Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘guest posts’ Category

Here’s a quick guest post from my young friend Anthony Gargiula. I’ve interviewed Anthony several times, and am always proud to support his annual fundraiser Bowling Against Bullying.

Anthony Gargiula

I am in the process of organizing my 3rd Bowling Against Bullying Fundraiser and I would really appreciate your help.

Due to the amazing fundraising events I have already organized, I have been able to help fund many area schools’ anti bullying programs. In November I had the opportunity to give a $1,000 check to the largest anti-bullying convention in the United States. For this upcoming event, I am focusing on continuing to give money to local area schools for their mandated anti bullying programs, while also spreading my “anti-bullying” message around the country.

This year’s event will be held on Sunday, May 5th 2013, 2:00 – 5:00 at Spare Time Bowl in Clifton Park. We will be hosting up to 300 bowlers at this event. We are looking for any amount of monetary donation, a donated item for our raffle and/or you and your family/friends/colleagues to join me for this fun day. We are encouraging “work” and “family” bowling teams to do this as a group effort!

For any monetary donation or raffle item donated, your business will be advertised on a sponsorship board displayed on the day of the event, as well as being announced throughout the afternoon by the DJ. Also, Albany Broadcasting is our official media sponsor so this means that this event will be promoted on FLY 92 – 104.9 The Cat – B95.5, Magic 590AM and Jamz 96.3.

If you are interested in participating in any way or have any questions, please call my Dad, Rich, at

518-469-6695.

My goal this year is $14,000 since I am turning 14 on April 30th.

Thank you for your support,

Anthony Gargiula, Student Organizer

If you can’t make Anthony’s event but would like to make a monetary donation, you can mail a check made out to BOWLING AGAINST BULLYING to Rich Gargiula, PO Box 433, Glenmont, NY 12077

 

 

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Tonight, I’m taking a break from interviewing people and letting my old friend (by which I mean, we’ve known each other a whole year now!) Brian White talk to you a bit about why you should, if you have a few extra bucks and love good stories from all genres, back the Kickstarter to fund Year Two of Fireside Magazine, to help the magazine move into its new format. So here’s Brian. Oh — ignore the nice things he says about me, but pay attention to the nice things he says about everyone else:

Galen Dara’s cover art for Fireside

One of the great things about my multigenre fiction magazine, Fireside, has been watching a community grow up around it as we have spent the past year funding it through Kickstarters.

By using crowdfunding to create a magazine, we have — inevitably, in retrospect — created a crowd around it. It is pretty awesome.

We see things like people who are collecting the coasters my wife makes that we have offered for rewards. People who have been drawn into illustrations in each issue. And then there’s Anthony, the only backer whose name has been used in a story in every issue. It’s really fun having these common threads running through Fireside, like seeing family every time you get together.

We’re hoping to keep this community together as we move into our next phase: relaunching Fireside as a monthly website and ebook. We’re running a Kickstarter now to fund the entire year at once, as opposed to the three issues we funded one at a time last year. It’s been a lot of fun doing it that way, but it’s time to create some stability and certainty in this experiment in publishing great fiction and in paying writers well.

Our plan for each issue in our second year is to have two flash-length stories, two short stories, and an episode of a serial experiment by Chuck Wendig. We have a terrific slate writers for the short stories: M. Bennardo, Jennifer Campbell-Hicks, Karina Cooper, Jonas David, Delilah S. Dawson, A.E. Decker, Steven J. Dines, Adam P. Knave, Ken Liu, James McGee, Jason Ridler , and Lilith Saintcrow. We already have eight of their short stories in, and they cover a wide array of genres. They are also awesome.

It will all be offered on a website being designed by Pablo Defendini, with a focus on simplicity and on readability on screens of any size. There will be ebooks too, for those who prefer to read e-ink and not a glowing screen.

If we do fund successfully by our deadline of March 5, we will be opening to flash fiction submissions on March 15. We will be re-opening to short story submissions as well in the future, sometime after we get Year Two going on July 1.

Our hope is to use this Kickstarter to give us the bridge to start moving to subscriptions as our main source of revenue, but I hope our community stays close and excited as we continue to create art together. It’s been so gratifying that people believe in us. They are the spark that brought Fireside to life.

* * * * * * *

What Brian didn’t mention is that as of this posting, there’s still a little over $15,000 in pledges to raise in 12 days. Here’s the link to the Kickstarter campaign. Help us get this thing funded, so there are more chances for me to see characters named after me!

Also, here’s the link to the magazine’s current website where, for free, you can read two of the three stories featuring main characters named after me: Christie Yant’s “Temperance” and Damien Walters Grintalis’ “Scarred.” Both of these stories will also be reprinted in my anthology THE SEVEN TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO, about which more in a later post. (I mention it largely because the anthology is largely Brian’s fault.)

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I’m spending December catching up on my own writing, attempting to meet end-of-year deadlines for open calls for various anthologies. Several of the folks I’ve been meaning to interview have offered up guest posts instead. This week, I’m happy to welcome the band THE ROLE CALL to talk about the Kickstarter for their new EP.

 

The Role Call

Hey guys!

We are The Role Call, a newly-formed Minneapolis-based Pop/Rock band. Back in February of 2012, local musicians Max Young, Zach Hesemann, and Joey Russ found singer Steven Zerwas and bassist Kristoff Druva through a mutual friend.  After writing and recording with producers Pat Brown (Sing It Loud) and Jordan Schmidt (All Time Low, Sing It Loud), we released our Debut Self-Titled EP on May 28th, 2012.  Writing this EP was a great time because all of us have such a wide variety of influences such as All Time Low, Coldplay, The Summer Set, and many others. Over the summer we were fortunate enough to tour and promote our album across the Midwest.  We like to pride ourselves on the high-energy live show that we put on.

We will be playing a holiday show in Minneapolis on December 27th with our friends in the band Quietdrive.  This show is at The Varsity Theater and starts at 5PM!

Recently we have been doing a lot of writing and are happy to announce that we will be recording a brand new EP in February down in Nashville, TN.  We have started a Kickstarter page for fans/friends/family to donate to in order to help raise money for the EP and to allow us to tour next summer.  Those who donate can get certain rewards such as signed CDs, Acoustic Skype Shows, and can even hang out with us in the studio! If you want to donate, you can do so by going to this link:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/therolecallmn/the-role-call-new-cd

For those of you who have never heard of us before, check out our single from our first EP, titled “Won’t Get Down (feat. Pat Brown)”!

 

 

You can also find The Role Call on Facebook, and you can follow them on Twitter: as a group: @TheRoleCallMN and on their individual accounts: @SteveTRC @JoeyTRC @MaxTRC @KristoffTRC and @ZachTRC

 

 

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This week, while I’m slaving away writing and re-writing several short stories, I’ve got a short guest post from author Cynthia J. Leo, talking about her book JAGGED PEAKS.

 

The idea for Jagged Peaks came from my fascination with mountain climbing and the climbers who push the limits.  As a person who has always tried to stay within my comfort zone, I was intrigued by the mentality of these climbers.  Though there is a wealth of non-fiction available about climbing, there is not much fiction about climbing.  Pushing out of my comfort zone, I began writing Jagged Peaks a fictional mountain climbing romance and adventure story.  Jagged Peaks explores three very different characters that are brought together for one expedition that will forever bind them together.  The characters are forced out of their comfort zones as they struggle to adjust to the changes that life throws at them.  While romance is certainly a focus of the book, Jagged Peaks also offers adventure, suspense, and secrets that will eventually be exposed.

 

Excerpt from Jagged Peaks:

“Oh here’s another one – this one looks good, and oh wow there’s a whole bunch on the next shelf,” Taylor said quickly, as she tilted her head sideways to read the titles of the books on the shelves in the Barnes and Noble on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Her brow furrowed as she concentrated on her mission of finding climbing books. Deep in concentration, she was unaware of the sideways glances from the jean-clad outdoorsy types in the Sports section as they took in her skin-tight beige pencil skirt and sky-high stilettos. Grabbing another book, she added it to the ever-growing stack perched on her friend, Dylan’s lap.

“Sweetie, are you for real? You cannot possibly read all of these before you leave next week,” commented Dylan as he sat in the large, paisley chair sipping his latte.

She turned quickly, causing her long brunette hair with the copper highlights that cost a small fortune to maintain, to wrap around her head.  Tapping her foot impatiently, she frowned.

“Crucify me for trying to be prepared,” she snorted as she went back to looking at the shelf.  Frowning she muttered, “I thought I could count on you two to help, but I guess I was wrong.”

Dylan rolled his eyes as Kevin slumped against the corner of the bookshelf.

“Dylan’s right.  You are never going to find time to open one of those books and besides reading about mountain climbing is not going to help,” muttered Kevin pulling at his tie.

Even though she knew they were both right, her frustration was mounting, and with a glare at Kevin, she snorted, “Like I should take advice from you.  Your preparation has entailed drinking and hitting on every woman in sight.”

Dylan laughed as Kevin ran his fingers through his wavy, blonde hair.

Shaking his head Kevin muttered, “Listen as least I’ve done some climbing, the only experience you have is climbing the escalator for the latest shoe sale at Macy’s.”

Her friends were right.  She was in over her head, but there was no turning back now.

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This guest post is long overdue; I made a promise to Alex Dale over a week ago to run it, and then the holiday weekend and other life stuff got in the way. So, my apologies to Alex and to the rest of the Up In Arms comedy troupe. The work they are attempting to raise money for is important; funding future episodes of their web-show will help them raise even more money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Here’s the information Alex sent me about the the fundraiser:

 

Alex Dale

Alex Dale, 16, aChildren’s Hospital Los Angeles Junior Ambassador and writer and creator of the comedy web series Up In Arms, recently donated $150 to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The teenage mastermind behind the creation of Up In Arms was diagnosed with Scheuermann Kyphosis, a spinal deformity, in August 2010 and had to wear a back brace for nine months, which did not cure him and he continued to endure extreme back pain. In July 2011, David Skaggs, MD, Chief, Children’s Orthopaedic Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, performed a spinal fusion on Alex to correct the curvature of his spine.

 

There is currently inadequate information and research about Scheuermann Kyphosis. The Pediatric Spinal Deformity Endowment was formed to collect funds/donations to explore the disorder and to provide more treatment options for children so that they do not have to live with the effects of kyphosis into adulthood, which can leave people wheel chair bound.

In 2011, Alex launched his web series, Up In Arms, to raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to help research treatment for children who are diagnosed with Scheuermann Kyphosis. It is described as a cross between The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live and is written in a humorous fashion, focused on social issues that teens are dealing with and to ultimately lend support for others who are struggling with spinal deformity.

“I want to assist other people who are suffering from Scheuermann Kyphosis and raise funds to help research alternate methods for treatment,” says Alex. Viewers can give back to the cause through the Up In Arms website, where 100% of the proceeds go directly to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/UpInArmsComedyCharity?a=688746 to donate to production of the next episode and help UP IN ARMS raise money for this great cause.  Thank you.

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YEAR ONE cover

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the time-traveling, multiversal twists-and-turns of the webcomic CURA TE IPSUM, written by Neal Bailey and drawn by Dexter Wee. When the guys released the first print volume of CTI, I interviewed Neal. When they released the second print volume, I interviewed Neal and Dexter together. Book Three is about to be released, as well as a YEAR ONE compendium with a ton of extras, and so I thought this time instead of interviewing the guys, I’d give them the opportunity to just take over the blog for a day and speak in their own words.

For those who don’t know: CTI is the story of Charlie Everett – or, rather, a multiverse of Charlie Everetts. Charlie Prime, as we’ve come to call him, is prevented from committing suicide by a visit from another version of himself. Charlie Prime discovers that he’s got a bit more natural ability for time\space travel than his other selves, and together with Leo (who saved him), The Nerd, Billy, Charlene and Squirt (all divergent versions of Charlie), they seek to stop The Dark Everett and his partners from killing every Charlie in existence.

Neal, of course, one-upped my thought. I’m proud to be able to post here a small sneak peek at INRICTI, the prose short story that is one of the special features of the YEAR ONE Compendium.  I’ll let Neal introduce the story segment, and then I’ll be back with the links you can click on to order the books!

* * * * *

Hello, folks! First off, thank you, Anthony, for the place to debut a preview for Cura’s first short story.

INRICTI (a play on words for INRI and CTI, for Cura Te Ipsum) tells the story of what might happen if a bad man, namely the Dark Everett, decided to show a preacher what REALLY happened on Golgotha. It’s a long story, and it’ll be featured in YEAR ONE, the collected edition of our first year of stories, which you can find at http://www.curateipsum.com/, along with our third volume. Both are available for pre-order now.

It’s a dark story, and a fairly bleak one, but I had really good time writing it and I hope you all enjoy it.

Here’s the preview!

Neal Bailey

 

INRICTI
For Michael Moorcock


“Death.”

The preacher takes a long pause to examine the faces of his congregation.

“It has power over us, with good reason. There is such terror in the concept of a person we know and love, a person, become a body that rots in the ground. Your grandmother. Your father. A son or daughter.”

Pacing, always pacing when he speaks.

“I often imagine the fear an atheist must have examining death. Consider, even with knowledge of an afterlife, the concept of yourself no longer existing.”

Awkward silence. It drags.

“There’s no sense of continuity without God when flesh goes to dust.” He grabs his arm and pinches through the cloth. “For a non-believer, all we have is a life that can be hard, unfair, and very cruel in the face of the infinite. For us, for me, anyway, I take great solace from the thought of a loving creator. There’s nothing quite like it to quell the horrors of our short lives.”

The pacing stops.

“There is a plan for our lives. Things may spin around and fall apart, but somewhere out there, out between our potential dimensions, the spirit and the flesh come back together. There’s a pattern that flows through all real and imagined worlds born of our minds. Succumbing to the hunger for things you might otherwise have ignored but for cold, hard, logic, that, my friends, is faith.”

The preacher smiles. It is a sincere smile. The congregation smiles with him.

“Let us pray.”

* * *

Now the preacher sits in the front pew looking up at the statue of Jesus to consider. The congregation has been gone for some time. He does this a lot now, like he did on the bed with the pistol. This leaves him more comforted.

Footsteps echo in the empty church. A man sits down next to him. The preacher keeps his head bowed. He doesn’t turn. He keeps his eyes closed. He does smile.

“I presume you wish to speak about something.”

“What gave you that impression, padre?”

“You came across the entire empty church and sat down right next to me. Unless you’re looking for a date, that’s often followed by questions, or solicitations of advice.”

“I may have a few things to confess.”

“We don’t do confessions. You’re thinking of the Catholics.”

“I’ve got more sins than you could listen to in a lifetime.” Something in the man’s voice. Odd. A nasal plastic echo.

The preacher looks. The preacher clears his throat, looking for words. “Are – are we by chance related?”

Sitting next to him is a mirror image. A man very much like himself, so close in manner and proportion they could be twins, but for a few key differences. The other man is ropey with muscles. Older, certainly. Harder. The nose. There’s something strange and artificial about his nose.

“In a sense we’re related, but not really. Do I call you preacher? Or Reverend? Or Father? What?”

Gooseflesh breaks out across the preacher’s arms. “I realize something.”

“Do tell.”

“The front door isn’t open. It’s locked.”

“Let’s just say that I snuck into the bathroom and waited for you to lock the front door. That makes more sense than the supernatural, that I just opened a portal and dropped in here from nowhere, right? I mean, that would require you to believe in something certifiably crazy without any evidence to do so, right?” A derisive snort.

“I checked the bathrooms. Bums like to sleep in there.”

“Perhaps Jesus let me in.” The voice is sarcastic. Mocking. Slow. Deliberate. A nursery rhyme cadence.

“I don’t find that funny.”

“I liked your sermon. You have a way with words.”

“Thank you.”

“I am the wrong person to thank. I appreciate beauty, but in this equation, you’re the cross—” Click. “—and I’m the switchblade.” The blade is dull by the candle light. Well-used. Chipped from too many impacts with bone. Blade side up in a fist that shakes with anger.

“You’d kill a man of God?”

“I’d never kill a man of God.”

“What’s the blade for?”

“For you.”

“I’m a man of God.”

“No!” The fist slams into the top of the pew in front of them hard enough to rock them both. The other hand reaches for his face, gripping the nose. The nose comes off. A scarred cavity. A skull face. The face of death. “There is no God, and I’m your proof.”

The gooseflesh returns, up and down the preacher’s arms. “Are you a demon?”

“Always looking for the supernatural where there is none.” The man stabs the knife down into the pew and begins carving a long C next to his right leg. “I’m not a fucking demon. I’m you. Another you.”

“Your nose.”

“I cut it off to prove a point. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s not all fun and games, but it’s great for appearances. As you well know, people like a little smoke and mirrors.”

“Appearances?”

“They call me the Dark Everett, though my Christian name is Charles, like yours. That’s what they do to people who tell the truth. They call them demons, give them sinister sounding nicknames. I’m guessing, given that you’re above ground, you’ve already met with another version of yourself. That’s almost always how it happens. That’s how it’s been happening for quite a long time.”

“I have, at times, been visited by an angel.”

A waved hand. “Oh, go on. Keep trying to explain reality with a superstition. Makes me think of, what’s the expression? That one about suitably advanced technology and magic?” The Dark Everett carves a circle in the middle of his C. “Tell me more about this angel of yours.”

“He is me. Us. Only with a beard. Long flowing hair. He dresses in robes. He comes to my apartment once a week and makes sure I stay alive. For the longest time, I thought it was Jesus.”

“That’s a new one.”

“I thought – it occurred to me that perhaps when we see Jesus, we see an embodiment of whoever we are.”

“Arrogant. Did he tell you that he was Jesus?”

“He doesn’t say much.”

“I’ve heard of about this evangelist before. He’s visited many of us. He’s a slippery little missionary, the fuck.”

“He claimed knowledge of the future.”

“Did he give any specific examples?”

“A few. A baseball score. He told me that God wanted me to be a preacher, and that if I didn’t kill myself, all would be well.”
The Dark Everett scowls. “The Evangelist likes to prey on people in weak states of mind. That’s how he gets his kicks. I get mine solving that kind of problem.” The Dark Everett flips the knife in the air and catches it. Flip. Catch. Flip. Catch. There’s now a rough approximation of the world in the seat next to him, inside the C.

“You sit in judgment of others while you threaten another man with a knife?”

“I’m no prize myself.” That dry rasp in the nose again. It’s chilling. “But I am honest in what I do. If anything, sir, I am honest.”

“Most devils claim they are.”

“In fiction. There are no devils. Or angels. I’m a man, Chuck. Flesh and blood. I always have been. If you cut me, I’ll bleed. There’s nothing special about me beyond a commitment to be better than I am. Even if I were a demon, there’s nothing special enough about your pathetic life that would inspire one to visit you. You got tricked by religion. That’s how it works. It plays off our self-importance. If there were a God, and trust me, there’s not, he wants us both dead.” The Dark Everett makes a pistol with his finger and blows his fake brains out.

“Why?”

“Because every time a Charlie survives, bad things happen.”

“Every time?”

The knife stabs into the makeshift Earth. “There isn’t a one of us across the entire multiverse that’s at peace. Not a one. When we gain the ability to jump between worlds, we end up fucking them up, fucking ourselves up, stealing, fighting, corrupting. It’s in our blood.”

“Our souls?”

“Don’t get cute, Preach.”

“What’s my crime? I help the poor. I give my services for free. I like to think I live an honest life.”

“I just watched you bear false witness. And anyway, you’d change if you got a stone. We all do.”

“And you, casting the first stone?”

“I’m not immune. I deserve to die more than almost any other Charlie, and I will. There’s just some work to do before I go.”
The preacher looks up at the cross. “Did you ever consider that the relentless pursuit of perfection is a defect of humanity, not of our selves? I mean, provided you really are another me. We all make a mess of our lives. That doesn’t mean they need to end. If we learn to forgive ourselves, there can be peace. Does anyone live a life that isn’t, in some way, flawed?”

“Don’t pollute the issue. This isn’t a debate. You’re already dead. I like nuance, and that’s why I’m engaging you, but we’re not talking about spitting out kids we can’t take care of, all whoopsie-daisy. That’s a debatable character flaw. We’re talking about changing the entire course of otherwise normal societies. Genocide and annihilation. I came here today from a place where there’s a man handing out night vision to the highest bidding country in nineteen sixty.”

“Nineteen sixty?”

“Cheap gas is nice and all, but this long hair doesn’t go over very well.”

“I don’t imagine it would.”

“To the point, the man handing out the night vision is me. You. Speak to me of the lightness of our flaws when it doesn’t start wars to the tune of millions of lives.” The Dark Everett wiggles the knife free and draws an X over the world. “That planet is going to spiral into chaos in less than ten years because of one greedy, cheating capitalist who will end the conflict in Vietnam with drones. He’s done it one one world already, and he doesn’t care. And here’s the real trick – he’s one of the good ones. A Charlie Everett is a higher devil. A pox on the surface of infinite earths. Every time he kills a Hitler for a lark, he condemns millions of people to suffering over time, times that he will never have to live through because he can just step away. And we do. I have.”

The preacher stares down at the Dark Everett’s blade. “You can kill me in malice, and I won’t be able to stop you, but you won’t do it without knowing that I believe I’ve made this world a better place. I’m an exception to your rule.”

“You take the stupid and make them believe in magical men who prognosticate and punish. I can’t think of a much greater crime for a man’s soul beyond reality television.” A long, slow sigh.

A fist. An unmade fist. A hand to his mouth. “Can I possibly be so cynical? Can any of me be in you?”

The Dark Everett puts a finger up to where his nose would otherwise be. Flip. Catch. Flip. Catch. “I caught a little anger there, preacher. We can’t skip right to acceptance, can we?”

“I’m past acceptance. You forget.”

“Ah, good. Shall we get on with it, then?” Catch. Brandish.

The preacher looks toward the door. “May I choose where I die?”

“Bargaining. See? You’re on step three. Acceptance is a long way off. No. I don’t allow people to choose the methodology of death. There’s too much room for malarkey and escape. Appreciate the leeway I’m granting engaging in this conversation. It’s more than most get.”

“What made you talk to me, then?”

“I’m trying to decide if your silver tongue is worth a god damn, pun intended, or if you’re just wet meat to add to the pile. Needs must when the devil drives. So far it isn’t looking good for you. You’re not very convincing. You don’t fight with much salt.”

“That’s because I’m trying to listen to you and understand, not fight. It’s my job.”

“Now I’m just bored.” The knife into the pew again. A pistol from the back waistband, held casually in his palm. “But I’ll be kind. Bullet in the head, or slit throat?”

The preacher pales. “I know that weapon.”

“I fucking well know you know that weapon. You were supposed to use it.” Up comes the hand with the pistol, and then the hand with the knife. Pistol. Knife. Pistol. Knife. “Time to choose. Make it quick.” Toying.

“And if I have a better idea?”

“There is no better idea.” The Dark Everett lifts the pistol to the preacher’s temple. The steel is cold. “But look at the bright side. At least you’ll know for sure if you’re full of sh—”

“Crucify me.”

The pistol lowers. Laughter. “Say that again.”

“Why don’t you crucify me?”

More laughter. “Shit. You know, I like that. You mean it?”

“I do.”

The pistol retreats to the small of the back. “You might not be a total loss after all, depending on one crucial piece of information.”

“What’s that?”

“How often does this son of a bitch with the beard and the long flowing hair visit you?”

“I won’t give him up.”

“I know where you live. I’m going to go there and wait for him anyway. The man is already dead, like you. Tell me when your appointment is, I’ll give you your crucifixion, and maybe something more. If not, you make a mess here that some poor janitor is gonna have to pick up. He’ll tell the congregation what your brains look like, because he believes he’s forgiven for it in advance.”

“There’s no way I can persuade you not to kill my visitor?”

“None at all. Philosophically speaking, you’ve already killed him.”

A long silence. “He is supposed to visit this afternoon. What’s the something more?”

“Total, real resolution for your faith. Such as it is.”

* * *

And there you have it, folks. Intrigued? I hope so.

You can follow CURA TE IPSUM as it regularly updates right HERE.

VOLUME THREE collects the first half of the second year of the comic, and makes a nice companion to VOLUMES ONE and TWO if you already have them. The YEAR ONE book collects material previously available in VOLUMES ONE and TWO, with bonus stuff like the complete text of the story you just sneak-peeked. There are a good number of difference combo packages you  can purchase as well, including the chance to get original sketches done by Mr. Wee himself.  So click on this link, check it out. Tell them Anthony sent you!

VOLUME THREE cover

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This is the start of a week of posts related to various Kickstarter projects I’ve backed and hope you will too. None of them are my own (currently, I’ve got nothing I think I should be doing a Kickstarter for), but all of these are important to me for one reason or another. Some of them are projects of friends. Some of them are just projects I think are cool. Most of them are both.

Today, I’m spotlighting Lea Hernandez’ soon-to-conclude project to fund her next graphic novel, THE GARLICKS. Lea is a 25-year veteran of the comics field, has worked for DC and Marvel and has produced five graphic novels before now.

I’m going past tapping 4 people who haven’t pledged (as Lea requests below). I’m reaching out to everyone who reads my Facebook, Twitter and this here little blog. If each of you donated $25, you’d get a really cool set of stuff, and you’d help a single mother of two teenagers have a year’s worth of security to pay the bills and finish a fantastic project. So please consider helping out.

the lovely Lea Hernandez

In Lea’s Own Words, from her latest project update:

 

As THE GARLICKS: Pandora Garlicks, Fail Vampire heads into its final days,  I need your help to make the last big push to get it fully funded, and it CAN BE DONE. (I will also eat a bug*. Really.)

Here’s how:

Everyone who’s pledged, PLEASE tap FOUR people who haven’t backed THE GARLICKS and encourage them to pledge at least $25. (That gets them a signed and sketched in book, a PDF, a sticker, and their name in the book.) That will generate $29,600** in funding, which puts us past goal.

Tell your friends who like Twilight, My Little Pony, want their kids to read more, like vampires, like genre fiction, like manga, parents you know who wonder where the good genre comics for kids are, or people who want to feel good about supporting a single parent entrepreneur.

Please post about THE GARLICKS to Facebook, Twitter, email lists, your blog(s), Tumblr, etc.Tell people THE GARLICKS needs their help to reach its funding goal.

If you’ve got a Big Name pal you can nudge to support THE GARLICKS with a Tweet, Facebook or blog entry, please do. If you’ve got an in at a site like The Mary Sue (who already covered TG, THANK YOU, GALS) or BoingBoing.net, please tell them about THE GARLICKS.

I’ll still be doing my P.T. Barnum thing, too.

Know what else? It’d be COOL to get THE GARLICKS Kickstarter across the finish line in four days. You can say, “I WAS THERE!” You will all be badass Fishbats.

LET’S DO IT! I want to start drawing THE GARLICKS, already!

*I’m not kidding. I will eat a bug. I get to choose the bug, and I will not CHEW the bug, but I will eat one.

**The math: Backers so far: 296. If each of you gets four friends to pledge, we have 1,184 more backers. Get each of them to pledge $25., that’s $29,600.

 

* * * * *

And of course, you can find all the details of Lea’s THE GARLICKS Kickstarter right here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/divalea/the-garlicks-pandora-orange-fail-vampire

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The Borali Military Crest

This week’s guest post is by author Bryan Thomas Schmidt, a frequent guest on this site. Bryan is on a blog tour to promote THE RETURNING, the second in his Saga of Davi Rhii science fiction series. We considered doing another interview, but as we’ve now interviewed each other at least four times between our two blogs, I thought a guest post by Bryan would be a nice change of pace, and what better topic to discuss than how to do a blog tour for a sequel without spoiling the first book in the series?  So here he is, ladies and gentlemen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt:

 

 

How To Run a Blog Tour For A Sequel Without Spoiling Book 1

Okay, first of all, the fact that Anthony asked for this topic proves he’s not really my friend, let’s just get that out of the way first.  I mean, I suppose it’s a compliment that he thinks I actually have the answers to this. After all, The Returning is only my second novel ever published. And having been a beta reader for me on it, he of all people should know how tightly the storylines interlap as well as how much the success of this particular sequel depends on suspense and surprise.  To be fair, though, I did it to myself. I’m the one who wrote the novel this way, after all. The fact that he’s an opportunist taking advantage of my self-made quandary is just an unfortunate side effect really.

So let’s get on with it then. How do you run a blog tour for book 2 of a trilogy? Very carefully. Just as craft goes into the writing, so must it be applied to your marketing.

First, choose some excerpts and plot/character details which can be shared to tease the book without ruining the rest of the plot. Not easy, but doable. They should involve the old familiar characters, particularly the protagonist and also the antagonist when possible. And they should be fast-paced and tension filled. You can share the romantic subplots sometimes but usually those emotional highs are best saved and it’s the drama of the obstacles which draws most readers in.

For example, the reading excerpt from this book I have been using is a subplot scene involving my protagonist, Davi Rhii, fighting with his girlfriend/fiancée, Tela, witnessed by his archrival Bordox. It’s told through Bordox’s POV and so we get not only character and plot development for Davi and Tela but also for Bordox. Their relationships were all established in book 1, The Worker Prince. We knew Bordox would want revenge because he always blames Davi for his troubles and Davi really put him in his place in Book 1. Davi and Tela’s romance developed in book 1, but most couples go through phases where they have fights, so no surprise there. Thus, that scene is not a spoiler but it does have enough juice to intrigue fans of the series and new readers as to the kinds of issues book 2, The Returning, holds in store.

Second, choose story descriptions which don’t give too much away about the prior book or the latest. You can tell them the basic plot without ruining the ending. You don’t have to ruin the first book’s ending. Instead of saying “they fought and so-and-so won, but now they’re at it again,” you can say: “In book 2, the characters find themselves in conflict over x, y and z and the repercussions of book 1 are impacting their personal relationships and lives.” See how that avoids mention of the ending yet sets up the conflict in the second book as well as characters? It tells you there’s going to be obstacles to overcome and that the events of the first book do play a role in shaping things but also leaves you room for new things as well. (Dang, even when I’m describing generic sentences I’m writing generic sentences. This could ruin my craft.)

What intriguing tidbits can you offer to tease without giving it away? With The Returning, for example, I can say: “Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship.”  Generic? Yes, but promising because our favorite couple, the antagonist and his love interest, aren’t so perfect after all. In The Worker Prince, we rooted for them to get together so now that’s threatened? Readers will want to know why. There’s complication and complications make for interesting drama. Here’s another example: “Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him.” We don’t know if Xalivar won or lost in the last book, but he wants revenge and that’s well within his character so we’re not spoiling anything. People who enjoyed the larger-than-life villain will enjoy seeing him up to his old antics and how the heroes overcome it.

Here’s a third: “Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover.” Our three buddies with great rapport are back and they are hunting killers and in danger? Who doesn’t want to know what happens?

THE RETURNING

Here’s the full description I’ve used for the back of the book, Goodreads, etc.:

The Vertullians are free and have full citizenship but that doesn’t mean they’re accepted. Now someone is sending assassins to kill and terrorize them and it’s riling up old enmity all over again. On top of that, Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him. So Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover. Meanwhile, the new High Lord Councilor, Tarkanius, Lord Aron, and Davi find themselves fighting all over again to preserve the unity of the Borali Alliance, while Xalivar’s allies and even Lords on the Borali Council work against them in an attempt to tear it apart. Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship, and Miri’s adjusting to her new status as a non-royal. The action packed, emotional, exciting Davi Rhii story continues.

I tease familiar character names and remind readers new and old that there will be more political backstabbing, family drama, romantic entanglements and life-on-the-line action. All things people loved about The Worker Prince.

Second, choose the types of post you’d most like to feature: interviews, excerpts, reviews, video blog entries, character interviews, humorous dialogues, guest posts, etc. It’s best to have a variety and spread them out so you don’t run a whole week of reviews or excerpts, etc. Then contact the bloggers you’d like to see participate and ask if they’d be interested, offering post options. When guest blogging, it’s usually best to find a topic or way of discussing one that relates to the blog’s theme and offer that. I also use anchor blogs, big blogs with lots of traffic, on Mondays to start my week and Wednesdays for a boost when I can and scatter the others between. When possible, I have each link to the next day’s post.

It’s important to pick a variety of blogs, too. You don’t want all blogs that reach the same audience. You are trying to let as many people as possible know about your book. Now if your book’s family friendly, an erotica blog probably isn’t the best fit (i.e. use common sense) but I’ve had mystery writers invite me to write about craft on their blogs and so on. Small blogs can reach people, too, especially as they grow and the posts sit there over time. Obviously, the more built-in the audience, the better, but still, you can benefit from the variety of sizes just the same.

Third, start writing. It’s best to start a month or more in advance. You’ll have a lot of content to develop and the more time you have to prepare it, the better quality it can be. You’ll also have time to adopt any changes the host sites might request, etc. Remember to capture the excitement you had in writing the book. There’s plenty of elements from craft of dialogue to plotting to genre choices to character arcs and more you can guest post on. By being creative, you can still tease your book and work in aspects of it without a sales pitch, like I’m doing with this post. Readers love to dig in more in depth to the workings of a novelists mind and they find the behind-the-scenes insight helpful and interesting. And, if you want them to buy your book, you need to convince them you’re interesting. Why else should they agree to dedicate hours to hanging with your mind and creative output? Use humor, provide links and examples, and provide pictures and a bio on every post, including links to not just your book page and site but also to other helpful tools and books you might mention in the post.

Fourth, visit the posts and answer comments. Dialogue with the blogger and readers. Don’t just let it post and disappear. A key part of what makes blogs and blog tours successful is the chance to interact with bloggers/authors. Be personable and have fun. If you get a troll, either ignore them or make a joke. Don’t engage in a flame war. Instead, have fun and answer with as much personality, intelligence and interesting data as you can. That will build relationships with whole new readers. I’ve had people buy my book and even become friends doing that. And those people will then help spread the word with no effort from you.

Blog tours are a lot of work. So is book promotion. But in the present climate of publishing, more and more of that onus falls on the authors. The beauty of blogs is that they’re free and you can reach out beyond your own circles to a wider band, helping draw traffic and attention for others doing solid work and writing while, at the same time, promoting yourself. So there you have it, a few tips to doing a blog tour for a second book without ruining the first. Hit me back in a month or two and I’ll tell you if they work or not. Meanwhile, thanks to Anthony for inviting me to Rambling On.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the new anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

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Over the summer months I’ll be welcoming the teenagers involved in The Shoe Crew to guest-blog about what they’re doing to benefit a very special pair of charities, SHOES THAT FIT and A PLACE CALLED HOME.” The Crew is a group of really great kids including Justin and Kayla Tinucci, Taylor Hay and about 10 other kids. Some of them I’ve interviewed before, including today’s guest Sam Lant. The guest blogs will be sprinkled throughout the coming months, as The Shoe Crew efforts build towards the end of the summer.

 Instead of an interview, I asked my young friend Sam Lant to write a guest post about his involvement in the charity project: Shoes That Fit.  So I’ll shut up now and let Sam tell you all about it. Take it away, Sam!

Hey Anthony:

 

Thanks for letting me share the limelight with you for just a few moments – what an honor to be asked to guest post on your site to share about our BIG SUMMER CHARITY PROJECT.  As you know, we are fresh off the Ronald McDonald House Walk For Kids in which our team “THOSE CRAZY KIDS NEXT DOOR” raise $8,369 for Pasadena Ronald McDonald House.  Since the walk for kids doesn’t come around again until next April, we are looking for something to keep us busy through the summer.

 

So, here is the deal.  A bunch of us kids, with help from our parents, are doing a huge charity project for Shoes That Fit.  This organization receives no government funding and relies entirely upon private donations from individuals, businesses and foundations.  Their mission is to provide brand new athletic shoes to children in need so that they can go to school in comfort and with dignity, better prepared to learn and play.  They have shown that giving kids a new pair of shoes helps raise self esteem which in turn boosts grade scores.  It is amazing what a new pair of shoes can do.

 

I learned about the organization SHOES THAT FIT when I attended their SNEAKER BALL last month as a celebrity guest.  My mom always has me research the events I attend so that I know why I am going and who it helps.  My 16th birthday was coming up and I had been looking for a charity that could benefit from the gifts I was about to receive, while I don’t have much – there are people out there in this world who have much less.  I have the important things in life… a roof over my head, food in my belly, a warm place to sleep and my X-Box.  🙂    I immediately knew that this was the charity I wanted to help.  My mom contacted the head of the organization and asked what we would need to do to set up an event to benefit their charity.  From there the ball just got rolling.  I thought it would be cool to have everyone bring a new pair of Athletic shoes in lieu of gifts for myself.  Since I am inviting 200 teen actors, musicains and athletes to my birthday, I knew we could really go a long way toward filling up the warehouse in time for back to school in August.

 

My mom has been working hard gathering donations and sponsors.  We are holding my birthday in a 3000 sq foot warehouse partially donated by E World Media, DJ Young Slade (son of Lil Jon) will be entertaining the guests with some of the hottest dance music, and Chick-Fil-A has kindly donated the food.  We also have donations coming in for SWAG BAGS which we will give every guest who donates a pair of shoes for the chairty.  But, I have bigger plans.  I started a campaign on Indiegogo to help raise money so that I can purchase even more shoes to donate.  You can check it out here….www.indiegogo.com/shoesthatfit  I want to raise $5000 which I will then use to purchase shoes in the sizes most needed by the organization – you know those size 13 basketball shoes and the sizes that go the quickest because they are in high demand.

 

Enter the SHOE CREW –

 

The Shoe Crew, 2012

It seems about the same time that my mom and I were working out the details for my birthday, Justin and Kayla Tinucci, along with their mom, had an idea of their own.  Something bigger than what I had in mind.  A summer project involving many teen and child actors (and parents) who were also looking for a way to give back to their community.  Thus started “THE SHOE CREW.”  We will be making a difference STEP BY STEP through the summer – not by throwing one big bash but by having each family host a smaller event which will lead up to THE SNEAKER BALL GRAND CELEBRATION August 18th.

 

So, WHO IS THE SHOE CREW????  Well, of course, Justin and Kayla Tinucci, myself (Sam Lant), as well as Saige Ryan Campbell, Dustynn and Ethynn Cerney, Sean Ryan Fox and his sister Camryn Molnar, Taylor Hay, Bryce Hitchcock, Abi Ann Hoffman, Merrit Leighton and her sister Marlowe Peyton, Malyssa Martinez, Garrett Palmer, Jason and Mark Rinkel, and rounding it out – Gabriel and Hannah Welch.  We also have Dylan Riley Snyder from Disney Channel’s “Kickin-it” helping on our celebrity crew team.  There are other teens/kids that will be joining in a long the way but these are the key SHOE CREW team members.  Each family is in charge of hosting a different event where the entry to get in will be a new pair of athletic shoes or a monetary donation that we can use to buy the most needed sizes.  Along with helping their parents plan their individual events the kids also have a bigger long term job which they will be in charge of all summer.  Jobs such as: set-up team, t-shirt sales, social media outreach, inventory, web design, video team, team communications and red carpet stylist.

 

What events do we have in store?  My SEXY 16th Birthday is going to be a private event but the rest of the events anyone can come out to participate.  Now, this list is just a rough draft.  Things might change as we go along.  We are in the process of contacting venues and locking down locations.  You can always follow along at our web site set up specifically for the SHOE CREW – http://theshoecrew-org.webs.com/ to see what event is taking place while you are in town.  🙂  Here is a list of what it looks like so far:

 

  • June 9th – Sam Lant’s Sexy 16th Birthday
  • June 15th – launch of official Shoe Crew Campaign at I-Fly
  • June 16th – Summer concert
  • June 24th – Celebrity Dodge Ball
  • June 29th – Build a Mouse
  • July 14th – Drive in Movie
  • July 21st – Geocaching Event – High Tech Hide and Seek
  • July 23rd – Celebrity event with All-Star Wrestling Team
  • July 28th – Pink Event and music concert hosted by band Pink-E Swear
  • August 4th – Kart Racing
  • August 11th – Walk-A-Thon
  • August 18th – Sneaker Ball Closing Ceremony

HOW CAN YOU HELP???

 

If you live locally, attend the events.  They are going to be a lot of fun and there is something for everyone.  Our goal is to get the entire Los Angeles Area community involved in donating shoes.  But, it goes beyond that.  Are you a individual, business or foundation looking for a great place to spend your tax deductible dollars?  Do you have a product that you want to get into the hands of teen actors, musicians and athletes?  Are you an athlete, actor or musician who is sponsored (or receives gifts) and has a closet full of shoes you haven’t been able to wear and are looking for the perfect place to donate?  Or….do you have the time to help tweet, share on facebook and email your friends to tell them about this exciting event????  We aren’t picky…help in any small or big way you can.  If you have any questions you can always hit me up on twitter or facebook or email Jennifer Tinucci –jennifer@five-starpr.com

The ever-smiling Sam Lant

The ever-smiling Sam Lant

 

Thanks for letting me come hang with you for the day.  This was fun.  We will end this in your usual fashion…. so Mr. Cardno – What is your favorite Book?

 

See ya in the movies. 🙂

 

Sam Lant

teen actor from the recently release Warner Brother Studios hit movie “PROJECT X”

 

 

Here are some links you can check out to find out what is in store for my birthday and throughout the summer with the Shoe Crew and Shoes that Fit –

 

Sam Lant’s Birthday Event:

 

http://samlant16thbirthday.webs.com/

www.indiegogo.com/shoesthatfit

Twitter: @actorsamlant

Facebook: www.facebook.com/samlant

Instagram: @samlant

 

Shoes That Fit:

 

www.shoesthatfit.org

twitter: @shoesthatfit

 

 

THE SHOE CREW:

 

http://theshoecrew-org.webs.com/

www.apch.org

www.five-starpr.com

twitter: @shoecrew2012

facebook: www.facebook.com/TheShoeCrew

 

And since Sam so cunningly turned the tables on me as he was closing out his post, I’m going to turn this into a contest. I’ll donate another $25 to Sam’s Indie-Go-Go if anyone can name my favorite book. I’ll donate $50 if anyone can guess the #1 and #2 books. How’s that, Sam? Leave your guesses as a comment, folks!

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Yesterday I had the older group of kids who are my nieces and nephews interview me. Today we continue with the younger crowd, starting with my niece Renee, to whom THE FIRFLAKE is dedicated.

The Firflake

RENEE (age 11): What inspires you the most?

ANTHONY: Yesterday I talked about how inspiration for writing comes from a lot of different places: people I’ve seen, places I’ve been too, things I’ve read. But what inspires me as a person, every day, is love. I’m blessed to have so many amazing people in my life, and that love and support inspires me to be a better writer and also a better person. And hugs. Hugs are important. As you know.

RENEE: Are you going to make another Christmas story for me and Vinnie?

ANTHONY: There is another Christmas story coming. CHRISTMAS GHOSTS isn’t written for you and Vin the way THE FIRFLAKE was, but I still want you to read it! And who knows… maybe Christmas Eve I’ll have a new story to tell you guys, and that might someday become another book!

JARED (age 11): What inspired you to become a writer?

ANTHONY: Yesterday, I said “comic books.” Of course, it wasn’t just comic books that did it. It was also teachers and other adults who encouraged my creativity. Mrs. Bleakly and Mrs. Vezina at Austin Road Elementary; Mr. and Mrs. DelCampo and Ms. Burgh at Mahopac High School; the professors at Elmira. When I mentioned the cousins on Long Island whose house I used in my super-hero stories? Aunt Terry used to read everything I wrote while I was visiting, and then she’d ask questions and make suggestions about how to improve it. All of that encouragement helped, and continues to help.

JARED: Are your characters in your stories based on people you know?

ANTHONY: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The main characters are very rarely based on any one person. For instance, in CHRISTMAS GHOSTS, the character of Collum McCann has bits and pieces of the personalities of lots of sixth graders I’ve known over the years. It’s hard to base a main character on a specific person because there’s always the chance that person will be insulted or upset at the way you portray them, despite the fact that the story is fiction. I find it’s easier to use friends and relatives as supporting characters, so they can be happy they got included but I don’t have to worry about how they’ll feel about their portrayal. CHRISTMAS GHOSTS is a good example: between students, teachers and coffee shop workers, there are a LOT of familiar names and little “winks” at family and friends. Who knows … YOU might even be in that one!

JARED: What’s your favorite kind of writing and is it the same as what your favorite kind of reading is?

ANTHONY: Hmmmm. They are probably not the same thing. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, but I haven’t really written that much science fiction or fantasy so far other than the super-hero stuff I wrote for the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (STAPA). I can say that I read a lot of short stories (at least 365 every year) and that’s the story length I like to write too. Novels are hard work!

MORGYN (age 8): How do you like to elaborate with your stories? I’m learning to elaborate with mine right now.

ANTHONY: I’m glad your teachers are teaching you how to elaborate on your ideas! You know, the first draft of the THE FIRFLAKE was a lot shorter. There was a lot less detail about the kids and how they were a part of the storytelling tradition of the family. So when I wrote later drafts, I added more sense detail: smells, sights, etc., and I gave the kids more to do. And then in one of the last drafts, your Uncle Jon said “there’s still something missing. What is it? Elves. Santa. Snow. Presents. Waitaminnit! Where’s the reindeer??” And a whole new scene got written. So sometimes I elaborate by asking “what is it the characters are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, doing.” And sometimes I elaborate because someone says “hey, did you ever think about including a scene where…”

MORGYN: How do you decide on a topic to write on?

ANTHONY: Mostly it’s whatever strikes me when I sit down to write. It might be a new idea that popped into my head while I was driving, or it might be a scene in a story I’m already working on but I’ve been struggling with it. Story ideas come from all over the place, but it’s really rare that I have an idea and immediately start working on it. I usually let ideas sit in my head a while, until I’ve thought them over and they seem ready to be written. I call that “letting them percolate.”

MORGYN: If you could interview someone you haven’t interviewed yet, who would you pick?

ANTHONY: I can’t give just one answer to this question. So I’m going to divide it up by category, okay?
Authors: Rick Riordan. Neil Gaiman. Seanan Maguire. Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman.
Musicians/Singers (adult): Rosanne Cash. Dennis DeYoung. Adam Levine. Kalan Porter. Pentatonix.
Actors (adult): Nathan Fillion (Castle). Colin Morgan (Merlin). John Glover. John Lithgow.
Comic Book Writers/Artists: Gail Simone. George Perez. Bill Willingham.
Musicians/Singers (teens): Kropp Circle. Cody Simpson. The Feaver. And I know you and Renee would love it if I could interview Big Time Rush.
Actors (teen): Sterling Beaumon. Zach Mills. Jeanette McCurdy. Molly Quinn.

XAVIER (age 8): What inspired you to write the book?

ANTHONY: Well, Xave, like your mother I have always loved Christmas. And I’ve always loved the animated television specials like Rudolph, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. So those cartoons were part of the inspiration. Reading The Grinch and Polar Express and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas to Vinny and Renee when they were very little was another inspiration. And then there’s the tradition of wishing on the first snowflake of winter, and what magic that snowflake carries. All of that came together to become THE FIRFLAKE you know and love.

JACK (age 10): Who is your favorite Harry Potter character? (even though I already know)

ANTHONY: Well, since you already know, I don’t have to answer, do I? haha. Okay, since other people probably want to know, too: Remus Lupin. He reminds me a lot of me. My second favorite character would be Ron Weasley,who also reminds me a lot of me.

JACK: Which is your favorite Harry Potter book?

ANTHONY: They’re all so good, but if I had to choose one … Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s exciting, it introduces Remus and Sirius (my favorite character and your father’s favorite!), and Buckbeak is just really cool.

JACK: What was the most exciting part of your favorite Harry Potter book?

ANTHONY: Oh, the whole scene in the Shrieking Shack where Harry, Ron and Hermione are facing off with Sirius and Lupin, and we find out Scabbers is not really a rat, and then Snape shows up … the first time I read the book I couldn’t put it down through that whole sequence.

JOEY (age 7): Have you read any books about the Titanic?

ANTHONY: I have! I read Walter Lord’s A NIGHT TO REMEMBER when I was in high school. I haven’t read any recently though. It’s an incredible story, though, isn’t it?

JOEY: Have you ever written a humongous paragraph?

ANTHONY: I think the longest paragraph I’ve ever written was one full page long when I typed it up. That’s probably not really “humongous,” since there are some writers who write paragraphs that go on for 10 pages!

JOEY: What’s your favorite book?
XAVIER: What is your favorite book?

ANTHONY: I don’t have just one favorite book, so it’s a good thing you both asked me this question. And, since it’s the same question I ask at the end of every interview I do, it’s the perfect final question for this post too! So here’s my two favorite books, and what I would say to recommend them to someone who hasn’t read them yet:

Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’ve read this book every couple of years since high school. It wasn’t the first vampire novel ever written, but it is the most famous. What I love about the book is that while Dracula is the title character, he’s not the narrator. In fact, you very rarely get a look into what Dracula is thinking. He’s frightening because of the way the other characters talk about him.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I read this one every year around Christmas. Even when I’ve been having a bad day or week or year, the story of Scrooge reminds me that anyone can change and be a better person, if they want to be. It’s just that some of us (like Scrooge) need someone else to remind them why being a better person is important. And the narrator tells the story as though he were a favorite uncle telling the story to kids in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve, which reminds me just a little bit of me!

* * * * *
I want to thank all of my real and adopted siblings for letting their kids take part in this: my sister Lorraine Bostjancic, Margaret and Scott Witt, Jon and Cindy Cornue, Jim and Liz Leahey, Tom and Hilda Werder, Frances and Grant Price, Nina O’Reilly, Judy Kiddoo, and Romykay Hajkowski. I’m hoping to do this again in about 6 months and get the rest of the nieces and nephews who missed this one to take part. I think all of the kids (and the not-so-kids like Danny, Laura, and Jake) asked some great questions, making me a proud uncle!

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