Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


Interview with children’s author Marsha Diane Arnold

Called a “born storyteller” by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold’s picture books have sold over one million copies and been called, “whimsical,” “inspiring,” and “uplifting.” Her books have garnered such honors as Best First Book by a New Author, Smithsonian Notable, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and state Children’s Choice awards. Recent books include GALÁPAGOS GIRL, MAY I COME IN? and LOST. FOUND, a Junior Library Guild selection illustrated by Caldecott medalist Matthew Cordell, which received three starred reviews. Marsha was born and raised in Kansas, lived most of her life in Sonoma County, California, and now lives with her husband in Alva, Florida, near her family.

For what age audience do you write?

The best stories, those that hold enduring truths, are really for all ages, so  

I like to say I write for all ages. (My publishers usually note my books are for ages 4 to 8.) Before moving to picture books, I wrote an award-winning, syndicated column entitled homegrown treasures. My column was read by grandparents, parents, teens, and toddlers, all sitting together, enjoying “story.”

Mostly, I write picture books. I also write board books, like BABY ANIMALS TAKE A NAP and BABY ANIMALS TAKE A BATH, and am working (from time to time) on a chapter book and middle-grade novel.

Henry: I’m in the same boat. I’ve published only picture books, but am trying my hand at middle-grade.

Tell us about your latest book.

GALÁPAGOS GIRL began as a tiny seed in 2007, when I visited the Galápagos Islands. My naturalist guide was Valentina Cruz, whose family were some of the first inhabitants of the remote island of Floreana in the Galápagos.

Through email and video chats, Valentina shared her adventures growing up on Floreana with her parents and eleven brothers and sisters – stories of living with wild nature, of swimming with sea lions, of finches flying into their house to sample her mother’s homemade jam. Her idyllic life led her to become a biologist and naturalist guide so she could share with the world her knowledge and love of the islands and their unique flora and fauna. She’s the inspiration for my fictional character Valentina in the book.

I’m thankful to have Lee & Low as my publisher and Angela Dominguez as my talented illustrator. GALÁPAGOS GIRL is bilingual with an author note and back matter that includes information on each of the animals mentioned in the book.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

In general, my wish for my readers is that my books give them some whimsy and fun, a lot of enjoyment and entertainment, heaps of inspiration, and something to ponder.

I hope when my readers read GALÁPAGOS GIRL, they will feel the joy of being in nature. From a unique perspective, they will glimpse a way of life different from their own. I hope they’ll close the book with a desire to help keep all wildlife safe.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Those rejections! They always make me question my value as a writer, but eventually, “I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.”

Henry: Yes, the two most valuable author attributes (after writing ability) are being thick-skinned and indefatigable.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I can do it. Being an introvert and filled with self-doubt most of my life, that’s a powerful lesson. Each of us can do it!

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

Author visits! What wonderful times I’ve had visiting schools from California to Puerto Rico, from Germany to Kenya. In Alabama, I had to run three miles at a school where they’ve been celebrating THE PUMPKIN RUNNER with a day of races and games for six years! At one Kansas school, they built a tornado on the school’s roof to celebrate THE BRAVEST OF US ALL. One librarian called my visit a “Big Vivid” for the school community, an inspiring memory that will stay with them forever. In truth, my visits to schools have always been “Big Vivids” for me.

Henry: Run three miles!? Now, that’s a commitment to a school visit!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Think of rewriting as polishing a stone until it’s smooth and bright and beautiful.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I have two that come back to me again and again over the years.

You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.” Taisu Deshimaru

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” Henry Beston

Henry: Lovely

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

No strange rituals here. Maybe a walk in nature, which, sadly, for many today, may seem like a strange ritual.

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

The power to let everyone see that all humans, all creatures, and all plants are part of a precious web of wonder. Then maybe we’d respect and care for one another as we should.

Henry: I’m reminded of the Tree of Souls in the Avatar movie.

That’s my serious answer. My not-so-serious answer is to be a Teleporter! Is that a word? What fun to be able to transport instantly to any place on this magnificent planet. As inhabitants of Earth, I think it’s our responsibility to experience as much of it as possible. My air miles aren’t stretching far enough, so to be able to instantly move from place to place would come in handy.

Henry: Plus, it would be easier to conduct school visits!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I must choose naturalist and writer Henry Beston. Afterall, he’s responsible for one of my favorite quotes.

Charles Dickens – because he’s the master of creating fascinating characters and he still influences the way we celebrate Christmas, what with “A Christmas Carol” and all.

J.R.R. Tolkien – for his brilliance.

Wait! That’s not right. I need some women at our salon.

Henry: You had me at Tolkien

Let’s include Emily Dickinson. She won’t take up much space. “I’m Nobody!” she wrote, “how dreary to be Somebody.” I have always loved her poetry.

To round things out, let’s invite two more. Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winner and lovely Southern lady. Her ON WRITING is so readable, so excellent.

Sheila Turnage, another writer who is a master at creating characters, like her Miss Moses LoBeau, would be my living author. I want to learn from Sheila how to write great middle-grade novels.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Dragons, for certain. The Galápagos marine iguanas on the Galápagos reminded me a bit of dragons.

Henry: “My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, THE HOBBIT

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

Travel! When I’m traveling, I love to hike, scuba dive, snorkel, and see new sites and sights. I also love being home, surrounded by my family, exploring the rural roads in our golf cart, swimming, and investigating the natural world.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

A Kansas farm girl, protector of nature, lover of family, whose writing was enjoyed by all ages.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my books in libraries, bookstores, and online.

They can find me at www.marshadianearnold.com and www.earthsvoices.wordpress.com and at my course at Children’s Book Academy (http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html )

Thank you, Henry, for inviting me to your website! I had fun answering your questions.

Henry: You’re welcome. Thanks for spending time with us.

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Put a Cuttlefish On It!

Not familiar with cuttlefish? Wikipedia offers some fun facts about these amazing cousins of squid and octopuses.


Fans of the TV series Portlandia are familiar with the expression “put a bird on it!” It’s a scientific fact that putting a bird on things spruces them up, and makes them pretty.

In celebration of my new picture book, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH, and in acknowledgement that cuttlefish are way cooler than birds, we’ve created the hashtag #PutACuttlefishOnIt. Some examples are below. A free cuttlefish.png download is available to help you Put A Cuttlefish On It.

You’re welcome.

“The rock and pool, is nice and cool, so juicy sweet. Our only wish, to catch a fish.” #PutACuttlefishOnIt

Although it’s not mentioned in the Avengers movies, Iron Man has a pet cuttlefish. #PutACuttlefishOnIt

This cuttlefish made an unexpected appearance at a Bernie Sanders rally. #PutACuttlefishOnIt

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Custom Condos Built by Insects

From Nicky Bay and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

My picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, is inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio describes how the tiny Fae Queen Mab travels in her flying chariot, built by a beetle and drawn by a dragonfly. The photos in this post show some potential real-world housing options for the Fae Queen.

“I traveled around the world to explore the jungles because I wanted to photograph all things small.

I discovered some of the most intricate almost man-made structures, created by the world’s smallest architects of nature. Feel free to admire!”

Log Cabin – bagworm moth caterpillar collects and saws little sticks to construct elaborate spiral log cabins to live in

Some log cabins are cylindrical fortress sticking out almost vertically from the leaf or branch surface

Cage Fortress – The arctiine moth caterpillars remove their long hairs before pupation to construct a protective caged fortress and suspends itself inside

Web Tower – mysterious silk structure from Peru baffled scientists worldwide

Jungle Tent – Other types of bagworm moth caterpillars build tiny tents in the jungle using leaf bits

Some Jungle Tents are just artistically messy

Poop Barricade – Just surround yourself with poop so that no one would come near

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Ten Futuristic Weapons That Will Change Warfare

The only thing that separates science fiction from science is time. The movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension mentioned Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, a defense contractor with the motto, “The future begins tomorrow”. Yoyodyne may have been a fictional front for a group of red Lectroid aliens (all named John, who landed in New Jersey in 1938, using the panic created by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio play as cover), but the future begins NOW with this fascinating article from Teqzy.com.

Invisibility cloaks, cyborg insects, laser beam weapons…you name it, it’s probably secretly being development as you read this right now. Advances in modern weaponry have leapt straight out of science fiction films and into military reality. The US Military budget for 2016 is $786.6 billion. With that kind of spending, it’s not surprising that there have been some insane recent advancements. Here is a list of the 10 most futuristic weapons that will change modern warfare for ever.

LAWS (as in many space operas)

The U.S Navy has a high-tech 30-kilowatt laser weapon system (LaWS) that is capable of destroying sea and air based targets. The weapon can be used in several different ways, which is important, because it is illegal, under the terms of the Geneva Convention, to use laser weapons directly against humans. To warn approaching sea or air based threats, operators can dazzle them with a super bright glare. The second level is a stronger beam which can disable control systems and sensors. Finally, if they haven’t got the picture yet, the full strength beam can completely destroy the target altogether.

SELF-GUIDED BULLETS (as in The Fifth Element)

This US Military development is designed to shoot and not miss. The laser guided bullet can change it’s own direction. It flies with fins that allow it to change direction, and like laser guided missiles, it strikes the target which is lit up by a laser.


This system is menacingly known as the “Pain Ray”. It is an energy weapon the focuses an electromagnetic wave that heats up the target. We have all used magnifying glasses to cook things as kids, but the “Pain Ray” goes one step further – it heats the molecules of the target, which in humans would result in heating of water and skin by an increase of 50 degrees Celsius. With a range of 500m, the invisible beam is literally microwaving the target. The weapon has been deployed for active use in Afghanistan, however it has been withdrawn at this point in time.


Anyone who’s played first person shooter games knows how dangerous it is to shoot around corners. The realities of this in modern warfare couldn’t be more serious, especially for soldiers fighting in urban settings or against guerilla forces. The CornerShot has a steel hinge so that the weapon can bend and shoot. The shooter views the target using a high resolution camera and and LCD monitor. This weapon in in service now and is a powerful tool that is also equipped with a grenade launcher.

RAIL GUN (as in Transformers 2)

The U.S Navy has been testing an Electromagnetic Railgun for several years. The technology relies on utilizing energy as opposed to chemicals, or explosive gunpowder, to fire projectiles. The gun works using electric and magnetic forces to achieve an extremely high kinetic energy that would propel the non explosive projectile at targets. The Railgun can shoot a shell at Mach 10, superior to any traditional weapons, and it also means there is no need to handle or carry dangerous explosive munitions. It looks like this game changer will be in use within the next 10 years and it may have uses outside of just shooting things – the railgun has potential space applications too. NASA has stated that the railgun could be mounted to high flying aircraft to fire payloads into orbit.

DREAD GUN (what a name!)

DREAD - 3rd Generation

It’s a seriously menacing name and the Dread Gun does live up to it. The weapon is capable of firing 120,000 rounds per minute, silently and at the same speed as a handgun. By using centrifugal force created from rotating disks, rounds are shot without gunpowder and there is no recoil, or kick, when compared with firing normal bullets. Something that can fire 2000 rounds per second is a terrifying prospect, but the Dread Gun is not a new concept. Attempts had been made to create a similar weapon during WWI, but they were abandoned for various reasons, including inaccuracy. It is uncertain whether the Dread Gun will be adopted for military purposes.

 HELLADS (not to be confused with HELL YES)


HELLADS (it wouldn’t be a cool weapon without a long acronym) stands for High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System. Laser weapons seem to be a very popular military choice at present and it’s easy to see why. HELLADS can take down missiles, rockets and artillery shells without having to pause between shots to cool down – a problem associated with laser beam weaponry in the past. The HELLADS has a built in cooling system that allows it to fire rapidly in high intensity situations. It is still in testing, but estimates suggest that this game changing piece of defense weaponry will be in use within the next five years.



Anyone who is old enough to remember the Predator movies, staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, will recall that the Predator was so lethal because of it’s ability to cloak itself to match it’s surroundings. Well, straight out of sci-fi film and into reality, a Canadian firm has developed “adaptive camouflage” that bends light around the wearer of the material. It has reportedly been demonstrated to both the U.S and Canadian Military and the applications are endless. For frontline infantry, counter insurgency operations or ejected fighter pilots in enemy territory, an invisibility cloak would prove unbelievably handy. Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp, the makers of Quantum Stealth, remain extremely secretive of their product. No pictures released can display the product, just examples of it’s use.

HYBRID INSECTS (as in The Fifth Element)

Cyber Spys

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is a division of the United States Department of Defense, has developed a part insect, part machine that they call the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems program. Basically, DARPA take an insect at the metamorphosis stage of development and then insert a controlling mechanical device. This allows them to fly the developed insect into tightly controlled spaces for surveillance purposes. This literally allows them to bug the enemy. It’s kind of spooky when you start to think about the domestic “big brother” applications.


One of the biggest killers in the Iraq war was soldiers dying from gunshot wounds that could have been prevented with faster treatment. Estimates have these numbers somewhere around 2,700 soldiers. If soldiers had received faster and more efficient medical care, many would have survived. In response to this, developers have created smart clothing that can notify nearby medics of critical information: Where the bullet hit, how deep, what vital organs are hit along with blood and urine analysis. This information allows medics to instantly know what kind of treatment is required and those at HQ can track their soldiers in real time.


Interview with children’s non-fiction author Kathleen Krull

Kathleen Krull’s 60+ books have garnered starred reviews and awards.  The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, honored her with its Nonfiction Award for her body of work that “has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.” She lives in San Diego with her husband and sometime writing partner, Paul Brewer, and can be visited at http://www.kathleenkrull and friended at http://facebook.com/kathleen.krull


For what age audience do you write?

I write nonfiction, primarily biographies, for all ages.

Tell us about your latest book.

Published most recently from Harcourt is Lives of the Explorers: Discoveries, Disasters (and What the Neighbors Thought). This is the 9th and probably final book in the “Lives of” series, which has kept me going the last 20 years. I hope readers will savor the stories of 20 intrepid souls–from Ibn Battuta to Sally Ride, Marco Polo to Isabella Bird– who took life-or-death journeys with every possible danger, few conveniences, and no GPS.

Henry: Wait. No GPS!? No AAA!?

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

The subliminal message here is to inspire more passion for geography than I had as a kid.  For teachers, a fabulous discussion and activity guide for all nine books is here (http://www.scribd.com/doc/135384966/Lives-of-Series-Discussion-and-Activity-Guide?action_object_map=%7B&fb_action_ids=10201890921534161&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline)

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Keeping myself alert without being over-caffeinated.

Henry: It can’t be done. Unless you use mud masks.

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

Mud masks. I don’t do it every day, but I learned by accident that facial masks really perk a person up. I’ve used ones from the Body Shop, etc., but lately I’ve been using snail mucus masks I brought back from Korea. True story. I also brought back “Roll-on Happy Smile,” a blend of perky essential oils you apply to the temples.

Henry: Off all the secrets of the Orient, you opt to bring back snail mucus to put on your face!?

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

What’s meant the most to me is when young adults tell me they’ve gone into history or science or literature, etc., after being sparked by my books.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Revision is a writer’s BFF.

Henry: So true. I have a friend who says (and I completely agree with her), “I think the manuscript is done twenty times before it’s really done.”

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

Being invisible. I could spy and eavesdrop all day long.

Henry: Ah, the fly-on-the-wall superpower. I would have expected that request more from a writer of fiction, unless you also combine it with time travel so you could observe famous historical figures.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I’d invite dozens, picking their brains, with someone else cooking & pouring the wine. But the first three who come to mind are Virginia Woolf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and Tom Wolfe (not Thomas)–perhaps the first time these three geniuses have been linked.

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:

Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882 –1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Thomas Kennerly “Tom” Wolfe, Jr. (born 1931) is an American author and journalist, best known for his association and influence over the New Journalism literary movement in which literary techniques are used in objective, even-handed journalism. Beginning his career as a reporter, he soon became one of the most culturally significant figures of the sixties after the publication of books such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a highly experimental account of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters) and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. His first novel entitled The Bonfire of the Vanities, released in 1987, was met with critical acclaim and was a great commercial success.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“She made nonfiction fun.”

Henry: She lived a fun nonfiction life.

Where can readers find your work?

The very best place is the fantastic Yellow Book Road (http://www.yellowbookroad.com) in San Diego.

Click to Tweet: Interview with children’s non-fiction author Kathleen Krull at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-NV via @Nimpentoad

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

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I’ll be moderating a Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature panel at ConDor Con

I’ll be moderating a Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature panel at ConDor Con on March 23 in San Diego. The panelists will be:

MaberryJonathan  MaberryFA  MaberryPZ

Jonathan Maberry

HolderNancy  HolderBuffy  HolderWicked

Nancy Holder

BeaglePeter  BeagleLastUnicorn  BeagleLOTR

Peter S. Beagle


Alessa Ellefson

VanEekhout  VanEekhoutBook1  VanEekhoutBook2

Greg van Eekhout

HenryHerz  NimpFront72small  RhinoFront72

Henry Herz

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Interview with Hugo Award-winning ‘Existence’ sci-fi author David Brin

David Brin is a scientist, tech speaker/consultant, and author. His new novel about our survival in the near future is ‘Existence’. A film by Kevin Costner was based on Brin’s book ‘The Postman’. Dr. Brin’s 16 novels, including NY Times Bestsellers and Hugo Award winners, have been translated into more than twenty languages. He appears frequently on shows such as Nova and The Universe and Life After People, speaking about science and future trends. His non-fiction book — ‘The Transparent Society’ won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.


For what age audience do you write?

I write for all ages and genres, but that is perhaps misleading.  I am best known for science fiction novels and nonfiction about the effects of change and on onrushing future.  Dealing with the effects of change on people, that’s almost everything there is.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘Existence’ is a novel that attempts to span and explore some of the biggest questions, such as where humanity fits into the grand epic of life in the universe. Billions of planets may be ripe for life, even intelligence. So where is Everybody? Do civilizations make the same fatal mistakes, over and over? Might we be the first to cross the mine-field, evading every trap to learn the secret of Existence?

Astronaut Gerald Livingstone grabs a crystal lump of floating space debris. Is it an alien artifact, sent across the vast, interstellar gulf, bearing a message from far civilizations? “Join us!” What does the enticing invitation mean? To enroll in a great federation of free races? Only, what of rumors that this starry messenger may not be the first? Have other crystals fallen, across 9,000 years? Some offering welcome… and others… a warning?

Readers can sample stand-alone novellas from the book or view the amazing video preview-trailer for ‘Existence’, with incredible art by Patrick Farley!

In addition to being a writer, you have a science PhD. Does that help or constrain your scifi writing?

It both constrains and expands the range of possible ideas and adventures to explore.

Henry: Indeed, facts are so inconvenient at times. I loved the line in TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation when the omnipotent being Q suggests, “Well, then just change the gravitational constant.”

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Discipline. Not only in avoiding distractions and focusing on my work.  But also controlling my tendency to pour too many excited ideas into a novel or story.  When I give in to that temptation, it can become a jumble.  And my pre-readers (fifty of them) tell me!  Editing down to a level where the ideas are still rich, but fade into the background of an exciting adventure?  That’s the hardest thing, and it requires real work.

Henry: Discipline is the key to many aspect of life. “I can resist anything but temptation” – Oscar Wilde

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

That ego can be a good propellant fuel for creating characters and worlds… but it can also get in the way. Especially if it makes you avoid the criticism that serves as quality control.

Henry: Dr. Brin is a strong proponent of constructive criticism. “Criticism is the only known antidote to error. It is the chief method that a skilled person can use to become ‘even better’.” Note also his fifty pre-readers.

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

Meeting some of my heroes — Kip Thorne, David Crosby, Stewart Brand, Freeman Dyson, Janis Ian and others… and having THEM ask for my autograph. Wow.

Henry: My young co-author sons were with me at an author event. They asked two established authors for autographs. After complying, the authors asked my boys for theirs. It was a very sweet and a special moment for me as a dad.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

What I can do is point you to an advice article that I’ve posted online, containing a distillation of wisdom and answers to questions I’ve been sent across 20 years. Many people have found it extremely helpful.

Henry: Indeed, it is excellent.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“We must watch the watchmen.”

Alan Kay famously proclaimed that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Alasdair Gray: “Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”

“By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom.
By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.”
-The Sutra of Hui Neng

“Criticism is the only known antidote to error.”

Henry: Did you just quote yourself? There is also the companion “A closed mind is an empty mind.”

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

I nosh too much.

Henry: Me too, although I cannot blame my writing. Note to readers: “nosh” is Yiddish for snack.

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

The power to get folks to calm down and consider the phrase that all scientists are taught: “I just might be wrong; so let’s test all our assumptions and see who’s right.”

Henry: So, clearly you have no political aspirations.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?’

Benjamin Franklin, for greatness and wisdom. Aldous Huxley for insight into human nature. James Joyce because I’d love to ask him what he smoked… and lots of other questions. Or just listen to him talk.

And Sappho, for her poetry. But also to watch Ben, Aldous and James compete to impress her.

Henry: Wow, you’re already on a first-name basis!

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Ann McCaffrey’s “Ship who sang.”

Henry: I hope you let her know that.

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

Answer interviews.

Henry: And we appreciate it. But you are too modest. Dr. Brin also does a lot of public speaking.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Space available. He’s still running around somewhere.

Henry: Well played, sir. I suppose writing well offers a form of immortality.

Where can readers find your work?

At my website.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

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Young San Diego authors publish conservation-themed kid’s book

The Carmel Valley (San Diego) father-sons writing team has done it again. Henry, Josh (13) and Harrison Herz (11) just published their second book, Twignibble. Twignibble is a 1000-word easy reader for kids in 2nd-4th grade that’s Frog & Toad meets MacGuyver. It will appeal to animal-loving kids and to parents who support conservation (and who want to encourage their kids to be empathetic and resourceful).


Twignibble the sloth learns that his animal friends are facing threats to their habitats, and races to help them. The mechanically-inclined Twignibble, knowing he could never walk to his friends in time, builds a solar-powered helicopter, flies all over the world, and engineers devices he hopes will help each of his animal friends.

View the 30-second  Twignibble book trailer.

The wonderful independent bookstore Mysterious Galaxy Books will be hosting a book release party for Twignibble from 2-4 pm on Sunday, August 4. They are located at 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747. The Herz men will be there signing copies of Twignibble. Also in attendance will be James Morris, local teen author of Skybound and Water Tower.

Henry Herz is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and writes for the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner. He and his young co-authors’ first book was the fantasy early chapter book Nimpentoad. It has earned 86 Amazon 5-star ratings so far. Nimpentoad has reached as high as #8 in Amazon Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy, and #1 in Kindle Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy. The father-sons team has been featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, CNN iReport, Fictional Frontiers, the Warner Brothers’ website for The Hobbit movie, and TheOneRing.net. The trio is looking forward to attending this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

If you live in San Diego, we hope you’ll come out to meet the authors and enjoy the great selection of books offered by Mysterious Galaxy Books.

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Robot exoskeleton suits that could make us superhuman

By Matthew Ponsford at http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/22/tech/innovation/exoskeleton-robot-suit/index.html

If you’ve been dreaming of strapping on your own “Iron Man” armor, you might have to wait a while longer. But revolutionary “bionic exoskeletons,” like the metal suit worn by comic book hero Tony Stark, might be closer than you think — just don’t expect to fly away in one.


Exoskeleton developers working in rehabilitation are leading the way, creating wearable robotic suits that allow people with lower-body paralysis to walk upright again.

Other developers are hoping to enhance users’ existing strengths, with the DARPA Warrior Web project aiming to produce an undetectable under-suit exoskeleton for the U.S. Military.

Bionics expert Thomas Sugar says that medical and military exoskeletons are going to become a much more common sight — and that exoskeletons for the average person are not far behind.

“In the next five years we’re going to see more and more exoskeletons out there in practice,” says Sugar, associate professor at the Department of Engineering, Arizona State University.

In addition to personal systems being pioneered in Japan that aim to “give aging people a spring back in their step,” Sugar says devices for the active individual or “weekend hiker” are on the horizon: “If you live near where I do and want to go out and hike the Grand Canyon, exoskeleton devices 10-15 years from now could assist you to do that.”

But there are hurdles that need to be overcome. Finding batteries powerful enough to fuel an exoskeleton’s motorized joints remains a key stumbling block, explains Sugar. But he says that the real acid test for exoskeletons of the future is whether the device can interpret the user’s intent effectively into action.

“If you look at some of the devices out there, they’re actually quite hard to walk in,” says Sugar. “You’ve got to make sure they really enhance people’s abilities.”

Here are some of the most advanced exoskeletons aiming to supercharge our lives in the near future.

Lockheed Martin HULC

Defense technology developer Lockheed Martin leads the efforts to develop a exoskeleton fit for the battlefield with its Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC).

The system aims to divert up to 200 lbs in weight through powered titanium legs while allowing the user to move freely.

Lockheed claims that a fully laden soldier will retain the ability to march at 3mph and even break into 10mph sprint “bursts” while wearing the battery-powered HULC.

The system is designed to reduce the stress on the leg and back muscles — a common cause of injury among soldiers — and comes with a Lift Assist Device attachment that allows a soldier to safely lift heavy loads with the strength of two or more men.


Cyberdyne HAL-5

HAL made news at the time of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, when Japanese firm Cyberdyne ventured its robot suits as the disaster-fighting protection of the future.

While a radiation-resistant model is yet to see action, HAL-5 Type-B has become the first personal exoskeleton robot to receive a global safety certificate.

Cyberdyne says that so far, 330 of the full-body exoskeletons have been leased to hospitals across Japan, where they assist patients with muscle weakness or disabilities due to stroke and spinal cord injuries.

The company boasts that it is the world’s first “cyborg-type robot” as the system interprets faint electrical signals in the skin around damaged muscles and moves the motorized joints in response.


Muscle Suit by Kobalab

Scientists from Tokyo University are gambling that they can beat the competition to launch a superstrong exoskeleton by shunning complex computer systems.

Kobayashi Labs’ Muscle Suit replaces electronic actuator motors with a system of inflatable pneumatic “artificial muscles” to help nurses or care workers carry elderly or ill patients.

Volunteers have been invited to try on the suit, which currently allows users to support 50kg with ease, carrying it with fixed arms, like a walking forklift truck.


Argo ReWalk

Argo’s ReWalk has already propelled former chiropractor Claire Lomas into the record books. Five years after a horseriding accident left Lomas paralyzed from the chest down, she became the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic exoskeleton at the London Marathon in May 2012, while using the ReWalk.

Already on the market for $65,000, the ReWalk enables people with spinal cord injuries to walk again and can now claim 220 trained users around the world.

Competitor Ekso Bionics has seen similar success — claiming to have powered one million steps with its 50lb wearable robot — and will launch a personal version in 2014.


Nasa X-1

What if an exoskeleton inhibited a person’s movement as well and helped it? It doesn’t seem like such a useful idea on Earth — but up in the resistance-free environment of space, Nasa astronauts could benefit from a little hindrance.

The 25kg X-1 has been designed to allow astronauts to exercise without the Earth’s gravitational pull and could be critical for future missions into deep space, NASA says.

The device could improve the health of crew aboard the International Space Station — and potentially during future long-duration missions to far away asteroids or Mars.

The legs have the added benefit of assisting movement, with four motorized joints, if used here on Earth — but there are currently no details on when the legs might see a wider release.