Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Launch Day for #kidlit #scifi #stories THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS

Hey, Hey and Happy Day!

Today I am pleased as pink bubbly to announce the launch of my book

15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids

"Enchanting!" -Ellie Ann, New York Times bestseller

Many strange things wait inside these pages. There's a fuzzy ball of kindness, camped out on a grumpy man's porch. A chewed piece of gum with a mind of its own. A smart Alec who actually stands in line twice when they're handing out brains. A girl who isn't afraid when all the plants in her neighborhood come to life.

This collection of 15 science fiction and fantasy stories for kids by award-winning author Anne E. Johnson is perfect for ages 8-12, or anyone with a child's heart.

Things from Other Worlds is available as both print and ebook. Here are some of the places you can find it:

If you'd like a signed copy, here's what you do:

1. Attend one of my live events (details to be posted soon here, on my website, and on Goodreads).
2. Email me at to ask about buying the print book directly from me or requesting a signed book plate.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Left My Brains in San Francisco by Karina Fabian, now an audiobook!

Got Zombies? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Author Karina Fabian created this fearless and hilarious character. Now you can get the Neeta Lyffe tale I Left My Brains in San Francisco fed directly into your brains through your ears. And Karina has a few things to say about using funny Zombies for a serious purpose.

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Why Zombies?  
Using the absurd in fiction to show the absurd in life
by Karina Fabian

Acura reached into the box of "Rename Tenderloin!" flyers for her notebook.  "I can appeal in two weeks, but I need a new strategy."  Her voice grew bitter.  "Apparently, the idea of renaming an important sector of our city for a cruelless, savory treat instead of the barbaric meal of abused animals is just too philosophical for our city government.  I was thinking that maybe we could point out the damage to the psychological attitudes of children growing up in an area named for a fat-laced meat?  Or how about promoting diversity by recognizing vegetarian Americans?"

"Lard, please!"

"Beets!  You know I hate that phrase!"  Acura followed her friend's gaze.  Her nose curled with distaste.

A disheveled guy wandered around the paved path, passing out flyers.  Pale skin, ratty clothes, hair falling out in clumps...

"Can you believe the nerve of those Global Fattening people?  Taking advantage of that zombie exterminator convention to promote their cause."

"Yeah!  And do you hear him?  Groaning, 'Faaat.'  You just know he's having fun at the expense of the expansively bodied."  Beetle, never one to stand by while a woman was emotionally abused, stood and shouted across the table.  "You!  Ugly protestor guy!"

He turned and shambled their way.  Acura wrinkled her nose.  He even smelled disgusting.  He stopped at the table and glared at them.  "Faaat!"

"Oh, don't give me that 'Global Fattening' crap.  You're just playing at a useless unfounded cause to give yourself an inflated sense of importance.  Shame on you!  If you want to hawk your inconsequential ideas, go do it on your side of the park."  With an outstretched arm, she pointed to a less populated area.

The guy stared at her for a moment, as if it was taking longer than normal to process her words.

"Go on!" Beetle yelled.

That apparently got through.  He slammed a flyer on their table.  "Faaat!" he groaned and shambled off toward the duck pond, leaving the flyer behind.

Along with one of his fingers.
---From I Left My Brains in San Francisco, by Karina Fabian

It's an age-old science fiction writers' trick--use the future to discuss an issue of today. So when I was asked to write zombie novels, I decided to give the old trick a new twist. 

I started with a simple premise:

In the 2040s, zombies have become a reality.  They rise from the grave, intent on eating brains or on completing something that they didn't finish in life - even if it's a beer and a TV show.  And, true to so many phenomena in life, people react differently:
·         Some people want to treat them like an emerging species in need of protecting.
·         Some want to profit over speculating why they came to be.
·         Some people want to believe they are still people – capable of love, rehabilitation, and voting in the next election.
·         Some want to exploit them for their own causes (which is the plot for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, which comes out in audiobook this month.)

All of this made a delightful mishmash of insanity into which to drop one woman who just wants to protect people by rekilling the undead, making a little money and having some kind of social life while she's at it. Neeta Lyffe is a zombie exterminator. She’ll spray your house for ants and take out the shambling undead. All part of the job.

I enjoy writing the Neeta Lyffe novels because they aren’t so much about surviving the brainless undead as they are dealing with life that can be just as mindless and crazy, and often in a very comic way.

Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go to Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

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Learn more about Karina Fabian and her books and audiobooks on her website.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Barbara Gaskell Denvil introduces the world to her medieval historical fiction

Always happy to have a writer of historical fiction as my guest. This week we have the talented and prolific Barbara Gaskell Denvil, who talks with such enthusiasm about writing her medieval English novels that you can't help but want to read them!

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By Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Echoes in the night, running footsteps on the cobbles, the flicker of a candle flame at a window, distorted behind thick green-tinged glass. Outside in London’s alleyways the darkness is intense as the moon is hidden behind the rooftops with their soaring chimneys. But suddenly there’s the flare of a torch and its sizzle of fire. The Watch is coming – following – calling!  But the light is then extinguished, in the wind. Panting, losing breath, whispers. The lanes are narrow and the central gutters are thick with rubbish. The footsteps continue,  though now fainter in the distance. He is getting away.

Dreams. Visions. Inspiration. Hauntings.

I write historical fiction, and my books are set in late medieval England around the latter half of the 15th century. There’s a reason for this, for I have dreamed of such things all my life and the episode above is a typical night’s journey into the past. Even while living a highly romantic life for some years on a yacht sailing the sunny Mediterranean, I slipped into those medieval paths of my dreams.

When I started, many, many years ago, to seriously research the period that I already visited once asleep, I found an absorbing fascination in such details. This has never abated. I love to study the principal characters of the era, such as Richard III, Edward IV, Henry VII and all their amazing lords, ladies, courtiers and followers. But it is the ordinary people who inspire me most of all, along with their intriguing lives, limitations, desperate struggles and beliefs .

I have always been an author of sorts, an editor, critic, journalist, short story writer, screenwriter, and most of all a reader. And so it came naturally for me to write about the experiences which were already nightly dramas. I have now written several historical novels based around this late medieval period, and although my plots are centred around genuine historical characters and events, it is my own multi-layered storylines inhabited by beggars and soldiers, prostitutes and butchers, thieves and orphaned children, which interest me the most. My books are long – sorry – but with a huge cast of characters and depth of plot, a short book would be inadequate. After all, it takes a long book to relate all the interweaving mystery, adventure, crime and romance that my books involve. I am fussy about historical accuracy, but it is bringing my individual characters to life which I particularly love, since they all quickly become my great friends – even the villains – and I continue caring for them long after the book is finished.

Two of my historical novels have been on sale for some time in Australia where I now live – but I have recently made them available worldwide and now have great pleasure in announcing that SATIN CINNABAR, SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN and BLESSOP’S WIFE are all available worldwide on Amazon.

BLESSOP’S WIFE (published as The King’s Shadow in Australia) is a tale of crime, mystery and espionage set against the turbulent times when Edward IV died, and events led to Richard III accepting the throne. SATIN CINNABAR actually starts on the battlefield of Bosworth as Henry Tudor claims the crown of England from Richard III. SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN takes place during the first years of the dawning Tudor dynasty when the pretender known as Perkin Warbeck appears in England, claiming to be the rightful king. These books do not lead on one from the other, and each has its individual story and characters. But the dark and troublesome background of late medieval England persists – on the page just as it does in my head.

I continue to write of course, every day at my computer with the glorious Australian scenery and wildlife outside my window for inspiration. Rather a contrast to dark medieval alleys, but the peace and beauty are great for concentrating the mind. All I hear is wind in the trees and birdsong – then the click, click of my keyboard. So there are many more books to come -----


1483 and Edward IV wears England’s crown, but no king rules unchallenged. Often it is those closest to him who are the unexpected danger. When the king dies suddenly, rumour replaces fact – and Andrew Cobham is already working behind the scenes.
Tyballis was forced into marriage and when she escapes, she meets Andrew and an uneasy alliance forms. Their friendship will take them in unusual directions as Tyballis becomes embroiled in Andrew’s work and the danger which surrounds him. A motley gathering of thieves, informers, prostitutes and children eventually joins the game, helping to uncover the underlying treason, as the country is brought to the brink of war.

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Learn more about Barbara Gaskell Denvil on her blog. Follow her on Facebook.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Never Throw a Story Away! Great Advice from THE CANDLE MAKER Author Laura Thomas

We all have them: drafts and fragments of stories we tuck away in (real or digital) drawers, assuming we'll never look at them again. Today's guest, Laura Thomas, makes a great case for the importance of hanging onto those old stories.

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Returning to The Candle Maker
by Laura Thomas

I can honestly say that my latest book, The Candle Maker, was an absolute joy to write—possibly due to writing in the era of “A Christmas Carol”, which always warms the cockles of my English heart. I’m a multi-genre author, and sometimes I get a little turned around writing about a cute, displaced Octopus one day and an angsty, teenaged ballerina the next, but The Candle Maker was one of those stories that comes without the losing of hair or sanity. Bonus! 

It began its life several years ago, with the single word “candle” in a writing assignment with The Institute of Children’s Literature. I brainstormed “candle” in good old clustering fashion and created a Dickensian tale of a misunderstood candle maker. I needed a child to be the protagonist, so ten-year-old Benjamin evolved, making the story suitable for middle graders. Although it was merely a short story at this stage, I suspected there would be a deeper version to unravel one day…

Fast forward a few years and a few published books later, and I stumbled across my old Candle Maker friend in a file. NOTE TO ALL: Never throw a story away, even if you think it’s a painful reminder of how chronic you were as a writing babe. If nothing else, it will serve as a glorious reminder of how far you have come in your writing journey! I re-read the little tale and got to work fleshing out characters and improving the original storyline.

With a tad more wisdom under my writing belt, I added a little brother (I have two boys who give me ample fodder for sibling interaction) and an English bulldog (I have one of those, too, so it was an obvious choice—she would have been highly insulted had I used the Red Setter from the original manuscript.) The storyline already implied the ramifications of listening to rumors, and so I built upon that particular moral and added in some neighborhood bullying, a touch of poverty, and the issue of courage. 

I have to point out that my teenaged sons were flabbergasted that I finally wrote a “dude book” (my previous titles: Tears to Dancing, Tears of a Princess, Fairy Wings, and Pearls for the Bride… say no more!) even though they are significantly beyond its reading target age of 8—11 years. Better late than never. This is my first boy book and I’m delighted with the mix of mystery, history, family values, and the facing of fears. My “little guy”, The Candle Maker, was published by Dancing With Bear Publishing in July 2015.

“Every village has a mysterious character— someone to tell tales about, someone to fear. Meet The Candle Maker. One Christmas Eve in Victorian England, ten-year-old Benjamin Walker is forced to face the fabled old candle maker and see for himself if the ghastly rumors are true. Challenged by neighborhood bullies, lessons and lies, and an English bulldog along the way, Benjamin confronts his fears on a quest to discover the truth. But will this ragamuffin lad find the courage he needs in time to save a life?”

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You can purchase The Candle Maker on Amazon.
Learn more about Laura Thomas on her website; follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

#Coupon Code: MuseItUp Publishing Back-to-School Kids' Book Sale!

Fun books for your school-aged bookworms (including my own Ebenezer's Locker).

Redeem code MUSEITYOUNG2015 at MuseItUp Publishing through Sept. 30, 2015.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Coming soon: Things from Other Worlds: 15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids.

Target launch date for this collection of lower-middle grade tales is October 6. It will be available everywhere ebooks are sold, and I plan a print edition, too.

This will replace my Aliens & Weird Stuff series, which I'll pull from Amazon. I've learned a lot since releasing those.

 Isn't this alien silhouette a great combo of friendly and spooky? I'm tempted to name him. The cover is by James at Great, fast work that includes image licensing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

When Fiction Is Reality: Kevin Hopson on Loss, #Writing, and DELIVERING JACOB

Please welcome my fellow MuseItUp author, Kevin Hopson, who wrote his new novelette, Delivering Jacob, on a painfully personal topic. I invited Kevin to talk about the transfer of real life into fiction.

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When Fiction is Reality
By Kevin Hopson

If you’re a fiction writer, you know that writing often portrays some aspects of our real life. Whether these depictions are in the form of names, character traits, settings, themes or whatever, they all come from a universal comfort in finding something we can relate to. As a result, we can’t help but include reality in fiction. However, what happens when an event, especially a devastating one, has impacted your life so much that it inspires you to write a story about it?

My cross-genre novelette, Delivering Jacob, is a perfect example of this. It deals with the loss of a child, which is something I experienced back in August 2010 when my son, Aydin, was stillborn at 36 weeks. Numb and in shock, I couldn’t imagine ever writing again, yet it crept back into my life only a few months later as I attempted to grieve and cope with the loss. My writing wasn’t the same, though. It turned more laborious, and the quality I had come to expect with my work was lacking. While writing provided a means of release for me, I had to come to terms with the loss before taking it seriously again.

It took nearly eighteen months for this to occur. After the birth of my second son, Skyler, I was motivated to pick up where I left off. That was three-and-a-half years ago, and I have published nearly a dozen stories/books since then. Even though I integrated some aspect of my loss into several of those works, none of them dealt directly with the death of a child, which is why I felt the need to write Delivering Jacob.

The idea hit me out of the blue, and everything fell into place almost immediately. In fact, the topic felt so natural to me that I managed to write the story in a few days. In addition to the theme, there are many ways I paid tribute to my experience. For example, the main character’s son, Ken, was named after my father who passed away in December 2011. I include other names of family members and even set the story in the Pacific Northwest, which is my favorite part of the country.

I’ve been told that Delivering Jacob is my best work to date. I’m not sure if I agree, but it’s definitely the most personal piece I’ve written, so maybe it hits the reader in a way that my other stories don’t. Regardless, it’s a diverse story that has a little bit of something for everyone … mystery, romance, crime, thrills, and even a hint of the supernatural. The subject matter is important to me, as well as the characters, which is why I have already written follow-up stories revolving around the life of Jacob.

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Here is the book trailer for Delivering Jacob:

Learn more about Kevin Hopson on his blog

Purchase Delivering Jacob as well as Kevin Hopson's other books on Amazon.