Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zamora's Ultimate Challenge

If you have kids, you simply must pick up a copy of Zamora's Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott.(Quake)

Two boys, Carter and Mason Clover are put in charge of their baby sister Isabella while their parents are away. The boy's find themselves transported into their favorite video game and into a fantasy land that's no longer just a fantasy. Their sister has been kidnapped by the evil queen in the game and the boys have to navigate through the different levels to save her.

Mason and Carter know this land well... at least they think they do. It's much easier to play a game when your life isn't on the line right? The sometimes bickering brothers quickly realize that they have to rely on each other to get through the real life game. They also have to accept some valuable life lessons on the way.

I'm not sure what your picturing, but this isn't Pong or Missile Command that the brothers are trapped in, this is a huge other world filled with acid pooping Pterodactyl's, murderous pirates, a fire breathing dragon and even a lava monster! I didn't even mention the mechanical shark and my favorite part, appearances by the world's masters of literature and art.

Besides the ultra fun adventure, I really liked that I could read a mother's love in Zamora's Ultimate Challenge. I could actually see the life lessons M.K. Scott put on paper. She wants her readers to see the value in trust, love, and perseverance. From this view, it's a heartwarming read even if you're not a young adult. The story places the boys in situations where they have to apply trust, the golden rule, bravery, family love and logical thinking to continue on their quest to save their sister. This is truly a story with a moral. Actually a lot of morals. The way the boys interact with each other makes me think all young adult readers would get a lot out of this... and that's just a side effect of the nonstop action and adventure.

Zamora's Ultimate Challenge is a must for all young adult readers. It's fun, it's exciting and it's filled with themes that every young adult should read. Pick up your copy here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goodbye Stacy

Eighteen years ago my band, Staring at the Sun, was invited to play a show in Lawrenceberg Tennessee by this guy in a band called Melvin's Headtrip. We showed up and much to my delight this place was huge... and within a few hours was packed. I'll never forget that night because that was the night that I met Stacy Fleeman. While this is incriminating, he wouldn't care that I shared it with you. We were backstage and he had a joint in his hand. He offered it to me and I said "no thank you." He grimaced and said, "What, are you straightedge or something?" I had never hear the word straightedge before, but I instantly knew what it meant.

After this hugely successful show, we kept in touch and not too long after he moved to Nashville where we continued to swap shows, hang out and generally just have fun no matter what we did.

Within this time, we, me, whatever band I was in at the moment seemed to bond with Stacy and his band which had changed names to Dharmakaya. I can't tell you how many times I played with this band, but I can tell you that I have never seen a band play as much as I've seen Dharmakaya. As the years went by I got closer to Stacy, planning our musical futures together and even singing on two songs with his band. (Now called "Into the Pink" and "Synthetic Lies".)

He started Spat! Records with AJ Schafer and as I did my damnedest to support his record store located in the back of The Muse, we spent hours just hanging out and talking about everything and anything that came up. Spat! Records signed my band Fall With Me even though we were a raucous inconsiderate, brutish bunch bent on insulting the rising hardcore/metal scene. Still, Stacey and AJ stood behind us. Giving us most if not all of our accolades as a band. We hit #12 on the college metal charts because of them, our second record "Rise Phoenix Rise" was completely put out by them including studio time, record pressing and expensive cover art and distribution that we could have never achieved on our own.Dare I say that FWM was the first band ever out of Nashville to chart that high on the Metal rankings? Did I mention that they hooked us up with shows with every band we wanted to play with? This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what these guys did for us, but the most important thing they did was believe in us, and what we did. And for that, none of us should ever forget what they did for us under the penalty of barbed lashings.

After the first incarnation of Fall With Me, did Stacey and AJ forget about us? Did they let us go on bad behavior? No. In fact they continued to support the new Fall With Me. Records, shows, preferential treatment... the list could go for pages.

The point is, that Stacey and I and my bandmates were friends. Good friends at that. Friends that supported each other in the best and worst times, personally and musically.

Stacey Fleeman died last night, August 23rd, 2009. My friend is gone forever with a mere 12,296 days of life under his belt, it's a rip off if you ask me. I've been thinking to myself, "Why didn't I say something to him?" "Why didn't I tell him to chill on the drugs?" "Why didn't I pay for him to got to the doctor or get him nourishing food?" "Why didn't I ask him what he really wanted out of life?" You know why? Because he would have said, "Dude, I'm doing exactly what I want to do, and I'm having the time of my life doing it." And that's the truth of it.

Stacey, I'll never forget you. You gave me hope when I had little, you gave me fun and good times when I needed them most. But most of all, you were a great friend that is a model for all other friends in my life. I won't forget, the house show in the basement, the Halloween show in your house, or the other thousands of amazing times we had together. Rest in peace my brother, I swear we are going to give you a sending off party that you will be proud of. I'll miss you and already do. Please enjoy this picture of Mr. Fleeman acting like he has his hand up my bum... or is he acting? Stacy, we'll always love you and life will not be as fun without you man.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thomas Riley Cover Art

It's official! The cover art for Thomas Riley is in. (Now I'm stoked to see what the whole thing looks like.) Anyway, enjoy!

The ebook will be available before the print version comes out on October 23rd on Echelon Press, but I'm not sure exactly when. Trust me, I'll let you know as soon as I do. I know I've blogged about this before, but the illustration was done by the magnificent Will Routon.

Go on... click it... I dare ya.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking the Mystery Out of EBooks

I'm honored to have Pam Ripling as the super star of my blog today. I have to say that Pam's views are shared by me as well and not only is there value and quality in her thoughts, but there is also invaluable experience that should not be ignored by writers and readers alike. So, enjoy... Pam's expert views will shed new light on the subjects of Ebooks.

This just might be a timely topic for some. For me, not so much. My first electronic book was released in 1998. Yawn.

For many people, likely the larger part of the U.S. population, digital content is brand new and maybe suspect. Their confusion is understandable, their fears many. After all, as a society, we’ve been turning paper pages for centuries. Baby boomers and older, in particular, are a paper-dependent populace. We’ve already had to endure the vinyl-to-tape-to-disc-to-digital journey in the music industry. We’ve suffered the Beta vs. VHS, the rabbit ears, the cable, the satellite dish wars.
It’s a small wonder, then, that people can be seen virtually hugging their heavy, hardcover copy of THE DEFECTOR to their chest and screaming, “You can’t take books away from me! My real books!”

Calm down. Paper books are not going away, not anytime soon or ever, so please exhale now. Ebooks, however, are also here to stay, so it might not be a bad idea to become familiar with how they work, just in case. Like, someone might give you a Kindle for your birthday, and then where would you be? Feeling a bit uneasy. Uninformed. Behind the times.

So as much as I’d like to extol the virtues and benefits of ebooks, I will, instead, endeavor to explain how they work, via a brief FAQ made up from queries/comments I’ve received from my readers.

1. I can’t sit in front of my computer long enough to read a book. Good news! You don’t have to. There are a myriad of devices now available, and several under development for release in the coming year. Readers with some smartphones can already read ebooks and probably don’t know it! Even Nintendo’s DS can be outfitted with software that will read books.

2. I’m a zip when it comes to downloading stuff from the computer. Too many cables, too many programs. More good news. You can go completely wireless with a device like Amazon’s Kindle, which doesn’t require a computer at all. The upcoming offering from Plastic Logic will utilize a wireless connection from a cellular carrier. More will follow.

3. I’ve heard ebooks are expensive. Not true. They average a much lower retail price than their paper cousins.

4. I like to give away my books after I’ve finished reading them. How can I give away an ebook? As a royalty-earning author, this is a touchy subject for me. Sadly, your generosity eats into my income. However, you cannot give away an ebook unless you no longer keep a copy of it on your device(s). That would be akin to making a copy of a paperback book and giving it away. A big no-no.

5. I read lots of books. I can’t afford a Kindle or any other ebook device I’ve seen. Make a quick list of the last fifteen or so book purchases you’ve made, the prices you paid. Then compare the prices of the same books in electronic formats. Over time, the savings will pay for the reader, while at the same time you are going green, big time! Consider TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer, at Amazon: Hardcover: $12.73, Kindle edition: $6.59. Savings=$6.14 plus shipping!

6. I don’t want to add another device to my ever-growing pile of technology-I already have an iPhone, a Palm Pilot and a netbook! You are in luck. You can read ebooks on any one of these devices—no new hardware required!

7. What about all those formats? I’m lost in a sea of alphabet soup! Yep – PDF, HTML, LIT, DRM, Mobi, Palm, etc. Unfortunately, the variety of formats doesn’t help the cause. Once you are interested in a specific device, find out if it supports the more popular formats before you buy.

8. I really love and need the smell and feel of paper when I’m reading a book. Can’t help you here. Am thinking about marketing an aerosol spray called, “That New Book Smell.” What do you think?

If you’re serious about adding ebooks to your virtual shelf, see if you can get your hands on an ebook reader to try out in a store. When I had a chance to play around with Sony’s Reader Digital Book at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, I was sold. You might be, too. Don’t be afraid to explore the new electronic book frontier!

Additional resource:

Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is the author of paranormal romantic mystery, POINT SURRENDER, from Echelon Press, Amazon, and for your Kindle, iPhone or other e-formats, Fictionwise. Visit Anne at