The launch party for Kira the Rainbow Princess is next Saturday! I'm reposting all the details below. I hope you'll be able to join us to celebrate the launch of my second book. Should be a lot of fun!!!
1. WHERE: The party will be held at Alaura Kitchen and Candy at 36 South Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071 (you can check out the map below).
2. WHEN: The party will be on Saturday, December 10th from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. We're hoping it feels like an "open house" so please show up at any time between 2 and 4, and stay as long as you like!
3. CAN I BUY YOUR BOOK: Absolutely! We will have paperback copies of my book for sale at the launch party! The book will cost $10.00 and we will accept both cash and major credit cards. However, the book is also available for sale from Amazon.com, so feel free to purchase your copy ahead of time and bring it to the party!
4. WHAT ELSE WILL WE DO: At 2:30 and again at 3:30 I'll take a break from signing to read excerpts from my book. After the readings, there will be a brief question and answer period so I can field all of your questions regarding my writing and the adventures of Kira the Rainbow Princess. There will also be door prizes and free ice cream.
5. WHAT KIND OF DOOR PRIZES: We're going to give away gift cards to 4 local Pitman businesses. Four lucky winners will receive a $10 gift card to either Alaura Kitchen and Candy, The Wind Change, Crossroad Comics and Collectibles, or Dia De Los Burritos. We will also be giving away a limited number of "SNUGG" teddy bears to some of our younger visitors (ages 12 and under).
6. WAIT A MINUTE. DID YOU SAY FREE ICE CREAM: YES!!! Everyone who comes to the launch party will get 1 free scoop of ice cream from Alaura Kitchen and Candy. You can pick any flavor available, but one of your choices will be the new signature flavor Kira the Rainbow Princess Ice Cream (it's Strawberry mixed with Party Cake and Rainbow Sprinkles and it's delicious)! This is our way of saying "thank you" for supporting the launch of my new novel.
7. ICE CREAM IS NICE, BUT I REALLY WANT A T-SHIRT: You are in luck! A limited number of t-shirts will be sold at the launch party. Shirts will cost $12.00 and will be available in men's crew neck, women's v-neck, and kids sizes. You can check out the design on the front of the shirt here.
8. WHAT IF I CAN'T MAKE IT TO THE LAUNCH PARTY: Throughout the party, we will be going live on Facebook to share the festivities. You can expect to see the live readings on Facebook at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. There will also be an exclusive online reading at 5:30! Check out my Facebook page here to get notifications regarding our Facebook Live events!
And that about covers it. If you have any additional questions, please leave them in the comments. Otherwise, I hope to see you all at the launch party on December 10th!
Kira the Rainbow Princess has been available for less than a week on Amazon, but we're already off to a great start thanks to YOU!
Kira currently ranks as #14 among FREE Children's Fantasy & Magic e-books! None of this would be possible without your enthusiasm and support.
But we're only just getting started. Our launch party is still two weeks away (on December 10th) and in the meantime, a number of you have asked me what you can do to help promote Kira. That's great because I NEED YOUR HELP!
There are two major steps you can take to help make Kira a success!
First, please take the time to tell your friends and family about my latest novel. You can share my webpage, my Facebook posts, or point them to Kira on Amazon! The more people who know about Kira, the better.
Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, you can REVIEW my book on Amazon!
Amazon uses your ratings and reviews to recommend my book to other customers. Writing a review is simple and fun. All you have to do is give your HONEST opinion and let other readers know why they might enjoy the book as well.
I continue to appreciate all of your support. Sometimes it feels like trying to be a writer is the epitome of craziness, but when I read your kind words or hear your enthusiasm for Kira, it makes everything seem possible.
Hopefully I'll get to see you on December 10th and we can celebrate Kira together . . . because I wouldn't be here without your help!
I received a question on Facebook the other day . . . It was a good question - a question I've asked myself - and ultimately a question that I've struggled to answer. Here it goes: Is Kira the Rainbow Princess 'girly'? Or, in other words, is Kira a book that is targeted toward a female audience?
For me, the difficulty of the question is rooted in both the past and the present - in a childhood filled with reinforced gender stereotypes and a changing world that often rejects such a neat categorization. But understanding the complexity of the question is far from an answer. Is Kira a book intended just for girls?
To answer this question we need to go directly to the source of all social context - CARTOONS!
I grew up in the 1980's and for most of that decade cartoons were sharply divided down gender lines. A typical cartoon line-up for me often included: He-Man, Voltron, GI Joe, Transformers, and Thundercats.
These were all "boy" cartoons. Almost all of them employed a token female character (with the exception of Transformers, which avoided the inclusion of a female robot through the entire first generation story) but they were undoubtedly intended for a male audience.
There were "girl" cartoons, too. Their fare consisted of programs like: She-Ra, Rainbow Brite, and Jem.
So when I view my book through the lens of the 80's, it seems my answer would be yes - Kira the Rainbow Princess is a book for girls. A cursory glance of the cover is all it takes to identify the female iconography - The main character is a girl, she has PINK hair, the back cover is PURPLE, there are Butterflies, Rainbows, Princesses . . . according to the 80's, that's all girl stuff!
BUT WE DON'T LIVE IN THE 80's ANY LONGER!!!
By the early 90's, cartoons had changed. You can point to the slate of after school Disney shows which included offerings such as Duck Tales and Gummi Bears, and then later shows in the decade like Pokemon. These cartoons were gender neutral, and that neutrality is a trend that has continued into the present day.
No where is this more obvious than in the amazing work of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
This is a show that is cut from the same action-adventure cloth as cartoons from the 80's with a rich mythology and compelling characters, but unlike those 80's cartoons which gave us one or two token female characters, Avatar puts the spotlight squarely on their female cast.
The main villain in seasons 2 and 3 of Avatar is a woman (Azula). The scariest character in the series is a woman (Hama, the Bloodbender). The toughest character is a woman (Toph). The most competent character is a woman (Suki). And arguably the heart and soul of the entire series is a woman (Katara).
By 80's logic, with so many leading female characters, Avatar should be a show made for girls . . . but it's not. It's a show for all of us because the female characters listed above are never reduced to just their gender. Even Suki, the leader of a band of female warriors, cannot be defined by just her gender.
Suki is not treated as a great fighter EVEN THOUGH she's a woman. Likewise, she's not treated as a great fighter BECAUSE she's a woman. Instead, she's considered a great fighter AND she's a woman.
And that subtle difference makes all the difference.
So I can tell you now, with 100% confidence, that Kira is not a book intended only for girls.
Yes, Kira is a girl. She is also a Rainbow Princess. But more than either of those things, Kira is brave, and scared, and smart, and strong, and a leader, and a friend . . . and those words have no gender. No matter what decade you're living in.
I know I promised a Q and A about Kira, the Rainbow Princess over a week ago, but things got pretty busy . . . We announced a launch date and a launch party last week, and now we're less than a month away from launch. There's a lot of information to cover so this is actually the perfect time to answer some of your questions.
Q: When and where will Kira, the Rainbow Princess be available?
A: Kira, the Rainbow Princess will be available through Amazon.com on Friday, November 25, 2016! An electronic version of the book for e-readers as well as a paperback version will be available - just in time for Christmas!!!
Q: Who is the intended audience for Kira?
A: Kira is a middle-grade, fantasy adventure novel. It should be suitable for children of all ages, and is intended to appeal to both boys and girls. One of my hopes in writing Kira was to offer a modern fantasy adventure (in the same vein as the Chronicles of Narnia) with a strong female protagonist.
Q: You mentioned a launch party... Any details?
A: Our launch party will once again be hosted by Alaura Kitchen and Candy in Pitman, NJ on December 10, 2016. We plan on having a "signing table" as well as live-readings by the author. We'll also have raffle drawings throughout the launch party and of course we're giving away FREE ice cream.
Q: Will I be able to purchase Kira, the Rainbow Princess at your launch party?
A: Yes, we will have a limited supply of paperbacks available for purchase at the launch party.
That covers a lot of the details about Kira's launch in November and our launch party in December. We should have one more Question and Answer blog post before launch, so if we didn't get to your question this time, hopefully we can answer things the next time around. Check back early and often for all your Kira information!
I wanted to put up a quick post this week to keep everyone in the loop regarding Kira, the Rainbow Princess.
A lot of people have been asking about Kira's launch date -- especially because they're starting to think ahead to Christmas and the idea that Kira might make a nice present for a middle-grade (3rd -8th?) child.
Unfortunately, as of today, I still can't commit to a definite launch date for Kira. There are a couple of reasons for this. One of the things I've discovered about being a self-published writer, is that it's a lot like juggling. You throw multiple balls up into the air and then you try to keep the faith that those various projects will land as you expected. So how does that relate to Kira?
Next week, I will send Kira, the Rainbow Princess to my editor, Liam Carnahan at Invisible Ink Editing. I cannot say (with any certainty) how long it will stay with Liam before he sends the revisions back to me. My best guess is 4-6 weeks, but honestly, who knows? Once I get the edited version of Kira back in my possession I'll be able to lock in a definite launch date.
The Good News is that (if everything goes according to plan) Kira should be available on Thanksgiving Weekend . . . making it the perfect literary present for any of your middle-grade friends and family!!!
Thanks for being patient as I try to navigate this publishing process for only the second time in my life (without a very good map or compass).
Finally, one last note. Next week I would like to post a Question and Answer for Kira, the Rainbow Princess. So, if there's anything you're dying to know about the story, the characters, or the process . . . please drop me a note in the contact page on my website.
Thanks again for your support!
In what is shaping-up to be one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history, I have intentionally avoided the topic of politics on this webpage. This has been done, very much, by design.
I do not intend to publicly endorse either candidate. Nor do I plan on telling you who to vote for -- frankly it's none of my business. I trust that you're all smart enough to research the issues most important to you and then make an educated decision between either left or right.
That's the beautiful thing about being an American! We each enjoy the freedom to walk into the voting booth on November 8th, each one of us shrouded in complete secrecy, and then we cast our vote to screw up our country in whatever manner we think is best.
And all things being equal, I STILL wouldn't be writing about politics on this webpage, but I read an article today that I cannot ignore -- Not as a husband. Not as a father. And not as a human being.
Today I read an article in the Washington Post. The headline reads, "Trump Recorded Having Extremely Lewd Conversation About Women in 2005". I won't repeat the comments here, but I will include a link to the article.
My reaction is visceral -- it is one of both anger and disgust. It's a reaction that is justified.
But, at least for the moment, I ask you to put those raw emotions aside. I want you to ignore the actual words Trump said in 2005. Instead, I want you to focus on the response offered by Trump in 2016.
Regarding these quotes, Trump says,“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."
Those words -- that "response" -- is unacceptable. In fact, anything less than a complete apology (not for causing offense, but for the words themselves) is unconscionable.
Trying to rationalize and justify these comments to the people of America as "private" or "locker-room banter" only reinforces the obvious: Trump is a misogynist.
Undoubtedly, there will be individuals who run to Trump's defense. They will use lines like:
All men talk like that. -- No we don't. Apologize. Women are not objects for you to grab at your whim.
It was a private conversation -- Not anymore. Apologize. Your words are hurtful and dangerous.
Hilary's even worse than Trump -- That's what we call a deflection. Talk about the issue. Is it okay for men to talk this way about women? I'll give you a hint. The answer is "no". Apologize.
How do you explain these comments to your 8 year old daughter? Is that too young? Okay, how do you explain them when she's 16? When she's 36? How do you justify an American president who talks this way about women and then dismisses it as "locker-room banter"?
I wrote Kira, the Rainbow Princess for my daughter Fiona AND for my son Aidan. I wanted to write about a strong female character capable of saving herself. I wanted them both to read Kira. I wanted them to see a girl who was brave and smart and competent. That's the story I wanted to tell. That's the story I wanted them to grow-up reading.
But history has been telling us a different story for too long -- it's the same story Trump likes to share in the privacy of his locker-room. And now it's up to us - ALL OF US - to change that story.
Like I said before, you can vote for whoever you want. This is America. I'm going to do the same. But please, don't let these comments (and the world view toward women that they reflect) go unchallenged.
This is America after all, and it's about time we changed the story.
I would imagine most of us can name a defining book (or series of books) from our childhood. And I'm not talking about a story that you loved or a book that you just couldn't put down. These books go far deeper, and they end up being far more important to us.
These are the stories that are woven into our character. They are the experiences we've never truly had (only existing in our imagination), but nevertheless they are the stories that have shaped us - transformed us - into the people we are today. They are the adventures and mysteries and romances that we carry with us forever.
For some of my friends, that story is The Chronicles of Narnia. They've grown up walking through the forest with Aslan and fighting next to Jewel in the Last Battle. For my wife, her defining story is Anne of Green Gables and for my son, Aidan, it's Percy Jackson. There's a whole generation defined by J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.
But my story is slightly more obscure. I grew up in Prydain.
The Prydain Chronicles is a five book series written by Lloyd Alexander. Drawing on Welsh Mythology and The Mabinogion, Alexander writes about a young assistant pig-keeper named Taran as he goes on unlikely adventures and grows to become a man.
And at the heart of all five novels is the group Alexander affectionately terms "the Companions" -- Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Doli, and the ever-faithful Gurgi.
And I remember sobbing at the end of the fifth and final book, The High King, because "the companions" had become my companions and now are adventures were at an end -- I knew I could always read the stories again, but then they would only be a memory. It would be different. Forever.
So how do The Prydain Chronicles influence Kira, the Rainbow Princess?
Just like Taran our assistant pig-keeper, Kira is not alone. She will depend upon a group of steadfast friends. And hopefully, if there's a heart to this novel, it will be found in those friendships.
And maybe one day in the distant future Kira will be important to someone else - it may serve as an adventure; an experience; a companion. Maybe.
But even writing that line down - trying to imagine Kira meaning as much to someone as Taran means to me - it seems like too much to even hope for. . .
The woman in the picture is Jessie Graff and if you don't know who she is yet, just keep reading.
First a little bit of backstory. Even ten years ago, I never would have called myself a "feminist". Depending on the connotations you assign to that word, maybe I'm still not. But regardless of labels, I know that my world view - especially in regards to women - changed dramatically in March of 2008. That's when my daughter Fiona was born.
Just like all parents, I want both of my children to realize their dreams - no matter what those dreams for the future may be. Doctor, Photographer, President, Singer, Writer, or Superhero. It's one of our jobs as parents (I believe) to encourage our children to dream big and then work together to make those dreams a reality. One step in that process, at least for me, is finding positive role models to hold up as examples for my children.
For my son, Aidan, that has always been an easy process, but with Fiona things are decidedly more . . . complicated. There are so many layers slapped subtly on top of women, that finding the right role model without the added "garbage" of society becomes difficult. Case in point: female superheros.
In the recent Marvel movies there have been a litany of male superheroes. They come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of powers. And there are two girls. Girl superheroes in the Marvel universe are either Black Widow or (the relatively new) Scarlet Witch. And now we start to see some of those layers I was talking about earlier. In the Avengers: Age of Ultron a plot device called for one of the Avengers to get captured. The only prerequisite was for the captive member of the team to know Morse code. They could have literally chosen ANYONE! But who gets snagged? Black Widow - and now the baddest spy in the Marvel universe is reduced to the archetype of the Damsel-in-Distress. (And I know the counterargument - if it could be anyone, why not her? The answer is easy, because it's always a her and in the process a strong female character is reduced to being something less).
Which brings us back to Jessie Graff. This summer, both of my kids got hooked on watching American Ninja Warrior with their Grandmom, and this season Jessie Graff emerged as a revelation. Graff is a stunt woman, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a gymnast, a former collegiate pole vaulter, and an all-around American Ninja Warrior bad-ass. This season she became the first woman to ever complete Stage One of the Las Vegas American Ninja Warrior Finals course. And in the process, she has become a role model of strength and athleticism for my daughter Fiona!
So how does any of that relate to Kira, the Rainbow Princess? I certainly never wrote Kira to explicitly be a "feminist" novel, but I did write Kira, at least in part, for my daughter. That means I wanted to create a female character that could be a reflection of Fiona - smart, brave, funny, competent, and strong. And I wanted Kira to serve as a role model for my daughter - and all the other girls who may one day read her story.
Most of all, I wanted Kira to be a hero . . . someone just like Jessie Graff.
I've already told the story about about how I re-discovered my love for writing. It all started in 2013 during a conversation with my brother Michael on our way back from Disney World. Three years later and I published my first novel, ANOM: Awakening through Amazon.
This story - the story of Kira, the Rainbow Princess - has a very different beginning.
Kira started in 2015. It was right around the time when I was finishing up ANOM. I had already poured 2 years of my writing life into that first book -working on it when I could in bits and pieces, drips and drabs. The whole process felt like a marathon - so huge that all you can really focus on is the step immediately in front of you - but by 2015, I could see the finish line. I spent more and more time at my computer. There was a new urgency.
And my family was great! My wife Vanessa, my son Aidan, and my daughter Fiona all showed me a tremendous amount of patience. They never complained about my writing, but instead they would encourage me to keep going. They were proud of me - for what I was trying to do - and I wanted to do my part to earn that pride.
Then, one night, my 7 year old daughter asked me to write a book for her . . . how could I say no?
"Okay, sweetheart," I said, "What do you want your book to be about?"
"Rainbows. And unicorns. And princesses."
And so Kira, the Rainbow Princess was born.
I wrote the book with my kids and for my kids. I would type out a chapter, send it to the printer, and then there would be a mad-dash to see who would read it first. We finally settled on taking turns.
Every line of the book has been read (and critiqued) by both Aidan and Fiona. And some parts of the story even come straight from their imagination! Everything from character names (like Snugg, the Teddy Bear and Fred, the Zombie) to Kira's hair color (Pink, of course).
Kira, the Rainbow Princess is a middle-grade fantasy novel and the first of a seven book series. If everything goes according to schedule, we plan on releasing in late November. I can't wait to tell you more about it in the weeks and months ahead! Stay tuned.
As I said last week, this is going to be my final ANOM: Awakening post for a while. It's been a great summer watching my debut novel climb the Amazon charts, and I'm excited to see what happens next. . . but I have another novel in the works and in the coming weeks, my focus is going to shift to promote this newest project. All that being said, I thought a final Q and A regarding ANOM: Awakening would be a great way to cap off this opening chapter of my literary journey. So, without further ado. . .
Q: Will there be a sequel to ANOM: Awakening and when will it be ready?
A: This is far and away the most common question I encounter regarding my book. I'm happy to report that there will ABSOLUTELY, 100% be a sequel to ANOM: Awakening! I started writing the second installment this summer and I estimate that I'm about 1/3 of the way finished the first draft. So, when will the sequel be available? It's too early to even take a guess at this point, but I'll be offering regular updates as the story progresses.
Q: Why does ANOM: Awakening end on a cliffhanger? The story feels incomplete.
A: One of my inspirations for ANOM: Awakening comes from my love of comic books. When you read a comic book, it's usually one part of a larger story arc. That's exactly how I envisioned my book. Some of the conflicts that start in my novel get resolved by the end, but other questions never get answered -- these are part of the larger story arc. They set up conflicts that will be resolved in future novels. And that's one of the exciting things about ANOM: Awakening. It's more than a single story. It's the start of a bigger world that can support multiple story arcs. So just like you, I can't wait to see what happens next.
Q: What's up with Major Ellison? Is he supposed to be the bad guy?
A: Major Ellison is a complex character (and hopefully one of many in this novel). Just like in real life, characters exist on a spectrum - very few are 100% good or 100% evil - and based on the choices they make, they are constantly sliding up and down that scale. What complicates matters for Ellison (and Jeremy) is that large portions of the novel are told from their point of view. . . and no one thinks of themselves as being the "bad guy". So, in a very real sense, I can't answer that question. A better question might be, "Do YOU think Ellison is a bad guy?"
Q: Tell me more about Kate!
A: I've previously written about being surprised as a writer. The character of Ellison was a surprise. When I started writing, I never intended on creating Ellison but as the narrative progressed, Ellison evolved into one of the main characters of the novel. Kate was a very different surprise. All through my writing, I considered Kate a very minor character, but a number of readers feel a deep connection to Katie - my brother Michael and my mom included. So, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, all I can say is Kate's story is not done. Hope that's enough for now.
And that's it for the final ANOM: Awakening Q and A. Thank you again for all the support. The ANOM series will still get lots of love on this page and information will keep trickling out, but in the immediate future, our focus is shifting to a brand new book. I hope you'll be just as excited as I am regarding this new project. Check back soon for updates!