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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Photos from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Here, in no particular order, are photos from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Only D&D fans will get that pun.

A classic Comic-Con mashup. Elvis Boba Fett!

Cabbage merchant: An obscure, but lovable character from Avatar: The Last Airbender

A huge dragon you could ride. Stuffed animal sold separately.

D.VA’s mech video game character from Overwatch

A flying (thanks to magnetic repulsion) Iron Man and friends.

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Gail Carriger

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from Batman

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Ilona Andrews

Life-sized Iron Man model

Pint-sized General Grievous and Boba Fett

The eloquent First Second editorial director Mark Seigel

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Mary Pearson

Megaman video game character

My fantasy novel panel with Seanan McGuire, Robin Hobb, Gail Carriger & Mary Pearson

The authors of my panel packed the room!

Authors Todd McCaffrey, the Winner twins, and Seanan McGuire

The world’s largest Pikachu (from Pokemon)

Two fun posters. “Gandalf Airlines. Fly you fools! Our planes are never late. Nor are they early.
They arrive precisely when they mean to. You shall not need a boarding pass!” and
BatPug: “I am the night… but mostly I just piddle on stuff”)

Three princesses, or perhaps two princes and a Mother of Dragons

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Robin Hobb

Even the animals get in on the cosplay action. Ye scurvy dog!

Does this Skyrim helmet make me look fat?

Super Saiyan Blue from Dragon Ball Z

Some fun toothy artwork I bought.

Fantasy/sci-fi authors Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire and Scott Sigler.

And, of course, Wonder Woman.

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Pre-World War II Giant Robot Landscape Paintings

I never thought I’d ever say “Pre-World War II Giant Robot Landscape Paintings”. Hats off to the skill and imagination of artist Jakub Rozalski in mashing up these two on Design You Trust.

01

“The Polish artist Jakub Rozalski, who goes by the sobriquet “Mr. Werewolf,” has produced an amusing series of steampunk-ish canvases in which serene and idyllic rustic landscapes of what seem to be Eastern Europe (Rozalski’s very back yard, you might say) in the early decades of the 20th century feature the prominent and inexplicable existence of completely fictitious giant mecha robots.”

02

Various iconographies are jammed together, the imagery of peasant life in the early years of collectivization, the imagery of science fiction, the imagery of modern warfare…. add it all up and you might find yourself calling to mind, ohhh, the first few scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, set on the icy terrain of Hoth, perhaps?

03

Rozalski’s intent is “to commemorate this sad and tragic period in history, in my own way, to light on this parts of history that usually remain in the shadows of other events… remember and honor the history, but live in the present.” He adds, “I like to mix historical facts and situations with my own motives, ideas and visions. … I attach great importance to the details, the equipment, the costumes, because it allows you to embed painting within a specified period of time.”

04

The World of Scythe is a beautiful 105-page art book showcasing the work of Jakub Rozalski for the board game Scythe, one of the most successful games ever funded on Kickstarter. The book was only made available to backers during the Kickstarter campaign, and is now only available on ArtStation Shop.

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Interview with fantasy novelist Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith studied in Europe before earning a masters in history. She worked as a governess, a bartender, an electrical supply verifier, and wore various hats in the film industry before turning to teaching for 20 years. Her first book was published in 1986. To date she’s published over forty books, nominated for several awards, including the Nebula, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and an Anne Lindbergh Honor Book.

SherwoodSmith

For what age audience do you write?

Anywhere from middle grade to adult. Mostly fantasy, with some science fiction, historical romance, and a couple of contemporary stories.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is Lhind the Spy, sequel to Lhind the Thief.

Henry: Lhind sounds like a jack of all trades. Like her creator.

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

First and most important, entertainment! These are meant to be pleasant wish-fulfillment reads, though I can’t help slipping in explorations of family, moral awareness, and questions of personal agency.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Rewriting. I am a visual writer, which means I see the story in my head and write it down. That’s the easy fun part.

After that, the real struggle is to try to look past the images to determine if the words I’ve chosen actually get the images, sounds, tastes, and smells onto the page, or if they are just functioning as hypertext for rewinding the movie in my head, which does my reader no good, not having a functional tinfoil hat for me to beam my images directly to their brains!

Seeing what words I wrote down is difficult for me, and I can do upwards of twenty-five drafts for a tough scene, and still not be sure the words are the right ones.

Henry: I’m still trying to get the image out of you in a tinfoil hat out of my head.

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

That just because I might feel passionate, or deeply moved to the point of anguish, about something I wrote, the reader is not necessarily going to feel that passion. Though readers will often toss off a careless “That was a stupid book,” or “That sure was a piece of trash,” I think I can confidently say that no writer sets out to write a bad book. Behind every book is a writer who worked hard, and believes their book to be good, special, unique.

As for me, I have a tough time trying to find the words to get that passion across—and even if I manage successfully for one reader, I have learned from reading reviews that another reader will yawn and flit away to something they find more interesting.

Henry: I use the analogy of foods when I talk to my kids about writing. Some people may like pizza with anchovies, and others may not. Since it’s a matter of taste, they are both right.

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

Someone writing to me to say that my book saved their life.

Henry: I. Cannot. Beat. That. Achievement unlocked.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read, read, read. Read as widely as you can, about everything. Read outside your favorite area, so that you don’t end up rewriting the kind of story you love most. And if you do at first, that’s okay, because it’s good practice.

Observe real people doing real things. A writer needs to try to understand the world before she can reflect it—and maybe even change it. Learn how to rewrite earlier than I did, which means learning how to give and take critique in a constructive way. And most of all, have fun! If you don’t have fun, your reader won’t.

Henry: I can’t emphasize enough how helpful my critique groups are to improving my stories. If we have blind spots, we don’t know about them (by definition). So, outside pairs of eyes are invaluable.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“It is certainly not then—not in dreams—but when one is wide awake, in moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits, from the mast, from the past and its castle tower. And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction.”
—Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

and

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

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

Nope. I learned early to write anywhere, anytime, no matter how noisy or quiet. But when I was a young teen, I wrote everything by hand, and for a while I was so nearsighted (before I got glasses) that I bent closer and closer to the page, until my nose would sometimes get black ink on the end from touching the page. Especially when I wrote late at night by the light of the streetlamp across the street, while my sister was asleep in the other bed.

Henry: I hereby proclaim that “She’s got ink on her nose” to be an idiom denoting intensely hardworking.

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

Immortality (with good health) because there is not nearly enough time to travel where I wish to, to learn the languages I would love to speak, to read all the books and hear all the music and see all the plays and talk to all the people.

Henry: No one’s asked for that in any of my other interviews, which is surprising given how useful that power would be.

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

Jane Austen, Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko, and Christine de Pisan. I don’t know how much they would have to say to one another, assuming they could make themselves understood, but they all sound like they were endlessly witty and fascinating, the women would have a great deal to say about writing, culture, and the agency of women, and Kościuszko would have much to say about his sympathies and ardent beliefs in the rights and the freedoms of ordinary human beings, though he consorted with rulers of a number of countries.

Henry: My guests always forget to invite an interpreter. Wikipedia helpfully offers:

Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko – February 4 or 12, 1746 – October 15, 1817) was a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer and a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He fought in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising.

In 1796, Kościuszko emigrated to the United States. A close friend of Thomas Jefferson, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798 dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves.

Christine de Pisan – 1364 – c. 1430 – was an Italian French late medieval author. She served as a court writer for several dukes (Louis of Orleans, Philip the Bold of Burgundy, and John the Fearless of Burgundy) and the French royal court during the reign of Charles VI. She wrote both poetry and prose works such as biographies and books containing practical advice for women. She completed forty-one works during her 30-year career from 1399–1429. She married in 1380 at the age of 15, and was widowed 10 years later. Much of the impetus for her writing came from her need to earn a living to support her mother, a niece and her two surviving children. She spent most of her childhood and all of her adult life in Paris and then the abbey at Poissy, and wrote entirely in her adopted language, Middle French.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The phoenix, the bird of fire, light, and renewal.

Henry: Ironically, Phoenix, AZ is home to many snowbirds.

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

Travel, talk to people, listen to music, eat good food, play with the dogs, and of course read.

What would you like it to (accurately) say on your tombstone?

Sherwood Smith loved life.

Where can readers find your work?

All the usual on-line booksellers, plus sometimes brick and board stores might carry a few of my books. If one is to order on-line, I encourage people to try Book View Café, a consortium of writers whose volunteer labor means we get most of the royalties. My books with them are here: http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/bvc-author/sherwood-smith/

Henry: Thank you for joining us, Sherwood. This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with Hugo Award-winning sci-fi & fantasy author Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt’s fiction has won a Hugo Award, and he’s been a finalist for Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. His books include three short story collections, most recently ANTIQUITIES AND TANGIBLES AND OTHER STORIES; a volume of poems; contemporary fantasy novels THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF RANGERGIRL, BRIARPATCH, HEIRS OF GRACE, and THE DEEP WOODS; science fantasy THE NEX; steampunk novel THE CONSTANTINE AFFLICTION (as T. Aaron Payton); various roleplaying game tie-in fantasy novels; and, as T.A. Pratt, eight books (and counting) in an urban fantasy series about sorcerer Marla Mason. He edited anthology SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and co-edited RAGS AND BONES: NEW TWISTS ON TIMELESS TALES with Melissa Marr. He works as a senior editor for Locus magazine, and lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife Heather Shaw and their son River. Find him online at timpratt.org.

PrattTim

For what age audience do you write?

I have published lots of adult novels and a couple of books aimed at middle-grade readers (age 8-12, more or less).

Tell us about your latest book.

It’s called THE DEEP WOODS, a novella (or short novel, depending on how you count) out from PS Publishing, a marvelous British small press. (The cover art by Galen Dara is fantastic. She’s so good.) It’s essentially a coming-of-age tale about a boy who gets lost in a mysterious wood full of supernatural weirdness, makes friends with another boy who’s trapped there, and tries to help him escape. With lots of fairy lore, video games, hairsbreadth escapes, jokes, banter, villainy, surprises, and sweetness. Suitable for readers from age ten on up, I would think. (My hope is that kids and adults will both find lots to like in it.)

Henry: I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. This fall, my bedtime picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, will be published by Schiffer. It features the Fae Queen from Mercutio’s soliloquy in ROMEO AND JULIET. It’s like urban fantasy with training wheels. I’m getting young readers hooked so they’ll read your books as they get older. You’re welcome.

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

Pleasure, combined with an uncontrollable need to convince all their friends and family to buy copies.

Henry: Nice – working both the creative and business side of things with your answer.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I love drafting like I love eating ice cream or having sex; I love revising like I love doing logic puzzles; I love line-editing like I love perfectly organizing a bookshelf; I hate reviewing copyedits and the second round of proofreading because by then I’m getting pretty tired of my own words. They all have their own challenges, though.

Henry: I hear you. At less than 500 words, my picture books can sometimes have 20 revisions. I find the biggest challenge knowing when to stop revising.

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

The personal lesson is “I don’t know what I think about anything until I write it down.” A more universal lesson is discovering that stories are *really* important to people, and can really change the way they understand, and even live, their lives. As such, I don’t agree much with people who say “Calm down, it’s just a story.”

Henry: So true, particularly for young readers. I hear stories all the time about how books influence the path of people’s lives.

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

I guess “nice meals with lots of writers” isn’t quite what you mean. I almost drowned in a hot tub at a writing workshop once after I had some drinks without accounting for how the high elevation would impact my tolerance.

Henry: Meeting other writers is a valid answer. Sure, blame the elevation on your lightweightedness. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write a lot, and read more than you write.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

There are certainly things I say when the situation warrants:

“The best way out is always through” (from Frost, though I usually misquote it as “the only way out is through.”)
“De gustibus non est disputandum.” (Latin for “there’s no arguing about taste,” basically.)
“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Henry: I think Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Your last one reminds me of John Bigboote from the movie Buckaroo Bonzai – “I’m not from this planet, monkey boy.” I always loved the idea that an alien would use an evolutionary slur to insult a human. And that he’d be particular about how his human alias was pronounced.

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

I am opposed to rituals. I fear they would burn cognitive paths I would have trouble escaping. I like being able to write on buses or waiting rooms or bars.

Henry: Or drunk in Jacuzzis? The cognitive path less taken.

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

The ability to stop time, because then I might finally have enough time to do everything.

Henry: That is the most popular answer to that question. Usually writers mention it as a way to help meet manuscript deadlines.

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

I get to dine with living authors fairly often, so I’ll go with the dead: Joanna Russ, Theodore Sturgeon, and William Faulkner, who all hugely influenced me in different ways.

Henry: Hello and welcome to Dining with the Dead. I’m your host, Tim Pratt. That reminds me of the old Steve Allen TV show, Meeting of the Minds. Wikipedia helpfully offers:

“Joanna Russ was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women’s Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children’s book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire.”

“Theodore Sturgeon, born Edward Hamilton Waldo, was an American science fiction and horror writer and critic. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database credits him with about 400 reviews and more than 200 stories. Sturgeon’s most famous work may be the science fiction novel MORE THAN HUMAN (1953). MORE THAN HUMAN won the 1954 International Fantasy Award (for SF and fantasy) as the year’s best novel and the Science Fiction Writers of America ranked “BABY IS THREE” number five among the “Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time” to 1964. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Sturgeon in 2000.”

William Faulkner – Shame on you, if you haven’t heard of him.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The fauna of mirrors, which are rooted in Chinese mythology but were made more widely known in Borges’s BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS (which inspired China Mieville’s fine short novel THE TAIN).

Henry: Great answer. The mirrors remind me of the “veil” often used in urban fantasy to separate our world from the world of the Fae. Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue:

“The Chinese myth suggest that an alternate universe exists beyond mirrors. Upon entering the fauna of mirrors nothing is like the world has ever seen. No color, shape, nor size is the same. The creatures that dwell within the fauna are not like any creatures that inhabit the earth. Once the fauna was open, and creatures from both dimensions could pass through freely. There was always harmony between the both worlds, but one day that harmony was disturbed and the worlds came to be at war with one another. In turn, the portal had to be closed to avoid controversy.”

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

Work at my day job, play with my kid, hang out with my wife, drink whiskey, read books, watch horror movies, drink beer, eat cheese, wander around the Bay Area.

Henry: I’m looking you up the next time I’m in the Bay Area for an evening of whiskey, cheese and horror movies. We will stay well away from Jacuzzis.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

He Was Not Particularly Frightened By Goats

Henry: Nor Did Sheep Perturb Him… Though Pigs Vexed Him. I admire a man with realistic goals.

Where can readers find your work?

Bookstores, with luck, and all the usual places online. There are details at http://www.timpratt.org. Oh, and I have a Patreon, where I send a new story each month to supporters, so $1 a month gets you 12 stories a year: https://www.patreon.com/timpratt

Henry: Thanks for joining us, Tim! This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Interview with NY Times bestselling urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye urban fantasies, the InCryptid urban fantasies, and several other works both stand-alone and in trilogies or duologies. She also writes under the pseudonym Mira Grant.

Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. In 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo Ballot.

McGuireSeanan

For what age audience do you write, and in what genres?

I primarily write for adults, and I write urban fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

Henry: I’m pleased to share that I have an urban fantasy (in that it features the Fae Queen from Romeo and Juliet) picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, coming out from Schiffer this fall. It’s intended to interest kids in urban fantasy at an early age. You’re welcome.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is about 110,000 words long, all printed in black ink on white paper.

Henry: Good to know. Note to self: be more specific… By way of comparison, my picture books are under 500 words. So your book is 220 times better than mine. Well played, sir.

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

Well, I hope they don’t get paper cuts.

Henry: That seems like a good goal. Note to self: be even more specific…

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Continuing through the difficult parts.  Not every step of a story is easy, or fun, and sometimes it takes a strong work ethic to not go watch television instead.

Henry: And don’t get me started on revisions, or how a writer knows when the writing is “done”.

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

I really enjoy having a job where I don’t need to wear trousers.

Henry: Interestingly, that is not the first time I’ve heard an author extol the virtues of working in pajamas.

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

I stopped wearing trousers to work.

Henry: I did that once, but my office co-workers did not appreciate it and called Human Resources. I’m crushed that you didn’t mention meeting me at ConDor and San Diego Comic-Con as memorable. But, I realize it’s hard to compete with the siren’s call of no trousers.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t quit your day job until you can support yourself and your family off of your royalties.

Henry: Good advice. Particularly since VERY few authors can support themselves solely on book royalties.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Yes.

Henry: I saw that coming. Either that or trouser quotes:

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill

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

No.

Henry: I find this hard to believe. There must be something – incense, animal sacrifice, Twinkies…

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

Teleportation without needing to account for the movement of the planet. I would spend so much time at Disney World…

Henry: I love that you’re thinking about the physics of a magical phenomenon. It should come as no surprise that someone who writes urban fantasy likes visiting the Magic Kingdom. Teleportation WOULD be handy. It’s also the greenest form of transportation.

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

Stephen King, Catherynne Valente, and Jay Lake. King because I really want to meet him; Valente because she would kill me if I had dinner with Stephen King and didn’t invite her; and Lake because I miss him very much.

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:

Catherynne Valente is an American fiction writer, poet, and literary critic. For her speculative fiction novels she has won the annual James Tiptree, Andre Norton, and Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, the World Fantasy Award–winning anthologies Salon Fantastique and Paper Cities, along with numerous Year’s Best volumes. Her critical work has appeared in the International Journal of the Humanities under the name Bethany L. Thomas as well as in numerous essay collections.

Joseph “Jay” Lake, Jr. was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. In 2003 he was a quarterly first-place winner in the Writers of the Future contest. In 2004 he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction. Lake’s writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Postscripts, Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nemonymous, and the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. He was an editor for the “Polyphony” anthology series from Wheatland Press, and was also a contributor to the Internet Review of Science Fiction.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The Tasmanian wolf. The last of them died within my grandmother’s lifetime. How is that not heartbreaking and amazing, all at the same time?

Henry: I was aiming more for fantasy creatures like imps or minotaurs, but that is indeed an amazing and heartbreaking choice. I recently saw a fictional movie about a hunter discovering a living Tasmanian wolf.

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

Watch television and go to Disneyland.

Henry: Only one of these activities can be conducted without trousers.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Here lies the body of Seanan McGuire
If I told you what happened, you’d call me a liar.

Henry: While her passing was sadly not just rumor,
She lives on through her fine writing and humor.

Where can readers find your work?

At a bookstore near them! I am published by a multitude of traditional publishers, both under my name and the name “Mira Grant,” and I am not hard to find.

Henry: Her official website is http://www.seananmcguire.com. Thanks for joining us, Seanan! You are bright and a wiseguy – two traits I admire.

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


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Interview with picture book author Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer was a teacher and library media specialist, but is now a full-time picture book author. She’s visited hundreds of schools and spoken at various conferences across the nation, including at Disney World! Woo-woo! She has sold 25 picture books to major publishing houses (Bloomsbury, Disney*Hyperion, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling).

In addition to winning awards, many of her books have gone on to do great things. For instance, MOSTLY MONSTERLY was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, NUGGET AND FANG is currently featured on the Spring 2015 Scholastic Book Fair DVD which was shared with more than 50 million students, and CHICKEN DANCE was recently developed into a musical by ArtsPower National Touring Theatre and currently has 53 shows scheduled for spring 2016.

SauerTammi

For what age audience do you write?

I write picture books. My audience ranges from 3-103. You are never too old to enjoy a picture book.

Henry: unless you’re 104…

Tell us about your picture book, YOUR ALIEN.

YOUR ALIEN (Sterling, 8/4/15), illustrated by Goro Fujita. When a little boy meets a stranded alien child, the two instantly strike up a fabulous friendship. They go to school, explore the neighborhood, and have lots of fun. But at bedtime, something seems wrong with the alien. Can the boy figure out what his new buddy needs most of all?

So far, the book’s received wonderful reviews.

“Not since E.T. has extraterrestrial entertainment stood such a good chance of making kids (and their parents) tear up.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Will likely inspire preschoolers to stare hopefully heavenward looking for their own close encounters.” – Kirkus, starred review

Henry: I very much enjoyed this book. Bonus points for doing a science fiction (one of my favorite genres) picture book! I’m working on a sci-fi PB that involves time travel.

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

I hope readers will discover that friends and family are the most important things in the universe… no matter who you are.

Henry: Aliens are people too. That’s why they like Reece’s Pieces. Just ’cause they sometimes invade earth is no reason to hold a grudge.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

When it comes to writing, my biggest challenge is coming up with a good idea. Some people can come up with 2,453 ideas before breakfast. Not me. Once I have that strong, fresh, irresistible-to-editors idea, though, the fun begins.

Henry: Hah, I am the yang to your yin in that regard. Great titles and ideas come easily, but the execution, especially the revisions, is the heavy lift for me.

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

The Mayor and Edmond City Council declared July 9, 2015 in Edmond, Oklahoma, to be Tammi Sauer Day. Woo!

Henry: Awesome. Are there pose-able action figures available? Now had that been declared by the Council of Elrond, that’d really be something…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Getting published takes a solid understanding of the craft, some talent, and a little luck.

Henry: Plus the skin of a rhino and the patience of a sloth.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Yes! Years ago, I found this quote by author Lynn Hazen:

“My main considerations for any picture book are humor, emotion, just the right details, read-aloud-ability, pacing, page turns, and of course, plot. Something has to happen to your characters that young readers will care about and relate to. Oh, and you have to accomplish all that in as few words as possible, while creating plenty of illustration possibilities. No easy task.”

Henry: No easy task indeed. If you’ve never tried writing a PB, you’re in for a surprise.

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

I don’t have any strange rituals, but I do enjoy having a 32oz. tropical tea next to me at all times.

Henry: So, you are against measuring tea in the metric system? Is this an indictment of the public education system?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My favorite is a unicorn. A unicorn would be a big hit at school visits.

Henry: Indeed. And unicorns appear in lots of KidLit, including Peter Beagle’s THE LAST UNICORN, J.K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER series, Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s UNI THE UNICORN, and my (as yet unpublished) BEST PET IN THE CASTLE.

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.

In 1987, I had a huge crush on Jason Bateman. I even wrote a computer program called “Bateman Fever” in my eighth grade computer class. I am still pro-Jason Bateman.

Henry: He is a talented actor, but my tastes run more toward Kate Beckinsale. Still, I’ve never written any Kate-centric software…

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

I love to read, ski, travel, spend time with family and friends, and eat out as often as possible.

Do you have any other books you’d like to mention?

GINNY LOUISE AND THE SCHOOL SHOWDOWN (Disney*Hyperion), illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, and ROAR! (Paula Wiseman/S&S), illustrated by Liz Starin.

Henry: I’m a big fan of your work. I have to tell you that I came up with this great idea for a picture book. So, I first did some research to see if there were any similar books already published. Thanks for nothing for MOSTLY MONSTERLY, Tammi! 🙂

Where can readers find your work?

My books are available on Amazon, in Barnes & Noble, and at many indies across the nation. Signed copies of my books can be found at Best of Books in Edmond, Oklahoma, or through the store’s website: bestofbooksok.com.

Henry: Thanks for taking the time to visit with us, Tammi. Take note: YOUR ALIEN sequel YOUR ALIEN RETURNS will be published on October 4, 2016. I’m told it will not feature Sigourney Weaver, facehuggers or chestbursters, sadly. For even more Tammi news, see her website at http://www.tammisauer.com. This interview can also be read at the San Diego Books Examiner.


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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.

 ACTIVE DENIAL SYSTEM

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.

CORNERSHOT

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)

STO-HELLADS

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.

QUANTUM STEALTH CAMOUFLAGE (as in Predator)

HBC-Quantum-Stealth-sniper-cover2b_small

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.

INTELLIGENT UNIFORMS

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.