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#TeamORANGE: What’s your favorite line?

Fellow Orange Karen anthology author DSavannah George, who was just featured here on this blog not too long ago, shares her favorite lines from each story in the anthology on her blog – that’s 39 favorite lines!

DSavannah George says, "Come on over to my blog! I have cookies right out of the oven." Okay, maybe she doesn't have cookies. But go anyway.

DSavannah George says, “Come on over to my blog! I have cookies right out of the oven.” Okay, maybe she doesn’t have cookies. But go anyway.

Pop on over to DSavannah’s blog. Tell her I sent you. Read her favorite lines.

Do you agree?

Do you have your own favorites?

Let her know!

Still need to get your copy of the Orange Karen anthology? Get it here.

Remember all proceeds from book sales go directly to Karen to assist her with medical and rehabilitation expenses.

Introducing Team Orange: D. Savannah George

Get to know, D. Savannah George! She’s been a wonderful cheerleader for the Orange Karen anthology. She’s even hosted an interview series of authors on her own blog that you can check out and get to know the authors even better!

Author Name:  D. Savannah George

Title of Short Story:   There is Such a Thing as Too Much Orange  (my working title was “Jessie Turns Orange”.)

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about:   Jessie wakes up in a stranger’s basement after a night of partying. A very orange basement, with an equally orange guy.

How did you come up with the concept for the story?  Jessie is the main character from my WIP, and she’s always getting herself into some sort of trouble. Making her experience a lot of orange just worked.

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? Writing is a solitary occupation. But if you find a group of other writers to support you, and cheerlead for you when something goes well, and listen when you’re having a bad day… well, then you’re truly blessed. Karen is a part of one of those groups for me. I don’t have money to pay her medical bills, but I can give my words.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:  I like to sleep with tons of pillows and blankets. The more, the better. And I have to take a pillow and blankie with me when I travel. Even the best hotels have crappy pillows.

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)?  This will sound … punny… but the sun. Why? It brings us warmth and light, and I love drawing/painting suns, most of ‘em orange. (Like the image I’ve included, one of my WhymsieBee oil pastel drawings.)


If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it?  Ha! Guess I should have read this question before I answered the previous one. I would use it to shine light in dark places.

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by people who have the courage to speak out against injustice and to talk about the bad experiences in their lives. Why? Because it reminds me I’m not alone, and every time we talk about the bad, we lessen its power over us.



D. Savannah George is a multi-disciplinary artist – she writes, paints, crochets, takes photographs, and makes beaded jewelry, bookmarks, and notecards. She has published several short stories and a number of poems, as well as numerous articles in various newspapers and magazines, and has won several awards for her writing. Her first book, A Spicy Secret, #22 in the Annie’s Attic Mystery Series, was released in December 2012. She also serves as a book editor for authors and several small publishers.

Orange Karen Book Trailer Premiere!

Many thanks to Glenn Skinner and Kim McDougall of Blazing Trailers who made this possible!

Announcing the Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior Book Trailer.

Take a peek, it’s amaaaaaaaazing!

Introducing Team Orange: Gareth S. Young

Annnnnnd we’re back after a short break! Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior so far. If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, then perhaps you’d like to read up on why we are doing this.

Let’s continue getting to know some of the Orange Karen anthology authors. Today, allow me to introduce Gareth S. Young. Take it away, Gareth!

Author Name: Gareth S. Young

Title of Short Story: The Orange-headed Serpent

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A story marks the beginning of a friendship between a young writer and the rough and tumble girl he fancies.

How did you come up with the concept for the story? I wanted to tell a story about the power of imagination, friendship and humor. The Serpent idea came from my day job and also from my fascination with mythology, in particular the Ouroboros (the ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail).

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? I follow Karen on Twitter and enjoy her sense of humor and the fact she has some Scottish blood flowing in her veins. When she fell ill, I was moved by her strength, courage and by the amazing swell of support she got from Twitter. When the project was announced I had to be a part of it.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I can juggle. Not well and only with three balls but it still qualifies as juggling! I practiced every Christmas with Satsumas…yes, the small, orange fruit!

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Sky’s the limit, you say? Very well, I choose The SUN!

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? To save the world, clearly I would have to make sure that everyone got good vacation time and always had a reserved spot on a warm beach somewhere under the Sun.

Who inspires you? Why? I’m inspired daily by the hard-working writers I talk to on Twitter. A lot of them have full time day jobs, many have husbands, wives or flock of children demanding their time and yet, there they are #amwriting and supporting other writers with words of encouragement and sharing of information. I have been bowled over by the writer community.

Excerpt: Hear Gareth read an excerpt from his short story, “The Orange-Headed Serpent” on R.B. Wood’s The Word Count Podcast. He has a phenomenal voice. Many a lasses have swooned over his Scottish accent, myself included.

One warm evening, I sat down on the middle rail of a long, wooden fence on top of a steep embankment. The spacing between the three horizontal rails allowed me to sit on the middle one and leave my feet dangling. If I crossed my arms on the top rail, my chin rested comfortably as I looked down into the forest opposite me. This was my place to daydream.

Lost in thought, my reverie was broken when a pair of well-worn sneakers swung through the gap between the railings. Bonnie, grinning big, sat beside me.

“Whatcha doin’?” She nudged my shoulder with hers. Her eyes flashed with mischief.

“Nothing much.” I couldn’t look at her. I stared at my spiral-bound notepad, wishing the words would rush out and climb into my mouth and give me something more interesting to say. I blushed instead.

 “What’s in the notebook?” She peered over my arm at the closed pad. Leaning closer, an escaped strand of her hair brushed my face. My hand rose as if to swat away a fly and she leaned away. “Sorry.” She patted the rogue strand down while the rest of her hair threatened to escape from its ponytail.

“Oh. Sorry. I… it’s okay.” I lifted the notebook and waved it. “Just ideas and stuff.”

She bounced on the railing until I turned to her. She stopped when I met her eyes.

“Cool!” She beamed a thousand watt smile and then laughed. There was always a fire in the coolness of her eyes. “So, what do you want to do now?” She flopped back like she was going to fall from the fence. Instead her hands grabbed the top railing and she let her head snap back. Her ponytail brushed the ground. “D’you want me to go away? Quit bugging you?” She gave me a daring look. I wanted to talk to her, without mumbling and blushing, so I took a deep breath.

“No. You can stay.” I waved the notebook again. “I write stories. I like to come out here and look at the trees and the river, and listen to the birds. It relaxes me.”

She pulled herself up and leaned her head against the top railing. She had full lips, and she bit the bottom one, making me think about kissing them. “Tell me a story,” she said. There was a brief sadness in her eyes. The smile dropped away and then flashed back. “Please?” she added, swinging back and forth.

It took me forever to start talking. I persuaded myself it would be the only way to keep her near me. I looked down the embankment and the story sprung into my head.

“Have you heard about the orange-headed serpent?” I asked.

Her face lit up. “No. Tell me!”

“It travels around the world, day and night, never stopping. It consumes and devours everything in its path. It swallows orchards filled with sweet apples and fields full of woolly sheep. It drinks freshwater lakes and feasts on fish from the sea. Its long metallic claws sound like a butcher sharpening his knives as it snatches cows from their pastures. Its deep throaty growl can be heard miles away as it comes for you.”

Bonnie closed her eyes. Her face relaxed and her eyebrows twitched. She seemed to be imagining the orange serpent.

I continued, “It won’t ever stop, but if you can catch it and open its belly, all its treasures will be yours.”

“Treasure,” Bonnie whispered.

“Yes. Who knows what it’s gobbled up on its travels?” I chuckled.

Without warning, there was the sound of metal on metal; the sound of two sharp blades clashing.

“Oh, my gosh!” Startled, Bonnie stared at me. “The serpent.”

Gareth S. Young


Gareth Young was born and raised in Scotland. After that it all gets a bit a hazy. What is known is that he spends his waking hours writing and railroading with varying degrees of success. And, despite the fact he now lives in the St. Louis area, he can still rock a kilt. (Or so he likes to think.)

Team Orange: Our Readers Expose Their Inner Orange

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior so far. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Karen DeLabar to assist her with her mounting medical costs.

This short story anthology has something for everyone: humor, romance, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal…even steampunk!

The great thing about a short story anthology is you can read a story on your break at work, or while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office (okay, maybe you can read a few stories there…). Short stories are perfect for people on the go.

Here are some of our readers showing us where they like to read the anthology.

Reader Brandi shows us her copy of Orange Karen (and in the background an orange glow. Coincidence?).

Reader Brandi shows us her copy of Orange Karen!

Orange Karen author Christopher Cantley is entranced into the pages of wondrous short stories.

Orange Karen author Christopher Cantley is entranced into the pages of wondrous short stories.

Reader Amy reads Orange Karen poolside.

Reader Amy reads Orange Karen poolside.

Reader Holly proves that spring is on its way and enjoys her short stories al fresco.

Reader Holly proves that spring is on its way and enjoys her short stories al fresco.

Author Anna Meade beams from seeing her story in print.

Author Anna Meade beams from seeing her story in print.

Have you read Orange Karen? Send us a picture of you reading and we’ll post it on the blog! Send to

Introducing Team Orange: Julie Glover

Hi everyone,

One more sleep until the official release of the Orange Karen anthology, officially titled, “Orange Karen: A Tribute to a Warrior”.

“One Day More….until the Orange Karen anthology is officially available for all! P.S. I absolutely adore Colm Wilkinson.”

This week’s featured authors is Julie Glover. I absolutely love Julie’s story for the anthology (then again I love all of the stories…). Julie’s story, “Color Me Happy” is touching, sweet, and endearing. Get to know more about Julie below and hang around after the interview to read an excerpt from “Color Me Happy”! Take it away, Julie!

Author Name: Julie Glover


Title of Short Story: Color Me Happy


In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A high school cheerleader falls from the top of the pyramid and breaks her toe, throwing her body and her relationships off balance.


How did you come up with the concept for the story? I read that Karen DeLabar was having her toe amputated as a result of the toxic shock syndrome. I recalled breaking my pinkie toe years ago and being shocked how much it affected my whole balance for a couple of weeks.


Knowing that I was writing a young adult story, I wondered what could happen to mirror this experience. My high school had an amazing cheerleading squad, and I recall one of the girls fell while doing stunts and ended up in a cast (I think she broke her ankle).


All those pieces together brought me Tabitha—a cheerleader who falls from the top of the pyramid and breaks her toe.


What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? Karen has always been lovely to chat with in the writer community. When I learned she had come so close to death as a young mother, my heart and prayers immediately went out to her.


Several years back, I spent 28 days in the hospital awaiting the birth of my younger son—a preemie. I was visited by friends 27 of those 28 days, and that doesn’t count phone calls, mail, and favors. It meant so much for people to reach out and help when I was in need. I have been on the receiving end.


Thus I jumped at the opportunity to be on the giving end for such a wonderful person, Karen…surprisingly, with my words.


Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I’m three degrees of Kevin Bacon, but a lot of people already know that. So how about this? I’m two degrees of the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty. A friend of mine grew up in the same church that they attend.


By the way, I’ve never seen a single episode. I hear that I am really missing out.


Source: Wikipedia

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Grandma’s hat and gloves. My grandmother had a collection of stylish hats that dated back to the 1920s. When she died, I got to choose a hat from her stash. My selection was a burnt orange hat with a black velvet band and matching feather and a pair of matching gloves. Every time I see that orange hat and gloves, I am reminded of both my grandmother and the classy fashions of the past.


Julie with hat


If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? Oh no! I gave myself a hat and gloves?! (And I am so not MacGyver.)


Perhaps I could go out as a spy into enemy territory, pull out the feather, dip the pointed end in ink, and use to write a report to the good guys back home. The Navy SEALS or whoever can take it from there.


Julie goes MacGyver-style to save the world

Who inspires you? Why? Peter. The apostle. Perhaps I should have chosen someone alive. Or an author (we writers often pick other writers).


But I am always inspired by the story of Peter because he messed up so doggone much and never gave up. He learned from his mistakes, got back on his feet, and boldly went out to use the talents he had for the good of others. And by doing so, in the long run, he made a huge difference.


As a person who has struggled with the fear of failure, I love his story of perseverance.


Come to think of it, perseverance is a character trait beautifully demonstrated by Karen DeLabar.


Oh, how I wanted to be the girl-on-top.

I know what you’re thinking, but the term had nothing to do with sexual aggressiveness or sluthood. I’m not like that. I’m talking cheerleading pyramid.

Splits, back flips, herkies, toe-touch jumps, tumbling passes — I could do them in my sleep. I’d been tumbling since elementary school and a cheerleader since the first tryouts in junior high. I’d craved that top spot since I’d made the high school varsity squad, and finally the cheerleading coach had designated me to be “the girl-on-top”.

We came out in orange football jerseys with tight white shorts, shaking our orange-and-white pompoms. With my natural light red — okay, orange — hair, I looked like a striped traffic cone. The first part of our routine went smoothly — a choreographed dance to a pop and hip-hop medley. Then it was go time for our stunts. The lifts and jumps were as smooth as the satin ribbons in our hair, as three of us were hoisted up and thrown into flips and twists, each caught by three spotters below. The students clapped and yelled as we performed our daring feats… or showed off our legs — take your pick.

Then we gathered up into a bunch and started to form the final trick. I was lifted like before, but this time even higher. At the top, I raised one leg over my head and stood single-footed on the flattened hands of junior Tara Smith. The crowd erupted with cheers, and the stands rumbled with the feet of hundreds of students expressing their admiration. I was there — at the top to hear and see it all.

My heart thumped wildly, and my head floated further above my third-story location. The music ended on a boom, and the praise of our spectators washed over me anew. This was exactly where I’d wanted to be.

And then I felt it. A slight movement at the bottom of the pyramid, like the princess felt the pea or Yertle the Turtle burped at the bottom. Immediately, I lowered my leg, and Tara quickly responded by spreading out her hands to let me stand in a more stable position. But her hand faltered. Her balance wavered. Time slowed to a crawl, and I could see what was happening before I fell.

The cheerleaders’ hold gave way, and I went down like an ice cream scoop onto the sidewalk. Spotters scrambled beneath me. I had one last thought before I landed: “Please, no one put this on YouTube.”


Julie Glover

As a city girl from the Lone Star State, Julie Glover owns both go-go boots and cowboy boots; has been to Broadway shows and rodeos; enjoys chateaubriand and rattlesnake sausage; and likes Led Zeppelin and Rascal Flatts. When she isn’t daydreaming about having a personal chef or wrestling the family’s laundry, Julie pens mysteries and young adult fiction.





Introducing Team Orange: Christopher Cantley

Author Name: Christopher Cantley

Title of Short Story: My Orange Karen

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: This is a magical story about an old farmer who discovers a lost child in a storm, and their next few years together.

How did you come up with the concept for the story? Well, I’ve always been a big fan of the fantasy genre, but there are other inspirations for the story too. Karen DeLabar’s illness provided a key plot point. Much of the middle of My Orange Karen was an exploration of being a father. The final third or so was about Mrs. DeLabar being a strong fighter in her time of trouble, and all our willingness to help.

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? Initially, it was my friend, Stephanie Fuller, who posted the project on Facebook. I really enjoy writing, too, so I figured I‘d give it a go. I also wanted to do this in honor of my mom. She’s a Karen, as well. Ultimately, though, it was the encouragement and support of my wife that made it possible.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I am huge movie buff, and ran a Quote of the Day contest on my Facebook page for quite a while.

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Wow. This one’s tough. I’ll choose the orange of a flame, especially candles. Firelight always helps me relax.

“Would you light my candle?”

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? I’d ensure everyone would have a safe fire source, and no one would have to be cold again.

Who inspires you? Why? The person who always inspires me is my late Grandpa Keen. He was always willing to listen, and never had a harsh word for anyone. We would spend hours just talking, or playing some silly game I’d invented. I hope I make him proud.


In the years after that tragedy, my fiery-haired daughter redoubled her efforts at hunting. With Lucille gone, and my age rearing its ugly head, farming was nearly impossible. It was only Karen’s sojourns that kept food on the table and money in our purses. Sometimes she would be gone for a week at a time. I knew she was working hard to keep us going, but I couldn’t help feeling sad at her absence.

During Karen’s last trip, I noticed something amiss. I would awaken in the night, feeling as though a steel band was wrapped around my lungs. Not long after, the incessant coughing started. When dark blood joined the coughs, I knew what was wrong. It was the same Deathlung sickness that took my first daughter. As much as I hated to, I had to send Karen away. Two nights later, she came back all smiles. I was sitting by the fireplace, wrapped in a blanket.

“I’m home, Papa!”

I had to smile. All grown up, yet she still called me Papa. I tried to greet her, but a fit of blood-filled coughing silenced me. Karen came into the living room, orange hair pulled back into ponytail.

“I found some boars yesterday,” she said hanging up her bow and quiver. “They were really tough but—”

She went quiet when she finally turned toward me. The smile faded from her face, but when she tried to step forward, I waved her back.

“What’s wrong, Papa? What’s happened?”

I struggled to take a breath.

“I’m dying, Karen. It’s Deathlung.”

“No,” she shook her head. “No! You can’t be dying!”

“It’s only a matter of time now, child. And you have to leave.”

Karen stumbled backwards, pain flaring in her eyes.

“You’re sending me away?”

I nodded as another fit of coughing wracked me. The young woman stood taller, hands balled into fists at her sides. She was furious.

“Why? Why can’t I stay and take care of you?”

“Because you could get sick, and I can’t allow it,” I said, voice straining to be heard. “You’re grown now, and you need to find your own life. Please go.”


Bio: Christopher Cantley is a factory worker residing in Lapeer, Michigan. He’s a devoted husband to JoAnn and father to Samantha, Tabitha, and Andrew. He also has four fur kids: Mickey, Tinkerbell, Ninja, and Abbie. He heard about this project from his good friend Stephanie Fuller,  aka The Book Hipster, and leapt at the chance to contribute.

Introducing Team Orange – Kip Ayers: Cover and Release Date Reveal!!

The time has come … are you ready?

You’ve been so patient waiting for an announcement for the release date of the Orange Karen Anthology.

And I bet you want a sneak peek of the cover. Right?


I’ll give you a moment to make sure you’re sitting down. *takes a drink of water*


*** COMING THURSDAY APRIL 11, 2013 ***


Join our Facebook Release Party for more details and excitement!

(Find us on Goodreads)

What do you think? Isn’t is a gorgeous cover? Many thanks to our cover artist, Kip Ayers, who donated his time and talent to create this stunning cover. Want to get to know him? I thought so.

Please extend your comments and thanks to our cover artist, Kip Ayers!

– Christina

Tell us a bit about how you started doing cover design.  I started drawing and painting as a child, and always loved it, but it wasn’t until my 30’s that I made the move from being a massage therapist to a full time freelance illustrator. I used massage to pay my way through college and all the while I built my illustration skills. After school I dove right into to working from my home studio doing book covers, concept art, basically any work that came my way.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:  I have been a vegetarian since I was 16, and the respect for all life is very important to me.

Hidden Talent: I love and am pretty good at playing Native American Flute. I have two that I keep on my desk in my studio, and I often take breaks from illustrating to play.

What was your inspiration for designing such a great cover? As with most of my cover designs, the inspiration comes from an intuitive connection with my clients. They share their vision with me, and I bring that to life.

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? That would have to be an orange Vespa Scooter. I imagine myself and my fiancé cruising around the Italian countryside on a bright orange Vespa.

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? I’m guessing you’re referring to when I’m called in to save the world from the moped riding beasts from outer space bent on world domination, and the only hope is the superior performance of my orange Vespa with racing stripes.

Who inspires you? Why?  Thich Naht Hanh, his words about peace, love, and being present in every moment inspire me.


Kip Ayers

I was born in upstate New York, and currently live just outside the Binghamton, NY area. I have lived in many different locals, from Boston to a remote part of the Adirondack Mountains, but something always brings me back to my home town. Sure the art scene here is a bit malnourished, and you may ask why would an artist choose to live in an area like that, but truly it is the natural beauty that keeps me here. I am closely connected to the land. It also helps that the cost of living is extremely low, so it’s a perfect place for an artist who’s starting out to help build an arts community.

As with most artists, I have always been interested in the arts. From my early days with crayons, to my current endeavors with a Wacom Cintiq, creating visually is what I am meant to do.  After high school, I took a break from art, and became a massage therapist. I enjoyed the work, and spent 8 years in the profession, but something was missing. It wasn’t my first love, and I knew that I had to get back to my artistic roots. I used massage to pay my way through fine art school.

After college, with so many options, I was somewhat unsure of what direction to take. I greatly enjoyed working in oil and thought about working my way up through the gallery scene, that is until I stumbled upon the Wacom Cintiq. Lets just say it was a love story from the beginning and it wasn’t long before I replaced my brush, with a stylus.

Today, I work from my home studio as a freelance digital illustrator. My focus has primarily been in the fantasy publishing industry, but I have worked for the gaming industry and done design work for logos, and album covers. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I wake up every morning knowing that my job doesn’t feel like work. I am truly grateful.

Introducing Team Orange: Steve and Zack Umstead

Greetings, friends! As we get closer and closer to releasing the anthology to you, we want to continue to unveil our fantastic team. Today we have not one, but two talented authors featured today: Steve and Zack Umstead. This father and son duo collaborated to come up with a great story for the Orange Karen Anthology. A teaser of their story follows the interview.

Author Name: Steve & Zack Umstead

Title of Short Story: Protogenesis

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about:

A mysterious and possibly dangerous form of life is found in a frozen meteorite, and a science team has some challenges researching it.

How did you come up with the concept for the story?

Zack came up with the concept for a rapidly evolving form of alien life, and together we fleshed it out with all the science and plot details it needed. Steve had the idea to make it a seed of life sent on purpose, which Zack liked, being a fan of vague back story in a short piece of fiction.

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology?

Steve: I’ve known Karen for, what, two years now? That’s like eons in the Interwebs age. I got to know her well during a drive to Massachusetts for Readercon. Very well, actually – did you know she likes talking? In any case, hearing of her medical issue and her struggle afterwards, I couldn’t not (sorry, double negative) participate and help any way I can. I asked my son to collaborate, as he’s incredibly talented for a young teen, and is always willing to help.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:

Zack: I’m completely obsessed with bacon.

Steve: I look at both sides of a Dorito before eating it. Oh, and I’ve been known to brew my own beer.

(Check out this great post from Steve about how Stella Artois shipped him a twelve pack of beer…on ice).

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why?

Zack: Sky’s the limit? So it can’t be our life form… Probably have to say pumpkin pie. That stuff’s great.

Steve: Hot Fries. ‘Nuff said.

(Sensing a food theme here?)

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it?

Zack: It would be a shame not to eat a perfectly good pumpkin pie, so I’d probably open a pie factory and end world hunger. Mmm… Pie factory.

Steve: All the world’s valuables and artifacts are all coated in Hot Fries dust, making theft easy to trace. Crime as we know it ends. Waistlines expand. We’re all happy.

Who inspires you? Why?

Zack: Would it be cheesy to say my dad? Well, he does. He’s a great writer, and his imagination knows no bounds, which I try to aspire to.

Steve: Sniff, sniff…I just read this. Sorry, I have to take a break… Sniff.


Space was cold, a vast empty void crossed with deadly radiation and invisible particles, interspersed with sporadic and rare chunks of rock and gas orbiting fiery balls of plasma. Space was barren, but not lifeless. The rarest of rare chunks could sustain life — sometimes intelligent life, sometimes not, but life nonetheless. Every life-bearing rock was different, unique, except for one common thread: they were lifeless until visited.

The meteoroid tumbled slowly as it traveled through the vacuum. Weak starlight reflected from smooth sides, absorbed by the rough sides. It wasn’t large, not as interstellar bodies went, but it was far from unimportant. Its nickel-iron core was protected by a layer of accumulated rock and carbon dioxide ice, the latter of which began to sublimate as the meteoroid approached the yellow-orange star at the center of the small solar system. The thrust generated by the ice burn-off nudged it slightly from its original path and it fell into the gravity well of a planet covered in a thick layer of white.

As it entered the planet’s atmosphere, the outer layer of rock began to ablate, leaving a fiery trail above the surface. It shrank as heat consumed its mass. Three miles above the planet’s surface, the meteor broke into three pieces, two of which were small rocky chunks that crumbled bit by bit and burned up, providing a spectacular show to whatever creature looked skyward. The third and largest piece, composed of nearly solid nickel-iron, journeyed unimpeded. The outer surface flowed like water, but the heat didn’t penetrate. It trailed flaming droplets of molten metal and smoke as it neared its end. The sonic boom it caused would have turned heads below if anything had been listening.

The meteor impacted a wide mass of white and bore hundreds of feet deep, throwing up a massive geyser of sooty ice, finally coming to a rest within the confines of a massive glacier.

A visitor had arrived.

Steve Umstead is the author of the Evan Gabriel military science fiction trilogy, and currently has ten different works published. Zack Umstead is an honors high school student and the author of the published young adult science fiction stories Shifter and Entanglement.

Introducing Team Orange: Susan Ethridge

You have been introduced to some of the authors in the Orange Karen anthology, but there has been some amazing behind the scenes action from Team Orange. There’s one person in particular who works tirelessly behind the scenes, and her work is all over the pages of many of the stories. Who is she? Why, editor Susan Ethridge, of course! Once you’ve finished reading her interview, take a moment to pat her on the back, give her a fist bump, or even a beer (not too many though, we’ve got to keep her upright and ready to work!).

Thank you so much, Susan for all that you have done. We couldn’t have got this far without you.

Three cheers for Susan! Hip hip hooray!!


– Christina

What’s been your favorite thing about being involved with the Orange Karen Anthology?

Reading all of the different stories that were submitted has been incredible.  Each of our authors was asked to use the color orange as a strong thematic element, and the talent and imagination they displayed in response to that simple constraint was phenomenal. Working with the other members of the Anthology team has also been really fun and rewarding – in the course of the last few months, I’ve enjoyed a number of new friendships with some incredibly funny, smart and generous people.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:

I have a long-standing love of muscle cars and recently bought a ’72 Charger that I’m in the process of restoring. Rrrawwrr.

1972 Charger. Can we say, “Dukes of Hazard”? Bitchin’ wheels, Ma’am. 🙂

Hidden Talent:

I wouldn’t really call it a “hidden” talent, but I think I’m a pretty good cook. Maybe one day I’ll go to culinary school and turn it into a second career.

Susan dreams of going to culinary school one day…maybe we’ll see her on Chopped?

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why?

When I think “orange” the first image that comes to mind is of those gumdrop candies that are shaped like little orange segments and coated with glittery sugar. My grandmother used to give them to me; it’s one of the simplest, happiest memories of my early childhood.

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it?

I guess that would depend on the nature of the threat – it’s pretty hard to stop the bad guys with nothing but a bag of gumdrops. Maybe I could use them as bait, and trap the bad guys in a cave…or if the threat was some kind of bomb or chemical weapon, maybe I could encase it in a 20-foot-thick gumdrop shield, kind of like those Kevlar blankets the bomb squad puts on top of bombs to contain the explosion.

Who inspires you? Why?

People who do what they do with real passion, and experience evident joy in the process. I once watched an orchestral performance in which the solo was performed by a brilliant tubist; as he played, the expression on his face was literally one of rapture. It made me want to pursue my interests with that same intensity, and on a very fundamental level, it made me want to be a better person.

susan(1)Susan Ethridge works in marketing, and enjoys graphic design, painting, cooking and writing. She and her husband live in Texas with their two cats.