Joel and Josie










We lost an incredible friend and talent in Joel Rickenbach on November 4, 2015. He was 38 years too young; a talent gone before he had the chance to do so much more.

Honor him by watching or listening to just a sampling of some of his artistic output. Joel should be known and loved by everyone.

You’ve Got Geek on You Podcast Archive

Joel, Kevin Regan, Brendan Carr, Michael Henley and Chuck Francisco recorded a lot of hours talking about movies and media and pop culture. There’s a treasure trove of recommendations within and lots of Joel’s infectious laugh. I was honored to be part of it here and there and talk geek deep into the night.

The Gatekeeper – a Halloween Novella

This was Joel’s first published fiction and it’s fantastic. I know he was writing more and planned to expand this story and I’m forever sorry that it will never be.

“Circa 39″ Music Video

Joel handpicked this song from Paul Terry’s Cellarscape album “The Act of Letting Go” to make a music video. He didn’t tell Paul anything about the concept or the execution – he just handed it over as a finished product in November 2014. Everything about it screams Joel and what he loves most about film and storytelling. He was very proud of it.

Evangeline Lilly’s The Squickerwonkers Book Trailer Comic Con 2014

Joel put this video together in one night! It’s brilliant. Evangeline loved it from the moment she laid eyes on it and that’s how he rolled – a consummate pro with everything he touched.

Eerie, PA

Joel published Eerie, PA, his magazine about weirdness and hauntings within the Keystone State. He and author Matt Lake did a road trip to the Dime Museum for this Eerie special:

The League

Joel was camera, editor and co-director with Kevin Regan for their web series starring their talented friends.








I’m thrilled to be moderating two panels at the ScriptFest Writers Weekend from May 29 – 31st in Burbank, CA.

On Saturday the 30th. I’ll be leading the conversations at the:

SHOWRUNNER PANEL: Saturday, May 30th from 11am – 12:30pm

–          Hart Hanson (Bones)

–          Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil, Spartacus)

–          Bob Kushell (Anger Management, Muppets)

–          Dave Caplan (Anger Management)


BREAKING IN PANEL: Saturday, May 30th from 4pm – 5:30pm

–          Tim Doyle (Last Man Standing)

–          Mitch Katlin (See Dad Run)

–          Joel Madison (Freaks & Geeks, That 70s Show)

–          Roger Wolfson (The Closer, Saving Grace)

Tickets are still available and if you are a student use code STUDENT50 for a $50 discount.

If you are there, let me know via Twitter so we can say hello!









I’m really honored to know a tremendous amount of creative friends who are making their art and sharing their talents with the world. Of course promotion is tough out there today, so a lot of them aren’t exactly on the radar, or you might have forgotten about what they do.

In honor of the holiday shopping season beginning this week and Small Business Saturday – I give you my Homegrown Holiday 2014 where I’m providing links to some fantastic artists & entrepreneurs you can support by buying or recommending their items for your gift-giving.  If you want your money to go to worthy projects and REALLY support those following their dreams and passions – click and buy from this list :) Also share it with your friends! (Additions say NEW)


Cellarscape’s “The Act of Letting Go” is a fantastic album featuring the singer/songwriter Paul Terry and some incredible international musicians. Give them a try & buy a copy or grab a special gift pack for someone who likes to try new music.

Hot Breakfast! – Matt Casarino and Jill Knapp are Hot Breakfast! and they are hilarious dork singer/songwriters who crush it. Buy their music or gift it!

Fantastic Joe Trainer and his Trio are one of the backbones of the DE music scene. They have tons of fantastic music to peruse, then purchase HERE.

Rowan grad and singer/songwriter Sarah Hollins has an EP ready to buy HERE.

NEW For my friends with kids, Lori Henriques is a singer/songwriter with albums for kids featuring  such happy, joyful songs with a jazz ensemble sound that will inspire adults and kids. She even has a duet with The Middleman, Matt Keeslar! Find all her albums HERE.

NEW If you loved Bill Buchanan on “24” (and who didn’t?), the actor James Morrison is also a singer and filmmaker. Give his music a try HERE and rent or gift his movie “Showing Up” about the auditioning process HERE.


“Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show” is out on Kindle or as a traditional soft cover. Buying a copy helps indie filmmaker Des Doyle and his team pay off making an indie film so gift the book to your TV fans, or student friends. And think about buying the film as a gift via Itunes too!

If you’ve got kids who love facts or maybe don’t like committing to long narratives, Paul Terry & Paul Shubrook’s bestselling “Top 10 of Everything 2015″ is such a fun read that it will enthrall for hours. Here’s the UK version too.

Fabulous Renaissance man Joel Rickenbach published his first short story this year: “The Gatekeeper” which was a fantastic start and a perfect stocking stuffer for those who love old-school scary stories with heart.

Paul Ruditis wrote a MASSIVE book about the history of Battlestar Galactica. You like any iteration of the show? You better buy or gift this sucker. It’s outstanding! So say we all…

Support sci-fi journalism and my SFX family by buying or gifting a subscription to SFX Magazine. We have deals running all holiday season! Or try The Walking Dead Magazine, Sleepy Hollow Magazine, or SCI FI Magazine.

Dear friend Roberta Trahan has written the hell out of some original fantasy fiction with her “Dream Stewards” series and short story “Aftershock.” Grab them HERE.

Trekkers! My great friend Kevin Dilmore wrote a Best Book of 2014 with his original Star Trek novel “Seekers: Point of Divergence”.

If you like superheroes with a twist and graphic novels, try Martin Eden’s fantastic indie comic, “Spandex”

Nikki Stafford is a fellow companion guide writer with a huge library of thoughtful books on fantastic shows HERE.

Super-talented geek pal Marc Bernadin released “Genius” this year and you can ask for it, or gift the issues HERE.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s ‘The Middleman” is the cult show and continuing comic book series you need to catch up on HERE.

NEW Great friend Sohaib Awan’s (of Fictional Frontier’s fame) young-reader, genie comic book series, “Jinnrise,” is now in a collected trade or you can grab single issues for holiday gifts HERE.

New friend Trish Milburn is a much-loved romance writer I’m happy to know now. Check out her titles HERE.

Eric Smith’s “The Geek’s Guide to Dating” is a complete charmer of a present (and read). Or you can pre-order his upcoming “Inked” out in Jan. 2015.

Fellow Joss Whedon acolytes, pick up Amy Pascale’s GoodReads Best Biography 2014 finalist of the man in her comprehensive look at his life and career HERE.

Sharon Gosling’s excellent YA series starts with “The Diamond Thief” and welcomes a sequel in May 2015. Grab it and her other geeky tomes HERE.

Fellow geek Rich Steeves has his supernatural detective Misty Johnson books and they’re a hoot!

NEW Fellow licensing writer Christopher Golden has his own Sons of Anarchy original fiction book with Kurt Sutter, “Bratva,” out in stores now. But if you love Alien, Uncharted, Buffy, or original fiction too, his library of work is HUGE! 

NEW My awesome editor Delia Greve edited two amazing books: “The Sith Handbook” and “George R. R. Martin’s The World of Ice & Fire,” which are spectacular gift ideas. 

NEW Prolific and awesome author Nancy Holder has the new “Beauty and the Beast: Vendetta” tie-in novel, but she’s THE woman for “Buffy” fiction as well as her original YA supernatural fiction. Check out her catalog HERE


Bill Edwards always makes me look my best in my headshots – so hire him for yours (or a friends) HERE or if you are looking to decorate your office or house – try his print gallery.

UPDATED Incredible Red Bank, NJ artist Mike Ciccotello is always blowing me away with his paintings and coffee cup doodles. Add some beauty to your home or office HERE. And Cyber Monday deals are HERE (Use Code ZAZCYBER2014)

I’m a writer and I still adore getting a great pen, so check out these beautiful handmade pens created by Lisa and Scott Rowe at Roweville Retro HERE.

Brit artist (and creator of all of Cellarscape’s album art) Paul Shubrook has original art and prints of his beautiful work HERE.

If you love unique, geeky collectibles, then check out Karen Mauro’s Enchanted Forest Etsy shop for her awesome handmade creations HERE.

NEW If you’re looking for some handmade cuteness, check out KookyBird for adorable Yetis and more clever creatures by Christin Klinger Bagenstose


I am so proud of Zoey Van Jones for building her eyebrow empire from the bottom up. She’s cleaned up my crazy Italian brows for years and now she’s got her own line of products so she can clean you up too! HERE

Need a new website or some creative graphic design? My web guru is Rob Feldman and he should be yours too. Gift yourself or someone you love HERE.

Maybe you are gifting a car this season and need a deal. Eric Bell is amazing and anywhere in the country can get you the car you want for the price you want. HERE

Does your website copy need some work? K. Stoddard Hayes is a wordsmith who can turn around the most bland website. Try or gift her services HERE. Tell her I sent you :)

If I missed you or you have recommendations – please let me know!


Showrunners Cover









It was quite the journey, and a fun story which I’ll share at a later date about how I got connected with director Des Doyle and his crew of ‘can-do’ producers from around the globe, but the outcome is a book baby I am very proud of – Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show (please ignore the old title as this is the correct one). It’s out now and can be purchased at:

Amazon US & UK
Barnes and Noble

What is the book exactly?

We like to think of it as the extended cut of the Showrunners documentary that opens in the US on October 31st in the US and VOD. The brilliant film looks at the rise of the showrunner in television with interviews from some of the greatest creatives working in television today including: Joss Whedon, Ron D. Moore, Shawn Ryan, Hart Hanson, Janet Tamaro, Jane Espenson, Robert and Michelle King and many, many more. The book allows us to feature a lot more of the fascinating conversations and insights that just couldn’t fit into  the 90 minute film. Whether you are a student of TV, a fan of certain writers, a TV binge junkie or just someone who is interested in the creative process…we think our book is for you.

Here are some excerpts from the book to whet your appetite:

FilmoriaWorking with Writers

RogerEbert.comBeing Creative within TV’s Act Structure

USA TODAY –  Showrunner 101 and PopCandy’s enthusiastic recommendation of the book HERE 

MTV News –  Joss Whedon: The Unexpected Rebel

EWFirst jobs and Ending Series

IO9Lessons Learned and Applied as a Showrunner

Flickering MythThe Future of TV Writers





I’m very proud of my latest book collaboration with Titan Books and Blue Sky Studios:

The Art of Rio: Featuring a Carnival of Art From Rio and Rio 2

The Art of Rio Cover

The book celebrates the art from both Rio films (the upcoming sequel is out in theaters on April 11, 2014) with incredible landscapes, character progressions and background stories on the real world inspirations for director Carlos Saldanha’s ode to his beloved birthplace.

Limited edition of the book

Titan Books also has a limited edition version of the book that is just gorgeous. It’s limited to 500 copies and is signed by Saldanha. Grab a copy, they won’t last long!

I’m also geeky excited that we already have a RioWiki page (I said I was a dork!) and you can peruse quite a few galleys from the book there. (The feather cursor WINS!)

Plus, ParkaBlog has given us a lovely unboxing and review. Thanks!

I’ll leave you with the opening to the first film because birds that samba are always welcome:



My latest book project has been announced! It’s the official companion book to Des Doyle’s Showrunner’s documentary due in theaters later this year.  The book will feature interviews and outtakes from the film which features exclusive interviews from Joss Whedon, Ron Moore, J.J. Abrams, Terence Winter, Shawn Ryan, Damon Lindelof, Jane Espenson and many more. The book will be out this fall but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Showunners: How to Run a Hit TV Show


It’s been one heck of an exciting year for our book baby, FRINGE: SEPTEMBER’S NOTEBOOK. We can’t thank the fans and critics enough for their excitement and support for it. Paul Terry, Noreen O’Toole and I have loved every fan interaction, tweet, and Facebook message we got in reference to it all year long.

We also got another end of the year gift when Amazon awarded the book their 2013 Best Books of the Year: Humor & Entertainment distinction.










We hope the book appeared as a gift for many this holiday season (or you decide to use your precious gift cards on it in soon 😉 Now Paul Terry and I will wait for the book gods to gift us with our next joint project.

Here’s to a wonderful 2014 to everyone. A new start, an open heart and hopefully some strawberry milkshakes :)












For all my fellow The Hunger Games fans, I got to write the cover feature for the December issue of SCI FI Magazine which is out on stands the week of October 14th. Katniss is looking more than a little concerned on the cover, but new director Francis Lawrence is quite calm even though he inherited the huge gig after departing director, Gary Ross, left a vast hole last year.

Inside he talks about his vision realized in the aesthetics of the film, his take on where Katniss is post games especially in reference to Peeta and Gale, and then shooting the new Arena in Hawaii and in IMAX.

Here are two exclusive interview snippets from my story to whet your whistle to please buy a copy (scans really kill print journalism and long form stories that is our forte!) We’d love to see THG fandom pick up a copy and support our love for the series too!

“Appearance was the whole thing. I knew the emotional animal that I wanted her to become because that’s the easiest thing to transcribe. Books are two dimensional and films are these three-dimensional bleeding characters that are human. We started with the books and Suzanne Collins was involved in every step of the process and I think she saw the audition and said, “That’s Johanna Mason!” so I think we had a good starting off point.” – Jena Malone on here approach to playing Johanna Mason.

“[Peeta] is in less of Part One, obviously like the book, but there are appearances and then the final appearance is pretty striking.” – Francis Lawrence discussing Peeta inclusion in Mockingjay Part 1 due to his lack of physical presence in the books.

Again, please link to this story when tweeting and tumbling! Thanks so much! xo






To all of the devoted Fringe fans that purchased the Fringe: September’s Notebook Limited Edition, it’s come to our attention via social media addressed to us in the last 24 hours that there is an issue regarding the signatures included that were promised by Insight Editions.

As authors of the book, our official inclusion in the project ended when we turned in the final manuscript back in November 2012. Aside from providing a list of recommendations that could make up the extras for the LE, we’ve had absolutely nothing to do with the LE: when it was announced, it’s price point, it’s shipping date or the final product. We don’t receive copies, thus the first one either of us viewed with our own eyes was at Tara’s SDCC signing. The LE case at the booth only featured the book, the empty amber case and no signatures. We’ve never seen a finished copy outside of recent social media images and we are not included signers of the book.

We labored on September’s Notebook with our hearts and souls every day for a year (which is the same one included in the LE. just with a leather cover) and we are despondent that any fan is disappointed – much less angry –  regarding any part of it. We stand by the core book and hope fans who purchased the regular edition still feel as though it’s a worthy keepsake that celebrates the show. As for the LE, Insight Editions is responsible for every aspect of the LE and they are the only ones privy to the information you seek. We suggest you reference all questions and complaints to them as Paul and I honestly have no answers or information about what is going on with the edition sizes, the signatures or the amber.


Tara Bennett and Paul Terry




Today is the release of Blue Sky Studio’s epic, a really gorgeous computer animated tale of which I am very proud to have written the art and conceptual evolution book available in stores now.









We’ve earned some very nice reviews, so once you see the movie this weekend (which is a lot of fun and I actually recommend the 3D for once, no lie), considering picking up a copy of the book to really enjoy the incredible work the animators created at Blue Sky.

The Art of epic Reviews

Starburst: “The Art of Epic does not simply look pretty. Bennett’s prose is also a joy to read; the input from the Blue Sky team being expertly woven into the text and enlightening and inspiring throughout. The Art of Epic is luscious in its level of detail; in short, it’s epic.”

Geek News Network: “*Gasp* “Beautiful!”

SciFiFX: “What author Tara Bennett has done here is a public service.  On one hand, Blue Sky Studios doesn’t get nearly enough praise for their work, being one of the primary competitors against the giant of Pixar.  Think of this book as a signal flare to the world that perhaps notice of their artistry is long overdue.”

City of Films: “Great art, interesting stories, and good sturdy paper (hey, that stuff’s important!)  Definitely recommended for film and art fans.”

Shelf Abuse: “The Art of Epic is one of the finest art books I’ve had the pleasure of perusing in some time.”

Wondrous Reads: “Titan have once again delivered with The Art of Epic, and it’s the best movie art book I’ve seen since last year’s The Art of Rise of the Guardians.”


The Art of epic hit shelves about a month ago and my publisher, Titan Books, shared some of the book’s incredible concept art with a few websites of which you can view full gallery previews when you click on the individual images: