Shout out to North Ogden Junior High Creative Writers

As an author, getting to talk and teach in Utah schools is surprisingly difficult. Which means I was all the more thrilled to go talk to not one or two of the English classes at North Ogden Junior High, but all off them.

Myself, along with Charlie N. Holmberg, Steven Heumann, and Scott E. Tarbet, were interviewed by friend, fellow author, and English teacher, Ben Simmons, in a panel style discussion that covered everything to what inspires us, to what sports have we included in our writing. For each period of the day we addressed a different group of awesome teens and answered their questions. So much fun.

Best Questions

The most asked student question was which of our books was our favorite. Lucky me, I only have the one (so far!) so the choice was easy. Charlie choose her Smoke and Summons, Steven chose his Gavin Baller Collection, and Scott choose his Mission: Dragon Moon.

My favorite question of the day was which superpower we as authors would like to have. True to the fiendish plotsters we are, we came up with some pretty bizarre stuff. My favorite was Charlie’s idea of having extreme intimidation as a super power so people can’t bully you.

All in all, we were treated like celebrities, given a yummy lunch, and were able to talk to the wonderful English teachers, librarians, and students of the school. The questions were excellent and the energy and excitement for us to be there validating and much appreciated.

To all the young aspiring writers at North Ogden junior high, you got this! I can’t wait to see what marvels you come up with. Go Knights!

A big shout out to my fellow authors on the panel, check out their books, they’re all amazing

Charlie Holmberg is best known for her Paper Magician series and is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She also has the best collection of cool purses and glasses I’ve ever seen. Her most recent release came out January 2020 and it’s called the Will and the Wilds.

Scott E Tarbet has grundles of amazing short stories published everywhere, including a title where we are both contributing authors with, but the book he brought to share with the students is a steampunk version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk.

Steve Heumann, who has the greatest name ever, writes books that have awesome twists reminiscent of Black Mirror or Twilight Zone. His favorite book and character he’s written is his Gavin Baller series. He’s also has several short stories available, the most interesting to me is Kaleidoscope Shadow: A Dark Sci-Fi Fairy Tale, which takes the idea of the Pied Piper and turns it completely on it’s head.

And our panel moderator, Ben Simmons, who bravely faces the drama that is being an Junior High teacher, everyday. You have my respect sir. Ben’s Archipelago Series is a great science fiction adventure that lines up with an amazing tabletop RPG he’s created. The first book in the series is The Voyage of the Entdecker.

As for me, I’m simply thrilled to be part of the experience. I offered the students my free short story, “Breath” that contains the opening scene to Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Here’s to finding new readers!


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Interview with B.A. Simmons

Last weekend the amazing Tremonton library held their annual Summer Reading Kickoff party; an outdoor extravaganza with games, food, firetrucks, a chalk fight, and an amazing community turnout. Ben and I were almost author table buddies and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview him while I was there.

Come sail with us on a new journey!
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Onto the interview!

What are two things most people know about you and two things most people don’t? 

Two things most people know about me: – I am a jr. high English and social studies teacher – I have a collection of swords.

Two things most people don’t know about me: – I have six kids (hers, mine and ours family) with ages ranging from 21 to 2. – I grew up on a medieval living history farm. 

If you had a warning label, what would it say?

Just because I don’t say anything, doesn’t mean I’m not silently correcting your grammar.

Tell us about your Archipelago Series and even better, what inspired you to write seafaring science fiction?

The Planet Archipelago is a fictional world of islands and seas; there are no continents. It is home to four sentient races; humans being one of these, are the most recent to arrive to the planet. The humans on Archipelago are the descendants of a failed colony. Their ancestors came in spaceships with advanced technology, however they were cut off from Earth and the rest of humanity and because the planet is full of dangerous, hungry creatures, they found it necessary to regress to a more sustainable, medieval technology level.

It’s been hundreds of years since the first humans arrived and humans have spread across thousands of islands. Earth for them has become a myth, a religious legend. On one of these islands, a young man named Rob Engleman is curious about the world he lives on. His mentor, Doctor Morris, tells him all he can about the planet, but the conservative small-island community they live in forbids him from encouraging youngsters like Rob to explore. It’s just too dangerous. When an abandoned boat comes to the island, Rob sees this as his one chance to get away and begin the exploration he’s always dreamed of. Together with his older brother, cousins and some new friends, he sets off on a danger-filled journey of discovery where he learns about the lost history of his own people as well as that of the planet itself.

But there are more dangers on the planet than just the wildlife. A faction of humans called the Falcon Empire is the warpath, looking to conquer all the islands of Archipelago in the name of humanity and Rob’s home is next on their list of conquests. Rob must decide whether to stay and defend his home or continue his explorations of this strange and fascinating world. 

What’s the most important lesson your main character has learned so far?

Now, three books into the series, Rob has learned that true friendship and loyalty are just as important, as knowledge. 

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I have a small house, therefore my writing space is a corner of the dining table. I suppose the most interesting thing is the space itself. When I decided to take my writing seriously and publish my work, my wife agreed to support me on condition that I not neglect our family. Being at the dining table rather than cloistered in a back room ensures that I can’t ignore her or our children. It also has a great view of our yard, which is a constant reminder of my duties as a homeowner. 

What’s next? What are you working on?

My current WIP is the fourth installment in the Archipelago series. I’ve taken time here and there to write short stories, most of which are set on Planet Archipelago as well as develop other ideas unrelated to this series. I’m determined to finish this series (five books in all by the end of 2020. After that, I’ve outlined three other novels, but we’ll see which takes my priority when I come to that place. 


Sneak Peek into the Archipelago Series –

“Keep back,” Tyler shouted. “You’re interfering with an arrest!”

“Why are you arresting them? What have they done?” Mark asked.

He had an arrow nocked on his bowstring but hadn’t raised it. Tom and Pete followed suit, trying to be as non-threatening as possible.

“They’re thieves! Now back away or we’ll arrest you also.”

“Sir, I can assure you they are no thieves. They’re part of my crew and we’ve done nothing illegal,” Mark said as he slowly stepped closer.

“You take another step and I’ll gut this boy here and now,” Tyler threatened. He moved the point of the sword to Edwin’s abdomen and pressed there.

Mark paused. He looked at Edwin wincing as the point of the sword broke the skin and a small bloodstain formed on his tunic. He looked at Anna who had exhausted herself trying to break free of the deputy’s grip and now stood with her arms wrenched behind her back.

“Sir, whatever you think they’ve stolen, we will compensate you for.”

“I doubt you could. These were … rare and valuable items,” Tyler said. “So I suggest you give us no trouble as we take these thieves to the jail and you can visit them there until after their trial.”

“What happens after their trial?” Pete asked.

“When they’re found guilty, they’ll be executed. We don’t believe in long prison sentences here.”

There was silence. Each side-eyed the other, waiting for one of them to make a move. It was into this standoff that a new figure emerged from behind the nearest house. Rob ran out into the road and struck the deputy that held Anna with his bronze axe.


The ultimate nice guy, B.A. Simmons

About today’s guest –

B.A. Simmons grew up roaming the mountains of the western United States. He still finds time to explore and run the trails. He started writing when only 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His love of science fiction is only rivaled by his love of history, or his love of family.

He attended Utah State University where he graduated with a degree in English Education in 2011. He teaches junior high school English and social studies. He is a self-professed sesquipedalian ludditish renaissance man.

He currently resides in Ogden, Utah with his amazing wife and kids, two dogs, a cat and myriad of imaginary worlds.

Connect with B.A. Simmons

Check out B.A. Simmons’s books!

Book 1: The Voyage of the Entdecker

Book 2: The Hellhound Consortium

Book 3: The Perils of Archipelago


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