place down to the heights of the gutters and species of birds that frequent the financial district.

Prachett is talented enough to make a whole book work with just interesting people wandering around this magical place. However, he has also created a story that is both fresh and fun. There are the dark powers behind the scenes who think they have everything under control – and they don’t. There are the businesses of the post office and the clacks towers, an equivalent of the telegraph, running neck and neck against each other, and there’s Moist who is trying to make the best of it all.

I give this book 5 stars – it is masterfully written and delightfully conceived.