Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

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Shakespeare-Inspired Children’s Books

My new picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, is an urban fantasy bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Clearly, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, children’s book inspired by The Bard. Below are some other Shakespeare-inspired children’s books (picture book through young adult).


Little Mabel is an expert at not going to sleep. She knows all the best bedtime-avoiding excuses. “I’m thirsty.” “I need to use the bathroom.” “Will you tell me a story?” Luckily, Mom’s quiver of bedtime tales includes the story of the Fae Queen, who paints children’s dreams and can only visit when their eyes are closed. Inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo & Juliet, in which he details how the tiny fairy queen influences people’s dreams as she passes by in her flying chariot, the soothing story evokes images of an ant in a worn gray coat and a hazelnut-shell chariot with a roof of grasshopper wings.




ROMEOW and DROOLIET by Nina Laden

Author-artist Nina Laden has taken her trademark wit and applied it to one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Adults familiar with the classic love story will delight in the many references to the original play, all of which make this a rarity: a children’s book they want to read again and again. And young children who know nothing of the Bard will be riveted by this funny yet touching tale about Romeow the cat and Drooliet the dog, two star-crossed lovers who meet by chance, marry in secret, and are kept apart by a snarling rottweiler, appalled owners, and the animal control warden.


THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER series by Gary Blackwood

blackwoodA young orphan with a valuable skill, a greedy stage director, and a thievery gone wrong … or right? With vivid characters and unexpected twists, this trilogy is a realistic portrayal of life in the theater during Shakespeare’s time.









SECRETS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GRAVE by Deron R. Hicks, illustrated by Mark Edward Geyer

This modern-day mystery surrounds a young girl’s family business, a mysterious portrait, and the grave of Shakespeare himself. She must figure out how they’re all connected to save her family from financial ruin.









A Robin Hood-like hero creates a dramatic love story all his own in this reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. It’s told through the eyes of Benvolio — Romeo’s cousin and the greatest thief in Vienna.








srsly HAMLET by William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone

Fans of quirky adaptations of classic tales will love this new version of Hamlet, told entirely in texts! This is a fun way to experience one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays and a humorous alternative to the more serious versions on the market.








The Wednesday Wars is a 2007 historical novel set during the Vietnam War. The book, which received a Newbery Honor medal, follows Holling Hoodhood, the lone Presbyterian 7th grader amidst his Catholic and Jewish classmates. Instead of receiving religious education, Holling is assigned Shakespeare’s plays. While they seem like torture at first, he grows to appreciate them for both their lively insults and timeless wisdom.







This story of rival houses in an Italian city populated by spell-makers has many echoes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Montana and Petrocchi families are bitterly feuding while their city faces invasion by outside armies. However, the two youngest members of the feuding families unite with hopes of ending the fighting and saving the city.







A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare and Bruce Coville

A simplified prose retelling of Shakespeare’s play about the strange events that take place in a forest inhabited by fairies who magically transform the romantic fate of two young couples.







OPHELIA by Lisa Klein
kleinOphelia is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, narrated by the young woman who was a minor character in the original play, though a significant one in Hamlet’s life. In this book, Ophelia’s story is explored in depth, beginning with her early years as she tags along with Laertes, her brother. She and Hamlet eventually fall in love and are secretly married. Yet Hamlet’s consuming passion for revenge ultimately comes between them, just like in Shakespeare’s play.







ENTER THREE WITCHES by Caroline B. Cooney

This is a novelized version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a dark tragedy told here from the point of view of Lord and Lady Macbeth’s young ward, Lady Mary. The violence and power-grabbing that sweeps through the court envelops Mary and thrusts her into a world of danger. Enter Three Witches mostly follows the major events of the play and even includes some dialogue from Shakespeare himself.








KING OF SHADOWS by Susan Cooper

King of Shadows begins with young Nathan Field rehearsing for the part of Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Following a sudden illness, he finds himself waking up in 1599, playing Puck at London’s Globe Theatre. Not only is he in a wildly different time and place, his new director is the Bard, whom he calls ‘Will.’







SAVING JULIET by Suzanne Selfors

Mimi Wallingford is a 17-year-old girl starring in her family’s Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet. Yet acting isn’t her passion and she desperately wishes for an escape. In a miraculous turn of events, she and her costar, Troy Summer, are transported to Shakespeare’s Verona. Once there, Mimi decides that she must save Juliet from her tragic fate.







THE FOOL’S GIRL by Celia Rees

The Fool’s Girl is a continuation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night that weaves in many historical figures, including the Bard. In the story, Violetta, the teenage daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Illyria, travels to London to find a stolen relic. As the plot thickens, she must work alongside Shakespeare to thwart an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth.







In this story, teenage Agnes Hathaway loses her mother and is left to a wicked stepmother. Agnes maintains a friendship with Shakespeare from childhood, and as they reach adulthood a romance blossoms. Loving Will Shakespeare is drawn from the scant details that are known about this actual historical figure who is believed to have played a role in Shakespeare’s life.







THE JULIET CLUB by Suzanne Harper

A group of American and Italian teenagers spend a summer participating in a Shakespeare Scholar program in Verona, where they analyze and perform scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Romance between the teenagers quickly develops, with the novel drawing from the plot of Romeo and Juliet. It’s also influenced by lighter Shakespearean fare, such as Much Ado About Nothing.





FALLING FOR HAMLET by Michelle Ray, which lead to the E! TV show The Royals.

rayMeet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend’s fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.

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Fairy Kids

With the recent release of my urban fantasy bedtime picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, from Schiffer Publishing, I’m always on the lookout for fun images featuring fairies or other fae. From Anna Rozwadowska and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“As a teenager or even young adult I woudn’t dare to call myself “creative”. It all changed when I got my first DSLR. Then my son, Jacob, was born. I discovered Pinterest, gave birth to my second child – Barbara, learned to sew… All these episodes have made me who I am now.

I’ve been photographing my kids since they were born. I’ve taken hundreds of thousands of photos. But it was about a year ago when I started looking for something more unique. Being inspired by amazing photographers from all over the world I was trying to find my own way to capture my children’s childhood. And I still am.

I create costumes by myself. Mostly, every single piece of the outfit for a photo session is made by me (except for the shoes) I generally use the cheapest available fabric I can get. I also try to choose a location for the photo shoots near my home (usually within 20 km).

A photo session lasts no longer than 10 to 15 minutes (when it comes to my daughter, aged 3, 5-6 minutes MUST be sufficient). I never pose my kids. It is a story or a tale told during the session that makes them react naturally.

I am not a professional photographer. By profession I am a teacher in a secondary school in Poland. Photography turned out to be my hobby, so as sewing. Both of them give me a huge amount of energy. My head is full of ideas for next pictures. If only a day was longer…”

A fairy

Miss Pumpkin

Jacob vel. Harry

My Rey

Ballet school

Miss Charming

Sleeping beauty

In grandma’s garden

Real Me

To cold to dive

The Viking

Princess Confused

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What Celebrities Are (not) Saying About MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS

Here are some things celebrities have not said about my new urban fantasy bedtime picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS.

“A six by nine inch trim size just does NOT work for a picture book!” — George Clooney

“People ask me, When you’re not playing basketball, what do you like to do?” I tell ’em – I love reading picture books.” — Stephen Curry

“I can’t wait to be able to read this.” — Kendall Jenner

“I may be moving out of the White House, but at least I got a copy of this book.” — Michelle Obama

“People ask me if winning Academy Awards is the biggest thrill of my life. Nope.” — Meryl Streep

“This is a great book, believe me. It has all the best words. Everyone in the U.S. will get a copy, trust me. And Mexico will pay for it.” — Donald Trump

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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.


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.


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?


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?


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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My Awesome Adventure at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

I had a fabulous time at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Below are the authors and entertainers I was thrilled to see or meet. In chronological order:


Ron Perlman – He’s not that fuzzy in real life, but the lighting wasn’t good. Perhaps best known for his movie role of Hellboy and his TV role of the original Beauty and the Beast (with Linda Hamilton).


William Shatner – James Tiberius Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise, and demigod to all nerds. He read to us from an autobiography of Capt. Kirk. He’s a very funny guy. “Rock climbing and horseback riding” became a euphemism for sex. And he mercilessly teased the book author about the latter’s quoting of Wellington, “Nothing except a battle lost can be half as melancholy as a battle won.”


Naomi Novik – New York Times bestselling author of HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON – fantasy set in the time of Napoleon. The French and British have air forces comprised of human crews riding dragons!


Julie Kagawa – New York Times bestselling author of the IRON FEY and BLOOD OF EDEN fantasy series.


Kevin Andrew Murphy – He has written gamebooks for Steve Jackson Games and White Wolf. He is one of the contributors to the WILD CARDS book series edited by George R. R. Martin.


Junior Wonder Woman – I have no idea who this cutie is, but she makes a darling Wonder Woman.


Susan Dennard – She is the fantasy author of the SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY series as well as the forthcoming WITCHLAND series.


Raymond Feist – New York Times, bestselling fantasy author of MAGICIAN, SILVERHORN, A DARKNESS AT SETHANON, and the RIFTWAR series.


Richard Kadrey – New York Times bestselling author of the SANDMAN SLIM urban fantasy series.


Brandon Mull – New York Times bestselling fantasy author of the FABLEHAVEN and BEYONDERS series.


Charlie Jane Anders – She has contributed to a number of anthologies and magazines, as well as the i09 website.


Seanan McGuire – John Campbell Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of the OCTOBER DAYE urban fantasy series.


Daenerys Targaryen – The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and of the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. Now THAT’S a good way to end my first day at Comic-Con.


Bernie Sanders – A parody shotgun-toting Bernie Sanders billboard. “Feel the Bern!”


Mad Max Musician – sorry for the blurriness, but this speaker-toting musician was great.


End of the Line – Is seems like this would be a somewhat depressing job…



Alexandra Bracken – New York Times bestselling author of Brightly Woven


Jason Hough – New York Times bestselling author of The Darwin Elevator series and all-around nice guy.


Young Cosplayers – This poor mom has her hands full with a rambunctious and an exhausted little cosplayer


Wonder Woman – Forget the magical lasso, this life size Wonder Woman statue shows off the new, badass version of the classic heroine, complete with sword and shield.


Mad Max Cosplayers – “Shiny!” These Mad Max cosplayers are awesome. “Live. Die. Live again!”


Eric Shanower – the talented graphic novelist, adding some original artwork for a fan


Science Fiction Fantasy Family Feud Panel – An incredibly star-studded and hilarious trivia game panel, with authors Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive series), Patrick Rothfuss (the Kingkiller Chronicles series), Ernie Cline (Armada), Naomi Novik (Uprooted), Chuck Wendig (Zer0es), Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy), and Austin Grossman (Crooked).


Chuck Wendig – the hilarious, prolific, and blasphemous author of Zer0es and host of terribleminds.com


Cece Bell – the sweet author/illustrator of El Deafo


Ugly Doll – the only thing funnier than Star Trek themed Ugly Dolls is a dead redshirt Star Trek themed Ugly Doll


Thor, Loki, and Lady Thor – one of the most stunningly accurate cosplays I’ve ever seen. They even look like the actors.


Weta Workshops – replica suits of fantasy armor from the mad geniuses who made props for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.


Dan Santat – the Caldecott-winning and over-caffeinated author/illustrator of Beekle.


Fantasy Literature panel – The best part of my Comic-Con adventure was moderating a panel with the NY Times bestselling fantasy authors (l to r): Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Jonathan Maberry (Rot and Ruin), and Zac Brewer (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod).


Margaery Tyrell – And, we end my second day of Comic-Con with a picture of a Maergery Tyrell (Game of Thrones) cosplayer.


Mass Effect – some nice ensemble cosplay


The Incredibles – some great family cosplay from one of my favorite animated movies. “No capes!” I asked the boy if those were his real muscles, and he said they were not. Gotta’ admire his self-awareness.


Curious George – and the Man with the Yellow Hat. Right before I took this picture, “George” gently pushed over a nearby baby.


Goodbye Comic-Con 2015 – see you again next year!


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, kevinhearne.com, 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 http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Ip 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 http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Fu 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 Pale than in Satanic Verses. Christ!


Stephen Colbert – The only way Beyond 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 on Amazon.

Click to Tweet: Celebrity praise for “Beyond the Pale” at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Fi via @Nimpentoad

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Meet the Authors of “Beyond the Pale”

Beyond the Pale is an anthology of 11 fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal short stories. Below are short bios of the award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors of Beyond the Pale.


Cover art by Abigail Larson


Saladin Ahmed
Saladin Ahmed’s poetry has earned fellowships from several universities, and has appeared in over a dozen journals and anthologies. His short stories have been nominated for the Nebula and Campbell awards, have appeared in numerous magazines and podcasts, and have been translated into five foreign languages. He has also written nonfiction for The Escapist, Fantasy Magazine, and Tor.com. Throne of the Crescent Moon is his first novel.


Peter S. Beagle
Peter S. Beagle is the Hugo, Nebula, Inkpot Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement winning author of The Last Unicorn and Two Hearts. The Last Unicorn ranked #5 on Locus subscribers’ All-Time Best Fantasy Novel list. The Last Unicorn was adapted to an animated movie. Peter also wrote the screenplay for the 1978 movie version of The Lord of the Rings.


Heather Brewer
Heather Brewer is the NY Times bestselling author of the Vladimir Tod series. She grew up on a diet of Twilight Zone and books by Stephen King. She chased them down with every drop of horror she could find—in books, movie theaters, on television. The most delicious parts of her banquet, however, she found lurking in the shadowed corners of her dark imagination. When she’s not writing books, she’s skittering down your wall and lurking underneath your bed.


Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher is the NY Times bestselling author of the Dresden Files series, the Codex Alera series, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri.


Kami Garcia
Kami Garcia is the NY Times bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels and the Bram Stoker Award nominated novel Unbreakable, and the sequel Unmarked, in the Legion series. Kami is fascinated by the paranormal, and she’s very superstitious. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz.


Nancy Holder
Nancy Holder is a Bram Stoker Award winning and NY Times bestselling author (the Wicked Saga) also known for her novels and episode guides based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teen Wolf, Beauty and the Beast, and other TV shows. She also writes and edits comic books. She lives in San Diego with her daughter Belle.


Gillian Philip
Gillian Philip’s books include Crossing the Line, Bad Faith, The Opposite of Amber and the Rebel Angels series – Firebrand, Bloodstone, Wolfsbane and Icefall. She has been nominated and shortlisted for awards including the Carnegie Medal, the Scottish Children’s Book Award and the David Gemmell Legend Award. Her home is in the north-east Highlands of Scotland with her husband, twins, three dogs, two cats, a fluctuating population of chickens and many nervous fish.


Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” is the author of over 300 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic and How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? The books range from rhymed picture books up through novels. Her books and stories have won two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among others. She is also the winner of the Kerlan Award and the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, and named a Grand Master for both the Science Fiction Poetry Assoc., and the World Fantasy Assoc. Six colleges have given her honorary doctorates.

Henry Herz (editor)
Henry writes fantasy and science fiction books for young readers, including Nimpentoad and Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. He enjoys moderating sci-fi/fantasy convention panels and eating Boston Crème Pie. He lives in San Diego with his wife and two co-author sons Josh & Harrison.

Get your copy of Beyond the Pale.

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