Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 Printer's Row Lit Fest (June 12-13)

The annual Printer's Row Lit Fest, held in Chicago every year, is coming up. I wish I could go, since my publisher (Echelon Press) and many of my author friends (Nick Valentino, L.J. Sellers and J.R. Turner and Norm Cowie) will be there, signing their books. But, alas, even if I could afford the 2000 mile trek, I'll still be teahcing and I feel like I'm missing out. Hopefully, Killer Cows will be able to have some kind of presense there in my absence.

If you're in the Chicago are during those dates, you need to check it out. There are some great authors, ready to sign some awesome novels. Here's the press release and link for furthor info:


( May 28, 2010 --

May 28, 2010–Laurel, Maryland–Nashville author Nick Valentino (THOMAS RILEY) will be one of 16 Echelon Press authors signing his book at the 2010 Printers Row Lit Fest. With the recent launch of his debut Young Adult Novel, Nick Valentino will join fellow Quake authors, J.R. Turner (SCHOOL'S OUT 4-EVER), Kieryn Nicolas (RAIN), Sam Morton (BETRAYED), Marlis Day (SECRETS OF BAILEY'S CHASE), and Norm Cowie (FANG FACE). Nothing will stop this group of authors from entertaining and meeting readers at Tent FF on June 12-13, 2010 in Chicago, IL. The Quake authors will be signing books, talking about eBooks, and doing photo opps with readers over the entire weekend. You can find more information on Printers Row online or contact the Chicago Tribune.

Echelon Press is more than a little proud of their Quake authors who offer fresh and innovative stories for young readers to dive into. Quake, a division of Echelon Press, was developed specifically to reach readers between the ages of 10 and 20. "It's exciting to discover that adults enjoy our books as much as the young readers. It is totally gratifying," says owner Karen Syed. The authors not only put their hearts into every book they write, but they live for the personal interaction with readers. This fact has made them festival favorites across the nation.

Nick Valentino is a creative force to be reckoned with. Possessing talent in a variety of creative venues, this young dynamo is a musician, an artist, and now an author. Over the years, Valentino has tried his hand and succeeded at many things, but he seems to have found a real niche in the Steampunk genre of novels. With thousands of books sold in a very short time, he has become a favorite among Steampunk fans and industry professionals. He has recently been approached about the possibility of his THOMAS RILEY character being adapted into a graphic novel.

The Quake authors have become favorites among the attendees of Printers Row, bringing back teachers, students, and librarians each year to find out what's new and to just chat. Nick Valentino will be in attendance at the Lit Fest for the first time this year. If his appearances at prior events since the release of THOMAS RILEY are any indication, the crowds will be large and happy around the Echelon Press/Quake tent.

President and CEO of Echelon Press says Nick Valentino is "A sight to behold in all his Steampunk regalia. Always smiling and charming readers of all ages and from all walks of life, Nick is just incredible."

For more info on Echelon Press, Quake, or any of its authors contact Karen Syed at 301-490-2507. On site Interviews can be arranged for the Printers Row Lit Fest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Interview at Cynthia's Attic

Mary Cunningham, author of the Cynthia's Attic series (great reads, by the way) interviewed me recently about my writing, teaching and, of course, Killer Cows.

Check out the interview here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Killer Cows Interview at Oasis For YA

Another interview with me has been posted at Oasis For YA, a really cool website dedicated to both readers and writers of young adult fiction...

Jessica Sounder, who maintains the blog, also wrote a great review of Killer Cows (reprinted with permission)...

This was a very cute read! Perfect for young adults and the young at heart who like the B-rated black and white films. I started it yesterday, and after a slow start, got hooked in, finishing it in less than 24 hours. All in all it was very entertaining, though I felt the characters could use a bit more fleshing out. All the kids pretty much felt the same,including their dialogue, minus "little dude," Cody. He was the most fascinating and unique character of the bunch.

I was worried it would be a hooky rendition of recent horror films, such as Black Sheep, but was pleasantly surprised that not only was it uproariously funny, making me laugh several times, it had a good moral that wasn't at all preachy.

The ending was not as I'd expected it, and was a refreshing contrast to the normal "formula" ones of the genre.

The only disappointment was the "Romance" between Randy and Helen. It felt as if it had been thrown in because the author felt it needed a romance. In this reader's personal opinion, it could have been left out. However, it didn't really detract from the read, just made me wonder why it was there.

The reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 is because I felt this book could have used a better edit. There were several typos and a few They're instead of there or theirs. And you're instead of yours.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the paperback edition to come out so I can give it to my son.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Interview at Literary Asylum

Matt Cunningham is a guy after my own heart...into movies, metal, NASCAR and young adult fiction (which he also writes himself). He also has a great site called Literary Asylum. So of course I'm gonna say yes to an interview request about Killer Cows.

Here's the link to the interview:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio: Rest In Peace

I just read the news on Twitter, right after the NASCAR race was over and I settled down to get my homework done, but not before checking out my tweets...

Ronnie James Dio, one of my lifelong heroes, and one of the few celebrities I ever had the fortune to meet (who signed my copy of his first Dio album), passed away today at the age of 67.

For those of you who don’t know who he was, heavy metal lost a giant today. And for me, a lifelong fan of the music he helped to shape and symbolize, this is worse than Elvis or John Lennon dying.

Not only that, he was simply a nice guy. I knew that from the few minutes I spent talking to him one day in a music store 30 years ago, when he signed my record. Despite the hundreds of people clamoring for a pictures or autographs, Ronnie took the time to talk with every one of us, answering our questions and agreeing to pose for pictures. When I talked to him with my well-prepared questions, he was congenial, enthusiastic, and generally seemed happy to talk to me, even though I must have been the hundredth or so fan waiting to meet him. In a genre filled with more than its share of arrogant rock stars, the man had total class

Right now, as I write this, I’m listening to “Heaven & Hell,” arguably one of his greatest songs Black Sabbath ever recorded, and it’s hard not to cry. I gotta crank the volume in his honor, which makes me even sadder. He died before his time, and considering he and his Sabbath bandmates (now called Heaven and Hell) were gearing up for a summer tour, I can’t help but mourn the loss of more music to come.

I need to stop writing now. All I want to do now is listen to his songs, since there won’t be any more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ode to Mom

The best moms never stop being moms, no matter how crazy they drive you.

I’m 46 years old, with a wife of twenty years and two daughters, one 15, the other, 6. I’ve been a teacher for 14 years.

Still, my mom laments the fact I wear my hair long, constantly comments on my taste in music (which hasn’t changed a lot since I was a teenager) and feels the incessant need to offer life-advice as though I had just recently landed on this planet.

But you know what? I love her for it. I look forward to our pointless debates over issues which seem important at the time, revel in our clashes over personal values, and despite my advanced age, enjoy the rebelling to the point she gets upset (most recently, my somewhat belated decision to get a tattoo). You know why? Because no matter what our differences are, whether I'm right or she is, I know my mom cares about me.

I love her for all of that. I love her values, even though they aren’t mine. I love the fact that she (unconsciously?) allows me to actually feel rebellious, despite my middle age, which makes me feel young again. We argue about lots of stuff, though I doubt either of us really think we’ll convince the other they are wrong. It’s the conversation with Mom I truly love.

Mom may no longer be a toting parent I grew up with, but she’s so much more sounding board, my mentor, my moral compass, my friend. We agree on almost nothing, but I respect everything she says, simply because she’s my mom and because, everything I am, everything I think or believe, I owe to her.

Mother’s Day is coming up, and I’ll likely venture to my nearby Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card to tuck into her Mother’s Day card. Is it a gift worthy of the attributes I’ve mentioned about my mom?

Of course not.

Who else but your mom will selflessly let you know how important you think you are?

She’s my mom. I owe her everything.

And, no matter what your age, not matter what your beliefs, you owe your mom everything, too.