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Alexandrea Weis

SISTERS OF THE MOON Official Blog Tour

Sean Penn


Shannon Takaoka


Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Gareth Worthington

A TIME FOR MONSTER Official Nerd Blast

William L. Myers Jr.


Nora Shalaway Carpenter

RURAL VOICES Official Blog Tour

E.E. KNight


Simon Lelic


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


Sara B. Larson


Mary Cecilia Jackson


Megan Collins


Christopher Ruocchio


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Jenna Greene Interview - Heritage

Photo Content from Jenna Greene 

Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult Fantasy series, Imagine! She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder).


Tell us your latest news.
While I’ve continued to write, and have books in the editing process, I’ve also been working furiously on the podcast I co-host, “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers”. Miranda Oh and I have nearly reached the one year anniversary of our first episode. It’s been a great journey interviewing so many different authors and learning from each of them.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Every teacher I ever had who said I had talent. Writers face a lot of rejection and the one thing that keeps us going is the intrinsic belief that we are good at what we do. While that belief has to come from within, the encouragement we received in early years is what likely started us on this path.

Other writers are constantly influencing my writing, either by teaching me something I don’t know (Chekov’s gun, anyone?), or by confirming the thoughts I have about writing and offering support that way.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Meeting fans is the number one. Having someone read my work is still so surreal, even after years in the business, and then to know a person read it and liked it, is a step above. To have fans seek you out … wow. Just, wow.

Now, awards aren’t why writers enter the ‘biz’, but it was a major accomplishment when my latest release won two different literary awards. The awards meant a lot, not for the writing, but for the emotion tied to it. I wrote the novel, Reborn, when my mom was dying. There’s a lot of grief/ love poured into it. Having it recognized feels like a tribute to my mother in some ways.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want them to fall in love with the characters, the story, or both. I want them to get lost in a world and either cry or gasp or have any other reaction with the twists and turns of the story. (I yelled at a book once and threw it – it was SUCH a good story but I was mad the character didn’t listen to me). And I hope that they learn something subtle, about life or about themselves along the way… especially if they don’t even notice it.

In your newest book; HERITAGE (Imagine Series #3), can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
The Imagine series has been out for a few years, and Heritage is book 3 out of 4 in the series. There is a lot of stuff that goes wrong for the characters in book two – bad luck compounded by poor decisions – and book three is the aftermath of those mistakes. The characters have new magical challenges to face, new territory to traverse, and difficult decisions to make. They have to decide what kind of world they want to live in, and what kind of person they want to be within it.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Naps. I like to lay down to daydream plots. While this strategy used to work really well, as I creep towards the age of 40, it is starting to backfire. But I end up well-rested and ready to type more words.

What part of Becky did you enjoy writing the most?
Becky is the most like me. She’s the dreamer. She’s an idealist. She’s a believer. She has hope for the world around her to improve for the better. Sometimes she can’t see the reality of a situation, but that is a talent as much as it is a flaw.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
I feel it is either Kat or Eston. Kat has had to mature a lot. She began the series as a complainer, who then had to take action. She was hot-headed, and is slowly learning how to challenge her passion into appropriate actions. Eston, while younger than Kat, was mature and calm throughout the series. But he’s had to endure humiliation and degradation, has been reunited with his parents in a non-ideal way, and dealt with a great amount of loss. He’s had to alter how he views himself and his role in a way he didn’t expect.

  • 1. I have a fear of hippos
  • 2. I am massively clumsy but have never broken a bone (But have had three concussions).
  • 3. I love bubble baths
  • 4. I drink more tea than water.
  • 5. I hate the taste of coffee, iced tea, black licorice, and whipped cream.
  • 6. I coach, drum, and paddle dragonboats.
  • 7. I live for naps.
  • 8. I color more than my four year old.
  • 9. I’ll jump on any chance to dress up.
  • 10. I can barely cook.
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
I know the jingle for the Goldfish crackers jingle from the 90s. Also, I could totally kill at Jeopardy if the only two categories were literature and Broadway musicals.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Explore the woods. Paddle a canoe or kayak. Babysit or raise a toddler. Drink tea.

Best date you've ever had?
The above list – with my husbamd.

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
Well, I dress up even when it isn’t Halloween. I dressed as Princess Anna and sang “For the First Time in Forever” when my students finally returned to in-person learning. I think I was a domino last year and a penguin the year before for Halloween.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
Pretty much all of them. But no one would believe this stuff actually happens to me. (Often multiple times).

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
The death of my mother and the arrival of my daughter.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?

I’m an interesting writer, as I have a full-time job that requires a lot of extra work. (Yay teaching!) I like to be busy, so that’s good and I use my commute to work through plot holes and scene dialogue. Many writers do writing sprints or set word count goals, but I’m not like that. Since I have a busy, busy life, and a four year old to tend to, my goal is to sit down and write as often as I can. Whether I write for ten minutes or an hour, I’m happy. Short bursts work for me, both to fit into my day, and for quality of work. For my husband, I let him know not to disturb me when I’m writing by placing a tiara on my head. Then he knows I’m not just playing Solitaire and he SHOULD NOT BUG ME. (Also, tiaras are cool and I buy a new one every time I publish a book).

As Becky tries to adjust to life back on Earth, in Oren, Prince Eston suffers under the deadly effects of broxide poisoning.
While Cristox Savu joins with an unlikely friend as he attempts to save his people from extinction, Leda and Jamee, two of the three Naturals, those born with magic, struggle to defend the sanctuary of the Painter's Valley.

And, even as they finally face the feelings they have for each other, Kat and Ino must evade the Coalition's clutches as they journey to discover what is affecting magic across Oren--before it is too late and magic, and an even deadlier enemy, destroys Oren and everyone Kat cares about.

You can purchase Heritage at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JENNA GREENE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Heritage (Imagine Book 3) by Jenna Greene.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

|Podcast| Painter - Cory Wexler Grant

Photo Content from Cory Wexler Grant

CORY WEXLER GRANT is an actor, writer, director and producer. He spent his formative years in San Francisco and Chicago, but moved to New York permanently after being accepted into NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Cory graduated with a BFA in acting, and has worked for the last 20 years as an actor. Cory started a theater production company in 2001, and began writing, directing, and producing original theatrical works: 3 plays, and 2 musicals. Cory wrote and directed his first feature film, PAINTER, completed in 2019. Cory lives in Greenwich Village with his husband, his son, and a brand new daughter. He has several other screenplays in development.

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For my first feature film as a writer / director, it was most important to tell a provocative, original story, and tell it beautifully. I wanted this film to be an exercise in classic movie making and storytelling. It was more important for me, with only 16 days to shoot, and a small production budget, to execute precisely the vision I had in my head as I wrote PAINTER. I believe we succeeded. I think our movie is bold and beautiful with a distinct point of view.

I wanted to write a script that actors would want to perform, with characters that were complicated, psychologically fraught, and nuanced - particularly one with a strong, complex, female character. I was so thrilled to amass a cast of consummate professionals that were excited about creating this dark world with me, and a crew that was willing to do the same. I can’t thank them all enough.

Photo Content from Cory Wexler Grant

I grew up performing in plays and musicals since I was six years old, and was lucky enough to study at The Piven Theater Workshop in Evanston, Illinois with the late, brilliant Byrne Piven - John and Joan Cusack were trained there along with Jeremy Piven, Lilli Taylor, and many other Chicago luminaries. I also went to New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, which had an unrivaled arts program, New Trier not only allowed me not only to be an actor but also a director. That experience was entirely formative to my understanding of writing, acting, and craft. By the time I was accepted to NYU Tisch School of the Arts, I had been in more than 50 plays and musicals. 

Once I graduated from NYU, I started a theater production company with a great friend which produced several plays and musicals - The Lightning Field by David Ozanich (which won a GLAAD AWARD, generous reviews from the New York Times, and a subsequent production in London), CUTMAN (a boxing musical, which received a full production at Goodspeed Musicals), and DERMA (a musical currently in development to become a feature film). As an actor, I spent several years post-college touring in theater productions and acting in regional theater. And at 28, I was lucky enough to join the cast of JERSEY BOYS on Broadway playing the lead role of Frankie Valli for three years - a phenomenal experience and a dream come true for me. Simultaneously, alongside my acting career, and quite secretly, I started writing screenplays I hoped to direct one day. After leaving the cast of JERSEY BOYS, my brother, Jordan Grant, and I quietly started a film production company, but it wasn't until I met my producer and friend Alex Wenger that we actually started work on our first film, PAINTER.

Joanne Marco, a wealthy art collector and benefactor, has been searching for an artistic genius. When she discovers a young, unknown painter named Aldis Browne, she becomes obsessed and determined to force his success. Joanne invites Aldis to move into her mansion where she can foster his talent. When Aldis' first solo show is deemed a critical failure, Aldis flees the city. But Joanne lures him back with a frightening gift from his past.

Betsy Randle is an American television actress most well known for her role as Amy Matthews on the long running show, “Boy Meets World”. As well, she made numerous guest starring appearances on the hit TV shows, “Home Improvement” and “Charmed.” She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in the suburb of Glenview. She graduated from New Trier High School and the University of Kansas. Betsy is the mother of two children, Jessica and Aaron.

Eric Ladin was born and raised in Houston, Texas before moving to Los Angeles to study theatre at The University of Southern California. His love for acting started in high school but was solidified at USC where he earned a BA in Theatre. His film and television career took off shortly thereafter with a breakout role in HBO's hard hitting, topical miniseries "Generation Kill" and continued with recurring roles on "Mad Men" and "Big Love". He has continued to work on cable television in some of the most critically acclaimed shows such as "The Killing", "Boardwalk Empire" & "The Brink", and most recently “For All Man Kind”, “Bosch”, and “The Right Stuff”. Eric resides in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and children.

Casey Deidrick can currently (2019) be seen starring on The CW's hit new series In The Dark. Casey co-starred in the popular MTV series Teen Wolf. He also starred in the psychological thriller pilot/movie A Midsummer Nightmare, a modern-day take on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which aired on the Lifetime Channel. Casey's other recent roles include starring opposite Victoria Justice in MTV's drama-thriller series Eye Candy. Casey played the role of Chad DiMera on NBC's top-rated daytime drama, Days of Our Lives for four years.
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H.M. Gooden Interview - The Cursed Heart

Photo Content from H. M. Gooden

H. M. Gooden has always loved the world of books, but over the last few years a new story has begged to be told, and as a result, her first series was born. In between dealing with children and work, the majority of the actual writing happens between four and six am and involves multiple cups of coffee for inspiration.


Tell us your latest news.
Well, as 2020 hasn’t been crazy enough, my entire family and I will be moving in the next few days, back to the same small town I grew up in. Needless to say, this has interrupted my writing schedule a smidge!

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I’ve always loved books about magic and those with strong, relatable main characters. Not perfect, but someone you would be able to hang out with, maybe watch a movie or enjoy talking with. For me, that meant authors like Piers Anthony, Mercedes Lackey, and Stephen King, as well as Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. I read widely in multiple genres. Right now, I’m devoring Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I would say that my reading helps me gather ideas, as well as gives me the nudge to get the stories in my head out into the world.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having friends and family read and enjoy my books, as well as hearing from people how much their kids love my books. But I have to admit the most amazing part was a few months ago—my 9 year old ran out of graphic novels and was left reading my book- and they loved it!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want them to enjoy themselves, maybe even see themselves in the characters, but I really hope I’m adding to books people can enjoy that leave them feeling more positive about the world in general.

In your newest book; THE CURSED HEART (Born of Destiny #2), can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
This book grew out of an anthology I was supposed to write. Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn’t plot, so this is the second attempt to write Robin’s story.

The first attempt is now book 3 in the series, and books 1& 2 will introduce the main characters in prequel form where they come into their powers and figure out the world is not exactly what they thought it was.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Back to the silly plotting problem- my brain is the distraction!

What part of Robin did you enjoy writing the most?

I liked writing the backstory about her mother. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and legends, and I enjoyed exploring a lesser known (to me anyway!) legend from Scotland.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?

In this case, I would say Robin grows the most, really coming into her own and becoming more responsible.

It’s been a good year for reading. I’ve enjoyed a mix of ficiton and nonfiction, so I'll do both- 
  • 1) The Dresden files--- loving the series so much! Talk about a world!
  • 2) Akata witch- Really find the mythology here engaging. Based on African magic systems, I’ve never read anything like it!
  • 3) The Others- this series makes me want to hang out with werewolves in a way I’ve never thought of before!
  • 4) Lockwood and co series- fantastic steampunk/ghost story with a spin I was sorry to see end!
  • 5) Atomic habits- great way to get more productive
  • 6) Factfulness- a book with a lot of statistics that strangely made me feel the world is getting better- which was very beneficial right now!
  • 7) The miracle of Morning pages- super helpful and short, great way to look at journal writing for any creative.
  • 8) The Witches of London trilogy—I absolutely loved this series, and was sad to see the author started as trad pub and then indie published. I think there are more stories that could have been told here and it was a lot shorter than I’d hoped.
  • 9) Magic to the Bone- this UF series blew my mind and was gritty and realistic while having a huge bummer of a side effect to using magic—imagine losing memories every time.
  • 10) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman- fantastic, as per usual. Loved how he weaves the norse mythology into a way that made sense (they are tricky stories!)
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
I’m kind of known for ridiculous facts- my brother and I used to compete over them, and my husband thinks I’m his own personal google lol

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Hot air ballooning, hands down. Totally crazy, and I’m terrified of heights!

Best date you've ever had?
Being on my first date with my husband. I can’t duplicate that!

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
Last year, I went as Elf on the shelf. (Because I’m lazy and had Christmas pj’s from the year before lol)

What event in your life would make a good movie?
My life is a series of events that resemble Bridget Jones Diary. The title would be “It seemed like a good idea at the time”

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Getting into Med school. That really shaped me as an adult more than any other thing I can point to, because my lens on life shifted dramatically after being surrounded by life and death.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I’m terrified of millipedes. NASTY!! All those legs. Shudder!

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
Just writing in a coffee shop at 6 am, watching the sun come up and thinking that I was exactly where I was meant to be.

I started writing when I was a kid- technically, I was first published around age 6, with a short Santa story in the paper. It wasn’t until after my last child was born in 2015 that I seriously started writing during Nanowrimo. I’d tried a few times in high school and university, but no matter what I tried it ended up having magic in it. Once I finally allowed the magic to stay, I couldn’t stop myself.

My friends and family weren’t surprised- I’m the person who scared us silly making up witch stories as a kid, and I’m always off on a tangent somewhere. Writing allows me to follow my thoughts to interesting places and my loved ones have been nothing but supportive.

“Be careful what you are willing to trade away for dreams. Nothing is worth losing yourself for, no matter what."

When Robin loses the role she wanted in the school play to her biggest rival, her dreams are crushed.

Until an old family heirloom arrives unexpectedly in the mail.

Suddenly, she hears music in her dreams and her biggest rival may find they are the one in danger.

What is Robin willing to trade to get her deepest desire?

You can purchase The Cursed Heart at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you H.M. GOODEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Cursed Heart (Born of Destiny #2) by H.M. Gooden.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

|Podcast| Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story - Julie Sokolow, Jim & Mary Baumer

From award-winning filmmaker Julie Sokolow comes this loving portrait of Mark Baumer, an environmental activist, avant-garde writer, and vegan, who hiked barefoot for over 100 days across America to draw attention to climate change. In a voice The New Yorker praised as “reminiscent of Andy Kaufman”, Baumer narrates his offbeat take on life and how we all can make a difference. Skillfully edited from Baumer’s own self-recorded videos, along with interviews from family and friends, it’s a moving portrait filled with laughs, tragedy, and inspiration. A movie about a man who loved life, loved the world, and it showed in everything he did.

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“An affectionate and inspiring portrait of someone who walked the walk.” Barefoot is a “clear-eyed documentary” about “a man who discarded not merely his shoes, but also the trappings and constraints of the contemporary rat race.” The Hollywood Reporter

Barefoot “manages to get at deeper systemic questions that we often don’t face. Who is this world for? Why is it weird to walk from place to place? Why is it completely dangerous to do so? Why was our land designed this way, and what are the repercussions of that? By raising these questions through its material, ‘Barefoot’ becomes something more than a tragic story of a truly unique artist gone too soon — it’s also a profound inquiry into the very way we have to live our modern lives.” The Playlist

“One of the finest American documentary features on offer was writer/director/editor Julie Sokolow’s Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story”… “Baumer was a nonstop social-media diarist, and Sokolow has skillfully edited his self-recorded videos—and additional material—into a moving portrait that deservedly captured the Best Documentary Premiere Prize.” Cineaste

Photo Content from Julie Sokolow
Julie Sokolow - Director
Julie Sokolow is the award-winning director of Woman on Fire, which aired on Starz in 2017. The film is about Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York. She also directed Aspie Seeks Love, which won Best Documentary at the Cinequest Film Festival in 2015. She is the creator of the Healthy Artists web series (2012-4), about the challenges of artists without health care access. Her films have been featured by the New York Times, Vimeo Staff Picks, IndieWire, VICE, Salon, Village Voice and Huffington Post.

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story is the third documentary feature by award-winning director Julie Sokolow. The idea came to her in 2016, when she discovered Mark’s daily YouTube videos, documenting his barefoot journey across America. 

“Mark’s sense of humor immediately pulled me in,” she remembers. “The climate crisis is so overwhelming, but Mark’s blend of activism, comedy, and performance art makes the issue seem approachable. It’s very inspiring.” 

Through the spectacular act of walking barefoot for hundreds of miles, Mark hoped to raise awareness about climate change while raising $10,000 for FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas), an activist collective based in Providence, Rhode Island. 

“I was a fan. I tweeted about him, donated to his fundraiser, and planned to contact him after his journey’s completion,” Sokolow says, “but I never got the chance to.”

Photo Content from Julie Sokolow

On January 21, 2017, Mark was fatally struck by an SUV that veered into the road’s shoulder. Mark had been wearing an orange safety vest and was walking against the traffic, in accordance with safety conventions. The driver was charged with the civil infraction of failing to drive in a single lane, resulting in a fatality.

“I was devastated, even though I never met him,” Sokolow remembers. “That’s a testament to the power of his work.” 

At that point, Sokolow knew she wanted to create a film to celebrate Mark’s life and barefoot walk. She reached out to a mutual friend she shared with Mark, who introduced her to Mark’s family. 

“I was hesitant to contact grieving parents who had just lost their only child,” Sokolow admits. “But I saw that Mark’s story had gone viral and the parents were granting interviews. Then, I learned that a number of filmmakers had already contacted them.” 

Mark’s parents, Jim and Mary, appreciated the fact that Sokolow had been a fan of Mark’s work during his life. They also recognized that her prior documentaries embody the same social justice values that Mark believed in.

They agreed to work with her. 

“We’re really thrilled that Julie is the filmmaker,” Jim comments. “We’re convinced that Julie was the right person. She understood Mark’s social justice commitment and captured the full complexity of who Mark was.” 

In March 2017, Julie flew to Maine to meet the Baumers and embark on their first shoot. 

Sokolow's filmmaking method involves building intimate bonds with her subjects, so she stayed with Jim and Mary at their house for several days. The experience helped Sokolow better understand her subjects, establish trust, and build friendship. 

For this delicate initial shoot, she employed a sparse crew, bringing only her cinematographer, John Pope, and a local production assistant to the interviews. 

“We started filming two months after Mark’s death,” Sokolow recalls. “Emotions were extremely raw.” 

Jim and Mary proved to be brave and trusting collaborators. They permitted the camera into emotionally-charged spaces, including Mark’s funeral. Having recently established a nonprofit, The Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund, they knew that Barefoot could help to shine a light on their charitable efforts, as well as their son’s life story. 

“Mark always wanted to be famous,” says Jim. “I think he would be really excited that people were watching a film about him.” 

After seeing promising footage from the first shoot, Animal Studio came on board as Barefoot’s production company. Known for creating the Sundance-winning documentary Blood Brother (2013) and ABC’s Downward Dog (2017), Animal was well positioned to support Barefoot from production to completion. Animal also produced Sokolow’s prior documentaries Aspie Seeks Love (2015) and Woman on Fire (2017). 

Once Animal signed on, the crew expanded to include producer Olivia Vaughn, producer Danny Yourd, assistant camera Mike Bacanu, and various local crew to grip and run sound. Renowned cinematographer John Pope shot the film on the Sony FS7 with Zeiss Otus lenses, providing a contrast in style to Mark’s lo-fi cell phone footage. 

The production ran intermittently from March 2017 to March 2019. Filming locations included Maine, Rhode Island, and New York. 

“We interviewed eight people for the film,” Sokolow says. “Mark knew a lot of people, and we could’ve interviewed so many more, but we decided instead to go really deep with the people Mark was closest to.” 

One of the interviewees, Mark’s girlfriend, Ada Smailbegovic, stands out as a relatable subject. “I was hoping to maybe spend my life with Mark,” she admits in an emotional interview. A poet and assistant professor at Brown University, Ada is a fascinating person in her own right, who shared a profound love for writing and creativity with her late boyfriend. 

“He was a really, really, really hard worker,” Ada says in the film. “He was producing longer works like manuscripts, and getting to both produce writing and video every day was really like a kind of dream for Mark of actually making art full time.” 

After his death, The New Yorker called Mark a “compulsive social media diarist.” Mark’s YouTube channel contains nearly 500 original videos representing over a decade of his work. 100 of those videos depict the barefoot walk and total almost seven hours of content. 

“I felt a responsibility to preserve, curate, and share Mark’s videos,” Julie says. “They’re incredible examples of fearless DIY filmmaking and I think people will be struck by Mark’s own talents as a documentary filmmaker.”

Photo Content from Julie Sokolow

“One of my favorite scenes is Mark walking barefoot in Times Square,” Sokolow comments. “It’s triumphant, because he walked 173 miles to get to this colorful, iconic place. But later he reveals how dirty his feet are, and it’s kind of frightening. The risk of what he’s doing sets back in.” 

After his visit to New York City, Mark continued west. As he traveled through rural parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, more and more Trump signs began to appear on the landscape, and Trump and his anti-environmental message became a more frequent topic of Mark’s videos. 

“In the film, Trump is a character foil to Mark,” Sokolow notes. “Whereas Trump is a climate change denier, Mark dedicated his life to support the environment through things like being vegan, not owning a car, and installing solar panels on his house. He represents everything Mark stands against.” 

“I’m so glad that Julie ended up creating a parallel story in the documentary about Mark that touches on the run-up to Trump’s election,” Jim explains, “because I do think it was a central element in the walk and what was going on in the country prior to Mark being killed.” 

Sokolow edits all of her documentaries, and Barefoot was no exception. When editing the film, Sokolow was mindful about bringing in breathing room and a slower pace to counterbalance Mark’s frenetic, self-edited cell phone footage. 

Along with these careful editing choices, the film’s tone is created in large part through a sensitive original score contributed by Ryan Will Stewart, who worked with Sokolow on a scene-by-scene basis to get the emotions and the voice right.
Photo Content from Julie Sokolow

Over the course of its 87 minutes, the film transitions frequently from triumph to adversity, culminating in a dramatic climax. 

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated. It was also Mark’s 100th day on the road. Mark’s video “Day 100” would be his final YouTube transmission. 

“We now officially have a president who does not believe in climate change,” Mark declares in his final video recording. 

The next day, Mark was killed. The Florida Highway Patrol deemed it a non-criminal traffic violation. 

“Mark’s death felt very symbolic,” Sokolow says. “To have Trump rise to power, and lose Mark on the same weekend, it felt like the beginning of dark times. But I know that Mark would want people to keep fighting for positive change.” 

Producer Olivia Vaughn adds, “I hope this film inspires everyone watching to stand up for what they believe in. We need this now more than ever.” 

It is fitting that Barefoot is now screening at film festivals in the run-up to the 2020 election. 

“Mark articulates the danger that Donald Trump poses to the environment,” Sokolow says. “I hope we don’t make the same mistake by re-electing Trump in 2020.” 

Ultimately, Mark Baumer shows how one person can make a difference through personal sacrifice and commitment to values. Although he died at age 33, he lived a remarkable, fearless life. 

“Mark hiked over 700 miles barefoot, that’s how passionate he was about the environment,” Sokolow explains. “I hope audiences are inspired by Mark’s journey to make changes, big and small, personal and political, to help save our planet before it’s too late.”
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Marshall Ryan Maresca Interview - The People of the City

Photo Credit: © Kimberley Mead

Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I mean, there have been dozens, but probably the one that stands out the most? Shortly after Thorn of Dentonhill came out, I got a note from my second-grade teacher telling me how proud she was of me. It’s a little thing, but she was that teacher for me as a kid.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
So, next up is The Velocity of Revolution, a standalone dieselpunk fantasy of motorcycles, magical mushrooms, rebellions and occupations. It’s radically different from everything Maradaine, and possibly the hardest thing I’ve written. It’s the strangest, surely. I’m very proud of it, and we’ll see if everyone else joins in on the wild ride. After that, I’ve got a book that’s set in the same world as Maradaine, with a main character from the Constabulary series, but it’s set in a city on the other side of the world. Plus, speaking of things in a fantasy world, I’ve got a podcast, Worldbuilding for Masochists, with Rowenna Miller and Cass Morris, where we talk about worldbuilding to painful levels of detail. It’s so much fun.

In your newest book, PEOPLE OF THE CITY; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
So, over the past five years, I’ve been putting out books in four different series all set in the city of Maradaine, where the story threads have been slowly braiding together. We’ve had the stories about Veranix Calbert starting with The Thorn of Dentonhill, the magic student by day, vigilante by night, working to stop a drug cartel; Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, starting with A Murder of Mages, the inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary investigating the corruption in the system; Asti and Verci Rynax, in The Holver Alley Crew, reformed thieves fighting to protect their neighborhood; and Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall, starting with The Way of the Shield, members of the Tarian Order standing up for justice and fighting a dark conspiracy against the government and the crown.

Now, in People of the City, those stories weave into each other as all these champions find themselves drawn together against a common enemy, and stand together to protect their friends, neighbors and city. It’s the point of this saga that I’ve been working toward, that I was so excited to write, and I’m thrilled to get to share it with all the readers out there.

For real: I had so much fun writing this book.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
Oh, that’s almost not fair, because so many of them have. I would lean toward Mila in the Streets of Maradaine books, because her life is in a radically different place by her appearance in People than where she starts in Holver Alley. I don’t want to delve too much into, you know, spoilers, but at the start of Holver Alley she is homeless, begging and grieving the loss of the only family she had left, and she wouldn’t have even dared to imagine she could be where she is in People. It wouldn’t even be conceivable.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing Maradaine Elite?
Hands down, it’s Jerinne. It’s kind of funny, because when I was first drafting Way of the Shield, and had put together the outlines for what would become Shield of the People and People of the City, Jerinne wasn’t a huge factor. The initial idea was far more focused on Dayne, and Jerinne was just to give him someone to be a mentor toward in that first book. She didn’t even exist in those first outlines. When she grew into being a far more important character in Way than I had first conceived her, I knew I had to rework those outlines completely to incorporate her into the series as a co-lead. And she’s such a delight because Dayne—I love Dayne, but he can be a bit much in all his, you know, Dayne-ness—is a great foil for him. The two of them approach everything in such different ways, but with the same heart and goal, so it becomes a real harmony.

People of the City is the culmination of several threads from four different series set in Maradaine, with the main characters of all four series coming together as their different story threads lead them against the same threat. So, who are these heroes?

First, from The Thorn of Dentonhill, The Alchemy of Chaos and The Imposters of Aventil, we have Veranix Calbert, aka The Thorn. He’s a magic student at the University of Maradaine, but he is also a vigilante who is fighting his personal war against the drug cartel led by Willem Fenmere, who is responsible for the death of his father and the catatonic hospitalization of his mother. He has two critical allies in his fight: Kaiana Nell, the school groundskeeper whose father also overdosed on Fenmere’s drug, and Delmin Sarren, a fellow magic student with a gift for tracking magical energy.

Next, joining us from A Murder of Mages, An Import of Intrigue and A Parliament of Bodies, there are Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling. Satrine is a former street-rat, former spy and a working mother, who found her way into the constabulary after her husband was attacked and left for dead. Minox is an untrained, uncircled mage from a large constabulary family, who insists on using his knowledge and skills to serve as an inspector, even though it means being hated and ostracized by circled mages.

Third, coming from The Holver Alley Crew, Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe and The Fenmere Job, we have Asti and Verci Rynax. Asti was a spy in Druth Intelligence, but on one mission he was betrayed, captured and psychically tortured, leaving him with a shattered, damaged mind, and even though he returned home for a quiet life, the quiet life was not there for him. His brother, Verci, a former theif and trapmaster, was about to open a gadget and tinkerer shop, the two of them were going to lead a simple, straight life on the right side of the law. But then a fire destroyed everything, and when they learned that the fire was a deliberate arson, they put together a crew of other fire victims to pull off a series of heists to get to the bottom of who burned their neighborhood and have their revenge. That includes Verci’s wife Raych, and Mila Kendish, a clever young woman with fast hands and a knack of the art of the con.

Finally, from Way of the Shield and Shield of the People, and leading into this novel, there is Dayne Heldrin, the pacifist member of the Tarian Order, trained in defensive fighting arts and passionate advocate for the civics that govern the city and nation. Dayne’s closest ally is his friend and mentee, Jerinne Fendall, an initiate in the Order who makes up in energy what she lacks in training. Their quest for uncovering the truth of the conspiracies and corruption in Maradaine is aided by the writers of The Veracity Press, a small, radical newsprint: Hemmit, Maresh and Lin.

Can these champions with such different goals, ideals and methods work together to save the city? It might take a miracle, so it’s good that the enigmatic cloistress Sister Myriem seems to be praying for them…

What is the first job you have had?
The answer is weird, because it’s a job that only existed for a brief moment in time, but I spent the summer when I was fifteen installing cell phones into cars. At that point, personal cell phones existed, but they were very rare and expensive and the batteries did not last long. So you would install it into the car, connecting it to the car’s battery in a very jury-rigged sort of way, and pray you don’t shock yourself too badly in the process.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
We’ve driven out to West Texas several times, and there are few things more majestic and awe-inspiring than going to the McDonald Observatory on a perfect night. It’s an absolute wonder where you can see the night sky, high on a mountain in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no light pollution, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. If you get a good, clear night, where the moon is close to new, you can see the vast swath of the Milky Way and it’s the full glory of the universe above you.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
I’m actually going to flip this question around, just because it’s a fun story. Back in my college years, I did a lot of theatre. One summer I did a show which was set in a back alley behind a building, and the director decided the best place to rehearse was in the back alley behind his apartment. Which, to be fair, did have a great aesthetic. But also, because of the challenging schedules of all the people involved, we’d rehearse at whatever time we could make work. Like, for example, at around midnight on a Friday night.

So, here we are in a back alley at midnight, rehearsing a scene where I grab one of the other actors in a headlock and shout, “I’m going to kill you, do you hear me? You’re going to die!”

And right then, a pair of young women are walking right by the mouth of the alley. And one of them—she couldn’t have been more than five foot two, but, bless her—she just stormed into the alley shouting, “Hey! Let him go! Stop it!”

The other actor and I quickly separated and made it clear, no, we’re just actors doing a scene, it’s all good. But she did not know that. She just saw some stranger being attacked and came charging in anyway.

Bravest thing I’ve ever seen.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?

This is the dorkiest, writer-iest answer, but most of the time I’m sorting through plot points of the things I’m planning. Sort of priming my head to have my subconscious work on things while I sleep.

The third and final novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, bringing together the threads of the interconnected Maradaine novels.

Corruption and conspiracy have infected the city of Maradaine, from the top levels of power to the very depths beneath the city. Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall, elite warriors of the Tarian Order, have no idea how close they truly are to the center of the city's dark secrets. But when they learn that children are going missing, they know they must investigate further--no matter the cost.

They are soon joined by others, each with their own reasons for seeking the children. Veranix Calbert, the vigilante known as the Thorn, thinks his enemies are responsible for the missing children. Inspectors Minox Welling and Satrine Rainey fear the disappearing children are tied to corruption in the city Constabulary. Asti and Verci Rynax hope to protect the kids from their streets, one of whom barely escaped the kidnappers. And a mysterious young cloistress seeks to lead each of them deeper down into the depths of enigmas beneath the city, to the dark, unholy cult known as the Brotherhood, and the horrors that are growing within it.

The only hope Maradaine might have against the impending darkness is if these champions can work together to protect all the people of the city....

You can purchase The People of the City at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARSHALL RYAN MARESCA for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The People of the City by Marshall Ryan Maresca.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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