KIDLIT, FANTASY & SCI-FI –> Feed Your Head!

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


Interview with Iron Druid urban fantasy series author Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series about a 2,100 year-old Druid hiding among us, dodging the attentions of Irish gods who want to kill him. He used to teach high school English, but now he writes full time, reads comic books, and plays with his doggies. His latest book, SHATTERED, came out this summer.


Tell us about your latest book.

My last book was HUNTED, the sixth book of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus and Granuaile are on the run from Artemis and Diana, goddesses of the hunt, and they have to run across Europe to get the help they need.

Henry: For those not familiar with the Iron Druid series, Atticus is the titular druid of the series. He frequently has both favorable and unfavorable interactions with gods, demons, and the like. Successfully evading Artemis and Diana sounds like a formidable challenge. Another fun fact: Atticus’s pet Irish Wolfhound (the tallest dog breed) is inspired by Kevin’s pet pug.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Turning off the Internet and just getting myself into a zone. Distractions abound these days.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I’ve met some incredible people—other writers, all interesting folk who make me laugh, and many readers who are entertaining individuals as well. And I’ve traveled much more than I would have otherwise, seen more of the world. And best of all, I don’t have to wear pants anymore when I go to work. Pants were invented by The Man to oppress us, you know. I’m sticking it to The Man.

Henry: Down with pants! As long as you’re sticking it to the man in the privacy of your own home, my friend.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up! I sold my third completed book, not my first, and I was writing for nineteen years before I first got published. Your first efforts may turn out to be unpublishable, but that does not mean they are a waste of time. I learned so much from my first two terrible novels; I wouldn’t have been able to write HOUNDED without writing them first.

Henry: Nineteen years!? Well, we’re glad you are indefatigable. It was worth the wait.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The Manticore! Three rows of teeth, man. That’s bold. Think of all the cavities! And the halitosis! Even Altoids would be all DUDES, THIS IS HOPELESS I CANNOT FIX THIS BREATH.

Henry: I did not see that coming. You took that and ran with it. I have a manticore in my upcoming picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES. And they shoot spikes out of their tales. Like frickin’ sharks with laser beams! All books are better with manticores. And pirates.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I hug trees, play games, paint a little, go for walks in the neighborhood with my headphones on and just wail the hell out of my air drums. Because of that old saying, right? Bang your head like no one’s watching. I think some of the neighbors might be scared of me. This one paranoid guy was really protective of his grass and unaware that he was conforming to a stereotype.

CODGER: Stay off my lawn, kid!
ME: I’m forty-three!
CODGER: I don’t care, you kids keep your drugs and your heavy metals away from here!
ME: Still forty-three!

Henry: Heavy metals!? What were you doing shlepping around platinum, plutonium, and palladium? And in any event, that sounds like the exchange from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

King Arthur: Old woman!
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I’m 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I’m 37. I’m not old.
King Arthur: Well I can’t just call you “man”.
Dennis: Well you could say “Dennis”.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I’m not usually this morbid.

Where can readers find your work?

Wherever they like to buy books! They can check out the series on my site,, and I have a bunch of links there to find me on social media if anyone wants to say howdy or just follow for the fun of it. Thanks for having me!

Henry: It’s been fun. But people, don’t distract him too much. He has more books to write!


L-to-R: Jason Hough, Henry Herz & Kevin Hearne at Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Iron Druid urban fantasy series author Kevin Hearne at via @Nimpentoad


15 Words That Sound Worse Than They Really Are

I met this interesting lady recently who described herself as a polyglot. Now, I know what the word means, but it struck me that it sounds a lot worse than it really is. So, I was inspired to create this post. Enjoy!



Suspected Meaning – Crocodile

Actual Meaning – One who ties or unites


Suspected Meaning – The surgical operation necessary when you accidentally swallow a bat

Actual Meaning – A battle between frogs and mice. What? It’s a reference to Batrachomyomachia, an ancient Greek parody of The Iliad. The mock-heroic poem satirizes  the absurdity of war


Suspected Meaning – What an exterminator does to unwanted wasps and bees

Actual Meaning – Umbrella. That’s got to be of British origin.


Suspected Meaning – Someone from Cairo who moves to Los Angeles

Actual Meaning – Having beautifully proportioned buttocks. A personal favorite.


Suspected Meaning – Someone who chews with their mouth open

Actual Meaning – One who eats only raw foods (unconfirmed)


Suspected Meaning – One who is flatulent

Actual Meaning – An athletic training technique, used especially in running, in which periods of intense effort alternate with periods of less strenuous effort in a continuous workout.


Suspected Meaning – Having sex with paperwork

Actual Meaning – The sensation of insects crawling on the skin; symptom of a nerve disorder


Suspected Meaning – Unable to lose weight

Actual Meaning – Incapable or seemingly incapable of being fatigued; tireless.


Suspected Meaning – Unfortunate intestinal results from chewing on tree bark

Actual Meaning – Excessive use of words :)


Suspected Meaning – The brown stains that accumulate in the bottom of a coffee cup

Actual Meaning - A person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics.


Suspected Meaning -Explaining the characteristics of panda bears

Actual Meaning – The act of stretching and yawning, especially upon waking


Suspected Meaning – A person who eats enormous amounts of food of all types

Actual Meaning – A person who speaks multiple languages


Suspected Meaning – Infectious

Actual Meaning – Having great physical beauty and appeal.


Suspected Meaning – Being shaped like a poop

Actual Meaning – Of, relating to or resembling a thrush. I did not see that coming.


Suspected Meaning – Foul tasting

Actual Meaning – One of the tunnel-like passages of an amphitheater or stadium between the seats and the outside wall or passageway.



Interview with children’s book illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. Her first picture book that she is writing and illustrating, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, debuts from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Summer 2015.

Debbie’s illustrations appear in NAKED! (2014) and I’M BORED (2012), both picture books written by Michael Ian Black and published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. I’M BORED was selected by The New York Times for its list of Notable Children’s Books.


For what age audience do you write and illustrate?

I write and illustrate books for pre-K up through middle grade. My current focus is on fiction, but I also have some nonfiction ideas. So many books I want to write and draw, and not enough time!

Henry: Ridpath Ohi’s corollary to Murphy’s Law: illustrations will expand to fill the time available.

Tell us about your latest books.

NAKED! is a new picture book written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by me. It’s a story about a little boy who doesn’t want to put his clothes on after his bath, and starts running around the house in the buff. I laughed out loud when my editor sent me Michael’s story…so much fun! I also enjoyed illustrating I’m Bored, Michael’s previous picture book.

Also just out: Judy Blume classics reissued by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, with my illustrations on the covers of the middle grade editions: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Deenie, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, Blubber, Iggie’s House, Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself and It’s Not The End Of The World. I also did the interior illustrations as well as cover illustrations for Freckle Juice, The One In The Middle Is The Green Kangaroo, and The Pain And The Great One.

My most recent book projects, though, are WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and SEA-MONKEY AND BOB. WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? is the first picture book I’ll be both writing and illustrating, and comes out from Simon & Schuster in Summer 2015. SEA-MONKEY AND BOB is written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by yours truly, and comes out from the same publisher in Fall 2015.

What do you hope readers will get from reading NAKED?

I’m hoping that NAKED! will make for some fun read-aloud experiences, especially at bedtime. The focus isn’t so much on his nudity but on the little boy’s innocent delight in his freedom au naturel, how much FUN he’s having as he’s racing around the house, and the chase-to-cuddle interactions between him and his Mom.

Henry: You know some parents are going to be dealing with streaking kids, and you’ll have to answer to them.

What aspect of illustrating picture books do you find most challenging?

It varies from book to book. In NAKED!, it was drawing the boy sans clothes throughout most of the book but also keeping the illustrations appropriate for a young audience. No private boy bits! I admit to panicking a bit at first but then decided to throw myself into enjoying the challenge. It ended up being way more fun than I had expected.

Henry: No private boy bits. ‘Nuff said.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a children’s book illustrator?

How much work goes into creating a picture book, and how collaborative that work can be. So many people think it’s easy to write and illustrate a picture book. Now that I’ve done both, I can dismiss both those myths. To clarify: it’s easy to write and illustrate a picture book. Writing and illustrating a GOOD picture book, however, is entirely a different animal. I feel very lucky to have such great editor (Justin Chanda) and art directors (Laurent Linn, Lauren Rille) on these recent projects; I love the creative collaboration and learn so much.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been an illustrator?

Having Judy Blume tweet me! (see

Henry: A true fangirl moment for you.

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Draw something for fun every day. Doodle, experiment, push yourself to try new subjects and new media. Don’t get obsessed with technical perfection.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Here’s one of my favorites from Judy Blume: “Determination and hard work are as important as talent. Don’t let anyone discourage you!”

Henry: Nice. I also like: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you illustrate?

If I’m at an early stage in the creative process, I prefer silence. If I’m doing something more repetitive (like finessing line work, etc.), I’ll have an audiobook or Italian progrock playing, or DVDs playing on the other monitor for the audio soundtrack.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flying. Who hasn’t always wanted to fly?

Henry: No one, that’s who.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing and illustrating?

Reading, playing board games, writing and making music.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find out more about me and my work at and on Twitter at @inkyelbows.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner

Click to Tweet: Interview with children’s book illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi at via @Nimpentoad


Edna Mode Talks Superpowers with Conan O’Brien

Author’s Note: I’ve always been bothered with the incomplete science implicit in some superpowers. Just because it’s science fiction, that doesn’t mean a concept cannot be fully thought through. On another note, I find Edna Mode from The Incredibles to be a hilariously written character. So, I’ve written a humorous short story that has her addressing the science of superpowers. All hail Brad Bird!


This transcript of last week’s live broadcast is made available courtesy of WHJH TV in San Diego, California.

Conan O’Brien: Please give a warm welcome to our next guest, the brilliant and talented Edna Mode – fashion designer for superheroes!

(enthusiastic applause)

Edna Mode: Thank you. Thank you. I deserve it, to be sure. You all have exquisite taste.

Conan O’Brien: Wow, you really are short!

Edna Mode: I’m tall on the inside, Conan. Unlike you, I rely on my accomplishments for stature, not my pituitary gland. And what are you wearing? That’s a hobo suit, dahling. You can’t be seen in that. I won’t allow it. Fifteen years ago, maybe, but now? Feh!

Conan O’Brien: Although Edna needs no introduction, her impressive background is worth sharing. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, she quickly impressed her teachers with her advanced sense of aesthetics and engineering aptitude. She enrolled in college at the age of 15, completing in three years a double major of design and materials science at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Edna subsequently earned master’s degrees in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and electrical engineering from Cornell University. She capped her education with a PhD in mechanical engineering from Caltech.

Wow, that is a lot of schooling! Did you have much of a social life? I was a bit of a partier myself, but I have trouble imagining you chugging a beer, Edna.

Edna Mode: My friends call me “E”… You may address me as Dr. Mode. I never look back, dahling. It distracts from the now. But no, I did not feel the need to fraternize with my inferiors or dull my wits with alcohol. In any event, my social skills were already acutely honed from dealing with bullies in kindergarden.

Conan O’Brien: Of course, almost everyone has seen Edna’s, er. Dr. Mode’s biopic, The Incredibles, in which it was publicly revealed that the government had engaged Dr. Mode to create costumes for the superhero community. Her unique combination of design and engineering skills yielded costumes that were masterpieces of both aesthetics and protection. After briefly coming out of retirement to aid the Parr family, Dr. Mode then went on to co-present with Pierce Brosnan the Award for Costume Design at the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. What were the Academy Awards like, Dr. Mode?

Edna Mode: I can appreciate your interest, dahling, since the likelihood of you participating asymptotically approaches zero with the inexorable passage of time. I felt that The Incredibles winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature was only, hmm, fitting. I was also pleased to note the absence of capes on the attendees, with the notable exception of Cate Blanchett. Normally, I say, “no capes!” but who am I kidding? Hers was made from the finest Egyptian cotton, and she looks good in everything. I was more aggravated by the supermodels in attendance. Supermodels. Heh! Nothing super about them… Spoiled, stupid little stick figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves. Feh! I used to design for GODS!

Conan O’Brien: Uhhh, let’s move on, shall we? My understanding is that years prior to creating costumes for superheros, you worked for DARPA developing gear for the military. Gadgets to enhance the abilities of individual soldiers, if I’m not mistaken. We’ve seen your superhero costumes, but you’ve not elaborated on your earlier DARPA work. Will you tell us about some of your classified work, Dr. Mode? Please?

Edna Mode: You push too hard, dahling! But I accept! First, I researched what other countries were doing in the field. No need to reinvent the wheel, as they say. And what an elegant design the wheel is. But I digress.

We received intelligence that the North Koreans succeeded in genetically modifying some “volunteers” to be capable of unaided flight.

Conan O’Brien: Unaided flight!? You mean flying like Superman!?

Edna Mode: Exactly, dahling. They grew several men who could fly. But it didn’t turn out well for them. Not well at all.

Conan O’Brien: What do you mean?

Edna Mode: Well, if you stop and think about it, the problems with unaided flight for humans are obvious… Nothing? Well, obvious to me, anyway.

The first few challenges they experienced were just annoyances, really. You can’t fly too high due to the lack of oxygen. At 20,000 feet, you’ve got less than half the normal amount of oxygen in the air. So then they gave their pilots breathing gear. But, it gets very cold, even at altitudes where breathing gear isn’t mandatory. Not accounting for wind chill, it’s about 23 degrees at an altitude of 10,000 feet. So then they wrapped their pilots in warm clothing. But, if you’re flying at high speed, normal clothes will flap violently and quickly shred. I should add that this was the impetus for me to begin investigating high-strength clothing.

But, it gets worse. When you fly at high speed, the air friction causes intense heat. For example, the canopy temperature of an SR-71 jet is over 570 degrees when it lands. Needless to say, their first pilot to break the sound barrier had fourth degree burns on his head and shoulders.

Some pilots had trouble controlling their acceleration. According to one report, there was a bit of bootleg sake drinking that preceded a flying race. Their fastest pilot launched himself skyward at a thousand meters per second squared. At a sustained 100 g, his blood drained downward. Violently. He blacked out as his blood exploded out the bottom of his feet. Not a pretty sight, I’m afraid.

(Conan’s jaw drops and the blood appears to be draining out of his face)

For the aforementioned reasons, their pilots tended to fly at lower altitudes. But they forgot to genetically engineer for superhuman eyesight and reaction times. When you’re traveling at Mach 3 and a flock of birds or bats crosses in your path, it’s a problem because normal human reflexes cannot react quickly enough to avoid a collision. Consider that the energy of a 10 lb bird striking the head of a human pilot flying a very modest 170 mph is roughly equivalent to that of a 200 lb weight dropped from a height of 50 ft. Apparently a bird was the last thing on that pilot’s mind. So, for all these reasons, the North Korean program really never, er, got off the ground.

(Conan is mopping his brow and looking very queasy)

Conan O’Brien: Dr. Mode, please, let’s switch topics. Was any work done with mechanical implants to enhance soldier performance?

Edna Mode: Indeed there was, dahling. Indeed there was. I wasn’t personally involved, but I had a friend, Oscar Goldman over at the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Ah, now there was a man who could make loud-patterned sport coats really work! And the man could accessorize! But I digress.

Oscar led a large (for the time) budget project to surgically insert miniaturized power sources, hydraulics, actuators, and so on into human legs and arms. Then the electronics had to be delicately wired into the subject’s central nervous system. Real cutting edge stuff, mind you.

Conan O’Brien: It seems unethical that they would do such things to perfectly healthy people.

Edna Mode: Your reasoning is surprisingly correct, as it turns out. They used people who had suffered serious injury. One was a male astronaut crippled by a test flight crash. The other was a female professional tennis player severely injured during a skydiving accident.

Conan O’Brien: Were the surgeries successful? What kind of abilities did they have?

Edna Mode: They replaced both legs and an arm on the astronaut. That went well. They also replaced both legs and an arm on the tennis player. But there was a problem with her body rejecting the bionics. Eventually, they worked out the kinks.

The bionic legs were rated for a top speed of 60 mph. The bionic arms were rated to lift a ton, as I recall. Unfortunately, there were design problems with only replacing limbs. What do you suppose they were?

Conan O’Brien: Um, short circuiting in the rain? Setting off metal detectors at airports? Voiding the manufacturer’s warranty?

Edna Mode: Your words are useless! Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much, dahling, too much!

Imagine you need to move a car that is blocking your access to an escape route. You walk over to the car, grab the bumper with your bionic arm, and lift. What happens?

Conan O’Brien: Um, you lift the car?

Edna Mode: Wrong! It boggles the mind that you graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University!

Your arm is strong enough and your legs are strong enough, but what connects them? A normal torso with normal skeletal and muscular structure. Poor Col. Austin tore every muscle in his back the first time he tried lifting something heavy. And the strain was so severe, one of his eyes popped out of its socket! It flew clear across the alley. They ended up replacing his eye with a bionic one. Oscar was very upset about the budget overrun that caused, dahling.

Conan O’Brien: I get it! A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Could they at least run fast?

Edna Mode: Indeed they could, but running fast came with its own set of challenges. Normal sneakers are not designed to handle the extra weight, friction, and speed of a bionic person running at 60 mph. So, the shoes and socks disintegrate rather quickly, and then you’re running barefoot at freeway speed. Have you ever stepped on a LEGO barefoot at 60 mph? It’s more painful than a corduroy leisure suit. That’s when they bumped up my security clearance so I could consult on enhanced footwear design.

But that wasn’t the, er, sole running problem. Have you ever tripped while running?

Conan O’Brien: Are you kidding? I’m 6′ 4” and weigh 160 lb. A stiff breeze knocks me down.

Edna Mode: Imagine you’re running at 60 mph and you lose your footing, for whatever reason. What happens?

Conan O’Brien: I fall down and scrape my knees and elbows?

Edna Mode: Your fall would be no different than if you jumped out of a car going 60 mph. On one mission, Jaime Sommers recklessly chased someone through a rocky field. She slipped and fell, cartwheeling for 75 yards. Her head was banged up so badly they ended up having to give her bionic hearing on one side. She never did seem quite right after that…

Conan O’Brien: Gee, the superpower business is a lot tougher than it looks. Can I ask you to tell us another story?

Edna Mode: You can’t! It’s impossible! I’m far too busy, so ask me now before I can become sane. Alright, one last tidbit.

We learned that during the Cold War the Soviets were experimenting with a process that hardened human skin to be virtually invulnerable. They wanted indestructible soldiers to spread the “benefits” of Marxist Socialism. They actually did develop bulletproof skin.

Conan O’Brien: Well, then why aren’t we all speaking Russian right now?

Edna Mode: Basic physics, dahling. Bulletproof skin would work just like a bulletproof vest. It stops a bullet from penetrating, but your body still suffers the impact. If you wear a suit of titanium armor and jump off a building, the impact will still turn your internal organs to chutney.

They also failed to consider what happens when these soldiers gained weight. Since bulletproof skin won’t budge, the internal organs get progressively more crowded until they fail. And then it’s off to the antiquated Soviet medical system.

And that emergency liposuction won’t be easy. No hypodermic needle for inoculations, fluids, or blood transfusions can penetrate the skin, although I suppose they could stick it inside your mouth. No surgery would be possible, other than that which could be performed by inserting instruments into an orifice. All in all, making surgeries even more difficult and unpleasant.

Conan O’Brien: Well that’s all rather horrible to contemplate. Instead, let’s talk about that stunning outfit you’re wearing.

Edna Mode: Ah, you seek to redeem yourself, no? I cut it a little roomy for the free movement. The fabric is comfortable for sensitive skin. And it can also withstand a temperature of over 1000 degrees. Completely bulletproof. And machine washable, dahling. That’s a new feature.

Conan O’Brien: It’s lovely, but why does it need such durability?

Edna Mode: Well, I am sure I don’t know, dahling. Luck favors the prepared.

Conan O’Brien: Well, our time is nearly up. Are there any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with, Dr. Mode?

Edna Mode: Having only one superpower can leave a hero vulnerable. If you are going to be an effective superhero, you need a suite of powers. Or, dare I say, a suit of powers. That’s why I left DARPA and focused my considerable talents on augmenting superheroes’ abilities with my designer supersuits. There’s no reason not to be stylish while you’re saving the world. Fight! Win!

I’ve enjoyed talking about myself. Have me back again. Don’t make me beg, dahling, I won’t do it, you know.


Click to Tweet: Edna Mode Talks Superpowers with Conan O’Brien at via @Nimpentoad


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5 Powerful Writing Techniques That Bring Stories to Life

Excerpt  from my article on The Write Life

Take a moment, close your eyes, and recall a story that truly engaged you as a reader — one whose world and characters became completely real for you. Got one?

Now, take off your reader hat and don your analytical writer hat to think about what makes that story so captivating. What writing techniques did the author use to bring the story to life? Was it the wrenching appeal to your emotions, the vivid and brutal action scenes, or the high stakes facing a character? Mastering these and other storytelling methods is the key to writing your own engaging tale.

Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it has eaten, a writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. Reading the works of skilled writers is a fabulous way to hone your craft and learn how to effectively employ the writing tactics that help you create your own captivating story.

Here are five great examples of writing techniques that bring the story to life for readers, as demonstrated by five accomplished writers.


1. Invoke multiple senses

When you experience a situation, you pick up more than just its sights. By describing sounds, scents, tastes and sensations, you’ll immerse readers in your story’s world.

The following scene from Saladin Ahmed’s “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story by using senses other than sight.

Her voice is more beautiful than any woman’s. And there is the powerful smell of jasmine and clove. A nightingale sings perfumed words at me while my mind’s eye burns with horrors that would make the Almighty turn away.

If fear did not hold your tongue, you would ask what I am. Men have called my people by many names—ghoul, demon. Does a word matter so very much? What I am, learned one, is Abdel Jameela’s wife.

For long moments I don’t speak. If I don’t speak, this nightmare will end. I will wake in Baghdad, or Beit Zujaaj. But I don’t wake.

She speaks again, and I cover my ears, though the sound is beauty itself.

The words you hear come not from my mouth, and you do not hear them with your ears. I ask you to listen with your mind and your heart. We will die, my husband and I, if you will not lend us your skill. Have you, learned one, never needed to be something other that what you are?

Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me.

Read the rest of this post at  The Write Life

If you enjoyed these excerpts, find the full stories in the new dark fantasy anthology Beyond the Pale.

Click to Tweet: 5 Powerful Writing Techniques That Bring Stories to Life at via @Nimpentoad


Celebrity praise for “Beyond the Pale”

Beyond the Pale contains eleven fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod), Jim Butcher (Dresden Files), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Nancy Holder (Wicked), Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels), and Jane Yolen (Owl Moon). Here are celebrity quotes about Beyond the Pale that have never been uttered.


J. K. Rowling – Jane Yolen’s delightfully scary A Knot of Toads takes place in Scotland. I could probably buy Scotland…


Karl Urban – I enjoyed the creativity and violence of Even Hand. Let me know if you need a lead for a movie adaptation of a Jim Butcher book!


Kim Jong-un – This book is so good, it should only be for the ruling elite. I forbid all imperialists from reading it!


Oprah Winfrey – Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! Have your people call my people. Come do my show.


Orlando Bloom – Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Hate me because I have a copy of Beyond the Pale, and you do not.


Salman Rushdie – Sure, put a fatwa on MY head. There’s more devilish goings-on in Beyond the Palethan in Satanic Verses. Christ!


Stephen Colbert – The only wayBeyond the Pale,could be improved is if I had been asked to contribute a story. Just saying.


Tina Fey – I loved the humor in Nancy & Belle Holder’s The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones. I may use some of that material…

Order your copy of Beyond the Pale at

Click to Tweet: Celebrity praise for “Beyond the Pale” at via @Nimpentoad


Photos from the 2014 Los Angeles SCBWI Conference

I had an amazing time yesterday in Los Angeles shmoozing at the Los Angeles SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) conference. I got to see friends from the San Diego and Los Angeles SCBWI chapters, and rub elbows with some rockstar authors and literary agents. Here are some photos:


Dan Santat – hilariously funny picture book illustrator of Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz. With goatees and enhanced foreheads, we are almost the same, except that Dan is more talented and more Asian.


Aaron Becker – author/illustrator of the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book Journey. At this point, I appear to only be posing with authors who’s hairline matches my own. Sadly, I didn’t have my Journey on hand for him to sign. FYI, his new PB, Voyage, is about to release. My previous interview with Aaron.


Maggie Stiefvater – I was just a big squeeing fangirl when I spotted the lovely and talented YA author of The Raven Boys walking by as I was chatting with Shannon Messenger and Salina Yoon.


Salina Yoon – author/illustrator of Penguin & Pincone and many other picture books. Also, inventor of the “puffin beak cozy”. My previous interview with Salina.


Cindy Pon – author of the YA Silver Phoenix. My previous interview with Cindy.


Bruce Hale – multi-published PB/MG author of Snoring Beauty, wearing his trademark hat. He’d lost his voice the night before, but it was still nice to whisper with him. My previous interview with Bruce.


Megan McDonald – What!? Won the KidLit lottery when illustrator Pat Cummings was kind enough to introduce me to the author of the wildly successful Judy Moody series

Although I don’t have photographic evidence, I also got to say hi to Caldecott Award winner David Diaz, illustrators Lori Mitchell & Tricia Benson, YA authors Christa Desir, Jenn Bosworth, Steph Funk, Jenn Reese & Sara Wilson Etienne, MG/YA author Shannon Messenger, MG authors Kristen Kittscher & Matt Ward, PB authors Denise Vega, Cindy Jenson Elliot, Edith Hope Fine, Jennifer Gray Olson, & Jamie Swenson, and literary agents Danielle Smith, Jill Corcoran, Lara Perkins, Jen Rofe, and Laura Rennert.


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