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    A Comedy & A Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write

    From Travis Hugh Culley and Ballantine Books

    A_COMEDY__A_TRAGEDY_cover

    As a student of writing and literature, my literacy is one of those things which I constantly utilize within my life, but it is also something that I often take entirely for granted.  I began reading before I entered public school, and wound up being placed in a pre-1st classroom after essentially “testing out” of kindergarten.  So, as large a role as literacy has played in my life, it’s never been something that I was even all that conscious about.  It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

    [quote]The idea of an established writer being someone who did not come to literacy until age seventeen lays the groundwork for an incredibly impressive and inspirational tale.”[/quote]

    A_COMEDY__A_TRAGEDY_coverThis was a huge factor for why the opportunity to review A Comedy & A Tragedy was so appealing to me.  Written by Travis Hugh Culley and published by Ballantine Books, A Comedy & A Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write details Culley’s struggle toward literacy among a seemingly-endless field of obstacles.  Emerging from a history of abuse and a toxic family environment, Travis begins to find inventive ways to hide his illiteracy while navigating life as the epitome of the nontraditional learner.  His experiences in theater become a fitting gateway to learning to read and write, but the journey is an arduous one.

    [quote]It was difficult to hide my fear of reading from my acting teachers.  They were training us to take a piece of writing and translate every word of it into action.  They saw behind the process.  In every way, the theater was a threshold for learning literacy because it depended on a full and exact understanding of the actions.” (Culley 139)[/quote]

    The idea of an established writer being someone who did not come to literacy until age seventeen lays the groundwork for an incredibly impressive and inspirational tale.  Culley’s ideas about what writing means to him are so unique and intelligent, it almost seems as if his “late blooming” ended up being a tremendous advantage in his future as a writer.  He seems hyper-aware of the meaning of words, and the spectrum of that meaning; no doubt thanks to his theatrical experience and the idea that the same set of lines in a play can be performed in endless ways with endless nuance of meaning.

    [quote]The script we’d rehearsed so many times seemed to completely disappear between the actors.  This incredible instructive illusion, this force of coordination, was magical because at the end of the night it led me back to myself” (Culley 181)[/quote]

    Even though my path to literacy was quite different, the traumatic circumstances that Culley encountered were things I found myself relating to on a very deep level.  I’ll admit, this is not exactly a lighthearted read.  There are moments which are difficult to get through, but they are also incredibly compelling, because they highlight the immense achievement of Culley’s eventual mastery of written language.

    Travis_Culley_credit_Megan_HicklingI would recommend this book to anyone, though perhaps especially to writers and aspiring creatives.  But this is a unique experience for people, because as you read Culley’s words, you become more aware of your own process of reading, of why it is important to you, and the power that words have over our lives and our interactions with others.  And, when it comes to writing, Culley beautifully expresses that which every writer from amateur to professional holds dear: that writing has the power to teach you more deeply about yourself and your environment, and it will force you to examine and heal your deepest wounds in the process.

    TRAVIS HUGH CULLEY is the author of The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power. Travis has an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a recipient of the Ox-Box Fellowship in Saugatuck, Michigan.

    A Comedy & A Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write (ISBN: 9780345506160) is available now through retailers including Amazon in Hardcover ($26.00) and Kindle ($12.99) formats.

    [box type=”info”]This post contains an affiliate link. You can read more about our official disclosure policy here. A review copy of A Comedy & A Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write was provided to The Mommy Gamers by Random House.[/box]

    A Dance with Hummingbirds: A Gift from the Other Side

    From Helen Deines and Berkeley Square Press

    A Dance With Hummingbirds Book Cover

    Helen Deines novel, A Dance with Hummingbirds: A Gift from the Other Side was a pleasure to read. It starts out with Regina, a social worker for the elderly who has recently lost her husband Elliott. She has gone back to work and is trying to readjust to her life as a widow. Along with her cat, Maggie, she is getting through the days as they come, when she hears a whistle. Not just any whistle. It is the tune that had been a constant in her life for the 30 years she was married to Elliott.
     
    [quote type=”center”]She hears a whistle. Not just any whistle. It is the tune that had been a constant in her life for the 30 years she was married to Elliott.[/quote]

    How is Regina hearing her dead husband whistle? When other strange things start happening, such as a garage door opening and closing on its own and a pair of dance shoes mysteriously appearing in her closet, Regina isn’t sure if she is really being contacted from beyond by her husband or if she is going crazy!

    With the help of one of her elderly clients named Mrs. Staples, and a few co workers, Regina ends up on a journey that she never could have imagined. She learns more about herself and her relationships, and she is able to have one final adventure with Elliott.

    I loved the characters and the storyline, although a few things missed the mark for me. The basis of the book was Regina’s husband coming back for unfinished business. That business was that they had never danced together. I couldn’t understand why this was so important when it was revealed that neither of them had danced over the many years of their marriage, and Regina didn’t even know how to dance. I also felt as if things were not brought to a good conclusion. You never get closure on exactly how the elderly neighbor and her daughter reconciled or how and why the goddess Brigit fit into Regina’s story.
     
    [quote type=”center”]This is a beautiful love story that is filled with humor and lots of heart![/quote]

    Overall this is a beautiful love story that is filled with humor and lots of heart! I think it just need more details and information to make everything come together in the end!

    A Dance with Hummingbirds: A Gift from the Other Side is available in Paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon.

    [box type=”info”]This post contains an affiliate link. You can read more about our official disclosure policy here. A review copy of A Dance with Hummingbirds: A Gift From The Other Side was provided to The Mommy Gamers by Berkeley Square Press.[/box]

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    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing: An Unofficial Story for Shopkins Collectors

    from Kenley Shay and Sky Pony Press

    Marsha Mellow Goes MissingMost parents who have been in a toy store in the last year are familiar with Shopkins, the tiny grocery-themed collectibles that fly off of shelves whenever a new shipment comes in. Their popularity has sparked hundreds of millions of views of Shopkins fan videos online, and an official cartoon series set to release in 2016. So, needless to say, they’re kind of a big deal.

    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing is the first novel in a series of unofficial Shopkins stories from publisher Sky Pony Press, known for their exceedingly popular unofficial series for Minecrafters. Written by Kenley Shay, this adventure follows nine-year-old Maggie and her friends of the Shopkins Kids Club on a camping adventure where, as the title suggests, a Shopkin goes missing: the ultra-rare blinged-out Marsha Mellow. As Maggie searches desperately for her most prized possession, accusations fly and friendships are put in jeopardy. But when her little brother Max goes missing, Maggie starts to learn the importance of her relationships with friends and family, and that maybe she hasn’t been acting like the greatest sister or friend.
     
    [quote type=”center”]Kids who read this story will learn about the bonding power that exists when we are passionate about something, and the importance of inclusion.[/quote] 
    This middle grade novel is perfect for independent readers ages 7-12 and could certainly be read by an adult to younger Shopkins enthusiasts. Kids who read this story will learn about the bonding power that exists when we are passionate about something, and the importance of inclusion. We all know that fandom can be a means of bringing people together or tearing them apart. This novel shows both sides of that, settling on the lesson that bringing more people in just makes things a lot more fun.

    Shay, a Shopkins enthusiast herself, captures the excitement of these adorable collectibles while handling very age-appropriate lessons for young readers, about caring for your belongings, relationships with family and friends, and knowing when it is time to apologize when you’ve done something wrong. The writing is both captivating and easy to understand, and the balance between the intensity of fandom and the accessibility of narrative is perfection. Shopkins lovers and those unfamiliar with the brand would both find much to love about this book.

     
    [quote type=”center”]We all know that fandom can be a means of bringing people together or tearing them apart. This novel shows both sides of that, settling on the lesson that bringing more people in just makes things a lot more fun.[/quote] 
    My daughter (who is eight and is also, coincidentally, named Maggie) and I have been into Shopkins for several months now and this novel has only fueled our mutual excitement for the toys. She can’t stop talking about how much she wants a Marsha Mellow of her own! She found an ultra-rare Shopkin over the weekend and was so excited because it made her feel just a little bit closer to these characters.

    While reading through the book, my daughter and I split reading duty so we could include my son who is four. Their relationship often mirrors that of the characters Maggie and Max in the text, and reading through their struggles and triumphs has brought my children even closer. As a parent, I was relieved to discover that the story was so appealing and entertaining that I wanted to find out what happened next as much as my kids did!

    We had such a lovely time reading through this story, and I would say that it is a must-read for Shopkins kids and families. I look forward to getting my hands on more books to come in this series, as well as check out the unofficial stories for Minecrafters published by Sky Pony Press. These books are a genius way to blend fandom for toys and games with literature and get kids truly excited about reading!

    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing is on sale now from a variety of retailers (including Amazon.com) in both paperback ($7.99) and Kindle ($4.99) format.

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    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game gets revamped

    hitchhikers

    If you’re as old as me you probably remember when all the geeks you went to school with were reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – and you probably read it yourself. Then you may have tried the computer game version, which came out in 1984. Well, it’s 30 years later, and it looks like the game will be newly available, in a browser-based HD version set for a March 8 launch.

    The phenomenon that is “Hitchhiker’s” began in March 1978 thanks to a series of radio plays on BBC Radio 4. They were written by Douglas Adams, and spawned novels, a feature film, three stage shows, a TV series, audio books, comic books, and towels. Yes, towels. If you read the books you know that a towel is the most useful thing in the universe. If you haven’t read them, why haven’t you? How else would you know the significance of the number 42?

    The game is a high-definition remastered version of the original, a text-based adventure from Infocom that was notoriously difficult and odd,  and rarely missed a chance to kill players in inventive (read: infuriating) ways. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game was previously revived in a new edition for the series’ 20th anniversary, and that version won a BAFTA award for “Best Online Entertainment.” It was also a bestseller from the get-go; the BBC says that within the first three days after its 2004 launch, over three million moves had been made in it.

    This new Hitchhiker’s, which is web-based and can be played on tablets and other Internet-enabled devices, lets users share achievements over social media via the official Twitter handle @h2g2game. It’ll be made available via Radio 4 Extra’s website.

    BBC Radio 4 Extra will also present series one and two of the original “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on March 8, 36 years after they first aired, and additional episodes will air weekly. Listening to “The Primary and Secondary Phases” will help players, since they may need to know the plot in order to solve some of the puzzles. And they’ll need all the help they can get, if this version is as crazy as the ones before it!

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    The Bully’s Bully: Book One

    BullysBully-8x5-720x480

    As husband to a dedicated wife gamer and father to two gaming daughters (aged 9 and 14), I find myself in a relatively rare role. My wife, Brandee, is part of a well-known all-female group called the PMS Clan, and as a gamer myself, we understand the benefits gaming offers and have championed our daughters’ interests in the same hobby.

    ffa31a2f4a915614274f9b5006d8c118_large As a male in an all-female household, however, there are challenges, of course, some of which center on gaming. One of my key challenges is dealing with bullying in gaming, which has run rampant since the last generation of consoles, when online multiplayer became widespread. Unfortunately, games such as Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Halo—all games my enthusiast wife enjoys immensely—are dominated by insecure fellow gamers who use their headsets and mics to abuse in the most extreme and hurtful ways: racial-, sexual-, and gender-specific insults and are flung around mindlessly, quite literally during almost every gameplay session. It’s a frustrating issue that won’t go away.

    So, even though these games promote multiplayer approaches, we usually opt for local sessions so our daughters can focus on gaming at its most fun—as a collaborative, joyful experience that introduces them to new worlds. Some of those worlds are undoubtedly violent, but we’ve helped our daughters distinguish fictional violence from real-world conflicts, and they understand that they are merely “playing.” Indeed, while my daughters are avid gamers, Brandee (aka PMS Dangerdoll) and I refuse our daughters access to online gaming unless the environment is strictly controlled, in which they play with friends we’ve come to trust and who amplify the experience into one productively competitive or cooperative.

    Communication with mature gamers is part of the fun of gaming nowadays, and while we could remove the headset altogether or mute it, we shouldn’t have to, as many games now rely on strategic communication.

    Unfortunately, we have little control over real-life bullies. Phoenix, my youngest daughter, was victim to two bullies in as many years, 0b9371e9846f4e0f5a86b84d8181b334_largeand she’s still in elementary school. Although Brandee and I handled these situations as civilly as we could, we were of course very upset. Luckily, the situation with the first bully, a girl, was handled amicably. We learned that the second bully, a boy, caused a far more hostile situation for Phoenix. Because he had threatened and intimated her by ensuring her that he’d make her life worse if she told, coaxing the situation from our youngest was an emotional ordeal.

    Our initial reaction was to approach the bully ourselves. But, we knew we couldn’t do that. So, when we calmed down and thought about ways to deal with the situation, this Kickstarter project, a graphic novel entitled The Bully’s Bully, came to be.

    The project is also a webcomic that began in January of 2013 and is released online for free every Monday and Wednesday. The story centers on a girl who can literally feel the agony, desperation, and pain that real-life bullies cause others. As an empathic soul, the child decides to do something about the problem. I won’t give away anymore of the narrative, as it has twists and turns and a few surprises I’d like readers to discover on their own.

    Because we are all parents, and because we will likely have to deal with bullying in some context during our children’s lives, I hope you’ll find it worthy to donate to the vision of The Bully’s Bully to help me compile the comics into a paper-bound book. This story has the potential to help children and parents alike and to approach this wearying subject in positive, original, and productive ways.

    *To support this Kickstarter visit:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1531461998/the-bullys-bully-a-graphic-novel

     

    Girls Against Girls

    girlsagainstgirls

         Bullying is a growing problem in our society today.  It isn’t new, but with the rise of social media bullying seems to be getting worse.  Being connected to the entire world via the internet has given bullies a new way in which to inflict emotional harm on others.  No one is worse about bullying each other as females are to other females.  Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton is the best resource I have ever seen in the fight against bullying.

         Bonnie starts off explaining why we, as females, tend to hurt each other.  She goes over how biology and hormones, the way we are raised, the legacy we pass down to our children, and the naturally competitive nature of women all play into why we tend to bully each other.  Seeing such an in depth look at the why is such a great step into helping it to stop.  Sometimes all we, as humans, need to better ourselves is to understand why we do some of the bad things that we do.

         From the why she continues to the how bullying occurs.  Bonnie goes over various ways we hurt each other including the silent treatment to gossiping, to cyberbullying, and to other methods.  She explains what each method is, why it happens, why it hurts, and how to deal with it.  Meru, my 11 year old daughter, after reading the section on verbal abuse came up to me in tears and said, “Mamma, I’ve never thought about why [name of girl in her class] says such mean things to me, but now I know it’s because she’s hurting.  Now I feel bad for her.”  Meru hasn’t come home upset after school since.

         Girls Against Girls then continues to teach readers how to deal with the stress of feeling overwhelmed by bullying.  Sometimes when we are bullied we can feel as if we are completely alone.  Bonnie goes beyond the traditional “just ignore them and they’ll go away” advice and gives some real ways in which to deal with bullying.  She gives some examples such as writing in a journal, exercise, and even starting a club at school.  She also gives advice on how to get help if the problem gets to be too big to deal with on your own.  A list of different agencies, websites, and hotlines is included for anyone who may need the extra help.

         The last two chapters are all about stopping the bullying cycle and how to team together as females to help empower instead of tearing down.  Bonnie helps us to find constructive ways to vent our frustrations instead of taking them out on each other.  There is also a list of websites and organizations to help women form strong relationships with other women to help gain empowerment.

         Girls Against Girls is a must read for everyone.  Anyone who has felt bullied or has perhaps bullied someone else can learn something.  Especially any mothers of young daughters should pick this up.  It is one of the greatest weapons out there in the war against bullying.

         Recently I was fortunate enough to ask Bonnie a few questions:

    Carrie: What first inspired you to write this book?

    Bonnie: I was bullied when I was a kid, and the only books that I could find about the subject were completely unrealistic or written for parents. It’s hard to deal with bullying in junior high and high school when all the advice is outdated. So I wrote this book to help girls get good advice on what to do and not to do, as well as how to avoid turning into a mean girl by battling bullies. Fighting fire with fire only leads to a lot more drama.

    Carrie: What is something that you personally learned through writing Girls Against Girls?

    Bonnie: I learned that mean girls grow up to be mean women. Sadly, women learned bad behavior as kids and never really grow out of it. So you have to use the same defenses from junior high, but in the workplace or PTA meetings or even dinner parties.

    Carrie:  It definitely seems as if bullying has been getting a fair share of media attention lately.  Do you think that the rise of social media has made bullying worse? Or do you think it has just helped bring bullying more to light?

    Bonnie: Anything that gets people talking more about bullying and why it’s wrong, is always a good thing. The worst that could happen is that people think “it’s just a natural thing all kids have to go through.” There’s nothing okay with mistreating those around you because they’re different or quiet or not exactly like you. Parents, teachers and other students ALL have a responsibility to take a stand against bullying and offer support to those kids who need someone to talk to. Bullies will never go away, but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate them!

    Carrie: What inspired you during a time when you felt you were being bullied?

    Bonnie: When I was being bullied all throughout school I turned to writing and art to keep my spirits up and not be discouraged about what was happening to me. When you’re a kid, life can seem unbearable when you think it will never get better. But it DOES get better. Once you know how to deal with bullies, surround yourself with real friends, and be comfortable doing your own thing, life doesn’t have to be so miserable.

    Carrie: Who is your biggest female role model?

    Bonnie: That’s a hard question to answer! I have a wide array of female role models! I love funny ladies like Tina Fey and Laraine Newman who paved the way for female comedians and improv actresses. I love the writing of everyone from Anne Rice to Jenny Lawson. Bettie Page and Dita von Teese are big fashion icons for me. Siouxsie Sioux, Jane Wiedlin, Kim Gordon, Kim Shattuck, and Patti Smith influenced me to learn how to play guitar. My friend Felicia Day inspires me to follow my dreams and never give up on goals no matter how impossible they might seem at the time.

    Carrie: Girls Against Girls is such a great book, have you ever thought about writing more books along this line?

    Bonnie: As a matter of fact, yes! I’m hoping to write a series of anti-bullying books like this but for elementary school aged girls. Sadly, bullying happens to younger girls as soon as preschool, so the sooner we can teach them kindness, the better.

    Carrie: If you could only give one piece of advice to a young girl being bullied, what would it be?

    Bonnie: Be your own best friend. It can be hard to trust others and not feel betrayed when friends turn into frenemies. But if you can be happy just entertaining yourself through reading, writing, painting, crafting, running, playing guitar, playing with pets, etc., then you won’t feel as alone. Friends are great, but depending on them 100% for your happiness is a recipe for disaster.

    Fun Questions:

    Carrie: What is your favorite video game or video game series?

    Bonnie: I don’t really play video games because I’m paranoid that I’ll end up getting so caught up in the game that I’ll never get my book projects done! But I do love old school video games like “Hamburger Time” and “Frogger.” “Ms. PacMan” will also be dear to my heart.

    Carrie: Cupcakes or brownies and why?

    Bonnie: Cupcakes! Brownies! Ooooh I can’t decide. How about both together as the ultimate dessert?

    Carrie: Finish this sentence… “If I ruled the world every home would have at least one____________.”

    Bonnie: …taxidermied squirrel playing the violin!

    Bonnie Burton is a San Francisco-based author, journalist, comedian, actress and show host. From 2003 to 2012, she worked as a Senior Editor for Star Wars.com and staff writer for Star Wars Insider magazine, and was the Senior Editor of the Official Star Wars Blog. Burton's books include The Star Wars Craft Book (Random House), You Can Draw Star Wars (DK Publishing), Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Klutz Books), Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change (Zest Publishing), Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets in Peril (DK Readers) and Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers (Apress).

    Bonnie Burton is a San Francisco-based author, journalist, comedian, actress and show host. From 2003 to 2012, she worked as a Senior Editor for Star Wars.com and staff writer for Star Wars Insider magazine, and was the Senior Editor of the Official Star Wars Blog. Burton’s books include The Star Wars Craft Book (Random House), You Can Draw Star Wars (DK Publishing), Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Klutz Books), Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change (Zest Publishing), Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets in Peril (DK Readers) and Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers (Apress).

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    Two Geeks on a Mission

    missiongeekI don’t think that anyone these days is unfamiliar with Kickstarter and most people have probably even backed a project or two. Every once in a while a project comes along that is so awesome sounding I feel like I have to help the creators promote it as much as I can. Mission: G.E.E.K. is a prime example. The creators, Jessica Mills and Alan Kistler are going to document their journey as they explore various geeky destinations across the country.

    I cannot think of two better or more entertaining people to see road trip together. Neither are new to geek culture. Jessica is the creator and star of the webseries Awkward Embraces and Alan has been recognized by DC Entertainment and various news media outlets as a comic historian. Reading their twitter timelines at @geekyjessica and @sizzlerkistler will give anyone an insight as to how fun they are. A road trip ebook made by them will be nothing short of pure entertainment.
    Recently I was able to get a hold of them and asked them a few questions:

    1) Where/when did you guys get the idea to make this travel book?

    JESSICA: I have a ton of friends all over the US. I love long drives and travelling. I was thinking “How cool would it be to drive all over the US visiting my friends and having them show me all their most favorite parts of their home cities.” and then I thought “What if I filmed it? or wrote a book?” I rolled that idea around in my head for about a year before I asked Alan what he thought of the idea and he said he’d always wanted to do a geeky road trip show and that was that!

    ALAN: I had plans long ago to do video tape a road trip across America with pals and it fell through. Then last year I was chatting with a couple of dear friends about how fun such a project could be as a real web-series, but our schedules ensured it wouldn’t happen any time soon. So it was just this “wouldn’t it be fun” idea in my head until Jessica asked me what I thought about her idea and I said “YES! Let’s do it together!”

    2) With so many geeky destinations in the US, how did you decide on the ones you picked?

    JESSICA: Originally we had 21 cities on our list. But the budget was SUPER high. So we cut down the list to include only places where we had a guaranteed place to crash (with a couple of exceptions). That saved us hotel fees on all the cities, and I think makes the whole thing more fun.

    ALAN: We were also interested in places of which the general public may not be aware. As geeky as New York’s Natural History Museum is, it’s a landmark and on a good day you can find Neil DeGrasse Tyson in the Planetarium. But a lot of people have never been to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois. So there’s a joy in showing that place.

    3) What are your overall hopes for the outcome of the book?

    JESSICA: I want it to be an everyman’s travel guide. When I was growing up, we always went on vacation to visit family, or friends, and only to places we could drive to. We just didn’t have the money to go to Disney or anywhere that required a plane ticket and expensive hotel.

    I think a lot of people, especially families, are in that boat. I want to show them the magic of these smaller cities. Maybe things are tight, but within driving distance is a place maybe they never thought of visiting, like Madison or Cleveland, where they could have an awesome time.

    ALAN: Agreed. And honestly, look at TV. So many travel shows are about “OH MY GOD, there are so many good looking single people here and the drinks are expensive and the music loud and-” Which is fine but even though I like a good and energetic bar, that’s not the only flavor I’m interested in. So Jess and I are looking forward to showing what this country has to offer for the geeky minded. And I don’t think you need to be a Star Trek fan, robot builder or comic book reader to find many of these places neat.

    4) Why Kickstarter?

    JESSICA: Road trips are expensive! Ha. It’s one of those things that can’t really be done halfway. With Indiegogo, you get whatever you raise. I’ve used that in the past, for Awkward Embraces, when I thought ‘Whatever I can get, I’ll shoot what I can” But this project really depends on multiple cities and travel. If we only raised $3,000 or $5,000, there’s no way we could get enough to write a full book. With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing, so here we are!

    ALAN: If I thought we could scrounge together enough money from our savings and maybe a bake sale, I would be down with that. But just renting a car for a few days can cost a few hundred bucks and when you’re taking it from one city to another, plus gas, plus tolls, it all adds up SO quickly (Hell, bridges and tunnels in NY cost $5-15). And there’s the fact that to do this means Jessica and I will not be working for several weeks. I’m not going to be able to meet writing deadlines, work on my books or act or anything during the time for this roadtrip. So we won’t be having other funds coming in, this needs to have its own funding and account.

    5) If this is successful will you consider a second book?

    JESSICA: YES! Most definitely!

    ALAN: Of course!

    6) If so what types of places might you go next?

    JESSICA: Well, we don’t have any Southern states. I’m from Texas, and I’d love to go through finding geeky stuff all over the South. We just don’t know anyone there, so it would have been more expensive to pay for places to stay. But if we get to do another, I’d love to do the South. Or Canada! I’d love to do Canada, too.

    ALAN: I still haven’t been to Canada ever and it annoys me. Besides which, there are many places we wanted to visit but decided wouldn’t be feasible during this trip, so it would be great to make a second journey into mystery.

    7) What about an international edition?

    JESSICA: Are you kidding? I would LOVE to do a European Geek Tour with Alan. Do the backpacking thing, riding trains, finding the geekiest places all over Europe. How fun that would be!

    ALAN: I’ve always had great times in Europe and would love to go there again for such a geek-themed trip. I have several friends scattered around the countries and a few pals in London have been demanding I return so they can show me some geek stuff. The Doctor Who Experience alone would be fun to check out.

    8) What inspires you as a geek?

    JESSICA: Exploring possibility. All the what ifs of life. There are no limits and anything is possible. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Some of the wildest scenarios show us how great humanity can be.

    ALAN: We used to have myth and folk lore. We knew a lot of it wasn’t real or exactly real, but we considered it important and learned lessons from it. Now we have science fiction, fantasy and various sub-genres and they’re equally as important. Some are fun, many are really trying to get across messages of where we think we are, what we’re afraid of, and where we should go from here. Superhero battles are often metaphors about life made literal. That’s a wonderful thing and I’m constantly excited by the human capacity for new ideas and imagination.

    Random question for fun:

    9) Favorite video game series and why?

    JESSICA: Dude, Mario. My first love. It’s super lame, but I don’t care!

    ALAN: I’ve become obsessed with Mass Effect on a large scale. Definitely a fan of other series such as BioShock. But I think Mario and Mega Man are my longest loves in that field. It kills me there isn’t a good movie based on either one. If you embrace the video game atmosphere, you’ve got fantastic stuff right there. Possibly Jessica and I will just have to make it ourselves.

    Their Kickstarter can be found Mission: G.E.E.K.. Check it out and help support two awesome people make their dream come true!

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    Young Illustrator Makes a Splash with Friends with Fins

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    At only 13-years-old, Christian Hahn is already building his resume. First bullet point on his career history section?  Illustrating a published children’s book.

    ChristianHahn990x743Friends with Fins: The Talent Show, is a story about the adventures of a group of elementary school fish. The book, geared towards kids  ages 3 to 12, includes lots of fun facts about marine life. Hahn was asked to illustrate the book by his family member, Jaclyn Friedlander, who was visiting from California.

    Friedlander, who in addition to being an actor and a published author, also has roots in the gaming community. Friedlander attends E3 every year with her husband Timothy Riese, and they have done some mo-cap shooting and voice over work.

    This story caught my eye, not only because Hahn lives just up the road from me, but also because I have a daughter his age. She also loves to draw, and I think that it’s good for kids to see their peers making their dreams happen.

    Friedlander is doing a Kickstarter to get the second book in the series published. This book will once again be illustrated by Hahn. With only four days left, they are a long way from making their goal of $2,500. If you’d like to help them reach their goal, here is the link to their Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/search?utf8=✓&term=Friends+with+fins.

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    We have one copy of this book to give away to you, our readers! Leave us a comment below about what you wanted to be as a child. Did you want to be an artist, a musician, a gaming celebrity? We will select our winner randomly from the comments section next Tuesday, September 3rd.

    For more information on Friends with Fins, or to purchase the book on paperback, iPad or Kindle, please visit http://www.friendswithfins.com/

    You can check out the full story on Christian Hahn at Jacksonville.com 

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