Children’s Books

“The Martian” and other out-of-this-world fiction

My childhood ambition was to be an astronaut and travel to Mars.  Plans changed and I became a teacher instead, but it’s been fun to see Mars so much in the news recently and also in some very creative fiction. I want to share about three favorites, in chronological order.

First, “The Martian.” What fun! The story occurs sometime in the not too distant future. NASA has sent previous missions to Mars and this team is supposed to spend lengthy time on the red planet. However, a violent storm threatens to tip over their spaceship and they have to get out in a hurry, leaving behind a crewmate, Mark Watney, who they believe to be dead. After they leave, Mark wakes up alone on Mars with no way to phone home. The rest of the movie is reminiscent of “Apollo 13” as Mark tries to survive and NASA discovers his existence and works out what to do next. Naturally, things go wrong, and it is very exciting.

The MartianBefore watching the movie I read the book by Andy Weir, which was very technical in regards to the science. Weir was meticulous in his research and everything is quite believable. The book is pretty geeky. The writers of the screenplay were forced to leave out a lot of the technical stuff and as a result there appear to be some holes and shaky premises, but in the book the premises are solid. The movie also left out entire crisis’s that are detailed in the book. I think the movie is better – they left out the right stuff and they left in the right stuff, including the humor. The book reads like the highly detailed geeky research that went into making the movie, not that I didn’t enjoy it immensely.

“The Martian” is rated PG-13, which I think is appropriate, but in case someone is sensitive to that I wanted to explain. There is a scene at the beginning where Mark Watney has to perform surgery on himself and it is very bloody. I don’t like blood, so I didn’t watch for a couple minutes. Problem solved. There is a fair amount of swearing, although not nearly so much as there is in the book. I don’t like it, but honestly, if there was any time where swearing was appropriate it might be when you discover you’ve been left behind in outer space! It does occur throughout the movie. If swearing bothers you skip the book, but take a chance on the movie – it’s worth it. The final item for the PG-13 rating is brief nudity. It’s mild and it lasts about a second. I think they put it in just to get the rating.

Saving MarsNow move forward in time. Cidney Swanson has written the 6-book series Saving Mars which is an exciting fast-paced sci-fi adventure for the YA market. Mars has now been colonized, but there was a war with earth and no contact is now allowed between the planets. At regular intervals the Marsians, as they prefer to be called, send raiders to earth to get supplies. It’s a very dangerous trip, not least because earth of the future is ruled by a tyrant who mandates a convoluted system of body-swapping. The heroine, Jessamyn, pilots the ship for the raiding party which includes her brilliant brother Ethan who appears to be somewhere on the autism spectrum. The story has danger and intrigue and plot twists with action so fast it can make your head spin. There is even some light romance. Highly recommended. I loved it and my very bright 10-year-old loved it.

Medieval Mars paperback coverNow go even farther into the future. A thousand years after Mars is colonized comes Travis Perry’s story world of Medieval Mars. Technology finally gets the better of the human race and civilization has collapsed. The inhabitants of Mars have been thrown back into a life that is remeniscient of the medieval days of knights and lords and where technology is so misunderstood that it is considered to be magic. There are even dragons, curtesy of early settlers who bioengineered wings on komodos. Apparently they couldn’t figure out how to make their dragons breathe fire, so they created them to spit acid instead.

Travis Perry invented this world and then invited other authors to write stories for it. The result was Medieval Mars: The Anthology which contains stories about Medieval Mars by nine authors. Stories include Perry’s “The War Between the Mons,” “The Search for Eden” by Mark Venturini and my “Sam and the Dragon.”  Medieval Mars: The Anthology is published by Bear Publications.

Final Cover 1Sam and the Dragon is the story of a boy and his cousin who travel through the wilderness of Mars in search of a dragon who has been eating the family’s goats. The anthology is suitable for YA and up, but Sam and the Dragon is also published separately as a middle-grade (4th-6th grade) chapter book. The stand-alone version includes illustrations by concept artist Phil Wade.

So there’s my favorite Martian fiction. What’s yours?

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Categories: Book Reviews, Mars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Time Ever — Free Promo for Sam and the Dragon

Sam cover thumbnailHi book fans! In honor of the release of the Medieval Mars Anthology, on this Wednesday and Thursday (8/5-8/6) I am running my first ever free kindle promo on Sam and the Dragon, which is included in the anthology. Sam and his cousin Ahni set off across the wilderness of Mars in search of a dragon who has been eating their family’s goats, but their quest turns into more than they possibly could have imagined. This heartwarming story includes illustrations by concept artist Phil Wade and a map by author Bill Sullivan.

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New Release: Medieval Mars: The Anthology

Medieval Mars AnthologyI am excited to announce the release of Medieval Mars: The Anthology!  This anthology is a collection of stories that take place in Travis Perry’s world of Medieval Mars.

It’s been about a thousand years since Mars was terraformed and settled by people from earth, but then the civilization collapsed and people returned to a way of life reminiscent of medieval times.  Knights called Riders patrol the roads and contend with dragons, bioengineered by the early settlers who added wings to Komodos.  Apparently they couldn’t figure out how to make the dragons breathe fire, so they made them spit acid.  Yipes!

Read about the war between the mons, a wild west style snake-oil salesman, a young man who would brave anything to save his bride from a mysterious illness, a woman who finds herself too old to continue her passion as a racing bird jockey, and more!  My novel Sam and the Dragon is included, along with stories from eight other authors.

Available in kindle and print versions.  Check it out!

Categories: Mars, New Book Release | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Roots: Sam and the Dragon

Family on MarsWhen I was in elementary school I wrote tons of stories.  Unfortunately, I only know where two of them are.  From fifth grade I have one story which is laminated and another, my first “chapter book,” which was typed by an aide or volunteer who must have deciphered my handwriting.  Bless them.  We made fabric book covers, but apparently no one knew how to assemble the books, so I have ditto printed pages stacked inside the cover with an old rubber band to keep it all together.  No matter.  I’m so glad I still have the first chapter book I ever wrote!

I pulled my old book off the shelf recently and was amused to see the similarities between what I wrote in fifth grade and my latest book, Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story.  Both books are intended for middle grade readers.  My original book, “Family on Mars,” is a story about a family who moves from earth to Mars.  The main character, Greg (age 13) lives with his parents and his sister (age 10).  Sam and the Dragon takes place on Mars.  Sam (age 14 in earth years) lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin Ahni (age 12).  But what really tickled me was how the story begins.  Compare my fifth grade story opening to the opening of Sam and the Dragon.

From “Family on Mars”

On April 1, 2010, the never-forgotten day, Greg rushed in with the newspaper. “Hey, Dad,” shouted Greg, “there’s an ad in the paper that says we can go to Mars!”

From “Sam and the Dragon”

Sam burst through the doorway of the red brick hut. “Uncle Al! Uncle Al!”

Pretty funny.

Categories: Children's Books, Mars | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Amazon sale on Duck and Friends

Hi Duck fans!  I wanted to let you know that the e-version of my early reader Duck and Friends: The Dinosaur Bones will be on sale at Amazon from 2/10-2/15.  Sale price $.99, regularly $2.99. Tell your friends and let’s make a splash in the rankings! Great for ages 4-8.

Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Duck-Friends-Dinosaur-Bones-ebook/dp/B00ASOUUU8/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_1_XJPR

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Contest & Giveaway for Appreciate a Dragon Day!

January 16 is “Appreciate a Dragon Day!”  I didn’t realize until today, but I included dragon characters in every series of my children’s books.  How could I not have known that?  Dragons, I’m sorry!  I really appreciate you! In appreciation of my dragons, I am holding a contest to determine the favorite.  Vote for your favorite dragon in the comments below and your name will be entered in a drawing to receive a free book of your choice from my Duck and Friends series, Purple Elephant series or Sam and the Dragon. You don’t have to vote for the dragon in the book you’d like to win. So… drumroll, please… the contestants are… .

Duck’s Friend Dragon (Ahhhhchoo! Bless you!)Duck's Dragon

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Diana the Dragon (Prince Carmel’s colorful friend)Diana Dragon

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Medieval Mars Dragon (the newest addition — welcome to the family!)Mars Dragon

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The Friendly Enchanted Dragons EXtraordinaire (normally known by their initials) from The Purple Elephant: The Journey Home (no photo available)

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Which one is your favorite? You have until 5pm PST Sunday 1/18 to vote.  Winners will be announced Sunday night.

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Appreciate a Dragon Day was established in 2004 by author Donita K. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. On her blog, Ms. Paul lists lots more wonderful ideas on ways to celebrate her holiday.

Categories: Children's Books, Promotions | 7 Comments

Geronimo The Parachuting Beaver

This morning I read a true story of animals antics that is worthy of any of my Duck and Friends books.  It was about Geronimo, the parachuting beaver. No joke. In 1948, Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game moved some beavers into the backcountry by dropping them out of planes with parachutes, and a beaver named Geronimo was their test pilot… er… rodent. A story this silly deserves a silly retelling and Rob Thornberry of the Idaho Falls Post Register really does the story justice.  You can link to the story here.

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Authors & Artists Fair

Authors FairI’ll be signing copies of Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story and other books next Saturday at the 15th Annual Authors & Artists Fair!  Drop by the Lane County Fairgrounds Atrium Saturday, Dec. 6 anytime from 10-6.  It’s a great place to do some Christmas shopping and meet your favorite authors like Jan Eliot, Bill Sullivan, Bob Welch, Dorcas Smucker and me!

Categories: Book Signing Events, Mars, Shop Local | Leave a comment

Release Day & Giveaway for Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story!

Final Cover 1Just in time for Christmas, it’s Release Day for Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story! The ebook is available on Amazon for 99 cents for a limited time only, also available in paperback. Kindleunlimited members can read the ebook for free.  (Did you know — every time you read a book for free on kindleunlimited, the author gets paid?!!)

Sam and the Dragon is a fun story for ages 9-12, or their parents. 🙂 The “look inside” feature on the ebook gives a nice preview of the story. Check it out!

I just completed a free giveaway for another author’s new book and it was so much fun that I’ve decided to give away one copy of Sam and the Dragon!  Paperback or ebook, whichever you choose. Please leave your name in the comments below if you’d like to enter the drawing.  I will pick the winner this Sunday night.

Categories: Mars, New Book Release | 9 Comments

And the winner is…

So, in 2014, how do you choose a random winner to receive a free copy of Footprints on the Ceiling, when the fourth grader who could have picked a number out of a hat just left for school?  I used Random.org’s True Random Number Generator to pick a number for me, and in no time at all, it chose number 3!  Sometimes I hate technology, but there are other times it’s fun!

So the winner of the book giveaway is the third person to leave a comment, princessmom08!  Congratulations! I don’t have a way to contact you, so please let me know who you are so I can send you a book.

Thank you so much, everybody, for visiting my blog, reading about Dorcas’s book and commenting.  It has been fun to “meet” all of you, and my blog stats have been lighting up the Midwest and new England states the last couple days!  If you didn’t win and you would like a copy of the book, you can order through Amazon, order directly from Dorcas or try your luck on another blog tour giveaway.  Check out the list of upcoming reviews on Dorcas’s blog here.

Thanks again for visiting!

Categories: Mars | 1 Comment

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