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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Happy Holidays! News, Upcoming Events and a Giveaway!

Whether you welcome the holidays with a sense of mirth (hot cocoa, beautiful twinkling lights, Christmas songs playing on the radio) or a sense of impending doom (fighting holiday traffic, endlessly hunting for gifts you don't even know what to buy people, Christmas songs playing NONSTOP on the radio), there's plenty to be thankful for and hopefully you'll be spending this time with loved ones, friends, or at least treating yourself to some holiday goodies and merriment.

First of all, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who helped organize
 Monsterama this past October, and CONjuration this November. Both conventions were great, and the time and work everyone puts into these events is enormous. And of course if you're reading this, you were most likely an attendee of one of these cons so THANK YOU for supporting authors, artists, performers and those who are passionate about fantasy!


Now an early holiday gift for you! 
Go to http://blogspot.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=1c58cbbf8dba2526d105f29cd&id=06008cb43c to enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for "The Scholar and the Sphinx" newsletter! Enter by Dec. 16 to be eligible to win.















Also, keep an eye out for a brand-new fairy tale anthology from Tenebris Books hitting bookshelves next month, just in time for the holidays:


The sequel to the highly praised "Willow Weep No More," this book will include original tales about anti-heroes, both from classic stories you may be familiar with and all new fairy tales. Perfect for those who love dark fantasy (warning: not for young children).

Stay tuned for the book's official release!

If you live in the Southeast, I'd love to see you at my first 2017 author event, which is going to be an exciting one:

CHATTACON 42
January 20-22, 2017

Chattacon is an annual speculative fiction convention held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the historical Chattanooga Choo Choo. This year's guest of honor is Mike Resnick, award-winning author of 5 Hugos (from a record 37 nominations), a Nebula, and other major awards all over the world!

Panel schedule and more information to come!


Happy Holidays, and stay safe and happy throughout the year. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Is "Moana" Disney's Lord of the Rings?




















My husband and I saw “Moana” opening weekend, and overall I really enjoyed the movie. Gorgeous visuals, fun characters, great humor…on the downside, the songs weren’t particularly memorable, and something about the plot struck me as awfully familiar. I thought it was just because Disney liked to stick to certain cinematic formulas, despite its effort to “break the rules” this time by having no love interest for the heroic princess and instead focusing on her quest.

After thinking about it for a while, it suddenly dawned on me why this story seemed so familiar: “Moana” is Disney’s “Lord of the Rings.”

So you’re probably thinking, “Huh? How so?” One takes place in a fictional Polynesian paradise. One takes place in a fictional Celtic/Nordic fantasy world. One hero is a young chieftain’s daughter with a thirst for adventure; one is a Hobbit who is reluctant to be the bearer of the One Ring. But once you start looking at the two stories, there are some interesting parallels that occur (warning: spoilers ahead!):

1.       The One Ring vs. The Heart of Te Fiti - There is a small yet powerful magic item that the hero must wear around his/her neck while returning it to the origin of the item’s creation in order to restore balance to the world. Item also has special carving/engraving on it.

2.       Mount Doom vs. Te Ka - The hero must return item to the lava from whence it came.

3.       Goblins vs. Kakamora - Small impish creatures out to steal the magical item, but they’re not smart enough to accomplish the task.

4.       Smaug* vs. Tamatoa  - Gold-obsessed monster that can be tricked if you distract it with flattery. Tamatoa is even a little bit Gollum in his lust for the Heart of Te Fiti; you can see the craving in his eyes when Moana shows it to him.
*Note:  yes, I know Smaug is from “The Hobbit” but it’s part of the LOTR story arc.

5.       Sauron vs. Te Ka – The main villain is a huge, fiery-eyed creature that can’t outright speak or move from the area it's confined to, but it does its best to keep heroes from getting to their goal destination.

6.       Magical fish hook vs. Sting - One of the heroes has a magical weapon enscribed with markings that glow blue when its magic is activated.

7.       The Shire vs. Motunui  - The hero lives in lush, green paradise that no one ever leaves, until evil presence falls on the land that threatens to destroy them all, and the hero is the only one of his/her people ordained to set out and save the world. Okay, so technically Frodo had Sam, Merry and Pippin come with him, but Frodo was initially the only one given the task to return the ring.

8.       The Fellowship vs. Moana, Maui, Heihei and the Ocean– The hero has to gather “special teammates” to complete quest. These include a comedic companion who mostly gets into trouble and eats (Merry and Pippin vs. Heihei), a great, stocky warrior whose bravado exceeds his abilities at times (Gimli vs. Maui) and the one who endlessly supports the hero, encouraging them to go on even in their bleakest moment (Samwise vs. the Ocean).

9.       Gandalf vs. Grandmother Tala – There is a wise elder mentor who is considered a bit of a loony outsider by the others in the village, is someone very close to hero, who “dies” during the story but comes back in a magical way to help the hero.

10.   The Ending - Hero doesn’t remain living in the homeland he/she saves but goes off in a boat at the end.


So while it’s still to be seen if “Moana” will stand the test of time as a Disney classic, maybe it’ll inspire a few kids to pick up some Tolkien books when they are older.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Death by Word" Produced at the Theatre of Western Springs' New Plays Workshop!

I just realized, I may have to change the name of this blog to include more than just "Scholar and Sphinx" news...

What an amazing past weekend! The Theatre of Western Springs in Illinois produced three world premiere plays for their New Plays Workshop Aug. 18-21, 2016. "Death by Word" was one of them and was very warmly received all four performances. Thanks to Ed Wavak, the director, the entire cast (see below for names) and crew, and Willy Steele for the original music!

If you live in the Western Springs, IL area, please go out and support this theater and all that they do. They put on fantastic shows all the time, and their next show "Steel Magnolias" is bound to be a hit!
http://theatreofwesternsprings.com/
Back row, left to right: Tom Gess, Jay Baldwin, A.R. Cook, Ed Wavak, Karla Hudson
Front row, left to right: Michael-Colin Reed, Mina Dillards-Gits, Noha ElGanzouri, Kathy Racine


Friday, August 12, 2016

For Writers of Young Adult Lit: New Contest through Writer's Digest!

Hello all!
Thought I would share this for any of you who write young adult fiction. Writer's Digest is hosting another "Dear Lucky Agent" contest, in which you can submit the first page of your unpublished YA novel (sadly, no high fantasy or high sci-fi) to be read by a literary agent.

The top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by the agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com, 3) Their choice between two new books coming out in September 2017, the Guide to Literary Agents 2017 or the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2017.

This time, Ms. Andrea Morrison from Writer's House will be judging the contest.

This is a great chance to get your work seen by an agent from one of the most reputable literary agencies in the country!

Go to http://tinyurl.com/z7e9rsc to learn how to enter!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Launch for "Threads of Fate" and New Play Workshop Coming this August!

Hi folks! Even though "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Threads of Fate" has been out for a month now, it hasn't had an official book launch yet.

Thanks to bestselling author Marsha Cornelius, who just invited me to participate in her next monthly author gathering for their fantasy / science fiction themed evening, the Book Launch for "Threads of Fate" will take place at A Novel Idea in Canton, Georgia!

Here is a listing of my next two author events and if you're in the area, I invite you to come and have a great night out!

A Novel Idea: Book Launch for "Threads of Fate"
Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 7:00 p.m.
The Snug Gastro Pub
190 E Main St, Canton, GA 30114


Theatre of Western Springs New Plays Workshop
Aug. 18-20, 8:00 p.m., and Aug. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Theatre of Western Springs
4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs, IL 60558
My new play, "Death by Word," will be performed as part of a night of three world-premiere plays for the Theatre of Western Springs New Plays Workshop. Come enjoy a night of brand new theater shows!
For more information, visit http://www.theatreofwesternsprings.com/tws-home/

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy Publication Day to "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Threads of Fate"!

TODAY'S THE DAY! Book Three of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series is out, in both paperback and e-book. So make sure you get yourself a copy and complete the series (or, if you haven't picked up Books 1 and 2 yet, now's the time to get the entire trilogy)!
Early Praise for "Threads of Fate":
“Adventure awaits! Combining history, mythology, danger, and mystery, The Scholar, the Sphinx, and the Threads of Fate is a thrilling tale that you’ll gladly give up sleep to stay awake and finish.” - Shaun Hutchinson, author of “The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley”, “FML” and “The Deathday Letter”
“Cook weaves a tapestry from magic, myth, madness, and mayhem that is the curtain between reality and everything else. Fascinating, engrossing, and a little bit frightening. What fun!” - Chris A. Jackson, award-winning author of Pathfinder Tales “Pirate’s Honor” and “Pirate’s Promise,” the Weapon of Flesh trilogy, and the Scimitar Seas series
If you want to try your luck, there are still a few days left to try and win a free signed copy of "Threads of Fate" on my Goodreads giveaway, so hop on over to the Threads of Fate page and see how lucky you are!

You have until June 30 to enter! Good luck!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Maybe the Universe is Telling Me Something...

This month has turned out to be interesting, in that several things have happened that have returned me to the original form of writing I studied in college: play-writing.


Now while I do have the 3rd and final book of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" coming out very soon (it is supposed to be next Tuesday, June 28, but a sudden round of edits due to wonky formatting may push that back a week to July 5), I've actually received several bits of news in the play-writing world.

One, I have a staged reading of my new children's play "The Smile of the Cheshire Cat" being performed tomorrow at Brenau University. This isn't a full-scale production, but the summer camp kids and whoever wants to attend (could be you, if you live in Gainesville, GA) can watch a cute little story that's a prequel to "Alice in Wonderland."

Second, I received a lovely nod today for a short play I submitted to the Cambridge "Channel the Bard" competition a while back. I didn't win the grand prize, but the Cambridge publicist Ms. Diana Rissetto noted several of her favorite entries (out of over 300) and mine was listed: http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2016/06/shakespeare-as-interpreted-by-the-next-generation-of-great-playwrights/

Finally, I got a call this week from the Theatre of Western Springs in Illinois (about 20 minutes from my hometown) that they have selected my one-act play "Death by Word" as part of their New Plays Workshop. It'll be one of three plays performed August 18-21. I refer to this play as "relatable absurdism," centering around a maintenance man who is a self-proclaimed poet, he is diagnosed as clinically insane for believing poetry is still relevant. Also he needs to reconnect with his catatonic son (who has been banned from using the Internet, so just stares at the wall all day) and his workaholic wife who doesn't know what to make of her husband's "unproductive creativity."

So if you live near Western Springs, IL, come out to the theater Aug.18-21! I'd love to see you there! Stay tuned for more updates about show times, or visit the TWS website: http://www.theatreofwesternsprings.com/