Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Next BIG Thing.....

It's the name of our panel at New York Comic Con - The Next Big Thing: Indie Authors Creating Brave New Worlds and I'm so excited to be a part of it!  Next Friday, October 9th, at 1:30pm in Room 1B03, I will be sitting next to some of the most exciting new voices in comic books, graphic novels and science fiction/fantasy and the stories they tell are anything but run of the mill. 

April Adams is the author of the GwenSEVEN sci-fi/fantasy saga and having read the 1st two books in the series, I can tell you that her work is complex and demanding in a way that I find refreshing.  From the first chapter, I was invested in every character I met and the worlds April creates to tell her stories challenge almost every trope I can think of.  But, I guess you really shouldn't expect anything less from a former Army Paratrooper and fantasy football playing mom turned sci-fi/fantasy writer.  Yeah...you can read all about her here.

With Greg Garay, I have to admit that I'm a big fan.  So much so that when I was looking for an illustrator for Ellis and The Magic Mirror, I didn't consider anyone else.  I begged and cojoled until I got him.  But Greg is a multi-dimensional creator in his own right, having written, illustrated and produced three installments of his truly unique Jack B: Ride the Air comic book series. Greg is also an accomplished graphic and web designer.  Check out his amazing work here.

Neil Gibson's Twisted Dark was the 1st graphic novel I ever read, which is a blessing and a curse because it set the bar so high for the medium that I'm often hesitant to pick up anything that he hasn't written.  Luckily, his company, TPub Comics, never leaves you without something good to read. To say Twisted Dark is an excellent graphic novel series is almost like saying the sky on a clear day is pleasing.  It's a pitiful statement compared to the reality.  Arresting, disturbing, mind-rattling, and frightfully true are just some of the words I would use to describe the amazing work he creates.  Don't believe me? Find out for yourself here.

Award-winning artist and storyteller, Nilah Magruder is like the gift that keeps on giving. Comics, Illustrations, Animation, Writing...the list of her abilities seems to go on and on.  With a courageous mix of traditional and independent projects, her work and acclaim crosses many genres and modes of story telling, but her commitment to perfecting her craft has endured throughout her career.  Earlier this year, her groundbreaking M.F.K. web comic series won the inaugral Dwayne McDuffie Diversity Award at the Long Beach Comics Expo.  To see why, click here.

If you're going to be at NYCC next Friday, come in and join the discussion.  It's a great time to be an independent artist, so come join us as we redefine the literary landscape to bring you the best in storytelling.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Coming August 2015: Ellis and The Magic Mirror

The countdown to the release of Ellis and The Magic Mirror is ON and I'm so excited!  This story has been a labor of love that began about a year ago, when my 6 year old son asked me to write a book for him.  

He told me upfront that sword-fighting, a skateboard and his stuffed penguin "Chirpy" had to be in the story.  With my work cut out for me, I began writing, and thanks to the exceptional artistic talents of Gregory Garay of Visual Verbosity, I finally have a story that my son not only approves of, but is excited about.  

Ellis and The Magic Mirror is intended for readers like my son, who was ready to begin reading chapter books, but was a bit intimidated by "too many words" and too few pictures. The story has about as much action and suspense as I could throw into a children's book and still keep it "kid-friendly".  My target reading audience is between 6-10 years old.  

Would you like to read Ellis and The Magic Mirror to a little person who is near and dear to your heart?  I'm giving away 5 signed copies of Ellis and The Magic Mirror to 5 lucky winners who share their favorite children's book stories with me via email, FB, Twitter or Instagram. Winners will be selected by the end of July.

This is truly a special moment for me, as a writer and a Mom.  Thank you for sharing it with me.  

To read a sample of the 1st chapter click here, then pre-order your copy TODAY! Ellis and the Magic Mirror will be released on August 11, 2015.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Wait is Over. The Last Seer Has Arrived!

The Order of the Seers Trilogy is Now Complete! Pick up your copies of all three books in the Trilogy - Order of the Seers (Book I), Order of the Seers: The Red Order (Book II), and Order of the Seers: The Last Seer (Book III) TODAY!  Each book is available in Paperback and Kindle (ebook) format. 

To celebrate the release of The Last Seer, the first book in the Trilogy, Order of the Seers (Book I), is absolutely FREE on Kindle from 9/30-10/4!  So if you haven't experienced the world of Order of the Seers for yourself, now is a perfect time to dive in.

The past three years have been an incredible journey and I am thrilled to share this very special day with you.

Happy Reading!

Best Always,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where The Wild Things Still Are – 5 Reasons to Put ‘Attend a ComicCon’ on Your Bucket List

The Wild Ones....

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, you were a kid who lived in an alternate universe – a place where you could die a thousand times in an afternoon and still be home for dinner, where tooth-fairies were real and a towel tied around your neck made you a superhero.  But as you grew up, you may have convinced yourself that those things, that time, and that place weren't real. 

But at a sci-fi /comic convention, you get it all back.

For two, three, or four days, at a convention center near you, dragons fly, monsters rage and superheroes save the day, one snapshot at a time.  It’s a place of magic you will recognize and wonders you can still behold, a place where you can remember the best of what you once believed.  And as you try to remember how to dream again, no one will think you’re crazy because, once you’re inside those convention doors, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of other people dreaming right along with you.  And if that’s not reason enough to take a peak inside your local sci-fi/comic convention, here’s five more.

1.  It’s Not All About Comics.  If you like sci-fi movies, anime, or just popular fiction on the big or small screen (exclusive TV show and movie sneak peaks, anyone?). You will find something to enjoy.
Game of Thrones Fan? These folks go to sci-fi conventions!
2. The Best Red Carpet in the World.  Milan doesn’t have a thing on the absolute spectacle of what you will see at a sci-fi convention or ComicCon, as it is often called.  The craftsmanship of the work is INSANE.  Some people spend all year working on their costumes and it shows.  This is just a sample of some of the spectacular feats of sweat, artistry and micro-fiber engineering that I’ve seen.

To see more pics, click here.

3. There is Something for Everyone – For the hard-core comic book geek, there are dealers who specialize in the rare, mint-condition collectibles.  For the parents who are only there because of their kids, you can find workshops and seminars on writing, art, story-telling and the impact of comics on culture that will blow your mind and pique your interest.  And for the little ones, Sunday is usually Kids’ Day, which can feature a costume parade, special meet & greets with superheroes and displays that kids can get at while parents take a break.

All Dressed Up and It's Not Even Halloween!

4. Find The Next Cool Thing.  If you like to get in on the goods before everyone else, sci-fi conventions pride themselves on featuring some of the best artists in a variety of fields, from hand-drawn art so detailed it will leave your mind spinning to the latest graphic and sci-fi novels by up and coming authors, you will find a cross-section of talent that is new, exciting and accessible.

Illustrator Extraordinaire Jason Lenox and I admiring the mad skills of Painter Extraordinaire Kyl El

5.  Step Out of Your Comfort Zone.  Let loose.  Put on a helmet.  Ask a complete stranger about their costume.  Try something different.  One of the absolute best things about comic/sci-fi conventions is that weird is normal and unconventional is expected.  It’s one of the only places I’ve ever been where you can wear your insides out and be celebrated for it.  This is not a place where you need to conform.  In fact, you are encouraged to bring your unique world view to the event, in the form of your favorite anti-hero costume or a t-shirt that simply says “Leave Me Alone!”  Whatever you want to do, whoever you want to be is fine with us.  Now where’s the last public place you went where you could say that was true?

Me in a helmet, just because....
If you decide to take the plunge, the only survival tip I would give to you is this – decide your crowd-tolerance level and plan accordingly.  If you don’t like crowds, early Thursdays and/or Sundays are going to be the days for you. If your middle name is pandemonium, then by all means, join the Saturday crush.  Either way, I hope to see you there! 

Still feeling angsty?  Ask me a question and I'll try to answer it below. :-)

* All pictures, except for the GoT folks, are my personal photos from New York ComicCon, AwesomeCon DC, Baltimore ComicCon and C2E2 in Chicago.

**I will be exhibiting at Baltimore ComicCon from September 5-7th and New York ComicCon October 9-12th.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The B’s vs The A’s: A Wider Lens on the #BanBossy Campaign

First of all, let me say that this is not a post where I blast Sheryl Sandberg and all she is trying to do to help young women feel empowered. Change is hard and I applaud her efforts.

But…I do want to challenge the notion of talking about “bossy” in the context of girls vs boys because, while I get that it’s sexy, I don’t think it’s very helpful.  Talking about gender equality, while not addressing the fallacy of standards within both sexes doesn’t make much sense to me. 

Bossy vs Boss?

The second thing you should know is that I have 2 children, one girl and one boy and they are both VERY bossy.

I don’t tell them that, but I have been known to whisper a heads up to a parent at a play date, because both of my children have no problem laying down the law if you let them.

While I’m trying to preserve the awesome core of their behavior (confidence, self-directedness and a desire to lead), I am also trying to help them understand the difference between a path leader and a bulldozer.  My son is 6 and my daughter is 3, so I have a long way to go.

But despite my best efforts, it’s highly likely that, at some point, someone is going to call each of them bossy and the effect will not be positive, for very different reasons.  And that’s what struck me as missing from the #BanBossy PSA.  It’s not that I don’t understand that when girls insist we’re considered pushy and when boys insist they’re considered strong.  I’m female. I’m alive.  I know.

But I don’t think we need to "ban bossy" as much as we need to rewrite the entire script for both girls and boys on how we define and cultivate leadership in this country.  Because girls aren’t the only ones who get called bossy and boys aren’t always celebrated for it.

In adulthood, when women are thought of as bossy, we’re called bitches.  When men are thought of as bossy, they’re called assholes. 

Neither title seems covetous to me. 

And the sad truth of it is that men, even boys, are expected to be assholes.  In fact, they are demeaned if they aren’t.  Watch this chilling documentary preview that illustrates how this dynamics plays out among young boys, below. 

Girls, of course, are expected to play second fiddle.  So if we want to be heard, we’re too bossy.  If boys want to listen, they’re not bossy enough. 

We’re both trapped in a prison of our own making.  Brene Brown talks a lot about how that prison turns into shame for both men and women here.  She really get’s cooking around 15:20.
What I hope to nurture in both my children is the character of a leader – someone who listens and respects (even if they don’t agree), someone who inspires, someone who motivates people to do and be their best, someone with both compassion and conviction, someone who leads by example and has integrity in their words and their actions.  And above all, someone who seeks to contribute to making the world a better place. 

A person who can do these things is someone people will follow.  Not everyone, of course, but you don’t need everyone.  You just need the people willing to work towards a common goal and a better future. 

But these characteristics also describe someone who will be a target for criticism.  It is inevitable.  If you’re going to lead, you have to be ready for that.  For girls, the criticism may be harsher, but believe that it will be harsh for boys as well. To lead, your convictions, your confidence, your notion of self-worth must be strong enough to weather the criticism of others.  Maybe that’s why a strong woman is the strongest thing there is. 

So, to me, the answer is not in trying to get someone to stop calling girls bossy.  If we don’t address the programming that teaches boys (and girls) that strong girls are a threat to a boy’s manhood (see how crazy that sounds?), then when he grows up, he’ll just replace bossy with bitch while he struggles to maintain the upper-hand as an asshole. 

What we, as a society, need to focus on is developing the characteristics of a leader in all our children.  When we do this, boys and girls, men and women won’t be working against each other.  We will recognize each other’s right, our common duty as individuals to voice our opinions and contribute meaningfully to the world in whatever way we choose.

Until then, I fear we’re just playing with words.    

You can read more of my thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In here

Leaning In or Breaking Out - A Different Take on Why Some Woman Aren't Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In has got me thinking about my own decisions and assumptions about what the balance of work and family would be in my own life and I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you.

I grew up in a 2 adults working/ 1 1/2 parent household, which means both my parents had full-time jobs, but my mom did most of the parenting.  Watching her walk through the door at 5:30pm everyday, rest her bags by the staircase, then head straight to the kitchen to cook dinner in her heels (while my Dad was upstairs watching TV) is probably one of the defining images of my life.

I decided right then and there (before I was even 12) that if I ever had a family, I would work part-time when I had kids.  The idea that I would, should or could do all the house work, all the cooking and all the childrearing AND work a full-time job just seemed ridiculous.  Putting aside the fact that, as a little girl, I didn't think I would ever get married, even I knew that the suggestion that I could "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you're a man" was a bunch of bull and I refused to drink the Kool-Aid.

I STILL can't believe this crap!

Fast forward 28 years, 2 career, 3 businesses, 1 marriage and 2 kids later and I still agree with that little girl.  There is no shortage of dreams and ambition in my bones. Ask any of my former bosses, staff members or colleagues and they will tell you that I'm not afraid to challenge or be challenged.  If I'm sitting in a business meeting, I expect a seat at the table.  In fact, it's where I'm most comfortable (it's also where I am least likely to fall asleep).

But my choice to work part-time and seek out more flexible careers when my husband and I decided to start a family had less to do with giving up the corporate world than creating the greatest number of options for me to define motherhood in the way that worked best for me and my family.  And I see a lot of women in my generation doing the same - rejecting the either/or choice of work vs home to break the mold entirely and map out a new road - the world according to me.  

In June of last year, Forbes magazine declared "Entrepreneurship is the New Women's Movement".  This brave new world includes negotiating everything from dinner to financing terms for your home-based start-up and managing a team of contractors on a job site while you coach little league.  The balance is defined by the way we want to live:
  • Passionate about the things that are important to us
  • Powerful in the realms we choose to walk and
  • Connected to what we value most.
I know the numbers for women represented at the top of the corporate ladder may not be as impressive as some would like, but the view from where I'm standing looks pretty darn good because I'm standing with a bunch of other women who measure their lives and their contribution to the world by the only metrics that matter - their own. 

Haven't heard of Sheryl Sandberg?  She's the COO of Facebook. Check out a brief seminar she gave on women in corporate leadership here.

*Addendum* I wrote this post quite awhile ago, but didn't post it because I heard Ms. Sandberg was getting a lot of backlash for her book and I didn't want to be a part of the chorus.  For the record, I don't think that Ms. Sandberg is trying to tell mothers how to run their lives. My impression is that her book is geared towards young women at the beginning of their careers.  I think her book is primarily designed to help them ask important questions BEFORE they make assumptions and decisions that may not be right for them and I, for one, think that is a good thing. For my thoughts on the "Ban Bossy" campaign click here.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Order of the Seers ebook On SALE NOW through the end of February

Wanna Read ME? I'm only $0.99

Well Hello There!

It's been awhile, but I hope you are doing well.  I have been BUSY, but it's all good stuff.  First up, I am thrilled to announce the release of the Order of the Seer audiobook on Amazon, Audible and iTunes!  Click here to listen to a sample and get your copy!  

In January, I launched a brand new website, with new features and a new weekly blog.  Bookmark it at www.cerecerenniemurphy.com for the latest info., teasers and exclusive content that you can't find anywhere else.

I've also started writing the 3rd and final book in the Order of the Seers trilogy, titled The Last Seer and I'm happy to report that, while the writing is going slowly, it is going well.  Can't wait to share it with you! I don't have an official release date yet, but I can tell you that I'm aiming for Summer 2014, so stay tuned!

And while you're waiting for Book #3, you can feast your eyes on the BRAND NEW cover for Order of the Seers: The Last Seer.

You like?

I've already started posting teasers from The Last Seer on my website, so be sure to check 'em out.  I'll try to add a new one each week until the book is done. :-)

So to celebrate the new cover, the release of the Order of the Seers Audiobook and all the other cool stuff to come, we're having a .99 cent ebook sale for Order of the Seers (Book I in the Order of the Seers Trilogy).  If you haven't read Order of the Seers and wanted to give it a try, now is the perfect time.  The sale on Amazon, BN.com and iTunes ends on February 28th.  

Coming to the end of the Order of the Seers journey is truly bittersweet.  But more than anything else, I am grateful to have been given these stories to write and share with you.  

If you're out there, thanks for reading!