In the Category of “Things That Fall From the Sky”

photo-8I’ve been spending the weekend on Martha’s Vineyard, enjoying a little time to myself and catching up on a few writing and publishing projects. Between tackling items on my “to do list,” I decided to head out to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. It felt good to get out of the house and the drive to Edgartown is always pleasant (except when there are a zillion cars and tourists milling around Jaws Beach).

Today, there were no tourists and almost no cars. It was beautiful. The sun had just broken through the iron gray clouds, revealing a blue sky that had been hidden by rain clouds for a few days.

And then it fell from the sky.

The crab came crashing down from the heavens to smash itself upon the pavement in front of me. I was about 100 feet away and slowed down afraid that the sky was about to open up. Who knows what other crustaceans might be practicing extreme sports like skydiving without parachutes.

Seagull Crab

Image by Donald Groff

And then there was a seagull.

He swooped down in front of my car to pick up the crab and carry it off for a private dinner along the seashore. It was one of those surreal events that you always hear about when you live in a seaside town–seagulls dropping clams, mussels, etc. from the sky to crack open the shell. However, it’s pretty rare to actually see it.

Part of me felt a little sad for the crab. No one wants to be dropped from the sky by a seagull. It’s just not what anyone has on their “bucket list” or their “to do list” or any other list. Still, it’s a part of life. A natural event. Animals living in the way that animals have always lived. Thus crabs falling from the sky.

In that moment, I truly appreciated my own life and all of the wonderful people in it because you never know when a seagull may pluck you from the sea.

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Be A Geek Theater Backer on Kickstarter!

The Kickstarter campaign for Geek Theater is underway! We are almost halfway there and a little more than halfway through the timeframe of our campaign. We’ve recently shared our newest playwright, Mac Rogers, with our current backers, and we should be sharing a couple more people soon…and then we will be fully stocked with some terrific plays that we are very excited to share with you.

Click here to back Futuredaze

Click here to back GEEK THEATER – Thank You!

However, to get there, we need your support. Science fiction and fantasy theater stage play anthologies don’t exist…yet! But with Geek Theater we are changing that, and we need your help to make this project a reality. Please consider backing Geek Theater on Kickstarter and sharing this project with your friends.

Here’s Mac Rogers biography:

Mac Rogers’ plays include SOVEREIGN (New York Times and Backstage Critic’s Pick), BLAST RADIUS (New York Times Critic’s Pick), ADVANCE MAN (winner of the NYIT Award for Best Premiere Production), FRANKENSTEIN UPSTAIRS (selected for New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix), VIRAL (Outstanding Play winner at FringeNYC 2009), UNIVERSAL ROBOTS (nominated for four New York Innovative Theatre awards), HAIL SATAN (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007), and FLEET WEEK: THE MUSICAL (co-written with Sean and Jordana Williams; winner of Outstanding Musical at FringeNYC 2005).

We also shared some of the fun rewards being offered to our Geek Theater backers, which include a cool coffee cup and t-shirt. Here’s the coffee cup! Perfect for a hot cuppa java while reading your copy of the Geek Theater anthology of science fiction and fantasy stage plays.

…and here’s the t-shirt, which is perfect for wearing while drinking your coffee or tea from your Geek Theater mug and reading your very own Geek Theater anthology of stage plays!

To all of you who have helped boost the signal and who backed Geek Theater on Kickstarter, THANK YOU! Without YOU, this project wouldn’t be possible.

For those of you who would like to boost the signal or back the project, here’s the URL: Thank you.

Geek Theater KS


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Geek Theater’s Authors & Playwrights

Geek Theater IconThe Kickstarter for Geek Theater, an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stage plays, launched yesterday. Thank you to everyone who has backed our project and who has helped to spread the word. We still have a way to go to hit our goal.

We thought the second day of our campaign would be a good time to introduce Geek Theater’s authors and playwrights. Please note that we are still in the process of building the Table of Contents, and more people and plays will be added as they are confirmed. However, we are thrilled to already have such a strong group of science fiction and fantasy authors and playwrights for Geek Theater.


(in alphabetical order)

 Jeanne BJeanne Beckwith’s plays have been performed from coast to coast and in between. Her play, A War Story at the Rialto, was recently produced by the State Theatre of Turkey in Ankara and Istanbul.  Another play Opportunity of a Lifetime was selected best SciFi Play by Red Tale Theatre and received a staged reading in NYC . It was presented as a radio play by the Thistle Dew Theater in Sacramento this past January. Selections from her play, Love Letters Made Easy, produced by Lost Nation Theatre, Montpelier VT, in 2010, were published in Smith and Kraus’s 2011 Best Scenes and Monologues for Women. She is a member of the Dramatist’s Guild and lives in Vermont with her husband, the writer, F. Brett Cox and teaches theatre and English at Norwich University.

Cecil CCecil Castellucci is the award winning author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN,, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2 and her librettos have been presented by ECM+. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow.

Brett CF. Brett Cox’s fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous publications. Forthcoming in 2014 are new stories in the anthologies Shadows and Tall Trees, War Stories, and Tales in Firelight and Shadow. His plays have been presented in staged readings at the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Alaska, and in performance at TenFest and the Burlington Fringe Festival in Vermont.  With Andy Duncan, he co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (Tor, 2004), and he currently serves as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Shirley Jackson Award.  A native of North Carolina, Brett is Associate Professor of English at Norwich University and lives in Vermont with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith.

Andrea HAndrea Hairston is the Artistic Director of Chrysalis Theatre and a Theatre professor at Smith College. Her plays have been produced at Yale Rep, Rites and Reason, the Kennedy Center, StageWest, and on Public Radio and Television. She has translated plays by Michael Ende and Kaca Celan from German to English. Ms. Hairston has received an NEA Grant to Playwrights, a Rockefeller/NEA Grant for New Works, and a Ford Foundation Grant. Since 1997, her plays produced by Chrysalis Theatre, Soul Repairs, Lonely Stardust, Hummingbird Flying Backward, and Dispatches have been sf plays. Archangels of Funk, a sci-fi theatre jam, garnered her a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in 2003. Also a novelist, Ms. Hairston is the author of Redwood and Wildfire, winner of the 2011 Tiptree and Carl Brandon Kindred Awards and Mindscape, shortlisted for the Phillip K Dick and Tiptree Awards, and winner of the Carl Brandon Parallax Award. Lonely Stardust—a collection of plays and essays is out in 2014.

Jim KJames Patrick Kelly has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards; his fiction has been translated into twenty-two languages.  His audioplays have been produced by, and Escape Pod.  He has written ten minute, one act and full length plays for the theater with several productions Off-Off-Broadway as well as in Honolulu, HI, Nantucket, MA, Poughkeepsie, NY, and Portsmouth and Manchester, NH.  He writes a column on the Internet for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and is on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.

John KJohn Kessel is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity, The Pure Product, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories and The Collected Kessel. His fiction has twice received the Nebula Award, in addition to the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award for fiction dealing with gender issues. His story “Buffalo” was voted best short story of 1992 by the readers of Locus magazine. In 2009 his story “Pride and Prometheus” received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. Kessel’s play “Faustfeathers” won the Paul Green Playwright’s Prize, and his story “A Clean Escape’” was adapted  as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. He appeared in the independent feature film The Delicate Art of the Rifle, directed by Dante Harper. Kessel has taught American literature and fiction writing at North Carolina State University since 1982.

Jim MJames Morrow has been writing fiction ever since, as a seven-year-old living in the Philadelphia suburbs, he dictated “The Story of the Dog Family” to his mother, who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yarn. This three-page, six-chapter fantasy resides in the author’s private archives. Upon reaching adulthood, Jim proceeded to write nine novels, the majority in satiric-theological mode, among them Only Begotten Daughter (World Fantasy Award), Towing Jehovah (World Fantasy Award), Blameless in Abaddon (New York Times Notable Book of the Year), The Last Witchfinder (called “provocative book-club bait” by critic Janet Maslin), and The Philosopher’s Apprentice (“an ingenious riff on Frankenstein” according to NPR). Jim’s stand-alone novellas include City of Truth (Nebula Award), Shambling Towards Hiroshima (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award), and The Madonna and the Starship (forthcoming). The early months of 2015 will bring the author’s latest postmodern historical epic, Galápagos Regained (St. Martin’s Press).

August SAugust Schulenburg’s plays have been produced and developed by such groups as the Lark Play Development Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Chelsea Playhouse, Theater for the New City, Portland Stage Company, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, New Amerikan Theatre, MTWorks, Adaptive Arts  TheatreLAB and Flux Theatre Ensemble, where he is the Artistic Director. He is a 2013-14 Lark Playwrights Workshop Fellow and a member of the Propulsion Lab for Mission to (dit)Mars. His work has also been published in the New York Theater ReviewStage and Screen, Indie Theater Now, Midway Journal, NoPassport Press and in two issues of Carrier Pigeon. He also writes for film and television with MozzleStead Productions.

Adam SAdam Szymkowicz’s plays have been produced throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He received a Playwright’s Diploma from The Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program and an MFA from Columbia University where he was the Dean’s Fellow. Szymkowicz is a two-time Lecomte du Nouy Prize winner, the premiere Resident Playwright at The Chance Theater in Anaheim, CA and the first playwright to participate in Bloomington Playwrights Projects’ Square One Series. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Playscripts, Original Works Publishing, Indie Theater Now and featured in New York Theatre Review ’07 and ’09, NYTE’s Cino Nights, and numerous Smith and Kraus books. He has written articles for Howlround, New York Theatre Magazine and The Brooklyn Rail and has interviewed over 600 playwrights on his blog.

CLICK HERE to back the Geek Theater Kickstarter.

We would be grateful if you could help to spread the word about Geek Theater to people you think would be interested in supporting this project. Join us now and share in the Geek Theater love.

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Awesome New Project–GEEK Theater

Geek-Theater--coverUnderwords Press is excited to announce the forthcoming publication of Geek Theater, which is a very special anthology of science fiction and fantasy stage plays written by some of today’s top authors and playwrights within the SF and fantasy fields. Geek Theater is co-edited by Jen Gunnels, the Theatre Editor/Drama Critic for the New York Review of Science Fiction and a contributing editor in performance for the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and Erin Underwood, the co-editor of the Futuredaze science fiction anthology series.

Geek Theater will be the first published anthology of science fiction and fantasy stage plays, and we need your help to make this project a reality. Therefore, we’ve set up a Kickstarter project to help raise the basic production costs for the book. The backers for Geek Theater will help to make a real difference within the science fiction and fantasy community by making these plays available to all.

We are taking a leap of faith that the world is ready for an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stage plays.

CLICK HERE to back the Geek Theater Kickstarter.

We would be grateful if you could help to spread the word about Geek Theater to people you think would be interested in supporting this project. Join us now and share in the Geek Theater love.

Until now, modern science fiction and fantasy stage plays have largely flown beneath the radar in comparison to published mainstream stage plays, and many of these plays have not been published or performed outside of the SF&F convention, fan, and theater communities. These plays are an important part of the science fiction and fantasy cannon as they represent the unique cross-section of writers who are producing work at a time when these genres are blooming.

The publication of Geek Theater will make these plays accessible to theater groups, schools, actors/actresses, critics, and readers who love discovering new science fiction and fantasy in all of its forms.

[Cross posted from]

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The “To Be Read” Pile

Now that we have eReaders, our “To Be Read” piles have largely become digital lists of books, purchased and stored on our Kindles and Nooks, waiting for us to have a few spare minutes to power up the electronic pages to escape into some new adventure. I have been so busy over the last few months that I haven’t had any time to even think about my “To Be Read” pile…let alone to actually open a book and read it.

However, I had the good fortune recently to be stuck on an airplane that was grounded for nearly two hours on the tarmac in Boston as the ground crew  de-iced the pretty icicles from the wings before take off. Those two hours plus the six hour flight to California gave me a rare break from the hubbub of life to fire up my Kindle, dust off my “To Be Read” list, and crack open a new book. I’d recently helped to plan the programming for Boskone, a Boston area science fiction and fantasy convention, and one of our authors had an interesting book that I purchased. Box Office Poison by Phillipa Bornikova seemed like the perfect book to read as I headed to sunny California…never mind those pesky icicles clinging to the winds!

I’ll be writing a proper review for this book as well as doing a short interview with Phillipa Bornikova, which will be posted at Amazing Stories Magazine sometime in the next couple of weeks. However, I really enjoyed the book and I just wanted to let you know that you too should think about adding Box Office Poison to your “To Be Read” list. It was a nice new take on that supernatural world mashed up with the glitz and grit of Hollywood.

More ore coming soon, but until then, le me just say that I am really glad that it was this book that broke my reading dry spell. Also, I just found an excerpt of Box Office Poison on the website. Be sure to check it out.

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Futuredaze 2: Reprise Cover Reveal

Cross-posting from Underwords Press.

The cover for Futuredaze 2: Reprise is revealed!

Coming in August 2014, Futuredaze 2: Reprise, co-edited by Erin Underwood and New York Times bestselling YA fiction writer Nancy Holder, is a reprint anthology from Underwords Press that features young adult science fiction from today’s top authors, Here’s a first look at the cover.


The contributing authors:

(listed in alphabetical order)

  • Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Libba Bray
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Kat Howard
  • Hugh Howey
  • N. K. Jemisin
  • James Patrick Kelly
  • Ken Liu
  • Malinda Lo
  • Beth Revis
  • Will Shetterly
  • Scott Westerfeld
  • Connie Willis
  • Jane Yolen




Futuredaze 2: Reprise will be available from Underwords Press in August 2014. Please direct questions, interview requests, and book review requests to Erin Underwood.

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Boskone Panel Schedule – See You There Boston!

The Boskone schedules are posted. I hope you are all planning to go because I’d love to see you there, if you’re in the Boston area on February 14-16, 2014. It should be a terrific convention. Visit the Boskone website and buy a membership. See you there!


Classic Movie Monsters
Friday 18:00 – 18:50
Godzilla. The Blob. Dracula. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Mummy. The Wolfman. King Kong. These are just a few of the classic film monsters that continue to keep us coming back for more movie magic with each new remake and reboot. Why do these creatures make such compelling stories? What does it take to create a great movie monster? Why do we love them? Will we ever grow tired of these old creature features?

Panelists: Erin Underwood (M), Bob Eggleton, Daniel M. Kimmel, Paul Di Filippo, Mallory O’Meara

Exploring the Whedonverse
Friday 21:00 – 21:50
From “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to the new “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” Joss Whedon has had a hand in some of the most significant genre television programming ever. How have Joss and his Whedonverse shaped TV (including shows he didn’t actually develop) and affected the wider genre community? What is the Whedon Effect? What would primetime television be like if Buffy never came to Sunnydale, or Serenity never lifted off? What was Dollhouse all about?

Panelists: Stephen P. Kelner (M), Dana Cameron, Nancy Holder, Gillian Daniels, Erin Underwood

Gravity and the Hard SF Film
Saturday 14:00 – 14:50
The movie Gravity comes packed with an incredible story of desperation and hope and potential. What does it tell us about ourselves? Is it a feminist film? Is it a scientific impossibility? What is it about this film that makes it special? Are there other SF films out there that do it better?

Panelists: Melinda Snodgrass (M), Erin Underwood, Daniel M. Kimmel, Allen M. Steele

The Light Fantastic
Saturday 15:00 – 15:50
Much critical attention is always devoted to dark fantasy: the more miserably hopeless the outcome, the more accolades. Why else is _1984_ considered a masterpiece? But how about the happy stuff? After all, isn’t fantasy supposed to help us escape from a society where Big Brother _is_ watching every move? Let’s consider the best of serious and humorous fantasy with positive conclusions. Great writing; interesting, complex, and evolving characters; beautifully described and consistent world-building; well-plotted stories — check, check, check, check.

Panelists: Erin Underwood (M), Mary Kay Kare, Bob Kuhn, Tom Shippey, Sarah Beth Durst

Flash Fiction Slam
Sunday 09:30 – 10:50
Join Boskone’s first Flash Fiction Slam. Eleven (11) writers compete for the title of The Flash, reading their own original fiction — which must tell a complete tale within a 3-minute period. Our expert panel of judges will score your work on a scale of 1 to 10, and you automatically lose 1 point for going over your 3-minute time. You may only read your own work. The reader with the top score wins! Sign up before the con for one of eight (8) advance reading slots on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing (Please put “Flash Fiction Slam” in your e-mail’s subject line.) Or sign up onsite at Program Ops in the Galleria for one of three (3) at-con openings. A waiting list will also be available.

Panelists: Erin Underwood (M), James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Holder, Walter Jon Williams, Paul Di Filippo

Future Fantasy and the Teen Protagonist
Sunday 12:00 – 12:50
Edgar Rice Burroughs once used the phrase “future fantasy.” Could this term find fresh usefulness today, for instance to describe developments in young adult (YA) literature, where we see a growing mix of fantastic elements? What works might qualify as future fantasy? Could blending the scientific with the fantastic lead to further innovations in fiction — or in science itself?

Panelists: Erin Underwood (M), Nancy Holder, Stacey Friedberg, Anna Davis

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Nominating Books and Stories for the Andre Norton Award and the Nebula Award

Cross-posted from Underwords Press.

Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction Released: February 2013 Edited by Hannah Strom-Martin & Erin Underwood

Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction
Released: February 2013
Edited by Hannah Strom-Martin & Erin Underwood

With the end of 2013, the fiction award season is upon us as people scramble to submit nominations for their favorite books and stories of the year. For those of you who are eligible to submit nominations for an award and you are thinking of nominating Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Ficiton, here is the information for the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book as well as the Nebula Awards.

If you have other books and short stories that you’d also like to nominate, we encourage you to nominate those as well since more diversity in awards is something that Underwords likes to encourage.

If you’re wondering how to submit a nomination and what requirement a work has to meet to be eligible, here’s some information from the SFWA Website:

2013 Nebula Awards Nominations

nebulaawardlogoThis is the area to nominate works for the Nebula Awards. Nominations may be submitted by Active, Lifetime Active, and Associate SFWA members in good standing. The nomination period opens November 15, 2013 and runs through February 15, 2014, 11:59pm PST. The Nebula Award rules are available here.
How to Nominate
You will need to sign in to these forums to access the online ballot. The sign in link is located on the top right corner of this page. Your login and password can be found in the email reminder recently sent to you. If you have trouble signing in please contact for assistance.

And here is the specific section pertaining to the Andrew Norton Awards:

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  1. The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, established in 2006, is awarded in tandem with the Nebula Awards. This award is not a Nebula, but shall follow all Nebula rules and procedures except as follows:
    1. Eligibility: The eligibility period shall be the calendar year. Any book in its first appearance in the English language published as a young adult science fiction or fantasy (or related genre) novel during that period shall be eligible, including graphic novels. Nothing shall preclude a work’s being eligible for both a Nebula Award and an Andre Norton Award. There shall be no word limit. Any questions of eligibility shall be decided:
      1. By the Andre Norton Award Jury, in consultation if possible with the author, for purposes of determining whether or not a work is a young adult novel, or
      2. By the Nebula Awards Commissioner, in consultation with the SARC and subject to an appeal to that committee, for purposes of determining other aspects of eligibility according to the rules.
      3. In the event of a disagreement over jurisdiction, the SARC shall determine whether the eligibility question at issue falls under the jurisdiction of the Jury, the Nebula Awards Commissioner, or the SARC.
  2. Andre Norton Award Jury: In consultation with the Nebula Awards Commissioner, the President shall appoint an Andre Norton Award Jury. The jury shall consist of at least three (3) and not more than seven (7) members, to consider works published during the calendar year for possible inclusion on the Final Ballot. The jury may add up to three (3) works to the Final Ballot. The jury may not add a work written by a member of the jury or a spouse or domestic partner of a member of the jury to the FINAL BALLOT.
  3. Nominations: Nominations may be made by any Active or Associate members of SFWA in good standing, and shall be tallied in accordance with the Nebula Awards® rules for novels. Nominations shall be tracked by the Nebula Awards Commissioner and included as a separate category on the FINAL BALLOT.
  4. FINAL BALLOT: The top six (6) works nominated shall reach the FINAL BALLOT, according to the procedures established for novels. The FINAL BALLOT shall be appended to the Nebula Awards Final Ballot, voted upon by the Active members and counted in accordance with the Nebula rules.
  5. Winner: The winner shall be the work which receives the most votes during the FINAL BALLOT. Ties shall be handled in the manner established for novels.
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Happy Holidays and Awesome Things

As we approach the end of the year with its crushing holiday cheer, I look back at the last few months and realize just how busy I have been and how I have let so much time pass without checking in with Underwords and my blog. I’ve got several new exciting projects on the horizon to share soon. I’m really looking forward to that!

Still, I am not ready to share that news, and I was wondering what could get me back to my blog since I had started to miss sharing things here. Then, while driving to work today, which took nearly 2 hours instead of the standard 1 hour, I came across this snowman. While sitting through several stop lights, I had some time to really look at him and realize that he wasn’t just a snowman. He was an evil snowman! So, I took this picture…

Evil Snowman

…still, it didn’t get me back to my blog. It was going to take something big to get me back to the blog given all of the crazy things that I have going on. In fact, it would take a wonder box and all of the amazing things that one would find inside of a wonder box. And that’s exactly what I got. I came home to find a curious box from a good friend waiting for me. Inside the box was a magnifying glass and this microscopic letter…

Wonder Box Letter

…a letter that explained what a wonder box was and why he sent it. Inside wasn’t just an amazing assortment of cool odds and ends, but something much less tangible than tasty chocolate, several cool books, some candy canes, silly magnets, and a TARDIS hand towel. Inside was holiday cheer….real holiday cheer.

I hope that the idea of the wonder box will inspire us all to do wonder(box)ful things for our friends as we head into the new year. While you’re at it, tell someone important to you something special that you would want them to know, if they weren’t around any longer. You’ll be surprised how good it will fell and how happy you will make them.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season and New Year full of awesome things.

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Interview with Actor Chad Connell of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Have you read The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare? If not, get to a bookstore and pick up City of Bones, the first book in the series. If you like young adult urban fantasy, you’re going to love this series.

When I heard that they were making a movie of the first book, I was a bit nervous and scared about how the film might turn out because you just never know about these things.

I’m happy to say that the film was really good. Whew! So, I wrote a short review of it to go with the interview that I did with Chad Connell, one of the actors from the film. Chad plays the part of the blue haired demon, and he shares his experiences both on and off the film set. 

Come read my interview with Chad Connell, which is published over at Amazing Stories Magazine and let me know what you think!

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