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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy B-Day (Book Release Day) to "Fang of Fenrir"!

Happy Release Day to the latest book in The Scholar and the Sphinx series, "The Fang of Fenrir"! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my writing. You are all wonderful.

You can order now from all major book retailers, including Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Scholar-Sphinx-Fang-Fenrir/dp/1910282073, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Mithras Books/Knox Robinson Publishing!



Monday, December 15, 2014

"Fang of Fenrir" in Access North Georgia!

This weekend, Access North Georgia posted a press release for the upcoming release of "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Fang of Fenrir." Thank you to David Morrison and the Brenau University OC&P for helping me clean up this release and distribute it.
I hope this will catch a few eyes and spread the word about the series. Again, thank you all who support "The Scholar and the Sphinx" and have a happy holidays season!

Click here to see the article: https://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=282927


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Happy Holidays from the Scholar and the Sphinx!

First of all, I hope everyone is having a joyful holiday season. There's so much to do!
We're getting excited about the upcoming release of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" Book Two!

You can pre-order "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Fang of Fenrir" now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through Mithras Books, the YA imprint of Knox Robinson Publishing, at www.mithrasbooks.com. While you're there, check out the other great YA books they have to offer!
The book launch for "The Fang of Fenrir" will be at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia on January 22 at 6:30 p.m. You can come to the Walters House, 305 Boulevard, to get a copy of the book and also grab a few light refreshments.

I'm also planning some author events at various fantasy conventions, and I'll update here to show upcoming events soon. And I've just started a newsletter that you can subscribe to. Send me a quick e-mail at scholarandsphinx@gmail.com 
and I can add your e-mail and name to the mailing list.

Most importantly, have a very harmonious holiday full of love, family, friends, and happiness that will last through the new year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Visit the Dragon Writers Collective!

At CONjuration this past October, I met a pair of very friendly indie authors, Tom Bielawski (author of "A Tide of Shadows") and L.R.W. Lee (author of the Andy Smithson fantasy series). We got to talking and Tom invited me to join their collective of fantasy authors, appropriately names The Dragon Writers Collective.

Please check out their site and all the cool stuff they do! They have a free fantasy anthology on Amazon so you can get a taste of the fantastical worlds they create.

http://www.dragonwriterscollective.com/

If you're a fantasy novel fanatic, this is the place to quench your thirst for excellent stories!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shout Out to "One Tiny Wish" Blog!

Thank you to Somdyuti Datta Ray for this review of "Shades of Nyx," She is a very sweet person--and an eclectic reader, which is always awesome!--and she posts a lot of fun things on her blog One Tiny Wish. Take a look:

http://onetinywish.blogspot.in/2014/11/the-scholar-the-sphinx-and-the-shades-of-nyx.html

One Tiny Wish


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Readers Favorite Gives The Scholar and the Sphinx a Favorable Review!

After waiting for nearly a year (I opted for a free review, which can take a while since it depends solely on what the book reviewers want to read), I finally got a review from Readers Favorite, and it was quite lovely. I think the reviewer sums up the book very well. Take a read!

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/28316


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Back from CONjuration!

CONjuration was a great weekend of magic, fantasy pop culture, and awesome panels! This is the author event that I have sold the most books at (thus far) and met some very cool fellow authors. Plus one late night two-hour spontaneous game of Cards Against Humanity while drinking wine...I am officially corrupted...
I encourage everyone to go next year, when CONjuration will be Nov. 6-7 (I believe at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center again).
Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the weekend!

Jay and Katie Barber (authors who write under J.K. Barber) and family

Holy retro, Batman! I mean, Dave...

Fellow author Jonathan French and his adorable son Wyatt

Darin Bush, I and Amy Lee Strickland on the "Mythology Revamped" panel



Random tortoise. Because.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My First Radio Interview on WBCX 89.1!

I had my first radio interview about my book series and being an author on WBCX 89.1, "The Voice of Brenau" (the university radio station) here in Gainesville. It aired last Saturday, October 25 on the show called "Buzz 'n Beats."
Thank you to my husband David J. Cook for the interview. I think it went really well. Take a listen, there are some writing tips for those who want to break into the publishing business:

https://soundcloud.com/dacook1982/alison-reeger-interview

Come to CONjuration in Atlanta this Halloween Weekend!

A brand new fantasy convention is happening at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center this upcoming Halloween weekend, Oct. 31- Nov. 2!

CONjuration is where fans come together to celebrate everything MAGICAL! Pay tribute to the characters, stories and related theories and usage of magic in literature, fan fiction, movies and TV series. Geek out with some of your closest fandom friends and meet film, lit, art & theater actors, creators, authors, and fellow nerds who all love magic.


I'll be there along with some other great fantasy authors to sign and sell "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx" and host a couple of author panels about mythology, dragons, movies vs. the books they're based on, and more!


Visit http://www.conjurationcon.com/ to see which panels I am on, and learn more about the convention!


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Universe Responds to a Heart that has turned Jade(d)

I found this to be such coincidental timing, right after I posted a blurb about my skepticism in helping others, that soon after the universe sends me a reminder of how necessary it is that we help someone in dire need of compassion.

I won't go into great detail, because I'm not trying to boast about doing a good deed. I mainly write this as a follow-up to my prior incredulity that a good deed is actually a good thing. Sometimes, our compassion and generosity may not be appreciated or used in the way we want by other people. But animals are an entirely different story.

Normally when I take walks, I have my headphones to my MP3 player jammed in my ears to tune out the noises around me. But on this particular day, I took a walk without them. And as I turn a corner at the end of the street, I hear a very soft mewing from somewhere nearby.

I look across the street and spot a cardboard box. My first thoughts were, "Oh, someone is giving away their cat, or maybe a mama cat is having kittens." So I cross the street and look inside. An adult black cat is lying in there with his (her) eyes closed, mewing very weakly. He doesn't turn his head to look at me, even when I say something to him, so I know something is not right.

I knock on the door of the nearest house, not wanting to make assumptions that this was a random stray cat, and the girl (I say girl, but really she was about eighteen, nineteen years old) who answered told me the brief story. The cat had been smacked by a car in front of her house and left for dead. The girl's family had, in fact, believed the cat was dead, but her fiance had put it in the box and gone to see if someone could do something about the cat.

I let her know that cat was indeed alive, and if she would call Animal Control, I would wait with the cat by the road--the poor woman was so frazzled by the whole incident, she couldn't even look at the cat (I don't blame her, it's rare for me to be able to look at a wounded animal without panicking). So I wait ten, fifteen, twenty minutes--no Animal Control. By now, the cat has regained consciousness, and looks up at me with bright green eyes.

Good, that means your neck isn't broken, I thought. But then I see the trail of blood oozing out of his mouth, and it's bad. Crap. The cat is bleeding internally, and who knows how long he's been lying here before I even walked up.

Not wanting to wait for Animal Control any longer, I flagged down a public works truck, since I figured the worker must know where the animal shelter is where the cat can get treatment. Bless him, the truck driver comes over and takes the cat, and when I called the animal shelter a few hours later, I was told the cat was getting medical treatment (but that was the extent of what they could tell me, since this wasn't my cat and they could only divulge details to his owners, if he has any).

I don't know if the cat survived or if his injuries were too great, but I can tell myself we got him care as quickly as we could, and that he wasn't just immediately put down or that he had to keep lying there in pain.

And I feel good about that.

So the universe does have strange ways of reminding us when our hearts get jaded about how we need to keep our eyes and ears open, because we can't help everyone but maybe you'll be there are the right place and time for someone who does need you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When a Heart Turns from Gold to Jade(d): When did a Good Deed Become a Bad Thing

I know most of my posts are book related, but sometimes I need to write out a conundrum I am having in the hopes it might lead me to clarity.

                 A couple days ago, my husband and I went to a laundry mat, which is something we typically don’t do but our townhouse’s communal laundry area was out of order.  So we go, and it was a laundry mat we hadn’t been to before but it’s a little closer to home than the others. It was in a pretty rundown building—no biggie. The lighting inside wasn’t very good, and the place looked decayed—as long as the washers and dryers work, that’s fine.
                Then a woman approached us while we were waiting for our laundry to finish washing, and she says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough quarters to finish drying my clothes. Could you spare a couple?”
                I pause, as the main reason I am hesitant is only because I am trying to figure out if I have any quarters to spare and still finish my own laundry—but I figure, if I run out, I do still have a couple bucks I could use for change. So I take out $2 worth of quarters, enough for a proper 45 minute drying cycle, and give them to the woman.
                I didn’t keep an eye on her, but I assume the quarters were used for laundry as the woman didn’t immediately walk out of the laundry mat and she did, indeed, have clothes to dry.
                So why did I actually feel bad about having done a nice thing for a stranger?
                This has been an issue I have been trying to figure out for a while. This is not the first time I have been asked for change by a stranger, and every time it happens I get an instant twisted feeling in my gut. It’s not that I don’t want to help; I usually jump at the chance to help someone who needs a hand. Which is why it bothers me so much that it actually bothers me to spare a dollar or two to someone who may genuinely need it.
                But the more I try to remember when I started feeling this way, it reminds me of the few times I lent change to someone who turned out NOT to need it—like the woman on the street who said she was lost and didn’t have enough money for a taxi, so just wanted a couple bucks to get home. So I gladly spare the five dollars, only to ten minutes later walk into a convenience store…to see the exact same women buying toiletries with the money I gave her.
                Okay, maybe she needed pads or something important and really didn’t have the money to buy them. Why not just tell me that? You need pads? I’ll buy you a pack of pads. I don’t like being caught without them either. But what made me mad, more so than anything, was the feeling that I had been lied to. I had been conned.
                Or the time I mistakenly thought I could just walk into a bus station (by myself, foolish me) and not be accosted by ten men all begging for money. If I were a wealthy person, or if I knew where the closest homeless shelter/soup kitchen was, I would help everyone I could. But when I gave one of the men a couple dollars, and then he comes back and accuses me of giving someone else more than I gave him so he should get more too (which, of course, I did not)…CONNED.
                So now, it’s the knee-jerk reaction. No, $2 will not be able to allow someone to buy alcohol or drugs, and once it’s out of my hands, it really isn’t up to me what that person does with it. But it’s the automatic feeling that somehow, someway, I am being deceived, I am being lied to and treated like a sucker. It’s the feeling that I want to be a good person, that person that later on that someone who needed the spare change would think, “I would have had a horrible day if not for that one woman who was kind enough to give me help,” but instead I’m being thought of as a na├»ve schmuck that can be taken advantage of.
                So I try to shrug it off. I mean, for every person conning for money, there are those honest folks who truly wouldn’t ask unless they needed it. When at 7:00 the laundry mat staff provided dinner of hot dogs and burgers for the homeless (as they do every couple nights a week), the people there even offered for my husband and I to join them for the dinner they were having. Even though I’m sure they knew we were not homeless, they invited us to join them anyway. And while I am touched by that, in a way, it made me feel even guiltier that I have been ingrained with the knee-jerk reaction—these were decent people that truly do need a helping hand, and even extended a hand to us even though we don’t need it.
And here I was, agitated over a few measly quarters.

I’m just not sure how to undo the skepticism and the distrust anymore. I can always do community service or volunteer work to make sure that for every good deed I do, it’s truly helping people. I wish I could just go back to being someone who could perform a kind act without having to second guess myself, who could feel good by doing good.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Great Day at Gainesville Mule Camp

Thank you, Don Griffin, for allowing me to have my book signing at your store Frames You-Nique today at Gainesville Mule Camp. And I had a great fellow author, Denise Weimer (the Georgia Gold series) and her mom sharing the space with me, they are so nice. I managed to sell a couple of books so hopefully I'll have some new fans for The Scholar and the Sphinx series.

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy October, and a New Goodreads Giveaway!

Happy October, all! My favorite month of the year is here. Time to bust out the Halloween decorations, although actually I will be at CONjuration in Atlanta on Halloween weekend Oct 31-Nov. 2, so remember to come visit me!

Also, would you like a sneak peak at the second book of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series? Right now at Goodreads, there is a giveaway where you could win an unproofed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of "The Scholar, the Sphinx, and the Fang of Fenrir." So hop on over to https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23273499-the-scholar-the-sphinx-and-the-fang-of-fenrir

Or you can now pre-order the book on Amazon and at Mithras Books at www.mithrasbooks.com! Go check out their new website!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pictures from Dragon Con 2014's YA Literature Panel

Finally got around to uploading the pictures taken during the "Kissing Optional: Does YA Need Romance?" literature panel at Dragon Con 2014. Panelists were authors Delilah S. Dawson (not shown here, she hadn't arrived yet), Shaun Hutchinson (first chair), and DragonCon moderators Lil Watson (second chair) and Alexa Donne (last chair).




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thank You Dr. Brim and her Poetry Class at Brenau University

I just got back from speaking to Dr. Sandy Brim's poetry class at Brenau University. I believe it went well, but for some reason (even though I have done presentations for a while now!!) my body is still freaking out even though my brain is fine. In short, I keep unconsciously holding my breath while I'm talking so I run out of air, even though I am not speaking quickly.

(and I realize I'm doing this when the students start looking at me like I'm a dork. More so than when I first started talking.)

But it was fun, I actually talked more about the Georgia Museum of Art's "Kress Project" since the students will eventually do an assignment to write something based on a pre-existing piece of art. I hope it helped them understand how they could go about it.

Thank you to Dr. Sandra Brim for allowing me to speak to the students. They are a lovely group of students and you are wonderful.

Go Brenau U! (I believe I am obligated to say this as a staff member, but I mean it too).

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Fang of Fenrir" Now Available for Pre-Order at Amazon!

Already planning your holiday shopping? Then you'll want to pre-ordered the second book in "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series, to be released December 16, 2014! If you order it ahead, you can get it just in time for the perfect gift for your young adult fantasy-loving reader!

"The Scholar, the Sphinx, and the Fang of Fenrir" can now be pre-ordered at Amazon. Just follow the link and pre-order your copy today!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scholar-Sphinx-Fang-Fenrir/dp/1910282073


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Trailer Time! Watch the new trailer here!

David J. Cook has created a brand new CGI trailer for "Fang of Fenrir," and boy, is it stunning! Click the link and watch it, and be sure to get our copy of the book when it is released in December!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_un581O_gqU



Friday, September 12, 2014

Sneak Peek at Upcoming Book Trailer for "Fang of Fenrir"

With the second book in "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series coming out in December, my husband has been hard at work at creating the CGI-animated book trailer for its release. To tide you over, here is a screenshot of the trailer...it's going to be an awesome sight to see!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Price of Art Part Two: Value Has More than One Meaning

A few days ago I received a response to my July post about “The Price of Art,” which I welcome because that’s the point of some of my rants—to get folks discussing (when I’m not just ranting for the sake of ranting). The commenter (to whom I say thank you for reading the post and responding) summed up well why art is a hard sell nowadays: regardless of the time, effort, or love an artist puts into a creation, it’s ultimately up to the consumer to judge the work’s value as art is subjective. To quote, “the buyer should not be asked to subsidize the art just ‘because.’”
Art is not exactly a necessity, in comparison to food, the bills, or medical expenses—and even when it comes to necessities, people will always look for the least expensive route even if there are more “higher quality” options. So I understand this view; we no longer live in an age where painters, musicians and sculptors can hope to win the favor of an aristocratic benefactor to help pay for their artistic pursuits (although, I suppose there are a rare few who do, if you can get a record label or a movie studio to notice you).
And I suppose, no matter how you slice it, it’s not as if we’re ever going to have a shortage of art. It does last a long, long time, after all.
What I ask for, ultimately, is empathic understanding. Art is how artists—writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, dancers, poets, painters—define ourselves. It is an embodiment of our self-worth, what we consider gives us our purpose and value. And yes, the consumer may not know the artist personally, and doesn't care about the artist’s self-worth, only his/her own.
But if you agree my work is fantastic, agree my price is fair, but then tell me, “but I’m only going to pay you half of that,” or “never mind, this other person is cheaper despite his/her work not being as good,” you have essentially said I’m worthless. Not my art, me. Because the art is the extension of the artist. We are one in the same.
Again, the consumer does not know me. There’s no reason for the consumer to care. Not until the same thing is done to the consumer in their own passionate pursuits—and still, probably won’t remember the time they brushed me off.
So no, no one can be forced or be expected to value art the way the artist does.  And I won’t lie, there are some artists who may put a higher price tag on their art than might be feasible or logical.
But most of the time, people are worth what they do. You are all worth what you do, whatever your work may be. Before you write art off, before you scoff at “all those zeros” on the end of a price tag, think of the value of what you do. As much as you believe your work should be recognized and appreciated, so do we all. Maybe if you take time to get to know the artist and study their work, then you might see why those zeros may be justified.

Think of how your life has been impacted by art—because, even if you’re not the artsy type, I guarantee some facet of your life was influenced by it, especially pop culture. And be kind to artists. Treat them and their art with respect. Even if you don’t support a particular artist, support people’s art even if it is just through word of mouth or social media. Then maybe, you will see the value.
Thank you for reading.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Sphinx's Day at DragonCon 2014

I've never been to DragonCon on a Saturday, and wooooooooooooooooo... what a day... quick breakdown of the day:

8:15 am: Arrived in Atlanta, parked at Peachtree Center (willing to pay the extra to park nearby than go hunting way off for a cheaper spot), made way to the registration line outside the Sheraton. Had to walk 3 or 4 blocks just to find the end of the line. Thankfully, the line moved quickly that time of day. Unfortunately lost my tail at some point in line.

8:45 am: Got attendee badge and looked over map of con. Realizing that not only was the con spread out among four hotels, the vendors were in a separate section this year at AmerisMart. Decided to head over to the Marriott which connects directly to the Hyatt and Hilton

10:00 am: Dave and I sat in on the filmmakers' meet-and-greet meeting, despite not having a film in the DragonCon film festival. But met some nice people and Dave got to pass around his info card.

11:00 am: Checked out the sword armory (I was asked by the young lady overseeing the room to stand in the middle of the room away from everything so my wings would not knock anything down.) Also checked out the historical guns/military weapons exhibit next door, where they did not mind my wings because, as they said, "Your wings are more likely to get messed up than the guns."

11:30 am: Brief snack-lunch at the Hyatt. Shocked to find line for the ladies' room was not a mile long.

12:00 pm: Checked out the Artists Alley/Art Show. Ran into the wonderful people at Mystic Reflections, who we met at Sci-fi Summer Con last June. Saw some awesome artwork, chatted with some comic book artists, hit more people with my wings.

1:30 pm: Visited the Walk of Fame, where many of the invited celebrity guests were stationed. Kind of made me sad to realize I didn't recognize half of them, but Dave and I got to meet and talk to two cast members from our all-time favorite TV show: Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester/Crow T. Robot) and Frank Conniff ("TV's Frank") from Mystery Science Theater 3000! Nicest guys I have ever met. So super, they even accepted two copies of my book that I offered as a gift. They may not read it, but Frank asked me to sign his copy :) Naturally, got autographed pictures from both of them.

3:00 pm: I rested my barking feet while David waited in line to see Galaxy of the Guardian's director James Gann. Unfortunately, the line was so long, Dave ducked out before he could meet him to be sure he was at my author panel.*

*side note: We past by the line for folks to take pictures with Patrick Stewart, which had its own private area. The line snaked through literally four connected rooms, and that wasn't even to get his autograph. Just a photo with him. The line to see Cary Elwes to get a signed copy of his new book was also a massive line, probably a 1-1.5 hour wait.

4:00 pm: Author Panel "Kissing optional: Is Romance Necessary in YA?" Was well attended and went very well. Met authors Delilah S. Daweon, Shaun Hutchinson, and also DragonCon moderators Lil Watson and Alexa Donne. Got to share my book cards and left some for attendees to pick up at the info table. Thank you to Bev Kodak for allowing me to participate!

5:30 pm: After the panel went overtime, Dave and I both conceded to exhaustion and made our way home. Ordered pizza.

Good day overall. Picture time!








Friday, August 29, 2014

A Little Thought about Sci-fi Conventions...

With DragonCon coming up this weekend--which I have not attended in about four or five years, despite it being only about a hour away from where I live--it's got me thinking about the world of science-fiction conventions and the role of "fantasy" and "fiction" in our lives.

I used to go to sci-fi conventions more often. The Sci-fi Summer Con I promoted my book at last June was probably the first con I've attended since aforementioned 4-5 years ago. DragonCon, from my memory, is overwhelming--it is spread out between 4 adjacent hotels in Atlanta. It was a toss up between whether I would do an author panel at this one, or try to get a booth for the Decatur Book Festival since it is also this weekend. But I did Decatur last year, to lackluster results, although it's a great book fest if you can ever get out to it. Also, since DragonCon is a hub for filmmakers and movie people too, it's a networking opportunity for my husband as well.

Plus, it's free to do the DragonCon author panel, besides the cost of attending the con for a day. It's over $500 to get a booth at the Decatur Book Festival. So, minimal budget wins.

But DragonCon get me thinking about how the impact of fantasy on our lives. When people go to these cons, it is like stepping onto a whole other planet, or alternate reality. People tend to forget themselves, which is the point, probably...they transform into this other element, whether it's the characters they dress up as, or getting star-struck by the invited celebrity guests, or immersing themselves in the role-playing games.

On the one hand, it's a whole level of fun you don't normally get. It's like Halloween arrived early, only with more expensive but exotic loot. You can be someone else for a day, and unlike online RPG games, you actually interact with people face to face. It's a bizarre line between anonymity and identity, as it's really you instead of a pixelated version of you, but you can put whatever name you want on your attendee badge and explore this realm of fanatics without giving away who you really are.

On the other hand, it also makes it a little scary. I've seen some people become so enthralled with their fictional personas, so enamored with the temporary escape that these sorts of cons offer, that they can become desperate to keep the fantasy going. It starts to become a substitute for real life, because yes, real life sucks sometimes (or a lot, depending on what you're going through). But when you wake up in the morning, it's reality you wake up to, not the fantasy. For people who can't find the proper balance, it can become self-destructive. You hope people going to these cons can make the distinction between reality and fantasy, but you never know.

I guess I point this out because my writing in the fantasy genre ties into it, a little bit. Books are a temporary escape from real life as well, although I hope in the process the readers learn something from what they read. At least no one can go trolling the characters in a book.

So here's hoping to a good weekend, a short reprieve from reality into the jungles of fantasy, and maybe we'll all walk away with a little more knowledge and some fun memories.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Come See Me at DragonCon on Labor Day weekend!

This upcoming Labor Day weekend, come to the biggest sci-fi/fantasy convention on the East Coast: DragonCon!

Aside from being a huge pop-culture event in Atlanta, you can come visit me at the YA Literature panel: "Kissing Optional: Does YA Need Romance?" to be held on Saturday, August 30 at 4:00 p.m. in the Marriott Hotel. I will be joined by fellow YA authors Delilah S. Dawson (Wicked As They Come), Lil Watson, and Alexa Donne.

Bring a copy of my book with you and I'll happily sign it (and give you a hug...but only if you want it. It's free.)

See what else is brewing in the YA Lit panels at DragonCon here: http://yalit.dragoncon.org/2014/08/12/2014-programming-schedule/


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Passion vs. Livelihood: Can the Two Survive in Tandem?

I suppose it is commonplace for many artists, no matter what your medium: when you start creating with the sole purpose to sell your creation, the artistic passion leaves you.

You know that old saying: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” So when you discover your talent, the thing that gives you the greatest sense of “living,” the thing that others even tell you “hey, you’re really good at that!” you start to think that this should be the vehicle by which you make your living.

You start looking for opportunities to sell your work. You see some advertisements or postings online looking for what you have to offer. You say, “Finally, a paying opportunity!” So you do what you do, and 99% of the time your work does not get picked up, but hey, you’re still doing what you love, right?

Well, sort of.

Why, when suddenly there is the urgency of getting something back for the work you do, does the passion wither?

I have met others who went about writing, drawing, painting, what have you, with the primary purpose of earning money from it (whether or not they considered the product very marketable), and once upon a time silly, naive me would ask, “But, what about doing this for the sake of art?”

To which I received rounds of laughter in response.

Yes, we all must pay the bills. Yes, we’d all like to quit our 9 to 5’s and do what we love to do all day long. And when you go on social media sites and see other people doing just that (or giving the illusion of doing just that), you say to yourself, “Why not me?”

But why was it so much more fun when you were creating for, well, fun? Is it the pressure of feeling like you must sell something in order to have a livelihood that ruins it?

I ask because there was a time where if I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t happy. It was an addiction, my personal “high.” And that’s how I still am—writing is my escape, my chance to get away for a couple of hours into the jungle of my brain. But now, as deadlines loom on me, as the need to try to make a career out of this or else I’ll be nothing for the rest of my life, I am almost daunted by the keyboard and screen. Oftentimes I don’t even want to touch the laptop.  I am only writing this because this rant isn’t for the sake of anything other than getting it out there, getting it out of me.

So you say, “Then just write for fun. Don’t worry about the rest. It’ll come in time.”

Lack of time, money, self-preservation. The first two, we starve for and attempt to gather to the point of futility. The third, it becomes a sort of joke, and illusion, because in one’s attempt to gather the first two, it slowly eats away and decays the third thing, at least mentally and spiritually. You waste away while trying to keep the people you love and care for aloft above the rising tide.

So you say, “There will always be a way to find time and money when you need it. Your art is your self-preservation.”

 Is art the ultimate selfishness? Because it’s solely for you, after all is said and done—maybe even a cry for attention, hoping someone out there notices you? Or is it the ultimate altruism, because it’s giving yourself to the world, putting your truth on display in the hopes it teaches someone else, knowing that most of the time, nothing is to be personally gained?

Is that why passion and monetary gain cannot coexist? They stem from opposite needs? Does one have to be sacrificed in order to maintain the other?


Okay, I’m finished now. You may resume enjoying your lives.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Another nice little review...

It was made aware to me that a kind reader posted a review of "Scholar and Sphinx Book 1" on Barnes and Noble's website, which is the first for that particular site. It was very sweet, so please take a look (and maybe treat yourself to a copy of the book while you're there):

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-scholar-the-sphinx-and-the-shades-of-nyx-alison-reeger-cook/1113629697?ean=9781908483874


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thoughts about the Demise of Originality in Entertainment--Thank Marvel Comics for Sparking This

Okay, apparently I am finding things to rant about lately more so than usual. I'm typically a very laid back, I-don't-get-my-knickers-in-a-twist kind of person, but occasionally I need to point out a few things.

Recently, Marvel announced that someone new was going to be wielding Thor’s hammer in the comics. In a nutshell, the new “Thor” is going to be a woman. Here's an article about it: https://www.yahoo.com/movies/the-new-thor-isnt-the-first-woman-to-wield-the-hammer-91872704082.html

As much as I always want to see new superheroines in the comic book market, this touched a nerve for me. First, if Marvel wanted to have a new female superhero that is like Thor, why not use one of the Norse goddesses to create a new, interesting focal character for the Marvel Universe rather than just lazily taking an already established franchise and slapping a different gender onto it? Heck, the Thor comics and movies established that the goddess Sif is as strong, stubborn, and skillful in combat as Thor, and she has personality to boot. And Thor himself would still tie in to the story; so why not just make Sif her own superheroine? Or they could create a completely new superheroine from any of the dozens of other Norse goddesses: Freyja (goddess of battle, also a character in the Marvel universe), Hlin (goddess of protection), Vor (goddess of wisdom)…there’s plenty to choose from if you want a “Thor-like” superheroine who isn’t actually assuming the role of Thor.

But I’m getting off track. What got me irked isn’t some feminist agenda—this isn’t the first time Marvel or DC have taken established male superheroes and passed along the role to a new female counterpart—it’s that rather than taking the effort to create an original superheroine, they instead ripped the packaging off another character and slapped it on a woman in order to appeal to the cosplay audience (apparently, it’s popular for women at sci-fi conventions to cosplay as their own version of Thor). Hey, Thor’s popular, so that instantly guarantees the female Thor will be too, right?

Which segues into my broader question: why has the entertainment industry become so cowardly?

I apply this to almost every facet of the entertainment industry. Every movie nowadays is based on either a pre-existing franchise—whether it’s a book series, television show, a movie reboot, or it plagiarizes a previous movie so grossly you can barely call it its own idea—I can’t think of the last time a (GOOD) original screenplay came to theaters. Looking at what is currently in movie theaters, the few movies that look like original screenplays have gotten such atrocious ratings and poor audience turnout that it shows that Hollywood isn’t even trying with originality anymore.

There are still hundreds of great stories out there to be turned into excellent, one-of-a-kind films. Why is the entertainment industry picking the absolute worst ones to put on screen? It’s almost like they want audience to think that originality is dead, and good material can only be harvested from what came decades before.

Television shows sometimes produce some good original programming, but it’s few and far between as well. And sadly, the book publishing industry suffers from this cowardice too. How many “Hunger Games,” “Twlight,” “Harry Potter” and “Divergent” rip-offs have there been since the boom of these books’ popularity? Why aren’t bigger strides being made to find the next great never-before-seen storyline?

So Entertainment Industry: Stop. Being. Lazy.

Take risks. I know it’s just business—you want to make money and you know what audiences respond to. But you’re also not giving them much to choose from. You’re giving us rehashes of the same thing so of course we’re going to go see them because everything else you’re throwing at us is half-baked.

None of those pre-existing franchises would even be here if their creators hadn’t pursued their own visions—not what numbers and ratings dictated—and brought them into existence. If you put as much time and dedication into originality as you do into some of these “based-on” franchises, you could produce some truly era-defining work.

How will people fifty years from now remember our time? What memorable movie, book, or media will be what symbolizes our social, emotional, and personal outlook on life? (Dear God, do not have Twilight or Shades of Gray be the only phenomenons that “represent” the early 2000s)

Create. Discover. Defy the odds. And give original characters a chance rather than making them doppelgangers of already well known characters. Who knows, you might just create a brand new icon for a generation who can be truly super.


Thank you.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Impromptu Interview Time!

I had an impromptu interview about "The Scholar and the Sphinx" last Friday with Tony Birch, who read my book thanks (big, big thanks) to Dr. Andrea Birch who is the Dean of Fine Arts & Humanities at Brenau University. It was unrehearsed so again I look like a dork, but what else is new . It's the last video at this page, so enjoy and check out the other videos related to education. Thank you to Tony for the interview, such a nice guy.

http://educationforumonline.com/index.php/videos

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoughts about the Price of Art

I feel a need to talk (o.k., rant) about something that has been a issue for both myself and my husband, as is an issue with anyone who pursues an artistic/creative endeavor.

Getting a foot into one's chosen field is hard enough. Art is subjective, so artists--whether it be writing, painting, filming, video editing, music composing, dancing, etc.--are always at the whims and choices of others in order for us to get our work/skill noticed and exposed to the public.

Self-publishing has grown in popularity due to this fact, and some have found success with it because they know how to market themselves and they have the expendable income to produce their own work. I congratulate you who have found this route profitable and satisfying.

But then there are those still living paycheck to paycheck, who have no expendable income to spend on massive marketing campaigns or even if we did get our foot in the door and are being noticed by the community, we get little to no assistance in getting our work promoted so we are easily ignored or not taken seriously.

Now before you believe that this is a "whine and cheese" fest, it is not. I am happy with the publisher I have, and understanding that it is small and independent I don't expect it to have the resources to market its books like Random House or Tor Books can. And honestly there is something very nice about having say and some control over how my book is marketed and presented. I thank my publisher for that. I have no complaints in that department, nor do my fellow authors who publish with them.

What this is about, is the general public belief that artists ask for way too much for their work, and therefore should be happy with receiving the bare minimum--and some people consider the bare minimum pricier than what they want to spend.

It's even worse when an artist and their client agree on a set amount at the start, and then gradually the client--whether because they discovered they couldn't get the funds that they hoped to gather, or figured they could use their budget more "wisely"--comes back and tries to argue down the price the artist agreed upon. Sometimes to less than half of the original quote. If the artist doesn't budge, the client might turn to a college student or a budding freelancer who doesn't know the value of their own work, and therefore will do the work super-cheap (and super-amateur. But hey, even amateur work gets the job done, right?).

I get that people are trying to save a buck where they can. I understand that people often view what artists do as "fun," a "hobby," or "self-gratifying." And I don't disparage college students or freelancers who need opportunities like the rest of us. I was once one, too.

But I can't count the number of times I have been to an art fair, an independent movie screening, or some other public fine arts events where I heard someone look at a piece of art and mutter, "Pfft, I could do that."

That. Is. Bull. If you could do that, I would slap a canvas and set of paints and brushes in front of you right there and then, and demand you pump out an exact replica of what you're looking at. And, if you can, tell me afterwards that what the artist is asking for that piece of art isn't completely justified by the time, effort, and dedication they put into it.

Just like any other job, art takes time, skill, hard work, passion, and perseverance. Art is also deceptive; artists can make something that looks easy and pretty but it cost blood, sweat, tears, and hours upon hours that could have been used for sleep or relaxing. Art makes the world a more beautiful, colorful place; it has the power to unite and create, to dispel sadness and loneliness, to educate as well as entertain. It is what makes humankind more than just animal; it is the means by which we express our hearts and souls.

So, all I ask is you understand the value of art, in all its forms. The next time you scoff at the price of a book, a painting, or a sculpture, really think about what work went into it--how artists spends months to years of their lives creating something for your enjoyment, or improving upon something that perhaps you do for a living. Support your artists, your writers, your world-beautifiers. If you're willing to pay $10 for a movie ticket, you can pay the little extra so that artists can keep doing the work that they do.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Update about the Release of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" Book Two

I'm a little bummed...I just found out that due to unforeseen circumstances, the release of my second book has been pushed back a few months, but it should still be out in time for the holidays. When it becomes available for preorder, you should still be able to receive it to give as a Christmas gift...So for anyone who still hasn't read The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx, now's the time to get your copy so you're all up to speed when Book Two comes out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Feature on Author T. Michelle Nelson's Blog

T. Michelle Nelson, the author of the Lily Drake book series, was kind enough to give a shout-out to The Scholar and the Sphinx on her blog today. She is a fellow YA writer and her series looks very cool. Check it out here:

http://www.tmichellenelson.com/blog/ar-cook-check-out-her-book


Monday, June 16, 2014

Georgia Author of the Year Awards and Sci Fi Summer Con

So, just recently had a couple events this month...on June 7 were the Georgia Author of the Year Awards in Kennesaw, for which "The Shades of Nyx" (this is how I'll shorten the title now, since the second book in the series will be out in September) was nominated for the Young Adult category. Did not win, unfortunately, but congrats to Terra Elan McVoy for winning with her novel "Criminal."

It was a good night, since I finally got to meet fellow KRP author Victoria Wilcox, who is absolutely lovely in every way and was the winner of Best First Novel. I also got to see Martha Ezzard again, as she spoke at Brenau University back in March about her book "Second Bud," which won Best Memoir.

This past weekend was Sci Fi Summer Con at the Wyndham Galleria in Atlanta. Turnout was sadly disappointing--only 35 attendees (there were actually more people working the conference than those who were guests). But I had some rocking table "neighbors," including J.K. Barber (Jay and Katie who self-publish as one name), Caralyn and Jeff Tucker of Mystic Reflections, and Amy and Lisa who created awesome props for Elf and Goblin Treasures. It was more about making good connections and information-sharing than selling, but I did sell some books and traded one.

Also, it's nice to spend a weekend at a nice hotel, even if Dave and I crashed as soon as we hit the bed after the con...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Best Kids Books Gives a Lovely Review

The Best Kids Books blog, with reviews by both young students and teachers from Gladstone Primary School in New Zealand, gave "TSSSN" a sweet review today. I encourage you to follow them on Facebook or Twitter, as they have some really unique picks for children's and young adult books that would be great suggestions for school reading: Thank you to Enchante Chang and Keying for the review:

http://www.thebestkidsbooks.com/2014/05/review-scholar-sphinx-and-shades-of-nyx.html

TheBestKidsBooks.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Brand New Knox Robinson Publishing Website is Up!

Hi everyone! Go visit the new KRP website! It's beautiful and now much more user friendly for buying books and e-books.

Also, soon the website will have information about its two new imprints: Mithras Books for young adult titles, and Under the Maple Tree Books for children's books. KRP is growing by leaps and bounds!

KRP is releasing a whole slew of new, original books this year, so be sure to keep checking in and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

http://www.knoxrobinsonpublishing.com/

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fun Gift for the Mom who loves Medieval Times...

Thought I'd pass this along, what with Mother's Day coming up, and sometimes it's hard to find a fun, unusual gift for mothers...especially the geeky types (which, yes, someday I will be a Geek Mom).

Now until May 11, mothers can enjoy a Medieval Times dinner and tournament for free with a full-priced adult admission! This offer is valid at all 9 locations. The code to use is MOMWEB

Also, you can stay up to date on all their special offers on Facebook by liking them at: https://www.facebook.com/MedievalTimes

Huzzah!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway Going on Now!

Right now until May 30, you can enter to win one of four free copies of "The Scholar, the Sphinx, and the Shades of Nyx" on Goodreads! How can you pass up a freebie?

Just go to this link to enter!

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16100578-the-scholar-the-sphinx-and-the-shades-of-nyx


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Georgia Author of the Year Nominee!

"The Scholar, the Sphinx, and the Shades of Nyx" is a nominee in the Young Adult category for the Georgia Author of the Year Award! The 50th Annual GAYA will be on June 7, with a banquet at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. in Kennesaw, Ga. Maybe I'll finally get a chance to meet fellow Knox Robinson Publishing author Victoria Wilcox, who is also nominated...

Check out the full list of nominees here: http://authoroftheyear.org/nominees.html




Friday, April 18, 2014

Thank you to Wood's Mill High School

Thank you to the students of Wood's Mill High School for being so welcoming and attentive during my author visit today. I think it's great you all do something special every Friday--whether it's have a visiting guest speak to you, or you go on a field trip--and I hope you have a great rest of the school year.
Also thank you to Ms. Christie Conti and Mrs. Patricia Cook for helping me to arrange the visit. Love you, Pat!
Wish I had photos, unfortunately the room was too dark (for the sake of my presentation being viewable on the projection screen) for any pictures to turn out clearly. Still, the memories will always be there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This was nice of them...

Take a peak at one of the recent Brenau University updates (the daily e-mails the college sends out to faculty, staff, students, and the local community):

http://update.brenau.edu/2014/04/04/author-ocps-reeger-cook-welcomed-to-moore-middle-school-for-presentation/

Which reminds me, my next visit is to Wood's Mill High School on April 18th. Busy but exciting times!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thank you to Moore Middle School!

Just finished an excitng author visit to Moore Middle School in Lawrenceville, Ga. All the students were great! They came prepared with wonderful questions, seemed engaged in the presentation--although I admit, four presentations in a row (so overall got to speak to about 200 some students) is exhausting!
Thank you to Giselle Escobar and Charles Cook for helping me to arrange the visit. You all were so kind and I loved talking to everyone.




Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thank You to those who organized the Dahlonega Literary Festival!

On March 8, I had the pleasure of participating in my first Dahlonega Literary Festival, and I want to thank Ken Smoke, Carol Malcolm, and all the others who helped organize the festival.
I also met a lot of truly passionate regional authors. My vendors table was next to that of Sue Cass, who writes inspirational books and she was very nice. Across from me was Fiona Page, who wrote a children's book about butterflies as well as a memoir called "My Nightlife is 24/7" (she unfortunately endured a horrible incident at age 44 that rendered her blind). I swapped books with her, since she said she wanted her grandchildren to read my book to her and I'm genuinely intrigued to learn more about her experiences.

It was impressive to see all the diverse literary talent in the regional authors room, and I enjoyed participating on the panel of eight authors who discussed their publishing experiences (I was by far the ditziest person on the panel, ask David). Everyone has had such unique experiences on their writing journeys, I hope the audience found it infromative.

Finally, thank you to everyone who bought my book! I hope you enjoy it and will look forward to the sequel due for release in September this year.

Next for "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx," a visit to Moore Middle School in Gwinett County on March 31. I can't wait!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Updated Book Trailer for "Scholar and Sphinx"

The book trailer for "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx" has just been updated with new music, as the original trailer's soundtrack contained music not in the public domain (but was still an awesome trailer nonetheless). This revised trailer is visually the same, but features music from the opera "La Vida Breve" written in 1904 (so, being well over a hundred years old, I believe that would put this in the public domain).

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meB9ZGs__vk

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Dahlonega Literary Festival to Host Regional Authors Panel, March 8th

For those in the northeast Georgia area, mark your calendars for March 8-9, 2014.

The Dahlonega Literary Festival will be hosting panels from both national and regional authors for a weekend of celebrating the love of books. Authors like Terry Kay, Joshilyn Jackson, and Cassandra King will be there, and a special panel of regional authors will be held on Saturday, March 8th at 11:15 a.m.

That panel will include a certain author who writes about a 19th century young scholar and an ancient living sphinx...

It's sure to be a weekend any book-lover would enjoy! Hope to see you there!

To find out more about the festival, visit: http://dahlonegaliteraryfestival.wordpress.com/

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers" Blog Gives TSSSN a Glowing Review!

Gina R., book reviewer and reading wizard of the blog "Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers," does an amazing job of analyzing books, running the gamut from children's picture books to young adult reads and beyond. So I was so thrilled that she agreed to do a review of TSSSN, and what a review it is! She really helps her readers understand what the book is about and how to approach the book (especially for people who may not be used to the fantasy genre).

Here is the review, and I encourage you to follow Gina on Facebook and subscribe to her blog. She puts out a review nearly every day, and it is a treasure trove of books that should be on any avid reader's "to-read" list!

http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-scholar-sphinx-and-shades-of-nyx-by.html


Monday, January 13, 2014

"Novel Nutritious" Gives a Delectable Review!

Jennifer Szoch with "Novel Nutritious" reviewed "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx," and I couldn't have asked for a more glowing review! She is an absolutely lovely lady. Please check out her review, and be sure to follow her on her blog. She's reviewed lots of great books and gives wonderful insight on all of them!

http://www.novelnutritious.com/books/the-scholar-the-sphinx-and-the-shades-of-nyx/