Monday, December 16, 2019


This week I completed the first edit of my twentieth book. This is the moment when I consider the book done, or “in the can.” There’ll be more edits later on if it is to see print, but at this stage I can put it down and start something else.

Twenty books.

It seems like a lot and a little at the same time. I know people who can pump out eight to ten books a year and others who’ll write one in a lifetime. The number is meaningless really, except as a moment of reflection. Not that the weather would concur, but it is winter, a time to assess.

Every book has been its own journey, each one happening in a different way. Some have been planned out to near staleness, others have spilled from my fingers in a gush where I was barely present. With each one my skill has improved. With each one I have pushed myself to new boundaries of ideas and form.

Twenty books isn’t bad for as long as I’ve been writing. I’m happy with it. Knowing my process it’s a solid outcome. About three books a year, more at the beginning of my career, fewer later on when repeating myself is a real threat.

My super power in this endeavor is simple. I finish what I start. It is a basic rule and one that has never failed me. I know a lot of writers who have a stack of unfinished manuscripts. I know a lot of authors who have a stack of finished ones. The difference is everything.

I have other rules of writing too, but none have been as demonstrably useful as finish what I start. It’s got me twenty books.

There’s an element of stubbornness here to be sure. When the moment comes in each book, and it always comes, when I hate what I’m writing and the devil on my shoulder has a great suggestion for another better, story, I no longer even pretend that he could be right. I don’t listen at all except maybe to take a quick note, add it to the list of story ideas, and then bullheadedly press on.

Since I write all my books on speculation, that is I write them and then try to sell them, I have to be this way to finish. Deadlines and expectations are necessary even artificially invented to trick me into productivity. One day perhaps, the deadlines and expectations will be real, I’ll be on the clock with a editor breathing down my neck to get a book done in time for publication, the check already cashed, but until then, it’s all on me.

I’ll get there one day, if I live long enough. I’ll open those doors with my finished books, the twenty I have and the more that will come.

That’s the plan anyway.

I’m seven years into my ten year plan to be an overnight success.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Observing My Birthday

Today’s my birthday. The bots already know this, the NSA has it recorded, Google sent me a balloon, so I’m safe to admit it. When you get to be my age, birthdays have a decidedly different flavor than they used to. Everyone remembers the anticipation of presents, the cake and party, then the driver's license and the right to enter a liquor store. After twenty-one it tapers off to a nice personal holiday with a dinner out or friends in. And then, every once in a while, it is existentialist anniversary.

Guess which one I’m having?

I’ve had worse. I’ve had anniversaries populated by skull-cracking regret, fear, and loneliness. Those are fun, but this time, it’s more of a self-help holiday, coming on the heels of a long season of reading good books.

What I’ve discovered, and what I am working toward now, is the move the Observer back to a safe corner.

What does that mean?

I’m sure there are psychological terms for it. I may be talking about Ego and Id and all that, but for artistry, let me say that we have within us an Observer. This is us, viewing the world from a distance. Distance is key here, it’s how we get proportion. As writers, we rely on the Observer to recollect events that were too overwhelming at the time to contemplate. In the most turbulent hours of our lives, awash in misery or jubilant in joy, there is a part of us recording it.

The Observer isn’t just for writers. It’s the one who can judge what we are doing and puts things into perspective. Remember how mad you were about being cut off in traffic and then you find out a friend is terribly ill? That’s the Observer pulling you back.

What I’m trying to do is move my Observer back a ways. He’s been pretty up front lately, not seeing things any more clearly than my usual reactive self. I’d like to be able to consciously enter that Observer space in times of stress, recognizing the safety of distance from events to my real being. From there, I should be able to act with more deliberation, if not more wisdom.

I’ve run into the idea of the Observer in several of the books I’ve read this year, though they don’t call it that. I’m familiar with the concept from my time when I was actively pursuing philosophy. Life came along and I forgot about it.

One of the books that suggests, but doesn’t name the Observer is Ruiz’s THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, a pop-spiritual book from the 1990s that became a staple of the New Age movement. I finally got around to reading it this year. The Observer approved.

To spoil it, the first agreement concern how we speak and view the world through language, a fantastic concept for anyone involved in words. It says to speak “impeccably,” using the word as a synonym for un-sinfully. Herein we see the poison of self-doubt and self-deprecation as well as the damage we can inflict on others. In order to "be impeccable with our words," we have to be in control of our language which can only happen when we take conscious care to do so. That’s the Observer, or in this case, maybe an Editor. It’s harder than it sounds and requires that distance from reality that only the Observer’s nest can provide.

The other Agreements follow straight on with this. “Don’t take it personally,” a shout out to Hanson’s Razor and a sympathy for what other people might be going through. “Don’t make assumptions” is a call for delaying judgement until you have the information. This one is murky to me, since you can never have all the information and eventually decisions need to be made. Finally, the last one, which sounds absolutely juvenile since it is the Cub Scout credo is “Always do your best.” Though sounding trite and obvious, a conscious observation of our efforts will reward us by making our actions impeccable as well.

It’s a tidy little four rule rubric to make interpersonal relations honest and clear. The Observer allows this to happen.

The Observer offers also a passive retreat, it is the quiet place of a meditation. That is where I first found him. When practiced in meditation, I could retreat a distance and be comfortable in my own skin, even under stress.

So I’ve been meditating again, exercising and contemplating proportion, distance, and impeccability. I’ve found ways to slow time to be more in the moment. Here the Observer is absolutely required.

I see the passage time, feel the decay of my body, the turning of summer to fall, another birthday for me, another day of potential for great things or regrets. These things I try to see from a safe distance, observing in the moment. Not easy, but I’m trying.

Happy birthday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rest of My Fall Schedule

Hey buds,

With the weather cooling and holidays lurking like starved hyenas in the wings, I thought I'd offer up my schedule for those seeking some personal interaction, information and entertainment.

First is the Monkey Retreat This weekend October 17-20.

On Saturday October 26th, I'm double booked.

From 9:00-2:00 come out to the Wasatch writers Conference

Weber State University Davis Campus
2750 University Park Blvd
Layton, UT 84041-9099
"Add Flesh to the Bones"

Now that your story is on paper, what do you do next? How do you develop it into something unforgettable? At this year's conference,
learn how to develop and blend your plot, world, characters, and theme into something unforgettable.

Multiple Presenters, including Featured Presenters: J. Scott Savage and Johnny Worthen

Lunch hour is on your own. Several restaurants nearby.

Raffle items, including craft books, critiques, and other swag, available all day. Tickets are $1 each or 13 tickets for $10.
Presentation – 11:00 a.m.
Writing To Theme

From 3:00-5:00, I'll be at the Sandy Barnes & Noble for an author signing event.

Barnes & Noble at The Shops at South Town
10180 S. State Street
Sandy UT, 84070

At the University of Utah my A STUDY OF MYSTERY class kicks off on Tuesday October 29 and runs every week through December 10 from 6:00-9:00. This is a great class about a great genre going over authorship and pre-writing. When you leave the class you should have a fully functional, actionable outline to write a cracking good story.

Also for two Saturdays, I'll be running my CREATIVE WRITING BOOTCAMP. This runs two Saturdays for four hours each and will be filled with writing advice, sprints, critique and good times. A popular and fun class to be sure.

Beyond a few League chapter meeting and board meeting, that should take me to hyena feeding.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Letting go of Tony 2

Usually when I release a new book I do so with a bit on melancholy, the feeling a parent has when sending their child off to school on the first day, knowing that they must stand on their own now. It’s out of my hands. My love is unconditional, but now they must walk alone.

Not so with THICKER THAN WATER. Releasing the next Tony Flaner mystery is a joyous sparkly, party of triumph and silliness. Tony had his first day of school already. He did well, but dropped out for a while to find himself and a new publisher. It’s been a long strange trip, but his return is, for me, nothing less than triumphant.

I love Tony Flaner. Many people compare him to me. I am one of the models for my flawed slacker, a big one, but not the only one. More importantly, Tony is a model for me. He’s my hero. I look to him for tenacity and resilience, a cynical attitude and sarcastic wit.

We’ve been friends for many years, Tony and I. He taught me my vocation and together we learned completion (see THE FINGER TRAP). Tony and I won the highest award we ever strove for, the Diamond Quill from the League of Utah Writers, one of my favorite writing organizations. I’m not just a member, I’m the president. But I wasn’t then.

Then Tony got lost. Publishing intrigue struck just at that moment of triumph and Tony fell out of print. It has taken this long to bring him back. June saw the return of THE FINGER TRAP and August saw the release of THICKER THAN WATER, the second Tony Flaner mystery that signals that the series is safe and sound and ongoing.

Echoing the themes of Tony’s fictional life, the journey to return the series to publication has been an exercise of push and pull. Push as I kept writing Tony, Pull that fans asked for more. Also it was hard to do and the feeling of accomplishment in bringing him back is itself a reward. Selling a bunch won’t suck, but having the moment of holding a Tony Flaner mystery was, well, triumphant.

It’s been a struggle to happen but it has happened. Flaner fans will love THICKER THAN WATER. Tony told me so. It’s an exploration of family and the debts we owe our ancestors. It’s got more local color than Moab at sunset, a love story, a killer whodunnit, and plenty of indulgences for Tony to be Tony.

And best of all, it’s available.

A personal triumph for me, another day in the life of Tony Flaner.

You can pick up a copy THICKER THAN WATER, and THE FINGER TRAP at Amazon now. Let me know what you think of them if you read them.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

September FanX 2019

FanX is upon us!

Come visit me at my table A16, in the creator's space or see me at my panels.

September 5-7, 2019

Salt Lake Convention Center
100 S W Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Thursday September 5, 2019

Stranger Things: Urban Fantasy Done Right

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm — Room 151D 
The hit Netflix show has become a worldwide sensation. Listen to creative professionals discuss what Stranger Things does right, and how you can emulate it in your own creative works.  

With: Shannon Barnson, Shelly Brown, Jared Garrett, J.R. Johansson, C.K. Johnson, Breezy Weekes, Johnny Worthen

American Apocalypse: Is the End Near?

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm — Room 255C 
Why do we think the end is neigh? How is this cultural fear represented in popular media such as books, television and cinema? What does it say about us? Group will discuss the historic, psychological and cultural phenomenon of the apocalypse as represented in our entertainment media and have a good time doing it.
With: Cody Goodfellow, Mark Avo, DJ Butler, Jodi Milner, Eric Swedin, Johnny Worthen 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Quills 2019 Afterglow

I’m still in the glow.

Wow, just wow. What a fantastic weekend just happened. The 2019 Quills Conference was a stellar event of community, education and encouragement.

If you weren’t there, you missed a great event. Mark you calendars for next year, August 13-15, 2020, where the League of Utah Writers and our annual committee turns 85.

That is some tradition there. That is some work, some love, some energy, some community.
Encouraging agent Samantha Wekstein
 to stay hydrated at Quills 2019

What a great thing is community.

I am so lucky to be a part of the writing world in Utah and beyond. Here I’ve found like minds, struggling to do their best, making mistakes, picking themselves up, hoping in the balance on Thoth’s scales that we come out ahead, having been a more positive force than negative in the world. In a community like the League of Utah Writers, where all are mentors and mentored, this goal is as achievable as a kind word, a useful critique, a sympathy and celebration.

I love writing conferences, they’re unlike any other event I’ve ever attended. Conferences like Quills, organizations like the League of Utah Writers offer opportunities to give back, to excel, improve, network, get silly, be hated, be loved, be alive. Live in Letters.

I want to thank the volunteers of Quills, the board, committees, guests and attendees who made it so wonderful and offered unparalleled opportunities to everyone. I got to thank a mentor, make new friends, learn from wise, mingle with my people.

My gratitude to all and everyone.


Thursday, August 8, 2019


This week at the Blog Mansion, for obvious self serving reasons, i'm going to like to a new review of THICKER THAN WATER by Guild Master Gaming, a site for geeks and hep cats.

Check it out:

Guild Master Gaming Review

THICKER THAN WATER will release in two weeks-SQUEEE! on August 22, 2019. I'll be celebrating the event at the League of Utah Writers Quills Conference. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

THICKER THAN WATER—Debts in the Desert

Tony Flaner’s new adventure, THICKER THAN WATER, is not only the best book ever written ever, but it’s also economically priced and makes a great gift,

But I digress.

I talk a lot about writing to theme, an unusual method of creative writing, one that I learned through my  training in literary and cultural criticism. Thank you, University of Utah. What this means is that I’m usually investigating a larger idea in my work. Larger than just the story, I mean. The story is in service to the personal exploration of the theme.

In Thicker than Water, I was driven by the idea of family connection and ancestral  debts. It was spurned by the tragic but modern phenomenon of losing connections with once dear friends and family. Maybe you’ve kept track of everyone who ever touched your life, but I unfortunately haven’t and coincidentally, neither has Tony.

There are people whom I’ve loved, who have loved me, put up with me, saved me in hard times, but still have fallen by the wayside of my life, lost in the distractions of growing up and growing through.

Nostalgia comes in times of quiet and in times of crisis. For Tony, it’s a tonic to reinvigorate him out of a stupor to repay an old debt to kind kin in the desert.

Tony’s debts are more defined than mine, his settings more cinematic, but the idea of a magical summer, mythical and meaningful as only retrospect can color it, is at the heart of the story on all levels. From his son’s music concert to the snake in the garage, all are pieces of the same familial puzzle.

And there’s plenty of  sarcastic social satire, Flanerisms and a ripping good mystery I bet you won’t figure out until the very end, when Tony tells you. Your mileage may vary.

THICKER THAN WATER, A Tony Flaner Mystery, coming August 2019

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


I am tickled tie-dye to share this today. Here is the cover for my next book THICKER THAN WATER, A Tony Flaner Mystery.

Coming August, 22, 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


I am thrilled to announce the return of an old friend. Tony Flaner is back! Our sarcastic slacker detective is back in full form with the return of THE FINGER TRAP, winner of the Diamond Quill for Best Book of the Year.

Available now at Amazon

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Interview with Emily Merrell

This week, I'd like to share with you a long interview I did with the wonderful Emily Merrell. 

Follow this link to see my interview (disregard the picture of me—not my best). Also check out her other great podcasts and her music.

Big news on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Summer Symposium

A great one day event is around the corner up in Logan, Utah. 

On June 15, 2019 The League of Utah Writers and Utah State University English Department are proud to present the 2019 Summer Writing Symposium, featuring renowned authors, university writing educators, and presenters from the League of Utah Writers.

This is a full day of creative writing classes and presentations for just $25 (early bird pricing).

Intensive critique sessions and lunch are also included!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What does the hero want?

One of the key questions to ask your characters as you prepare any writing project, is what they want. It’s a question about goals. It is not motivation, but actual tangible destinations. For example, Tony wants to find out who killed Rose Griff. Michael wants his nightmares to end. Eleanor wants to fit in.

Why they want these things—the motivations behind these goals—are interesting and complex enough to fill a book, but it’s the characters acting to achieve these goals, fulfill their wants, that supports a story where we get to ask them why they want it in the first place.

Characters can change what they want later on, that’s fine, but active characters are the ones who’ve set out to do something. They succeed or fail, but dammit, they try. That trying is the muscle of the story. Wanting that luring goal is what keeps them and the narrative moving. Taking a ring back to a mountain, helping a friend take a ring back to a mountain, getting the ring back so I’m not alone, my precious, are good examples of simple wants that motivate character to act. Without those wants, simple and plain as these are, the characters wouldn’t leave the shire (or the cave) and we’d have to Deus Ex Machina their butts into gear if we want more than a mood piece.

To borrow from Tony Flaner again, there’s a the push and the pull. If the action is thrust upon them, that’s reactive—the push. “Run there are dark baddies chasing us.” Once the character chooses to do something, that’s active—the pull. “I will recycle this ring because someone needs to do it.” Both function, but which is heroic?

Ay, there’s the rub.

What if we apply this simple self examination and story telling device to real life? What if I ask myself, what do I want? Then I carry it on to you. What do you want? Look at anyone, can you get a handle on them by figuring out their goal is? Hell yes. They want money, a girl, health, a puppy. It is a powerful tool when applied to others, but let’s face it, it is terrifying when applied to ourselves.

It comes down to this: Are we wise enough to know what we want and brave enough to act on it? Are we the active characters we’d demand in our books? Can we write down a quick statement or a numbered list of things we want? Are we actively doing things to achieve those goals? Or are we content with station keeping? Holding still? Is our want to be safe only? Unchallenged? Stagnant? Is that the list? Or are there real but not yet achieves goals out there that we’ve chosen to ignore?

In the story of our own lives, are we the protagonist or a side character? A walk on? An extra? Background noise? Are we an actor or a reactor?

Are we our hero?

It’s scary to think about.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Discouraging Travel

I flew to Michigan last week for StokerCon™. I don’t fly much. It’s expensive and frankly no fun. I’ve long thought that it is an authoritarian control power trip to discourage movement. After 9/11 when we were all scared, they took the gloves off and we our shoes. I don’t know of a single terrorist the extra hour of waiting in line to be x-rayed and groped has ever stopped, but it is doing something. It’s a deterrent, but I’m not sure it’s deterring what we think it is.

Remember when “show me your papers” was a clichéd Gestapo stereotype? That’s an airport now. Searches and questions and show ID and delays and suspicion. It’s how it’s done. You are made to feel like a criminal. Show me your shampoo bottle. Let me RFID your wallet.

The inconvenience and suspicion is not equally applied. Hell no. Not even close. You can pre-screen through the TSA if you have time and a computer and resources. You can buy an upgrade that lets you go through the fast lane at the security checkpoint where there’s less rigmarole. I guess terrorists can’t upgrade. it’s a microcosm of a failed state, a peek into dystopian America; one set of rules for the upper class, another set for the rest.

We board by classes. First class, Comfort Class (which is a middle thing on Delta and has some leg room) and then economy, or the cattle. I saw that first class passengers also had their baggage marked so they’d be the first out of the plane. Egalitarian ideals do not extend past the curb in any way.

Bag fees are so ridiculous that everyone tries to carry everything on, so the already cramped cabin is twice that. On every plane I took they offered to have people check their bags for free because of bin space concerns. If only they’d offered that at check in.

Airports are huge. I thought I’d have a stroke changing gates for a connection in Detroit. Nobody told me there was a train until I was off my fifteenth conveyer belt and the gate was finally in sight. (Don’t they move cattle that way?) The distance to be a mile down the concourse. Similar experience in St. Paul.

Compared to most, since I did have some leg room by upgrading my ticket, I had it better on this last trip of mine than most. Not glass highballs like first class, but a complimentary bourbon in plastic. It was something. Nevertheless, if there’s a way for me not to fly, not to go through that humiliation of searches, the degradation of suspicion, the inconvenience of crowds, the insult of claustrophobic seating, I won’t fly. It’s discouraging.

I have to wonder if that isn’t the point.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On my nervous way to StokerCon™

Hey kids, sorry to miss last week. I’ve been busy. Not much to show for any of it. Yet, but it’s coming.

I write to you today from a friendly but bustling concourse at Salt Lake International Airport. I’m on my way to StokerCon™ (remember the ™ or they’ll mess you up.) I’m going this time as an editor Omnium Gatherum Media as well as an author. I'm presenting three classes and taking pitches like Johnny Bench.

It’s in Grand Rapids Michigan. I’ve never been to Grand Rapids before. Or Michigan. My first impression is that it’s removed. I couldn’t find a direct flight. I’ll be visiting Detroit in a few hours. I’ll look for Tigers and Elmore Leonard references.

I hear there’s a Lyft and Uber strike, so my already late arrival will probably be later still. Taxi it is. I don’t cross picket lines. Not me. Neither should you.

This will be my second StokerCon™. The last one I was at was in Long Beach, California, aboard the Queen Mary. I met George R. R. Martin that trip. It was pretty great. The whole con, not just the ten minutes I talked to the Game of Thrones God. I’m looking forward this time to meeting new people and reacquainting myself with some horrible writers. It’s a horror writers conference. Get it?

I’m a little nervous about the trip. Flight included. Airline travel used to be fun. I’m old enough to remember that time. I’m old. It’s a trial now. Half an hour to have TSA question my choices of pumpkin seed brand. Twelve dollars for a three dollar salad and boarding forty minutes before the pilot comes out of the bar.

I’m flying mid class, called Comfort Plus because middle-class sounds too middle middle class. I board right after first class. So we’ll be the first to run the gauntlet, since they’re up front. They get to sit and pass judgement on my class and the economy people, thinking we’re peasants but trying hard as hell to avoid eye contact.

At the conference there’ll be no class. I’m going.

Get it?

Okay. The nervous blog must end.

I’ll report an interim blog report if the occasion warrants . In the meantime, look for me by the big lakes.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Summer Toads and Missing Moths

I had a summer of toads once. I must have been eight or nine, an impressionable age to be sure. We lived in an apartment, my mother, sister and me. she was doing what she could to provide as a single mom, my sister doing whatever it was she did that summer, and i found toads in the night.

The apartments were built on an old wetland I guess but no one had told the toads about the new landlord and that summer they sprang up and spread like rain. I never learned know how or where from—lord knows I looked. They were just there one night and for the nights that followed.

I remember seeing under the light of a distant streetlight, mounds of shadows wiggling and hopping. I’d catch them. It was easy. They were bigger than my hand. Expressionless, they’d look up at me and piss. That was their defense. I learned quick how to catch them and hold them so when the inevitable stream came, it would miss me.

I didn’t keep them. I just greeted them, admired them as only a little boy can admire a toad and set them down and watched them hop away. Or maybe they’d sit contemplating the strange visit we’d just had.

In the morning there was carnage. Flattened toads carpeted the roads. Hundreds flattened under car tires to a pancake , to cook solid and dry in the sun by the next night when more toads would come.

I never had another summer like that. The toads came back for a year or two, but never in those numbers. And then they didn’t come at all. Nothing. Never again.

I think back on that summer and wonder at it and mourn. As an adult I read that amphibians are among the most sensitive species on the planet, one of the first to suffer from a weakened environment. That was my first sign. The missing toads. The effects of my species on another

What makes me remember those toads now so longingly, so wistfully, is I remember seeing also under that distant streetlight in my childhood, swarms of moths. The light was clouded by fluttering insects. I suppose that’s whey the toads were there to munch up the low fliers.

The moths lasted longer than the the toads. They followed me to other houses, but now too, they are gone.

I remember not being able to open a patio door for fear of a hundred getting in the house. Patio lights a were shadow plays under talcum wings and head butts, misidentifying a sixty watt bulb as the moon.

Now nothing.

I haven’t seen moths in years.

Not one.

The toads and the moths— their fates were the same.

We too must be on the list.

This is anecdotal. This is personal. This is tragedy.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


I'll be at FanX this weekend, hanging out with the tribe. I'll be manning the League of Utah Writers table #31 in the Vendors area, west end of Aisle 1700 on the main floor.

Fri. April 19th & Sat. April 20th 

Salt Lake Convention Center
100 S W Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101 

Friday, April 19th

Author Spotlight 11:15-11:30 a.m.Convention Stage, Exhibit Hall 1831

League of Utah Writers Information Table #31
West end of Aisle 1700

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Peaks of Madness Cover Reveal

It's spring so you know what that means. Rain and allergies and surprise snow storms that seem to kick you square in the...

But also, the annual Utah Horror Anthology.

This year I was once again privileged to participate as an editor and contributor. It's release is imminent. The cover is below. Check it out!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reading Time

I rearranged my schedule and it has made all the difference.

Live in Letters is this year’s theme of the League of Utah Writers. I thought of it. It’s my theme. I’m the president. It’s a challenge to make literature a way of life. Since I’m a writer, that’s not too big a stretch, but the other end, I noticed needed some attention.

I read a lot, but only in the odd moments between other things. My change of schedule was to give myself time to read. By scheduling some time each day, for me in the morning right now, it happens.

It’s that old adage about saving money from your paycheck. Most people get their paycheck and pay for the things they need first, and then, later if there’s anything left, they put the remainder away for a rainy day. The better way to do it, is to save money first, then pay the rest. The money at the end of the month is then free money, guiltless spending. Time is the same.

Everyone’s resources are different of course, but a time budget has to be as important as a financial one.

Putting the things one values high on the list means it happens. I’ve been really good at finding time to write, but too often at the cost of reading. I read plenty, but I honestly could and should read more. By blocking out some time each day, that happens. The internet doesn’t miss me, the TV can get along without me, and I am fulfilled.

I know I’m talking to the choir here, fellow readers, but I have noticed, because I looked for it, a distinctive improvement in my life since I started blocking time out early for words instead of waiting for time to show up on its own. For one thing, I concentrate much better. Reading in the morning, means the afternoon will be effective, whereas surfing news sites online, especially these days, meant the doldrums later. Knowledge, focus, enlightenment and studying my craft all at once. It is part of living in letters.

I’m not saying that reading is a panacea, but it is a panacea.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Allergies. Again.

The allergy fairy is visiting me. Or maybe it’s the second flu. Cousin cold or mange. I’m thinking allergy though. My hair loss hasn’t increased beyond the usual—off my head down my back. It is the time of year when winter surrenders its cold embrace of the planet and fresh beads appear on trees, tulips poke up in their beds and all nature poisons the air to get even with people for the things we did.

Pollen. It’s got to be pollen. It took me years and years of spring colds to finally cotton on to the idea that I might be reacting to a chemical assault from my back yard. Years of not noticing the timely nature o the snot monster’s visit. Like clockwork, plants go green in the spring, I go green in the gills.

My problem was the myth of endurance, that is thae lack of change. Growing up I never had allergies, this time of year was as wonderful to me as the post cards made it sound. Then I got older and some microorganism got my number, some resistance I had went dormant or fled to Hawaii and I was doomed to suffer for two weeks a year as penance for living another year.

It’s the deal now. I get it. Things change. I change. The changing seasons were a good hint, but my changing immune system is the goods.

It is metaphor for existence. It is warning to humanity, told through a member of its ranks, that nature is not without weapons in the battle for existence.

It is decay in new life. My health, the land’s rejuvenation.

It’s wonderful and pretty miserable. Mostly miserable. Lots of misery. Lots of Kleenexes an pseudoephedrine. The pharmacist must think I’m cooking meth by now.

Still writing though. I’m good. The shot across my mortal bow is not unheeded. Make hay fever while the sun’s shining. Or something like that.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Jodi Milner – Stonebearer’s Betrayal

It’s been a while since I’d had visitors at the Blog Mansion, but when I heard my good friend Jodi L. Milner was looking for ink and had dared to touch upon my esoteric interests, I summoned a few friends and had her over.

Jodi L. Milner: What kind of interview room is this? Occult symbols, incense, swords…

Johnny: I do some of my best interviews here. Stay in your own circle though. If you leave it, the other interviewers can get you.

Jodi: What other interviewers?

Johnny: Oh, they’re here. Just let the smoke get a little thicker, they’ll visually manifest.

A Voice from the west: WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Johnny: Tell him.

Jodi: We’re talking about my new book, Stonebearer’s Betrayal.

A voice from the south: WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Jodi: At its heart it's a coming-of-age story where Katira, at the very adult age of eighteen, believes she has her life figured out. She knows her place, understands her path, and is destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother. That all changes when demons attack and throw her world into chaos, threatening to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must find the strength within herself to face her worst fears and protect the ones she loves.


Jodi: Behind all the chaos is the Archdemoness Wrothe. She has escaped from her prison and will stop at nothing until she gets her revenge, which includes plans involving Katira's father. Is she a friend of yours?

A voice from the east: NOT RINGING ANY BELLS.

Low haunting laughter.


Jodi: This is where my favorite elements of the story come in. The magic preserves those who possess it, making them essentially immortal. These immortals formed a secret society, The Stonebearers of the Khandashii, to organize their efforts to aid and protect the people of the world from threats like Wrothe. The name Stonebearer comes from the focusing stone they are bound to that allows them to direct the flows of magic. There are limits, however, the energy required to perform this magic comes from the user. Not only does this cause the user pain, it can kill them should they attempt to use too much. To complicate things further, the magic itself scars the user's skin along the pathways it follows to leave the body.


Jodi: I'm totally blaming network cable when I was a teenager for my inspiration, that and some truly excellent books. I survived adolescence watching The Highlander, Xena, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues all while reading all the fantasy I could get my hands on.  

The incense gathered and morphed. Ghostly shapes could be imagined in the quadrants.

Johnny: How long did it take you to write?

Jodi: Including all the times I stopped because life got complicated, 10 years. But, to be fair, I had to learn how to write a book and that wasn't exactly easy. Plus, I had one baby when I started and then proceeded to create two more before I was finished. Honestly, making people is much easier than writing a book. It's the keeping them alive and healthy that's time consuming.

Voice from the west: ARE YOU MAKING IT INTO A SERIES?

Jodi: Yes. Books two and three are written and are entering the editing and polishing process as we speak.

Johnny: I’m always interested in how writers get started. Tell me the: story of how you got into print.


Ghostly giggles.

Jodi: You mean selling my soul actually works? That would have been so much easier. I started with short stories and worked my way up, learning about the publishing industry as I went. When my book was ready to enter the world I reached out to agents and publishers for almost a year before I signed a contract with Immortal Works Press. Do I think it's funny that my book deals with immortals and I sighed with Immortal Works? Yes, I do.

Voice from the east: NO BLOOD PACTS? NO SACRED OATHS?


Voice from the south: SHE’S NEW AT THIS, GIVE HER A CHANCE.


Devious laughing.

Johnny: Tell us how your human community has helped your writing.

Jodi: I owe my entire writing career to the amazing authors in the Utah writing community. Without their support, guidance, and advice I would have never made it to this point. I'm a proud member of the League of Utah Writers.



Gusts of wind shaking the coagulated smoke.

Johnny: Don’t believe them. They don’t know Oprah.


Johnny: These are lowly demons, they’re just book fans.


Johnny: I wasn’t.

Jodi: It’s getting hard to breath in here. My eyes are burning.

Johnny: Tell us where we can find out more about you.

Voice from the north: YES AND LEAVE A LOCK OF YOUR HAIR.







Amazon Author Page

Stonebearer’s Betrayal on Amazon

Publisher-Immoral Works

Johnny: Well I guess that does it, Thanks for coming over Jodi.

Jodi. It was fun. Creepy but fun. Give me a hug!

Johnny: No!

She steps out of the circle and is engulfed in whirling sulferous smoke.