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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Watch Book Nerd Paradise and Win Two Free Fantasy Novels!

Thank you to L.R.W. Lee, author of the "Andy Smithson" series of fantasy books, for having me on her new show Book Nerd Paradise! You can watch all the YouTube episodes here.

This week, I was interviewed on her show to talk about my latest book, Fang of Fenrir. But lucky you, here's your chance to win both Book 1 AND Book 2 of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series!

All you need to do is watch the episode and leave a comment on YouTube with the answer to this fantasy trivia question: "In the novel Seraphina, the heroine is half human, half what?"

Good luck!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teen/YA Reads Today: Should Literature’s Main Purpose be to Entertain or Enlighten?



In honor of “National Support Teen Literature Day” on April 16, I pose some thoughts about teen and young adult literature to you.
A while ago there was an article on Slate.com titled “Adults should be ashamed to read young adult books.” The writer argued that the kind of idealized teenage plots and endings in YA reads distract us from the more complex, well-honed adult literature being overlooked. There was also a post from a New York Times blogger a few years ago expressing the same opinion, stating “Let’s have the decency to let tween girls have their own little world of vampires and child wizards and games you play when hungry.” To which each of these articles received hundreds of comments from YA readers who are, yes, adults, about why YA books aren’t just for teens and children, but hold a place on a grownup’s bookshelf as well. There have also been numerous response articles supporting the YA book-lover’s view, and why it holds a dearer place in their hearts than the adult fiction they read.
So this debate has been going on for quite some time now, and there isn’t truly any right or wrong way to view it (unless it’s stop reading altogether, then people are only depriving themselves of any literary joy at all). But it does raise an interesting point about what literature should primarily do for its readers. The strongest arguments for adults reading YA – which now more adults are doing than ever before – is that it allows them a more imaginative journey, a more enjoyable, whimsical escape from reality and oftentimes provide a more hopeful conclusion than many adult books. Those against adults reading “beneath their age level” argue that the writing of YA books is too simple, it doesn’t challenge an adult reader and thus limits their knowledgeable growth. They say adults that read only for nostalgia or entertainment are missing out on books that are more sophisticated and intelligent.
So, what should books primarily do: entertain or educate? Grow the imagination or grow our intellect? Why can’t a book do both on an equal scale?
Yes, I write YA books, so I am naturally going to lean towards the “pro-YA and teen reads” adults. But I like to think that all books should both entertain and educate equally; after all, you wouldn’t keep reading a book if it wasn’t the slightest bit entertaining, and a book wouldn’t leave an impression on you if you didn’t take something new and insightful away from it.
I was at a sci fi convention last year, selling my books besides several other fantasy authors, and someone came over to me to ask me about my books. So I explained, it was a fantasy/historical fiction novel, tying various world mythologies like Greek, Japanese and Native American against a real-world backdrop of 1852. To which the inquirer replied, “Uh, that sounds like you’d have to be pretty intelligent to read that.”
I was surprised by that response for a couple reasons. A. If you knew me, you’d know I don’t write stuff that’s incredibly mind-bending. B. Why did it surprise you that a YA fantasy book might have more than just magical fluff? Or is all you want fluff? Don’t you think you’d enjoy some fact with your fiction?
So, the question I pose is, what do you think the primary purpose of reading should be? What YA books do you think provide a good balance of both fun escapism and complex thought? Which one of the two do you think indicates a truly good book? When is a novel’s entertainment value solely an effective marketing tool, sacrificing genuinely well-crafted writing, or does it matter as long as it entertains? Is a book’s reading level the main determent of how intellectual it is, or can a “children’s” novel be as or more insightful as “grownup” literature?
I’m interested to see what you think! Please leave a comment and let us know what kind of book-lover you are.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Video Interview about "The Scholar and the Sphinx"...Take a look!


Thank you to Tony Birch for this follow-up interview where we discuss "Fang of Fenrir"! Make sure to visit the Education Online Forum at http://educationforumonline.com/.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review of "Fang of Fenrir" from Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers!

The Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers blog posted a lovely review for "Fang of Fenrir" last week. Thank you, Gina, for the wonderful review! She sums up the story beautifully and I am more than humbled and flattered.
Take a look at the review, plus all the other fun book reviews on this blog! There are book giveaways and lots of other goodies to be found!

http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/2015/03/fantasy-friday-with-scholar-sphinx-and.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Author TweetChat on March 19 #askARCook

So who wants to join me for a TweetChat tomorrow, March 19, at 8:30 p.m. EST? We can talk books, writing, or just come say hi! Couple of pointers if you've never done Tweetchat before:
1. First, you'll need a Twitter account. If you don't have one, it's harmless and free to set up at twitter.com.
2. Go to Tweetchat.com
3. Enter the hashtag ‪#‎askARCook‬ on the main page and click GO.
4. You'll be asked to login to your Twitter account.
Then you'll be taken to the chat, and you can start tweeting me questions. It's that simple! Please share this with your friends; the more the merrier!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thank You to Moore Middle School!

A big, big thank you to Moore Middle School's students for being such an attentive audience on March 12 during my author visit! What a great group of kids! And thank you to Giselle Martinez for helping me to arrange the visit. Video of my talk to come soon!

Monday, March 9, 2015

So What's Coming Up...

Got a couple of events coming up...in case you haven't checked out the new author website (as you should! Go to http://scholarandsphinx.wix.com/arcook before you do any other single solitary thing!) here's what's on the plate for the month of March:

Author School Visit to Moore Middle School
March 12 @ 10:00 am
Moore Middle School 
1221 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Author School Visit to Gainesville Middle School
March 19 @ 11:00 am
Gainesville Middle School
1581 Community Way, Gainesville, GA 30501

Looking forward to talking to the students and sharing a little bit about mythology, stories, writing, and creativity. Should be fun!

And in the next week or so, I'll be doing a chat on Twitter, so here's your chance to ask me anything you want: about writing, about upcoming conventions, about lasagna, about narwhals, about Five Nights at Freddy's game theories (because everyone has one, apparently)...

I would love to chat with you, so stay tuned for the time and date!