Sirens Blog Tour Recap

I’ve hosted several blog tours over the years and made the same mistake with several of them — I didn’t post a recap blog post at the end of the tour. I think recap posts are important because they bring all the links together in one handy place for people who are discovering the blog tour after its over and so I’m working backward and creating those posts for past blog tours that are without. The very first tour to get a schmexy new recap post is Sirens: The Blog Tour.

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Micheal Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

I love this anthology, so to celebrate and help spread the word about its release I hosted a contributor-centric blog tour. These were the stops:

E is for Evil

I’m excited to announce the theme for the next volume in my Alphabet Anthologies series will be:

E is for Evil

Oh man, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. The contributors to this anthology series never cease to amaze me with their clever and diverse interpretations of a theme and this one… well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozie!

Speaking of those contributors. For this volume the contributing authors, in random order, are Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, KV Taylor, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexandra Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Gary B. Phillips, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

E is for Evil will be hitting shelves spring of next year, so we’ll all need to be patient while we wait for it, but people had been asking what the next letter was going to be and I was getting tired of saying it was a secret 🙂

Previous volumes in this series include A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and — coming out in less than three weeks! — D is for DInosaur.

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal

dino500x750

For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

This cover was designed by Jonathan C. Parrish using original artwork by Janice Blaine.

D is for Dinosaur will be available in February 2017. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your ‘Want to read’ shelf on Goodreads and LibraryThing!

 

Notes on “We Are Sirens”

Sirens Blog Tour

Notes on “We Are Sirens”

L.S. Johnson 

LS1

This is the seed: a class called “Integrated Liberal Studies” in my senior year of high school. We read Homer, we read snatches of Ovid and Virgil, and I felt myself falling down a grotesque rabbit hole: women chased and women abandoned, women thwarted and women kidnapped, women raped and maimed and murdered and no rhyme or reason to any of it, just the will of the gods folks nothing to see here move along.

Decades later, I’m forwarded the call for Sirens stories and at once I’m back in that hot autumn classroom, thinking about sneaking a cigarette on my break, or about going out to a club that weekend with my fake ID and dancing to a band and making out with strange men. My teacher drones on about Odysseus Odysseus and who cares? The whole book is basically about a guy cheating on his wife and getting away with it, while the women of the story—Circe and her swine, the Sirens singing in their field of rotting corpses, Penelope’s weaving tactics—are just “episodes” in the journey of this asshole guy.

But that was then, and this is now, and I’m a writer, damn it.

#

It’s some weeks later and I’m turning, turning the idea of Sirens over in my head, looking for a way in . . . and it’s Saturday night, and we’re watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, like you do. Episode 610, to be exact: The Violent YearsLS2

There is nothing good about this movie, yet this time around I find it strangely enthralling. These women. These women with their anger and their pistols, their boy-clothes and their bandanna masks. I had forgotten about the rape scene, too—that rare spectacle, a woman raping a man—how she strips off her sweater with that wooden expression. Mike and the ‘bots giggle and crack wise, but this time around I feel angry: that these women are just puppets for Ed Wood’s straw man storyline; that they’re doomed, doomed, because the 1950s needed them to be doomed. Oh, that they could just keep on going, stealing petty cash and partying with bad boys and rolling around in that big old ’54 Cadillac.

They stay in my head, these women, lounging on the hood of their car, smoking and cleaning their weapons, waiting for me to do something about it.

#

I’ve seen a lot of girl gang movies, and there’s always something that feels off to me. Something about how the stories are framed; something about how the women’s choices unfold . . . as if they have no choice at all, as if whoever is plotting their lives needs them to be something very particular. Not a character but a trope, an idea.

Not a character but a myth.

#

LS3My Sirens are a mashup of different Greek writings: a dollop of Homer, a line of Hyginus, all topped off with a few spoonfuls of Lycophron. Like so many figures in Greek mythology, Sirens are who their authors need them to be: an episode, an explanation, even a cautionary tale, but always without motivation or agency. Thus Hyginus:

“It was predicted that [the Sirens] would live only until someone who heard their singing would pass by. Ulysses proved fatal to them, for when by his cleverness he passed by the rocks where they dwelt, they threw themselves into the sea.”

I re-read these lines, and in my head five women look up from where they sprawl on the hood of their Cadillac, roll their eyes, and sing out in unison, “As if.”

Thus do stories begin.

L.S. Johnson was born in New York and now lives in Northern California, where she feeds her four cats by writing book indexes. Her stories have appeared in Strange HorizonsInterzoneLong HiddenYear’s Best Weird Fiction, and other venues, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and longlisted for the Tiptree Award. Her first collection, Vacui Magia: Stories, is now available. Find out more about her at http://traversingz.com/.


SIRENS -- cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

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Images: 1) Red-figured stamnos showing Odysseus and the Sirens, copyright The Trustees of the British Museum. 2) Publicity still from The Violent Years. 3) The Sirens and Ulysses, William Etty, 1837.

 

Chimeric Contributor: L.S. Johnson

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

Today’s interview is with L.S. Johnson. I first learned of L.S.’s work when she submitted an amazing story, The Queen of Lakes, to Fae and I’ve been enamored with her work ever since. When she accepted my invitation to contribute to B is for Broken I was ecstatic, and even more so to have her stick around for C is for Chimera 🙂

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

R

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Actually, no! I had already started sketching out this story, title and all. That the title began with R and the story dealt with chimeras in a few different ways was pure serendipity.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

No alternatives this time, it was full speed ahead on the idea I had. Though I will say that there is a version of this story that is twice as long, with a present-day framing narrative that I just couldn’t make work. Perhaps someday there will be an alt version?

What kind of chimera is your story about?

Well, it’s based on the story of Philomela and Procne, which like many Greek myths involves a physical transformation. But a chimera can also be an illusion of the mind, a mental fantasy, and part of the story is about how narratives frame events, especially when they’re based on a feminine ideal that has little to do with reality.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

I had a lovely great-aunt who was a recluse; she lived in an apartment in Queens, hardly ever went out, and seemed to subsist on candy, Cheez Doodles, and the occasional roast dinner. I only met her a couple of times in my childhood, but I always thought of her apartment as a kind of nest—her own little world in a vast hive of similar spaces. I used to look at the flat windows of her building and wonder how many others were like her, looking out but never seen.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

Snake, for better or worse.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Bird-cat. Don’t need a third. Just bird-cat.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

Cotton lawn, a Leuchtturm journal, and the smell of my youngest cat’s fur.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

To finally feel settled somewhere. I live very far from my family, and my spouse is from another country entirely; yet my hometown has become far too expensive for us to ever consider moving back. Try as I might, California has never quite felt like “home”, so I keep hoping that one day we might find a place that does.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

Her mother had often told her bedtime stories that weren’t in books, stories from the old world, stories her mother’s mother had told, and her mother before that, and so on . . . Stories of women who were changed into things, river rocks and fleet deer, nightingales and sparrows and tall, twisting trees: always they were betrayed by someone and then swiftly changed, to save them from a worse fate. And then she was no more of this world, her mother would always finish, and then she would pretend to show Elsa something from the woman in question—a leaf, a feather. But such endings had never felt like escapes to Elsa. They felt like condemnations, and her dreams would be filled with monstrous images of animals with women’s faces, their silent mouths screaming endlessly.

Only now did Elsa understand her child-self had been right, that those stories weren’t fantasies. They were warnings.

 

L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Long Hidden, Fae, Lackington’s, Strange Tales V, and other venues. Currently she’s working on a fantasy trilogy set in 18th century Europe. Find her online at http://traversingz.com/.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Find C is for Chimera online:

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SIRENS -- cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Sirens Cover and Table of Contents

Here she is, the much-anticipated cover and table of contents for the fourth of my Magical Menagerie anthologies: Sirens!

SIRENS -- cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Sixteen siren songs that will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Micheal Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

Table of Contents:

Siren Seeking by Kelly Sandoval
The Fisherman and the Golem by Amanda Kespohl
We Are Sirens by L.S. Johnson
Moth to an Old Flame by Pat Flewwelling
The Bounty by Gabriel F. Cuellar
The Dolphin Riders by Randall G. Arnold
Is This Seat Taken? by Micheal Leonberger
Nautilus by V. F. LeSann
Siren’s Odyssey by Tamsin Showbrook
Safe Waters by Simon Kewin
Notefisher by Cat McDonald
Experience by Sandra Wickham
Threshold by K.T. Ivanrest
The Fisherman’s Catch by Adam L. Bealby
One More Song by Eliza Chan
Homecoming by Tabitha Lord

Coming July 12, 2016

Reserve your copy now!

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And add it to your Goodreads shelves!

D is for [Drum Roll]

It’s time to announce the theme for the next Alphabet Anthology. I am really stoked about this one. Like, really, really stoked. I’ve been looking forward to the D anthology since I first decided to do this anthology series–in fact, more than once Jo has had to talk me out of releasing books out of alphabetical order because I was impatient to get to D.

So what is the theme?

Well, Demons seemed like a good fit–a collection of dark and diverse stories would be a lot of fun but not quite as fun as–

Dragons. Dragons seem the obvious choice, right? I mean, I love dragons. I used to collect them, I even have a dragon tattoo. And there’s no doubt that dragon stories could be diverse in theme, voice and tone… but dragons were actually kind of too obvious. Plus I have a vaguely dragony anthology in the works and I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Much. Still gargantuan reptilian creatures are pretty amazing and so I am excited to announce that–

 

D is for Dinosaur

–because c’mon! How cool is that?

The dinosaur theme will be interpreted in a wide variety of ways for this anthology but my authors assure me that there will, indeed, be at least a handful of prehistoric critters within its pages. I’m super stoked!

Speaking of those authors, contributors to this anthology include some veterans to the series and some new faces too. In no particular order, story contributors to D is for Dinosaur are:

~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ Michael Kellar ~ Cory Cone ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ KV Taylor ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Michael M. Jones ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Brittany Warman ~ Hal J. Friesen ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Suzanne J. Willis ~ Lynn Hardaker ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Andrew Bourell ~ Sara Cleto ~ Jeanne Kramer-Smyth ~

Janice Blaine will be contributing the artwork.

D is for Dinosaur will be coming out in 2017 but you can pre-order the third installment in the Alphabet Anthologies series, C is for Chimera right now.

Pushcart Prize Nominations

2016_Cover_BigEvery year I struggle to pick which six works to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. This year my job was made marginally easier after I spoke to Bill Henderson and learned I could nominate six works from both Niteblade and Poise and Pen. Yay! Still, it was a difficult decision-making process even so but I am excited to nominate the following works for the 2016 Pushcart Prize.

On behalf of Niteblade Magazine I nominated:

And from Poise and Pen’s anthology, B is for Broken, published in May 2015 I nominated:

  • C is for Change by C.S. MacCath
  • F is for Founder by Megan Arkenberg
  • G is for Glass by Gary B. Phillips
  • O is for Oneiroi by Michael M. Jones
  • S is for Soliloquy by Damien Angelica Walters
  • V is for Vendémiaire by L.S. Johnson

Congratulations to our (and all) nominees, and good luck!

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: L.S. Johnson

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂


I met L.S. when she submitted an amazeballs story to Fae and I’m super stoked to have her work in B is for Broken 🙂

Interview With L.S. Johnson

What letter were you assigned? V

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

On her knees in the dirt, Arianne can envision her mother before her, see her spattered hems and the rough clogs over her fine stockings. On her knees in the dirt, Arianne’s mind becomes formless and clear. On her knees the world is a whole thing once more, a single path as welcoming as an embrace.

Until she stands up, and the world breaks into pieces once again: the rows of brown grapevines splintering in all directions; the wind rattling the shutters on the crumbling cottage where she and her father live; the slope of the rise before the hollow, where the old house still stands, the embodiment of her mother’s betrayal.

Their tainted land.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? I have broken the hearts of some people close to me, not from malice, but simply because of my choices in life. Hindsight is 20/20, and it is hard not to regret at least the more flippant decisions.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I quit smoking cold turkey in 2000; two years later I buried a relative from smoking-related illness. I still miss some aspects of it—the social crutch, the way it dovetailed with my writing. But no sadness.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? Deleting everyone’s debt (though that would probably violate several laws, alas). But to just make all those numbers go away: it would change this country.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? No. I have many rules I try to live by, but life does a fine job of challenging even the simplest convictions.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I actually had two ideas. One became far more personal than I anticipated, and I needed to talk to my mother before proceeding with the story, which didn’t happen until after the deadline. So I ended up on the Plan B for V, as it were, which seemed to turn out okay—? We’ll see what readers say!

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? There’s about a half-dozen myths and motifs that I have been circling around, well, I suppose for all of my writing life, which is longer than my adult life. One of them is part of this story. Too, I was reading Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety at the time, so I had that period of French history in my head—both its violence and its idiosyncrasies. And it all got me thinking about how a person’s life, their entire context for being in the world, can change in a moment, whether due to something personal or national . . . or perhaps even supernatural.

 


L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Long Hidden, Fae, Lackington’s, Strange Tales V, and other venues. Currently she is working on a fantasy trilogy set in 18th century Europe.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
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And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

B is for Broken

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Broken people, broken promises, broken dreams and broken objects are just some of the ways these 26 fantastic stories interpret the theme of ‘Broken’. From science fiction to fantasy, horror to superheroes the stories within these pages cover a vast swath of the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella.

Featuring original fiction by:

~ Brittany Warman ~ Milo James Fowler ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sara Cleto ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Simon Kewin ~ Beth Cato ~ Cory Cone ~ Cindy James ~ Alexis A. Hunter ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Steve Bornstein ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Kellar ~ Damien Angelica Walters ~ Marge Simon ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Pete Aldin ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Lilah Wild ~ KV Taylor ~

Available now at:
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And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

After months of hard work I’m incredibly excited to announce that B is for Broken is live and available for purchase! This anthology is the second in the Alphabet Anthologies series and because the theme was broader than the first (A is for Apocalypse) the stories are even more diverse in regard to genre, style, voice and theme than before. We’ve got retold fairy tales, robots and spaceships, superheros, minotaurs, second world fantasy and so, so, SO much more. The story length ranges from flash fiction to an incredible fantasy novelette from C.S. MacCath (trust me, you don’t want to miss this one).

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing contributor interviews, excerpts and even (once it’s complete) a ‘Broken Story‘ to try and tempt you into picking up a copy but if you enjoy speculative fiction I don’t think you can go wrong with this anthology. I’m biased but it really is packed full of awesome.

“This collection is a massive and magnificent assortment of truly enjoyable stories. There is simply no way to read this book  and not find a story you can connect with or love. This is the book to have in your travel bag. In it you are sure to find a tale to fit any mood. Each time you open it, a new adventure begins.”

Anita Allen, Assistant Publisher/Editor, Mythic Delirium Books

Also? We’re holding a Facebook party to celebrate the release and you’re invited 🙂

By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

C is for Chimera

It is with an extreme amount of pride and pleasure that I’m announcing the theme and contributors to the third in the alphabet anthology series. I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about… dun dun DUN:

C is for Chimera

In case you’re thinking, “Uh, a whole anthology of lion/goat/serpent creatures?” that is not the only definition of the word 🙂 I’ve got my fingers crossed for at least one lion/goat/serpent creature in the anthology, but check out this definition and then tell me you can’t see the potential for a hugely diverse collection of stories:

Definition of CHIMERA (From Merriam-Webster)

1: a capitalized:  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail
b:  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
2: an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream <a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>
3: an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution

Synonyms
fantasy, conceit, daydream, delusion, dream, fancy, figment, hallucination, illusion, nonentity, phantasm (also fantasm), pipe dream, unreality, vision

Near Antonyms
actuality, fact, reality

Other Genetics Terms
hermaphrodite, plasticity

Our contributing authors are also diverse and write in a wide variety of styles and genres within the broader categories of science fiction, fantasy and horror. You’ll notice some familiar names from the first two books in this series (A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken) as well as a few new additions. Anthology contributors (in no particular order) are:

~ BD Wilson ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Marge Simon ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ KV Taylor ~ Sara Cleto ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Lilah Wild ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Kellar ~ Brittany Warman ~