Thursday, 19 January 2012

CEDAR FORT BOOK TOUR STOP: Time Gangsters by Berin L Stephens

Presenting Berin L Stephens and his book Time Gangsters today as on my blog as part of the blog tour organized by the publishers. Read on and get a chance to enter for a giveaway.


When Billy discovers a hidden cache of ancient coins, it isn't long before a gang of thugs swipes them right from under Billy. Plotting to use the magical properties of the coins to seize power in the past, these power-hungry gangsters will do anything to reach their goal. Their future threatened, Billy and Danny must race through time to steal back the coins---before history is changed forever!


Berin was born in Anchorage, Alaska and grew up in the thriving metropolis of Chugiak. When in junior high and high school, he took up playing the saxophone and running track. After graduating from Chugiak High, he spent his college freshman year at Oregon State University majoring in confusion. In order to get his head on straight, he next served an LDS mission in the savage and uncivilized jungles of Anaheim, California.

After the mission, Berin transferred to Brigham Young University and majored in music performance and pedagogy, specializing in saxophone. He received a bachelors of music degree and a masters of music degree before the school finally kicked him out onto the street. The one good thing he did while at BYU was that he met his lovely wife, Vicky (well, she wasn't his wife at first, but he took care of that).

After graduating, Berin returned to his frozen homeland of Chugiak and started a music teaching business. He also taught saxophone and music appreciation (or is that depreciation?) at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. He became active in the local music scene and performed with several artists that rolled through the state, like the Manhattan Transfer, Ben Vereen, Bobby Shew, Rebecca Mauleon, Peggy Stern, and Vicki Carr. He also performed with several jazz groups, latin dance bands, and the Anchorage Symphony. But alas, the sad day came when Berin and Vicky bundled up the kids and force-marched them to Utah.

Berin is currently working on a middle-grade book called Time Gangsters and on the sequels to The Dragon War Relic. He is once again teaching and performing music, and is the saxophone instructor at Utah Valley University. Berin and Vicky currently live in Orem, Utah with their five children, dog (Nalla), cat (Kenai) and an aloe plant.

Exclusive Interview With The Author

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A: I was born and raised in the thriving metropolis of Chugiak, Alaska. My degrees are in saxophone performance, so I teach saxophone and clarinet out of my home as well as saxophone at Utah Valley University. I also perform a lot of jazz, blues, classical and salsa music.

Q: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?
A: I don't know. I think some people are natural with short stories but struggle with novels and vice versa. I've done both, but I think novels are easier to write. With a short story, all of your story elements get squished together which, to me, makes it more challenging.

Q: How do you research for a book before you begin the writing process?
A: I don't. I just start writing the story and if I get to something that I don't know, I'll make something up or put in a note to remind me to do more research before the next draft. Once I get in the writing flow, I don't like to interrupt it with details. I do try to get them worked in by the second or third draft, though.

Q: What is the best part of writing for you?
A: First draft. That's where the fun is for me, because it is a new adventure that I don't always know how it will turn out.

Q: Did you always have in mind to be a writer or did it just happen?
A: I wanted to be a writer when I was young and took some stabs at submitting a few short stories while I was in college. Then life and family took over for several years and it got shelved for a while. Then, six years ago, my teenage daughter was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I thought it would be a good daddy-daughter bonding experience if I did it with her. That was how Dragon War Relic got started. And, it did improve my relationship with my daughter, which to me was the main benefit.

Q: How would you describe TIME GANGSTERS in a sentence?
A: Twelve-year old cousins Billy and Dannielle are chased through time by gangsters looking for magic Egyptian coins that can allow them to rule the world.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
A: Billy and Danny find out that gangsters have traveled from 1927 to look for coins hidden in their houses. When they find the coins first, they have to try to keep them away but fail. They end up being dragged back in time where a ruthless gangster wants the coins so that he can take over the country. Ultimately, if they don't find a way to stop him, the future will be changed for the worse.

Q: How did the idea of writing TIME GANGSTERS spring up in your mind?
A: Literally, it did. Some of my best story ideas come from dreams, because my subconscious will combine things in an interesting way that I don't know if I could ever do consciously. One night, I had a dream about kids with magic coins who were being chased by gangsters who used the coin's powers. I added the Egyptian stuff later to add a little more history to it. But I advise people to keep a dream journal that can be used when they need a story idea.

Q: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?
A: I am what they call a discovery writer or a pantser. In other words, I have no clue how my story will turn out, which makes it quite exciting for me. In fact, when I'm writing, I feel like I'm accessing the same part of my brain that I use when I'm improvising jazz. Now at some point, though, I do have to figure out an outline and characters to make sure there is a functioning plot with a good character arch. I do that mainly with the second draft, where I take the main ideas I had in the first draft and rework them until they make sense.

Q: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?
A: Chocolate, but most people probably already know that. I guess the other thing would be fantasy football. I don't follow many sports, but I love the NFL.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?
A: Best part: first draft, though second draft can be fun, too, as I rework my initial ideas into something functional. Worst part for me is the marketing. I hate trying to convince people to read my book, especially when there are so many other good books out there. But it's part of the business.

Q: How similar to its principle protagonist and the main cast are you?
A: With this one, not very much. With my first book, the three main characters were all different aspects of my personality. But for Time Gangsters, I'm probably closest to Danny. She has a lot of my personality quirks, which made it easier for me to write a female point of view.

Now some simple questions and more fun^^

-Your favorite books and author? 
That's always a hard one because there are so many. David Eddings has been one of my favorites, especially his Sparhawk books. Recently, I've really enjoyed Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn books.

-Your favorite band/singer? 
Easy. Michael Brecker. Most people haven't heard of him, but in jazz circles he is considered by many to be the greatest saxophonist ever. 

-Twitter or Facebook? 
Facebook. Or Phazebook.

-Favorite place in the world? 
Alaska. Outside of Alaska I'd have to say New Zealand.

-Last movie you watched at the cinemas? 
Probably Cowboys and Aliens.

-The last book you’ve read? 
Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock.

-Have you ever googled yourself? 
Yes. But, um, for professional reasons.

-If you wouldn’t be a writer, what you would be? 
First thought is musician, but I'm already that. Video game tester sounds good, too.

-And last one....print or ebooks? 
Print, print, print.

Q: The cover of TIME GANGSTERS is really awesome. Did you have any inputs in it?
A: Not much. Cedar Fort sent me a preliminary version that I made a few suggestions on. I mainly wanted a big honkin' tommy gun on the front, but I didn't win that one. But Cedar Fort makes awesome covers and I can't take any credit for them.

Q: If it ever gets turned into a movie then who would you like to see on the cast?
A: Since it would be mostly 12 year old kids, I don't know of any actors that age. A young Leonardo diCaprio would make a good Sticks. Tom Cruise could be agent Elliott, or maybe Johnny Depp. I'd have to think a little more to cast the gangsters.

Q: What's next after this?
A: I've got a couple of projects I'm excited about. I'm working on a superhero sidekick story where all the heroes are kidnapped and it's up to a teenage sidekick with no powers to figure out how to save them from super villains. I'm also working on a dystopian/fantasy/steampunk story that is more of an epic fantasy attempt.
Q: What advice would you like to give budding authors or those who want to start writing?
A: Anything you want to do and be good at, you have to make sacrifices and invest time. I did this first with music, where I spent 3 to 6 hours a day playing my instrument. Now, I'm spending about 3 hours a day working on my writing craft. I still have a long way to go, but there is no better school than experience. But most people have to sacrifice things to get good at it, whether it's video games, TV, or whatever.


So, your sleeping and all of a sudden you wake up in the night to see a broken window and guy standing over your bed with a tommy gun pointed at you, well not a situation you want to wake up to but this is what happens to cousins Billy and Danny wake up and to. This late night visitor sends Billy, his cousin Danny and friend on a merry treasure hunt that tops off any sort of adventure Billy had ever dreamed of. A race to prevent time from being drastically changed. Can they get there? Well they certainly can if they can work together and level their differences behind.


Pretty simple fill in the rafflecopter form. Only one winner. Since it is conducted by Cedar Fort so if the winner is from North America, he/she get a print copy of Time Gangsters and outside North America or International winner will get the ecopy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This book sounds like a lot of fun! I love anything that combines history and mystery. Thanks for the giveaway as well.
    Dawn Zimmerer



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