What I Tell Myself About Talent is a fun children’s book that places exploration and self actualization center stage. What are you good at? What’s your talent? How can you ever know until you try. This book helps kids make the connection between their current talents and their future jobs, whether it’s an innate talent or something they have to work at. Rather than telling children to be one thing or another, What I Tell Myself About Talent let’s readers know that it’s okay to not know, and exploring the possibilities is part of the fun.
Michael Brown has once again created a book on a topic that I have rarely, if ever, read about in a children’s book. Talent, and how to find it in everyday places with a little exploration, is accomplished in this book with simple rhymes and vibrant illustrations of diverse children doing different activities. This picture book will encourage readers to get out into the world and try things out. It will open their eyes to the idea that they can continue to do the things they like even into adulthood. From doctors to construction workers Michael Brown makes it clear that going out and finding what your good at is part of the fun. The ending of the book has Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is a great opportunity for further discussion beyond the book. What I Tell Myself About Talent is a great way to start a conversation about finding talent in everyday activities.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08CBQR6XJ
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The Rhine is an exciting space opera following a dramatic chain of events set off by the Free Mars Now movement. What served as sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?
The Harmony series is based off of a 15 year old TV script that I wrote about Martian independence, the novel form is its third incarnation. That script was inspired by the TV show Babylon 5. I wanted to explore Mars more thoroughly; what is the impetus for the movement for independence, who are the leaders, what is their endgame?
We follow three very well developed characters in this story where their actions intertwine. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?
Mat is the ‘everyman’ or ‘average guy’ that suddenly finds himself in circumstances beyond his control, and in this capacity he is simply ‘reacting’ to what is happening. This was a deliberate design of character. Every one of us can relate to being ‘tossed’ into something that we must deal with- circumstances not of our own choosing. This also works as a forge for our own character, who we really are will come out. I think of all character archetypes, this is my favorite.
While it may be said that the UN (in my story) is the catalyst- their oppression of Mars setting everything in motion- the character of Alexandria is the one that sets the story off. She is my ‘grey’ character; a family woman, yet ambitious. In her case I wanted to explore those traits, how to balance ‘work’ and family. She loves her family, and seeing a world in the grip of government powers that live for greed, she decides to do something about it.
As the Governor of Mars, Shultz is completely dedicated to his people, but as the story progresses we see he’s in over his head. We hear so much about bad politicians, I thought I would shift the paradigm and make a good one.
You’ve built an intricate world in this book, between Earth and Mars and the corporations. What was the funnest part about building this world?
For me it’s the visualization. In a previous review of the book it was stated that I ‘lavish on detail’, and the reason for that is that I just write what I see. If Shultz and Jung are in his office talking, I imagine the office’s sights and sounds and smells. The same holds true for the Sadie’s corridors and cabins, or Apex’s boardroom.
This is book one in the Harmony series. Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?
Harmony Book 2: ‘Year of the Child’ picks up two months after the events in ‘The Rhine’, opening with Misaki. I expect it to be available by November 2019.
The colony depends on Earth businesses for goods, but Earth is run by an imperialistic United Nations whose regulations and sanctions are overbearing.
Increasing tensions are only exacerbated by suspicious pirate attacks in the Belt. It is rumored the attacks are the work of the Free Mars Now grassroots movement or privateers paid by the Martian government in defiance of the UN. Recent victims of a pirate attack, Mat and his crew aboard the Sadie, discover evidence that could prove the rumors true.
With the UN squeezing the colony for every dime they can get, and Shultz looking to better the Martian situation, there are deals to be made. No one knows that better than Apex Mining’s CEO, Alexandria Reinhardt, whose Board of Directors has ordered her to sell their ore to the Martians despite a UN embargo. Her plans are more ambitious than simply ignoring government decrees, though.
Will the Free Mars Now movement find a way to release the colony from their 100-year lease to Earth? Can Shultz find a way to work with Earth companies without angering their government? Does Mat possess enough evidence to prove Mars’ disloyalty? And … in the past what happens when you push a distant colony too far?
Journey to Osm follows the story of Blue, a young unicorn with a big destiny. Blue is part of a tribe of unicorns going extinct under the harsh rule of an evil sorcerer. A prophecy foretells that Blue will save them but when he is born without metal in his horn, and thus without magic, all hope is lost. When Blue comes of age at 12, he is faced with destiny but how can a magicless unicorn have any hope of saving his tribe?
The book is a fun and unique YA fantasy novel. I really loved the unicorn-centric view of the story. Unicorns are often left out or less significant in fantasy stories, and I think this is a waste of a fun and interesting creature. Author Sybrina Durant furthers this by taking an intriguing twist and really exploring the magic of the unicorns as well as what unicorn civilization looks like. I really loved the world she created with the metal symbol of magic and the hierarchy that creates and the different powers that the magical unicorns possess. With an evil sorcerer, a prophecy, a fight against good and evil, this all adds up to an imaginative and exciting fantasy world.
The plot of the book is that of the underdog character finding strength against evil. Blue is a very sympathetic character through this journey as he is young, sweet, and very strong-willed. From the very beginning of the book you can see how hurt he is that he doesn’t think he can save his people, reciting his mantra ‘No Metal, No Magic.’ But even with this, he does not give up. He trains hard even when he thinks there is no chance. This self-determination in the café of certain failure really endeared Blue to me as a character. Silubhra was also a character that I grew very fond of as she was so compassionate and kind. There are a lot of characters in the story, but I think the author did a good job of making them unique and interesting and I liked how we get to see multiple perspectives.
This book is an exciting fantasy story. Filled with adventure, magic, love, loss, hope, action, and destiny. The story came together well and kept me engaged in the plot from beginning to end. The book is a great read, particularly for young adult readers who love fantasy stories.
Pages: 353 | ASIN: B07LDKX25N
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Adventures of the Cabin Kids follows a group of children, known as the Cabin Kids, through various adventures they experience during their time at 88 Mountain View Cir. They are the fun childish adventures kids often have when left to roam the woods. They meet wildlife, explore the woods, and have to deal with a trio of bullies called the Field Boys that try to chase them off their mountain. By coming together as a team the Cabin Kids are able to beat the Field Boys at their own game. All the while they have to make sure they are back home for supper.
Any grade school child would enjoy this book. From beginning to end it’s filled with the kinds of ‘adventures’ experienced when exploring the woods. They are minor things, like helping a deer and following train tracks to see where they lead, but the book presents these in such a way that each holds it’s own unique interest to the Cabin Kids.
The Cabin Kids are supportive, helpful, and kind to one another. These are exactly the kinds of family and friends you want with you as a kid. The kids are cute, in their mannerisms, and in how they utterly support one another. The illustrations certainly help sell this point. Each illustration in the book looks as if it was drawn by the kids themselves and fits the story perfectly. I wish that there were more illustrations that showcased more of the memorable moments in the story.
The ideas presented are simple and easy to understand for any child. While the motives are sometimes vague, the emotions and actions of the children are something that sets this story apart from many other stories of this genre. Honest and kind to the core. When the Field Boys show up, you can tell they are definitely trouble and the challenges that ensue are sure to cause reflection of playground games in any child.
Adventures of the Cabin Kids showcases the complete support and friendship kids can have toward one another. Foregoing any challenges or drama within the group and instead focusing on the intrigue and wonder of the forest and what could be waiting just down the next trail.
Pages: 24 | ASIN: B07965DQJ9
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FREE LOVE and the SEXUAL REVOLUTION is a joyous romp through the sexual revolution of the sixties. My life partner, John, and I created the first (and perhaps the only) commune for grown-ups where open sexuality was encouraged and fully embraced. We called it Sandstone Retreat. Nestled in the wooded splendor of Topanga Canyon, California, with sweeping vistas of the Malibu Mountains and Pacific Ocean, it was fifteen acres of beauty and pleasure, a retreat from artificiality. It was a community where a person’s mind, body,and sexuality came together in total abandonment. The dress code was total nudity, and the mind-set was acceptance of all things pleasurable, sensual, and sexual. Sandstone was a huge success from the moment we opened our doors, and dozens of celebrities came to stay and play. I can honestly say I saw more naked stars than any other woman of that era! We offered such a unique and tantalizing lifestyle that soon reporters and television producers were clamoring for us to go public about our amazing concept of shared sexual pleasure without jealousy or possessiveness. Gay Talese’s wildly successful best seller Thy Neighbor’s Wife was about life at Sandstone. Articles written about Sandstone are too numerous to list, but just a few highlights include Esquire (three times), Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine, Penthouse, and the Los Angeles Star. We were also prominently featured in television specials that aired on the History Channel, VH1, Lifetime, and the Sundance Channel. Presiding over all that free love and open sexuality was an experience of a lifetime. I came to recognize and embrace my own bisexual nature and to share it with others. When I look back on those years spent at Sandstone, I appreciate how truly wondrous it was, how amazing and unique, and John and I were the creators.
Posted in book trailer
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
Posted in Interviews
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The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.
As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.
Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?
The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.
Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
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I really enjoyed the depth of your two female lead characters. How do you continue to develop your characters throughout your series?
Each character must deal with both personal and external conflicts that shape them as individuals. In the fourth and final book of the Beyond Saga, Beyond Existence, Maya must find a way to regain her optimism in the face of the losses she’s suffered and despite the occupation of human space by a group of powerful aliens.
I really enjoy David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Have you read those books? Those books also have a strong female lead. Are there any books that serve as inspiration for your writing?
I’ve read book one, On Basilisk Station. It was good, and it’s flattering that my writing sometimes gets compared to Weber’s. Like Honor, Brooke and Maya are strong female leads. But I came up with Beyond Cloud Nine prior to reading On Basilisk Station, so I can’t say I have too heavily influenced by it.
Collectively, I’ve been influenced by many different books, shows, movies, and video games. I’ve listed some of them on this page: https://www.gregspry.com/influences.php. On the background page for each of my books’ web sites, you can read about what influenced the creation of that particular book.
Here’s a link to the BC9 background page: https://www.beyondcloudnine.com/Background.aspx.
Where does the Beyond Saga takes it characters in the next book and how do you see the story evolving in the future?
The fourth and final book in the series, Beyond Existence, takes everything that’s happened in the first three books and weaves it all together. The aliens that Maya encountered in the past in book three conquer human civilization in a manner reminiscent of Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Maya must travel to different time periods and alternate universes to figure out a way to end the occupation by an alien race so advanced that they’re practically gods compared to humans.
My next book series will be set in the distant future in an alternate universe and different galaxy and will only loosely relate back to the Beyond Saga.
After years of pushing the boundaries of interstellar spaceflight, Commander Maya Davis is ecstatic when she is promoted to captain. But her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that her new assignment is a one-way mission.
After taking command of the space-time vessel Yesterday, Maya must travel back in time to discover how and why a piece of 23rd century technology appeared 200,000 years earlier. It’s an exciting opportunity–except for the one-way aspect. The best minds of her time say it’s impossible to return to the present.
Trapped in the distant past, Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.
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