Wednesday, February 11, 2015

O Frabjous day! Nightborn Advanced Reader Copies have arrived!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I found a package in my carport and opened it to find a box of Nightborn (Thrones and Bones 2) arcs and the cover flat. Look at this gorgeousity (art by Justin Gerard, design by Ken Crossland). Oh what a beamish boy am I!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Mind Meld: The Intersection of SF/F Games and Genre Fiction

Today I am participating in a Mind Meld over at SF Signal on the subject of "The Intersection of SF/F Games and Genre Fiction." A group of science fiction and fantasy authors, including Matt Forbeck, Elizabeth Bear, Myke Cole, and others, discussing the back and forth between gaming and genre fiction writing. Lots of good stuff in the discussion. Please everyone check out the post. You won't be surprised to see that my own response leads off talking about Skyrim.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Reflections from the Road: Saint Rose Academy

This past Wednesday, I visited Saint Rose Academy and spoke to 81 students in the fifth through eighth grade. As she has done before, the wonderful Sara Gassman from Little Professor Book Center in Homewood, Alabama went with me to facilitate book sales for the signing. As she was setting up, a group of kids came running into the gymnasium where I would be speaking and mobbed her table. I came over and was instantly pelted with questions. I explained that they should save their questions for the end of my talk, but they informed me that they were all fourth graders and wouldn't get to hear me. So I answered their questions and gave them all Thrones and Bones trading cards.

Then I spoke to the fifth through eight grade. They were a great bunch of kids. Really enthusiastic and engaged, and the Q&A afterwards was very lively. Lots of questions about the forthcoming books in the series, other areas of my world, how history influences my fantasy, and, of course, the games!

I could have talked for hours--the questions didn't slow down--so eventually I called a halt myself. But it was a really fun time. Thank you to Administrative Assistant & Admissions Director Vivian Hults for arranging a great visit. And thank you to the students and faculty of Saint Rose.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Frostborn: An Excellent Edition to the Genre

Another great review for Frostborn.This one appears at Books, Crafts and Beats, which is, I believe, the blog of a librarian in the Denver, Colorado area. I'm very happy with the opening line of the review:
"Masters of the fantasy genre like Tolkien and George RR Martin have set the bar very high for this genre but Lou Anders' book, the first in a proposed series, is an excellent addition to the genre."
And their closing paragraph:
"This story is one of those rare books that will appeal to both girls and boys. The themes explored: wanting to fit in with one's peers, dual heritage, wanting to chart one's own course different from your parents are universal. Although we learn little about Karn's four sisters and his mother except in one small mention, Thianna for her part has an important female mentor who teaches her important skills. I highly recommend this book for grades 4-7."

Tween Book Club @ Roscoe

Tuesday of last week, I had a wonderful Skype visit talking about Frostbornwith the Tween Book Club of the North Suburban Library District's Roscoe, Illinois Branch. The club is hosted by librarian Tammy Tucker, and meets only twice annually. Each time, they choose one book and meet once a week for three weeks to discuss it. At the first meeting, they discuss the first 1/3 of the book and do crafts related to the read. In this case, the Tween Book Club made their own Thrones and Bones games! In the second meeting, they Skype with the author. In the third, they have a party and eat food related to the book (which, in the case of Frostborn, means they can try some skyr!).

I was able to share my Powerpoint presentation with a classroom of kids and parents, and then take one-on-one questions from them afterwards. Although I have other Skype visits lined up for later in 2015, this was my first one. It was a blast and the kids were great. Here's a shot of the Thrones and Bones board that Tammy herself made.

Update 2/10/15: Here are some scans of some of the menu from the party, photos of the food spread, the poster for the club, and a cool WordSearch puzzle !

Staff Pick: Hoover Public Library's Best of 2014

I've just learned that the Hoover Public Library has included Frostbornin their "Best of 2014 - Juvenile fiction" list. The direct link to a PDF of their list is here.

Back in September, they reviewed Frostborn, saying:
This wonderful fantasy steeped in Norse mythology is by a Birmingham author! Highly recommended for fans of Rick Riordan, J.R.R. Tolkien, and John Flanagan.
This is the 11th Staff Pick for Frostborn. The full list of bookstores and libraries that have selected my novel is now Book Shop Santa Cruz, Books Inc., Eagle Harbor Book Co., Hoover Public Library, King's English Bookshop, Mockingbird Books, Politics and Prose, Powell's, Queen's Library, The Waucoma Bookstore and Word Bookstores.

Big smile!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

It's been a while since a book pulled me through itself as rapidly as Paul Durham's The Luck Uglies. Lately, I've been reading a lot of material because I felt that I ought to, or needed to know about it, or required it for research. I have been wanted to get to The Luck Ugliessince I first spotted Petur Antonsson's wonderful cover, but as time wore on, I was worried that it wouldn't hold up. I needn't have. The book starts beautifully--with a rooftop chase--and it's all uphill from there!

Durham has done a magnificent job constructing the fictional world of Village Drowning and has peopled it with a wonderful cast of characters. 11 year old Rye O'Chanter lives by a set of rhyming rules, rules which don't quite mesh with the law as laid down by Earl Morningwig Longchance. When Rye accidentally breaks one of hers, she has an encounter with a horrifying creature. It seems the Bog Noblins have returned! Unfortunately, the Earl has driven out the only group capable of defeating them, the mysterious and possibly criminal Luck Uglies. Rye sets off to learn about the truth about Luck Uglies, though the answers are closer to home than she could have predicted.

This is a delightful fantasy adventure set in a quasi-medieval village, light on the magic but high on the adventure, that digs deeper than the usual good verses evil dichotomies to ask questions about the nature of monsters and outcasts. The world building is top notch, the pace brisk, the balance of humor and tension perfect, and the pay off most satisfying. If I have any quibbles, they're not worth sharing. It's been too long since I enjoyed a work this much. Highly recommended for kids and adults alike. I started my son on it the day after I finished, and he loves it as well! I preordered The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmersimmediately upon reading THE END. It can't get here soon enough.

Visit Paul Durham's website at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reflections from the Road: The Altamont School

Last Friday I spoke to 172 kids ranging 5th to 8th grade at The Altamont School in Birmingham. This is a private school with a history of literary achievement among its alumni. As you walk in, you pass between two glass cases showcasingall the books that former students have written. Several famous names, including Daniel Wallace(Big Fish). It made me wish that I had gone to Altamont, so that Frostborn could be there as well!

Their brand new theater space was one of the nicest I've been in in 19 or so school visits. Incredible stage, lights, acoustics, etc... (and thank you to Jack for handling sound and lights during the show!) It was an incredible 45 minutes, and I've discovered that I am happiest--and best--when you give me a wireless mic. I was running up and down the seats, asking questions of the audience like the most hyper active talk show host ever.

Then they put me in a conference room and let kids who had bought the book eat lunch with me, ask questions and get their copy signed. And the kids were great. Tons of questions about other locations on the world, the game, lots of "where can I buy this?" on the board and card game, lots of questions about future books etc... Also, these kids are sneaky - their boundless enthusiasm got me to open up about all kinds of secret details of the world, stuff I haven't told anyone yet.

They then took me to the lunchroom to eat with the teachers, where we had a very energetic discussion of writing and film. Altamont has a great cafeteria, and the conversation was fun. (The Avengers is too a perfect film, and I'm not changing my mind.)

Thank you to Mary Martin (Librarian) for arranging the visit, Thomas Goldsmith (Director of Admissions) for taking care of me upon arrival, Margaret Whiteside (Marketing & Communications) for the pictures, Altamont-parent and old friend Tad Lidikay for dropping by, and all of the wonderful students and faculty. I had a great time and it's so gratifying to hear you all did as well.

The Legend of Korra: Season Three

Yesterday I finished watching Legend of Korra: Book Three - Change(I'm behind I know - no spoilers). Incredibly powerful season finale. But also, the best of this series since Avatar. I love this show, and I love Korra, who has got to be one of my all-time favorite protagonists. But one thing I love the most about both Avatar and Korra is the way that they create complex characters. Tenzin is simultaneously a stick in the mud you wouldn't invite to a party and the coolest guy on the show. Sokka, on Avatar: The Last Airbender, never outgrew his horrid sense of humor. He matured into a great strategist and leader, but his humor never improved. Korra herself is an incredibly strong young woman, but the writers aren't afraid to show her making a lot of dumb mistakes. The fact that she's imperfect doesn't diminish her strength of character, it makes her real. Love love love these shows and this world! It has got to be up there as one of my all time favorite fantasy milieus. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Creatures, Quests, and Secret Worlds Sale

Powell's Books is having a "Creatures, Quests, and Secret Worlds Sale." 20 fantasy books for young readers, including my own Frostborn, are 30% off for a limited time. I love their promo for their promo! They write:
Follow the spotted unicorn deep into the heart of the woods, past the Forbidden River teeming with man-eating sturgeon, beyond the willow grove where the fairies mock the elves, around the giant tortoises munching on snakeroot and ragwort, over the sleeping dragon blocking Hermit's Pass, and there, in the clearing, lies the treasure you've been seeking: 20 shiny-new fantasy books for imaginative young readers, all 30% off for a limited time. The bounty is yours for the taking, but you better act fast.
With that copy, how can you not?