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Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Holidays from The Scholar and the Sphinx!

Whether you'll be traveling on the road or by air, or just staying at home to spend time with your loved ones, I hope you have a safe and joyful holiday season. Plus, the wintry weather is the best time to curl up with a good book!


And more importantly, to gift good books! Want to give the avid reader in your life something special? How about not just a new book, but a signed book from the author? I am more than happy to send folks signed books at their request, or a signed book plate (a sticker you can paste inside the book cover). Feel free to send me an e-mail at scholarandsphinx@gmail.com if you have a book you'd like me to sign!
 
Stay tuned, as the official release date for Book Three, "The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Threads of Fate" should be announced soon!







I'd love to see you at one of my upcoming author events after the new year. I'm hoping to be at Con Nooga in Chattahoochee, TN, from Feb. 19-21, but nothing has been confirmed yet. But I will be at the following events:

Dahlonega Literary Festival
March 12-13, 2016
Dahlonega, GA

For more information visit http://literaryfestival.org/
 

JordanCon 2016

April 22-24
Atlanta Marriott at the Perimeter Center
Atlanta, GA

For more information and the panel schedule, visit www.jordancon.org.

You may always visit my author website to see the most updated news and events about the series, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter if you want to chat! 

And remember...the best way you can show authors that you love their work and appreciate the time and dedication they put into writing it is to leave a review! It can be on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, or even on your own blog or favorite social media site! It only takes a few minutes to share a couple sentences, and it's the greatest gift you could give an author.

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


Seasons Greetings!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Is “Ahh!! Real Monsters!” an Alternate Universe of Harry Potter?

Since it was Halloween recently, I was thinking back on some of my favorite Halloween/monster cartoons from when I was a kid. One that immediately came to mind was Nickelodeon’s “Ahh!! Real Monsters!”, a cartoon produced by Klasky Csupco (who also did “Rugrats” and “Wild Thornberrys,” to name a few) that ran from 1994-1997. The show was about three kid monsters who attend an institute under a city dump in New York (hidden from humans, who must never know monsters truly exist) to learn how to frighten humans in a variety of paranormal ways (including shape-shifting, growing to giant size, and pulling their guts out of their mouths. Seriously.)

Wait a minute…three kids – two boys, one girl – who attend a special school in a secret location apart from human society, to learn how to use their extraordinary, arguably “magical” talents? Why does that sound familiar?

Okay, so before you start telling me I’m seeing parallels that aren’t really there*, keep in mind that themes and ideas often are recycled in new, inventive ways. While both “Ahh!! Real Monsters!” and the Harry Potter series have their own distinctive universes, some of the similarities are pretty uncanny.

*Remember, this theory is just for fun. Not to be taken as a serious aspect about the Harry Potter canon.











Ickis = Harry 
     So he may not sport a lightning-shaped scar or iconic round glasses (although in the pilot episode and Monsters, Get Real!, he does wear glasses), Ickis shares a couple things in common with the infamous boy wizard. For one, he comes from a family line of great “scarers,” and his father Slickis was the greatest scarer that Monster Academy ever had (hmm…kind of like the greatest “Seeker” Hogwarts ever had?) So there’s a lot of pressure on Ickis to live up to the family name. He also proves to be exceptional among his monster peers, being the only student able to hear the Pool of Elders (just as Harry only hears the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets). Ickis most frequently faces the reoccurring antagonist of the series, Simon, who routinely threatens all of monster society (we’ll get to him later). There is even an episode where Ickis literally becomes trapped in Simon’s head…not quite like a piece of Voldemort being trapped inside of Harry, but the “protagonist and antagonist sharing the same body” theme is eerie in both cases.


Oblina = Hermoine  

The top of her class at Monster Academy, Oblina not only shares Hermonie’s class status but several aspects of her personality as well. She’s the brains of the group and a bit of a know-it-all, and doesn’t miss a moment to point out when her fellow students are breaking the rules or being inept.  But she’s also kind to her friends, playing a sort of big-sisterly role at times. Oblina’s specialty includes shape-shifting, which is a factor that Hermoine brings into play in “Chamber of Secrets” with the polyjuice potion. Both Oblina and Hermoine love to read, and are the most practical of their friendship trios.


Krumm = Ron    

At first glance, there doesn’t seem like a whole lot of similarities between Ron Weasley and Krumm – Krumm is a monster who must carry his eyeballs around in his hands as he has no head, and his signature scaring method is his horrible stench. Ron doesn’t possess either of these traits (as far as we know), however both are best friend to the main protagonist, as well as having a tendency to bumble. Krumm routinely loses at least one of his eyes in a mishap and has to retrieve it, while Ron has chronic wand-breaking problems and trouble executing magic in the way he intends. But both are fiercely loyal, no matter what trouble their friends get them into, and do their best to cheer them up when they are down. And while he never ends up in a romantic relationship with Oblina (as Hermoine does with Ron), in episode 43, “Krumm is dumbfounded when he believes that Oblina likes him as more than a friend.”










The Gromble = Dumbledore / Prof. McGonagall


The Gromble seems to possess traits from both Hogwart’s headmaster and its Transfiguration professor.  No, neither Dumbledore or McGonagall are as intimidating to their students as The Gromble (nor have either of them eaten their students on occasion), but the Gromble does want the best for his students and tries to keep his school safe from invasive forces in the outside world (much like Dumbledore). His no-nonsense, tough-love attitude keeps his students in line (like McGonagall) and he tends to target Ickis and Krumm the most often to keep them from causing too much trouble.

In episode 50, the Gromble gives the perpetually late Ickis a clock that can control time. Remember when McGonagall gave Hermoine the time turner?

In Episode 39, the Gromble is threatened to be displaced as headmaster of Monster Academy because his superior doesn’t find his teaching acceptable – just as Dumbledore was going to be displaced as headmaster. But both in the end retain their positions.

Also, doesn’t “Gromble” sound a bit like “Dumbeldore” and “McGonagall” smushed together?
Simon = Voldemort  
Simon actually looks like he could be a much older version of Harry, having thick round black-rimmed glasses and gray-black hair (that you could figure as a kid was black). However his intentions a truly more Lord Voldemort-worthy – to expose the monster world for his own personal gain, and to gain control over all monsters. Not a monster himself (not in the biological sense,
anyway), his reasons for villainy are different from Voldemort, but he is the main antagonist and often employs more na├»ve, weak-minded characters to do his bidding, including other monster hunters and even children. He is also thwarted most often by Ickis, and as mentioned before the two characters even shared bodies for one episode. However Simon gets a much happier ending - meaning, not dying – and is more of a comical villain than the spine-tinglingly wicked Voldemort.


The Snorch = Hagrid / Argus Filch

The Snorch is a big guy, arguably the largest monster working at the Monster Academy. He is also much smarter than he looks – everyone underestimates the big guys, right, Hagrid? – as proven in an episode where he learns that Oblina is tired of not having anyone to intellectually converse with, so the Scorch reveals for the first time how eloquent he can be. 

But the Snorch’s primary role is to “discipline” students who break the rules. That’s a job that would seem a perfect fit for Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch – “It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out… hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, I've got the chains still in my office, keep 'em well-oiled in case they're ever needed… “ 

Of course, the Snorch resorts to more “monster-specific” forms of punishment, like square-dancing and forcing students to frolic through a field of flowers. On top of having pint-sized companions who acts as a second pair of “eyes” around the school, Filch and the Snorch could be the best of buddies.



Zimbo = Miss Norris

The Snorch has a small assistant named Zimbo who sits on his head most of the time, and because Zimbo can fly, he often darts around the halls of the school spying on the monster students. Miss Norris likes to keep an eye on students as well, drawing Filch to any misbehavior that might be happening, although thankfully she
cannot talk. Zimbo likes to harass and insult the students of Monster Academy, particularly Ickis and Krumm, figuring he is untouchable because he is “protected” by those in superior positions– a touch of Draco there, perhaps?



So what do you think? Do you think there’s a bit of something more monstrous in Harry Potter than we first thought?



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A look-back on a DragonCon 2015 YA panel


So it only took me two months to finally post this video to my website, despite that it's been on Vimeo for a while...

Before we get rolling into CONjuration in about a week and a half, here is a video from DragonCon 2015, "The Heroine's Journey" panel. It featured a bunch of YA and fantasy authors: Delilah S. Dawson, Alexandra Duncan, Cindy Pon, Tamsin Silver, Nancy Springer and me. It went over fabulously and I think the audience enjoyed it.


So for those feeling the post-DragonCon blues still, here's a snippet for you:


DragonCon 2015 Panel




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CONjuration is Coming Back to Atlanta! Harry Potter Fans Rejoice!

CONjuration will be here in a little more than two weeks! If you love Harry Potter, LOTR, or just fantasy and science fiction in general, be sure to go Nov. 13-15 at the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta!

The con will feature "an immersive experience with a Yule Ball, A Hunt for the Horcrux 'Choose Your Own Adventure', several Harry Potter Wizard Wrock Bands, Death Eaters Live Action Games, Cosplay Contests, Supernatural Mystery Party, Supernatural Scavenger Hunt, Quidditch Games/Matches, Live Wizard Chess & More!"

"The Scholar and the Sphinx" will be there too! Stop by the vendor room to get your copies of Books 1 and 2, and visit A.R.'s panels throughout the weekend!

For more information, go to http://www.conjurationcon.com/



Monday, October 12, 2015

Readers' Favorite Gives "Fang of Fenrir" a 5- Star Review!

...which means I also get this snazzy little medallion!


Readers Favorite recently posted a wonderful review for "Fang of Fenrir," and gave it a full 5 stars! 

"If you pick up this book, you are immediately drawn into a wonderful fantasy story with characters you'll either hate, love, or pity. It's definitely a series I'd recommend to readers who really love fantasy."

To read the full review, go here.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the series and helps to spread the word by leaving reviews, sharing on social media or just telling a friend about these books.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

And Now Something for the MST3K Fans..."Lil' Mads"!

So last Friday I was at DragonCon and had a great time (photos and videos coming soon!) but I got so wiped from it, that was the only day I went as I needed the next day to recover. My hubby David went back to DragonCon on Saturday for work to record some video, and he visit the two guys I met last year and totally adore, Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fame.

Because my hubby knows how much I like them, he snagged me not only an autographed pic of the both of them, but also a signed copy of Trace's "Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children" book. It is very reminiscent of Shel Silverstein and some of the more twisted kid's poetry I grew up with.
But then it got me thinking...and got the cartoonist side of me going. Kids and mad science go together so well, how was there never a spin-off cartoon of the Mads as kids? How hilarious would it have been to see Dr. Forrester and Frank trying to attain global domination as eight year olds? (Think "Dexter's Lab" meets "Pinky and the Brain")

So for anyone who would have loved for this concept to be a reality, here you go!! (And yes, I realized it should be spelled "Oh Poopie" for the title but I take some creative liberties, you know)





Friday, August 14, 2015

DragonCon 2015: The Scholar, the Sphinx, Heroines in YA Lit and Terry Pratchett!

I am thrilled to announce that I'll be on two panels at DragonCon this year, and I hope if you plan to attend on Friday, Sept. 4, you'll stop by one of them to see what's happening!

Friday, Sept. 4 at 1:00 p.m.* (Marriott A707):
"The Heroine's Journey" - We'll discuss female heroines in YA literature, what makes their journeys different from male heroes, or how they're similar.
http://yalit.dragoncon.org/

Friday, Sept. 4 at 5:30 p.m.* in the Sheraton (Macon room):
"Terry Pratchett: In Memorium" - A panel to honor the memory of fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, and discuss how he impacted the genre and fellow fantasy authors.
http://british.dragoncon.org/

*Times and rooms subject to change. Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Blog Interview with Fantasy Author Nan Monroe

This week on author Nan Monroe's blog, she interviewed me about "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series as well as YA literature in general. Nan has written scripts for the Atlanta Radio Company and has released her first YA fantasy novel, "Atterwald."

Check out her website and her writing! I've met her at a couple of recent conventions and she is an enthusiastic, book-loving, charming woman, with a deep love for strong female protagonists in fantasy novels.

http://nanmonroe.com/2015/07/30/interview-with-a-r-cook/



Thursday, July 2, 2015

ESO Network Puts A.R. Cook in the Geek Seat!!

"Just when you thought it was safe to listen to a podcast!"

Mike and Mike of ESO Network interviewed me at TimeGate last month, and put me through "a fate worse than a shark cage": the Geek Seat! So here's your chance to listen to me be a total dork...

Plus there's lots more, like Mike and Mike discussing the 40th anniversary of "Jaws" with award-winning author Bobby Nash, Kevin Eldridge promotes CONvergence in the Khan Report, and some ranting and raving about pop culture figures that are now no longer with us. Also, Linnell Burton stops by to update us on Blue Print Camp. 

Take a listen!

http://esopodcast.com/the-earth-station-one-podcast-episode-273/


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Today on "A Center Stage Moment"...

Today on The Word Smithe blog, Shantella Benson posted a lovely interview that she did with me about "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series as well as writing in general. She has a really fun website full of book reviews and author interviews, so be sure to visit her and follow her!

Read the full interview at The Word Smithe: https://thewordsmithe.wordpress.com/a-center-stage-moment-2/



Here's a short sneak peak of the interview:

SB: I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them had various interests. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
ARC: When I was a kid, I was into so many things. I took ballet, played softball, sketched and painted, acted in school plays, played piano, took voice lessons, you name it. Because my parents were theater actors, up until college I thought I would go into acting, but writing was always a part of my life since first grade. I wrote well over 50 short stories during that year (of course, a short story for a first grader is about one paragraph or one page). When I got to college, my focus turned to playwriting, and since the University of Iowa has such a great creative writing program, I took those classes too. While the acting bug eventually dissipated, the writing passion has endured all this time.
SB: Is writing a full-time or part-time career? If part-time, what’s your other job? 
ARC: Right now, it is part time. My day job is working for Brenau University in their publications office. I help write press releases, newsletter postings, university magazine articles, and event information. Technically, I am writing all the time, whether at work or at home.
SB: Why did you choose to write Fantasy? 
ARC: I love fantasy, and it probably started with my parents reading fairy tales to me at bedtime when I was little. Then I got into the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I read some Lloyd Alexander, and some Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I read mostly fantasy. Naturally, I enjoyed writing it the most. Even my historical fiction or mystery stories all have fantasy elements to them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

See You All at LibertyCon in Chattanooga this weekend!

If you're going to be in the Chattanooga, TN area next weekend, June 26-28, come visit me at LibertyCon, hosted at the Chattanooga Choo Choo! I'll be on lots of panels about YA Literature and Fantasy, as well as signing and selling "The Scholar and the Sphinx" books. If you're planning to go, check out my panel schedule and see what sessions you may like to attend. I'll be in the company of some of my author friends, as well as Author Guest of Honor, science fiction writer of nearly 100 books David Weber! It's going to be a blast!

http://www.libertycon.org/index.php/pros?pid=265


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Fang of Fenrir" Gets Sparkling Review in Toasted Cheese Lit Journal

Thank you to Shelley Carpenter, book reviewer for Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, for giving "Fang of Fenrir" such a glowing review. Shelley has such a way with words! This month's issue of TC is full of other great reviews, short stories and poems, so go check it out!

An excerpt from the review:
"The characters are complex. Cook gives each a unique voice and manner. They are distinct and often humorous. Baba’s character in particular is a scene-stealer and compliments David’s seriousness and Gullen’s know-it-all-ness with her funny wit, her mannerisms, and voice."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TimeGate Convention Coming Up, and a Video from JordanCon 2015

Hey, Dr. Who fans! Live in the Atlanta area? Wanna go to one of the biggest Dr. Who conventions (plus lots of other fun stuff) in the nation? Then come to TimeGate this weekend, May 22-24, and come visit me! I'll be on a bunch of panels and selling some books, so it should be fun! Go to timegatecon.org to see the schedule and who all will be there!

Speaking of panels, I had such a fun time on them at JordanCon last month, here's a short video of my and fellow authors Todd McCaffrey and L.R. Barrett-Durham on the Pure Fantasy panel. Thanks to my hubby David Cook for filming: https://vimeo.com/127446572


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Giveaway Contest if you attend the Georgia Renaissance Festival May 16!

Like to win free books? Going to the Georgia Renaissance Festival in Fairburn, Ga. on Saturday, May 16? Then you'll want to enter to win!
Either go to https://www.facebook.com/TheScholarAndTheSphinxSeries and leave a comment with the corresponding post, or you can leave a comment below to answer the question displayed in the picture. Then you'll be entered to win Book 1 & 2 of "The Scholar and the Sphinx" series, signed by A.R. Cook! But if you win, you must be present at the Ga. Renaissance Fest next Saturday, May 16 to pick up your prize at the Authors' Book Signing area.
Good luck! Contest will run May 9-15 with the winner notified by May 15.









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!