The New Timebenders Series is HERE!

Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Nook Edition, $3.99.

Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Nook Edition, $3.99.

The NEW revised and updated Timebenders series has arrived!

Thanks to the excellent work of my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company, the Timebenders science-fiction adventure series is back and better than ever, and the first two books are available in all popular ebook formats.

The Timebenders series presents the adventures of Max McCrane, a young inventor who just wants to fit in with his fellow students at Victor Appleton Middle School. Trouble is, Max isn’t your run-of-the-mill middle schooler. He’s a boy genius who has invented his own time machine—Timebender!

That rusty orange Volkswagen Beetle may look like it belongs in a junkyard, but under the hood, Max has installed a photon-powered, Einstein-defying, time-warping power plant that jaunts across the centuries with ease. Don’t believe me? Well, climb aboard Timebender and plunge into Book 1: Battle Before Time!

Journey through time with Max and his friends—Allie O’Dell, Grady Stubblefield, and Toby Brubaker—as they confront mankind’s most ancient enemy in a place before time began. Follow them into the fourth dimension as they face otherworldly dangers armed with nothing but courage, loyalty, and the power of belief! Join Max and his friends on a fantastic voyage that sends them hurtling from primeval Earth … to a long-lost Planet Mars … to the Garden of Eden.

Along the way, these young heroes encounter rampaging dinosaurs, unearthly beings of golden light, and the most deadly opponent of all—the fiendish Silver Dragon! Battle Before Time is a wild roller-coaster ride through time and space, a page-turning adventure rooted in timeless truth.

In Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby tumble into a perilous new adventure when they enter a doorway to an ancient, evil kingdom, ruled by the shadowy figure of the Silver Dragon. Within the dark, forbidding walls of Castle Serpenfane, they meet evil King Wyvern, his wizardly alchemist Doctor Delyrius, and the strange and mysterious Lady Galatea. The ruthless king confronts Max with a seemingly impossible choice: either help him in his mad pursuit of weapons of mass destruction—or watch his friends suffer a horrible fate.

Meanwhile, Allie must discover the secret that is hidden among the slithering worms and silent crypts of the midnight maze. Worst of all, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby are stranded in the past without Max’s Volkswagen time machine, Timebender. They have no hope of ever returning home!

timebenders-book-3So open the Doorway to Doom—if you dare! Then take a thrill ride through an age of castles and kings, knights and fair ladies, chivalry and superstition. This action-packed tale sweeps you along to one of the most unexpected endings you’ll ever read.

Young readers love Timebenders: “The Timebenders books are so awesome! They really encourage me,” writes Chloe. And Ben writes, “I’ve read all the Timebenders books! My mom reads them to me at bedtime and I take them for independent reading at school.” And Elliott says, “The Timebenders books are great! Now I’m writing my own book about time travel!”

And parents love Timebenders: “My son has devoured the Timebenders books,” one dad writes. “They really entertain him. We hear him laughing out loud as he reads.” A mom writes, “Thank you for books that are both exciting and appropriate for young readers. As a mother of three and a lover of books, I’m thrilled with Timebenders!” Another mom writes, “My son spent most of his vacation reading Timebenders—the first time he’s read an entire book without skipping pages! His video games are all but forgotten.”

timebenders-book-4The next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia, were released on Christmas Day 2012. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the news through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments here at my Timebenders blog. Post your reviews on the Timebenders pages at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. Visit my Author Page at Amazon.com. Let’s get acquainted.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Blog Hop Tour

Ten Questions for “The Next Big Thing”

A lot of my author friends have been doing the “Blog Hop” tour, in which we all answer the same set of questions about our newest (or future) releases. My thanks to award-winning suspense novelist James L. Rubart, author of Rooms, The Chair, and Soul’s Gate for pointing the way to my blog.

Thanks, also, to Dorothy Love, author of fine Southern historical fiction, for linking to this page. Dorothy is the author of the Hickory Ridge series, including Beauty for Ashes and Every Perfect Gift.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Actually, I want to talk about a series, not just one book. My Timebenders series, first published in 2002, has just been completely revised and updated, with Books 3 and 4 debuting on Christmas Day 2012. Plus, I am currently writing a brand-new book in the series with the working title War of the Electronic Brain.

The first four books in the series are Book 1: Battle before Time, Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers, and Book 4: Lost in Cydonia. These books are for middle grade readers, ages 9 to 14.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the Timebenders series came from my son, who was a kindergartner at the time (he’s now working on his master’s degree!). One day, he came to me and said, “Daddy, would you write a book with me?” I said, “Sure. What kind of book should we write?” He said, “I want to write a book about a time machine and dinosaurs.”

So we started working and we wrote a little each day for a week or two, then we forgot about it for a while. A few years later, I took a fresh look at the pages we had written, and I decided to finish the book. That first book was Battle Before Time, and the publisher asked me to write three more. Last year, I got the rights back from the original publisher, and I updated and rewrote the books, and Greenbrier Books has reissued them with stunning new covers.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

The Timebenders series is science fantasy for young readers. I deliberately chose titles that would have a campy, pulp-science-fiction feel.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a science fiction fan. When I was five years old, my favorite TV show was a space opera called Space Patrol. It had spacemen in space suits with fishbowl helmets spouting dialogue like “Smoking rockets! A cosmic storm!” And my favorite cartoon at that age was Popeye, the Ace of Space, in which Popeye battles space aliens on Mars.

In elementary school, I searched for science fiction books in the school library, and was ecstatic when I discovered A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle on the “new arrivals” shelf. I was only nine, but the scientific concepts and appealing characters captured my imagination. (I wrote about the impact of that book on my life in a recent op-ed piece.)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My protagonists in the Timbenders series are in their early teens. To play Max McCrane, I’d cast Zach Mills of Super 8 fame (with round-lensed eyeglasses, Zach is Max). The perfect Allie O’Dell would be another Super 8 alum, Elle Fanning (with the addition of red hair and braces). C. J. Sanders, who played a young Ray Charles in Ray, would be well cast as Grady Stubblefield. For villainy, either Max von Sydow or Christopher Plummer would make an excellent Dr. Delyrius, the evil alchemist in Doorway to Doom.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Here’s Book 1: Battle Before Time in one sentence:

“Boy inventor Max McCrane turns a rusty orange Volkswagen into a time machine and takes three friends across time and space to battle a deadly dragon in a place before time began.”

Here’s Book 2: Doorway to Doom:

“Max and friends go back in time to an ancient kingdom ruled by evil King Wyvern and Max must either serve the king or doom his friends to a horrible fate.”

Here’s Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers:

“Max McCrane is hijacked into the past by scheming Luna Skyes, and his friends are chased through time by robot warriors of the fourth dimension, the Time Troopers.”

Here’s Book 4: Lost in Cydonia:

“A frightening miscalculation sends Max and friends to Mars, where they encounter an ancient secret guarded by strange blue-skinned creatures, the Timelings.”

Here’s Book 5: (working title of work-in-progress) War of the Electronic Brain

“Max and friends go back in time to Los Angeles in 1942, and must foil a plot to attack America and change the outcome of World War II.”

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agency.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

My first four Timebenders books were each first-drafted in about six to eight weeks (each is about 45,000 words long). Once the first draft is written, there’s a lot more work to do—additional drafts, substantive editing, copyediting, first proofs, and second proofs.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I set out to write the kind of books I enjoyed when I was a boy—a wild roller coaster ride through time and space. I wanted my readers to have the same experience I had when I was a boy reading A Wrinkle in Time, The Martian Chronicles, and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

As time travel fiction, the Timebenders tales are part of a literary tradition going back to Washington Irving, H. G. Wells, and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. There’s even an echo of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Lost in Cydonia.

And, of course, there’s a great tradition of adult time travel literature that I’ve enjoyed over the years—classic short stories such as Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies—” and “By His Bootstraps,” Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner’s “Vintage Season,” and Harlan Ellison’s “Soldier,” to name a few. Great time travel novels include Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol series, Gordon R. Dickson’s Time Storm, Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time, David Gerrold’s The Man Who Folded Himself, and Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My son, who was in kindergarten at the time, inspired the Timebenders series. That’s why the first book in the series is dedicated to him.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I vividly recall the writing process of the first four Timebenders books, especially Book 2: Doorway to Doom. I was a couple of chapters into the second book when we were attacked on 9/11. At first, the horror of that event disrupted my creative flow. At that time, some of my writer friends actually stopped writing for a few weeks. I had a tight deadline, so I had to keep writing. I wrote with the cable TV news blaring in the background, so I could keep an ear open for news developments.

As I wrote, I kept coming up with new ideas, including a new ending for the book. Later, I realized that most of those new ideas had to do with darkness. My mood was dark, and it showed in the writing. I added a scene where Max, my protagonist, was tossed into a dungeon by the villain, Dr. Delyrius. I added another scene involving Max’s friend, Allie, threading her way through an underground maze by torchlight.

Even though the scenes dealt with darkness, they demonstrated the light of faith, hope, and courage. A number of readers have written to say that those scenes are their favorite passages in the whole series.

I recently gave an extensive interview that provides more background on the writing of the Timebenders series. You can read it at Random Writing Rants.

Thanks for stopping by on the Blog Hop Tour. Check out the Blog Hop interviews by these fine authors:

Southern historical writer Dorothy Love (author of Beauty for Ashes)

Fantasy novelist Jill Williamson (author of By Darkness Hid)

Science fiction writer Steve Rzasa (author of The Word Reclaimed)

The New, Revised and Updated Timebenders Series is HERE!

Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Nook Edition, $3.99.

Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Nook Edition, $3.99.

The NEW revised and updated Timebenders series has arrived!

Thanks to the excellent work of my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company, the Timebenders science-fiction adventure series is back and better than ever, and the first two books are available in all popular ebook formats.

The Timebenders series presents the adventures of Max McCrane, a young inventor who just wants to fit in with his fellow students at Victor Appleton Middle School. Trouble is, Max isn’t your run-of-the-mill middle schooler. He’s a boy genius who has invented his own time machine—Timebender!

That rusty orange Volkswagen Beetle may look like it belongs in a junkyard, but under the hood, Max has installed a photon-powered, Einstein-defying, time-warping power plant that jaunts across the centuries with ease. Don’t believe me? Well, climb aboard Timebender and plunge into Book 1: Battle Before Time!

Journey through time with Max and his friends—Allie O’Dell, Grady Stubblefield, and Toby Brubaker—as they confront mankind’s most ancient enemy in a place before time began. Follow them into the fourth dimension as they face otherworldly dangers armed with nothing but courage, loyalty, and the power of belief! Join Max and his friends on a fantastic voyage that sends them hurtling from primeval Earth … to a long-lost Planet Mars … to the Garden of Eden.

Along the way, these young heroes encounter rampaging dinosaurs, unearthly beings of golden light, and the most deadly opponent of all—the fiendish Silver Dragon! Battle Before Time is a wild roller-coaster ride through time and space, a page-turning adventure rooted in timeless truth.

In Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby tumble into a perilous new adventure when they enter a doorway to an ancient, evil kingdom, ruled by the shadowy figure of the Silver Dragon. Within the dark, forbidding walls of Castle Serpenfane, they meet evil King Wyvern, his wizardly alchemist Doctor Delyrius, and the strange and mysterious Lady Galatea. The ruthless king confronts Max with a seemingly impossible choice: either help him in his mad pursuit of weapons of mass destruction—or watch his friends suffer a horrible fate.

Meanwhile, Allie must discover the secret that is hidden among the slithering worms and silent crypts of the midnight maze. Worst of all, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby are stranded in the past without Max’s Volkswagen time machine, Timebender. They have no hope of ever returning home!

timebenders-book-3So open the Doorway to Doom—if you dare! Then take a thrill ride through an age of castles and kings, knights and fair ladies, chivalry and superstition. This action-packed tale sweeps you along to one of the most unexpected endings you’ll ever read.

Young readers love Timebenders: “The Timebenders books are so awesome! They really encourage me,” writes Chloe. And Ben writes, “I’ve read all the Timebenders books! My mom reads them to me at bedtime and I take them for independent reading at school.” And Elliott says, “The Timebenders books are great! Now I’m writing my own book about time travel!”

And parents love Timebenders: “My son has devoured the Timebenders books,” one dad writes. “They really entertain him. We hear him laughing out loud as he reads.” A mom writes, “Thank you for books that are both exciting and appropriate for young readers. As a mother of three and a lover of books, I’m thrilled with Timebenders!” Another mom writes, “My son spent most of his vacation reading Timebenders—the first time he’s read an entire book without skipping pages! His video games are all but forgotten.”

timebenders-book-4The next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia, were released on Christmas Day 2012. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the news through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments here at my Timebenders blog. Post your reviews on the Timebenders pages at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. Visit my Author Page at Amazon.com. Let’s get acquainted.

I look forward to hearing from you.

The Callahan Kids: Tales of Life on Mars

Stories by Ben Bova, Marianne Dyson, Jim Denney, Michael Carroll, Brian Enke, Rebecca K. Rowe, and Tom Hill, lavishly illustrated by Michael Carroll and Phil Smith

FearTerror-04-w-4FCc_tnWhat would it be like to live on Mars? Find out in The Callahan Kids: Tales of Life on Mars, an anthology for middle-school readers created by science fiction writers and a team of engineers at 4Frontiers Corporation.

The stories take place at Bradbury Base, a realistic Mars settlement that is full of surprises for the first kids growing up there. The nine original tales in the book are beautifully illustrated by Michael Carroll whose artwork has flown in space.

Proceeds from sales of the books will support educational projects to promote the human settlement of the space frontier—and the kids who read this book may be the very ones who open the final frontier to human settlement!

Contributors include Hugo-winning author Ben Bova, Timebenders author Jim Denney, Rebecca Rowe (author of Forbidden Cargo and Circle Tide), artist Phil Smith, former NASA flight controller Marianne Dyson, space scientist Brian Enke, and aerospace engineer Tom Hill. For more information about The Callahan Kids: Tales of Life on Mars, visit the 4Frontiers Authors’ Page.

And visit the Crazy4Mars site for free games, comics, and more!

The NEW Timebenders Books are coming!

Battle Before Time

For the past few weeks, I have been working closely with my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company of North Carolina, to bring back my Timebenders science-fiction adventure series for young readers. I am revising and updating each book, and my friends at Greenbrier are repackaging these tales as ebooks with stunning new covers. They will be available in all popular ebook formats.

After more than a decade, I finally feel these books are exactly as I want them. I am extremely grateful to my Greenbrier publishers, Ron and Janet Benrey, for producing these new and improved editions of my Timebenders series. Very soon, I’ll be announcing the release of the first two books in the series, Timebenders Book 1: Battle before Time and Timebenders Book 2: Doorway to Doom. And just look at these incredible covers!

Doorway to Doom

Within a few weeks, I’ll also be announcing the release of the next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the word through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other young readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments right here at my Timebenders blog. Tell me what you think of the Timebenders books. If you’re interested in writing books and stories, send me your questions. Let’s get acquainted.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Quotations About TIME

Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
—MADELEINE L’ENGLE, An Acceptable Time

Three in the morning, the soul’s midnight.
—RAY BRADBURY, From the Dust Returned

The By-Laws of Time
Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow.
If At Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again.
A Stitch In Time Saves Nine Billion.
A Paradox May Be Paradoctored.
It Is Earlier When You Think.
Ancestors Are Just People.
Even Jove Nods.
—ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, “All You Zombies—”

“Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again.”
“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy, “what do you call soon?”
“I call all times soon,” said Aslan; and instantly he was vanished away.
—C. S. LEWIS, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

For the future to touch the past can be dangerous. It could cause a paradox.
—MADELEINE L’ENGLE, Many Waters

Time rushes through us as we rush through time.
—RICHARD GRANT, “Drode’s Equations”

If there’s something you want to do, somewhere you want to go, then you’d better start the doing and the going. You’d better start using the time that’s left in you, because you can’t stop it from running out. You can stop water from running out of a tub by putting the plug back in, but there isn’t any plug that can stop time from running out of you.
—FREDRIC BROWN, The Lights in the Sky are Stars

To those who live in time, sequency is the norm.
—URSULA K. LE GUIN, “The Shobies’ Story”

Darkness swallows time.
—MICHAEL BISHOP, “A Gift from the Gray Landers”

But there is something about Time. The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. Clouds fill with rain and snow, empty themselves, and fill again. The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, and minute hands, and second hands. Around goes the continual circle of the notes of the scale. Around goes the circle of night and day, the circle of weeks forever revolving, and of months, and of years.
—MADELEINE L’ENGLE, The Small Rain

Free Mars Stories for Young Readers

For young readers of all ages: Read seven imaginative tales of our future on Planet Mars—available for FREE at the 4Frontiers website.

Those seven stories are “The Water Thief” by acclaimed science fiction writer Ben Bova, “The Haunted Airlock” by Michael Carroll, “Fire in the Sky” by Tom Hill, “Yo-Yo: The Gift” by Rebecca K. Rowe, “Ghost Story” by Brian Enke, “Martian Mice” by Marianne Dyson, and “Fear Above, Terror Below” (Parts 1 and 2) by Timebenders author Jim Denney.

All stories are illustrated by award-winning science fiction illustrator Michael Carroll.

Click on the stories at http://www.4frontierscorp.com/library/books_shortstories.php.

See you on Mars!

Fifty Years of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Original 1962 edition of
A Wrinkle in Time

Half a century ago this year, my nine-year-old soul was impacted by a brand-new book called A Wrinkle in Time. At that tender age, I was already a devoted science-fiction fan, starved for books to read. (I got hooked on SF at age five while watching black-and-white TV space operas like Space Patrol and Tom Corbett—Space Cadet.)

I still remember seeing A Wrinkle in Time standing upright on the “new arrivals” shelf at my elementary school library. The cover illustration—three silhouetted children inside of radiating concentric circles—attracted my attention and the intriguing title pinned my imagination to the wall.

I checked the book out, took it home, and got lost in it. I’ve re-read the book many times since. I remember being impressed by the way L’Engle seamlessly wove science and religious themes throughout the story.

A Wrinkle in Time contains many biblical quotations and allusions. For example, the beings of the planet Uriel sing lines that echo passages from Isaiah and the Psalms, and the character Aunt Beast quotes from Paul’s Roman epistle. The angelic Mrs. Who quotes Paul the Apostle’s words from his first letter to the Corinthians—words I adopted many years later as a central theme of my Timebenders series:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are (1 Corinthians 1:27-28 NIV).

The spiritual warfare theme of good versus evil, light versus darkness, in A Wrinkle in Time is more than just a matter of dramatic conflict. It mirrors the spiritual struggle that all believers understand—a struggle against hidden authorities, not flesh and blood. The book calls the reader to reject neutrality and join the cosmic conflict in the real world.

A Wrinkle in Time also introduced my young mind to the concept of paradoxes, which are commonly found in both the world of physics and the world of faith. I would define a paradox as a statement or condition that contradicts logic and reason but which is true nonetheless. For example, experimental physics shows that light is both a particle and a wave, even though logically this cannot be true. Rationally, light must be either a particle or a wave, not both. Yet it is both. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment.)

Animation of a tesseract.

One of the paradoxical concepts Madeleine L’Engle wrote about in A Wrinkle in Time is the five-dimensional tesseract—also known as a hypercube, a geometric construct that exists in four dimensions of space and one dimension of time. L’Engle uses the tesseract as a device for “warping” space and allowing travel across the universe without being restricted by the speed of light.

L’Engle paid a price for including such advanced concepts of both faith and physics in A Wrinkle in Time. The manuscript was rejected twenty-six times before she found a publisher, and one of the criticisms she heard again and again from editors was that young readers would be turned off by these advanced scientific concepts. But she persevered, found a publisher—and was vindicated by her readers.

Ideas like the tesseract were heady concepts for my nine-year-old mind, and I eagerly absorbed them, thought about them, and wondered how much of it was true. Concepts many editors condemned as “too advanced” for young readers were, for me, the essence of its appeal. And when I began writing my Timebenders series in 2001, I was encouraged by L’Engle’s bold ideas to include some challenging concepts of my own. And my editors, to their credit, didn’t raise an objection and tell me I had to “talk down” to young readers.  

I believe one of the many reasons I embrace both science and the Christian faith today is because of the influence, fifty years ago, of A Wrinkle in Time. If you’ve never experienced A Wrinkle in Time, now would be a good time to discover it. If you enjoy the book as I do, maybe it’s time to read it again.